Thursday, 28 January 2010

2009: A Wargaming Review

For me, from a wargaming point of view, 2009 was the year of Flames Of War. Up to the start of spring Games Workshop systems had dominated my modelling, painting and gaming for nigh on 14 years, with 40K standing particularly tall with my Imperial Guard. My Bretonnian’s and undead were relatively successful in Warhammer, and Necromunda, Bloodbowl and Lord Of The Rings also received portions of my time, and FOW had just started hammering on the door in a quiet but insistent kind of way.

Warhammer Campaign: Isle of Chelonis
The year started in traditional style with a Warhammer campaign seeing my Bretonnian’s take a boat trip to the “Isle of Chelonis”, where their nobility were promptly decimated by some dark elves. After this humiliation the peasantry managed to embarrassed some high elves, and defeated a green wave of orcs. A final death match punch-up between Lords turned out to be slightly one-sided when everyone else brought a dragon or a Shaggroth and my Lord brought a horse, and the tired peasants headed for snail land as the Isle turned out be a Kraken which had come up for some air and vanished.

Follow the campaign here:

Quote of the campaign from the master Mr ‘Shaggoth-Production-Line’ Fazey, on the subject of swords in stones, or this case an altar: “Nurse! The Elves have taken the wrong pills again! Hmm, I like the sound of the altar- but there's a sword in it. So I won't pay full price- 'cause it's damaged.”

The FOW Evolution (also known as “The Story of The Growth of FOW and my Amazing Garage”)
At the start of 2009 my FOW German forces were quite small. Lead by the excellent platoon of 3 StuG’s, it included three platoons of infantry, some 88mm guns, a platoon of Marder III’s and a lost group of half-tracks which I couldn‘t legally use, hardly world beating and barely a 2,000pt force. However, they saw a massive expansion this year, including artillery, numerous platoons of infantry, Panzer III’s, Tiger tanks and many, many trucks. From having a Grenadier Kompanie, I expanded to an oversized infantry company, and a large Panzer grenadier Kompanie which had the option of riding in trucks or half-tracks.

The two main reasons for this expansion was firstly that I was inundated with opponents at the RGMB. Previously the enemy had consisted of a British Guards Infantry Company (Aidan), and a small Russian continent (Red). However by the middle of ‘09 the Guards had gained an Italian arm, and the Russians had turned into a behemoth of staggering proportions, as well as having a sideline in the form of a Desert Rats Motor Company. Even the Finnish (Nathan) turned up to cheer on proceedings, and further support for both the British (Ian), and the Germans (Peter B) was not long in coming.
The second main reason my enthusiasm for FOW was came when I moved house and acquired (sadly only for seven months) an amazing huge garage. By the end of April the first FOW campaign at the RGMB was afoot, and my gaming now took up both Tuesday nights in Chester, and Thursday nights in a garage on the edge of Wrexham. The Russians established themselves as the main protagonist, and an arms race began.

Flames of War Campaign: Liberating Leningrad
This was a ’fantasy’ campaign that was fought over two Axis of Attacks surrounding the besieged city of Leningrad in 1943, it represented the series of attacks that had replaced Operation Citadel after the 6th Army had been successfully withdrawn from Stalingrad (told you it was fantasy). It turned into a slogging match, mostly between Russians and Germans for the town of Novgorod, and the Allies managed to claim a minor victory at the end of everything. Interestingly the Italians were at the centre of each major turn of the tide, and I include their entertaining take on the campaign:

“The sides: Allies: Brits, Russians, Italians
Axis: Germans, Fins, Italians

The objective: The Allies are pushing west to take some random town nobodys ever heard of, whilst the Axis are pushing east for exactly the same reason.

The kick off: After a bit of scrabbling for the ball in the centre circle the flow of play took the two teams west to the German goal line, and came close to a soviet victory. Luckily the Italians turned the tide for the Axis forces, and both teams set off east (in a big unsightly scrum with lots of kickin and punchin) . The German forwards proved almost unstoppable as they ploughed through the allied defences. However just as they entered the penalty box they met the Italians coming the other way(who thought they'd heard the whistle for half time and had swapped ends) and the tide was turned to cries of "Go Lazio!" and "Avanti Savoia!". As the Axis forces were pushed back the campaign turned into an ugly punch up more or less on the centre. When the final whistle blew the Axis had kept the game in the Allied half of the pitch, but had had more players sent off (tho not for lack of tryin on the part of the Italians) . That sound about right?”

Follow it all here:

Other uses of the Amazing Garage
Included a huge day-long Warhammer battle of good vs. evil, as the Empire and High Elf troops, of Aidan and Red respectively, took on the Undead and Skaven (my lot), allied to the Goblins (Chris Fry) and some Chaos Warriors (Chris Fazey). It all produced a highly entertaining battle which sadly the forces of Evil lost, although not by much. And this being despite a truly spectacular High Elf collapse and the Empire general abandoning his ally!

Read about it all and see the pictures here:

To 40k or not 40k….
This was not the year of 40k, despite the appearance of the new, long-awaited, Imperial Guard Codex. I was reliably informed that this codex would right all the wrongs, and put the Guard on a par with their greatest enemies (I might even stand a chance vs. the Necrons!). I rushed down the shop to pick up my copy, and there the excitement ended. The book was excellent, and the rules indeed appeared to do what was promised, but other campaigns and games snatched away the limelight and few games were played.

Months later, and following much playing of FOW, I tried turning back to 40k, but found the experience quite disappointing. Even a huge battle in which I got to use all 8,000pts of my Imperial Guard army was only exciting until I had to start moving the troops, my defeat left me so despondent that not even a battle report was forthcoming! However the imagery remains a strong draw, so despite plans to sell several parts of the army I will probably return to it in 2010.

Tuesday Nights and the end of the year
The RGMB meet on a Tuesday, but in 2009 so did virtually everything else! From birthdays and anniversaries, to holidays, and in particular works meetings. From going to the RGMB every Tuesday my attendance became erratic at times. When even the snow and illness chipped in at the end of 2009 I finished the year with missing five Tuesdays in a row, and this, combined with moving house for the second time in the year and losing my amazing garage ended my gaming season early.

In fact after the end of the FOW campaign gaming in general became quite disjointed because I was missing so many Tuesdays and no campaigns were happening. Late in the year a late-war FOW battle for Caen began, but ended soon after due to the participants work commitments (and possibly because the Germans were winning!). Hopefully this will began again sometime in 2010.

The Prospects of the New Year
2010 looks to have the same disrupted pattern as the end of 2009. I will be travelling to York to take part in the Vapnartak FOW mid-war tournament on the 7th of February, and there is a 40k campaign beginning at the RGMB in late January, but I am due to be a dad for the first time in April, and I’m sure this will combine with work to make it a very quiet year on the gaming front. At least I might get some more painting done!

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