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Sword & Spear – the Holy Grail of Ancients rules?

I don’t know about you, but I’ve never been 100% happy with many of the Ancients rulesets that I’ve played over the years, bearing in mind that I’m looking at rules in which you play with element based armies, as opposed to units comprised of individual models, so rules such as WAB, Clash of Empires and War & Conquest aren’t included in that statement (of these, WaC is probably my favourite of these). I was never a fan of DBA, DBM and FoG. Warmaster Ancients and Hail Caesar are OK – probably my favourites up until now were Augustus to Aurelian, Polemos: Ancients and Impetus.

Given my gaming criteria I found myself constantly returning to playing ancient battles using Commands & Colours: Ancients, as this scratched the appropriate itch in the given timescale.

Sword & Spear cover medHowever, a new set of rules have come along which, even after a single play, have immediately become the favourite to be my Ancients wargaming rules of choice for the future: Sword & Spear, written by Mark Lewis and published by Polkovnik Productions.

I tried them out with my regular gaming opponent, Dave Luff, last night. We played a simple meeting engagement on an open plain between Early Imperial Rome and Ancient Britons, just to try out the rules mechanics.

We had some initial issues with army creation (caused, as it turned out, because I’d failed to download a document which answered all the questions we were asking about the army lists!) and, as with all rules that you play, the first couple of turns were pretty slow as we were checking everything against the rules. However, by the end of the evening we thought that we’d pretty much got the hang of it. (Although, as what usually happens, I discovered that we’d got a couple of things slightly wrong – nothing too drastic, primarily just clarifications of some of the game events that occurred)

It really helps that the rules made sense, so when we hit a situation, we discussed what we would expect to happen, and 99% of the time, the rules did what we expected.

Whilst movement and combat works well (although some of the wording around combat bonuses could be better) the crowning glory of this game is the Command and Control system. which takes ideas from games such as Saga and Bolt Action, adds its own twists and produces a result which gives each player plenty to think about during the course of each turn.

Dave (who is notoriously fussy and hard to please when it comes to wargames rules) was very impressed. I think we’ve just found our Holy Grail, Ancients rules that are fast, fun, intuitive and interactive to play (definitely not I-go-U-go), whilst offering a number of challenges and decisions in every phase of play. I think we will be playing these rules an awful lot in the future.

In short – these are a great little set of rules!

The rules are available for £6 as a PDF, or £14 for a print copy.

You can buy the rules here

All the army lists are free to download, and are available here

At time of writing, there are 52 army lists to download, covering the periods of Biblical, Rome and her enemies, Greek and Macedonian Wars, The Middle East & Crusades, The Dark Ages and Medieval.

All being well, I’m hoping to give an in-depth review of these rules and interview Mark Lewis on a podcast in the not-too-distant future.

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Demigod Games preview Ares: God of War for Conquest of the Gods

Demigod Games have just previewed their latest miniature: Ares – Greek God of War from their forthcoming range for a new game: Conquest of the Gods.

ares_render_05This miniature joins their previous model renders of faction Gods: Haichman

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Horus

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and Thor

Thor-FinalThe game appears similar is some concepts to that of Of Gods and Mortals, where you have Gods, fantastic creatures and human troops fighting alongside each other.

I am hoping to have John Stevens of Demigod Games on the podcast soon to chat all about the project and the upcoming Kickstarter.

In the meantime, I’m sure you’ll agree that these renders look very nice indeed.

 

 

Wargames, Soldiers & Strategy: The Great Wargaming Survey

wssThose nice chaps over at Wargames Soldiers & Strategy magazine (Hi Jasper & Guy!) have asked me to mention The Great Wargaming Survey, which they have just launched.

The people at WSS magazine are a very curious bunch (yes, probably probably in more senses of the word, but that doesn’t matter now). Mostly, we are curious about this hobby and the people in it. There is always much debate about the health of the hobby, the age of the average wargamer, which scale or size of miniature is better and endless other questions. Wargames, Soldiers & Strategy, being a team of intrepid people, decided to solve at least some of these debates by way of the Great Wargaming Survey. And YOU are cordially invited to take part.
Joking aside, this won’t take long (5-10 minutes), it’s entirely anonymous, it’s nothing every attempted on this scale and best of all, you’ll have a chance at winning some great prizes (such as the books from Casemate and Osprey, the SAGA Great Hall from 4Ground, and a 1000 point British Airborne Bolt Action army). What’s not to like? Just click here and spend a few happy minutes contemplating your favourite pastime.
We’d really appreciate your input, and we’re accepting responses until July 31st, 2014!

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Discovered: A Russian pyramid…

…campaign, that is…
Bashnya or Bust coverToo Fat Lardies have recently released a new campaign book for I Ain’t Been Shot Mum, their company level World War II rules: Bashnya or Bust!

Written by Robert Avery, this book follows a similar format to the previous Blenville of Bust title from the same author.

The book presents a full, 5-level, pyramid campaign where each scenario, after the first, is based upon the outcome of the previous battle – giving 31 scenarios in total. These can be played as a campaign in five successive battles, or each scenario can, if you so wish, be played individually.

Whilst Blenville of Bust! was a fictitious campaign based during the battle for Normandy, Bashnya or Bust! moves the action to the Eastern Front, with the campaign taking place during Operation Bagration. It’s worth noting that the German units involved are the same as the previous volume – the author suggesting that poor performance in Normandy has seen the units transferred to the Russian Front as punishment.

Each scenario comprises of an umpire briefing, plus briefings for each player, and the type of scenario varies from a tank battle on an open plain (the very first scenario) to infantry battles in Russian villages.

Though written with IABSM in mind, you should easily be able to use this book with any company-level set of rules (Battlegroup, Flames of War etc) – the forces involved are pretty standard for infantry companies supported by armoured formations, so you should have the vast majority of what you need to play these scenarios already in a company-sized force. The only other thing you will need will be the terrain for the Russian Front, including a number of buildings, as a couple of scenarios take place in a small town.

It’s a great resource,  and can keep you occupied from 5 weeks to 7 months, gaming once a week.

The book is available as a PDF download, priced at £9.50. Well worth a look.

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Operation Market Larden 2 – Saturday 14th June 2014

Yesterday saw me drive down to Bishamptom, the home of Wyvern Wargamers, to attend the second Operation Market Larden event. This is day dedicated to the playing of various games from the Too Fat Lardies stable of wargames rules.

A large selection of games were available to play, with everyone having the opportunity to play a couple of different games during the day – and there were some great looking games to take part in:

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Nick explaining ‘Kiss Me Hardy’ to Roman & Mike
Some of Nick's very nice looking Langton ships
Some of Nick’s very nice looking Langton ships
Nick Overland's "I Ain't Been Nuked Mum" game
Nick Overland’s “I Ain’t Been Nuked Mum” game
Pennisular War Sharpe Practice by Jim Ibbotson
Pennisular War Sharpe Practice by Jim Ibbotson

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Sid Roundwood's Verdun 1916 game

Sid Roundwood’s Verdun 1916 game

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Geoff Bond's "Tin Star" Wild West game
Geoff Bond’s “Tin Star” Wild West game

SiomnWalker's "Saving Mrs Ryan" - Indian Mutiny using Sharpe Practice
SiomnWalker’s “Saving Mrs Ryan” – Indian Mutiny using Sharpe Practice

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Rich Clarke manfully umpires "Chain of Command"
Rich Clarke manfully umpires “Chain of Command”

I broke my 3-month gaming drought with a couple of games during the day. First off was a 15mm game of I Ain’t Been Shot Mum, run by our very own Mike Whitaker. This was a recreation of the assault on Omaha Beach by the US 29th Infantry Division

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This was followed by playing a game of Chain of Command in 15mm, on a lovely table with a scenario designed by Ade Deacon.
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I had a great day – both games I played were a huge amount of fun.

On top of that we had a raffle which raised a very creditable £175 for the Battlegames Combat Stress Appeal.

The only downside of the day was not being able to stay for the curry afterwards!

Many thanks to Ade Deacon, Paul Baldwin and the Wyvern Wargames for hosting the day, and of course to Richard Clarke and Nick Skinner, not only for attending on the day, but for writing the rules we had such a good time playing.

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Twilight Struggle goes digital

pic361592_mdTwilight Struggle has been the No.1 Boardgame, War Game and Strategy Game on Boardgamegeek.com for some years now.

This is game which seeks to recreate the power struggle between the Soviets and the USA from the end of the Second World War until the break up of the Soviet Union.

I’ve only played the game a few times – its a fantastic game, with a great set of card mechanics. The only down side is that it can be something of a pain to set up, as it’s a large board, and markers have to be placed in various areas to denote influence before the game starts. It can also be quite a long game – lasting up to 3+ hours (although, as the US player, it is possible to lose to the Soviets VERY quickly in the early part of the game)

GMT Games have just launched a Kickstarter campaign to produce a digital version of the game for iOS, Android, PC, Mac and Linux…and maybe even PS4.

This looks like a great campaign – you can even get expansions for your existing boardgame as part of it.  It’s already massively funded, so hopefully this could be another success in the same vein as Small World 2. Well worth a look.

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