Saturday, 28 May 2016

Axles & Alloys

The Friday Night Firefight this week ended up with us trying out Axles & Alloys.

You can find this in the internet and it's based on the mechanisms in Jon Tuffley's Full Thrust starship rules.

To quote the fundamental concepts from the rules:
Axles and Alloys II is a game of Converted Hot Wheels And Matchbox Cars Driving Around And Around And Around and Trying To Shoot The Sh*t Out of One Another. It doesn't deserve a game treatment any more involved than this one. Do you want something on a par with Advanced Squad Leader when all you are doing is Converting Hot Wheels And Matchbox Cars And Then Driving Around And Around And Around and Trying To Shoot The Sh*t Out of One Another?

(You can see why we like this game...)

That said, I made it a rule not to spend more than 15 minutes on each car conversion - with ink wash, highlight, and some bits stuck on from old toy sets. The difference in quality with the other guys in the group's efforts, who have spent a lot more time on their cars, will be evident in the pics ...ahem.

 One of Mike's excellent terrain pieces.

 The Javelin speeds toward the post apocalyptic town; missile tubes, flamethrower - and in bad need of a car wash.

 Yellow Peril in pursuit.

 An Interceptor also joins the high speed battle...someone has been at the fender with some MIG welding equipment. Who knew you could still get Argon in the apocalypse :)

In MG range...

What's left of Midville (remember that one?), in the radioactive desert sands.

Successful flamethrower strike on the Interceptor. 'Put it out! PUT IT OUT!'


  Peril is dropping oilslicks to prevent decent pursuit.

The Javelin chases, does a couple of dodgy skidded turns, but remains on target, before unleashing some flame...

 Game 2 saw another flamed up Boom Boom Wagon, versus the Interceptor and Peril again...though those two would fight it out long before the flame arrived. a collision, some weapon damage, and a bad skid, throw the Peril into an nearby wall.

 Just in time for Boom Wagon to arrive and finish the the Interceptor drives into the rockpile.

 Put it out! PUT IT OUT! Wait, haven't we been here before?

A really good laugh, and very quick and deadly. More players and MORE follow. In a campaign, you can add a re-roll each time you survive a fight. These re-rolls may prove essential!

Saturday, 21 May 2016

Steiner & Le Duc - Piquet:Field of Battle WWII

Another game with Sgt. Steiner and a chance to try Field of Battle : WWII.

I've really wanted to try this one for a while, as I think the scale is perfect for adapting hex and chit games (Ardennes right through to Falklands stuff) and is abstract enough to use 20mm without it looking out of place. The abstraction is not so bad that it turns the game into chaos, conversely, it reflects sources that we might read quite well.

Thanks to Sgt. Steiner for setting it up with his excellent 1/300 stuff and terrain.

The key to these rules is that you can't do everything you'd like, and there are times when the card draw means that you have to use the luck you've been dealt - but not in the same way that rules systems like Maurice might do, where you still can choose where to focus. The focus in FoB is more dictated by not being able to move those units when you'd like to - but perhaps being able to fire them, contrasted with getting a break in the action when you need to exploit the opportunity given.

This provides a great 'to and fro' epic style to the narrative of the battle, and it not only feels like something you might read about in a history book, but it is loaded up with the frustrations of plans not surviving first contact, helped along nicely by the multi-sided dice and opposed rolling between players, in order for the mechanisms to work, and to actually get anything done.

There's nothing like the frustration of your opponent rolling more on a d6, than you get on your d12...
(Oh yeah, and anything but a one!)

I recently read 'Brains and Bullets' by Leo Murray (review to follow), and although it is very much focused on the potential for individuals to  'freeze', 'fight' or 'fuss' in terms of how the mind works under pressure in combat, you can almost see the rules in FoB echoing that sentiment.

Good troops will 'usually' move when you need them to, though that might only be once in the battle. You can begin to see how blitzkrieg tactics, and the nature of more sophisticated command structures, actually makes battlefield resource management work.

So some pics...

Russian armour eager to exploit any gaps in the centre.

German armour less numerous, but nonetheless effective.

Russian armour held in the centre, without getting a chance to break through.

 Though this allowed some exploitation on the Russian left, and the hill was cleared of Panzergrenadiers early on.

Masses of Soviet infantry, and units to spare.

JSIIs and Tiger IIs would face each other on the Russian right, through Soviet air would be a little disappointing.

 German morale would be worn down in the end, with a few counter-attacks going poorly for them.

The situation at game end: The right in stasis, the centre breaking, and the left still with Red reinforcements. Great game, and very expandable.

Sunday, 8 May 2016

Game 42 - Horizon Wars

So we tried Osprey’s/Robey Jenkin’s excellent new ‘Horizon Wars’ rules.
If Carlsberg did sci-fi wargaming rules, well…

  Somehow, an Eagle Transporter from Space 1999 managed to become a shuttle.

You see I like hard sci fi in the Traveller, Hammer Slammers and Aliens mould.
…that’s hard sci-fi, with ‘blower’ tanks maybe, and a definite military bent…
…that’s hard sci-fi, with a military bent, ermmm…with mecha, but not those daft mecha from the way out Japanese Anime with their swords and goth emo pilots, but sensible mecha – well as sensible as a bloody 30 foot tall robot can be!

Ok, that’s so many qualifiers that it would be literally impossible to find me a set of rules I’d like, right? I want infantry, tanks and sensible mecha. Years ago I tried designing my own rules based on Runequest (yes, Runequest – with hit locations for mecha), but they were a disaster (yeah, you could’ve told me that right?)

The fact is that here’s a set of rules that suits my particular penchant for sci-fi, my preference for something original, and my predilection for something simple.
These are really good, with a great feel, and many original concepts. To be honest I think the recent review/interview on Meeples & Miniatures wasn’t fair to this book.

Oh yeah, and there are no damned space marines ™. Wait, am I allowed to say space marines? …bleuchh.

Highlights included:

  • Presence – governs points values and effectiveness in assault/ melee.
  • Movement, firepower and armour/agility can all be ground down in combat – sometimes quickly, and a lucky strike that you can’t match can do significant damage.
  • Firepower dice (d12s) vs defence dices (d12s and look for matches) really give a wide spectrum of results – but it seems to suit the genre. You can chip away at long range, close to engage and match your specialities, or have units that are good at long range fire (extended range weapon upgrades – I’m looking at you here !)
  • Mecha can have upgrades and design particulars, which seems Warhammer-esque when you first read them, but they really work. I loved how rather than assign extras (boring) hit points or something, you can hone the design of your giant stompy manned robot and make it original (before somebody else’s blows it away that is).
  • Check your range, add opponent’s armour/agility (no, this works – and it degrades), there may be mods for targeting upgrades – roll your firepower and determine how many multiples of the difficulty you get vs defenders matches. It sounds complicated, but it really flows quite well.
  • Action and Reaction is neatly done with two opportunities per turn. Spend your reaction too early and you lose the opportunity later. You can act tactically here - though granted, we need to play this a lot more to get the hang of its nuances.
  • (There are also instructional videos on youtube).

There are options for hidden deployment/drop zones, Ace pilots, infantry specialisms, guided fire and aircraft – also a nice ‘adventures’ section and campaigns should be really easy to run.
Oh yeah, close assault really hurts.

All I was looking for really. More to follow I hope…and you know what? The rules could be hacked for WWII ;)

  The Imperial Federal forces, clearly here to end this destructive conflict and bring order to the galaxy.

 Those damned rebel colonial forces, clearly no longer happy with paying their taxes.

'Kinda concerned about getting stepped on Sarge!?!'
Colonial volunteers debus from the reinforcement shuttle.

 Colonial units move toward the spaceport buildings.

  Federal Heavy Mechs move to the high ground - there were quite a few turns of long range bombardment, aided by the extended targeting bonus of the heavy mechs.

  The colonists have some Riga class medium mechs of their own.

  Some good rolls from the colonists did some damage to the Heavies.

But they gave good return.

 Federal heavy infantry makes it to cover. This would be critical, as they spent a little too long contemplating an assault on the spaceport buildings.

...though, their Tac missiles finished off the last of the last of the colonial light mechs.


 Satellite picture shows the final stages of battle. One federal mech remains, and the colonials have lost theirs, but their mobile infantry holds the spaceport.

 The final assault on the spaceport - heavy casualties...

  One unit makes it through, but is so badly damaged in the assault that it can go no further. The colonists hold.

 So, a great game - and we should explore this more in future (now that I've finally found a set of sci-fi rules that work).