Saturday, 29 December 2018

The Last Post...of 2018

At last we come to the final post of 2018, and it’s a big one. Later on I’ll take a look back on how I did with my targets for the year and I’ll be setting new gaming resolutions.

But first it’s time for our Christmas big game...and this year we went BIG!

We decided to make full use of Pete’s 8’x4’ table and fill it with a massive game of Bolt Action. To add to the size we broke out our underused 15mm Flames of War armies and play the Tank War variation of Bolt Action in a scenario very loosely based on the Battle of Berlin.

If you are a historian or know a little about tank warfare, please look away now.

Even with mainly tanks, when armies reach almost 10000 points, there ends up it being much space to deploy in. Pete and Wes were the Russians and fielded an army of around 50 armoured vehicles including 20 T-34s. Matt and I met them in battle with a mixed array of units (we had to stretch to meet the points value) but it was centred around 2 Tigers and 11 Panthers, although these were affected by low fuel.

The aim of the game was simply to wipe each other out.

The early parts of each turn were dominated by the rockets of the Katyusha and Stuka Zu Fuss laying own massive barrages that tried to pin and destroy as much as they could. In fact to combination of rocket fire and just sheer volume saw the German lines prevented from firing for some of the early turns of the game.

However, the size of the German guns did cause significant damage when they were able to put a salvo together as we had something in the region of 25 heavy or super-heavy AT guns pointed at a force mainly made up of medium tanks.

The sheer volume of Russian tanks was daunting though, and although they often struggled to penetrate the heavy German armour that the Tiger Fear rule forced them to target, there were several Panthers that were pinned out of the game by weight of fire.

Quantity does indeed have a quality of its own.

Actually, the combined effects of low fuel, Tiger Fear and lots of pins led to a fairly static game, as to a large extent to lines of tanks pounded each other into dust.

The second turn saw Matt and I bickering over who would get to inform the Fuhrer of our defeat, as pins and a series of glancing hits caused many of our tanks to be unable to fire and it looked like were were about to get swamped.

However, a very effective barrage from a Stuka Zu Fuss at the start of Turn 3 almost single-handedly stemmed the Soviet advance on our right flank and bought us some breathing space.

And that’s when our big guns went to work, creating a tank graveyard in the grounds of the ruined church. They were aided and abetted by my favourite unit of the game, an infantry unit that in desperation had fired three of its Panzerfaust to knock out a T-34 on turn two, used its final one to finish off a T-70 on turn 3, and by the end of the game on turn five was advancing through the burning hulks to pepper a Katyusha with rifle fire.

Over on the other flank the Russian tide had been turned back, although we had needed to divert some resources from the centre due to some heavy losses early on, including a Tiger on turn one.

This flank had seen some audacious attacks by Soviet armoured cars trying to get their light AT guns into our weaker side armour. However, this wasn’t enough and the Panther took their toll.

In the centre, there was very little left by the end of the game, however the towed AT guns Matt and I had needed to use to build our points had held the line, including a tiny PaK 36 (by the bridge) which had manfully withstood several T-70s.

By the end of the day it was clear that neither side was going to destroy each other, and so we determined victory with destroyed units. The final tally was 24-18 to the Germans, although we were significantly helped by the same advantage Germans always experience on the Wargames shortage of heavy armour. Our heavy tanks were able to withstand the storm of fire and draw fire away from the lighter, more vulnerable units, and we also had more heavy guns which, when accurate, ripped the lighter Soviet tanks apart.

We were also helped by Pete’s amazing ability to roll a disproportionate amount of ones.

The game was a reminder that, although somewhat overkill, the Tank War variation of Bolt Action works much better in 15mm.

And now it’s time to move on to my review of my wargaming target for the year...

Last Year's Resolutions

1. Finish of old projects - FAIL

Fail. The only old project I’ve finished off has been the Necromunda Orlocks, which involved about four models. Projects like Dropfleet/Dropzone Commander, War of 1812 and Flames of War Americans remain conspicuously unfinished. Partly this is because we don’t play these games often, but mainly it’s due to my propensity to start new projects.

2. Sort out a big table - SUCCESS

I‘m calling this one a win.

3. Pulp gaming - PARTIAL SUCCESS 

I’ve made a little bit of terrain and painted a handful of models for pulp gaming, but I’m still some way off a game. The announcement of 7TV Pulp and a Pulp themed event in the summer may significantly help with my productivity in this regard.

4. Play another multiplayer campaign - FAIL

The closest I’ve come to this has been starting a Descent campaign which tapered out. Pete and I have begun a series of themed games on the Eastern Front and are prepping for the Invasion of Crete, but this is not what I meant. The problem is that everyone need to be in the same gaming mode at the same time for a period of time, and in reality, this is hard to achieve.

5. Increase my blogging rate - SUCCESS 

This is a big fat YES! I’ve not only increased in last year (almost doubled it in fact), but I’ve smashed my previous best by over 20 posts. I’ve learned a few tricks to up the post count over the past year, and so although I can’t promise to keep this rate up, I won’t be slipping back to the woeful performance of last year.

This Year’s Resolutions

1. No New Games

Okay, so this one is big. I’ve learned from the Star Wars: Legion debacle that I just don’t have the energy to paint whole armies from scratch any more without a source of external motivation. Combine with that the fact that I’m increasingly getting the rules for all the different games I play confused, and really it just seems wiser to develop what I have.

2. Finish Old Projects

Yep, that old chestnut. I want to get the projects mentioned above (DFC, DZC, FoW, 1812) to a point where I can leave them be, and maybe add to them in time. Added to those projects are Terminator: Genysis (although there have been recent strides here), The Walking Dead and Batman, all of which have unpainted models clogging up my to do pile. I won’t get all of these done, but I’d like to get two or three cleared.

3. Continue Solo Campaigns

Given the difficulty of corralling others, it seems better to focus on my solo games for The Walking Dead and Super Mission Force and make time for them. I enjoy playing them and making the comic book reports, so I’d like to do more of it.

4. Paint More Than I Acquire 

I’m stealing this target from Matt as I think it really helps with balancing spending. Last year I got a bit profligate with new (miniature heavy) games, Lord of the Rings miniatures and custom made pieces for He-Man. I need more motivation to get things painted, and this should help.

5. Play And Paint More 7TV

Really, it’s a great game and I should play it more. This year I’ve backed two Kickstarter campaigns, been a playtester, been to one event and developed custom rules for He-Man. With unpainted miniatures for a whole bunch of nostalgic projects sitting in my paint queue, two events pencilled in, and 7TV Apocalypse due in March, there is plenty of opportunity for more games.

So, with resolutions all set, all that remains is to wish you all a happy new year, thanks for following and supporting my endeavours and I’ll see you in 2019.

Monday, 24 December 2018

“I’ll be back...after Christmas”

Just before signing off for the festive period, I thought I’ve got a few bits and pieces I’ve put together for Terminator: Genysis from Warlord Games.

Warlord, fairly regularly, have sales of stuff that isn’t selling especially well and, quite frankly, nothing fits that description better than their Terminator line.

Therefore, in the summer, a sale popped up and I took the opportunity to buy a few bits and pieces to add to my collection - like those two regular Terminators above.

In the sale was a ‘spider-dog’ mobile gun platform, which came with a choice of three weapons. I went with the rocket launcher as it adds some anti-tank punch for when Matt inevitably builds and paints his Abrams tank.

The presence of a flamethrower opened up the opportunity of a quick conversion of a regular endoskeleton for some close range pest control.

I then used the weapon bits I’d carved off the flamethrower guy to fashion a command upgrade unit to fit to the back of the final endoskeleton. This allows me access to some of the tactical options available to the Resistance, using a commander to concentrate fire or coordinate movement.

My final upgrade to the Machines was an infiltrator, which was easily done by giving a Resistance model an arm replacement. I splattered blood over the arm suggesting that the infiltrator has only just been revealed.

Given that I’d bought a single sprue of Resistance models to make one infiltrator, it only seemed fair to paint the others up to add a couple more commanders (and several plasma rifles) to my force.

None of what I’ve painted is particularly special, this project is the very definition of quick and cheap. However, I am considering revisiting my Terminators with a silver drybrush to brighten them up.

This sudden rush of productivity was encouraged by a Christmas Eve Eve game with Matt. The scenario was ‘Occupy’ which meant capturing objectives, and we had corner deployment.

Matt bolstered his forces with a couple of cars to add speed, mobility and extra rocket launchers. This one is his post-apocalyptic, Top Gear themed ‘Road Worrier’.

Meanwhile, my tactical plan was to walk slowly forwards and kill everything.

Things started well for me when I took out both vehicles early, although my commander suffered the curse of new models and was destroyed in the second turn.

The relentless advance strategy worked well, and although I took heavy fire, the endoskeletons pressed on with a particular highlight being when the flamethrower incinerated the occupants of the central warehouse.

Things seemed to be going to plan when I launched my infiltrator into the enemy lines and started tearing their throats out one by one.

By turn four I was definitely winning, however, victory was snatched from Sky-Net by a series of unfortunate events: long range rocket-launcher strike on my rearguard; blowing up the infiltrator with a grenade-launcher; and a frankly terrible series of rolls that saw an objective holding endoskeleton fluff his attacks, get reeled by an assault rifle and then be finished off by a ‘Hasta la vista baby’ attack from the guy it failed to kill.

And so the game followed the pattern of the movies with a narrative structure of everything is terrible, lots of people die and then at the last minute the good guys win.

I still think Terminator: Genysis is a sadly underrated game, as it always gives us an enjoyable time and as Matt observed, the games actually play like the battle scenes in the films.

The next time you see it on offer (which is pretty much all the time) it’s definitely worth the tenner I paid, and probably more.

Future plane for this game involve kitbashing some characters for Wargames Factory plastic survivors and terrible Tank I picked up cheaply.

Oh, and Arnie.

On that festive note, have a great Christmas and I’ll be back with our big Christmas game and review of 2018 just before New Year.

Ho ho ho!

Tuesday, 18 December 2018

7TV: Terror of the Autons (sort of)

I haven’t played 7TV since the playtesting we did for 7TV: Apocalypse in the autumn. However, when an outbreak of the plague left Matt and I at a loose end this weekend, we decided to plunge back in. And with Jodie Whittaker leaving our screens last week, it felt only appropriate to keep Doctor Who a continuing feature of Sunday night entertainment.

For this game, I built the casts and Matt chose which one he wanted to use. He chose the Doctor (I suspect because the 11th Doctor is also called Matt).

The Doctor - Unearthly Traveller
Amy Pond - Plucky Assistant
River Song - Angel of Justice
Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart - Military Mind
U.N.I.T. Unit - Army Corporal, 3 Army Privates, Marksman
U.N.I.T. Bazooka - Army Support Weapon

We also gave the Doctor the ‘spy’ special effect to represent the Tardis, and also to counter the fact that the good guys had one less rating point.

Meanwhile, I took control of the minions of the Master (the Roger Delgado version), who looks a bit small here, but that’s more to do with the massive height of the Insidious Industrialist - something that would be relevant later.

The Master - Otherworldly Invader
Rex Farrel - Insidious Industrialist
The Autons - 4 Plastons
Nestene Symbiotes - 2 Spawn
The Janitor - Failed Experiment
R&D Team - 2 Scientists

The scenario was ‘The Escape’, and we decided that it made more sense for the Master be trying to escape the approaching forces of U.N.I.T. after his nefarious plot had been revealed by the Doctor.

Having been informed by the Doctor that the Master and a species called the Nestene Consciousness had infiltrated Farrel Plastics, the Brigadier leads a U.N.I.T. strike team to deal with the extra-terrestrial threat. A whooshing noise heralds the appearance of the Tardis.

Aware that the game is up, a mesmerised Rex Farrel, the CEO of Farrel Plastics, and the results of the Master’s scheme to merge Nestene and Human DNA prepare to resist the approaching soldiers.

Meanwhile, the Master himself seeks a way slip out of the trap.

River Song, never one to shy a way from danger, leads the charge into the factory, whilst Amy looks on.

The Doctor emerges briskly from the Tardis to examine the figure standing motionless in the field.

“I believe that might be an Auton. Although has it been activated?”

“Ah! It appears so.”

The Doctor struggles with the plastic automaton.

More Autons lumber into view, whilst the scientist continues his ‘fieldwork’.

River Song is assailed by the janitor who was mutated by the accident in the lab that served as the cliffhanger of episode two.

The Master continues to sneak away from the encircling soldiers.

Farrel and one of the symiotes are momentarily distracted, destroying the evidence of the company’s misdeeds.

Quite why Farrel believes paperwork is more incriminating than a six foot slime monster is not fully explained in the script.

Amy is suddenly shot from behind by an advancing Auton. Her stripper-stab-vest takes most of the damage, but she’s winded.

The Auton is quickly dealt with by U.N.I.T.

However, River drops her opponent with a handy dose of sleep spray, which is actually a rather repellent perfume bought for her by an admirer on Zebulon IV.

One of the symbiotes is hit by a devastating blast from the bazooka team. However, rather than being destroyed, the foul creature is splattered and reforms as two creatures. The Master’s experiment was a success!

A soldier runs to the aid of the Doctor, who is still grappling with his plastic assailant.

The janitor once again rises to hold back the River. Amy rushes to her aid, but is knocked unconscious by a flailing tentacle.

Despite seeming to be getting the better of the Auton, the Doctor looks in danger when a symbiotic surges towards him.

The Brigadier orders the sniper to target an approaching Auton.

The Master avoids the soldiers hunting him, but develops a sinister plan to deal with them.

In the nick of time, the Doctor slips away from the Auton before the symbiotic can grab him.

Despite a barrage of fire, pre-watershed rules mean that U.N.I.T. fail to inflict much damage beyond the few pyrotechnics that the BBC budget will allow.

Seizing his opportunity, the Master mesmerises one of the soldiers into attacking his comrades.

A quick montage reveals all of our heroes being assailed by pink rubber tentacles. In years to come, these shot will be used as the basis of several inappropriate memes.

Having disposed of the paperwork, Farrel reveals he’s been wearing a cutting edge miniature jet pack and rockets to safety, looking certain to escape.

Meanwhile, the corporal is killed by his hypnotised brother-in-arms, who is also killed in turn.

More pink rubber quivers across the screen, sending children across the land scurrying behind the sofa.

The firefight between the Autons and U.N.I.T. is ended by a well placed bazooka blast, however Farrel is safely behind the hedge and poised to ignite his jet pack again.

However, in a controversial editing decision, the sniper spots the head of the CEO poking up above the hedge and drops him with a head shot.

Mary Whitehouse is livid.

However, the Master successfully escapes, ready to return to menace the population of Earth in a future episode.

River finally deals with the Janitor, and with the Autons destroyed, Farrel Dead and the Master fled, the symbiotes retreat into the factory where they are destroyed by a tank from the stock footage library.

The Brigadier thanks the Doctor for his help, and the Doctor says something pithy regarding plastic. Nobody comments on the fact that Rory is missing and this episode was filmed in 1971 features a Doctor portrayed by an actor who wasn’t born until 1982.

Wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey...cue credits.

All in all this game was loads of fun, as 7TV always is, and I should try to get more games in. I do have some more Doctor Who stuff to do, and I have a plan to get that done in the New Year, so watch this space.