Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Starship Troopers at Wyvern Wargamers

All the way back in March, I had the pleasure of a second entertaining game of Starship Troopers at Wyvern Wargamers. Stu's writeup can be found here

The campaign tracks performance and offers players assets according to their score. With the fewest points, Ade cheesed out with just four power suits, armed to the teeth with missiles and flamers (top centre below). Paul and I both took MI infantry squads, with my performance in the first game once again affording me a Marauder Chickenhawk. Our mission:

Everything was going according to plan. Now the landings are complete, you can hear some other companies in serious combat but you have been ordered to create a perimeter that will relieve the pressure on them and allow this invasion to get under way!

In short: clear the bug deployment zone at the far side of the table, while protecting our secure perimeter (marked by the round thingummiebobs). Easy? 

MI Deployment

My squad barely steps out of the secured beachhead before the first wave of bugs. My highly trained and well equipped troopers throw three low ammo rolls on the first round of firing, including my LMG. Poor form lads!

Oh dear, lots of bugs...

My troops managed to fight their way through, aided by Ade's heavy support troopers. Meanwhile, on our right flank, Paul's exposed patrol meets stiffer resistance (lets gloss over the fact I suggested Paul head that way to secure the deployment zone).

The Tanker bug, now immune to small arms fire, torches half the squad and the rest promptly heads for the hills. As we scrambled to neutralise the Tanker, the evening ticked on and we had to call the game. Saved by the bell - the MI successfully cleared the far zone and set up their perimeter and the Tanker arrived too late to stomp about in our safe beachhead. 

After the second game, MoTM definitely went to Ade's rocket and Flamer team, the four of them pushing Ade way up the scoreboard. My 'Lucky Devils' and their strong lead from that Tanker kill in Game 1 is starting to get eaten away. 

Once again, a fun game and we all felt more comfortable with the rules and the balance had been tweaked a little: the MI had been nerfed with a lower command score and the Tanker buffed to be immune to small arms fire, making it somewhat more terrifying with only a handful of missile launchers on the table. This gave a closer game and it looked ugly for the MI for a few turns.  I suspect Stu has more to throw at us next time and hear even Ade is scouring eBay for bugs. 

Saturday, 26 April 2014

Sudan Stocktake: The Mahdists

People keep noting that I've been so dedicated to the Sudan project, I surely must have enough to put on some more games. Of course, this is true, but as the project has evolved (read: grown), I've settled on new targets quicker than the minis roll of the painting table: larger units, more units, different rulesets. Only now am I just about approaching being ready to put on the complete games that I want to put on. 

The Analogue Hobbies Challenge provided some necessary impetus over the winter and it seems like a good time for a stocktake. Of course, that means getting all of the toys out and taking some photos to share with y'all. 

First up, the Mahdists

One small Mahdist horde: check

While not a patch on DaveD, it is a fairly respectable tally of:

3 command stands
24 Beja infantry
10 Beja rifles
3 Beja Camel riders
33 Arab infantry
8 Arab rifles
3 Baggara Horse
Captured Egyptian Krupp gun

The fierce Beja contingent, now with a new standard from my Salute supply package

 To maintain focus, I've roughly categorised everything that I'd like to add into 'Must' (minis that I will paint before putting on some games), 'Should' (I'd prefer to finish before putting on some games), and 'Could' (the nice to haves minis to round out the force). 

The Mahdists have the shortest 'must finish' category; I'd just like to bulk out the Baggara horse to a more fearsome size. These are currently on the table in the process of being prepped.

I also must get the sabot bases done for all of the infantry, which I think will be a long and thankless task. I've also a cunning plan to reduce the number of infantry I paint - more on that once I've run off a test.

More Arab infantry

I 'Should' round out the infantry units to make them all up to groups of 10 men of each type. Bit of an issue looming on that one - the Mahdists are based on English 2 pence pieces and I've ransacked the change jar and run out of them. It seems I don't use cash enough to stockpile more! I've six Arab rifles prepped and aim to finish those off too. Finally, they could do with a commander-in-chief stand.

'Could' is mostly infantry, infantry and more infantry, then perhaps a few more horse and camel-riders. I'll ad some proper wounded markers too. There isn't that much in the way of variety when it comes to the Mahdist forces! 

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Salute 2014: The Games

 I rarely remember to dig the camera out in the madness of Salute but I did manage a quick whisk around later in the day to snap those that jumped out at me. This year, there seemed to be fewer 'wow' games for me, with the number of skirmish systems evidencing itself in the number of smaller tables. Of course, those  showcase tables were usually very nicely presented, but do miss some of the spectacle of a massed battle games at a major show. There were also quite a few tables I remember from last year making a repeat performance. 

First up, Wyvern Wargamers with Battle of the Marne

Miniatures and terrain by Kallistra. I got to roll dice on this one and really enjoyed the simple rules and grand maneuvers involving hundreds of troops on the table. 

South London Warlords with their lovely  Battle of Barbastro 1837

Mostly Perry miniatures Carlist War

Wargames Soldiers and Strategy and Simon Miller, C-Day: Caesar's invasion of Britain

Lovely table, fairly flat without being featureless. 

Beautiful units all over

Not sure on this one but I liked the unusual groundwork

White Hart Wargames with Allan Quartermaine and the Lost City

The Battle of Keren 1941 by Newark Irregulars - great use of a vertical board but damn hard to capture in a photograph

Eastern Front WWII 

Something Cold War Gone Hot?

Sword Beach on D-Day, I believe

Not sure who put it on, but this was a stunning game using Paul Hicks Dien Bien Phu sculpts

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Salute 2014: The Loot

Well I'm back from the annual wander around the cavernous Excel centre. While I no longer live in London I was fortunate enough to have somewhere to stay the weekend and someone to entertain the wife for the day, to avoid the godawful-o'clock start that the rest of the Wyvern Wargamers group endured. So, fresh faced, I turned up at 1020 to avoid the worst of the monstrous queue. 

So, what tempted my wallet? All in all, no 'big ticket' purchases, just some stock ups, a few minis that I've had my eye on and some odds and ends.

-From the Perry stand, a restrained visit with just three packs from the Sudan range to top up the painting queue and box of Afrikakorps. The latter all BobC's fault after he mentioned that had enough ANZACs for Chain of Command. Dual use for Indiana Jones pulpy nonsense too.
-My annual Flag Dude stockup, mostly Mahdist and colonial British.
-A supply package from Warbases - bases for Mahdists and some oddments from their new animals range
-Some custom Perspex rings from Oshiro Modelterrain make sabot trays for my Mahdists
-some Renedra bell tents and rustic fences
-a few 4Ground furniture packs, to fill buildings in pulpy games
-Various resin scenic bits, including reasonably priced ruined columns and gate posts, a couple of bits of wall and some timber stacks
-Impulse purchase of just one 10mm WWI German jaeger pack from Kallistra. The Wyvern Wargamers table by Kallistra looked ace with whole hordes of infantry on a big push for he battle of the Marne in 10mm. I thought l'd grab a little platoon to paint up and perhaps join in future games of TFL's Through the Mud and the Blood. Really liked the heft of the Kallistra minis too - just that nudge bigger than pendraken's 10mm.
-Stockup of tufts from Antenociti

All in all, a par haul by my standards.

I did make the blogger meetup, albeit delayed from too long lingering at 4Ground. So I missed many people and the photo but did get chance to congratulate Michael Awdry on his victory over me in the AHPC side challenge. I also to chance to catch up with Samulus during the day, which was nice.

Monday, 7 April 2014

Some Gentle Terraining

The past few weeks have had me pottering about finishing off some small terrain elements that have been cluttering up my workspace for far too long (all your fault, Curt). First, a few more tree base inserts, that can also be used as scatter terrain. This time, I made up some shapely bushes, using small scale woodland scenics tree armatures and clumps of rubberised horsehair.

I'm quite pleased with how they came out, particularly compared to my first effort. Though I found there was a bit of a knack to it making them. Getting the right size and shape bits of horsehair is the first hurdle. Then I just ran hot glue up the lower side of the branches. The trick is to wait just a couple of seconds for it to cool enough to not burn your fingers, but not too long so it dries, then swiftly 'pinch' the horsehair clumps onto the branches. Bigger clumps are easier with a slit halfway up them using scissors, making it easier to get horsehair sitting on both sides of the armature branch. Once firmly stuck, tease the shrubbery out and trim it back to a natural shape. Cutting across the curls of the horsehair gave the best effect.

I also added a fourth Sarissa adobe building to my collection, painted the same as the rest, though with added grit and tufts under the steps to the roof.

Thirdly, using some Warbases vehicle bases, I've created some makeshift defensive works for the Sudan. A few accounts have either side making low rocky barricades to provide some cover in the open terrain. I just used the small rocks sieved out of sharp sand, built up in a few layers using a hot glue gun.

They are low, but meant to be knelt behind, these chaps obviously aren't kneeling.

Finally, a sneaky peek. This Bengal infantry officer a test figure for the khaki I was planning to use for the Sudan, until I just got on and painted the 10th Hussars. So a fairly pointless test, but I finished him in a spare couple hours. The rest of the unit is on the painting table now and should be fairly quick to paint up. I'll finish off his base and take some better photos of the whole lot when they're finished.

Not enough light for the photo, I'm afraid

The weekend brings Salute, which I'm fortunate enough to be able to make again this year despite not living in London  anymore. My shopping list is quite reasonable so far, just some odds and ends and re-supplies. No doubt there will be temptations once I'm their, but so far I've resisted any urges for whole new projects. Hopefully I'll see and meet some of you there.

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Getting A Few Games In

While it might all seem to have been about the challenge in the dark winter months, as we emerge into spring I have managed a few games in recently. First AdeD of Wyvern ran a group of us through some games of Dead Man's Hand one club night, which seems to be the go to ruleset for wild west gaming. I dug out my small group of painted lawmen (on the bevelled bases) and faced BobC's outlaws across three scenarios. It was a wee while back, so I'll skip the AAR and commentary and just show you the goodies...

With an upstanding citizen down, Not-The-Man-With-No-Name fires wildly at the mexican in pajamas

My Depudee heads off in pursuit of a ner'do'well

A Lawman using bystanders as cover - not sporting but otherwise he'd have been toast from those Mexicans!

Bustling street shot - Bob supplied plenty of civilians to witness the carnage

Scenario three ends with a gunfight outside the dressmaker's, of all places. 

There was a lot to enjoy about Dead Man's Hand - it has good production values and I enjoyed the variety and flavour that were added by the dual activation/action cards. I liked that it isn't IGO-UGO with the card-driven initiative, though it was a bit faffy moving the little cards around all of the time. But, I wasn't convinced that the scenarios were balanced as the lawmen seemed to struggle and thought some of the mechanics, like the 'quick draw' card for initiative were gimmicky. Also, with a campaign system to be added soon, I was surprised at the size of the starter gangs - I'm not sure the card-driven initiative will scale upwards much as gangs grow without becoming tiresome. Still, as an occasional pick up game it is entirely playable and has much more flavour and 'story' written in to it compared to say Legends of the Old West. Happily, I've already got a handful of lawmen painted so should be able to throw down games every now and then. But I'm surprised to report that IO'm not particualrly tempted to rush out and bu the ruleset and play loads of games. Given how many people enjoy it, perhaps I have very high thresholds these days!

A couple of weeks later and I was back at Wyvern for a quite lovely Starship Troopers game hosted by Stu of Dust, Tears and Dice. Stu wants to run an SST campaign that lets players drop in and out while keeping the campaign running - perfect for a fortnightly club like Wyvern. Each time, the players will take Mobile Infantry squads and Stu will steamroller them with hordes of bugs. The best MI commander over the campaign gets Though he was clearly going easy on us for Game 1. Out mission - converge on a suspected bugs nest and collapse it with our heavy support. Stu's writeup is here.

Move out. My squad nicknamed 'Lucky Devils' and supporting Chickenhawk make steady time down from the landing zone

Ambush! AdeD's squad are surprised by first contact.

Things start getting hairy for Paul and Ade's squads either side of mine as bugs start swarming

The Fleet's view of the engagement - MI firepower starts to tell

Fire in the hole! *Pssssht* Bug hole down

Tanker bug!

Yes, that's my squad that he's bearing down on.

At which point, Acting Skymarshal AdeD got a lot of abuse for not bothering to invest in any Fleet support assets for this engagement.

Paul's squad, Baldwin's B*stards take casualties to scything claws and swooping fliers. Even the vid-corder crew are taking hits!

After two rounds with no initiative, the tanker final succumbs to my infantry and Chickenhawk. 

It went down to my last missile though - after which it would have had the chance to char-grill the lot of them!

*Geronimo - bug nest down, repeat bug nest down*

With the last throw of the dice, I complete our objective - moments before being overrun by the swarm that just forced Paul's squad to withdraw. 

Between the bug holes, tanker bug and a handful of trooper bugs, I staked a fair claim towards the rank of Skymarshal. Stu had dreadful luck on activations - I got two whole rounds of firing at the Tanker before it could have activated. Just enough to take it down. Just

A really fun game very ably hosted by Stu. The minis and terrain are all his and rather excellent the game looked too. The rules were Chain Reaction - entirely serviceable and fun to play though they do commit that cardinal sin (in my view) of changing the roll to succeed from roll high to roll low!

I also managed a game of Chain of Command, ably hosted by Bob from Wyvern. British against Germans and I took something of a pasting from my reluctance to withdraw an exposed unit exacerbated by some poor command dice rolls at inopportune times. I didn't really take any photos except this one - to the left my beleaguered, pinned section about to be gunned down by the Germans flooding from a building. My section to the right is attempting to get into position to assist, hampered by a lack of windows in the right places.

The buildings are the new laser cut wood prepainted ones from Crescent Root Studio in the US and are very nice, sizable pieces and seem well-designed. I liked that they are nicely weathered from the box, come textured and apparently dissemble to 'flat pack' again.

Thanks to all who have hosted me these recent weeks - I look forward to more games of each and to returning the favour once the Sudan collection is ready for an outing (more on that later...)