Sunday, 29 December 2013

Ogre Haul



Well this year was not one of over whelming wargaming goodies under the tree, but what was lost in quantity was made up for with quality.  Besides getting a copy of Risk: The Dalek Invasion of Earth I also got Charley's War: The End, the highly acclaimed Pat Mills story illustrated by the late great Joe Colquhoun.  The tenth and final volume of the story, which is a must read for everyone who has an interest in WW1, especially a this year is the 100th anniversary of the start of the war that changed the face of Europe, and the world.

Not a Xmas present as such, as I ordered some Ogre miniatures back in October, but due to the amount of Ogre Designer Editions that had to be posted by Steve Jackson Games there was a little bit of a back log at Warehouse 23 that meant delays on getting other stuff out.  Still I am very happy with my Doppelsoldner, Ninja, Mark 3, command post and spare Fencer turret arriving in time for Xmas.  So well done to all the staff at Warehouse 23 for doing such an excellent job, and  I do hope all the staff had a nice break over the holiday period.
   

Friday, 27 December 2013

Dalek Invasion Earth



Well today I managed to persuade my beloved non-wargaming spouse to play a game of Risk: The Dalek Invasion of Earth, which I had been given for Xmas.  In the excitement to set-up the game board and play I had forgotten that there were already rules for two player games; after I had dealt three factions out, with the third being nominally controlled by the plush toy kitten's.  They represented a neutral Dalek faction that would attack with each of us controlling their forces on alternate moves.

What is nice about the new editions of Risk is that there are ways to end the game in a reasonable period of time.  In this case the game ends on the eleventh regeneration of the Doctor.  You track his regenerations by using a Clara token that progresses each time a player's turn begins, with some of the slots making you roll a D6 to see if he takes another regeneration if you fail the roll.  So games can theoretically be much shorter than eleven rounds.  Ours was over in two hours, which was mostly down to having to read the special rules, refreshing my memory on how the game plays and taking the pictures for the blog.

The other twist to this version of Risk is the TARDIS moving randomly around the board and wherever it lands no movement or fighting may occur.  Other bits of chrome are the Mission cards that give one bonus Daleks for conquering certain territories, and Power cards that can either reduce or increase the number of Daleks one gets at the beginning of your turn, on top of the usual amount that one is entitled to.  One of the Power cards allows you to move the TARDIS to another territory.  However, after counting the cards at the end of the game the odds are you will lose Daleks more often than you will gain them.


As usual every territory you successfully invade gets you a card that you save up and cash in for more Daleks, based not on sets, but on the number of stars on the card.  More stars equals more Daleks.  Our game ended with the plush toy kittens having the most territories, but if the Doctor hadn't regenerated then my partner was about to hand in a heap load of cards and sweep all who stood in their way off the board.

Of course I know that the rabid Dalek fans who are reading this really want to know if the miniatures in this game fulfill their need for 15mm scale Daleks for wargaming.  The answer is yes, but I would want to replace the plunger arms with pins as the moulded Daleks do not have plungers on the end of the arms.


As you can see above the small Daleks are very compatible with my old white metal ones from thirty years ago.  The mid-size ones appear to be a good match for 20mm games, and the large for 28mm wargaming.  However, do note that two of the five factions are mouldings of the New Paradigm Daleks and they suck.  More details on contents here and where to buy it here.
  

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Xmas Salutations 2013



May I wish all my readers a wonderful Xmas holiday and I hope that you all have a fun filled day tomorrow opening presents and eating good food with friends and family.
   

Friday, 20 December 2013

Combine Forces Weathering

 

Last week I showed you all the basic colour scheme for my Ogreverse North American Combine force.  This week I've been suffering with the Red Dragon lurg, so called because the first person to have it came came from the RD lab at Imperial College.  So I've been feeling a bit under the weather and not sleeping well.

In spite of this I have managed to put three washes on my Combine miniatures, which is what I'm showing off today.  I've just started the next round of going back and highlighting the yellow, and hopefully I will get these finished by next weekend, even with Xmas being in the way.

These models are enough that I can now run a basic Mark 3 Ogre attack, if I had a Pan European Mark 3 Ogre, which I don't.  So much for that plan.  Still, if my parcel ever arrives from Warehouse 23 then I will be able to rectify this shortfall.  More importantly once these are done I will put the tray of Combine castings on my workbench and start cleaning them up and adding magnets for the turrets.  I'm also planning on building up that original Mark 4 I have too.  The excitement here is almost unbearable.  Soon I shall be able to roll my horde of Combine armour and infantry into Europe and sweep all away in front of me and here the lament of the women, or something like that.

Still it will be nice to be able to play Ogre/GEV games with miniatures on the new hex maps of the Designer Edition.  I'm also thinking about some mini-campaign rules to generate battles that auto-generate force choices and scenario victory conditions that goes outside of the Steve Jackson Games of making sure that the games are balanced, because sometime unbalanced games are more fun to play; as long as the victory conditions are satisfying and allow both players to feel that they have achieved something worthwhile.  More thoughts about this as and when I have them.
  

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Combine Forces Expansion



This is an update to my entry that I posted back in September last year.  It has taken this long for me to get around to starting painting again.  This is partly down to being too immersed in my writing, and partially down to inertia, since I find that when I get out of the habit of doing something I find it hard to start up again.

Anyway, after last weekends demo games at Dragonmeet I felt inspired to start cracking on the above models and get the basic camouflage scheme down.  They are now ready for weathering and then finishing off.  Once I start that I will then move on to the next tray of unpainted Combine miniatures that I have put out to be worked on.

On Friday Roger came around and we played a couple of games of Ogre, which was really nice.  The first game was a basic Mark 3 attack, which he won.  The second game we played the two Mark 3s attacking with more defenders, which I won.  I played the Ogre both time, and I feel I'm actually a better defender than I am an Attacking Ogre player.  I suppose this is down to preferring not to have all my eggs in one basket.  Next time I play Roger I can ramp up the pressure on him by getting him to play with two less units as I did when I played the demo games last weekend, as I now think he has a good understanding of the subtleties of the game.

Hopefully, I will be able to show something next week.  Have a nice time, and I'll catch you all on the bounce.
  

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Dragonmeet 2013



My second year at Dragonmeet as a MiB demoing Ogre, with an example of the 6th Designer Edition to show on display to overwhelm all those who passed the tables with its sweet Ogre goodness, and by sweet I mean wicked awesome contents.

I arrive toting my box of lead miniatres only to find that the new Ogre box weighs more than my collection of metal miniatures.  How extreme is that?  Totally extreme.  Roger had set up the orange map and I put out a force with three each of the GEVs, missile tanks and heavy tanks with one howitzer and command post and eighteen infantry for the demo games (I handicapped myself to make it easier for the new players to win, as last year I found it was too easy for me to walk all over the Ogre).


I was pretty much nailed to the chair throughout the day, apart from the necessary toilet breaks and going to get a coffee and a sandwich at lunch.  Didn't really get to look around the show as I was having way too much fun playing Ogre.  Roger spelled me for one game and I ran the rest during the course of the day.  All but one of the players I demoed the game achieved victory, with ironically the most experienced gamer losing to me, which was the only game I won, which I thought was a good outcome.

The highlight game was taken the two young lads who had played in a game with their father/uncle and treating them to a Mark 3 cybertank each and upping the defenders accordingly and letting them have at it.  They had to stop before finishing the game as they had to go off, but they were well on the way to winning and they appeared to have a good time.

   

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Thanksgiving 2013



A bit of a belated post about Thanksgiving, because I've been far too busy doing other stuff including enjoying Thanksgiving.

As you can see we had a Turkey and all the trimming and I sat down with friends and family and had a most enjoyable evening.  On other fronts I finished the first draft of my third novel this week, which has kept me busy, went to a friend's book launch and attended a birthday party come Xmas party every year by three friends of mine who run a joint gathering together.  So the last few days have been a bit full on.

Now that is all dealt with I can start work on my review for Gruntz for Miniature Wargames and a review of Ogre 6th Designer edition too, which I'm over the moon about.  So I hope you all had a good holiday and I'll catch you all on the bounce.
  

Monday, 25 November 2013

Dr. Who Fest

 

This weekend was of course the fiftieth anniversary of Dr. Who, with The Day of the Doctor being seen in something like 94 countries and umpty-ump number of cinemas around the globe.  I wrote about what I thought of the episode here.  This is me now writing about the experience of watching Dr. Who for the rest of the weekend.

We were sucked into watching the after show party that interviewed the actors and had loads of the old companions in attendance.  It was mindless fun.  A mere bagatelle of fluffy cotton candy, but we were in the mood for it.  Following that we watched an introduction to the monsters, Doctors and their companions, which was also light and fluff, but triggered waves of nostalgia.  So that was Saturday night gone.

Sunday we tracked down the documentary on iPlayer, of An Adventure in Space and Time having missed the Thursday night transmission.  It was wonderful and the ending was an emotional kick that made me cry.  I can't recommend this too highly, well worth watching.  After that we watched The Five (ish) Doctors, which was a wonderful spoof documentary about the previous actors who have played the Doctor wanting to be in the fiftieth anniversary show.  Very tongue in cheek and funny.  Then we rewatched The Day of the Doctor and both agreed it stood up to being watched a second time.

I'm not a fanatic of Dr. Who, for definitions of fanatic that mean I probably look like one to most non SF fans, in that I talk like one, can be a bit obsessive about the Daleks, and I have a deep fondness for the show, with many happy memories of watching it on TV.  So my favourite Doctor is usually the current one until I get fed up with them, but there are several I never became fed up watching.  William Hartnell, Patrick Toughton, Sylvester McCoy, Paul McGann, Chistopher Eccleston and John Hurt.  My favourite companions start with Jo Grant, Sarah Jane, Leela and Ace, Rose, Donna and Amy.  These are my favourites for the things they brought to the screen that I admired.  Monsters, well the Daleks, Cybermen, Ice Warriors and the Silurians.

Favourite episode, far too many to mention, but pretty much multiple stories from every incarnation of the Doctor.  So I say I'm not a fanatic, but as I said that very much depends on one's definition.
  

Sunday, 10 November 2013

MechWarrior



Last weekend I visited my godson and his sister and played another game of MechWarrior, which is relatively easy to pick up and play even if one has not played for a while.

Compare to the two previous times the biggest change is in my godson who is now elven, nearly twelve and growing up.  These are the things that happy memories are made of.


Compare the above shots to these, here and here.  Oh yes, I've gone blond in my old age.


Pastry cat made by his mum.  Yum, yum.  Hungry work playing games you know.
  

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Ogre 6th Designer Edition



For those of you who are not obsessed by giant cybertanks and SJGs Ogre/GEV game you may have missed the fact that this weekend was the official launch party for the game that weighs twenty-eight pounds.  All the excitement can viewed by clicking the link above.

The big announcements are four supplements called Assault Packs with new units to play with.  The Golem Ogre and the Chinese Dragon hybrid crewed Ogre being the biggies, the others include assault GEVs and missile GEVs.  Now all I have to do is cross my fingers and hope that they will make miniatures for these.

One of my two orders arrived this week, so I now have four super heavy tanks, eight Yankee light tanks and twelve Ranger heavy tanks to add to my North American Combine force.  Unfortunately, the parcel with the Mark 1 & 2 Ogres has not arrived.  I fear the worse has happened and the parcel has gotten lost in the post.
  

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Risk Does Daleks



Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy.  Now if only the miniatures are halfway decent and a usable size for wargaming.  Even if not who can resist?  Resistance is futile.  Link here, list of contents as follows:

-5 different Daleks Armies to control (Classic Bronze, Silver, Black) and New Dalek (Yellow and Red)

-10 Mission Cards

-15 Power Cards

-42 Territory Cards

-1 Board (49cm x 75cm)

-1 16 page rules booklet

-5 Dice

-1 Clara Token

-1 TARDIS Piece

-315 Dalek pieces – each army has 42 small, 15 medium and 6 large

Three hundred and fifteen Daleks, they must be mine I tell you.  They will be mine.  With them I shall conquer the world and the Daleks will reign supreme.  Exterminate, exterminate.
  

Monday, 14 October 2013

SELWG 2013: Crystal Palace

    

It was that time of the year for me to go again and visit Crystal Palace, a grade two listed building, and take my friend Trevor and his son Oliver to SELWG on what turned out to be a rather wet day.  As you can see Oliver is now taller than his dad.  We bumped into Graham as we entered the show and had a natter, as one does, before diving in and see what the show had to offer this year.


The first game that caught my eye was this very nice 6mm Very British Civil War game battling for the control of Croydon Airport, which I believe was put on by a father and his two sons.

Wondering around the show it seemed less busy than last year, which I would put down to the appalling weather putting people off.  It was that or the economic recession, take your pick.  Nice to see youngsters in attendance too. 


Oh if only I had the time, money and room to play Napoleonic naval games at this scale.

I also spoke to Jon and Mel at GZG and Paul who came up and introduced himself as an occasional reader of my blog.  Hi Paul!  Anyway, Jon apologized for not having the new 6mm not VOTOMS cast up in time for this show, but promises me definitely by Salute.  I've promised him more conversions when he has got the first lot I did cast.  He also mentioned some not VOTOMS at 25mm for 15mm power armour, or robots etc.


Yes he is looking at me as I took this and saying don't put me in the picture, but relented when he saw it was me and the chance of fame and glory from appearing on my log.  Who am I kidding here?  Peter Pig demonstrating their new Vikings game called Longships: The Wrath of the Vikings.  I really like their rules and play AK47 from them, and his figures and exquisite.  Now all I've got to do is get around to painting the ones I bought several years ago.


Trevor and Oliver playing 7TV by Crooked Dice as the Federation bad guys, or something approximating Blake 7 bad guys, and losing to a couple of seven year old's.  Oh how we laughed.  Okay, how I laughed.  They took it well and had a fun game.  Oliver's only complaint was that there were no Zombie games being run this year.  He likes killing zombies, what can I say?


A Lace War's game put on by SEEMS: South East Essex Military Society, which I was a member of a long time ago.  They always put on a good looking table.


Finally, Oliver at home painting up his squad of miniatures for a game called Mercs that he had to assemble immediately we got in the door.   I think I can say a job well done and the another generation of wargaming ensured.
  

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Gruntz

 

Last week I received in the mail a copy of Gruntz.  Some of my readers may remember I reported playing Gruntz at last years SELWG, which you read about here.  I enjoyed playing the game, helped by the fact that I won, and receiving the prize of the day and have been wanting to review the rules for Henry for some while.  So now that I have a copy of the rules in my grubby paws my plan is to start work on the review at the end of the month; this down to being in the middle of finishing a novel, which you can read about here, and wanting to play another game or two to refresh my memory of the rules next weekend at SELWG.  I've been following the development of Gruntz over the years (scroll down for picture) and have to say this is one fine looking rule book where I know for a fact has been extensively playtested and revised in light of feedback from the players.

Look, I'll let you into a little secret now.  Promise you won't tell anyone.  It's going to get a good review from me, so go buy a set now and then read my review later.  You'll be glad you did.

I will also be putting a game report and overview as a follow up on here, once the review has been published in Miniature Wargames, along the lines of my Heavy Gear review game I've played.  Though be warned, I will be playing my games using 10mm figures, because that is what I have, and to show that one can do crazy things like that.  So more to come.
  

Monday, 23 September 2013

Ogre Miniature Variants



Remember the above from here.  It's my unfinished sculpt of the Ogre Ninja.  There are lots of reasons, some good, some pretty lame why this little beauty has not been finished.  One reason is that an official miniature is now available from SJG.  The other is the amount of work required to finish it that I could spent doing other things.

I've made a decision to finish it, but not as a Ninja, but as a Mark-2 Scout variant based on some stats from Henry Cobb's page here.  Henry has to be one of the leading lights on Ogre stats and has a lot of useful stuff on his web page.  Check it out.

Anyway to quote from here; "However if the Ninja was produced without the Missile Rack at first (until it was proven on the Mark-IV) and simply had the rest of its armament then it's load factor would be less than the Mark-V. And then you could assume that stealth was also in development until 2087 or so. The cost for this Ninja-Minus would only be 74 VPs (2 missiles in tubes, 1 MB, 2 SB, 8 AP, 5 treads per hex times 4 hexes of move) and it could have been seen as a scout replacement for the Mark-II until the stealth and rack technologies were available. Then when the Mark-IV was deployed, the Ninja was obsolete as a pure scout and so redeveloped with stealth and missile rack."

So that's what I'm going to do with this model, because it makes it unique.  Thinking about this has also made me start imagining a NAC Mark 1 variant that would stylistically be a better fit with the classic Winchell Chung designs, mostly down to the fact that I don't like the current Mark 1 & 2 models.  By that I means they are perfectly nice models, but they look more like Pan European mini-Fencers than precursors of the classic Mark 3 & 5 designs.  YMMV.

More thoughts and pictures in due course.
  

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Expanding My Ogre Combine Forces

   

It's been almost a year, a long time really, since I've looked to expand my Ogre/GEV forces.  I've been having a bit of a sabbatical from my miniature wargaming this year having been working on writing three novels, which you can read about here if you should so desire?

Anyway,  The above picture shows my next stage of expansion of my forces.  Last year I was very lucky to be able to purchase some more Combine miniatures from Daniel who was going over to Austin to be the new Ogre line developer.  Hence the unpainted models waiting to be assembled in due course.

As you can see I did somehow managed to paint the first colour on the North American Combine miniatures I had squirreled away in my maturing box that were previously shown here, you will need to scroll down to the bottom of the page.  As a reminder I've had these models sitting around waiting for me to do something with them for a very long time indeed.  How long?  Twenty years, which is a bit embarrassing really, except I do have the excuse of going off to train to be a nurse and working and other stuff like that.

The obvious observation is that miniatures don't paint themselves and it takes time to get an army together.  I've been looking through my notes on the number of armour units and infantry one needs to be able to play GEV scenarios and have identified a shortfall of miniatures in a number of areas.  However, getting these as a MiB is proving problematical as they are Warehouse 23 specials, and not generally available product, which means I'm not going to be able to realistically have enough miniatures to run GEV scenarios this year at Dragonmeet.  Next year, fingers crossed this situation will have changed.
  

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Robot Fire Breathing Dragon

  


All it needs is frickin laser beams coming out of its eyes and the robot apocalypse can begin.
  

Sunday, 25 August 2013

The Chains of Command



My copy of Chain of Command arrived earlier this week and has that lovely new book smell when I opened it to read.  Now some of you may well be asking why I bought a set of WW2 rules given that this is not one of periods that I play?  A good question indeed, and my answer is that I'm a rule junky.  I like to read wargame rules that challenge my preconceptions and stretch my imagination and Too Fat Lardies publish fascinating rule sets that do precisely that.

My intention is to use these rules for Inter War games say for the Spanish Civil War, which I do have an interest in, or adapting them for WW1 games, and even stealing the mechanisms for Vietnam era games.  Somewhere deep and dark I have an idea about using the command and control aspects of the game for a near future SF game involving power armour, drones and cybertanks etc.  Muwuhuhahaha!

Anyway, after reading these, watching some games being played and hanging around with disreputable people talking all things Lard, I recommend that you just go and order this set of rules today.  The book is just so chock full of ideas that it ought to have a waning label that says full of addictive fun rules that will make your head explode.
  

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Conquering Mars

   

As you can see Curiosity, our favourite atomic powered cybertank, is now watching the skies of Mars.  I live the future vicariously through our robot friends who are fun to be with.

I'm currently processing the germs that I picked up at last weeks Nine Worlds GeekFest convention.  There is a reason that conventions generally only run for three days, and that is down to what is lovingly called con crud.

On a happier note I went and spent my Steve Jackson Games MiB points at Warehouse 23 today, and an order of Ogre miniatures is now being process and will be sent to me soon.  I doubt that they will arive in time for me to paint them for Dragonmeet as I opted for the cheapest shipping option, which means they may be some time getting here.

For those of you who are interested in such things I ordered the following:
2   Ogre Mark I
2   Ogre Mark II
1   Ogre Vulcan
2   Ogre Vulcan Drone
2   Bigfoot Mobile Howitzer
8   Yankee Light Tank
4   Alamo Superheavy Tank
1   Doppelsoldner
1   Fencer Cybertank
So yes Dorothy. Ogre miniatures are back in stock at Warehouse 23.  For the first time this year I actually feel interested in panting some more miniatures and I'm looking forward to these arriving.

Edit:  Convention review here.
  

Monday, 5 August 2013

Nine Worlds GeekFest 2013



Just a quick update that I'm attending Nine Worlds GeekFest 2013 this weekend, which is being held at The Raddison Edwardian and The Renaissance hotels at Heathrow.  I'm attending as both a punter, a MIB demo agent and as a panelist.

My original intention was just to go as a punter as I had supported the KickStarter way back when, but then Roger announced that the MIB were going and could I bring my Ogre miniatures so we could run demos?  I said yes, with the proviso that as I had paid for a ticket I didn't want to be tied down all weekend on a table and not see anything.  Now my friend John asked for a woman for a Friday evening panel talking about superheroes on the small screen; and so it begins.

I shall try and take photos and post a report after the event.

NB: Late addition to this post.  The report can be read here.
  

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Giant Robo Danger Close



I went with my partner to see Pacific Rim this week on our usual Orange Wednesday 241 deal, which makes the whole cost of going out to see a movie far more palatable.  Went to a 2D showing, because I'm not all that impressed with most 3D, Avatar excepted, and the show timing was better for us.

This is not going to be a review as such.  I thought Pacific Rim was the best B movie I have seen this year.  I was rooting for the heroes, cheering them on and loved every minute of it.  However, this paean to the Japanese giant robo monster genre by Guillermo del Toro while visually stunning and hitting all the right notes and tropes left me feeling a bit hollow.

This is mostly down to the fact that my first love is real robo shows like Gundam Universal Century, Fang of the Sun Dougram and VOTOMS, where this is more emphasis on the pilots.  Even so Pacific Rim rocked my boat and like most anime fans I had fun spotting the shout outs.

As for playing games I might look at the HeroClix models that have just been released, but of course one could always adapt Monsterpocalypse CMG, or The Creature That Ate Sheboygan for playing games monster munching robo mayhem.
  

Saturday, 29 June 2013

Ghost in the Blog

  

Been a while since I posted anything and you can blame it all on my current obsession with writing novels.  If you want to know more then go here.  My plan, muwahaha, is to write three first drafts of three novels and then go back and rewrite them as my way of ascending the learning curve that is becoming a novelist.

Anyway,  I thought I'd mention I've been watching Girls und Panzers*, which for those of you who do not follow such things is a Japanese anime show about school girls learning the martial art of Panzerfahren (the sport of driving tanks).  It's every bit as zany, off the wall mad that one comes to expect from Japan, and is a hoot.  In fact I thought about playing games based on Girls und Panzers using TooFat Lardies Chain of command rules, if only for shits and giggles.

Good news for Henry, if he is reading this, is that I have now played enough games of Dropzone Commander that I feel confident in submitting my review to Miniature Wargames.  That should be winging its way by email any day now.  I like the game, but you'll have to wait to read the review in the magazine to know more.

*I know that the post title is an allusion to Ghost in the Shell and really doesn't have a direct like to Girls und Panzers, but given you all might be thinking I'd given up the ghost on this blog I thought it apposite.

Monday, 13 May 2013

Dropzone Commander



Been a busy week writing, or should I say wresting words out of my skull and typing them one at a time onto a screen as I recount on my writing blog.  What I've been doing gaming wise is getting myself into Dropzone Commander from Hawk Wargames.  I'm currently writing a review for Henry at Miniature Wargames.  What I'll say is that the miniatures are sexy and that 10mm is the new 6.

It has been noticed by one of my readers that I've not posted anything about BattleTech recently, and where is the missing battle report.  I will try and find time to write up the notes I made from the last game sometime before the heat death of the universe.  I promise, okay.
  

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Heavy Gear Blitzing


An overall picture of the table that we played two games of Heavy Gear over.  I think I might go back and re-do that river at some point.  Who am I kidding, I don't have the time, and if I did I need to finish off my other boards that are still to be done.

By the time you all read this I have played two games of Heavy Gear Blitz with my friend Roger, who has been most tolerant of my occasional brain freeze moments as I tried to get my head around a new game.  We are both long time BattleTech players, and I have a lot invested both in time and emotional attachment to BattleTech that makes it hard for me to let go of it.

In a lot of ways BattleTech is too constrained by the assumptions inherent within the rules, and the fact that it has had way to much stuff added to what was, and still is fundamentally a Beer & Pretzel game of giant stompy robots.

We are using my Takara VOTOMS for this game. You can see Roger's three Diving Beetles to the right, my two Scope Dogs are to the left.  Fire surprisingly ineffective at this range, which was all of twelve inches or so.






   
Heavy Gear Blitz therefore feels very much like the new kid on the block, though truth be told it too has been around a while having first been released back in the early 1990s.  Unlike BattleTech, the Heavy Gear game has changed course a couple of times and the game today has taken new a direction by moving away form a hex based RPG combat system to becoming a miniatures based game called Heavy Gear Blitz.  Dream Pod 9, unlike Catalyst Games Lab, sell miniatures, and one gets the impression that they make a fair amount of their money from selling same.

I've just taken out one of Roger's Diving Beetles here, which seemed to me to take forever.  Upside was we had gotten through a whole load of turns to get this far, so it's quick to play.

Let me start off by saying that if I were starting from a position of not knowing either game then without doubt I would choose to play Heavy Gear Blitz over BattleTech.  I like the fact that the paperwork is is really streamlined down, and yet it stills manages to make one feel that one is controlling an awesome giant stompy robot.  Okay maybe not a humongous giant stompy robot, but still it works for me.  However, I feel that it is unlikely that Heavy Gear Blitz, where Blitz truly does describe the lightening speed of the game, will become my number one robot war game. 

As you can see I've finally gotten my third Scope Dog into the fight just as a lost one.

The reasons for that are rather emotional.  I really found myself disliking the dice mechanics, which are based on opposed rolls that are added, or subtracted from the result rolled on a D6 to produce a margin of success, or failure.  I can see the maths, because Roger was kind enough to send me the odds for all the different margins.  I can also see that at the end of the day that it represents a combined to hit and effect roll.  However, I just hated the feel of the mechanic. 

My turn to take the pain as the second of my three Scope Dogs is taken down by his Diving Beetles.

Yet there is so much to like about Heavy Gear game universe.  The background setting is fresh and intriguing.  The game play is fairly fast, and the range of available miniatures is good, if expensive.  Quality is top notch though, and I'm not one to complain about paying for top quality, but quality doesn't come cheap.

This is where the game did a really good job of capturing the feel of VOTOMS as I weaved my Scope Dog back and forth trying toget the rear shot to improve my odds of getting a good margin of success role.  Roger's Diving Beetle goes down.

One of the other niggles I had with the game was the over complicated movement modifiers, which require a six sided dice to track models with an added interpretation for hull down versus stationary.  In my opinion this really added very little extra value to the tactical feel of the game.  And don't get me started on the jargon in the rule book, which drove me nuts.  Also, in my opinion, some of the explanations of the rules obscured what was meant.

Last turn and by the skin of my teeth, I managed to channel Chiricoe Cuvie (VOTOMS Ace pilot) and take down the last of Roger's Diving Beetles.  Roger happily reversed this outcome for the next game, which seemed fair all things considered.

So, if I were starting from fresh, and had to chose a giant robot game, Heavy Gear Blitz would get a look in.  However,  I'm no longer a person who can tolerate jargon and complexity for the sake of increased immersion into a game system.  What I want is KISS: keep it simple stupid.

Your mileage may vary from mine, terms and conditions apply regarding tolerance of rule writing, and errors and omissions were no doubt made in playing this awesome game by myself and Roger.
  

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Salute 2013: ExCel Centre


Picture stolen and cropped from Sidney's Blog.
Didn't go to Salute last year as I was suffering from work related stresses, but did manage to attend this year.  Photographic evidence as proof provided above.  I didn't take a camera to take pictures of the show, so you will all have to go to the following sites to see pictures:

Roundwood's World
Wargaming Girl, here, here, here and here.
The Angry Lurker, here and here.

Anything I might have added to the above would, I think, appear redundant.

Did I enjoy the show?  In hindsight yes, but at the time not so much.  I had been having a rough week and as one of my friends said to me on the day, "You sound like you are ready to throw yourself under the wargaming table".  I only bought one thing, and that was the new issue of Miniature Wargames.

However, I met up with Henry, which was good.  Bumped into friends, which is always good.  Had Tamsin sweep me up in passing and give me a hug, so still all good. 

Also got to see and ask questions about Dropzone Commander from Hawk Games, which will help me finish my review for Miniature wargames.  I then went to talk to Richard and the other guys from TooFatLardies, and saw Chain of Command demonstrated in the flesh, which was awesome.  Nick has done a podcast you can listen to here.

Left around 15.00 and came home as my feet hurt and I was feeling pretty exhausted by it all.  I really had trouble coping with the level of illumination in the hall, which I found quite upsetting as I couldn't focus on anything properly.  I was told that this was a sign of getting old, and needing more light to be able to see things clearly.

Got home, put my feet up and read the new white cover issue of Miniature Wargames.  Bliss.  It felt like the first time I read the first issue, back in 1984 when I was ever so young.  I may no longer be young, but the joy I got from reading the issue recharged my enthusiasm for my hobby.
  

Sunday, 21 April 2013

RAF Hendon

    
Martin in front of a Eurofighter whose idea it was to go and see the museum.  A good call all round.
This Thursday I traveled up to Colindale on the Northern Line to visit the RAF museum at Hendon to meet up with my friend Martin and have a look at all the lovely aircraft they have on show.  Only took one picture inside the main museum, but did remember to take some in the Battle-of-Britain building exhibit where they were showing clips from the BoB movie.  The music is just so awe inspiring, which made me feel like a five year old again and want to run around using my hands to make goggles.

Wicked looking Ju-87 Stuka.  In the background are a Ju-88, Me-110 and He-111.  Interestingly the Ju-88 had BMW emblem on the engines, while the Me-110 had the Mercedes-Benz tri-point logo on the exhausts.
A section V2/A4 missile which heralded the start of the space race after the war.
Sunderland flying boat in all its glory.
An impressive lawn ornament as you are ever likely to have, a Bristol Blood hound Mk2.
I really enjoyed the day out and walking around the museum, which is huge.  Had a very nice scone, cream and jam as a treat in the afternoon too.  We met up with my partner in the evening at Forbidden Plant and went to Gars for a slap up Chinese meal to round out the excellent day.
  

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Shooting at Bisley Camp

  
The money shot as they say in the film industry.
Yesterday I was Bisley Camp shooting as a guest of the Magna Shooting Club.  For a full gun geek post go here.

It was cold out there in the wilds of Bisley Camp, and I was really grateful that I dressed appropriately with two fleeces on to keep me warm.  The day was a present from my partner so that I could write about shooting in the novel I'm writing, and it certainly gave me some insights into my cousin Ewan's comments about not festooning rifles with scopes.
 

Sunday, 10 March 2013

New Glasses for Painting



I have some new glasses for painting with.  Designed to give me ultra close-up vision, which work up to a point, but I'm getting old and it is still hard to see as well as I use to.  At this rate I'll be up-scaling to 30mm, or whatever 25mm is called nowadays?  As you can see above I've started works on some more Scope Dogs, and below some Diving Beetles from VOTOMS so that I have some figures to play Heavy Gear Blitz with.


I have played a couple of games of HGB with Roger and we are planning to meet up sometime to play a few more.  I have mixed feelings about the rules.  On one hand there is a great little game trying to break out of the book, on the other the layout of the rule book is less than optimal, which makes it hard to find the rules.  On the rules side of thing, some of the writing is overly complex, or maybe I should say that the rules explain simple things in an overly complex way with too much jargon for my taste.  YMMV.

The great parts of  the game are the artwork, back story and general design of the Gears.  I am slowly getting my NuCoal Jerboa painted too, as can be seen below.


  

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Battlegames



Battlegames comes to the end of its thirty–four issue journey as Henry receives the call to a new adventure that of editing Miniature Wargames.  Like all true stories, rather than fairy–tales, when one quest ends, another quest come along.  All stories evoke feelings in the readers, and the story of Battlegames is the story of Henry responding to the call to produce a wargame magazine that covers what wargamers actually do down the club, or at home, rather than what people think they do.

I am of course dead chuffed that my article on BattleTech will appear in the very last issue of Battlegames.  For those readers of Miniature Wargames that fear a return to the days when Miniature Wargames did not feature SF articles, I think you can rest assured that Henry will publish SF in his magazine.  I see no evidence to suggest anything to the contrary.

25 Years of BattleTech Woot FTW or what?! :-)
  

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