Monday, 29 August 2016

Zombicide Scenario M01 - The Big Rubble Part 1

"We've heard someone shooting. One, maybe two shooters. It's coming from a building in a severely damaged block downtown. We have to check it out to see if there is someone still alive, but to get there, we'll have to go through this giant, half-crumbled mall. And it's Saturday. I hate malls on Saturday."
This Zombicide batrep is based on a scenario from the Toxic City Mall expansion set and runs directly on from the last scenario that I posted recently, Death From Above. That ended with Elsa and Gary fleeing from a horde of Zombies and a flock of Zombie Crowz. This scenario answers the question of what happened next to them? The Crowz will not be reappearing but the Survivors face another new threat - Toxic Zombies, whose acidic blood can prove lethal to anyone in close proximity to them.
In this scenario I am using the three of the four Survivors from the Toxic City Mall expansion set to search for Elsa Bryce-Howard (she's the fourth Survivor from that set) and Gary Bridges. They are Derek Foster the locator, meaning he finds missing persons. He started with the +1 Maximum Range skill and a Claw Hammer. Next was Neema Freeman, a hard-nosed corporate executive, who started with the Born Leader skill (which I forgot to use throughout the game. D'oh!) and was armed with a 9mm Glock Pistol. Finally, was Raoul Nicholas the freelance mercenary. He started the game with the Webbing skill, which meant that any weapon or piece of equipment he carried counted as being in his hands. He was armed with a Fire Axe. Elsa and Gary had the starting skills of Break-in and Slippery respectively.
The photo above shows the board set up for the start of the game. There are two pimp-mobile cars and two police cars on the board and four Zombie Spawning Points. Four Toxic Walker Zombies patrol the mall corridor.
The tiles used were from left to right in the top row, 7B, 4M and 3M. In the centre row from left to right are 5C, 2M and 1M. In the bottom row from left to right are 1B, 3C and 2B. North is at the top edge of the board. The four rubble tiles cannot be entered or crossed over. They also block line of sight and Zombies cannot spawn in them.
Find the two Survivors, Elsa and Gary. They will be in one of the Zones marked with a red "X". When found, flip the token over. If it has a white "X" underneath, Elsa has been found. If it has a green "X" underneath, Gary has been found. Note that this differs slightly from the official rule, but works better for my scenario. Once found, the Survivors must exit the board in as many cars as are needed. If anyone is left behind, the mission is a failure.
Find the Survivors. Add the white and green objective tokens to five red objective tokens and shuffle them with the red sides facing up. When the white and green tokens are revealed, place Elsa or Gary, as appropriate, in the Zone he or she was found. Elsa and Gary start with no equipment, weapons or experience points. Each objective token discovered grants 5 experience points to the person who reveals it, whatever the colour of it is.
Toxic Roamers. Place a Toxic Walker in each of the mall corridor Zones.
You can use cars. Each pimp-mobile may be searched only once. It will contain either the Evil Twins, Ma's Shotgun or Pa's Pistol. Draw randomly. The police cars can be searched more than once. draw a card until you find a weapon. Discard the other cards. The Aaahh! card triggers the appearance of a Walker as usual and interrupts the search.
Derek, Neema and Raoul began the game in the pimp-mobile parked at the front of the mall. Notes relating to the rules will be written in blue.
DEREK. "Well, we're here," Derek said as he climbed out of the pimp-mobile. "I'll check the trunk out first." Popping open the trunk, which was not locked, Derek found an unusual looking pistol. On its barrel were engraved the words "Pa's Pistol". He wondered who the hell Pa was? He checked that it was loaded. It was, although he didn't recognise the make of the large calibre bullets. Still, it might come in useful and it gave him a ranged weapon. He held it in his left hand to go with his Claw Hammer which was held in his right hand. He tried to open the door to the mall but it was locked. A single blow from his Claw Hammer shattered the lock. He smelt the room's occupant before he saw him. It was the unmistakable stench of rotten flesh. A Zombie Runner snarled at him from behind a counter. It climbed on top of the counter, ready to charge into combat with Derek.
NEEMA. The beautiful, coffee-skinned executive was not having a good day. A zombie apocalypse was not on her agenda. Still, she had survived many a boardroom fight and she was ready for a fight now. Her expensive designer suit was torn and tattered from a previous run in with the undead. Luckily for her, she had found a 9mm Glock Pistol with spare ammo at the same time as she had found Derek and Raoul. It made sense for them to stick together and so here they were at a partially ruined shopping mall, hoping to find more survivors. She exited the pimp-mobile and strode to the mall door that Derek had just opened. As soon as she saw the Runner she acted without hesitation. She fired her Glock like a seasoned marksman and blew the back of the Runner's head off with a single shot.
"It's clear now," she announced as she stepped inside the trashed store.
"Thanks," Derek said feeling relieved at not having to fight a Runner.
RAOUL. The former mercenary climbed out of the pimp-mobile and moved past his two colleagues to enter the store. His eyes took in his surroundings, missing nothing. He quickly noticed a familiar looking gun butt beneath a large cardboard box.
"Oh my, you are a beauty, aren't you?" he said as he revealed the weapon to be an AA-12 Atchisson Assault Shotgun. He had used one once during his time as a U.S. Marine. It was a lethal weapon with a 32-round drum magazine and was capable of firing 300 rounds per minute. It was the perfect weapon for killing Zombies. Raoul was a very happy man!
ZOMBIES. No Zombies appeared at Spawn points 1 and 2. One Walker appeared at Spawn Point 3 and a Fatty, accompanied by two Walkers appeared at Spawn point 4. (Note I forgot to place the two Walkers alongside the Fatty in the photo above, but I remembered them soon after. See below.) 
DEREK. "Raoul, you lucky son of a bitch!" Derek exclaimed as he followed his two friends into the store. Raoul just smiled at him as he caressed the Assault Shotgun. Derek began sifting through the rubbish and debris on the floor. He soon found something he thought might prove useful - a Hockey Mask. (This is actually a very useful piece of equipment as it prevents 1 Wound to the wearer per attack.) He used his Claw Hammer to bust the lock on the door leading to the interior of the shopping mall. Three Toxic Walkers were waiting just outside and a fourth was close by.
"Not again!" Derek moaned.
NEEMA. "I hope you guys have left something useful for me to find," Neema said as she also searched amongst the garbage and litter.
"Any luck?" Raoul asked.
"Oh yes!" Neema replied, smiling happily as she pulled a Machete from beneath a vending machine.
"Do you need a hand again, Derek?" she asked as she moved in front of him to look out of the wide open exit door.
"Huh?" she muttered as she raised her Pistol. "Spiky Zombies! I haven't seen them before."
This was their first encounter with Toxic Zombies. She wondered what made these Zombies different from others they had met? Her first shot punched through the centre chest of a male wearing a white shirt. Her second shot struck him in the bridge of his nose. The blood that spattered from both wounds made a hissing noise as it landed on the floor and it bubbled for just a few seconds. Neema's knowledge of chemistry immediately kicked in.
"Be careful guys," she warned. "I think these bastards have acid blood!"
RAOUL. "Duly noted," Raoul replied as once again he spotted something very useful lying behind the counter - a .44 Magnum Revolver. He was happy enough with his AA-12 but he knew that Neema or Derek would appreciate having the heavy calibre weapon.
"Any of you guys want a .44 Magnum?" he asked as he showed it to his two surprised looking colleagues.
"Oh, please!" Neema replied quickly. "I had one of those back at home."
"It's yours," Raoul said as he passed the Revolver over to Neema. She tucked her 9mm Glock into her skirt pocket and lovingly took possession of the .44 Magnum.
"Now to deal with these deadheads," Raoul announced. He selected semi automatic fire for his Assault Shotgun. Three rounds boomed out in a near deafening noise and blasted the heads off the two Toxic Walkers about to enter the store.
"Holy shit!" Derek exclaimed. "That was freaking awesome! I want one of those!"
ZOMBIES. The one remaining Toxic Walker in the mall corridor moved slowly towards the door of the store that the three humans were occupying. From Spawn Point 1 one Runner appeared. Nothing appeared at Spawn points 2 and 3 and one Walker arrived at Spawn point 4.

NEEMA. Making sure she kept her distance from the female Toxic Walker who was approaching the doorway, the young executive tested her .44 Magnum and found it to her liking. One shot and one kill. Making sure she didn't step in any spilled blood she moved cautiously down the corridor to the musical instruments store next door.
RAOUL. Raoul quickly followed Neema down the corridor. He tried the door handle to the store but found it locked. One blow from his Fire Axe swiftly dealt with that problem, only to reveal a new problem. Locked inside the store was a single male Zombie Walker.
DEREK. "I'll deal with him," Derek proclaimed as he quickly joined his colleagues. "Now let's see what this little beauty can do."
He aimed the strange weapon called Pa's pistol at the head of the Walker and pulled the trigger. The Walker's head exploded in a ball of flame.
"Incendiary round," Raoul explained. "Very nice, my friend. That's a keeper, I'd say."
"Yeah, cool!" Derek replied, feeling good about his new weapon.
ZOMBIES. Attracted by the sound of gunfire from within the mall, all of the Zombies outside headed towards the rear entrance to the ruined mall. (Note the two Walkers accompanying the Fatty. I didn't forget them after all.) Unbeknownst to the Survivors they were in big trouble. All of a sudden, a Toxic Abomination emerged from Spawn Point 1. This was really bad news! Two Walkers appeared at Spawn Point 2, one Runner from Spawn Point 3 and two more Walkers from Spawn Point 4. 
DEREK. Derek moved into the musical instrument store but found nothing of interest inside.
"Let's move on," he suggested.
(The objective token he found turned out to be a normal token and not one of the missing Survivors. he earned 5 experience points but nothing else.)
NEEMA. "Let's try door number three," Neema said as she walked over to the store directly opposite. It was a budget shoe shop, not the kind of shop she would normally frequent. Of course the door was locked but she thought she could smash it open with her Machete. Maybe she lacked sufficient strength or maybe she just hit it in the wrong place but both of her attempts ended in failure.
RAOUL. "Here, let me try," Raoul said in a sympathetic voice as he saw how frustrated Neema was getting. He moved alongside her and with one mighty swing of his Fire Axe he destroyed the lock. He was greeted by a male Toxic Walker who had clearly heard them trying to open the door and was standing just behind the door. The door bumped into him as it swung open and distracted him for just a brief moment. It was all the time Raoul needed to turn the Zombie's head into a fine red mist with a 12 Gauge Shotgun round from his AA-12.
ZOMBIES. The Toxic Abomination joined a Runner outside the mall's rear entrance. Elsewhere, the other Zombies shuffled their way to join them. From Spawn Point 1 came two Toxic Walkers, whilst two normal Walkers appeared at Spawn Point 2. Spawn Point 3 remained clear but one Walker appeared at Spawn Point 4.
NEEMA. Neema moved into the shoe shop and gave it a quick once over. It was just as litter strewn as the other stores. She saw nothing of interest and informed the two men it was clear. She moved back out into the mall corridor. (Finding the blank objective token advanced Neema to the yellow level. She gained the +1 Action skill.)
RAOUL. The muscular and ruggedly handsome mercenary moved back along the mall corridor to the only store they hadn't searched yet - a toy shop. He used his Fire Axe to smash open the locked door. He was not surprised to find a Zombie inside. This time it was a male Runner. The Runner was quick and dodged the first shot. The second caught him in the right shoulder and practically tore off his arm. The third shot was fatal and made mincemeat of his head.
DEREK. "That's the only way to deal with them," Derek said as he slapped his buddy on the back and moved inside the toy store.
ZOMBIES. Now there were six Zombies outside the mall entrance - a Toxic Abomination, a Toxic Runner, two Toxic Walkers, a normal Walker and a normal Runner. More Zombies were closing in and now that Neema was at the yellow level, their numbers would increase. From each of Spawn Points 1 and 2 came one Walker. From Spawn Point 3 one Runner emerged whilst from Spawn Point 4, two Runners arrived together. It was getting quite crowded outside and the three Survivors had no idea what awaited them. They'd find out very soon.

To be continued.

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Gaming Judge Dredd on the Table Top

Judge Dredd is a fictional character who appears in British comic books published by Rebellion Developments, as well as in a number of movie and video game adaptations. He was created by writer John Wagner and artist Carlos Ezquerra, and first appeared in the second issue of 2000AD ( March 1977), a weekly science-fiction anthology. He is that magazine's longest-running character.
Joseph Dredd is a law enforcement officer in the dystopian future city of Mega City One in North America. He is a "Street Judge", empowered to summarily arrest, convict, sentence, and execute criminals. I have been following his exploits in comics, books, films and games (but not computer games) ever since he made his debut appearance. I still subscribe to 2000AD, which will celebrate its 2000th edition next month... and yes, I have every issue! In this article I'm going to take a look at the Judge Dredd boardgames and tabletop games that have appeared in the past 39 years.

 Games Workshop produced a boardgame based on the comic strip in 1982. In the game players, who represented Judges, attempted to arrest perps that had committed crimes in different locations in Mega City One. A key feature of the game was the different action cards that were collected during play; generally these cards were used when trying to arrest perps although some cards could also be played against other players to hinder their progress. The winner of the game was the Judge who collected the most points arresting perps. Players could sabotage each other's arrest attempts. Additionally, there were many amusing card combinations such as arresting Judge Death for selling old comics, as the Old Comic Selling crime card featured a 2000AD cover with Judge Death on it. The game used characters, locations and artwork from the comic but is now out of print. I played this game many times with my gaming colleagues and it was always great fun to play. The Judges were represented by 15mm scale plastic figures in different colours - blue, green, orange, purple, red and yellow.

In 1987, Games Workshop published a second Dredd-inspired boardgame, Block Mania. In this game for two players, players took on the role of rival neighbouring blocks at war. This was a heavier game than the earlier Dredd boardgame, focused on tactical combat, in which players controlled these residents as they used whatever means they could to vandalize and destroy their opponent's block. Later the same year, Games Workshop released the Mega Mania expansion for the game, allowing the game to be played by up to four players. I played both games with my gaming group but it was not as popular as the boardgame shown above. It took a lot longer to play, especially with four players and it used a lot of counters. It certainly wasn't a bad game. Whenever I played it, I always took control of the Sammy Fox Block, simply because no one else wanted to control a block named after the large-breasted "page three" model. I had no such qualms, as I quite liked Sam.

Games Workshop produced Judge Dredd: the Role-Playing Game in 1985. This was a great game with rules that were fast and fun to play. It was also very popular at the time and spawned numerous scenario packs. Many articles and scenarios were also printed in the White Dwarf magazine. This was back in the time when White Dwarf was a true gaming magazine and not a propaganda rag for Games Workshop products only. Citadel Miniatures, who back then, were a separate company from Games Workshop produced a huge range of 25mm scale metal figures for the game. I collected most of them and still have them, although I no longer have any use for them. I ran a hugely successful campaign using this system. Myself and a team of five other players all played Judges of Mega City One in countless scenarios. The most popular scenario, which is still remembered by all who took part in it was one I designed called "Red Christmas". I still have all of my notes for it and I'd love to share it with you some time, although I'd have to change the NPC stats to something more appropriate or leave them out. What made this particular scenario so memorable were the names of the victims and would-be victims that I used. Believe me, once you see them it will forever make you hear the song, White Christmas in a totally new light! Even now, it brings a smile to my face. :-)

Mongoose Publishing released The Judge Dredd Role-Playing Game in 2002. It used the d20 system, made popular with the Advanced Dungeons and Dragons game. I never took to this system at all. Even though this was for Judge Dredd, I refused to use it. By now my gaming group had dwindled to myself and two other players, Dave and Rob. We were all keen to try out this game, but not with the d20 system. So, I converted the game to the Feng Shui game engine. These rules emphasised cinematic action over realism and were hugely popular with myself and my players. We were familiar with them and they worked very effectively for Judge Dredd. It was a lot of work on my part to convert so much but it was well worth it. Mongoose printed a few scenarios for the game but most of the ones I played were ones that I had designed. They also published a few supplements under the headings of The Rookies Guide to... Subjects included the Justice Department, Psi-Talents, Block Wars and Criminal Organisations.

In 2005, Mongoose Publishing brought out a tabletop skirmish game called  Gangs of Mega City One, often referred to as GOMC1. The game features Judges being called in when a gang challenges another gang that is too tough to fight. A wide range of miniatures have been released including box sets for an Ape Gang and an Undercity Gang. A Robot Gang was also produced but was released as two blister packs instead of a box set. Only one expansion set has been released, called Death on the Streets. This expansion introduced many new rules including usage of the new gangs and the ability to bring Judge Dredd himself into a fight. In this game, players took control of a gang. Their objectives were to avoid being arrested, defeat other gangs, gain new properties to add to their turf and gain new recruits, weapons and equipment. At any time, a gang could duck a confrontation and call in the Judges. The game was very reminiscent of Games Workshop's Necromunda skirmish game. I ran a short campaign using these rules. My gang, the Slayers, came out on top. Yay me!

This game went out of print shortly thereafter but was replaced by the Judge Dredd Miniatures Game, which was published free in many stages as the company sought feedback from fans and players. In 2013 it was released as a hardback rulebook. Later that year, an expansion was released called Blood on the Streets. Miniatures continue to be manufactured at a slow pace. The figures produced for the JDMG are the same as the ones produced for GOMC1 but have been repackaged and greatly expanded on. The biggest difference between the two games is that in JDMG players can now play Judges, and not just from Mega City One. Justice forces from around the world can be fielded with those from Brit City and the Sov Block being the most popular after the MC1 Judges. I am steadily building up my collection of these figures and my goal is to own them all. I have big plans for this game - plans that I can finally realise. It has been a long held dream of mine to run a Judge Dredd campaign using 3D scenery. Up until now this has been my biggest stumbling block. I suppose I could have made some buildings from my World Works Games card sets but I preferred to concentrate on my contemporary scenery instead. Now that I have just received a massive amount of scenery in my Battle Systems Urban Terrain sets I can recreate part of Mega City One in 3D. Although designed for a contemporary setting, these sets will still work in a sci-fi setting. Better still, Battle Systems will be producing a new sci-fi terrain set later this year, which will be compatible with the Urban Terrain sets. Oh, boy! I can't wait. I plan on running a campaign using a force of MC1 Judges, who will all be named after my blogging friends. There is also the possibility of running a play-by-blog scenario to run alongside my tabletop campaign. I'll keep you informed of my progress. First of all, I have a lot of figures to get painted. These are exciting times!

Bryan ©2016

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Sails of Glory: Game Review

Sails of Glory: Gaming in the age of Sail

To play a game of Sails of Glory, you will need a flat surface, roughly 36 inches by 36 inches square. You won’t need terrain, as naval warfare tends to happened on the open sea (the most terrain you might need would be the odd wreck... if the scenario is set in shallow waters... or perhaps a coastline: so you can include some gun batteries, beach assaults, Pirate raids and smuggling excursions.... à la mode Poldark style).
Mark the boundaries of the playing area, however, as ships leaving the board are deemed to be out of the game. You can purchase a Sails of Glory play mat, which is simply gorgeous: its amazing, very good quality... is well made, and will enhance the feel of your games no end. It makes play a little bit easier too, because of the fine lines ingrained into the map: this will help you no end when it comes to determining the all important wind direction when sailing your miniature ships.
The down side of this is, the map ain`t cheap. It’s actually bloody expensive; selling for roughly £32, which is just over half the price of the game itself  (the game sells for about £59 quid). You don’t need it, but if you DO invest in the map... if the idea of playing naval battles in the age of sail appeals to you, if you can recover from the pain of opening the wallet that wide, you will not regret it. I can`t emphasise enough just how beautiful this map is, nor how much better your games will look if played upon one of these sleek beauties. But all importantly, I reiterate YOU DONT NEED TO BUY THIS OPTIONAL EXTRA.
A Plain Blue cloth, or sheet will suffice just fine to represent the playing area.

Once you crack open the box, marvel at all the
fine and wonderful `toys` contained inside (you won’t be disappointed, this baby has an elegance to it which feels mature and graceful, like an expensive vintage wine),  then you will no doubt eventually have a crack at the rules book. Here you will be delighted to learn the game is broken down into four parts: very basic, intermediate, leading all the way up to advanced, then with lots of optional extras at the end. Best still, it offers some truly excellent rules for playing the game solo. This means you can theoretically have the box open, read the rules, and be playing within an hour.

What is so addictive about this game is the way you actually feel like you are the real captain of your very own ship and crew. Each of the four (each unique) ships that come with the core game, controls and runs very differently from the next one. You literally have to micro manage your crew, the sails.... and wow navigating obstacles (if you include shallow waters, jagged rocks, wrecks and coastline) plays a big part, and wind speed and direction don’t help you at all hahaha.
Playing solo when you first get this core set and play your first tentative game or five... don’t bother (at first) playing one of the scenarios that comes with the game (you can always make your own scenarios as well), just play about with a single ship, and try sailing it round a sandbank, or round a wrecked ship, through a narrow channel up an estuary... or oh GOD, try tacking and coming about before crashing into the cliffs, or smashing headlong into another ship. Its amazingly good fun just learning how to man and steer your ship without mishap: how do you set your sails, where do you allocate your crew, when do you load the cannons for a broadside... and what kind of shot do you loads them with? It’s all super fun; and the first time I got my ships out and tried all this, I never even got round to trying out one of the simple basic scenarios. Before I knew it, the afternoon sun was vanishing behind the hills, and I had somehow lost four hours of time, and this was just messing about trying to steer my bloody ship through an estuary mouth, up the spit, and then... oh GOD...  trying to turn the thing about and head back the way I had come.... back out to sea. This all had me sweating buckets... these old sailing ships steer like bricks on ice, and the wind has the most annoyingly frustrating way of changing speed and direction just when you are in the middle of a most complicated, intricate manoeuvre - such as turning the damn thing round to make it go in a different direction haha.

Then you have the more advanced combat stuff, like boarding parties, taking enemy ships as prizes of war, allocating your crew to sails, putting out fires on deck (sluicing down the sails to prevent fires breaking out), fixing ropes and clearing the deck for broadsides against the enemy, and all this with a diminishing crew, as casualties mount up from enemy fire. I love the way the solo scenario rules (mostly all free to find on line) take care of enemy ship movement for you. That moment of sheer panic when you realise you`ve slipped right into the raking path of a French 72 gun privateer man o war, and grit your teeth, waiting for incoming... that’s when the casualties and damage soon mounts up.
What’s clever about the game is the lack of dice throwing. Instead you have hundreds of counters which go into cups, and without looking you pull the counters from the cups (like you would roll dice) and lay them out beside your ship(s) This will indicate the casualties and the type of damage done to your precious warship.... sails, mast, deck, hull, anchor, fires, crew, and so on. And you will take the damage counters and put them on the relevant sections of your thick card ship rosters. So there is no paper work. All this is cleverly taken care of for you, by the use of rosters and counters. Wonderful ain`t it.

Once it is determined how the wind will influence the ship, the player’s select a manoeuvre card (or cards) from their card deck (each ship has its own unique deck of cards). If the attitude measure points to the orange or green boarders of their Ship miniature, the player can select any manoeuvre cards that has a blue dot. If the attitude measure points to the red, only manoeuvre cards with the red dot can be used. If the attitude points between two different colours, the player can always use either of the two, but it is their choice.

Once the manoeuvre card is selected, it is placed face-down on their Ship Log until it is their phase to move. At which point the card is used as a template for actually moving the ship on the battle mat. All very clever stuff really: unique in fact. Each ship card of course, has different instructions of movement depending on the speed the ship, the set of the sails, and wind direction and speed (most of this is covered in increasing depth, throughout the advanced rules, which you can add in at your own pace and leisure... everything is optional: allowing you to cherry pick what you want in your games and what you simply wish to ignore).

The base box set... the core game, comes with four ships, each pre-painted to an impressively lovely standard: but still leaving room for keen modellers to add more detail of their own if they like), and each of the ships has two completely separate rosters, so effectively each ship model comes with two names and two entirely different sets of fighting statistics. This gives you 8 models just in the base game alone. Additional ships (complete with stats for two variations)) can be purchased separately, from between $15 and 20 pounds a time, not bad really as these pre assembled and pre painted models are truly exquisite.

I give this game a solid 10 out of 10 on components, aesthetic beauty, and for the box (all the game components fits away nicely in the sturdy box between games... and each additional ship purchase also comes with its own box, for storage between play). I give a 10 out of 10 for ease of play: and for re-playability 10 out of 10... which hardly seems enough here: suffice to say, if you enjoy naval games of this sort, well...  there`s potential here to play and expand and enjoy your gaming for years to come. Just be warned though, it may well make you want to get out all your old Hornblower, Alexander Kent, and Master and Commander books and start reading like mad.. not to mention watching the DVD`s.

The game is well supported (another 10 out of 10), and the official forum “The Anchorage” is informative, friendly, and helpful to new players joining the ranks.

All in all Ares games have proven that the Italians are a force to be reckoned with, within the gaming industry. I eagerly await their new Sails of Glory kickstarter: which rumour has it, will be all about Pirates and Privateering.

I wanted to write a battle report for this game, but in the end I decided a quick review was probably needed first, to whet the appetite, and gauge interest... with a promise of more to come, if anyone is interested in seeing this game in closer detail, actually in action and put through its paces on the high seas. Let me know if so.

I hope you enjoyed this mini review.
Article by Stephen Gilbert

Friday, 19 August 2016

Keeping it Real:

Nicely Laid Out Terrain from a Club Game of  WWII Bolt Action:
I read it all the time! I see it all the time too: I read about it and I observe it said over and over again, many times.. ad infinitum: “The terrain and the modelling are as important as the game itself.”  Actually I take exception to that statement as, who has the right to set the standard of what is good and what isn’t. I once actually watched one guy (an older fella, approaching his sixties) painstakingly painted his entire army. He had come along one week to the club I used to attend, with a mind to taking up wargaming: something he had wanted to do all his life, and now his wife had died, he wanted something to immerse in. It took him months, meticulously learning how it was done, and he painted his horses, and his artillery train, all his little generals and staff officers, command elements, and line infantry, dragoon mounted foot, all the flags.. individually, and wow, he stuck at it; and over the winter he managed to paint it all (I had helped him to pick and choose his collection in September, and by the following summer, wow, he has finished the lot: about 400 figures I think). He looked so proud of himself. The Summer came and he was excited, and bought his finished army to the club hoping to get a game or two....... because, this guy, eager not to be a burden on anyone, had even taken the time to find out the popular rulebook and supplement manuals used by the club, for the era he had chosen to collect in (Black Powder Napoleonics): and then he purchased that set of rules and learned them as thoroughly as he could, without actually playing.
The Proud Collection
But then something happened I hadn’t expected. It had not even occurred to me all the time I had watched this lovely elderly gentleman work away on his models. I had encouraged him throughout and was so proud of him for sticking to it. But at the club the guys looked at his collection with what I can only describe as petty disdain. And for the first time I saw it... they were comparing their own amazingly painted works of art to his first time at it, barely average miniatures, with no ink wash, no fine line detailing,  face shadow or dry brushing to speak of, and I l-i-t-e-r-a-l-l-y could see it going through their minds: “I`m not putting MY miniatures on a table near THOSE” I even heard a whispered joke about: “Put your men too close to that lot, and they may come down with a virus or something.”  Suffice to say, this poor man could not find a willing opponent to play with, as everyone avoided playing against him like he (or rather, his collection) had the plague. After some weeks, he just stopped coming to the club. And my heart broke for him. Next club meeting, I stood up and told the guys what I thought of them and where they could stick their club, and I took my stuff and walked away, and never went back again.
Every gamer should try attend at least one of these big game conventions every year if they can: it will open your eyes to so much within the hobby.
I went back found the man, and I played games with him for a while, twice a week. It would make his day. It wasn’t really my subject, but I had a blast with this man, because he was so lovely and the games ended up being amazing fun. In the end I found him an opponent (someone else who had just gotten into wargaming, and wasn’t sure what to go for). I introduced them to one another. It turned out both their wife’s had gone, but their women had known each other through local social community activities. So the new guy (Bob) decided he would collect Napoleonic French (as Jake had been collecting mostly English) and Jake and Bob became close friends, and found a deep passion for the joys of gaming, and a new friendship that was obviously going to last for life.

Super Dungeon Explore: it really is a super game.

They did an amazingly lovely thing for me, even though I had, by now, stopped playing and left them both to it... the next Christmas, they both chipped in and bought me Super Dungeon Explore, which is how I ended up owning my very own boxed set, and developed such an intense love for chibi/anime gaming. It was so sweet of them and so very appreciated, and they should not have, but I thought it was lovely of them, and every time I get the game out and enjoy playing it, I think of those two lovely gentlemen. I still go visit them sometimes for “a game of Napoleon and Welly” as they both seem to call it hehe.
 Pulp Fiction Narrative Adventure: Our Heroine Actress is just being told "And ACTION" as the camera man prepares to shoot. But suddenly an Intruder makes an unwelcome appearance though the jungle tree line.

But anyway, I`ve done it again, like a Bill Connolly sketch, I`ve gone all round the houses to get back to the point where I began. “The terrain and the modelling are as important as the game itself.”   Assuming you set out wanting to make your games look amazing, and let’s face it, sometimes it IS nice (especially if you are a solo gamer) to spend time to make your table top endeavours look absolutely amazing to the eye.
A Solo Girl Gamer
 The solo gamer is unfettered by the problems facing the more gregarious hobbyist.  The man (or nowadays,  woman too) who has to consider an opponent, or multiple club opponents all the time, barely has time to think outside the box, as he is struggling just to make the club meetings, or the scheduled weekly game with his good friend Joe Blogs: all his attention is focussed on making regular time, and making sure he has what’s needed, for the next game session.
A Club Game Laid Out and Ready For the Evening`s Game.
However, the soloist has all the time in the world. He or she can play, scheme, cogitate, and get lost in intricate details and minutia that simply isn’t usually possible for the ordinary non soloist to achieve.. probably due to time restraint alone (a strange thing happens to the human mind when it is forced to meet time tables, like weekly meets: give a man responsibility he feels beholden to commit to and fulfil, and he will actually tend to get less done than if he can work at his own pace. Any good wife will work this one out for herself in time, I am told by Hil, hehe).
But there are two types of hobbyist, and it’s actually fairly easy to see which of these categories you fall in. Your work space. Does your work space look like this:
If you are now wincing in pain as it’s a little close to the bone, then you probably recognise something of yourself here. The scruffy hobbyist is far less likely to get things done in an orderly fashion: “I have A B C and D to complete for the next game, so I need to get on with it” this type of gamer usually works in a tidy space and yes he does make his personal goals the majority of the time. The hobbyist who works in a clutter is more likely to have piles of unpainted lead, cupboards and boxes full of half finished projects and collections he simply lost steam with, half way through. He usually never makes social functions (like club games) and is content to wallow in non productivity *grins*  Nothing wrong there, just you won’t achieve much is all.
Make a tidy work space. KEEP it tidy. You are far more likely that way, to feel motivated to complete the task in hand, whatever that personally may be for you.. only you know that one. Work systematically. Set yourself goals, and try achieving them. The rewards will bring in dividends for you.
The Ideal Game Board... no clutter, neat and tidy. Conducive to PLAY.
Doesn’t take much to make your own hobby more fulfilling for yourself. It can be as simple as being inspired by something you read on a blog.
Article by Tarot.