planning

Trying to get organised (again!)

After reading a link from a recent tweet from Henry Hyde, I was struck again by just how disorganised I am about this whole blogging and podcasting business especially when fellow podcast hosts, such as Mike Whitaker, manage to post a blog entry almost every day!

As you may have noticed, whilst I attempt to publish two podcast episodes a month, plus extra blog posts, the appearance of these is a somewhat random occurrence, and I’m grateful to everyone for having the patience of saints whilst waiting for the next update.

Well, with it being the start of a new academic year this week, I’m once again resolving to try and be somewhat more organised (I can hear the cheer from Wales from chez Hobbs at this point). My proposal is this:

Podcast

I’ll be publishing shows on the 1st and 15th of each month, starting from the 1st September (although I might sneak another show in before the end of August, if I can get the ‘Valhalla’ show edited in time!)

Blog

I’ll be publishing three posts each week on the blog, on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Monday will consist of any personal hobby updates (new models, painting etc!) Many of will assume that this is likely to be something of a short entry! It is, however, as much about challenging me to ensure that I get at least a little personal hobby time each week.

Wednesday will be a written review of a set of rules or a supplement.

Friday will be a round up of the bits of hobby news of the week that have caught my eye

Special Announcements

There might be special announcements from time to time which will fall outside the above timetable. These will obviously be of an ad-hoc nature

Vidcast

I haven’t had much chance to put together any vidcasts for some months now. However, I’d still love to do these,especially now that I have a camera which can also capture full HD movies. They are quite time consuming to produce (which is one reason why they haven’t appeared recently!) but I’m hoping that they may start appearing at weekends once life settles down a bit.

 

That’s the plan, but we all know that plans don’t tend to survive first contact with the enemy!

pulp alley

Pulp Alley AAR – Mike Hobbs

DSCF0345 - CopyIn upcoming Podcast Episode 132 (which we recorded earlier this week) we will be reviewing miniatures game Pulp Alley.

However, before then, podcast host Mike Hobbs has been trying out these new rules using a variant for Gothic Horror.

Here is his battle report:

Pulp Alley is a game that’s been out for a little while that; to quote the authors “captures the thrill-packed excitement of pulp action from the classic cliff-hangers and pulp magazines to more modern adaptations like Rocketeer, Indiana Jones, and Sky Captain.”

It’s a small scale skirmish game that was originally designed to create pulp style games in the 1930’s, however the character generation system in the rules allows players to come up with other backgrounds then this for their games with a little imagination. With the release of the campaign supplement “Perilous Island” new rules introduced “Weird” abilities which allowed players to move into other backgrounds like Gothic Horror, Steampunk and even Sci-Fi.

The scenario generation system in the rules is based around players fighting over various objectives, called “Plot Points” on a 3 foot square gaming area, and includes rules for “perilous areas”, where players can play cards to force their opponents to overcome challenges when crossing them. These cards are called “Fortune cards” and each player starts the game with 3 of them and takes 1 at the start of each turn, they have a few uses in the game, either they can be played to give the player an advantage (like reducing movement of the figure their opponent has just activated) or to issue challenges when their opponent passes through a perilous area (causing them to make a dice roll to pass the challenge or take a number of hits).

All in all it’s a lot of fun and perfect for a club night.

So I thought I would test out what the rules could do, by designing a scenario set in a deserted castle in the Victorian period where I would play the role of Dungeon master whilst my good mate Mark played a group of adventurers who were investigating reports of strange lights and eerie sounds that came from the castle at night. Yes we were going to do a classic dungeon crawl using the rules.

So this is a summary of what happened in part 1 of a little tale I call “The Castle of Clichés

pic1

Marks gang, or “League” as they are called in the game are called “the Dark Night gang” and consists of a Leader (I didn’t get his name) his bulky and slightly deranged Sidekick (called Mr Choppy) a few Allies and one follower. These are all characters levels in the rules with allies and followers being the lowest ranking members of a gang whilst leaders and Sidekicks are the hero characters. To use a Star Trek reference, allies and followers would wear red shirts, so you know what’s going to happen to them

Mark started the game with the initiative which means he could decide which player activates the next figure, however as I had no figures on the table I introduced a little rule where I could interrupt Marks play at specific times and grab the initiative for 1 activation. This was done whenever the gang entered a new area on the table, and I would announce it by use of the phrase “a shot rings out”

So we begin with the adventures outside the large gates of the castle and my; those castle doors look perilous I do hope nothing nasty happens when they try to open them.

Mark is a canny player so sent his whole group up to the castle gates before getting his follower to open them. The doors were indeed a perilous area, so I played a fortune card from my hand and the follower had to pass a challenge when opening them or face taking a few hits, obviously being a lowly character he failed the test and took a hit which he failed to save and was knocked out (normally character can roll to recover at the end of a turn but followers being the weakest are just removed)

But the door was open and surprise surprise “A shot rings out” and I take the initiative for 1 action as the 4 defenders of the hallway appear and one of them shots at the party. Mark reacts by firing himself and we roll to see what happens, obviously I miss but Mark gets a few shots through.

pic2

It’s worth mentioning here how shooting works in the rules, when a character shoots at an enemy they use their shooting ability which gives them a number and a type of dice to use to carry out the shooting (e.g. 2d6, 3d8 etc.) and their opponent gets to decide if they want to shoot back or dodge (using the dodge ability for that character) players then roll there dice and any rolls of 4 or more are a success. Then one of the players can decide how effective the shooting (or dodging) was by nullifying hits by use of the dice rolls they just made. Once they worked out how many hits each character took they roll a health dice for each hit taken to see if a wound was taken. If a wound was taken the characters health dice is reduced by one (d10 to d8 etc.) but if the health dice of a character goes down to lower then d6 then that character is “down” and takes no further part in this turn.

So after 1 round of shooting my Minion (who was an Ally class and therefore had a d6 health dice) failed his health check and fell to the floor

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Marks gang then moved into the hallway and started engaging my minions in hand to hand combat (called brawling in the rules)

Brawling works in the same way as shooting with the defender choosing to fight back using his Brawl ability, dodge or if the enemy has charged in more than 3 inches by shooting. One interesting rules mechanic is that of multiple combat, where each time a character uses their Brawl or Shoot ability the number of dice they can roll is reduced by 1, this doesn’t affect dodging but it means characters get less effective the more they have to do each turn.

At the end of the turn Mark had moved into the hall and lots of fighting was taking place and we all rolled “Recovery” rolls for our “Downed” character to see if they recover, this is a d6 roll looking for 4 or more.

And my minion who was shot early on in the turn jumped back to his feet ready to face the invaders

The combat lasted a few more turns but eventually Mr Choppy lived up to his name and the floor was littered with my fallen minions with the exception of my original one who had more lives than a black cat. It was at this point that Mark decided to open the side door in the Hall way and “A shot rings out” on the other side of the door is another Minion of mine standing on top of some perilous looking stairs

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Eventually Mark dispatched the guardians of the lower chamber and was able to try out the main door in the hallway, which was locked. It looks like he needs to find a key…

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So down the perilous stairs the adventures went, with only the leader failing the various challenges, I gave them (I had a fair few fortune cards at this point) so his health had been reduced to d8 and he had to wear a natty little band until he made his recovery roll at the end of the turn so we remembered

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Spying a package on the table the group moved to investigate, this was one of the “Plot Points” I had placed earlier and are objectives in the games. To win a plot point a player has to overcome a random challenge but unlike perils they don’t cause any hits to be taken if failed but the player has to complete the whole challenge before they win the plot point. In Marks case it took 3 of his characters to win this one. Once players win a plot point they draw a “Rewards” card which gives them a number of points to spend on extra things in the next scenario and helps drive a campaign forward. These extra can be spent on things like extra Henchmen that will join the group for a game, or maybe a gizmo that opens all locked doors or even a tank (if you get enough)

Eventually our now much smaller group of heroes decide to see what’s behind the other door in the room, and would you believe it “A shot rings out”

In the that room is a rather suspicious looking man (let’s call him a Doctor) hastily stuffing medical equipment into a leather bag, he screams at the 2 robed figures in the room to “get them” before firing his pistol at Olga (the purple dressed temptress who just opened the door)

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Olga falls to the floor and I play a card that means she immediately has to take her recovery roll, which she fails and is removed from the game (score 1 to the bad guys) Mark makes me activate next so my robed minions rush straight out the door into the loving arms of Mr Choppy who was hiding outside the room

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Characters can go into hiding in the game which means they move less but can ambush enemy players, this is what happened here and in the space of 1 turn both my minions were down, leaving the Doctor alone and defenceless.

Mark who still had the initiative made me activate first so played my trump card and used my shapeshifter ability (from Perilous Island) to change the good doctor into his alter ego Mr H.

Cue evil laugh from me..

Mark just smirked and activated Mr Choppy who charged into combat with Mr H, whilst saying “we all knew it would come to this.”

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The fight was long and hard with both characters getting the wind knocked out of them, whilst Marks leader messed around trying to find the key, until eventually he found it in an adjoining room

pic10

In the best traditions of Pulp he ran passed the 2 fighting giants and up the stairs shouting encouraging statements like “Go on Mr Choppy, he’s on the ropes now”

In the end Mr Choppy landed an uppercut on Mr H’s jaw that knocked him out but slipped on something on the floor and managed to knock himself out at the same time, which ended the game with the Leader escaping out the castle doors clutching his prize. All ready for part 2 of the game which we’ll play next week.

So as you can guess I really like this game, it’s open enough to allow player to invent their own backstory and has some strong mechanics which just gives a good game. We didn’t have to refer to the rulebook once and it all just flows beautifully. With the Perilous Island supplement and the new “Vehicles, Guns and Gadgets” add-on, you have even more stuff to use in games and it just opens itself up for more expansions. If you like games that are narrative driven and play in an hour or so I would really recommend it, I’m already thinking of ways to use this in a Very British Civil war setting and even WWII games (Kelly’s Heroes anyone?)

For more info go to the Pulp Alley website, or if you are in the UK you can buy the rules at Statuesque Miniatures or get the pdfs via Wargames Vault 

Many thanks to Mike for that Battle Report. Look out for Episode 132 of the Meeples & Miniatures Podcast for a full review of the rules.

Big-Chain-Cover-copy_edited-1

It’s Chain of Command…only bigger!

Too Fat Lardies have just released a free download to supplement their platoon-level World War II rules, Chain of Command:

Big-Chain-Cover-copy_edited-1

Up until this point, the forces played in Chain of Command were a platoon, plus some additional support. There have been a growing number of gamers who have been asking if it were possible to play bigger games with these rules.

This supplement is an answer to those queries, and now allows you to play Chain of Command with several platoons a side, and even field Armoured Platoons.

Rules are provided for letting you game with roughly equivalent forces, whilst allowing gamers to select their forces based on real formations, rather than using a system of points. Given the guide provided, not only could you field platoons of tanks and other AFVs, but also recce platoons. They even go as far as to give rules for playing with Tank Aces!

The game can be still be played between two people, but also provides the opportunity for several players to play simultaneously, with each player controlling their own platoon.

IABSM coverUp until this point, I Ain’t Been Shot Mum has been the ruleset that TFL have provided for playing company level actions in World War II. With this release, you now have a choice of playing a company sized action using either IABSM or Chain of Command.

I must admit, I do much prefer Chain of Command, so IABSM will now probably be left to playing those larger, multi-company engagements – Chain of Command would now seem to fulfil most of my day-to-day requirements for World War II gaming.

Highly recommended.

You can download Big Chain of Command from the Too Fat Lardies blog.

battlesystemslogo

Unboxing the Battle Systems Kickstarter…Part 1

I had a rather heavy box arrive last week, which turned out to be my fulfilled order from the Battle Systems Sci-Fi Terrain Kickstarter Project (it’s amazing just how heavy cardboard can be!)

battlesystemslogo

With one thing and another, I didn’t get chance to even open the box until the weekend – this is what I found…

Its a big box...
Its a big box…
Is there anything in it?
Is there anything in it?
Aha!
Aha!
What was in the box
What was in the box

Some pics of some of the loose sheets:
DSCF1888

DSCF1890

DSCF1891

Opening the Stronghold box I found...lots of clips
Opening the Stronghold box I found…lots of clips
What was under the clips...
What was under the clips…

That’s about as far as I got. I didn’t want to break the seal on the boxed sheets just yet.

Next job is to get my storage solution sorted out (almost there, just need several tray inserts) and grab some more liquid superglue, and then construction can start.

Another update soon (I hope!)

X-COM

Fantasy Flight Games – XCOM: The Board Game announced

X-COM_-_UFO_Defense_CoverartIf you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you may know that my all time favourite computer game is XCOM: Enemy Unknown.

This was released in 1994 by Microprose. Whilst the graphics were decent for the time, what sold the game was the 2-tier gameplay. On one level, it was a strategy game, with you building bases, researching alien technology and intercepting UFOs which were attacking the earth.

XCOM_Enemy_Unknown_Game_CoverOn the other level, it was a turn-based tactical  wargame, as you sought to secure crashed UFOs, defend cities attacked by the invaders, and destroy alien bases.

It was a game full of tension, with some great music.

2KGames produced a new version of the game in 2012, with massively updated graphics and gameplay.

It’s an ideal game to play as a miniatures game, and has inspired several scenarios with rules such as Tomorrow’s War.

Target EarthIn 2010, GenX games published a boardgame called Target Earth. Whilst it did not bear the name XCOM, it was undoubtedly  inspired by the computer game.

1-4 players worked co-operatively to build bases and defend the earth from alien invasion. This game used the strategic aspect of the game, with the tactical gameplay of UFO recovery somewhat abstracted.

Not a bad game at all, and seriously difficult to win.

Move forward four years.

box-XCOM-right

Fantasy Flight Games has just announced that they are producing XCOM: The Board Game. Simply looking at the cover would indicate that this game comes with an official licence.

The game is co-operative, and looks to have FFGs trademark production values. What is more, the game is played in conjunction with an App, which appears to play the part of the alien threat in the game.  There are not many details available for this game just yet – maybe more news will be available at GenCon.

The game is designed by Eric Lang, whose past games include Star Wars: The Card Game, Quarriors!, Chaos in the Old World and Warhammer: Invasion.

As an XCOM fan,  this game is immediately on my ‘must have’ list. It’s due out towards the end of the year – I can’t wait!

XC01_layout

 

$_57

Under 30 hours for Combat Stress charity auction

There are under 30 hours left to bid in a Combat Stress charity auction on eBay, being run by Henry Hyde.

$_57

This auction is for the brand new copy of the latest edition of David C R Brown’s “Panzer Grenadier Deluxe” (previously known as “Battlegroup Panzer Grenadier”) rules that was sent to Royal Marines Major Dave Fielder for review in Miniature Wargames with Battlegames magazine issue 376, which has just been published last week.
 
In addition to the full colour, highly illustrated hardback rulebook, Major Fielder has also provided a genuine pair of his own Royal Marines Commando shoulder flashes to add to your collection of militaria.
 
The rulebook normally retails for £35 (see http://www.caliverbooks.com), but we are hoping that this auction will raise rather more than that because EVERY PENNY of the proceeds of this auction will go towards the Battlegames Combat Stress Appeal (see http://www.justgiving.com/battlegames/).
 
As far as postage is concerned, the parcel weighs roughly 1300 grams. Nothing will be charged for packaging, only for the postage itself. See parcel details below.
 
Please bid generously to help us raise money for Combat Stress, the ex-services mental welfare charity. Combat Stress is the leading UK charity specialising in the care of Veterans’ mental health. We are currently supporting more than 5,400 ex-Service men and women. To date, our Combat stress Appeal has raised over £15,000 for this important cause.
 
Thank you for bidding and good luck!

A Podcast & Blog about Miniature Wargames & Strategy Boardgames

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