Sunday, 18 October 2020

Nordic Ravens at the Gates of Hell

Now that we have a suitably dramatic title, we shall engage.

I'm not a runner, I 'm a cyclist. We'll be returning to this.

Now having been cycling for 16 years, and even done the odd 100 miler, I must testify to loving the training and having several bikes, and even training inside via turbo trainer & Zwift (TM). Recent 'science' (you can always trust science?!?!) however, outlines that cyclists who do more than a modicum of training, over an extended period, and who are in their...shall we say...49+ age bracket in terms of years, should really be looking at the possibility of osteoporosis as a future problem, unless they wise up.

Bearing this in mind, and upon the advice of La Duchesse - who used to run for her country...I have been running. (Allegedly it keeps the fitness up, if careful, whilst rebuilding bone and joint health.)

(I'm not a runner, I 'm a cyclist - there; told ya we'd be back here!)

A mile here, two miles there...though this morning I beat my two mile duck.

Now I have not been running seriously, since I was forced to, more than 20 years ago...and it is not easy to make that transition. (MOVE IT, MOVE IT, MOVE IT!)

This morning however, I undertook to run along a barely discernible path toward a large cliff near my home...and back.


In fact, legend states that this is where the Vikings (one of them is buried in a runic marked grave nearby) landed in the local area somewhere around 800AD.

So, I expected to see Ravens guiding me on my quest to make it more than 2 miles, with omens, portents and various ungodly pagan associations on the path to demi-sainthood.

 Nope - I caught a picture of two black birds...turns out they were crows, not ravens...and the gate of hell? ...a badly treated farm-gate, though I guess it did block my path...a sign perhaps, that running is really hard?

 Ravens? A sign from the Netherworld that your chosen path is correct, but beset with evil that would test you?   Nope, a couple of crows .


Have I mentioned I'm not a runner, I'm a cyclist.

But the running will continue until the body gives up...sah!

Just look at those bloody contours! If this was a wargame, you'd be attacking that at -3 at least!


Uhhh...not seeing the path to be fair.

The weather was beginning to notice me and threatening to become p1ssed off with my attempts at running the trails...

The Peninsula..normally a peaceful place for romantic walks...rarely suitable for 'attack runs on fire'.

The Black Gate! Well...silvery I guess...


(Raiders...not runners)

In other news, I picked these rules up. The aforementioned Aquilonian Special Forces in Hyboria, will see the light of day yet!

You've heard of Navy SeALs..well the Aquilonian SWORDs (Special Weapons Orientation Recon & Development group) will be operating a Hyborian location which can not yet be revealed due to government restrictions.

Sunday, 13 September 2020

Saratoga - with 'Hold the Line'

 Following on from Steve's recent drive for perfection with simple rules, and his post game protocols for analysis ...and also using the amendments for the AWI boardgame 'Hold the Line' that he kindly sent me... we returned to a favourite old battle.

The British master plan to sever the northern colonies from the rest of the Atlantic seaboard had come unhinged, leaving 'Gentleman Jonny' Burgoyne's northern army dangerously isolated. He could either retreat back to Canada, or make one last attempt to break through the American defences on Bemis Heights and open the road to the Hudson Valley. (Musket & Saber)

 Now, if I recall, I'm 2 for 3 on our versions of this one, having played it with Volley and Bayonet, and other rules - including Musket & Sabre - the boardgame variant from which we constructed the scenario. For Fitz today was all to play for. (He won of we're both 2 for 4...revenge!)

The boardgame map (musket & Sabre) that we used to set up.

American defences at the heights.
American units also hold the woods on the British right, facing Fraser.

British attack begins in the centre and right. Most of their additional action points focused here in the early stages.
...though that doesn't prevent a 'completely mad' flanking move, which destabilised the British assault.

British guards would be disappointing on the day.
Good cover provided for American lights, which did not fulfill their promise early on, but soon came good.

British guards repelled from 1st melee ...yes, you heard me right!
German grenadiers push back (apparently) American continentals, then walk straight into the range of the guns on Bemis Heights.
...and a little outflanking action.

Despite early success German Jagers were pushed out of the woods.

'You do realise there are bloody big cannons over there...right?'

By game end, the British main attack had faltered, with heavy losses, while the flanks had been forced to admit defeat. 

A very nice set of rules, easily played, with lots of subtlety. ...Steve's protocol below:

'I could literally sell these sheets to the Hessians and tell them it's like, trouser material or something...'

(hmmm of these re-enactors is not like the others ...)

The 'Steve Protocol' Questions

How long did the game last?
About 2-3 hours. We got a lot of time to talk cr*p throughout.

What was the scenario? 
Our favourite epic - Saratoga, granted with some maneuver toward Bemis Heights in there.

What happened?
The British attack in the centre was foiled by an American counterattack led by Arnold. The Germans went for a flank surprise, that turned to disaster.

Extraordinary Events
British guards 'bounced' off militia in the woods with terrible rolls. German grenadiers were fought off twice, then butchered by artillery. American tactics played to the rules - the British player was far too cavalier!!!

Who Won?  Why?
The Americans. ...see above...

Did you enjoy the game?
Oh yes. This is a fascinating set of rules - simplicity with subtlety. Points values can be added to via the die roll - which adds pure drama, though again, it's what you do with that extra little bit of luck that wins or loses the game. It really seems very period-esque.

Advanced Questions

Details and chrome that's missing
We used hexes - which though making everything very easy to move, took away a little bit from the linear warfare nature of AWI. But that's minor.

Final Thoughts
A great set of pickup rules, with lots of period flavour by virtue of choosing where to put those extra points into use. We thought it would play like Maurice, though the difference being that there - you can pretty much predict what your opponent is going to do. Here, it's a lot more difficult to do so.

Sunday, 23 August 2020

Twilight 2000

Now, it's been a long time since I backed a Kickstarter, though it's been even longer since I backed a Kickstarter for a Role Playing Game.

Twilight 2000 is getting a makeover, by the same people that recently did the highly praised 'Alien' RPG and something based on 'Stranger Things', amongst others. I pretty much missed these but research has reveled some spectacular responses amidst RPG fans, since I've been hiding under a rock.

My lineage with Twilight started here:

and here:

Memories of a fantastic premise (which I recall a few of us even wrote letters of support for back in 1986, when presumed 'leftie' readers (it was the 80s lol) in White Dwarf slagged its pro-WWIII allegedly 'supportive' stance).

On the downside, it had a poor system, though we ended up adapting and improvising to get all our guys onto that last train out of Poland. We didn't get as far as the states to do those last scenarios, which means we missed the Nuclear Sub / MilGov-CivGov war - but then a few of the characters were actually ex-SAS from Birmingham... which inevitably had been nuked.

We did have a lot of stuff based on James Rouch's 'Zone' series.

I still have a bunch of battered books and the original box set - which I had considered selling, but I might just keep now. I know there were other editions and parallel universe rehashes - I missed it all...but not this time...
My original battered boxed set...

Here's the new Promo - 11 days to go at time of writing: