Wednesday 31 January 2018

Battle Companies - Middle Earth Strategy Battle Game

As reported in my last post, I was looking to pick up a copy of one of GWs' latest offerings, namely Middle Earth Strategy Battle Game Battle Companies. This I have done and spent a wee bit of time going over the rules contained there in.

The hard bound 80 page book is of GWs usual standard and the layout and graphic content much the same as all their previous LotR Strategy/ The Hobbit Strategy Battle game offerings.

The book contents are in main a revamp of the old rules which were originally published and added to within the pages of White Dwarf with little in the way of changes in the main rule body. What they have done is consolidate the bits and bobs in one tome. What they have added is the scenario list and an idea for a narrative campaign along with ideas for the varied settings scattered around Middle Earth to pit your own scenarios/battles in to give them a bit of originality and flavour.

The book is laid with the first quarter of the book covering the rules pertaining to and specific for Battle Companies, the next quarter or so covers the various good and evil companies that you can play from the get-go. The next thirty or so pages relate to scenarios and campaign settings with the last ten or so pages covering various design team sample battle companies as a bit of the usual end of book eye candy.

The main thing to note is that you can't play Battle Companies without resource to one of the previous versions of LotR Strategy Game or the Hobbit etc etc for reference to the standard rules for movement, combat etc etc plus the actual stats for each troop type/model. I would assume most people picking this up will have access to something which will let you get into this in the first place. I would take from the title of the book that the intention is to bring all things together under the banner of 'Middle Earth Strategy Game' but I believe there is no release date yet.

The list of available Battle Companies is fairly extensive ie 22 list which are all fairly mono-racial which I find a bit tame but as was pointed out to me, this is likely to be because a Company can be made up from a one box purchase to get things going, makes sense. There is a report in the rules that further lists will be published from time to time within White Dwarf. This may be worth a periodic check on the old WD.

I've had a wee play with the rules and all seem fine but as with all rules of this type, an ongoing campaign is where the interest lies.

With that in mind I've had a couple of ideas to run with this, the one which peeks my interest is a 4-6 player campaign set in the Third Age around Arnor (Arthedain, Cardolan and Rhudaur) and the fight with Angmar. Plenty of scope for raids skirmishes and varied terrain. Just might have legs.

Another one for the rules collection but I think this will see some action for a season or two at least.

Sunday 14 January 2018

Planning 2018

Brave Free Men - Jack Vance (Cover Artwork)
Well, I can only say that the last one did not really go to plan. Very little gaming activities through the year, particularly the second half and even less activities in the way of painting and modelling, mainly driven by a great deal of busy-ness work-wise and just wanting to couch when getting home of an evening and where spare time available, domestic duties took priority. We've all been there, I think. A certain amount of a jaded outlook crept in too I suppose.

Very little of the 'New Things' of 2017 made any impression on me, either in terms of new rule sets or figure releases. It seemed the big thing of last year was the release of many cross-over board games, (I did manage to get a couple of games of Shadespire, my only gaming activity in the latter part of the year, and I think I sucked at it too :-) but hey-ho, I did enjoy the gaming experience) and that is not rally my bag.

Looking back over the year, I can honestly say that 2017 was the first year ever (or at least since I exited puberty) that I did not purchase any models. Scary. I did receive as gifts a couple of pieces and got a couple of kickstarter deliveries but these were actually purchased a year or so before.

There were a couple of bits that did catch my eye and I'll pick these up if only to fix that hobby/rule itch, the first of these was the LotR Battle Companies rules re-release at the end of the year and only slightly preceded by the re-release of the Necromunda rules both from GW. 

Little else has peaked my interest, with the exception of the 'Open Combat' Rules from Second Thunder which were released in 2016. These I have just purchased, by way of pdf downloads to see how they look. They are an open system for historical and/or fantasy skirmish rules and look to be a cut down rpg style set of rules trying to simulate daring-do and rpg-esque play style on the table-top. I'll see how they stack up and do a review in the fullness of time.

Looking forward to other activities hobby-wise I am really going to repeat my wish-list from 2017. Since the gaming and modelling activities over the last year were sadly minimal and my reasoning for settling on the three activities as far as modelling are concerned still hold true I see no reason to change so working on my Empire Army which I can use for Old- (or more rightly for me 'Middle-) hammer or 9th Age or stand ins for Kings of War et al. My Hungarian Black Army will hopefully see some TLC and of course my Future Wars project, which did see a little bit of attention last year, will see some recruits added to both sides.

Modelling-wise I will likewise continue with my Abbey project, which did see a bit of progress last year, and some pieces for the Future Wars project which needs a fair bit of supporting terrain. I would like to add some post-apocalyptic style pieces to the back catalog too but haven't really explored the options here yet. My wish to look into (and do) more on terrain boards and the modelling interest here is probably to the fore rather than gaming product, but that too obviously, but hope to start on some basic boards to start with and build up to more sculptured pieces later.

Last year also saw a dip (or a complete dearth really) of any game show activities too, with only Carronade attended and that was working on the Painting Competition, so didn't really catch the show in any meaningful way. So I hope to rectify that poor showing as it were and at least attend the old faithfuls I would normally attend.

My solo fantasy campaign has been dragged from the shelves as well and I've up dated the events to get them up to scratch (the only gaming activities I managed to get to over the festive break unfortunately) and will get some table top activities here as the campaign is now getting to an interesting position in events and promises some interesting opportunities for trying out rule sets and such. Any notable events here will be posted up on the Lornian Chronicles blog which also needs a bit of attention as last year saw no posts there at all.

I have been thinking about options for modelling specific figures for my solo campaign quite a lot and with mainly conversions and minor changes/swaps I can do a fair bit here too, so perhaps a bit of interest here might just well be on the cards.

So that's it really as far as the coming years crystal ball activities go so far. I hope I might see some new bits and bobs released which will peak my interest but I'm not aware of any on the horizon but will keep my eyes peeled. Hopefully the year will be kind to me and allow a wee bit of hobby related goodness over the coming months.

I will catch that Roadrunner....

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