Friday, January 23, 2015

Fast Play Grande Armee

I've posted my love for this great fast play version of Sam Mustafa's Grande Armee., so I won't go into game mechanics. This was a semi-historical re-fight of the action happening at the center at Aspern-Essling. Teh teraain was rolling hills and sporatic light woods.
The French won the first initiative but the center could not get a move on and take the central hills. Meanwhile the flanks got a pounding.
 The road between the two towns.
 Austrians take the hill.
For once, in all the games we've played, the Austrians put up a good fight.
Four turns in, (turns can last 1-4 pulses, which things exciting) both sides were beat all to hell. The Austrians had it slightly worse, and failed their army morale. But, then so did the French. Both sides skulked away.
A truly great battle.
Editor's note: I neglected to mention the valiant effort of the now named "Lucky 13th" or "Lost Brigade". They became separated from the rest of the line. This is terrible in these rules. Attackers get to reroll hits, etc. They managed to hold the a large chunk of the Austrian right wing before being finally crushed in a cavalry charge.

Friday, January 16, 2015

To the Strongest! playtest.

I've always been a big fan of grid or hex based games for the simple fact that it speeds things up, no arguments of ranges or if you wheeled correctly, etc. Commands and Colors is a great game and my pal Chris over at CluckAmok, always brings a great version of it to our local con RECRUITs with miniatures and hex terrain. I've tried in vain over years to make a hex map for own 8'x6' table.

I've been following Simon Miller over at Big Red Bat Cave for years. When I saw he had written a set of grid based rules that combined a lot of the aspects of games I like I pick them up right away. I don't have an ancient army, but I do have a lot of medievals.
The rules are great for a multitude of reasons. Don't need a particular scale, basing or mounting system. The grid can be subtly added like I did with small stickers painted a shade lighter or darker. I settled on 6" grids which is slightly larger than two of my 60mm bases wide. It only took about 15 minutes to add them.

Cards are pulled to activate units (for the most part a 2+) and can keep activating to do things like move, charge, shoot and rally until they fail and then that command is done ala Warmaster/Blitzkrieg Commander/ all current Warlord Games. Generals are there to add rerolls.
My biggest change was to use d10s instead of pulling cards. To the Strongest uses a couple standard card decks with the face cards removed. Personally, I didn't like the look of the cards sitting behind units. It was easy just to put the die back there. They come off at the end of your turn.
The game itself took less than 10 minutes to explain and the guys were rolling without much looking at the rules. They doesn't mean the game is simplistic. It has quite a bit of subtle tactics.
The game itself was a blast. It came down to a difference of 1 Victory point. Just when it look like one flank was going to be rolled up by a flank charge, the general rolled "1" to activate. A failure.
I highly recommend the rules. I will be using them for some Fantasy battles soon.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Turning to DUST

I've always thought the DUST futuristic, alt-WW2 miniatures and vehicles were cool, but wasn't thrilled about playing on a grid. Then they released DUST Warfare that took the minis off the grid, but I read some non flattering reviews. So, fast forward to GEN-Con 2014. I picked up the latest and greatest version of the rules. It has both the grid based system and a revamped tabletop version.
I picked it up and found the rules fun and easy to play, especially for a large group like ours. Besides, armored, undead zombie Germans with fricking-lay-zers.
A month or so ago Fantasy Flight games was offering all the DUST merchandise for a whopping 75% off! I dropped $150 and got a load of them.
After the holiday break, I wanted something easy and finally got them out.

It took less than 10 minutes to explain the rules. Everything is on the cards. Instead of the dice designed for the rules, which have 3 different faces repeated twice, we used regular dice. Roll 5 or 6 to get a hit for the most part.
The scenario involved the Allies trying to break thru a Axis held village.
Buckets of dice, and buckets of fun. Favorite part involved a huge Allied tank (six legged walky thing) unloaded 23 hits on a not-quite-zombie unit hiding in the woods. They managed to save all but 2. We joked I need to make a piece of terrain that's just stumps to replace the woods.
All in all, a fun, simple, don't take it too serious game. Off to troll ebay for more....
Side note: I usually do not tolerate unpainted minis on the table except for play tests. But, I know I'll probably never paint these guys, and they have a plastic toy soldier quality (with way better detail) that was acceptable.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Big Bethal- RF&F AAR

Fire and Fury is sometimes refered to as Fire and Frustration. It's still my go-to for ACW, but last night reminded me of how damaging bad rolls can be to an otherwise great game. With all the extra charts and modifiers piled on by the Regimental version, they can really do harm.
The table and the miniatures were great. John over at Curio Clashes provided both.
The Union had a tough nut to crack. A slog across swampy, tree filled terrain to assault the rebel works. The forces start fairly even and then the Union troops start arriving in hopes to overwhelm the opposition.

One of the units, an Indiana regiment (9th, 11th?) starts out already disordered due to some friendly fire earlier in the dy. Best change out of those gray Zuoave uniforms, boys. Then they really got plastered by the Rebel guns. They were rendered combat ineffective early. One unit out.
Then, a succession of truly abysmal Union die rolls for maneuver, the Blue Bellies got jammed up on the roads. Fodder for the Rebel gun emplacements. Way too early, it was obvious they were going to win.
S, just like the real Battle of Big Bethal, it was a Union disaster. A combination of green troops and bad luck spoiled the assault. But still, you can't beat a night with friends, toys and beer.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Campaign for the Kingdom, Chapter 13: A cold, dark, little affair

"Oswald, Duke of Dunharrow, claimant to the throne of the Kingdom, had lost most of his men along the road. Disease and homesickness had claimed most of them. Only Duke Ulrik stood with him this cold day, facing Baron Oswald the Younger and Duke Roderick.

Two villages stood between them. The only chance for fodder and lodgings over the coming winter.
Horns blared and Oswald's men trudged slowly forward. Across the battlefield his enemies moved in fits and stops, seemingly not sure what to do.

Oswald's men surged forward, the lighter troops out stripping the foot knights and pikes. A lone unit of archers far forward of the rest. They loosed. Ulrik watched in disgust as a unit of mercenary pikemen fled.
A village was taken by each side. Oswald's village was held by archers. They were peppering Horace's flank led by Ulrik. On the other end of the line, his men were trading blows with Roderick's.
Each side was losing men. Too many.
Ulrik was able to dislodge Oswald's men in the village and take it. Horace now had both. That was too much for the pretender's troops. They fled into the snow fall that had started during the battle.
Horace held the field. One step closer to the throne. But would he have men to hold it?"
A great little fight with only 4 players. Also, a close one.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

A quick picture of a quick game

Last night I had the pleasure of trying out the soon to be released "Galleys, Guns and Glory" rules by Skull and Crown, that go with their great ships.
As I mentioned before, I was able to get a hold of the pre-release ships thanks to trade. I'm doing all the flags that will come with purchase of the ships, in return for a fleet of said ships.
The game was easy to pick up and fun to play. Something I need as most Game nights are essentially mini conventions. There was hasty gun fire, fabulous critical hits, desperate boarding actions and lots of blood in the water.
We didn't use alot of the extras like special Captains or national traits, just to let everyone get ahold of the rules, which they picked up within 2 turns. Victory went to the Turks this time.Now, back to painting ships...

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Once more into 5 Core

We had a small group (even got the Boy to play) last night. It was perfect chnace to run another 5 Core game.
This was a follow game to the previous Rebel victory. Flushed with success the Rebels move up to the next no name town that seems to populate their miserable world, hoping to wreck a few key objectives.
 Rebel forces hug all available cover
They had five to choose from, everything from a statue of galactic hero Bud Lastyear, to a run down refinery. Five objectives the defending Marines knew about, but the Rebels only cared about 3. But which three?
Once again the Marines were outnumbered. Mostly for balance issues as the Marines have armor saves the Rebels do not, and better weapons.
It started out very cautious for both sides. Then, the Rebs let a missile fly at the refinery. A miss. There's one objective identified!
 Marines move up to hold objectives
Marine Captain Kargan takes a direct hit from a rocket and survives thanks to his armor.
A brave Rebel ran into the empty street, survived incoming fire and then placed a demo charge at the base of the statue. Three turns later, BOOM! One objective taken out, the symbol of Galactic oppression.
There was alot of "Scurry" and "Firefight" events rolled. This made some interesting decisions. ONe player "figured things out" towards the end and used a Scurry to place all his men ready to open up. The next turn, the Marines peeked out to fire at the now exposed Rebels and were immediately met with a hail of fire from the ready Rebels.
The refinery went down to another missile, and in a with the Marines pinned a final rocket took out the final objective.
Another good game. I think we did everything right this time. Not a game for the gamey or faint of heart. If you loved Squad Leader, you'll like these rules.