Saturday, July 30, 2016

Aurelian and Dragon Rampant

Vacationing has pre-occupied me these past few weeks but I have managed to squeeze in a couple of games. Bruce introduced me to Aurelian this past week. This is a card driven game where the armies are also cards (although you could miniaturize it).

My impressions after one game is that opportunity cost is a central feature of the game. I both ran out out of cards and got my ass kicked in combat. Managing the number of activation/event cards is really important. Interestingly, there are no dice: combat is the unit's basic factor plus a card (you can choose from your had or blindly from your pile) compared to the other unit's numbers. I'd certainly play again.

I also busted out some 15mm fantasy figures to play a six-player game of Dragon Rampant with some celebrity guests from the east. Not sure the scenario was my greatest idea but everybody seemed to learn the mechanics quickly and my team won (and Tim managed to win the individual title).

Up next: I have a few figures under way painting-wise and club night is Tuesday.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

July 19 Club Night

We had 14 guys out at the club this week, which was pretty good given the lovely summer weather.

Dave hosted a game of Blucher with John, Guy, Scott and newcomer Alan playing. Elliott and Kevin faced off over some third edition Warmachine.

Bruce brought his Black Ops gangster game out for Steve, Terry, Wiley and I. We played twice. Game one saw the FBI find the still relatively quickly and make good progress. Until suddenly the tables turned and they were running out of guys to complete their victory conditions with!

We called the first game for the gangsters. We switched side and played again. This time, the FBI troops stays tightly together. This allowed multiple attempts at observation, allowed multiple figure melees and shooting, and gave the FBI more control over when they would spotted.

This game lead to a gangster rout after about 40 minutes. It was interesting to see the tactics evolve. I wonder if the defensive tactic is to cluster guys around the leader in blinds so as to minimize the amount of picking off the attacker can do before general combat breaks out?

Up next: I need to sort out a game I'm hosting and also get back to painting. I have a 1/72-scale tank destroyer just about done.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Black Ops Gangsters

Bruce was keen to try Osprey's new Black Ops rules again so I popped out for more gangsters action. We played two scenarios; the assassination scenario and the sabotage scenario and the key mechanic in both of them was the observation (or maybe infiltration?) rules.

Basically the rules account for various non-visible effects (e.g., darkness, fog, crowded streets). The defender is largely passive except for a few guards (whose movement is determined by die roll on a table). As things start to happen, the guards become more alert, which wakes up the defender's leader. Eventually, the defenders become fully awake and in the player's control.

This gives the attacker a lot of decisions to make (basically when to make noise). To offset the attacker's greater control during the early game, most of the defender's troops are hidden in blinds (with dummy blinds) so the attacker's knowledge of what is what is imperfect.

This mechanic is quite neat, but the rules around it are very poorly written. For example, when the attacker wants to try and reveal the content of the blind, the defender rolls. If the defender is successful, the blind stays hidden. But the rules sometimes reverse who the actor is when discussing game play (e.g., talking about the attacker being successful when they mean the defender failed the roll). The actual text is way less clear; I had to interpret some to even make clear what the problem is.

The activation mechanic is card based (each type of figure activates on a different card). What this means is that a group of figures comprising different types of troops won't activate together.  This is interesting in the decisions it creates but you have to wonder how much sense it makes if you use the rules for modern combat missions.

The observation mechanic is also abstract. You can attempt to reveal a blind anywhere on the board, even if the figure doing so can't see the blind (there are penalties for this). So this means, in a skirmish game, a figure two city blocks away with no line of sight and presumably coping with streets full of people, vehicles and noise can somehow know what is in a blind (assuming the die roll is successful--or, rather, the defender's die is unsuccessful). I'm happy to go along with the abstraction but it jars a bit with the skirmish scale.

Overall, an interesting set of rules and reasonably fun to play. It is more fun to be the attacker, but that may reflect that we haven't figured out how best to play the defender. Shame the rules are not better written.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Character bases for Dragon Rampant

I picked up a few character figures to round out my Dragon Rampant armies with some magic users, clerics and heroes. (Apologies if the formatting is a bit off--Blogger is giving me difficulties).

These are Splintered Light minis and are lovely poses. They remind me a bit of the old Grenadier D&D minis from the 1980s.

Dragon Rampant suggests multi-figure bases to represent small groups of magic users and warriors. I think this worked out okay--I have elevated the camera (above) to show the rear rank.

The basing is rather plain to match the rest of the troops in the army (from the Battlelore game). The characters are a touch smaller (15mm versus 18mm) than the Battlelore figures.

My solution was just to put an extra washer under the character basis to give them some extra height. Seems to work okay.

Up next: I'm off to play from more gangster's with Bruce tonight using the Osprey Black Ops rules. Then I'm not too sure what is next I have a 20mm M-36 tank destroyer primed so maybe that gets from paint.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Dragon Rampant at the club

We had a dozen guys out at the club last night. I put on a game of Dragon Rampant. My magic users were not yet finished so this was a straight up fight with a monster thrown in.

Above, the beefy soldiers of King Ralph march to recover the Bitumen Cross looted by the Riders of Flatland and currently being carried east across the vermilion fields.

The flatlanders had a tough time getting going and then ran into a giant werebear (therebear) that cleaned out a few units before finally dying.

Towards the end of the game, the foot carrying the cross swung around the right flank while the left flank frozen by a mounted sally. The flatlanders eventually made it off the board.

Dave hosted Terry, Dennis and Scott in a game of Chain of Command. The Brits again had a tough go with the Germans in Normandy.

There was also some third edition Warmachine on the hop.

A second game of Dragon Rampant saw a much more contested fight for the Bitumen cross. The flatlanders tried to rush the cross up the left side of the board (in background below) and lost it! Damned dwarves! But the dwarves were in moral trouble.

Eventually, the dwarves failed morale after their leader was killed in battle, leaving the cross to the flatlanders. barely.

Up next: Some 15mm magic users and heroes.

Friday, July 1, 2016

A few 1/76-scale vehicles

High summer is upon us and between gardening and cycling, my painting time is limited. I finally finished a 1/76-scale half-track from Matchbox. I think this came out of Terry's basement?

I also completed an early-war Russian SPG based on a T-26 chassis. A bit fiddly in terms of modelling. I also had two T-26s with a bunch of brass parts that I eventually threw out as way too fiddly to be bothered completing. There was no reason to have brass fenders!

Up next: I'm working on a bunch of character models of Dragon Rampant and hope to run a game at the club this week.