Sunday, 26 October 2014

A Wargaming Review Of 2014

A look back at my Year of Wargaming from October to September 2013-14, and as it opened I was in the process of changing jobs.  Having finished my contract with Wrexham Museum I took what I expected to be a temporary Christmas position working early mornings at Asda in Wrexham.  Nearly 12 months on and I’m still getting up at 5am to be in work by 6am at least three times a week – I must be mad.  I also added a fixed term contract tidying up Chirk Castle’s gift shops with the National Trust so I’ve managed to earn a reasonable bit of cash, but unsurprisingly it went the same way as the rest to keep the family ticking over and wargaming funds have been very thin on the ground! 

In addition to lack of funds to buy more toys my work schedule initially provided me with difficulty getting any wargaming in.  I found I lacked the energy to attend and play on Thursday evenings, with my very early Friday mornings at Asda following, as well as failing to find much time or energy for painting.  However, after a month or so it settled down and I’ve been able to go to most Thursday evenings and paint a fair amount still.  I’ve managed to paint a fair bit, although less than last year, and get in a variety of games throughout as well as playing in, and running, several tournaments.

 Painting & Modelling

In 2013 I spent most of my time painting one specific scale/army, which was my 28mm scale Royalists with the aim of getting them battle ready for the big English Civil War ‘Relief of Hawarden’ Gauntlet game.  This year I was only on the periphery in terms of number of models supplied for the Napoleonic Gauntlet game, and with less of a demand I painted far fewer models.  I did, however, paint more of a variety of pieces as various games systems lured me one way and then another.  A list would seem to be the best way to explain:

  • 28mm Napoleonics - The gauntlet game saw me paint two battalions of 28mm Frenchies (it was to be 3 battalions, but I ran out of time) which I was destined not to use, but I have been able to put them on the table once since.  The 3rd battalion had already been basically painted by Pete and now resides in a box with the rest to be updated the same as the other 2.  I found Napoleonic figures, after my 28mm Saga, Roman and ECW armies, to be quite time consuming which was probably why I didn’t make my 3 battalion quota.  While the period really interests me I ran out of enthusiasm fairly swiftly due to the detail required on each model and the fact that I needed 40 models per battalion.
  • Saga - I got some use out of my Saga this year; it’s a very nice pickup game which requires few models, little setup and pack down, and plays quickly.  I decided their bases were too bland (the initial rocks and flowers combination was something I had never been 100% happy with), and I returned to them to re-flock the bases with a heavy coat of light green which was a significant improvement.  I’ve still got a box of unmade un-armoured Gripping Beast Dark Age warriors to add to these, and I regularly wonder about turning them into a force big enough to enter the Hail Caesar arena, perhaps facing Michael’s developing Normans.
  • 28mm WW2 - As Bolt Action called I managed to paint a squad of 28mm Germans, but stalled before I reached squad two.  I made up a full list of what I wanted to buy to develop this into a decent sized force but was unable to find the funds for the purchases needed and I’ve yet to be fully grabbed by the game although it has a regular following at the Deeside Defenders.
  • Flames of War British – Having bought the Open Fire boxed set last September I finally made and undercoated the 8 Shermans from it, and made the US para platoon, but only moved onto fully painting one Sherman.  I have purchased enough Shermans to finish the armour part of my list from Plastic Soldier Company (a box of 5 to take me to 13 Shermans), and bought the decals from a company called Dom’s Decal’s to make them look the part as a unit during the battles for Normandy.  I’ve also invested in the paints needed to finish them so when I decide to splash out on the supporting British infantry, and perhaps Stuart light tanks, I can get stuck into that.  It would be nice to have an alternative force to the Germans in FOW, even if its just to get away from being on ‘Tiger Phil’s’ side.
  • Flames of War Germans – With Gauntlet past and looking for something else to do after painting Frenchies for several months I had a sudden revolution in painting speed and, spurred on by the carrot of an upcoming game, painted all of my Panthers, my Konigstiger, my armoured cars, my light AA support, and 4 halftracks!  Very pleased with the results too, worthy of a post in itself in the future.  All the models I painted I have had for several years and it was really nice to finally finish them.
  • American Civil War - In 6mm, and plenty of models finished with my Union army reaching a large enough size to play a few games against/alongside Andy and Luke’s Confederate troops.  The quickness of painting Union troops at that scale was somewhat diluted by the slowness of basing them afterwards, but I have achieved that rarest of things: I’ve run out of models to paint!  Apart from a bunch of limbers I’ll need to buy a few more infantry packs to get going again, although that trail has gone quiet at the moment.
  • Wars Of The Roses – Finally painted some of it my 28mm Perry’s plastics, and they didn’t turn out too badly.  37 models later and I’m now the owner of 2 units of bowmen and 1 of billmen, and while their first game was a defeat they didn’t disgrace themselves.  I’ve also made and undercoated the horsemen for the 2 units of mounted men-at-arms, and left the other box of infantry unmade for the moment.  I tried to go for a lighter colour for my WOTR troops in the hope of making them stand out, or perhaps blend in, alongside Aidan’s nicely painted forces for that period.  Although the Dip I used did dull the colours a bit I feel I succeeded to a certain degree.
  • Odd Ball – Having dug out the Wild West 25mm figures for the bio-titan to play with I was enthused enough to paint a couple, and they were joined by a 54mm LGB railway porter and trolley which I had promised my dad I would paint for his garden railway rather too long ago.  I also flocked my GW hills because they no longer fitted the battle field covering.
  • Air brushing – For my birthday in 2014 my parents did something no relative has done for many years and purchased me a wargaming-related present; a basic gravity-fed air brush, and most pleased with it I was too.  I’ve trialled it with a few models, but have yet to get the result, particularly in German WW2 camo, that I was really after.  However its getting a fair bit of use in October this year so results to appear soon I hope.  It has proved useful in undercoating a few figures when the spray isn’t available due to poor outside weather, but it does leave rather a smell still, and enough of one for SWMBO to complain!

Painted Vs Purchased Results

A lack of cash meant that I purchased very few models this year, and sold a few old ones to fund new purchases at Triples.  This has meant I managed a good Painted/Purchased ratio as I started to paint things I’ve had for years!

Purchased – 32
Painted – 167

Wargaming Shows

A less active year for wargaming shows compared with 2013 as out of three I had hoped to go too (Vapnartek in York, Triples in Sheffield and Gauntlet in Broughton) I managed only the one; Triples.  York in February saw me mostly penniless and I decided to wait until May and the annual trip to Sheffield instead, where my reasonable fortune on eBay on the day enabled me to spend a bit of cash, with the majority going on modelling supplies rather than models, with only 7(!) models purchased.  It was an excellent trip with 4 very good friends as Michael reappraised his driving role, and his large Ford Mondeo enabled us to fit Luke, Red and Aidan in the back, which looked much more of a squash than they admitted either during or afterwards! 

Gauntlet was, for me, an anticlimax because I didn’t get to go.  I was organised to take part in Aidan’s beautiful 28mm Napoleonic game, and I had even painted 2 battalions of French specially and booked the day off at Asda.  However a couple of days beforehand I had to pull out, leaving my models and scenery for use by those lucky enough to go, because SWMBO was feeling quite unwell and needed my help guarding the bio-titan. 

Gaming & Campaigns

Despite my best intentions being to focus on just a few periods rather than last years spattering of many games/periods/scales I ended up doing something similar.  Apart from dabbling in the odd Napoleonic fixture, wandering around the 15th century with Aidans Wars of the Roses, and the 6mm American Civil War spluttering into life a couple of times I’ve mainly played the below:
  • Flames of War – I ran a 4 month (4 game) Western front late war ‘campaign’ between November and March which was really more of a tournament system and ended with the Allies winning.  Martin picked up the top award for the Allies and the tournament, and Dennis finished top Jerry.  Phil was the instigator of this by drumming up support for a FOW tournament in the first place which I then ran, and following the end of this he decided to run his own (mostly identical) tournament but in mid-war Africa.  It is still running and I’m waiting for it to finish so I can launch my own creation; a battle for Berlin!  This has meant my Flames of War Germans have been out a fair few times this year in various guises, and using some mid-war models I hadn’t used properly for years.
  • Bloodbowl – Dumped out at the Semi-final stage in late 2013 by Paddy and his invincible Chaos Dwarfs.  I expect I should feel good that he respected my ‘talent’ not to give me any chance and I only saw the ball once in a 2-1 defeat.  Didn’t enter the 2014 tournament, too depressed!
  • Dreadball – The Carbis Bay Buccaneers (Corporation and the only team I have!) have had a handful of outings, defeating Paddy a couple of times, embarrassing Laurent thoroughly, and teaching James the finer points of the game.  The one day special returned, and despite my hopes of going one better than my 2nd place in the 2013 tournament I could only manage 3rd due to a heavy defeat against Adrian’s Nameless.  Late 2014 sees the start of a full tournament run by Pete, first game to be against my old adversary Mark and his Veermyn.
  • Saga – The Welsh have been active, in particular managing a couple of introductory games, and an excellent evening of multi player action at Michaels before Christmas.   I even set up and ran an evening-long tournament in Broughton which 8 players took part in, and which Michael won by virtue of having more whiskers on his face!  Good fun.
  • English Civil War – A few games, including one big battle which I missed half of, definitely needs more use!

This has all turned into a ramble, and I need to do something more productive with my time, such as read up on Thursdays Dreadball rules and fixture!  Heres some photos.  Cheery-bye.

First air brush experiments.

28mm Germans and Frenchies.

First air brush panzers - not my finest work,

My Saga Welsh getting extra grass.

Battle of Oulstree - 6mm ACW.

My Union troops advancing.

FOW Panthers.

Carbis Bay Buccaneers @ the Dreadball tournament.

Big ECW bash. 
Wars of the Roses Troops.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Dreadball Season 2014-15: Month 1 - Introductions & Rules

Hello loyal readers, Dreadball fans, and of course supporters of the greatest team to play the game and champions in waiting; The Carbis Bay Buccaneers!  The blue-clad seafarers hope that this will be the start of a defining season for them when they step out onto the court in their first fixture against old adversaries; The Plague Bearers, on Thursday.  Having finished 2nd and 3rd in the 2013 and 2014 one day tournaments this is the big time and the opportunity to shine.   

This is the first of hopefully a number of monthly reports on the Deeside Defenders Dreadball League, season 2014-15.  In this preview edition I will settle for providing a copy of the rules for the impending tournament, the list of participants, and the first round fixtures.  It is worth noting the following basic rules;
Each fixture consists of a Home and an Away match between the two teams.
Teams gain 3pts for a wipe-out victory, 2 for a victory, and 1 for a draw or a defeat.

The Participants (to be updated when I gain the team names):
Andy – Hollywood Allstars (Corporation)
Adrian – (The Nameless)
Dafydd – (Corporation)
James – 'Deff to Humanz' (Marauders)
Paddy – (Corporation)
Ian Shaw – Skaven Foundation (Veer-myn)
Pete – (Judwan)
Simon Harris – (Forge Fathers)
Tom Morris – (Robots)
Dave McClumpa – (Corporation)
Mark - Plague Bearers (Veer-myn)
Rick – Carbis Bay Bucaneers (Corporation)

Round 1 Fixtures:
Carbis Bay Buccaneers Vs. Plague Bearers
Adrian Vs. Andy
Paddy Vs. Skaven Foundation
Simon Harris Vs. Tom Morris
Dave Vs. Pete
Dafydd Vs. James

Dreadball League – Season 2014-15

·         Each player will be seeded according to their result in the last day long tournament.
·         Any player who did not play in the tournament will be seeded below the tournament players.
·         The player list will be divided into two tiers. Both sets of players will play every other player in their tier.
·         Each month a player will play both a home and away game against one other player.
·         Deciding who is the first player to play as the home player will be determined by a die roll.
·         At the end of each month the player in the top tier with the lowest score will drop into the lower tier.
·         At the end of each month the player in the bottom tier with the highest score will move into the top tier.
·         Each monthly draw will take place after all games have been played.
·         Players will not normally play against a single opponent more than once.
·         In the case that a player drops out of the league, then other players will be asked to play the team.
·         No matter what they score "dummy" teams will be considered to be at the bottom of their tier.
·         When all games have been completed the knock out stages will take place.
·         In each tier the top four players will play randomly drawn semi finals, (Home and away matches).
·         In each tier, the semi final winners will play a final (both home and away) to determine the winner.

Selection of teams
·         Teams can be chosen from any of the official Dreadball books.
·         There will be no MVPs or Giants used in the league.
·         Cheerleaders will be allowed but not additional coaches.
·         Teams must comply with the list as published in the rules.
·         Additional items or players can only be purchased following each pair of games.
·         Note. If your team starts with no coaching dice you can purchase these as the league progresses.
·         If your team list has no cards, you cannot draw cards to use on players until you purchase cards later.

Team rating
·         Your team rating is the total of all of your assets.
·          Each players basic value plus 5mc per rank gained
·          Dreadball cards at 10mc each
·          Coaching dice at 6mc each
·          Each cheerleader at 8mc each
·         Any unspent credits

o   If your team rating is lower than that of your opponent you are awarded MC to equalise your teams.
o   Extra MC can only be spent on extra cards at 10mc each, coaching dice at 6mc each or free agent players    any of these purchases can only be used for one of your pair of game. Team ratings may change between games. Treat each game as an individual event.
o   In order to simplify the process for players who only have one set of figures. New team members and free    agents must be of the same race as your team.

Scoring each game
o   Each game in your pair of games must be scored separately. Do not add the scores together.
o   Each landslide win will score 3 points.
o   Each win will score 2 points.
o   Each draw will score 1 point. A draw may be possible where both teams have only guards available to play.
o   Each loss will score 1 point.

At the end of each game
o   The match should be scored,(landslide 3pts, win 2pts, draw/lose 1pt).
o   The team with the highest number of cheers randomly awards a team member "Man of the match".  If teams have the same number of cheers, both sides give this award.
o   One point is awarded to a team member for each of the following:   Scoring a 3 or 4 point strike, injuring a player for 3 turns, killing an opponent, man of the match.
o   Each player starts as a level 1 player. A player must have 2 points in order to roll for first advancement, then they would need a further 3 for the next advancement, a 4 for the next. Etc.
o   Note free agents never get awarded advancement points and cannot be retained for new games.
o   Players entitled to roll for new abilities, should do so at the end of ANY match. Note this may effect your team rating between your pair of matches.
o   Players who are deemed killed may be fixed up if you can pay the hospital fees which are his basic cost plus   the roll of a dice in MC. Or you can sell his body parts and be credited with 5MC.

Team revenue
o   After each match you will be awarded prize money which can be spent between games.
o   Your revenue will be the value of any dead players body parts you have sold. (5mc each) plus roll 1 dice  according to game result. (Landslide 3, win 2, lose/draw1), plus 1 dice for each full 10 points team ranking   difference before the start of the game if you were the  lowest ranking player. The total rolled plus sold body   parts is the amount of  your revenue for the game.
o   If you intend spending any of your revenue you must do so at the end of the game. Credits cannot be spent at any other time.

Other rules
·         Anything not outlined above will be found in rule books 1-3.
·         If you cannot find the answer in the rule book and you cannot resolve the issue by applying  common sense or a simple die roll then blame the organiser, who in turn will blame Ian Shaw  because I can.

Dreadball 2014-15 Match Rules

Pre match sequence.
·        Roll a dice or argue over who will be the home team in the first match.
·        Complete the top section of the score sheet. (One player front, one player back)
·        The player with the lowest team rating is awarded MC to spend for this match only in order to balance the team ratings. Purchases are limited to coaching dice @ 6MC, cards @ 10MC or free agents at cost. Free agents must be of the same race. Unspent MC is lost and purchases cannot be carried over from match 1 to match 2 as team ratings may be different for the second match.

During the game.
·        Do not forget to draw and keep your cheers for the end of game sequence.
·        Do not forget to record individual players points scored.
·        One player advancement point is awarded as follows: Scoring a 3 or 4 point strike. Injuring a player for 3 turns. Killing an opponent. Award for man of the match.

Post match sequence.
·        Record the game results. 3 points for a landslide victory. 2 points for a win. 1 point for a win or draw.
·        Income: Roll one D6 for each of the following which applies to you: If you won a landslide victory roll 3. If you won roll 2. If you drew or lost roll 1. If you had the lowest team rating prior to the start of this match then roll 1D6 for each full 10 points difference.
·        Add 5MC for any of your dead players body parts which you sell.
·        Expenditure: Purchase of any new players, cheerleaders, dice or coaches.
·        Man of the match, (1 player advancement point) is awarded to a random player from the side with the most cheers. In the case of a draw both players may randomly draw a man of the match.
·        Player improvements. Players who have advancement points may be able to advance. Each player can only take one advancement after each match. Advancements can be awarded as follows: The first when the player has 2points, the second on 5points and the third on 9 points.
·        Players must declare which advancement chart they are using prior to rolling. (Charts are on the back of this sheet).
·        Do not forget to update your team list.
·        Do not forget that each advancement  player is awarded increases his value by 5MC. his will increase your team value.

Friday, 17 October 2014

Flames Of War: Panzergrenadiers Vs. Motorstrelkovy

A step back in time to a simpler age this week as I revisited the Eastern Front in 1942, playing a 2,500pt Flames of War game with my Panzergrenadiers against Luke’s Motorstrelkovy.  I hadn’t been sure what Luke would bring; his collection enables him to go either plentiful armour or massed infantry, and in the end I was the only one with tank teams, leaving my StuG’s with no T-34’s to fight as Luke focused on infantry and artillery.  This Russian list is classified as a mechanised company, and as such he found himself delegated as the attacker in a Counter Attack scenario.

My infantry, supported by numerous AT guns and artillery, dug in around woods and buildings to defend the direct route from the Russian lines to the objectives.  Luke took up the challenge with an unsubtle advance straight towards my lines using an infantry company and two artillery platoons – rolling the guns forward as fast as the infantry moved!  My nebelwerfers and 10.5cm artillery failed to do enough damage to stop them, and the panzergrenadier platoon in the small village was forced out by the enemy infantry, with the remains retreating back to the field next to the objective.  I brought up an armoured panzergrenadier platoon which, having survived an air attack, stalled the Russian infantry advance for a time before being decimated by direct fire from a 76mm gun platoon.

The German right flank by comparison was quiet; my StuG’s turned up and were joined by my 8-rad armoured cars and pioneers in blocking off the soviet infantry company trying to make its way round that side.  Once the enemy armoured cars were destroyed in a one sided battle the rest of the infantry dug in and waited to see if the heavy artillery (15cm guns!) could break the deadlock.  The StuG’s started a duel with some Russian AT guns, only to discover how lethal they were at close range and so stood off them to continue it to the German advantage.  The pioneers and an 8-rad armoured car hotfooted it (in the pioneers case in their trucks) to where the rest of my army were in trouble.

Back on the left I had made the foolhardy decision to launch an assault from the woods in an attempt at trapping and wiping out the weakened Russian infantry company, but there were enough maxim’s for this to be defeated, and the Russians sent the panzergrenadiers reeling backwards, before heading on to destroy the 10.5cm artillery at close range.  Casualties mounted on both sides; my 88mm guns had already fallen to the 76mm guns, my nebelwerfers to the 15cm heavies, and my PaK40’s to the infantry.  Meanwhile on the Russian side, with most of their army penned into their deployment zone, the weakened infantry company was all that was between me and victory - it was looking rather tight.

Unfortunately, for the Germans anyway, just as the pioneers were priming their flamethrowers after disembarking from their trucks, my remaining panzergrenadier platoon gave up the ghost; wiped out amongst the trees by the Russian infantry.  My dice rolling wasn’t up to the inevitable company morale check, and Luke claimed victory!

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Saga - Fighting The Steppe Horde

A Saga to report as Red escaped deepest North Wales for the second week running and choose a Dark Age skirmish game as the evening’s entertainment.  I parcelled up my Welsh and some scenery and headed over to Broughton in good company and set up a 4ft by 3ft table for a 1 vs. 1 game.  As I debussed my, mostly foot, troops expecting to see Red’s Vikings begin to muster I glanced upwards and saw with shock what appeared to be a mounted terracotta army forming!  No wonder he had been so keen to play Saga because what I was going to face was his latest creation; The Mongol Horde!  Within 6 points he could bring 49 models to the table, and they deployed in 4 units of 12 warriors and one warlord – all mounted.  Against this my warband could find 45 courageous men, and this included peasants!  Fortunately it also included my 8 Teulu, or Hearthguard, and this eventually made a difference.

Defend the homestead!

We played two scenarios, and the first to be rolled up was actually The Challenge, but with the massive threatening wave of enemy I was already looking to the (lovely and authentic looking) set of buildings and fences of the local settlement for safety, and it became very much a battle to defend the homes of the peasantry against the ravening horde!  Red’s Mongol’s failed to take advantage of my warlord standing mostly unsupported in the open for the first couple of turns, and I yanked him away and into the settlement as soon as I could to join up with the unit of 8 teulu and the 16 warriors (one unit of 12 and one of 4) behind its fences.  The mounted warriors I had thrown forwards who bought this time with their lives took a few of the Mongols with them.  Left outside the fences were the peasantry bowmen, who took every opportunity to sprinkle the enemy horsemen with arrows.

As the Mongols moved in to deal with this pest I saw a possible opportunity and my warlord and 12 warriors hurdled the fence and sprinted out to take a bunch of the horsemen in the flank.  The Mongol warriors were too canny for this aggression to work and quickly leap away, but in doing so left their warlord unguarded and my warriors charged in and dealt him 5 wounds.  My own warlord, with the immortal offering of going to fetch “help” ran back to the settlement and left the warriors to be swamped and cut to pieces by the Mongols response.  The peasants and their bows were only saved the same fate when they became exhausted and reduced to such a small number that they played no further part and were ignored.

The settlement began to look more and more like a combination of the film The Thirteenth Warrior, Little Big Horn and Zulu as the Mongol horsemen surrounded it completely and traded arrows with welsh javelins with the attackers coming off worse by some stretch.  With too few Welshmen to guard every inch of the fencing they eventually broke through and circled the remaining defenders, but unfortunately this included the numerous untouched hearthguard who, with their enemy finally within reach of a sword, sliced into the Mongols, felling many of their number.  With their ranks decimated, and the fencing defeating their arrows, the Mongol warlord called a retreat and the welsh survivors let out a cheer!

The Welsh arrive to protect the farm.

Mongols - thousands of 'em!

Swiftly surrounding the farm.

The warlords face off before the welsh warlord makes a cunning escape leaving his warriors to die, and not for the last time.

A goat herd who reckons anywhere else would be a good place too be.

The welsh warriors give the Mongol warlord a bloody nose, but the rest of the Mongols are on hand to retaliate.

The welsh Teulu - delighted to have someone to stab at close range finally!

The Journey Home

With the homestead obviously such a dangerous place with all those horrible horses about the welsh decided to gather all they could carry and head for a more defendable position, but were then attacked on the road in The Escort scenario.  Aptly the roll of a die had decreed that Red was attacking again and as I closed ranks around the carts (and the very vicious goats and lady-with-baby combination at the back) the Mongols swept forward once more.  This game was a 4 point one due to time constrictions, but still very hard fought for that.  I decided to keep my troops together and force my way through with warriors and my warlord at the front, trusting that the Mongols would prefer to stand off and dance and fire their arrows rather than mix it up. 

Unfortunately Red had learnt his lesson, and soon the circling wolf pack struck to hamstring the rearmost oxen in melee and I had to abandon a cart.  My warriors closed up the gap at the back as my welsh edged along the road between two copses of trees, and my Warlord and 4 hearthguard cleared a bit of a space in front of them.  The Mongols now realised that in performing their encircling manoeuvre they had reached too far behind and to the sides of the escorted column and I had a clear run to the edge of the table.  They were unable to fill the gap as my leading oxen cart headed off into the sunset while my hearthguard and peasant bowmen sacrificed themselves to save its contents of 2 barrels, a pregnant zombie, a man carrying two buckets, and a rat.  In desperation, and with my warriors ranks wearing thin, the Mongol warlord launched several vicious attacks with a large party of his mounted warriors, and broke through to attack the goats and lady-with-baby.  The latter gave him a bit of a kicking and he drew off again, only for another group of his, by now dwindling, horsemen to finish off what he had started; knocking down the goat herder and stealing the four-strong flock.  With this action, and finishing time upon us, a draw was declared.

Another speedy manoeuvre by the Mongols to surround the carts, but they've left a handy gap.

Luckily for them they are able to scrag some goats before the Lady-with-baby could bash them,