Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Salute 2018 Loot

Only a quick post about Salute. Big Kyle and I had a great time - apart from the awful lighting.... my poor eyes!

Since we went with friends (who are new to all this wargame malarkey), I had decided to pre-order most of my loot. This ensured I picked up the things I was really after. We did have a look around, but to be honest we didn't spend as much time as usual gawking at the lovely tables - so no photos I'm afraid. Instead, I decided the best thing was to get down to the lardies and have a good crack at What a Tanker! I nicked this photo off the lardies Facebook page. Something had obviously tickled me...

Don't let Kyle's appearance fool you, we both really enjoyed playing the game and listening to Rich's attempts at wit ;-) It's a simple tank vs tank game. No massive historical complexity, just tanks on the table going at each other. And you know what? Sometimes we all need to play a simple game like that, so definitely a thumbs up from me. Will I play it week in week out? No, but its light and fun and has encouraged me to finally get my years old early German armour painted. More on that another time.

Enough about the lardies, here's the loot.

If you look carefully you'll see quite a bit of Darkest Africa figures, canoes, burn huts (and even an explorer wondering why he's sat in a pot). I also splashed out on the new SAGA rules. Not had chance to read them yet though. Of course, I did pre-order What a Tanker but also decided to give Chain of Command a go. Looks like a platoon level game that is similar to Bolt Action, but perhaps offers more interesting command and control options. Hoping for a game next week so we'll see.

Tuesday, 3 April 2018

Escalation Along the Nziari

I've played several Savannah based Congo adventures but it was now time to head into the Jungle! So on Saturday I played Escalation Along the Nziari with Dan, one of my friends from Friday Night Firefight Club.

Two White Men columns face each other on opposite sides of the crocodile infested Nziari River. Looks like there are also a number of hippos in the murky waters.

This scenario requires the two columns to claim territory by capturing three flags (strategically positioned on sand banks in the river) and carrying them off the opposite table edge.

[numbered tokens represent permitted exit points]

Professor Smut was joined by the famed explorer Big Gun Johnson. On the opposite side of the River, the Retired Officer Banks was joined by some foolhardy journalist who decided to lug his precious camera gear through the jungle.

The Retired Officer was of German decent and was accompanied by a number of adventurers, soldiers, trained askari and rugga rugga. The English scientist had less funds available for his expedition and hired mostly askaris and young warriors. He did have some adventurers, but they seemed loath to venture far into the jungle.

The English slogged their way to the river and started the game exhausted. This was cruelly exploited by the nefarious Germans who made all manner of strange bird calls and beat the buttresses of trees. This was too much for the Professor's askari, who repeatedly failed panic attacks. Professor Smut did persuade one group of askari to enter a particularly thick section of jungle and managed to find a specimen of particular interest...

[my area terrain has removable sections to allow figures to be more easily placed]

The Germans were much more steady in their approach and quickly acquired the flags. But only one group managed to emerge from the river before the commotion attracted the attention of the crocodiles.

The German trained askari dragged themselves from the river, but found themselves isolated and the sound of gunshots rang out.  Falling like flies they were then assaulted by askari and died to a man. One of the flags was now in possession of the Professor's Askari!

Unfortunately, they were somewhat depleted in numbers. Perhaps best to stay out of harms way!

More commotion on the other side of the river, heralded the appearance of a mighty ape. The gorilla set about the German adventurers who took a good thumping but managed to retired out of harms way.

As the weather worsened and torrential downpours threatened to swell the river, the professor's askari and young warriors made one final push for a flag situated on the right flank.

After a kerfuffle, they managed to capture it, but panicked at the thought of crocodiles and retreated from the river.

[dam those terror attacks!]

The professor urged them onwards and they were just about to scramble from the fearsome waters, when night descended and the jungle went eerily quiet...

[in the last turn of the game, a die is rolled at the beginning of each activation phase. On a success the game immediately ends - in our case at the beginning of the second phase...]

Final Score:

Banks eliminated one of the Professor's groups and killed a crocodile scoring 5 vp.

Smut also eliminated one group of enemy askari, disabled the journalist and found some loot for a total of 5 vp! Unfortunately one of the Professor's bearers took a stray bullet and 2 vp were lost.

Dan's Retired Officer Banks won the game by 2 vp!

Big thanks to Dan for a great game that was fun to play with the new terrain.

Monday, 26 March 2018

What Would Professor Jones Have Made of it?!

Last October, Friday Night Fire Fight Club tasked me with building some terrain for a naval game set in Medieval China. The deadline was Cavalier in February. The brief was to create some tall rocks/islands that were connected by a bridge and on which sat a bell...

Hmm - that sounds like an excuse to get some Lost World jungle columns built for a future game of Congo.

It all began with a few rough templates drawn on baking paper...

But how to get the height without making something so heavy it will implode into a black hole under its own weight (or put another way, I'll drop it whilst carrying from car to show).

I don't have any of the high density foam (and it looks quite pricey), so I opted to go the model railway route and use polystyrene. The polystyrene was built up in layers that were attached together using bbq skewers and gaps between filled with scrunched up newspaper.

Over this I put paster cloth, providing both shape and rigidity.

The overall shape was largely dictated by the need to get some height into the structure. The idea was to have rope bridges connecting the islands beneath which boats could sail. But since the first jungle column needed to be accessed by sea, figures had to gain height quickly. In the end I decided to use bark chipping as my steps and these were all carefully selected from a large bag (bought quite cheaply at local pet shop) and glued in place.

The steps were blended into the column using filler.

So, how to do the rope bridges....

I found the perfect answer in a blog post over on the excellent Lead Legionaries blog. A dolls House picket fence! Perfect! And saves an enormous amount of time.

The fence came in a single long piece and I was able to cut it into three lengths (one short length will be used for another project). The pointed ends were snipped off and the end wires were wrapped around more bbq skewers that had been attached to precut sections of mdf. This meant that the bridge could be taken off the columns to allow the whole thing to be more easily transported.

Of course, I needed a way to ensure the bridge could take the weight of figures. I therefore attached small flat magnets to both the rock column and the bridge base. This helped to stop the bridge lifting, but it was still prone to sliding. I therefore cut more of the bbq skewers and these were attached to the bridge base and acted as small pegs that fitted into holes in the main column structure.

The final rock effect was created with more filler that was applied with fingers (swiping horizontally around each column). The real Chinese rock formations are made of limestone and much paler - almost white. But since I wanted to use the terrain for other purposes I decided on a more generic paint scheme and settled on brown/grey to match my other jungle terrain. This I achieved reasonably quickly by spraying the whole structure with grey spray primer and then giving it a heavy highlight with white spray primer. Once dry the columns were washed with various shades of grey, green and brown and the whole lot dry brushes with light grey.

The bridges were finished with thin string (two gauges), that were first soaked in light tan paint and then individually strung. This bit took a while! But the final effect made it worthwhile.

So, what would Professor Jones have made if it all?!

I can't take credit for the bell btw, this was scratch built and painted by one of my club friends, David.

The tops of the columns had already been covered in my normal basing mix of sand and finished to match my other jungle terrain, with green scatter material, clump material, vine and various aquarium plants.

Large spaces have been left to allow movement of figures, but jungle scatter terrain can be added to give a more dense jungle effect when needed. I also have several hanging vines that are removable and can be added to suit a particular game.

Here's the terrain in play at this year's Cavalier.

David and another club friend Paul, scratch built all of the boats. The Cavalier game was based on Blood and Plunder. The aim being to climb the columns, rush to the bell and ring it. All the while trying to avoid being shot to pieces by the crews of the other boats. Lots of fun on the day!

The next step is to build more complementary jungle pieces that can be placed adjacent to the columns for games of Congo etc.

Thursday, 11 January 2018

Kickstarters Aplenty!

Happy New Year Folks!

The latter part of 2017 seemed to have had a flurry of Kickstarters arrive. First there was Battle of Britain...

...along with a few bouncy planes...

... that will apparently be replaced by PSC later this year. We've had a couple of games and found it to be enjoyable, although it will take a few more games before I develop a good strategy for playing the Luftwaffe. The skies of Britain are safe, at least for now it seems!

Then there was 878 Vikings.

Along with it's nice oversized play mat. The game plays a bit like supercharged Risk and is good fun. Not too demanding on the old brain cells.

There was some annoyance on the Kickstarter comments due to the late arrival of this Kickstarter. Apparently our North American friends received their game in August, but the Viking Invasion didn't hit our Saxon shores until November.

Kickstarters are one of those things that are best pledged for and forgotten about. Expecting them to arrive on time is an exercise in frustration.

Having said that...

A large box arrived at Brady HQ at the end of September and turned out to be the much anticipated Mythic Battles Pantheon.

Now unfortunately, these boxes were just the expansions and the actual base game arrived in a different shipment. In early January. But still, the expected delivery was December and given the volume of material included, that's a pretty good fulfilment.

It's taken a while to sort through the boxes. Everything appears to be present and correct and the quality of components appears very good indeed. I suspect many of the figures may well find their way into other games...

One issue with huge games like this is how to store it all. Fortunately I have manage to 'locate' some extra space for storing games. Quick trip to Ikea whilst visiting inlaws and...

I've even managed to get Conan properly stored. Many of the small box expansions in these games include excessive packaging. I've already ditched the smaller boxes for MB and stored figures in Really Useful Boxes (just like my wargaming figures). Once I get a few more boxes I'll do the same with Conan.

Speaking of Conan. We've been playing through the Campaign book and having a real blast with it. Mighty Kyle has taken on the role of Overlord and the heroes haven't had an easy time of it. I've not posted any photos since none of the figures are painted. I wasn't going to paint them, but you never know. The MB figures certainly deserve a bit of paint.

Most of my figure painting has been targeted at Congo recently. Good progress has been made, but more on that another time. I have also been working on a 'secret' terrain project for an upcoming show...