Tuesday 26 May 2015

SAGA Revenants - Grave Pits

A stench fills the air. The ground trembles and the earth starts to subside. Suddenly a lifeless hand appears, clawing at the grass, animated by foul magic. Then another appears, and another... Be careful where you step!



The Revenant box set come with two metal grave pits. Each costs one point and can be converted into a unit of 12 undead levy. Why spend a point on a grave pit instead of directly on a unit of Revenants? Grave pits can be moved, if your opponant permits, and cannot be attacked or targeted by any battle board abilities. A grave pit can work its way across the board, suddenly appearing behind the enemy or even beneath an enemy unit. Should this happen, the newly appeared unit receives a number of free hits. And if your opponant doesn't permit the grave pits to move? Then the Revenants receive dread tokens. The more dread tokens, the more nasty the Revenants become!

Beware the grave pits!



Sunday 24 May 2015

The Sontaran Experiment

So the scene is set. The Galsec colonists have been taken prisoner and Field Marshal Styre is conducting his unspeakable experiments. The Doctor, Harry and Sarah have arrived via Transmat beam.

It's time for us to play The Sontaran Experiment!

Here's our game board. North is to the top.


The Sontaran spaceship is located in the southeast corner. Nearby is a yellow Communication Device. In our game we decided that, should he get to it, the Communication Device permits the Doctor to use his invent special ability. Field Marshal Styre starts close to his spaceship and the robot starts within 4 inches of the Transmat Circle (middle of board).



Having repaired the Transmat Circle the Doctor, Harry and Sarah start the game in the NW corner. Each of the four surviving Galsec prisoners are tied to rocks in the centre of the four table edges.

The scenario is simple; the heroes must rescue the prisoners and escape via Transmat Circle before dastardly Styre finishes his wicked experiments. Although there's no turn limit, at the end of each Sontaran turn the nasty experiments mean that a roll of 4+ results in the strength of one prisoner being reduced by 1. We all know what happens if this drops to zero...


Initiative is rolled and Mighty Kyle (aka Tom Baker, aka the fourth Doctor) goes first!



Sarah Jane makes a dash to the south and manages to reach a prisoner! Harry heads east but finds the ground heavy going.


He stumbles and stubs his toe losing a hit point as he goes down,



Meanwhile the Doctor heads through the rocks to scout out the land.

Time for Field Marshal Styre to head forth...



The Doctor whips out his sonic screwdriver and takes aim at the approaching robot. There is a fizzle and... Nothing! He misses!

The robot turns and four metal tentacles leap towards the Doctor. Success! The Doctor is captured!



Summoning all the strength he can muster, the Doctor breaks free. Before the mechanical monstrosity can react the Doctor retunes his screwdriver and the robot is immobilised...



Despite her lack of strength, Sarah is so outraged at the sight of the captured prisoner that she breaks his bonds. The prisoner makes a dash for the Transmat Circle, but the uneven ground proves his undoing. He stumbles and falls to the ground, stunned.



Laughing as only a man in dodgy makeup can, Styre whips out a card and runs towards the Doctor.



Mocking the Doctor for his puniness, Styre looks up and takes aim. Unfortunately Mighty Kyle plays a blinder.



The shot misses!


Now it's the Doctor's turn!



Shooting twice, the Doctor scores a hit and Styre crumples into the heather, stunned...


Without wasting any more time the Doctor runs towards the Sontaran spaceship, perhaps the secret to success will be found by examining the Sontaran Communication Device?



Unfortunately for the Doctor, the Communication Device is booby trapped...



Unfortunately for Styre, he needs better dice!


Having picked himself up, albeit with a throbbing big toe, Harry manages to free another prisoner. The prisoner takes a chance and makes a run for it!

He better watch out though, having rewired itself the robot is once more on the prowl...



Sidestepping the robot, the prisoner makes it to the Transmat Circle and beams up to Spacestation Nova, earning Mighty Kyle his first vp.


Having missed it's quarry, the robot switches target and captures Sarah Jane! Not content with capturing one of the Doctor's companions, the robot then rushes towards the other released prisoner.



Tentacles flail and punches are thrown. With nothing to show but sore knuckles (!), the prisoner breaks free and legs it. Perhaps the robot will have more luck capturing a Time Lord (again...).


Meanwhile the Doctor gets started on inventing something that will help to defeat Styre. It could take a while...



A cackling chuckle resonates across the game board...



Looks like somebody has it in for Harry...

He'd better make a run for it! Let's hope he doesn't roll a one...




Rather than risk losing another hit point, Mighty Kyle elects for Harry to fall down stunned.


"Eureka!" Shouts the Doctor...


His invention allows him to retune his sonic screwdriver to fry the Sontaran nerve system. A successful hit will now cause an automatic hit point.


Childhood memories of sofas return as Mighty Kyle plonks down a card that allows him to move things more to his liking.



The advancing robot is sent backwards, while the Doctor moves towards his foe. Meanwhile a second prisoner dematerialises... Another vp for Mighty Kyle!



Unfortunately the strain of repeated experiments is starting to take its toll and a Galsec prisoner expires.



Field Marshal Styre earns his first vp.


Whilst engaged in his unpleasant activities, Styre doesn't notice the Doctor creeping through the heather. ZAP! Styre is hit and his neural network is frazzled... Only one hit point left...

Styre decides that since Harry is still prone, he'll make an easy target. Luckily for Mighty Kyle Harry rolls a six and manages to get to his feet. Unfortunately for Harry he stands just as Styre unleashes a well aimed volley...



Harry falls to the ground. With no hit points left, is he dead?


Meanwhile, another prisoner expires...



Harry is down, Sarah is captured and Styre has another vp!


Just as things are starting to look bleak, the Doctor pops up from behind a rock and unleashes his sonic screwdriver. Field Marshal Style's nerves start to tingle and suddenly his head deflates like a long forgotten party balloon.



Styre drops dead and his robot becomes immobilised, releasing Sarah Jane.



The heroes save the day and Mighty Kyle wins the game, 4 vps to 2.



It's only a minor victory, but a victory nonetheless.

But what about Harry?!


Crash Landing

After detecting a distress signal, Galsec colonists head to Earth. But their ship malfunctions in orbit and crashes on the surface of the deserted planet. A small spherical object appears in the afternoon sky and slowly descends to the ground.



After struggling from the wreckage of their ship, the colonists see a Communication device nestled amongst the rocks. In front of it stands a Sontaran warrior.



Suddenly a mechanical sound is heard and before they can escape the four surviving colonists are entangled within metal tendrils.



The colonists are dragged to rocky outcrops from where Field Marshal Styre will begin the Sontaran Experiment!


Saturday 23 May 2015

Lion Rampant - First Impressions

I had my first game of Lion Rampant at last night's Friday Night Fire Fight Club and thought I'd share some thoughts.



As the cover suggests, the game system is designed for medieval wargaming. Over the past couple of years, I've found that my interest in historical wargaming has followed the early history of the peoples occupying the British Isles. Hail Caesar (Ancient British Celts), Dux Bellorum (Arthurian) and SAGA (Anglo Saxons) all provide rulesets for this period. Lion Rampant now allows me to expand on my existing warbands and explore the period after the Norman invasion.

The book is a relatively inexpensive slim paperback - available for less than £10 at many outlets. The rules are skirmish based rather than full blown Hail Caesar like battles. Individual warbands are typically 24 points. Since a unit of foot Serjeants consists of 12 models for 4 points, while better armed men-at-arms units are each composed of just 6 models for the same points, retinues don't require masses of painted figures. In last night's game I put together a retinue of Islemen (Norse Gael types), using figures from my painted SAGA Norse Gael and Anglo Dane warbands. It won't take much extra painting to have two or three full retinues ready for battle. Six point SAGA warbands can easily be upgraded with a few extra figures into Welsh, Irish, Scottish or Border Raiders etc. There are also sample retinues provided in the rulebook for forces from Western Europe, Eastern Europe and the Middle-East.

This is supposed to be a quick post so I won't go into detail about the game mechanics, other than to say they are simple (and I mean that in a complimentary way) and allow for a very fluid game. Different troop types have their own strengths and weaknesses and whilst there is still a degree of luck involved due to dice throwing, it's still important to develop appropriate tactics for your retinue.

There are 12 different scenarios provided that offer very entertaining encounters. In last night's game my Islemen had to attack Paul's retinue (Swiss - I know!) whilst they collected the taxes. Six tokens were placed randomly across the table with values hidden beneath. Since I was learning the game I decided to forget about the taxes and just attack the Swiss! Turns out crossbowmen can shoot 18 inches and pikemen are tasty in defence... Needless to say the Swiss went home richer... But without their leader or their confounded crossbows!

The last observation I'll make is about Boasts. Before battle commences each leader can make boasts about what he will achieve during the battle. These have varrying degrees of outrageousness and if achieved provide Glory Points that are added to any points earnt for achieving scenario objectives. These add real spice to the game and there's plenty of scope for making up your own boasts. If nothing else they should wind up your opponant!

Lots of fun and highly recommended.


Friday 22 May 2015

Earthquake in Kent!

Was rudely awoken at 3 am today by the bed violently shaking... Knowing I hadn't eaten anything too spicy, my first thoughts were obviously the safety of the family. But after jumping out of bed I did pop in to the spare room to check the painted figures sat in a glass cabinet were ok first!

Turns out we had an earthquake with a magnitude of 4.2. Thankfully no damage was done - to the figures or the family...

More info is on the BBC website.

Wednesday 20 May 2015

Transmat Station

The silver globes sit nestled amongst heather. They start to buzz...

The Doctor appears!

After a few moments Harry appears.

Then disappears...

Then reappears.

"Are you coming, or going? Or going, or coming?" Asks the Doctor.

"I feel a bit like a Morse message. Slightly scrambled." Replies Harry.

"Er, Doctor?"

"Yes?" Relies the Doctor whilst he continues to examine a globe.

A worried expression appears on Harry's face. "I can see you're busy, but what about Sarah?"

"Sarah?" Asks a puzzled Doctor.

A voice is heard, seemingly from a nearby clump of heather


The Doctor looks up, "That sounds like Sarah."



Stay tuned for Crash Landing!


Monday 18 May 2015

Canterbury SAGA Day 2015

John Fry (aka. Ducat) organised another excellent SAGA day yesterday (17th May) at the University of Kent. A motley crew of wizened hearthguard attended, with a couple of young warriors in tow.



We had enough space for four games of Brothers in Arms from C&C. This scenario is designed to be played with two teams of two players. Sadly a couple of folks couldn't attend, but we were still able to play six games during the day with 12 warbands. Each game lasted three hours and although the scenario permits six turns, most games ended after four (usually because we ran out of time).

The warband teams in attendance included:

Anglo Danes (me!) & Norse Gaels (Kyle)

Jomsvikings (Matthew) & Saracens (Dave)

Normans (Adam) & Vikings (Larry)

Milites Christi (Paul) & Normans (Liam)

Norse Gael (Alex) & Rus Princes (Kurt)

Pagan Rus (John) & Strathclyde (David)


In our first game we were drawn against the Jomsvikings (don't make them angry!) and nasty shooty Saracens. I really wish I had taken more photos during the day, but the three hour games required a lot of concentration! In particular I regret not getting photos of our initial deployment - lots of games are won or lost on deployment and it's good to review the initial set up to reflect on how units could have been better placed.

In our first game we decided it would be a good idea to put down as much terrain as the scenario permitted, to minimise being shot whilst keeping away from the wrathfull Jomsvikings. This worked to some extent, but our right flank was only protected by a single unit of Norse Gael hearthguard. The Saracen cavalry started to move down our flank and although engaged by the Norse Gaels, the Saracens managed to break through and skewer both of our Religious Advisors. My priest was at the time attempting to convert the Norse Gael and took her eye of the ball... Luckily Mighty Kyle exacted revenge on the Jomsviking warlord who ended the game in multiple pieces. The final score was 32 points to 30 (in our favour). Since the scenario demands a clear win of 6 points, the game was therefore an honourable draw.


I did manage to take photos at the start of the second round of games.


Jomsvikings and Saracens square off against Milites Christi and Normans.


Here the Normans and Vikings face Norse Gael and Rus Princes.


Finally our Anglo Danes and Norse Gael stand trembling before Pagan Rus and Strathclyde.


The first game was a good match up even though we thought we'd had it when the Jomsvikings started to get mad... But this second game... The combination of Pagan Rus and Strathclyde was terrifying!

For a start, Strathclyde are allowed off table units that can come onto the board from any table edge. There's no hiding behind terrain here! No only that, but the off table units can shoot any enemy within L of a table edge. Since the shooting is automatically resolved, they even hit units when there is no line of sight!




So you might think its best to keep more than L away from the table edge... So did we...



David kept three units off table. That meant he was able to give three separate enemy units a fatigue during each activation phase. Not so bad you think? No worse than the Anglo Dane's Trapped. No, but remember the Strathclyde were partnered with Pagan Rus. Look at this...



With Endless Wastes the Pagan devils could kill figures based on how many fatigue the unit had. And the ability applied to all units on the table! Yikes. Do you think David's Strathclyde were giving warriors and levy fatigue? Oh no, the fatigue went on hearthguard! Without even engaging in melee our opponants could remove three points of figures a turn. Running to the table edge and dealing with the off table shooting didn't seem so bad after all! Just so long as we didn't try to do it with multiple activations...



Luckily for us melee did take place and were were able to get some points. Better yet, two of the off table Strathclyde units couldn't enter the battle and therefore counted as casualties at the end of the three hour time limit. I can't quite remember the score, it was something like 28 points (myself and Kyle) to 33 points (John and David). Since we were only beaten by five points it was another honourable draw. Phew!

We had an excellent day and were pleased with how we played. We didn't win a game, but neither did we lose one. Terrific stuff and great games all round. Thanks to everyone who attended and especially John for organising the day and James from Friday Night Firefight Club for getting us the venue.


Thursday 14 May 2015

GalSec Colonists Detect Terran Distress Call

It's 16087 and a faint distress call has just been picked up by GalSec colonists. Time for a rescue team to load up, buckle up and head to Earth...



Upon entering Earth orbit, a small spherical object appears briefly on the ship's scanner.

A dull thud is heard and a tremor is felt throughout the ship.

"Captain! The main drive has failed!"

On a bleak windswept hillside a blinding light appears in the early evening sky as a shooting star hurtles towards the ground...

Stay tuned for Transmat Station!


Tuesday 12 May 2015

Wargame Bloggers Quarterly Issue 4

The latest issue of the wargamer's fanzine has just been published.



This issue is of particular interest since there is an article on creating desert terrain. Just in time for Pyramids of Mars... A PDF can be downloaded here.