Saturday, 19 June 2021

A Bridge Not Near Enough - Part 1

Having not been able to play a big Halloween game, a big Christmas game or a big Easter game (to be fair, we don't normally do this one, but had hoped to this year), Pete, Matt, Wes and I were finally able to get together to play a big mid-June game.

We took our lead from Operation Market Garden and based a scenario on the unsuccessful Allied push to Arnhem in September 1944.

The scenario was fairly simple: the Allies needed to get Pete's six Irish Guards tanks from the western table edge across the bridge in the centre and into 'Arnhem'. They would only enter from turn 3, and so they would have to move quickly to meet their deadline.

Arnhem itself would be held by Matt's ad hoc Kampfgruppe, including Flampanzer support from Panzer Kompanie 224.

Additional Panzer support would be rushed to the defence of the bridge from turn 3, but the Kampfgruppe had heavy guns of their own lying in wait.

To help the Irish Guards and draw off some of the defenders if the bridge, Arnhem would be attacked from the east by Pete's British Paratroopers moving in from their drop zone.

Additionally, Wes's Glider-borne US troops would be dropped to the south and moved to open up the road for the armoured spearhead.

However, my 6th Fallschirmjäger regiment would also rush to the defence of the bridge from the north, seeking to either destroy or delay the tanks long enough for the thrust to lose its impetus.

The first turn saw a lot of moving on to the board and a good deal of ineffective fire. The most incendiary moment was probably the Flammpanzer incinerating the Paras' armoured car.

Meanwhile, a Panther opened fire across the river, destroying one of the US half-tracks.

The second turn opened with the American advance severely hindered by an artillery strike liberally handing out pins to all and sundry.

The Fallschirmjäger moved into position to ambush the Guards when they advanced up the road, with a Panther rolling across the bridge in support.

Unfortunately, this left it vulnerable. The big cat was subjected to two air strikes and succumbed.

Meanwhile, the Paras continued to flood towards Arnhem, driving the German defenders from the ruins at the edge of town.

However, their progress was hindered somewhat by a rampaging Flammpanzer.

The critical third turn saw the Americans continue to push towards the road, despite taking fire from all directions and facing stiff opposition from the Fallschirmjäger.

The German Paratroopers were sent reeling when the Irish Guards burst in from the west, obliterating the squads that stood in their way.

However, the lead Churchill was abandoned when it was engulfed in fire from a flamethrower and had to be shunted out of the road by the lead Cromwell (shunting destroyed tanks is a house rule we created to prevent the Guards from simply being blocked).

The German defence was bolstered by the arrival of a second Panther, a Panzer IV and a Tiger I.

The Flammpanzer continued to burn to a crisp everything that came into range.

Despite this, the Red Devils were making significant inroads into Arnhem.

The fourth turn saw even more British tanks arrive, causing a somewhat of a bottleneck on the road.

This situation wasn't helped by two Panzerfausts, an airstrike and a blast from the Tiger placing a large number of pins on the lead Cromwell and stopping it in its tracks.

The Flammpanzer found itself suddenly assaulted by British Paratroopers armed with anti-tank grenades, but they couldn't penetrate its think armour.

The remains of the shattered 6th Fallschirmjäger repositioned to try to hold the line against the oncoming tanks and Americans.

And a reserve platoon of Wehrmacht emerged from the centre of Arnhem to defend the bridge.

But this left the Paras free to move into the town proper, virtually unopposed.

We actually ran out of time and will continue on another day, but this left things on a bit of a knife edge. The Allies are making significant inroads and inflicting a lot of damage on the Germans, but the tanks still have a long way to go and lot of obstacles to get past.

There a 2-3 turns to go and it remains to be seen whether the Irish Guards can make it.

Friday, 11 June 2021

Unboxing: 7TV Fantasy

I've recieved my copy of 7TV Fantasy, another variation of 7TV developed by Crooked Dice in conjunction with Edge Hill University.

So I'm going to show it to you.

Full disclaimer before proceeding: I was one of the playtesters for this game and my name is actually in it. In fact, if you looked at other posts on this blog you could possibly accuse me of being a fully brainwashed Crooked Dice cultist.

Biased review incoming!

The boxes of the 7TV games are always good, but they are getting better. In fact the production value of all of the components are on a steady rise. Although there's nothing wrong with the original Spy-Fi game, you can see with each release how much attention to detail is being poured in.

As you'd expect, the box is packed with stuff and a bit of a heavy beast. At first glance you'll see that the contents are largely a variation on a theme, with fantasy versions of all the elements you've come to expect from a 7TV core set.

The three main guides set out how to play the game. The Director's Guide covers the core rules - new features include mounted characters, new statuses and magic.

The Producer's Guide goes through setting up a game with scenarios and victory points; there are also some pitches of ideas for games you might like to play that reference classic fantasy movies.

The Casting Guide includes brief bios for each of the profile cards, along with rules for designing your own stars and co-stars.

It feels like there's more background and fluff than in previous sets (with the possible exception of 7TV Pulp), and this is probably due to the tie up with Edge Hill University creative writing students. There is a lot to spark the imagination and I really appreciate the range of sneaky intertextual references - my favourite is the one line nod to the 108 outlaws of The Water Margin.

A new element is the Encounter Guide, which provides locations for the basic scenarios to take place in, offering different scenic hazards and rules for objective placement, adding variety and theme.

They function much like the Perils deck from 7TV Pulp, but with more space for clarity and detail. Which, in my opinion, is an improvement.

For example, in the Adventurer's Camp you will encounter random events each time a model enters an area in the middle of the table.

When playtesting this, we found it fun to ensure that we placed an objective (or even better, a macguffin) in the middle of the table to ensure that the random events happened and madness ensued.

The other cool element of the Encounter Guide is that it encourages you to build some terrain pieces, rather than just have 'areas' marked out.

For example, above is the Adventurer's Camp I made when we were playtesting last autumn.

The templates and tokens are in coloured MDF, which is a really nice touch. Although I do admit that the cardboard playtest versions had the full retro feel of early editions of Warhammer Fantasy Battle.

As ever, there are somewhere close to a billion profile cards to populate your games. As 7TV is miniature agnostic (although Crooked Dice do have an excellent, and ever growing, range of miniatures available) you can make your existing collection fit the profiles as you wish.

Unlike previous editions, there are far more villainous profiles (middle row) than heroic (bottom row), with the most space given to neutral profiles. This seems genre appropriate.

On the subject of genre, as with other sets, there are new genre icons to help you build your cast. These include Epic Fantasy (think Lord of the Rings), Mythic Fantasy (think Jason and the Argonoauts), Sword & Sorcery (think Conan the Barbarian) and my favourite: Pen & Paper Fantasy (think psychotic munchkin murder-hobos).

A new element in the game which you might notice if you zoom in are presence attacks, which were developed as a way of bringing ranged attacks into a genre known more for it's melee combat.

Presence attacks tend to be non-lethal, so you still need to close in, but they often add a status to your enemy, severely hindering them. However, it is now possible to give some attacking k'niggets a viscious taunting, or, as happened in one of our games, have a Swashbuckler laugh someone to death.

The major new element in 7TV Fantasy is magic, and this is achieved with the Magic User special effect allowing you to select a number of spells before the game from a range of spell books, a process that has a real D&D vibe.

Magic Users can then cast these in game, and although these spells are powerful, there is a cost. Miscasting has negative effects which include setting yourself on fire...something which happened with alarming frequency in our games. Do not meddle in the affairs of wizards...

The other usual card decks are present with a fantasy twist. Countdown Cards become Trilogy Cards, Gadgets become Artefacts and there is a huge range of recognisable Macguffins.

Yes, that is the Glaive from Krull. I'm now on the hunt for a 28mm Lisette Anthony.

There are dice and plot point tokens too. This time in snazzy purple and green.

So, there you have it. Another excellent product from Crooked Dice, packed with references to classic fantasy movies. As films like Clash of the Titans and Hawk the Slayer were on a constant VHS loop throughout my youth, this is right up my street, and possibly my favourite iteration of the game so far (although I'm still waiting for 7TV Chorlton and the Wheelies).

If you like 7TV already, you'll love this. If you don't, you probably won't. If you haven't tried it, this is a brilliant place to start. Almost every gamer has at least a handful of Orcs or Skeletons knocking around, and historical gamers of any pre-gunpowder era can put together a cast of knights, barbarians or hoplites.

Your quest begins here...

Thursday, 3 June 2021

Mistakes Were Made

After something like six months, I've finally been able to play a miniatures game against a a person. Pete an I got together to get to grip with 9th Edition 40k, otherwise known as 'excuse me, they can do what now?'

We played a 900 point game using an Open War scenario so we didn't have to worry about the in game admin of primary and secondary objectives. We just had to kill each other.

My army, seen here hiding from the inevitable first turn barrage, consisted of:

Daemon Prince
10 Pink Horrors
13 Blue Horrors
10 Brimstone Horrors
5 Screamers
Exalted Flamer
3 Flamers

Everything I've painted so far. A bit thin on quality troops, but fast and brimming over with space magic.

Pete had his lockdown Space Wolves, which consisted of:

Primaris Librarian
Primaris Lieutenant
5 Intercessors
5 Intercessors
3 Aggressors
5 Infiltrators
5 Hounds of Morkai
Invictus Warsuit

There might have been some sneaky list tailoring going on as apparently the Hounds of Morkai affect psychic powers and can assassinate psykers if they get close enough. Nice.

The first turn obviously went to Pete, but I didn't get obliterated by long range firepower because: a) Peye wanted to get close and stab me to death, and b) the 4+ invulnerable save of Tzeentch Daemons is quite good.

I was somewhat appalled to discover that the Invictus Warsuit and Infiltrators could both deploy not very far from my army.

On my turn, as you can see, I took measures to deal with the threat of the Warsuit, spending a chunk of CP on strategems. Unfortunately, what followed was combination of appalling dice rolls and forgetting my own special rules which left the Warsuit still standing and my Daemon Prince half dead.

However, let's not kid ourselves that the disaster of first turn was only down to bad luck and a bad memory. I also made bad decisions.

After a volley spell casting and shooting took down one whole space marine, the remains of my Pink Horrors and the Fluxmaster charged into combat only for me to discover that this was not where they should be. Not only do they hit less hard than a damp rag, but... allowed them to get counted charged by Pete's Aggressors.

They died.

The Hounds of Morkai charged the Screamers and the Lieutenant bravely charged the Daemon Prince, but the big fight was a bit of a stalemate, even though my Warlord's strength was beginning to tell.

With my right flank gone, all I had to focus on was the fight.

The Daemon Prince finally managed to end the Warsuit, which promptly exploded, wiping out the last Blue Horror and leaving my warlord crippled.

My Flamers also arrived from deep strike and were able to assassinate his Librarian.

At this point I'd killed four whole models.

The following turn saw Pete's firing squad finish off the Flamers (ironically, the Flamers were killed with flamers) whilst my Daemon Prince and Screamers (who had finally worked out that they were actually Strength 6 in combat) demolished the Lieutenant and the last of the Hounds of Morkai.

At this point I had just a handful of wounded models left. A situation that go worse when massed Bolt Rifle fire deleted the Changeling and left the Daemon Prince with just a single wound.

I decided that there was nothing for it but to get stuck in and Daemon Prince went for the Aggressors. Psychic power and shooting killed one and the inevitable overwatch was taken by the Exalted Flamer, which survived thanks to Pete rolling four ones for the number of auto hitting shots (they clearly used their fuel against the Flamers).

The Daemon Prince made short work of the Aggressors (which lough much harder to kill than they are) but was now stood in front of three units of Marines with just a single wound. He did, however, have a 3+ rerollable invulnerable save...he might make it.

Let's take a moment to appreciate the fact that at this point in the proceedings, I was technically winning...although I only had 5 wounds left on the board.

Pete opened fire, and in the dampers of damp sequins, my Daemon Prince failed the first save he was required to make...three times. An 11 point swing in victory points meant Pete's lead was now probably unassailable.

The Exalted Flamer and Screamer charged the Infiltrators in the hope of keeping the gap respectable and narrowly failed to kill the unit as it was now Pete's turn to spot a rule he'd missed all game and realise that they could ignore the first failed save each turn.

The counter charge finished off the Exalted Flamer and the defeat was complete: 47 - 29.

All in all, this was a really fun try out of both armies. We both got things wrong and both learned things we'd need to remember in future.

I learned that my Pink Horrors and Heralds should avoid combat, if at all possible. Screamers should be pointed at Marines and remember to fly over enemy units if they have the option. The Daemon Prince is really dangerous in close combat, but needs some protection tion from enemy shooting.

I think Pete learned that just because he can set up really close to the enemy, he probably shouldn't (he was lucky the Warsuit wasn't destroyed on the first turn), also his Lieutenant would probably have been better off stood with his gunline giving them bonuses to wound, as he wasn't much to write home about in melee.

Despite some ropey dice and memories, I was pleased that they game did seem to depend more on our decisions that I remember 40k doing. It was a fun game and I'm looking forward to playing more of it.

Tuesday, 1 June 2021


Unlike David Bowie, I do know what I've been waiting for...tomorrow I have a game against another, live, actual human being.

It will be my first proper game of 40k since fourth (I think) edition and I'm giving my Tzeentch Daemons a run out against Pete's Space Wolves (which are also a lockdown army).

As a game was beckoning, I finally found the impetus to build and paint a recent acquisition for the army: the Changeling.

This is a HQ unit and a named character. It will be trolling along with my Flamers and Horrors, throwing out spells and providing a variety of buffs.

The model itself was a bit of a faff to assemble and paint, thanks to all the folds if cloak and many, many arms getting in each other's way. There's also an annoying hole in his hood due to clumsy sprue clipping, which I clearly repaired badly.

I tried to evoke the other colours in the army, giving it Pink Horror arms, ribbons the colour of Blue Horrors and feathers on the staff reminiscent of the Daemon Prince.

I went with black robes because black contrast paint made that the lazy choice.

Overall, I'm really happy with him/her/it, although I might revisit the hole in the hood after tomorrow. I might also see about adding to this army, but I'm not sure I want to take on another Start Collecting box just yet.

Acquired: 98
Painted: 94