Sunday, 31 December 2017

Rifles in the Ardennes

There's a sale on at Wargame Vault so I thought I would try out this solo play WW2 boardgame, which sounds like a great beer and pretzels style game:

Rifles in the Ardennes recreates the tense action that characterized Ardennes in a unique single-player format.  Designer and Artist Gottardo Zancani has replaced the literal map typical of World War II games with a stylized track, allowing for endless customization of the battlefield.  

A simple solitaire system allows the recreation of small combat engagements (five to ten units per side) over a bevy of scenarios. Blind chit draws and die rolls, combined with artfully crafted charts create an impressive “artificial intelligence,” embuing the game with a true fog of war.

The rules are generic enough to cover many periods and genres (the World Wars, Classical Battles, Science Fiction, Fantasy, and more), but the units (American, German, and Russian) and scenarios are specific to the European theatre of World War II, focusing on the years 1942-1944.

Wednesday, 27 December 2017

Airfix Battles

I have brought Airfix Battles on holiday so will be unboxing it and re-playing the first couple of scenarios over the next few days, having not had a go at it since the summer holidays. I really liked the system when I tried it out then, even though it involved quite a lot of fiddly counters and a bit of head scratching, so this time round I hope it goes a little more smoothly!

Tuesday, 19 December 2017

X Wing at Xmas

I took the kids to the new Star Wars film at the weekend, so they're all fired up to play some games of X Wing over the Xmas holidays. I have to say I wasn't impressed by the film itself, apart from the kick ass fight with the red guards, so I left disappointed at the end. Anyway, I'll be packing the X Wing collection for the holiday break along with a couple of other board games to play if the weather socks in. I still haven't opened my copy of Escape from Colditz from my birthday in January (!), so that may well be coming along for the ride too?

Saturday, 25 November 2017

Local Game Shop

A new 'bricks and mortar' game shop has just opened in my town, although it's more CCG and comic book than board or wargame orientated. This has to be a rarity these days, so I'll pop in to find out what's available and hopefully to pick up a game or two to play over the holidays. I'm not a CCG fan but any new gaming venture is worth a bit of support:

Saturday, 11 November 2017


I found a complete copy of this Viking mythology board game in the local charity shop this morning, so thought I'd add it to the collection of games to be played, especially as it's pitched at a level that the kids can play. It's in pretty mint condition too, so worth the twenty quid that I spent on it, if only to keep the sprogs happy on a cold, wet and windy weekend. The reviews on Boardgame Geek aren't bad either!

Sunday, 29 October 2017

Dragon Warriors RPG Free

I have the old paperback sleeved box set of these dungeoneering role play rules, but never got round to trying them out. I really liked the fantasy medieval feel of the rules and the fact that it was all self contained. Anyway, the digital rules are now free or at least a Pay What You Want download:

Saturday, 23 September 2017

X Wing Inquisitor's TIE

The sprog bought one of these at Colours 2017 last weekend, so we're planning to give it a go tomorrow, while the rest of the family is off at a rugby tournament for the day. It looks like it will be a bit different from your standard TIE fighter but we'll have to wait and see what it can do. It's about time the rebel scum got a taste of the Imperial boot again, so I'm looking forward to a thrashing the teenager at his own game!

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

No Honor in Surrender

This print and play game by Lock n' Load was the Deal of the Day on Wargame Vault, so I have downloaded it to have a go at printing my own copy of the game, counters, maps, rules and all. It looks like a really good squad level system, not too complicated and hopefully suitable for a few games with the sprog, although it's also supposed to be ideal as a solo game. The components look very good and, if my home printer is up to the job, should be relatively easy to put together. I'll laminate the maps and will also mount the counters on card or even lasercut mdf squares, so it should be pretty robust once I've finished.

Friday, 15 September 2017

Table Air Combat: Fw-190D

I've just downloaded the 'Dora' for Table Air Combat which for some inexplicable reason I hadn't already got in the collection. It's a beast of a fighter with no fewer than five energy points to spend, so I'm looking forward to giving it a spin against the VVS, RAF or USAAF as soon as I can get the components printed and glued together. Horrido!

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Table Air Combat: I-16 vs. Bf-109E

I found this neat graphic comparing the I-16 'Ishak' / 'Rata' with the Messerschmitt Bf-109E 'Emil' today, so thought I'd set up a game of Table Air Combat to see how they compare in action. The Bf-109E looks like it has the edge in most respects, apart from the all important turning circle radius, which could give the Soviet pilots a slight advantage, if they are able to use it. I'll probably deploy the generic Dogfight scenario as the basis of the game but perhaps with a few twists to make it a bit different? Whatever happens, I suspect the end result will probably look like this!

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Table Air Combat: Air Strike

As expected, the Soviet I-16's took a pasting from the Stukas in the Air Strike scenario this morning, largely due to their poor firepower and being outnumbered two to one. A taran ramming attack was a last resort but failed to bring down the Stuka it was aimed at, whilst exposing the I-16 to the tail gunner's arc of fire with inevitable results.

In the end, the Stukas wiped out the radio station target for the loss of one plane, while the I-16's lost three aircraft in return. A pretty poor result for the VVS and a decisive victory for the Luftwaffe. If I replay this again, I'll double the number of I-16's or halve the number of Stukas to even things up, as in many respects the two aircraft are evenly matched.

Monday, 21 August 2017

Table Air Combat: I-16's vs Ju-87 Stukas

I have decided to try out the Air Strike scenario from the Ju-87 Stuka set, substituting I-16 Ishak fighters for the Hurricanes Mk I's in the original set up. The scenario will obviously shift to the summer of 1941 and Operation Barbarossa, with the Stukas attempting to dive bomb a Soviet radio mast, represented by the Radar Receiver target template, rather than a Chain Home Radar station. It will be interesting to see how the I-16's with their weak armament but high manoeuvrability, cope against the Stukas, which are also fairly handy if under-armed. I hope the rear gunners have had their ersatz coffee for breakfast and are wide awake! I don't fancy the Soviet's chances, unless they do something fairly drastic?

Sunday, 20 August 2017

Table Air Combat: I-16 Ishak / Rata

I fancied a bit of a change from the Battle of Britain, so have cut out and glued together the counters and turn template for the I-16 Ishak fighter. This has the smallest template of any fighter in the collection, largely due to it's high manoeuvrability and relatively light wing loading. In fact, the I-16 gets a special variation of the Immelmann turn, costing only one rather than two energy points.

As I've already altered the special manoeuvre rules to one energy point per turn anyway, I'll give the I-16 the ability to Immelmann for free once a turn, which will give the same advantage over other aircraft. I'll just use the I-16 for Operation Barbarossa scenarios, so it will be up against the Bf-109E, Bf-100C, Ju-87B Stuka and the Heinkel III, which will be more than enough for some exciting dogfights. In fact, I'll kick off with the standard Dogfight scenario today, using Bf-109's as the opposition. Za Rodina!

Le Temps de As

I acquired the habitual copy of Vae Victis yesterday including the theme game which is a French Revolutionary war hex and counter job. I'm not overly interested in this but another article about converting a previous game, Le Temp de As, to miniature play grabbed my attention. This game, which I have together with an English rules translation, is a WW1 aerial hex and counter game which features some really nice maps and components, as well as some elegant rules.

I've always thought it would be really good with Tumbling Dice 1/600th scale aircraft models, which would mean that converting the 2D counters to 3D by cutting them out and gluing them to stands would be unnecessary? I'll dig out the game when I get home and have a closer look. Even if I don't do anything with the Tumbling Dice models, it's still a game that I have wanted to play and somehow never got round to, so it's time I got on with it.

Saturday, 19 August 2017

Table Air Combat: Scramble!

We played the Scramble! scenario from the free Spitfire II set yesterday, with two sections of Spitfires intercepting four Heinkel III's escorted by a schwarm of Bf-109's. This gave us an equal number of four counters per side, so we moved by elements rather than individual counters, using the standard initiative rules. I can't help thinking that initiative would work better if it was similar to the experience based system in Bag the Hun but that's another story.

The game was hard fought, with the RAF intercepting the bombers with one section, while the  other one tackled the fighters. The bombers adopted a straight up the middle approach to their mission objective, which was to fly off the opposite edge of the playing area with minimal losses. The escorts meanwhile attempted to use the Bf-109's superior energy rating and cannon armament to shoot up the Spitfires before they could get close enough to the bombers to cause any damage.

The RAF managed to get several attacks on the bomber formation and craftily stayed out of range of their machine guns but failed to cause much damage due to the heavy airframe rating of the Heinkels and the lack of cannon to boost their damage roll. In the end, one bomber was shot down for the loss of a three Spitfires, with two Bf-109's also failing to return to their airfield in France. This meant that the scenario was a decisive victory for the Luftwaffe, despite the best efforts of the RAF.

Friday, 18 August 2017

Table Air Combat: Heinkel III Bomb Run

I played the Bomber Training scenario from the Heinkel III set this evening, to run through the rules for flak which I haven't used for ages. The Luftwaffe managed to plaster the target with seven 4+ hits, which was pretty impressive and a decisive victory, especially as they lost only one bomber to the fairly ineffective flak. The AAA hit several times but the tough airframe of the bombers, requiring a 6 on a D6, meant that there was little actual damage inflicted by the flak bursts. It was a very quick game but got the sprogs hooked again, so we followed on with the Scramble scenario, substituting Heinkel III's for the Ju-87's in the set up (an after action report will follow).

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Table Air Combat: Bf-109E vs Spitfire MkI Dogfight

I re-played the basic dogfight scenario this evening, with a flight of Spitfire MkI's intercepting a Schwarm of Bf-109E's somewhere over the English Channel. I wanted to try out the deflection shooting rules again and also a new playing area that I made by cutting out then gluing together two blue cardboard folders from the local supermarket. This neatly folds in half and fits inside my Table Air Combat folder, so is eminently portable and perfect for an ad-hoc game as and when required.

This time the dogfight lasted for nearly twenty turns, with neither side managing to inflict much damage despite getting some good gun dice on several occasions. I was using the simplified 'one point of energy per Immelmann / Wingover' rule, which worked well, especially as only one such manoeuvre was allowed per turn. This meant that the dogfight was a real twisting and turning effort for both sides, just like the real thing in many respects.

In the end, the RAF managed to shoot down three of the Luftwaffe fighters for the loss of one of their own, the surviving pilot making a last minute run for home as his fuel must have been getting really low. I think the little red light must have been blinking away for most of the latter half of the scenario. In fact, I might include this 'No Fuel to Duel' twist to the scenario in the future, borrowing the fuel limit countdown from Too Fat Lardies excellent Bag the Hun miniatures rules.

I really enjoyed the game and will be running another one soon, this time with some bombers for the RAF to shoot down and the Luftwaffe to protect as close escorts rather then top cover. I also want to cut out and assemble the counters for the Bf-110, which with their heavy cannon and rear gunners should make things a bit more uncomfortable for the RAF Brylcreem Boys. It's just a shame there isn't a Boulton Paul Defiant or Bristol Blenheim Mk I set to provide some target practice!