Sunday, 31 March 2013

Anyone interested in picking up a bargain?

I'm not a big fan of selling stuff though the blog, but I'll make an exception here.  Simply put, as we're moving soon, it seems a good idea to go through the man corner and sell off what I'm not really using.

You can find my ebay items here and a sample of what's on offer appears below.  I'm not really looking for huge lumps of cash for these, just something to help with moving costs.  I'd also like some of the stuff to go to people who will make good use of it.  So if there's something you're interested in, leave a comment or send an email (address on the right) and we'll see what we can arrange.  Some more going up over the next couple days too.

Getting rid of wargaming stuff is always a bit of a downer, but moving has given me a chance to have a look through my various projects and see what I'll put into storage and what will come with me.  It turns out I have a ridiculous amount of Infinity figures to get through!

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Some Casual Games and A Wang-Shaped Castle

The last couple weeks have been consumed with house hunting and other preparations for moving home.  I need to get some kind of portable painting kit arranged so I can keep going with one or two projects while we're dealing with all the upheaval.

Still, I took an evening off on Tuesday and went along to the club as normal.  We had a game planned, but as someone pulled out, ended up sitting in the bar playing a few smaller games.  To be honest, I had a blast; none of the games were particularly taxing and served as a nice distraction from the stress.

First up we had a few plays of The Evil Dead card game.  Very quick and brutal, good with two players but probably a lot more fun with more.  There area lot of fun wee mechanics in the game, the best being the ability for your character to become evil, suddenly giving you different victory conditions.

Next up was a quick round of Carcassone.  Always an entertaining wee game, perfect for just throwing down on the tabletop and getting a game played.  A pretty normal experience for me; starting off pretty well, but getting completely trounced in the end.

At least I scored the moral high ground victory by completing a wang-shaped castle!

Finally we had another couple games of Android: Netrunner.  We're still playing with the two recommended starter factions, which are completely imbalanced in favour of the runner (hacker.) Now I didn't actually think it was too bad last week (as I won all three games as the runner,) but this week I was on the receiving end and, yeah, it's waaay off.  Considering there are another five factions in the starter box, Netrunner should have plenty of legs (particularly if I can get another couple folk involved.)

Today, after another round of houses, I felt the need to resort to my favourite comfort food; nachos with the works!

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

The Norman Conquest - Two Minute Review

In amongst the frantic packing/moving activity this week, I've eased through Marc Morris' highly readable narrative history, The Norman Conquest (TNC.)  Like the Persian invasion of Greece and the Punic Wars, the Norman invasion is something I don't get tired of reading about., just get more familiar with.

TNC follows a fairly chronological pattern, starting with chapters on the decades before 1066 in England and Normandy.  The Conquest chapters themselves are fairly by the numbers, but do go to lengths to present the different crises and rebellion as serious as they were at the time.  For instance, although the Danes invading turned out to be nothing but an irritant, at the time it was as serious as it got for William. 

Hastings comes and goes, with more time spent discussing the choices made and the options available to the two sides, rather than discussing the actual fighting.  The Bayeux Tapestry turns up and we get the familiar propaganda and updated in the 1700s discussions.  Still, Morris drops in enough that was new to me to keep this section interesting (first known depiction of a plough, it survived because it was regularly used, it's actually an embroidery.) 

Come the 1080s, we get to the Domesday book aka the other bit everyone knows about!  As most of the other Conquest books have explained it to me, the Domesday was a massive tax collection exercise.  Morris instead makes the convincing case that, although tax was a part of it's purpose, the Domesday book was a massive exercise in codifying feudalism.  As it was new to me, this it an extremely engaging chapter (a few online searchs imply this is an accepted viewpoint, but, as I said, new to me!)

The book rather arbitrarily sticks to England and Normandy, referencing other places, but not dealing with the consequences of the Conquest for the rest of the British Isles.  To be fair, the author acknowledges this as a choice he made, but I'd have preferred a bit more detail on William's sojourns to Wales and Scotland.

Although it's a very readable book, Morris doesn't skimp on the detail and, in particular, his sources. We frequently pause for a quick discussion of the merits of the various sources at hand, as well as discussing any author or time bias.

All in all, I can't really fault TNC for anything other than focusing solely on England and Normandy. The problem is, of course, that I now want to get a Norman army together.

Friday, 15 March 2013

Ronin #40

This guy was up over on
Curt's blog a few days ago, so about time I posted him here.  He was part of a command blister of Samurai by Westwind.  A much maligned manufacturer (their Secrets of the Third Reich range was originally panned for the mould quality,) I love their Samurai and Dark Age range.

I went for a lacquered armour kind of look, with yellow cloth underneath and used red as a spot colour.  I quite enjoyed painting him as a one off, but would have liked to add a few more details and decoration to him.  Not sure I'd manage to paint a lot of these guys.

Not managed the output in the painting challenge I'd originally hoped, real life and a switch to a sci-fi project has limited my time.  Still a few days to go, maybe I can summon up one last effort with what's still on the painting table - especially as we've designated Sundays as our "no stress" days.

Thursday, 14 March 2013

One Year Ago...

Another blog-meme is doing the rounds (blame PhilB) based on seeing what you were blabbering about a year ago.  In my case it was llamas and beer - never typed that phrase before either!

Now I know I'm taking some liberties with the specific dates here, but based on the fact it's -1° outside, I like to look back on how ridiculously warm it was last year!

Monday, 11 March 2013

Relief, excitement, STRESS!!!!

My more regular readers may have picked up on the fact that we've been trying to sell our house for the past year or so.  It's been a very long, very frustrating process, so imagine our relief last Friday when we finally got the sale agreed!!!

Cue genuine excitement at the prospect of moving and the assocciated list-making and (whisper it) maybe even getting a proper Man Cave!

Oddly, after a very short amount of excitement, the stress kicked in - we need to move out in six weeks!  The stress was compounded by my computer's hard drive buggering up on Saturday.  After seven hours of attempting to recover it, I'm ready to give up on it and buy a new one!

So an eventfull few days.  Genuinely loking forward to going to the club tomorrow night.  Not only do we have the new X-Wing releases to play with, but I also don't get a mobile signal there - so should something else go wrong, I'll have a few hours grace before I hear about it!

Friday, 8 March 2013

Fireteam Andromeda - Tiny AAR and Pics

Trucked up to the club this week for an intro game of Fireteam Andromeda.  Scott had pulled out all the stops with two fully painted armies, with mechs, tanks, aircraft, dropships and, of course, huge numbers of alien mercenaries.  By the time I arrived, the table was all set up, a mining outpost on a (presumably) terraformed Mars.  The miners were had risen up against the Martian authorities and it up to me to put them back in their place.  The game started with the miners holed up in their reinforced structures, awaiting the arrival of their militia forces.

A couple turns in.  Having destroyed the scout jeeps on the right, my infantry move into the Martian maize.

The core combat mechanic is pretty straightforward; 2D6 rolls to hit, roll to save vs weapon strength, morale check depending on casualties.  Terrain, buildings, range and range cause modifiers to the various rolls, while spending command points can boost accuracy.  All in all, pretty by-the-numbers wargaming fare.

An interesting addition to the genre is the command point system.  Although fairly familiar to historical players, I've not come across a similar mechanic in a sci-fi game.  Essentially, at the start of every turn, each player gets one command for every effective unit either on the table or available that turn (so no points for shaken or pinned troops, nor for reinforcements yet to appear.)  Players then use these points individually to activate a unit, who can then perform their movement and combat actions.  Again, pretty logical.

With two destroyed colony buildings and zero surviving miners, my infantry pull back to cover...

... because these guys were all about to flood onto the table!

Now here's the interesting bits.  Each force can only use a certain number of points in one "go" based on their commanders leadership.  In this game, we could both use up to three command points before we had to let the other player spend their three points.  Half way through the game, I took out Scott's commander and as a result, he was only able to use two points before returning initiative to me.

Yes! Nailed the command vehicle!

Command points aren't only there to activate units though.  As I mentioned earlier, you can spend one to boost a unit's shooting (spending one to activate and one to boost,) or you can spend one to return fire when one of your units is attacked.  Lastly, if you have reserve units, you need to spend a command point to attempt to bring them on, which I think is a fantastic wee innovation and very different from other sci-fi games.

Maybe slightly imbalancing the game, the flying tank took out three tanks, two apcs, three scout jeeps without a scratch in return.  Maybe include some anti-air weapons next time Scott!

The end of the game with an impressive amount of smoke markers.  Both sides had plenty infantry units left, but my force still had three extremely resilient tanks and the ridiculous fighter to call on!

So, a decent set of sci-fi rules, able to cope easily with forces larger than I would have expected. Reading through the rules, there's a flexible approach to choosing your units are plenty of optional abilities to customise your forces.  Fast and brutal, the game flowed quickly enough, and, on a 6x4 table, didn't feel either too crowded or barren.  Lastly, the vehicle on vehicle combat seemed spot on, fairly easy to hit but quite difficult to take something out with one hit (unless you're using the bitchin' aircraft!)

Now the three of us have only read the beta rules, no longer available as the author, Torben Kastbjerg, has published the updated rules here. Although the £10 is a little steep besed on the beta rules, I'm willing to recommend you check them out.

Lastly, a HUGE thanks to Scott for running an excellent game.  When he offered to run the game, I expected smallish forces with the odd bit of terrain and a kill everyone mission.  Instead, we had heaps of troops, plenty of terrain, building that were replaced with ruins when destroyed and a great scenario.  Great effort!

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Branching Out With Some New Rules

My wargaming has followed, I think, a fairly orthodox path.  As a boy, I started when by lining up my toy soldiers and rolling dice.  I moved onto board games like Risk and Crossbows & Catapults. In my late childhood years, early teens I discovered Games Workshop and spent the next few years playing their games exclusively (back then, of course, they had a fair range of games.) I had stopped all tabletop gaming by the time I'd finished university, only to restart a couple years later and have been going strong ever since.

Obviously, tastes have changed over that period.  Initially, I'd have thought it heresy not to play anything by GW, but that seems a bit ridiculous now!  I'd also say that I play historical and sci-fi/fantasy games about equally; when I was at school, the idea of WW2 or ACW gaming would have bored me to tears!

My latest gaming habit is picking up sci-fi rulesets that aren't tied to any particular setting or range of figures, usually in pdf rather than print.  Bizarrely, this is something I've never done before, the games I play having an associated setting and miniatures (Warmachine, Infinity, 40K etc.)  The key to trying these was the fact we bought a wee tablet pc at Christmas, until then, I could never stomach reading a 50 page document on the pc.  With the tablet, that's not an issue.

We've been trialling Gruntz at the club for the last wee while; great simple set of rules and lots of options for creating your own force.  This week, another Scott from the club is running a game of Fireteam Andromeda.  It looks a simpler game than Gruntz, but with an interesting C&C mechanic.  We'll see how it turns out.  Aside from these two, I've there are a couple other rulesets I've yet to read properly, the latest being Quadrant13 from the lardies.

I've also picked up a fair few spaceship combat rules as well, trying to scratch that particular itch. I've tried Colonial Battlefleet at the club once (plays a bit slow for my liking) and have 5150, Full Thrust and Call To Arms to try too.

Friday, 1 March 2013

Mobile Blogger App and X-Wing Pics

Yesterday's first post from my Android phone using the Blogger App wasn't without teething problems.  Firstly, it failed to publish the post first time AND deleted the draft in the process. Secondly, I notice it didn't publish any of the pics I'd taken, but neither did it save them on the phone either?  Anyone know what I was doing wrong? Still functional enough to use when I'm out and about.

So what pics didn't appear yesterday?  The new X-Wing releases, that's what!  Oooo, shiny.

First up, piloted by everyone's favourite scum, is Slave 1. It's an impressively large bit of kit, although still dwarfed by the Millennium Falcon.

The coolest Tie variant (at least from the original three movies) is next.  I bought two Tie Interceptors mainly because the game store only had two left, but I'm sure I would have picked up another one at some point in the future anyway.

Lastly, my least favorite Rebel ship (again from the original movies,) the A-Wing.  Meh, nothing wrong with it really, and it's rules look deadly, but it doesn't really do it for me.

For those of you who already have X-Wing, I'd like to point out that the quality of the models and, in particular, the paintwork is a vast improvement on the initial release.  All the weapons point in the correct way and the coloured panels on the A-Wing and Slave 1 have a nice thick colour to them. Compare the first X-Wing model I received where I had to cut all the engines off and reattach them, bend the weapon barrels back into shape and basically have cream paint splashed over black.

Not sure when we'll get our next game in though, next week looks pretty busy.  Maybe I'll have to kick the Mrs out shopping for a while and get some folk round to the house!