Sunday, 1 May 2016

Captain America: Civil War


Went to see Captain America; Civil War on Saturday as part of a belated Birthday celebration from my siblings, and very fine it was too.

You can instantly see why the film has been dubbed 'Avengers 2.5' right from the outset with the character cast from where Avengers; Age of Ultron finished up, but it also (obviously too) with the carry-on from Captain America; Winter Soldier which forms the basis of the story line where it picks up where that movie left, with the Captain trying to get his old WWII buddy Buckie (aka The Winter Soldier) back.


The film is to be honest, a bit more 'grown up' in theme and plot line than any of the foregoing Captain America or Avengers movies. Without giving anything away, the whole movie has a serious theme running through the plot where it is noted that the previous exploits of the hero's have caused a lot of collateral damage and perhaps there is a price to pay for the hero's actions.

There is less CGI big visuals too, but still a considerable amount of action as is to be expected, but it is at a far more ground level status than previously. I do like the combat scenes early on with some nasty Merc types and these feature the cameo from Crossbones with some good old Avengers style beat-em-up action.


The Civil War when it comes is a long time building, more than half the film, and when it does take shape into conflict it is interesting, and does include some interesting bits including a spot appearance for Spiderman (a new casting which I think works quite well) and a nice twist of the AntMan/Goliath thrown in, but I felt a bit low key in flavour.







A very jarring note which I thought really didn't work (and my siblings and friends agreed) was seeing the Vision in a casual shirt and jumper and trousers get up, while relaxing. Duh! He's an android creation, I really don't think he needs to dress down somehow. Perhaps Mr Bethany (who I think makes a good Vision) didn't want to wear the green suit thing too much. There's also a faint glimmering of the Vision/Scarlet Witch romance hinted in the story too, but that just might be me.

The big climax battle between Captain America and Iron Man whens it comes is pretty good and fairly viscous and worth the wait but I'll not waste the outcome, you'll need to see the movie to find out, but the whole storyline builds to the conflict and it is quite whoa!

The movie is as I say, different from the previous movies and definitely a bit more dialogue heavy and there are a lot less of the humorous moments (though there are a few but pretty low key) and less 'clever' I would say but I think this deliberate given the premise of the story line.

All in all, we all enjoyed the movie (including my number 2 son who isn't a Superhero Movie fan at all) so it definitely merits the 8 out of 10 'worth watching' from the Warblog. 

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

The Kra'uul Invasion 2065 AD - Future Wars

The future looked bright for most of the population of the Earth on the morning of Monday 23rd August 2065 as they rose to go through their day, as they had the day before.

At 10:23am GMT the future changed. Three massive objects were picked up outside the orbit of Jupiter by orbiting satellite observatories, moving at colossal speed on a straight trajectory through the solar system. Their trajectory and speed would take the objects through the system with out incident in around two days. Scientific bodies around the world excitedly trained their eyes on the unexpected event.

At 10:37am GMT, the objects were noted to be decelerating and changing their trajectory as they passed the Jovan planet, apparently using the planetary mass to slow and redirect their travel. Around the world, alarm bells began to ring and Military and bodies politic trained their eyes on the unexpected event.

At 11:14am GMT satellite camera's relayed images of the objects to waiting worthies around the world. These images revealed what appeared to be three very large vessels of unknown origin. Calculations on the expected route of the vessels given their continuing deceleration and direction would place the vessels passing the orbit of Mars in two and half days. If nothing changed, they would arrive here by Friday, in time for dinner.


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As it turned out, we had less time to prepare than we thought. As the alien vessels approached the orbit of Mars, several objects, three from each vessel, were observed to 'break away' from each of the vessels and accelerated towards the Earth.


These 'objects' were some form of strategic missile which sped towards the earth at prodigious speed. Unable to intervene, the missiles entered the stratosphere roughly equi-distant around the globe in a line running a few degrees skew of the equator and 'detonated' releasing small arial vehicles which rapidly spread through and across the atmosphere. These vehicles, once in position broadcast an attack in the form of a massive and practically all encompassing EMP burst, effectively stopping any and all electrical, digital and electronic activity right across the globe, overbearing even the most hi-tech defenses.

This effectively blinded the planet and rendered almost useless, the majority of the most developed weapons and weapon systems that man had to date developed. The first blow had been struck in advance of the initial assault on the planet and there wasn't long to wait to see what would come next.

The first ships making planet fall appeared over north eastern China and immediately launched attacks on populated and strategic locations across eastern and south eastern parts of the country with devastating effect.

This attack was soon followed by another eight initial 'contact sites' across the globe, in Northern India, Saudi Arabia, Libya, Southern Spain, Venezuela, Mexico, Northern Australia and the last landing somewhere in Antarctica.

At all these sites, the Kra'uul, as they were found to be called, immediately launched mainly land based assaults on any and all military and political points in those area's and surrounds with an obvious goal of conquest. Non-combative population in the area did not appear to be being targeted and the only deaths here appeared to be collateral damage.

With the taking-out of the planets operations and command and control capabilities at the out-set, the Earths' military forces were in a large part, initially in chaos and uncoordinated though some preparatory work had been done in the last hours before the Kra'uul arrived. Older 'out of date' systems were brushed down and what was generally considered not front line equipment was rushed to readiness where available. Ironically, it was quickly apparent that the less developed states and countries around the globe became better placed than many of the leading nations, to be in a condition to militarily resist the invasion on their home soil.


  -----------

The initial assault was, as was to be expected, over-bearing and extremely efficient in all the landing sites with the Kra'uul taking significant territory at each of the area's.

It was soon apparent though that since the energy and resources required to launch a planetary invasion across the reaches of space was significant, the initial number of the Kra'uul was fairly limited and they relied on artificial or robotic aids to a significant extent. Also, other than small one or two man vehicles, no major pieces of equipment had been spotted.




Reports began to filter in from various locations that the Kra'uul were successfully occupying territory, they immediately pressed into service any and all methods of resource and material gathering including minerals and ore's especially, often press ganging local populations into this gathering, though no intelligence sources indicated any noticeable mistreatment during these activities. No organised attempt at communication with the Kra'uul received any response.


The first seven days of the Invasion passed as the Kra'uul advanced outwards from their beach-heads, usually in quick, targeted assaults which seemed to come in 'pulses', and it was quickly noted that the Kra'uul liked to do things in three's. Three targets each utilising three assault teams appeared to be a favoured theme. Within the seven days, the Enemy had made significant gains in eastern and southern Asia, the Middle East and North America, but more modest gains in Australia, North Africa and South America. In Europe, the Kra'uul advanced up through eastern Spain, reaching the Pyrenees area after four days but stopped advancing here. In Eastern Europe the Enemy swiftly moved up through the Levant and on into Western Turkey after day six but once again halted at the Bosporus.

The Russian and Eastern European forces as well as Indian troops had some small success in combating smaller Kra'uul Assault Teams using old stock piled AFV's and some small civilian light aircraft , which were coaxed into the air and used for spotting but these were quickly disabled by the Enemy once exposed, but these successes were minor and only held off the otherwise inexorable advance.

At the end of the first week, around 20% of the Worlds Land Mass was effectively under enemy control, or at least not under Human control to any extent.

                                                             -----------
The Second week of conflict started to see a change in the proceedings. By this juncture, a lot of the Earth's Armed Forces had begun to get their act together both in terms of getting their forces operational but also in terms of communication in the field and also with other Armed forces around the globe utilising analogue equipment in many places or adapting existing 'fried' equipment where possible.


As communication of sorts was resumed, Intel on the enemy began to be collated and quirks, or weaknesses became known and which could be exploited. The most telling issue was that the Kra'uul seemed unable (or unwilling) to cross substantial bodies of water, lakes, rivers etc. The concept of boats and ships seemed alien to them and they seemed only able to cross these 'obstacles' by air, otherwise going round them. Likewise, the more extreme desert area's appeared to be likewise avoided though with less certainty.

The second week also saw the first of the larger Kra'uul vehicles and armed/armoured battle suits being sighted, with these being deployed against Russian, Chinese and other local Militia forces south of Lake Aral in Kazakhstan with devastating effect in the generally open terrain. The number of these vehicles remains unknown but they appear to be mercifully few in number.

After the initial successes of the Kra'uul in the first week of the invasion, by the end of the second, their advance had visibly slowed and their limitation on numbers and resources began to show.

The Kra'uul then changed their tactic's of a general advance on all fronts, to a more targeted 'most gain' philosophy and several area's including South America, North Africa and Australia appeared to be put on hold and consolidated and forces relocated.

Early in the third week a concerted assault came on Western Europe and simultaneously through the Caucasus into southern Russia.



Within days of this attack the various European Federation forces withered in the face of a concerted assault and France, western Germany, northern Italy and into the Czech Republic quickly were over run but this assault cost the Enemy it's first noticable casualties especially in southern France and around the Alps where particular stiff Human resistance caused significant damage to the Kra'ull advance and there still remains significant pockets where the Kra'uul have not pushed subsequently.

In southern Russia and the northern China, the push had also been sporadic with the Asian forces trying to keep mobile and refusing to give the Kra'uul a Hard Target where possible but the Kra'uul have still managed to occupy signifcant strategic areas in the region.

On the twenty-third day of the conflict the Kra'uul launched a significant aerial force into main land Britain and landing in the area south of Oxford, and commenced an advance east and northwards. On the same day, the Kra'uul launched another arial task force from eastern China into the North Western seaboard of the United States who had so far been mainly untouched by the alien invasion other than some minor skirmishing around the Mexican border area 

The Americans had had a reasonable time to prepare though the location of the attack did throw them off strategically and so lost a reasonable amount of territory before mobilizing resistance to the alien threat.

Likewise in Britain, the alien landing had a strong push initially and occupied the West Country and most of the Home Counties with relative ease, but unlike the Americans who had pooled forces to cover populated areas, the British forces including large number of other European Federation troops and some Russian League Elite forces from Scandinavia had withdrawn to a more defensible line in the Midlands with a holding force in Ireland.



Over the next ten days the Kra'uul forged ahead utilising strong ground based assaults with heavy air support and managed to take most of mainland England but with increasing difficulty and several pockets of resistance remain with human strongholds being present around Liverpool and York in particular. The Kra'uul forces seeming to loose steam, resources stretched, and their advance Peter's out just north of the Scottish border. The European Federation forces still presenting a viable force around the Central Belt and begin to receive Federation and League reinforcements from Scandinavia in small but useful numbers.


In the States, the Kra'uul advance is initially strong, primarily over mainly uncontested areas in the north west but as they quickly advance south towards California and East into Montana the Federal forces reinforced by Canadian troops begin to stall their advance and after four or five days the Kra'uul halt and re-order their forces. Two days later, new reinforced numbers of Kra'uul assault the Federal American forces in Nevada with unprecedented numbers of drones and previously unseen fighting vehicles backed up with a small number of heavy battle suits with the Federal forces being forced to hastily withdraw following heavy loses.


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By the 1st of October 2065, the Kra'uul had effectively occupied around 60% of the land mass of the planet with a further 10% disputed or under conflict. Only central and Eastern north America, most of the Russian League territory and part of Northern Europe and Scandinavia remain free of the alien invaders. Scattered parts of South America and South East Asia remain totally unmolested but the conditions in most of Africa and Australia are unknown though the desert areas of these territories appear to present a problem to the Kra'uul so are likely free at least.


The Kra'uul have obviously been surprised by the strength and stubbornness of the Human defenders and are extremely stretched across the globe and do not appear to expect any off world support soon. The Kra'uul make their first communication with Earth governance approaching Russian/Chinese League forces South of Kazan and simultaneously Federal Forces occupying Boise, Idaho and European forces near Cologne and requested Human surrender and 'co-operation' stating that great good  for would be had if Earth joined the Kra'uul Empire. Further conflict being useless and destructive, the end inevitable. The response from all the field commanders was unanimous and impolite.

On the 2nd October, the Human forces launched their first counter-attacks on the Kra'uul invaders. The Enemy now had a fight on their hands....



Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Terrain Boards Continued - Side 1

Now, the ongoing saga of the quest to find the mystical Terrain Board continues....


With the failure of the first attempt to make up terrain tiles which I attempted earlier in MoreTerrain Board Trials, I looked at the Heroic Maps 'Frost Ruins' download and decided that as the 4' x 4' board that the downloaded sheets created was only really a one set up layout and that tiles would not be interchangeable, I was as well making up a 4' x 4' board rather than the tiles.


With this in mind and the useful suggestion from TamsinP that I should make the 'tiles' double sided I purchased another download 'tile set', this time trying a different vendor, namely PWork, and plumped for their Battleboard City Ruins set to use for a double sided board set.

A threesome of  2' x 4' 9mm MDF boards were also duly purchased and a can of spray adhesive which would be quicker, less messy hopefully and less prone to any warping or curling, though significantly dearer than more traditional glues.

I also made sure I had spare ink for my printer and an ample stock of 110grm card stock.

Perversely, I started on the City Ruins side of the boards and duly printed off 40 or so A4 sheets that comprise the set and proceeded to trim to suit and stick them to the boards.


The set does not quite cover the 6' x 4' board area so I intentionally left a 30mm border around the boards.

This Pwork tile set again only goes together in one layout, being a download version of their game mat. Unlike the Heroic Games dowload which includes a grided and ungrided version on the layout along with a full size graphic which you can play with if you have the appropriate software, the PWork file is a straight forward pdf card set. Each sheet printed, forms a part of the whole 'mat' area with no overlaps, again unlike the Heroic Maps file. 

It was quickly apparent though that the individual sheets do have a margin of error across the sheets. This error is marginal but significant enough to warrant having to try each sheet prior to gluing and despite careful trimming, adjacent sheets are slightly different sizes and often don't quite line up with their neighbours. Slightly irritating. This I suspect may be more down to pdf graphic creep than any irregularity on the part of PWork but is an issue which should be noted by anyone thinking of utilising the download sets. Initial layout and trial fitting is essential and sheets will require slight trimming to fit.


Two Thirds done
The whole thing went together fairly quickly once in the groove of things and once all sheets were stuck down and reasonably dried, that it was then that the individual boards were once again seperated with the use of a sharp knife run down the board gaps.




Once all stuck and seperated I had decided to trim the board edges with a suitable hard wearing tape, both for the aesthetic look of the boards and also to add a bit of protection to the board edges.



The full 6' x 4' area took approximately the best part of a day to assemble and also took a whole can of spray adhesive to stick everything down.

From a cost point of view, the purchase of one of PWorks pre-made game mats will range from circa £48 to £58 depending on material of the map. The approx cost of material to make up this Heath Robinson version of the mat works out to be approximately £35 including glue, card and ink, but excluding the boards themselves (as the mat needs something for it to be put on). Add to this the time to assemble and the cost of the bought mat looks to be fairly reasonable and other mats from the various suppliers look to be of similar costs. I aim to cover the boards with a light coat (probably sprayed) of matt varnish to protect the surfaces and this will slightly add to the finished 'cost'.

A fun enough project in it's execution, which I will run to it's conclusion, but I think for a play area without any multi layout use I will not be making up any others in this fashion, but would plump for the mat versions instead.

So having printed off the full set of the Heroic Maps Frost Ruins tile set I had to purchase additional adhesive so haven't completed the reverse side as yet.

Frost Ruins sheets laid out to check size
Laying out the Frost Ruins sheets, which have significant overlaps, the overall area provided is significantly bigger than the advertised area, namely 53" x 53"  a full 3" bigger each way.

The surplus sheets which will not be cut and stuck to the boards, will be used to make up loose 'blocks' to match the terrain boards. These will be used to provide a some raised areas to add a bit of variety to the terrain layouts.

I will post the completed results to the reverse side once completed in a week or two.

Sunday, 17 April 2016

War of The Rings - Rohan vs Isenguard

Troops massing prior to deployment

This week's club game was a bit of a turn up and see what was happening kind of game with a few bods looking for a game and so an impromptu game of War of the Rings game was put together by Kev, with myself and Ian taking the side of the mighty Isenguard forces under the generalship of Lurtz against the 'Straw Hairs' in the guise of Kenny and David commanded by the 'unlucky' Theoden. 

The scenario chosen was 'Kill the King' ie four victory points for taking out the opposing general and 1 pt for each three companies destroyed so basically a meat-grinder.







The initial Deployment
The Isenguard forces deployed first and went for a fairly simple plan to hold the centre and right flank expecting the Rohan forces to attack through the ruins and possibly split the cavalry for each flank, and our main thrust was massed on our left flank through the woods to be followed by the centre and Lurtz with the massed Uruk-Hai pike.

The sneaky Rohan forces then deployed and went for a refused flank and ignored the ruins, and plumped for a holding centre and a massed cavalry assault on their left flank.

Isenguard advances on the Rohan lines
















This now obviously caused a bit of a conundrum but being Uruk-Hai (and minions) we didn't let this bother us too much and launched our assault as planned and began a sweep of our forces towards the stationary Rohan Infantry.

The first half of the engagement quickly bogged down into a fight for the woods with a see-saw fight for control with first the Uruk-Hai scouts occupying them but quickly ousted by Theoden and his surrounding Riders. 

The fight for the wood rages


The Isenguard Uruk-Hai and Dunlending infantry advance into
the fire from the Rohan lines
Sharku's Raiders (Warg Riders) ocuppying the far left of the Isenguard lines held the line pretty much for he whole game and held up a unit of Riders of Rohan, much to our surprise as we expected these to buckle pretty quickly and hopefully, as we had a unit of Uruk-Hai Berserkers ready to pounce once the Raider broke but as it transpired these Berserkers never saw action.












Theoden pushed out of the woods and fairly quickly destoyed the Uruk-Hai scouts but this allowed an assault on Theoden and his Riders from a counter-charge by an Uruk-Hai Warband and an Isenguard Troll and threatening Berserkers. This assault stopped Theoden and pushed him back towards his lines through the woods.


The numbers on the Isenguard left began to tell and the limited space prevented the Rohan forces bringing all their cavalry to bear, especially the Kings Guard and Gamling with the Royal Standard which languished at the back trying vainly to find an opening to exploit.

The long march of the Isenguard forces nears its conclusion

The second half of the engagement now began to unfold as the rest of the forces began to close. Vrashku's Talons ( a powerful Uruk-Hai Crossbow Unit occupied the farthest forward ruins and began to fire on the end of the Rohan lines and in two rounds destroyed a unit of the Rohan militia and the proceded to make a dent in the next unit in line. The advancing Pike blocks taking fire from the Rohan Oathsworn Bowmen and this lined the lines a bit but not enough.

The fight around the woods involving two units of Riders, Theoden and his Guard versus the Troll, Uruk-Hai Warband and Sharhu's Raiders continued began to tell in the favour of the Isenguard forces as the Kings Guard was slowly whittled away and when the remaining Riders of Rohan cut off the advance of the second Unit of Uruk-Hai Berserkers but suffered heavy casualties, things began to look bleak for Rohan.

The Isenguard forces close
With the Uruk-Hai lines crunching into the Rohan ones and breif melee evolved with the Rohan Royal Guard trading blows with the second Uruk-Hai warband and Lurtz and the massed pike running over the Rohan Bowmen speed bump without much pause and onto the remaining Rohan infantry, things were unravelling fast for Rohan.

The end nears
Surrounded on three sides Theoden is about to be cut down
 along with most of the Riders
Another round or so was fought until with Theoden being cut down and the tally of destroyed Rohan Companies mounting rapidly, the victory was declared for Isenguard.

For a run down of the forces involved and Kev the umpire's take on the game, you can find his report at Double Six.

A fun and interesting game, and something different for the weekly club game. It often is the impromptu games that turn out to be the most enjoyable.


Thursday, 14 April 2016

Carronade '16


A heads up for this years club show, Carronade '16, which will be at Graeme High School Falkirk on Saturday7th May.

Full up-to-date details on traders and clubs attending the show can be found on the FDWC website here.

If your looking to get a stall in the Fleamarket, you might be too late already as the bookings were very busy, very quickly this year with most positions going within the first few days of bookings opening.

Friday, 1 April 2016

Otherworld Fantasy Skirmish Trials



Another week and another new game to try, this time it was one with quite an 'Old Skool' flavour, namely Otherworld Fantasy Skirmish Rules.

Kev once again providing the goods in the terms of the rules, tokens and some new mini's from a variety of sources but including Otherworld own range of fantasy miniature's with trial scenario from the rules with a couple of sample bands to try out the rules. Dave and myself being the volunteer guinea pigs to try out.

The scenario was a simple enough raid of some usual bad guy shape TS in the form of an ogre and his goblin and giant minions attacking a village and a band of 'slightly nicer' adventurer types defending the village.

The whole venture was quite enjoyable in a slightly clumping way as we explored the rules but we quickly picked things up with the use of the tokens. Representing everything from spell effects and morale status to special items carried, the tokens certainly making things clear what was going on and eventually speeding play up but I felt took something of the story/RPG/flow from things that typify the skirmish genre and made the event more gamey, 




The game itself was fun in its own right with a simple D6 based system with hit/kill/save format and checks against stats which is pretty familiar.

In the end the Dave and his nasty adventurers managed to fend off the noble ogre and his goblin myrmidions, fairly convincingly as the attackers only managed to burn down one of the four buildings required for a victory, the ogre taken out (fairly early on and surprisingly easily) and several of the goblin crew down with a small compliment of the adventurers down in return.




I salute the obvious attempt to recreate the old D&D style of game in a more up to date format with lots of touches and nods back to its inspiration in terms of spells, artwork and even the creatures and monsters in the rules. (I particularly like the style of the black & white line drawings).


The rules themselves are a nicely produced set with good production values, nice artwork and a good mix of rules, stats, and scenario's and I do like the style of the rules.

The rules themselves as said earlier are simple enough and take up about a third of the 140 or so pages, the next forty pages are taken up with stats on a spread of typical fantasy standard adventurer archetypes and followed by the ubiquitous creatures and monsters and lastly the rest is taken up by the Encounter guide; scenario's and game settings and examples of play and what to do with tokens, adventure cards and the like. I particularly like the 'Against the Slave Lords' scenario featuring an adventure deep beneath the ground in caverns against the file Drow, (ring any bells?)




The game does seem to be set and and designed around a one on one set up with stand alone games and no campaign system which does limit the scope of the rules where much of this type of game use would normally come from multi-player set-ups.

In the end a fun game was had in this trial, and I would like to play again with perhaps a set up of a back story to push on the involvement in the game, but I feel the one-off methodology may limit the longevity of the system. Hopefully some development will be forth coming to expand the concept into a more campaign based setting.


Saturday, 19 March 2016

Aliens Vs Predator (AVP) Trial



Another week and another new game to try. This week Kev had been busy previously and had signed up for the Kickstarter for the AVP game and although there's been lots of disgruntlement about the lateness of the issuing of the game after funding, things appear to be rolling now (although Kev still hasn't got everything) and had enough of the bits to have a game. 

So myself, John E and Tim all had a shot of playing the game and Kev gamemastered. With myself taking the easy option and going the horde of Aliens, Tim the Marine's and John the Predators.



Though there appeared to be some dubiety over some of the rules, mainly in the clarity department, we all had a ball playing through the scenario which saw the Marines having to download some stuff from a location opposite their start point, the Predators had to scan three area's again far from their starting point, and the Aliens just had to kill five bodies worth, (the Predators counting as two).

The fun part of the game appears to be the random initiative each turn and the Environmental cards giving random effects around the 'ship' drawn by the player with initiative that turn. The first turn for example I drew a card which sealed all the doors on the ship for that turn 'due to a malfunction' and effectively sealed the Marine's in their starting point for the first turn. Other examples were the sprinklers going off, the doors randomly opening on a through of 1-4, gravity being 'suspended and so on.

We all had a hoot playing the game as we all didn't take it too seriously which I think suits the game immensely. John consistently threw high on the D20's, especially for Armour saves so his mega-powerful Predators didn't perform as well as they should, my Aliens on their headless charges into battle caused most of their damage by being eviscerated by some form of high tech weaponry from one enemy or another but managing to spray acidic blood on their hapless foe's in the moment of departure, and Tim's Marine's moved about the ship in a purposeful SWAT huddle and managed to avoid most of the mayhem.

Long of the short of it the Predators went down ignominiously and got bogged down by wading through puddles of acidic blood and died to an extraterrestrial but both the Aliens and the Marine's achieved their objectives.

The hard plastic playing pieces are very nice all round and although a bit on the gangly side for my tastes, are all exceedingly eye catching, (except the Flamethrower Marine who looks to be skipping).

A few things in the rules did seem a bit odd but most were down to the 'first play' of the game with a few clarifications being sought afterwards. The biggest thing to cause a bit of concern was the turn about initiative which meant that due to numbers the Aliens could move about the board unhindered and en-masse which did seem to give a fair bit of an advantage.

That said, we all had a fun game and look forward to play AVP again. Think that says all that needs to be said..
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