Friday 8 November 2013

Mordheim Season 2 - Rauberdale Rumba

The latest exciting installment of Mordheim Season 2 was fought out last week as the intrepide bands followed on the trail of the Necromancer Allek and tracked one of his minions to his lair in Rauberdale up the Talabec River.

Converging of the Magisters tower in a race to take out the minion and loot the treasures that lay inside the warbands of Kev's Beastmen, Ian's Reiklanders, Andy's Sisters, Dave's Marienburger's and my Kislevite's raced towards the goal as the Magister and his bodyguard of skeletons made a break for it.

The action quickly started with my Kislevite's and the Sisters closing and traded a few shots at each other but causing little damage. Ian's group took a few pot-shot's at my flank at long range while advancing in a tight group towards the tower and the Magister as he left his tower. The Beastmen made a steady advance towards the tower from the opposite side of the river while Dave's Marienburger's on the same side of the river advanced along the bank while lobbing ineffective shot's at the Sister's.

With typical luck the Magister on his first turn and randomly moving directly between the Reiklanders and the Beast men straight up the middle of the river and even worse luck occurred with his first spell casting, Eye of the Gods and rolling a 1 meant the Gods had judged him unworthy (obviously because of his cowardly action fleeing the scene) caused him to be sucked into the winds of chaos leaving only his smouldering boots and his skeletons to fend for themselves.

The Kislevite's and the Sister's were pretty evenly matched and after each had taken three of each other bands down both also failed their rout tests and promptly fled the field.

The game's main event then kicked off as the Beast men closed on the river and engaged a couple of the skeleton's on one side and the Reiklander's on the other engaging the other two.

The skeleton's were pretty quickly dealt with all in all but they had delayed the two bands advance and caused both groups to bunch up on the river banks and with both bands hesitant to launch into the water and potentially give the other the advantage, the two bands moved towards each other over the islet/landing in font of the tower on a pretty narrow front.

With the Marienburger's very slowly advancing on the Beast men's flank, the Beastie's finally gained the upper hand after a pretty lengthy skirmish between the two bands and the Reiklander's took a voluntary rout before too much damage was inflicted.

The Marienburger's then jumped into the slightly beaten up Beasts but even though inflicting a couple of further casualties (including taking down the Beast men leader before breaking leaving the Beast men in possession of the field and the goodies in the tower.

At a couple of points in the game, things looked very dicey for the Beast men but it was a surprise to everyone, including Kev, that they came through on top, but the band was probably worse off at the end with losses incurred including the leader being robbed of all his possessions including the Amulet of Allek, which will need to be retrieved in the next game to continue the plot line.

One thing which had worried the Beast men right at the start was the open terrain for this game, and the plethora of missile armed troops in the other bands, but as it turned out that all the shooting was extremely poor all round everyone obviously buying rubber arrows before the battle.

Another good game all round and the next sixth installment promises to be another corker of a game. Should be good.

Thursday 17 October 2013

Sisters do it Digitally

I note from the GW and Black Library Websites that they are soon to release (19th Oct) the new Codex: Adepta Sororitas (Sisters of Battle to you and me) for 40K.

The decidedly 'Marvelesque' Cover
(Can u call it a cover if it's digital?)

Being a collector of this army for sometime (I've even had a couple of games with the army over the years too), I had a look at this as it peeked my interest, not only as I have a passing interest in using the army again but also cause the released 5th Ed lists serialized in White Dwarf a couple of years ago were fairly poor, so I thought this might be an improvement.

I quickly noted that this was an ebook only release. So digital but no dead tree versions, hmmm.

A Nun with a Gun
I don't have a big problem with this as I've recently embraced the ebook revolution, but what is of interest was that this is synonymous of a bigger move, away from hard copy to a digital only theme that seems to be building generally in publishing and more particularly in gaming. Perhaps it is because of the general low volume of gaming publishing that is pushing this move, or is it that us as customers are more agreeable to the digital medium.

I can see that the army is probably low sales comparatively, but at least the lower overhead option of supporting the still available (but alas un-added to) range of figures.

The pretty chunky price tag for a digital version of £19.99, for a 120 pages ish did seem a bit steep though.

I did note that GW's (Black Library) catalogue of digital and digital only products is pretty extensive, surprisingly so. Even if some of the titles are a bit esoteric to say the least, but I'm not one to gain say that.

I'll no doubt pick it up sometime probably at the same time I get around to getting the new Eldar Codex along with the Iyanden Sourcebook. Ouch, no change from £60 for some intangibles.

Tuesday 8 October 2013

Hollow Crown Playtest

A Scots Schiltron 'on a roll'
Not having been able to get to the club for a fair while I was hankering to get a game in and when Dave Imrie (Saxon Dog fame) approached the powers that be at t'club to see if there was any interest in bodies playtesting the Hollow Crown rules, a fair number expressed an interest, myself included so a perfect excuse (as if one was really needed) had presented itself.

So last night was the duly appointed night of battle and Dave, Jack and Ian Hale (the progenitor of the rule set) brought themselves along to FDWC and kindly put on an a very interesting game with Jack and Dave bringing a grand pile of their rather tidy looking troops to do battle with.

So Dave K, Kev and Craig on one side taking a battle each on the 'Rebel' side and myself, Andy and Alan taking the 'Right' side each taking a command and with suitable traits in hand did battle using the rules 'Hollow Crown' which are still a work in progress but rapidly developing going by what we saw last night.

Dave had parcelled up the troops as a mixture of Scots and English troops on both sides so as not to cause any bickering (you know what wargamers are like with that sort of thing, but more importantly so each side got to see the abilities of all the troop types

Dave, Craig and Ian Hale look on as the troops are deployed
All in all the game was a roaring success for all combatants with our respective combats and shooting etc being over looked by Jack and Dave and Ian making sure all was circumspect and above board.

Things hot up across the battlefield as the forces close

Kev starts his advance on my command
The game though for all intents and purposes was split into three with the respective battles pairing fairly naturally, things did get a bit entangled as you would hope with any medieval battle, but in summary the game went my troops on our left stood and shot at anything that moved and hoped to soften up the enemy enough to withstand the inevitable crash of two schiltron's, Kev managed to skillfully blunt the worst of this with only one of the schiltron's being pretty messed up, but loosing his supporting Scots bowmen and skirmishers before his larger of the two blocks crashing into my line and making a big hole.

Kev's schiltron's advance in grand style

My Battle, 'they come on in the same old fashion,
 and we met them in the same old fashion'
In the centre, our 'glorious leader' being a bit rash, launched his bowmen, Men at Arms and Bill at the enemy line who in return did what I was doing and stood and shot them to shrebbins as they advanced and then launched his schiltron at the Men at Arms once they had been stripped of their supporting troops, only to be counter charged by the centre's secret weapon, a sizable unit of Islesmen who tipped the combat which raged for a couple turns before turning the tide.

The Islesmen in the centre about to charge home into the
 enemy's centre's schiltron
 (and save the honour of our glorious commander)
Though by this time what was left of Andy's very exposed Bill had been all but disintegrated in front of Dave's largely intact command.

Over on our right, Alan struggled to get his schiltron's across the battlefield due to some very obstreperous woodland which slowed him down and were only just coming to blows with Craig and Alan's forces with the pretty much intact line's on both sides crashing into each other in what looked like to be a bloodbath for both sides.

The largely intact schiltron smashes into the right of my command
 and has the desired effect
With time beating us but things really looking not to good all in all for the 'Right' side, we called a halt and tidied up and discussed the fore going and had a general chat.

Great fun was had by all and Dave and the crew picking some constructive critique and noting a few new situations and with notes suitable taken, all happy all round. Looking forward to another game or three, just to test the rules of course.

Thanks To Dave, Jack and Ian for putting up with us and putting on a very enjoyable game and letting us play with the very nice troops (you can head over to Dave's place Saxon Dog for some much better pictures of his troops in all their glory, I don't know if Jack has a similar laudable blog to see his fine troops I'm afraid) and I look forward to see the rules progress.

Sunday 6 October 2013

XCOM: Enemy Unknown

I have just picked up the other day the Computer Game XCOM Enemy Unknown. This game has been out for some months now and has received glowing reports generally and I'd been looking to pick it up at some point as I was a fan of the original game of the same name and it's subsequent sequels; XCOM: Terror of the Deep and XCOM: Apocalypse.

With the imminent release of the add on to the current game, XCOM: Enemy Within, Steam had an offer on for the main game with 75% off so it was an idea time to get around to picking it up. And I'm glad I did, it's a great update to the original.

They have kept to basic premise of the game, Earth attacked by insidious alien intelligence with an unknown agenda and you play the pert of a multi national elite force known the XCOM project who are there to find out about the aliens and repell their assault on Earth. The basic gameplay revolves around some resource management but this is pretty basic in terms of funding from the various 'council' members and the corpses and materials that you get from missions which are then used to build facilities and equipment and research new technologies, and the aforementioned missions which are the real thrust of the game play, with squads of troops with varying skills which you can enhance as the squad members gain experience.
The Original Version

In many ways, the actual game play and the choices you have through out the game have been simplified and the mechanisms for going through the game are also much simpler from the original but the actual look and feel of the game is much enhanced and slickers (as you would expect) and in fact in many ways positively cinematic with all the battlefield action nicely animated and annotated.

All the elements of the original series are still there with only a couple of additions with the main add being a running 'plot' through the game as you progress picking up on the progress of the war and adding a few specific missions over and above the standard recovery or abduction missions.

The names of the equipment types have been kept; Skyranger transport vehicle and Interceptors and the enemy troop types; Sectoids, Floaters, Mutons etc are all still there too.

A bit of colour is the ability to customise your squad members. 

Although this has no effect on game play you can get some nice looks to your troops with various skins for facial types, nationallity, armour, headgear and so on.

Along with the add of the different troop type development trees which lock in on each trooper once they get passed the rank of Rookie and they can progress as Assault, Support, Sniper and Heavy with a limited choice in skills as they progress on their paticular development tree, you can get a fairly pleasing variety of troops.

Once you have a squad and a mission comes along, you are launched on to the tactical gameplay where the main action of the game is.

In a fair variety of terrain types and looks (I've even had a couple of missions set in Glasgow!) with the addition of lighting varieties the action is interesting and thought provoking being three dimensional.

With a familiar IGOUGO based system with the Overwatch and reaction facilities to interrupt the oppositions movement/action the whole combat sequence can be very entertaining with the required tactics being similar to real squad tactics of move and cover and mutual support.

Rush moves where you run to cover are usually nicely cinematically animated and the score of the action usually adds to the drama too.

All in all the game is as I said, a good update to the original franchise and though there are a few minor quibbles (like where there is a choice in mission, you can only choose one and can't go back to pick up the others like you could in the original, and you've only one base rather than several to manage which I liked in the original) I wholeheartedly recommend the game to anyone interested in this genre, especially when it's available for download at £8.

Saturday 14 September 2013

Frederick Pohl 1919 -2013

Frederick Pohl
The Way the Future Was
Just recently heard of the passing of Frederick Pohl who died at the beginning of this month.

One of his most famous works
One of the giants and Founding Fathers of Science Fiction and was in on the ground floor of sci-fi and worked as a prolific writer and editor from the 30's right into the 90's writing some of the early sci-fi classic's and mentored many of the now great SF writers both during his tenure at Astonishing Stories and as a writer collaborating with many including Lestor Del Ray, L Sprague de Camp and Arthur C Clark.

The novel which introduced me to
his work along with Chris Foss'
Much of his work, though based in a sci-fi context, was firmly dealing with issues of the contemporary world form consumerism to over complexity and built-in obsolescence in manufacturing and beyond.

The man and his work will be missed by many.

Thursday 12 September 2013

Riddick - Rule the Dark

or 'Riddick gets a Friend'
This, the third Riddick movie in the series, (not counting the animation ones) is sticking with the whole Riddiverse thing and Vin Diesel continues to make this role very much his own.

I thought Pitch Black, the first of the series was pretty good, and thought The Chronicles of Riddick was exceedingly good, but with the the first being released back in 2000, and The Chronicles in 2004 time marches on and nine years has made a difference to Mr Diesel but he still pulls off the part with aplomb.

David Twohy, Director and writer of the three movies, has returned to the story line of Pitch Black to get the main plot hook and indeed the whole movie 'feel' with the story line having a great deal in common with that movie.

The start of the story, picking up from where The Chronicles left off was I felt, a bit weak but sets up the rest of the film adequately and the ret is pretty much what you expect and probaly came to the cinema to see, Riddick being Riddick and killing things along with a fair bit of eye-candy CGI and I did like the whole look of the planet even though it was more 'ruling the sepia', than 'ruling the dark'.

A typical bunch of Mercs
 (and David Twohy)
With a reasonable amount of expected violence but nothing too graphic, a decent amount of hardware and a fair number of 'well kent faces' plus the ubiquitous horde of oncoming scary monsters the film does deliver a couple of mild twists.

A not so typical Merc?

I won't repeat the whole story line but enough to say that the movie does what it says on the tin but doesn't set the heather a light with a novel story line but I did enjoy the film a great deal and would recommend it to anyone into the genre.

The movie gets a solid 8 out of 10 from the Warblog, 

One of the scary monsters 'up close'
I don't know if there will be another in the series, but again the plot does leave a few things open though I suspect these items are more of interest to the Riddick Fan than being explored in a cinematic/box office sense. I hope the series continues as I do think the whole Riddick thing still has some legs but if you had to wait another nine years, Mr Diesel I think would rightly decline the favour.

 We'll see.

Tuesday 3 September 2013

Different Construction Than Normal

My usual hobby past-times have been taking a back seat recently with gaming and painting being pretty sparse of late, but just for a change I'm quite happy about this state of affairs as I have at last got around to building a 'Man Cave', and this has been taking up most, if not all my free time over the last couple of weeks or so.

So I've swapped my craft knife and size 00 paint brush for a stanley knife and a compound mitre saw and have been doing a bit of carpentry instead.

Quite enjoying the whole construction thing and with a bit of progress now being made with the build now water tight and lock fast, I can slow down a bit and get the fit-out under way soon.

I'm now close enough to seeing the fruits of my labour's to be planning games and painting stations and all sorts of good stuff that I can now do with a bit of elbow room to spare that the whole project looking worth while. I'll be doing other stuff no doubt in the new cave but with enough room for 8' x 4' plus storage etc etc the activities planned will involve a game or two.

Still a couple of weeks away from getting whole thing habitable and a couple more to get it fitted out it'll be no time at all before it's under sail. Looking forward to it.

Tuesday 27 August 2013

Future Wars Trial Game - Genestealer Attack!

With progress with the 'Future Wars' project slow but steady, I had decided to give the rules a whirl and see if they suited the flavour I was looking for.

With pal JTM looking to try out a layout he'd been amassing 'bits and bobs' for a ruined urban terrain layout he'd been planning, the two trials came together for a game a few nights ago.

With both the troops and the terrain being WIP, we still managed a fairly good game and certainly a good trial of the rules.

I fielded the majority of my Mechanised Assault Platoon with re-inforcements in the form of an elite SAS squad types, coming on on a random turn plus random delpoyment. JTM decided to field his growing horde of alien horde/genestealers. A quick scenario was thrown together with the Thin Blue Line deployed defending their Command HQ (int the form of a couple of Staff Officers with small squad of Mercenary Body Guards as last ditch defence and the rest of the platoon ranged across two thirds of the battlefield ready to sell their lives dearly against the oncoming tide.

Defence in depth

The initial couple of moves were uneventful with the aliens moving through the terrain pretty much in cover, but the next moves then opened up all sorts of hell-on-earth with the movement almost all on the alien side and the shooting all on the Mech Infantry side the moves were pretty quickly done.

The Green Tide emerges
The first few creatures to appear in the centre, quickly disappeared in a hail of automatic gun fire and mortar rounds, but there were plenty more to come.

View from one of APC's
The firing was pretty effective, mainly due to the huge amount coming at the enemy and the aliens in the centre had a pretty hard time of it.

The alien right flank had a lot more cover right up to contact so faired much better. The alien left however broke up pretty quickly with some very accurate shooting from Section Charlie.

JTM quickly realised that he had to concentrate his rushes and the natural course of event pushed the horde to the right flank.

There did appear a natural wave effect with the horde making more progress every second turn, this was the result of the light mortars and grenade launchers (vehicle mounted mainly) firing every second turn.

The two APC mounted mini-guns proved to be singularly in-accurate except at the closest ranges where they gratifyingly shredded several aliens clambering over their hulls.

The pinning result from the shooting proved to be a real godsend as this often caused battle necks with the alien numbers getting in their own way when a 'pinned' alien blocked an avenue of advance and allowing more time to hose the enemy lines with lead and depleted uranium.

Not surprisingly, once the aliens got into close combat, they started to deal out a reasonable amount of damage and the line started an orderly withdraw, firing as they went.

First casualties as the aliens get to grips

The front line start to fall back, firing as they go
With the agreed time running out, the aliens eventually beat a grudged retreat and the Mech Infantry in possession of the field with the HQ intact but weakened before the next assault, though they had inflicted huge casualties (but there's always more aliens).

A good trial of the rules and of the terrain, which now goes to the painting and basing stage suitably modified.

The rules seemed to be fine in most respects, the only minor niggle was that there didn't seem to be much noticeable difference between weapon types eg assault rifle and LMG for instance, so a few tweeks on the weapon types is probably on the cards but nothing major, but a good old fire fight is needed to check whether things are going the right way there.

The rules certainly produced a quick game and with the feel of high powered modern weaponry but a little bit more complexity might be a nice twist of chilli to the overall flavour. We'll see.
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