Monday, 10 December 2018

Making up even more

As I said a couple of posts back in addition to writing a few sets of table top miniatures game rules, I have also got a fairly decent list of one off after dinner or participation games to go along with them. In fact, at one time, they seemed to be the only sort of games I could design, which was really frustrating as what I wanted to design were rules for table top figures games. Any how, this is the list, I think:

Otranto - 1982
A committee/war council game set in renaissance Italy, just after the Turks have occupied Otranto. Everyone played a different Italian State leader, and they had to agree what their collected response was. It was printed in Arquebusier, back in the day, when it was in the large A4 format.

Harrying of the North - c1986
A figure game of Normans attacking a peaceful Saxon village. It was designed as an "atrocity game", following a discussion about "black" wargames, and whether the passage of tie makes a difference to how we perceive evil deeds done in the past. I ran this at Triples, and got a commended participation award, I think. One of a series of games I designed about what soldiers do when they aren't fighting battles.

"Old Charlie" - c1986
The Napoleonic fox hunting game. Lots of British officers let off steam in the Peninsula, by chasing after a pack of fox hounds. The aim was to be closest to the pack of hounds when the kill is made, without heading off the commander in chief. Had a mechanism that simulated jumping hedges. Published in Miniature Wargames No 12.

Looting the Baggage Lawn Game - c1986
A short outside entertainment designed to be played on the Croquet Lawn at COW. Players had to roll on an events table, then rush to a bucket full of loot, and then return whilst the other players were still rolling.

Siege of Delhi - 1988
An Indian Mutiny game, played on squares, where the British have to fight their way into the centre of Delhi to relieve the garrison, through what was essentially a self generating maze.Used figures and model terrain, but was basically a board game. Put it on a Triples, and again, got noticed, I think.

Looting the Baggage - 1992
The figure game version, with model landsknechts and loads of tents and wagons. It had a card driven system, and players had head bands that showed how drunk they were, which they couldn't see. Went to Triples, and was well received.. Pipped to top participation game by Pete Berry's "Breakfast in the Bastion" (for which I designed the firing system).

Hack - 1993
The game of news reporting in war-torn Yugoslavia. Using a NATO briefing map, and modified space marines as reporters and camera men, the players had to visit places where news stories were breaking, and then decide whether to report the truth or make it up. The former was physically more dangerous than the latter. At the end of each round one player had to put on the flak jacket and grab the microphone and do a 30 second piece "to camera", signing off with name, location and channel, having been played in with the theme music. Derek helped me run this at several shows, and we won awards at a couple, I think.

Warriors on Ice - 1996
70mm plastic musketeers, recreating that famous scene from one of the Dick Lester Musketeer movies, when they have a duel on the ice.  Has a conservation of momentum type system, and a novel combat system involving rolling dice in a box lid with a picture of the target.

Dr Who and the Arena of Death - 2001
Pre-reboot Dr Who, of course.Players are various creatures, UNIT, the Doctor and an assistant. Each has their own victory conditions and the scenery tiles represent what ever the players need them to be. So a corridor can be between two rooms in a castle or on a space ship, as long as the previous occupant has left it. All very confusing and chaotic. Never got played to a conclusion, but loads of fun.

Military Memoirs - 2007
The old Parlour Game of Consequences, but adapted to create faux memoirs. Intended to be played after dinner, with a glass of port to hand.

The Elephant in the Room - 2010
A game of Roman Velites and an Elephant in 54mm. Used dominoes as a combat system. It was the SoA display game for a year, before being published as the re-subscription game.

Northampton 1460 - 2017
Ah yes. You should all be familiar with this. If you don't already own on, there's still time to order before Christmas. We're down to the last 70 or so copies, and there won't be a re-print, so don't put off your order longer than necessary.

There's some designs in there that I'm quite proud of, and were ground breaking at the time. The 1980s seem to have been a very fertile time, - how I did all of that whilst having a full time job, studying for professional qualifications and bringing up two small children is a mystery. Where did I find the eneregy and time?

Sunday, 9 December 2018

Hoplite Hinterlude

I haven't got a lot of painting done recently, except for the naked Gauls, so I set aside some time this week to do a unit of Zvezda Greek Hoplites.

These come from the boxes I got on the cheap at Peterborough. The thing is with hoplites is that I'm not a massive fan of them as an army, - they don't really do anything for me. However, for the periods I am interested in I sort of have to have them. And often need quite a lot*, so acquiring a load on the cheap was gratifying.

Still have to slog through the painting of them tho'. The figures are quite nice, it has to be said, although the boxes include a few too many swordsmen who can't be converted to spearmen. I therefore decided that I'd do a unit consisting entirely of swordsmen, representing the melee after all the spears have been broken and people are getting properly stuck in.

I took these pictures with my new phone. It's still a budget model, but the camera is amazing. You can clearly see the really crap paining on the shoulder fastenings on the linen cuirasses.

Even with my limitations, they've come up really nicely. I've got a couple of units of spearmen sitting on the desk to paint, now I've worked out how to convert them to holding the spear vertically without doing too much surgery to the figures.

The shield designs are transfers from Veni Vedi Vici, intended for 20mm Hat Hoplites. The Zvezda figures came with raised designs on most of the shields but I carved them off, which gives them a slightly battered appearance.

I think they'll do.

*I have a similar issue with landsknechts/Swiss. I could really do with more of them, but have no desire to increase my 25mm metal collection

Saturday, 8 December 2018

Making it up as I go along

I don't know why people come to this blog. Possibly for the toy soldier pictures, possibly for my wry observations on life in general as a wargamer and perhaps because I write my own rules and talk about their development.

I've fiddled with rule sets like, forever. At primary school my mate Derek and I knocked off sets of rules for every period imaginable, based on those in Don Featherstone's "Battles with Model Soldiers", that my big brother had copied out. Every set I ever bought was treated to heavy surgery, - except the Airfix Napoleonic Rules by Bruce Quarrie. So involved trying to fiddle with them was impossible.

I don' know what set was the first I wrote completely from scratch. It would probably be at University, I would think, under the dual influence of Pete Berry and my membership of WD. I know I was writing "committee games" and one off board game type things, but the first set of table top rules I'm not sure about.

Due to the inclement weather today I had no excuses anymore for not sorting out a load of stuff in the study. My historically neat filing system for rules of my own and others had fallen apart a bit, and there were several different versions of rules masquerading as the most current, which is annoying to say the least when you get them out to run a game.

Early rules were hand written, - a challenge for a lefty like me, taught to write in the mid 1960s, but I was liberated by the purchase of a portable typewriter from Boots whilst an undergraduate. That did solid service for about 5 or so years before I bought an Amstrad PCW, which was a gigantic leap forward for writing and amending rule sets. Then PCs were introduced at work and I was into the Windows age with my first PC, a Gateway 2000(?).

Many of the early files I don't have anymore, or can't read the discs, but I still have paper copies of most things. Today's tidy up has taken me down memory lane. So here we have a list of rules wot I wrote, as far as I can tell, together with serious adaptations.

Henri IV and the League 1986 French Wars of Religion
These arose out of my obsession with Henri de Navarre I developed at University. The firing system never really worked, but it featured a sliding scale odds table for the hand to hand, which I always thought worked quite well.
Early XIVth Century Cohesion 1989 1500 -1520
Mainly developed to play Henry VIII v French. Featured a complex cohesion mechanism which counted down from 100 by unit. Too clever for its own good.
"Heat and Dust"  1990 Indian Mutiny
A Science v Pluck variant. Did a lot of work adapting this, but it never really worked satisfactorily. Bombed at COW.
Over the Plonk 1991 WW1 infantry
Platoon level infantry Trench attack. Worked quite well, with system revolving around officers motivating/activating sections.
George and the Dragon 1992 WW1 Armour
Modified from "OTP", this was a tank driving game where you had to predict where you would be in three moves, without telling the infantry player. Famously, in our group, this is the game where Paddy Griffith drove over his own troops and machine gunned them on a pill box glacis.
ERIS 1994 1500-1520
A return to Henry VIII. The "Early Renaissance Infantry Slog" had some novel mechanisms, where the frontage of theu nit represented strength, and the depth quality of unit. The Commanders' main job was to ensure enough casualties were recycled back to the fighting ranks.
Sepoy 1994 Indian Mutiny
File Leader variant. These got published. 
ERICAS 1995 1500-1520
ERIS, only with Cavalry and Artillery as well.
Take Me To Your File Leader 1997 Sci-Fi
A File Leader variant to be played with GW Space Marines. Got quite close to publishing, but had a serious computer problem and lost the files. Only have a much written over printed copy. Featured the "Groms" fighting the "Yacky-Dars". The background to the game was the best bit.
Cityfight Africa 2000 Modern Africa
A squad level AK47 Republic style game, but intended for house to house fighting. Had a novel casualty system where hit markers were placed under the figure bases secretly, with varying degrees of damage. Only know what they are when an officer/medic attends the base.
De Matricae Bellae 2004 Ancient
Tabletop matrix game rules written for the Society of Ancients, based on Chris Engle's "Politics By Other Means"
DMB Squared 2005 Ancient/
The above rules, but expanded, and put on squares.
Red Army, White Guards 2006 RCW
A Divisional Level plus game, using the Richard Brooks "Red Squares" system as a base.
Trial By Battle 2009 Wars of the Roses 
Simple combat mechanisms )based on AMW), lots of work for Commanders to do, ensuring units still have arrows and so on.
Return to the River Don 2010 RCW
Command system features coercion to over come activation fails, - but at thep otential cost of unit mutiny. The command and control process was quite intricate, and plans can fall apart quickly. Armoured cars were handled mainly in respect of their morale effect.
Send Not To Know 2011 SCW
Card driven activation sequence, where players pass initiative between each other based upon how long a suit of cards they are dealt. The firing system altered the die type base on quality, and the melee system had a forced positive outcome, - ie you could not get draws.
If You Tolerate This 2012 SCW
A square based SCW system, with alternating initiative, based on motivation failures. Hand to hand system basically taken from SNTK, but firing system has its roots in Cityfight Africa. Got a makeover in 2017.
Taiping Era 2013 Mid 19th Century China
Intended for both the 1860 "Opium" War and the Taiping Rebellion. System is entirely driven by the EDNA system. Received a significant re-write in 2015.
Rapid Raphia 2014 Ancients
A card driven, limited resource game with 12 units a side, played on a grid.
To Ur is Human 2014 Ancients
Sumerian Warfare, using a Fight/Fright/Flight mechanism. The relative status of units is key as they try to intimidate one another. The core combat system isn't special, - it's based on AMW.
Hurried Hydaspes 2015 Ancients
Like Rapid Raphia, only with elephants
It's Getting a Bit Chile 2016 1879 Pacific War
Corps level actions in South America. Easy to learn with innovative "column shift" combat system and movement linked to disorder. 
Va t'en guerre 2018 Marlborough
Bespoke rules for the WSS which reinforce historical behaviours. Keeping units fresh is key, as is rallying back your cavalry behind your infantry.

It's not a bad list, - there appear to be some fallow years, but looking at my files these were filled mostly with  the development of Participation and After Dinner Games (I'll post a list of those in the near future, too). There's also a period around the turn of the century when I was doing a lot of Matrix Gaming, which culminated in the publication of DMB. I was also obsessing a bit over "AK47 Republic", and running the "Brixcon" tournament. I was also doing a lot on the release of Armati 2, so with all the other stuff I didn't seem to have the time to develop anything serious for myself. In 2007/8 I was doing a lot with AMW, including running demo games for the SoA on their shows stand, so that's a bit blank as well.

Having said this, it looks like a good run since 2009, with some opportunities for revisions. I might go back and revisit the RCW sometime soon.

Wednesday, 5 December 2018

Something to Peru-ve

After last week in Mexico we headed even further south, to the guano fields of the Atacama Desert, and a return to the 1879 "10 Cent War" between Bolivia, Peru (as allies) & Chile.

These chaps haven't been out of their boxes for a couple of years or so, and they are one of my favourite collections, and I do like the rules I wrote too. ("It's Getting a Bit Chile". About time I put them in the downloads, I suppose).

Without overdoing the scenario design I had a brigade of Chileans guarding an important border crossing, close to a nitrate "mine" (open cast diggings, really). Here's a battalion making itself at home in the foreman's hacienda.

The Bolivians were headed up by President Diaz, and included his elite units.

He was supported by a Peruvian large brigade, under Colonel Bolognesi. He had some proper cavalry. Both were played Richard.

This is the full battlefield. The Chileans are expecting some reinforcements to come up that road on the right hand side.

The Bolivians headed straight for the mine area, surrounded by the adobe wall (I seem to have lost my mine buildings and sheds, if I ever had any).

Steve had the on-table Chileans. They were defending the mine area and the two haciendas. The undefended area is a store house.

Richard was developing two separate attacks, one at the mine and one at the yellow hacienda.

Meanwhile Phil had arrived with some reinforcements. Richard tried to cover that flank with his cavalry. Phil charged in, leading the charge personally on his white horse.

The Chileans were being forced back in the mine head (well, more diggings really), and were evicted from the hacienda. The hand to hand fighting was brutal and desperate.

Phil was gaining the upper hand in the cavalry melee. His command figure is a bit of a firebrand in hand to hand (really, - that;s what his command card implies).

The Peruvians were on the roof of the yellow hacienda, waving their flag, whilst the fight in the mine was intensifying. Steve's General was stuck in, inspiring his troops. President Diaz, for Richard, was hanging back, providing more mature leadership.

The men from the yellow hacienda fled over the bridge, pursued by their attackers. The defenders in the left hand building got to shoot them up a bit.

Phil's cavalry continued to drive the Peruvians back. The Peruvian infantry was forced into a square to stay safe.

The troops in the mine area were finally broken, and looked like all dying in the raging river torrent.

The other building was soon in Richard's hands, as the Peruvians prevailed in a bayonet attack, pressed home in the face of intense rifle fire.

When we finished Richard was in possession of the objectives, but Phil was bearing down on him from his flank, having cleared off his cavalry.

Everyone was complementary about the game. Steve would have liked more toys and guns, which is fair, as he ended up as a bit of a punching bag.

I identified a few things I could do with working on in the rules, although nothing serious, so we might have another one or two games over the next few months.

Tuesday, 4 December 2018

Recon, Pudsey 2018

For our last show of the year we headed North, to Pudsey Civic Hall. This is the furthest North we've been with the NBS stand, but it seemed like a good idea to me as Mrs T and I could take the chance to drop in on our son and his partner who live in the frozen wastes of West Yorkshire. Phil drove up the following morning. Which was the wise choice. We took nearly 5 hours on the Friday, due to a serious crash that blocked the M1. Phil took 2 hours 10 minutes on Saturday morning.

The show is similar in size to Hereward and smaller than Alumwell. It is held in one of those 70s Civic Centres that could be anywhere in the country. Biggish hall with a stage at one end, with committee rooms up stairs. When I got there I couldn't find us in the programme. That's because we weren't. We weren't in the main hall either. We were upstairs. Next to the Bring and Buy. And the Fire Exit. We'd been given the three tables we'd asked for, but couldn't really use all of them as one had to be against the wall.

Next to us was a big modern tank game, being played on hexes.

People kept bringing stuff to the B&B all morning. Not too much interest in anything else in this room.

The room was pretty busy all day. We played "1460" 4 or 5 times, which isn't too bad, but it wasn't a very user friendly place for people to stop and sit. Had a couple of good long chats with folks about the WotR and Northampton, so not entirely wasted.

Nice looking ACW game. I don't often say that.

This is some WW2 game. The people running it seemed keen.

And the obligatory sf game. The globe is a drop ship of some description. That's the Dark Ages reenactors behind them

Didn't see a lot of originality in the games. The trade show part of it was not bad for a show of this size, - a lot of Warhammer stuff, but otherwise only really Pete Berry was there out of the Northern manufacturers. To be honest, they'd have been pushed to squeeze more in.

I'd probably have been more enthusiastic if I hadn't driven that far to get there. It's a good local show, and as such I'm glad we were able to support it. If we were to go back, I'd want a guarantee on a better location.

And that's us done for 2018.

Monday, 3 December 2018

Can we do the Sudan (again)

What shall we do? The monthly question that arises between my boardgaming chum, Gary and me. I offered him the "Ebro 1938" second scenario. He asked for more figure gaming in the Sudan. I said how about Hicks Pasha. He said okay.

I mashed up Hicks Pasha's last campaign a bit. I gave him a town to advance to and relieve at one end of the table and then filled the space with sparse trees and an open plain (I ran out of trees)

I don't have any Circassian Cuirassiers, nor do I have a lot of civilians to mill about, but I put together a pretty good approximation of Hicks' column. I then scattered Mahdists liberally amongst the trees, -although they were still outnumbered.

The trees made it all jolly confusing. So much so, in fact, that I forgot completely about the Egyptian panic rule, which should see a goodly number making for the hills as soon as I move adjacent to them. Consequently the Egyptian horse put in a fine performance, much to everyone's surprise.

They even charged some Mahdist foot.

And routed them.

An attempt to do something similar with Ansar cavalry resulted in disaster.

The Egyptian cavalry also made quick work of my flanking troops, trying to get round to take out the baggage.

By now the Egyptians were hanging on to the edge of the wooded area, as Mahdists crept towards them. Gary is pushing units out left and right, regardless of what brigade they were in, which caused us problems later on.

I did finally succeed in surrounding and killing that pesky cavalry in the forest, and then broke through the line, routing an infantry battalion. I did get a bit shot up for my pains.

Gary's neat formation is breaking apart, but he is able to see off the Ansar as he advances. He is moving his baggage away from the flanking cavalry at the top to prevent me surprising them.

As I said, some of the brigades were getting a bit mixed up, and Gary was struggling to remember who was in charge of what.

In the end I lost one unit too many, and the rest of my brave fellows melted away, leaving Gary to march to his destination unmolested.

We had some tense moments, but it should have been closer. I should have put a turn restriction on the relief of the town to force Gary to move into the scrub. As it was he sat there, mostly, and let me come to him. And forgetting the "Egyptian Panic" rule didn't help.

Next time, perhaps, next time.

Thursday, 29 November 2018

South of the Border

This Tuesday evening we went down Mexico way for the first time in quite a few years. Richard brought back his US v Mexicans in the 1840s war over Texas, to give me a break from putting on games as I'd been away for the weekend. He'd even provided a newspaper briefing for us all as background.

Our start was a little delayed as Richard had a serious transport malfunction on the way (he dropped his box of figures and spilled them on the pavement leaving his house) but he seemed to have found everything and quickly set up the table.

Phil and Tim took the US invaders, and Steve and I took the defenders of Mexico's territorial integrity. The aim of the battle was to take and hold the river line and bridge. Secretly we Mexicans harboured the desire to give the arrogant Yankees a good thrashing.

We put all our cavalry (the pride of the Mexican army, wearing proper cavalry uniforms) on the right, so we could envelope their left wing and crush them against the river line.

We also manned the villa across the river, but that was quickly overrun.

The Texas Rangers also quickly crossed the river, and turned our left flank, but we held them off in a fine old style.

In fact our defensive line on the river looked pretty solid.

Until those pesky Rangers broke our square. No matter, we had plenty more.

Out on our right we lost a cavalry action, or two, but finally got a two to one attack on their rear. To the right of the bridge we deployed the Grenadier Guards to fend off the hordes of Yankees rushing across the river.

They burst through our defensive line on the bridge, and it was all looking bleak...

... especially as, although we saw off the Texas Rangers, we were powerless in the face of the massed US infantry.

Just in time our reinforcements arrived on our right, and took back the bridge. Huzzah! And our Guards were doing a good job of holding up the right flank (BTW our 2:1 cavalry attack v infantry in line failed dismally).

As darkness fell, our final reserves marched onto the table, ensuring that for practical purposes we got a draw.

It was a thrilling game with a bit of ebb and flow, - mostly Mexican ebb and Yankees flow, it must be admitted - but we managed to hang on and stay in the game.

Richard ran it using Shako II. He isn't as strict as he might be with some of the rule systems, but he encourages a flowing game with a lot of character, so we can forgive him that.

What fun.