Saturday, 28 March 2020

Shelf Isolation

In these trying times, much is made about how to pass the time at home.
SO, aside from getting on with the part time PhD...there may be rules that lurk unplucked, unopened, watching from afar, hoping that their time has come to be played.

Here's a selection of those currently in 'shelf isolation' which may need to be examined...

 The classic and inexplicably brilliant V&B. This game was ahead of its time.
We always should have played more, though it can become a grind in larger games. The classic 'divisional exhaustion' and game design are very representative of battle narratives.
I get a sense that the new 'In Deo Veritas' for C17th is also closely modelled on the mechanisms (if not the turn sequence).
 Its large bullying big brother who steals its younger sibling's pocket money.

 Disposable Heroes, by two members of 'Litte Wars TV'. Have never tried this, and I know there is a newer version, so must get around to it.

 Tried BBB in 2019; a smoother and more period ranging version of Fire & Fury - more to come.

 Speaking of F&F ...classic design, and can be a grind. Though if playing again, I would make the brigade activations division activations instead. The activation mechanic is less arbitrary than BP say.

 Really should have tried a lot more of this. I know there are some rules for armour online at Mr. Balagan's blog.

 Some modern stuff from the 80s - the advantage with these two classics is their design by, and use with, US/Canadian/British officers during actual Cold War for 'training' (maybe they just wanted to wargame though).
 A bunch of sci-fi stuff which I don't remember getting..

 Buck Surdu's Combat Patrol. New design and card driven. Really must try. There is a Falklands hack and a Star Wars hack online.

 A bunch of modern man-to-man stuff. 'The Zone' is crying out for play. Who remembers the novels?

 Now that Slack Chowder is 'all used up', some rules have to devote themselves to 'the cause'...

Friday, 27 March 2020

More Crisis Management

Not applicable to those in the front line of course, but I'm sure we all know someone who it fits...

Wednesday, 25 March 2020

Crisis Management

Stay strong guys!

We will get through these difficult times.
My thoughts are with those of you who are directly involved at the front lines across the world.

In the meantime ...I have taken measures to ensure that I have enough red wine and toilet roll. Sacrifices may have to be made ...

It's a high price to pay ...but worth it I think.

Tuesday, 10 March 2020

Amazing what you might find...

All this chat about rules, and I happened to pic up a random copy of Wargames Illustrated, from June 1997.

Inside, I find the 'Warfare in the Age of Marlborough' rules, by Mike Ingham (who sadly died in 2011), from the Wargames Holiday Centre.
'Stay really still lads! It's BP today and we failed our activation roll!'
So here (presented below), on two pages, are a very nice set ...but the thing that made me laugh (with joy no less), was the classic approach combined with practicality.

Firing is 3d6 for 'Ranks' and 4d6 (roughly) for platoon/first fire (a sensible amount of d6). I believe they are three base units (from pics in older magazines).
There are little nuances - you gain disruptions through moving and firing in the same turn for instance.

Now, there are saving throws - but only for cover, cuirassier/armoured cav, or open order crews. The turn sequence is the key to events, yet makes a lot of sense. There are some WRG sensibilities, but you can see how the minutiae has been sheared away to create something, dare I say, playable?

Why do these make so much sense, yet are so succinctly designed, concisely written and stuck in the middle of a wargames mag? There's no need to pad these rules out with lots of d6, non-intuitive systems, misguided logic, colour pics and hardcovers.

They will also suit group games, bearing in mind their lineage and use at the WHC.

...and I'm spent...

(I should mention that the reason they appear on page 22 and 24, was that Guernsey Foundry had an ad on page 23. Karma or somesuch?)

Monday, 9 March 2020

Dawn of the Apocalypse...

So, here we are...
I might have mentioned rules recently.
  • After having swallowed Brexit , the Media Circus (TM) now turns its attention to CoronaVirus. (Try singing 'Covid19' to the tune of 'Come on Eileen' ...there you see. It's in your head now...)
  • Kids today are so confused, they start to doubt the veracity of the moon-landings, the shape of the earth, and whether in fact 'Strike Back' went straight to hell after Series 4...
  • We panic-buy as if it's the Dawn of the Apocalypse ...perhaps it is ...but wait!


Look for it on the Piquet and Field of Battle facebook group at present (as they don't have the Slack Chowder Marketing Budget)...

I never liked Corona anyway ...wait...oh, now I do. ...unless she has a virus...

The real 'Dawn' of the Apocalypse. 'Hey Dawn you doin'?'

Ok - so, open for debate.

But come on ...I'm dead on with this one?

Saturday, 7 March 2020

Year of the Slack ...your Warhamster Cameltoe is showing...

'Year of the Slack' was intended to be the start of a wonderful series, poking fun by doing every scenario in the Black Powder II rulebook (or Slack Chowder as I know I prefer), even bringing in other Games Workshop analogues like Blitzkrieg Commander. I bought the book at Christmas for this very reason.

What went wrong? We played the first WSS scenario, Elxheim, and it was boring, boring, boring.

There, I said it. I can't stand these rules. I've said it before, I've waxed lyrical, I tried to give them a chance, and I f**kin' hate 'em.
French assault - I think we had fallen asleep by this stage and the Missus took the pic...

Let's analyse:

Grumpy old bastards.

These rules are Tedious:
 I like dice - I love 'em. I like the old D&D multi siders in Field of Battle - they give a refined sense of genius by virtue of the range and effect of odd/even and difference in scope/value range; I like 4d6 in Maurice, and the re-rolls that some of the cards grant; I like the small number of dice in Volley & Bayonet, even with the chance to save - it's quick and the rules are macro in scale. I like 'rolling for advantage' concepts from D&D5 - all that good stuff.
I dislike working out how many dice to roll when it's between 9 and 11 in number, then gathering and rolling them all over the table, then you get to save by getting your bucket of dice etc. etc. etc. It's bollocks!
At one stage Fitz said 'I can't be arsed working all that out again - why don't I take 4 hits and you take 2.'    Just when he got used to the multi-sided dice of FoB, and loved the narrative of FoB and Maurice, I have put him off wargaming with a fking Warhammer Analogue ARGGHHHH!
French troops take cover behind their attack dice...

Random activation in terms of stopping you doing anything outside enemy range if you roll 9-12 IS NOT SIMULATING ANYTHING!
This is a pet hate here. I fully appreciate that other rules have subtle activation mechanisms, whereby you can be stalled, slowed or stopped - just like in a real battle narrative. These are more subtle than what happens in BP however. I watched (again) French units stuck for three turns. When you roll 2d6, you should be using the bell curve to your advantage in the design; that doesn't happen here. It doesn't! This is just (again) tedious.

The Design is Flawed.
I won't go into to the multiple supports issue, lack of thought with regard to melee mechanisms, convoluted rules descriptions, misprints etc. but instead focus on the Warhammer Analogue nature and style of these rules. Where they are not being arbitrary, they are being falsely competitive. They stress using a lot of figures. I think the hardback nature, photographs, nice glossy style and English gentlemen commentary are hiding the fact that this is part of the Warhammer cult - not a well thought out set of rules. These rules are simply boring.   Feel free to argue with me, but these guys have used a Warhammer business model to sell any old sh*t.

I can see Brent's genius design in Field of Battle. I can see Sam's design prowess in his games, such as Maurice. Brent and Sam are doing just that - game DESIGN.

Black Powder lacks that focus; its Warhammer Cameltoe is showing; it is simply there to make lots of money on the back of figure sales that are spuriously related to it. That would be great in a purely commercial market. This is a hobby and labour of love for most, however.
Maybe it works for many players, and probably when imbibing pints of lager; I still don't see it.

Lots of figures and bugger all else...

There Ain't no Justice
Field of Battle 3 will soon emerge. There we have a well designed set of polished rules, with mechanisms that are seamless, and a damned genius design. But Brent will have to self publish, without the backing of a figure based company who sell lots of figures - and so the wargames world will barely notice. There's the real tragedy.

On a lighter note - here are lots of figures and lots of pics, in true BP style.

 'Trying to sell her Black Powder dirty old man...'

 Lots of cavalry in the scenario.

 A few left on the shelf.

 'Oi...old man! Piss off!'

 French troops

 Allied defenders.

 Full table.

 Allied troops on the road. That lady gets about!

 French cavalry. Predictably some remain 'unmoved' by either the game design or the activation dice roll.

 Blunder. Dutch troops go for a wander.

 'Where the f**k are they going?'

 'We're going to stand here for a while.
Tactical maneuvre sir?
Nope. We failed to activate.'

 'Boys! You're going the wrong way!'

 Cavalry melees - massive, battle determining, and boring as hell.

 'How you doin' mate?
Hey mate! Bored sh1tless over here!'

 Nice figures.

 Dutch get themselves organised.

 Horse battle *yawn*

 French infantry starts to move.

 'You'll need some dice boys.'

 Some French get left behind.

 Pics from the French infantry assault.


Conclusions? Year of the Slack will go on, but with FoB probably. I will fight each battle in the rulebook with a decent set of rules I think.