26 May 2014

Memorial Day Weekend Tradition

Yesterday afternoon my kids and I set up Formula De in the living room while the Indy 500 race was in progress on TV. My little guy doesn't get much opportunity to game with me and Junior - many of the games we play are just a bit too involved for a six-year old. Formula De was right up his alley with its rather simple mechanics.

 Action shot of two races at a time!

 The six-year-old (Cameron)

 The eleven-year-old (Christian Jr.)

We three

We raced the Indy 500 track, which I don't think I'd ever used before. I'd always written it off as a boring oval. It isn't a "boring" oval - it is much more challenging than it appears. Cameron schooled his brother and myself and won the race handily. I was a solid lock on second place until the last two rolls by Junior when he snuck ahead of me. Bah! So much for old age and treachery!

24 May 2014

Ship Shape Saturday

Well Shipwreck didn't turn out but the ship-themed game day was a good time anyway. I got to Morningstar around 12:45 and was able to play in a four-player game of Sails of Glory. I'd never played it before but it is similar enough to Wings of Glory (WWI flying game) that I didn't have much trouble picking it up. I captained a French frigate, Le Petit Fromage, while Mike took the helm of the ship of the line, Le Grand Fromage. Opposing us were a British frigate and ship of the line, both named HMS Filthy Whore.
An action shot part-way through the battle. That's my ship in the foreground. I think I took a shot at the Brit frigate whilst eating a broadside from the larger ship in the distance.

Ian (left) and Bill (center) our opponents. That's Mike to the right, mon capitan.

Things wrap up. Mine and Ian's frigate took a beating and sank at roughly the same time. Before I went out though, musketeers from my ship unleashed a fusillade at the large British finishing off the rest of its crew! Classic "with my last breath, I spit at thee!" Mike's big ship was still seaworthy so the French were the victors of the day!

Next up was Star Fleet Battles. Mike pulled out a three-sided battle and we quickly put things together. The set up was that both the Klingons and Orion pirates both were raiding a Federation convoy at the same time. The Klingons and Orions are not really in cahoots - it is more of a "enemy of my enemy is my friend" situation. I ended up with the Orions, Bill got the Klingons and Mike and Alan shared the convoy.

My two ships looking suspiciously like Star Wars vessels.

Our starting positions. Bill set up a bit closer to the convoy than I did. The convoy had two Fed CAs, two heavy freighters, three lights and a Q-Ship.

Numbskullery. Mike and Alan.

Bill is just learning how to fly Klingons. He headed straight towards two Fed CAs and quickly got one of his D7s ruined pretty severely. He responded my downing Mike's #1 shield but causing no damage. I was not feeling very good about my chances.

Bill pulled off (crossing the fucking Fed "T" and eating another salvo, this time from Alan). You can see that I've put four drones out - two at Alan's CA and two at a freighter. Now I was really depressed about my chances.

Turn two and things aren't so bad now. The Klingon still has two ships, one of which is still pristine and my drones, photons and phasers are going to be close enough to raise hell this turn. I've now dumped eight drones out and the Feds are barely acknowledging them.

At range 4, I unloaded four photons into Alan's #1 smashing it and causing eight internals. I held onto my phasers, saving them for the transports beyond. You can see that I've driven my ships into the convoy by this point. I unloaded four Ph-1s into the revealed Q-Ship and blasted away at shuttles with my Ph-3s. My shuttles got a couple of shots at Alan's cruiser, thanks to conveniently placed downed shields. The front shield of the Tantive IV was downed but the ship suffered not damage. My other ship was not hit at all.

I'd come through to the far side of the convoy, behind Mike's cruiser and ready to make another phaser and drone run through the freighters. It was decided the call the game there, since the Q-Ship and one of the Fed cruisers were both combat ineffective. Even the beat up Klingon still had its two disruptors. Mike's ship could have caused some headache to one of the raiders but it would have been hard-pressed to deal with the rest.

My ship sheets. Not a bad day of hunting at all. Avast ye scurvy space-dogs, prepare to be boarded!

As usual, SFB was jolly good fun - a damn fine day of gaming all around!

Recently Painted Reinforcements

I've had these Stardate 3000 ships sitting the pile for a month or so and finally got cracking on assembly / painting last weekend. That's two "Draco" destroyers and a "Space Tug" for the Orange Fleet. The tug was given a large gun, under-slung as is the Orange Fleet fashion, and will be re-classed as perhaps a light cruiser. I've also got a dozen Red Fleet fighters in the queue - they'll be done up soon and I'll post pics of them when they are.

Today is "Ship Day" at Morningstar Games - they've got a handful of different ship-themed games being run from noon until 8 - Dystopian Wars, Sails of Glory, SFB, etc. I'll be playing Shipwreck with James. He's concocted and interesting little scenario featuring mainly third-rate trash and some Carribean Imagi-Nations. Should be a hoot.

17 May 2014

Recently Finished and In Progress

I finished up the second batch of Red Guard for SL:PL during the week - eight more stands. Now I just need time to play!

Yeah, yeah... they're awfully green for being "Red Guard."

Also, I've gotten into the Romans for HOTT. I have to be reminded from time to time that I despise painting horses. Eleven damn horses in the queue.

Fifteen legionnaires will give me five stands. Should have been sixteen but one snapped at the ankles while I was cleaning flash of the model.

11 May 2014

MSH: The Bay

Ziggy and I managed to get to that game of Modern Spearhead yesterday. I'd worked out the scenario details during the week. The basic setup was that the USMC is trying to capture a fictional town on the Baltic which will be a useful landing port for further materiel and troops. The Soviets of course are doing all they can to prevent this.

I gave the Marines two battalions of infantry - one mechanized in Amtracks and the other to be dropped in by Sea Knights. The Marines also had a large air contingent - two Super Cobras, Harriers loaded up with rockets and a flight of A-7s with HARMs.

The Soviets would start with one MR battalion in the town and the rest of regiment arriving later (turns 4 and 6). The Soviets would have no aerial assets due to considerable US air superiority over the battlefield.

Here is my orders map:
Nothing too fancy. First battalion hangs out and tries to cause as many casualties as they can while waiting for 2nd and 3rd battalions to arrive. That town should really be a 2 X 2 sector town, not 4 X 4.

My forces deployed. We tested out some fog-of-war elements with this game. Actual models wouldn't be deployed on the table until they were spotted. Each side also had some dummy counters which were just false contacts.

My list of which markers are what.

The Marines begin their drive to Splotnik.

Meanwhile, the airmobile battalion gets dropped on the east side of the town. My marker 42 there is a Shilka which completely whiffed its shot at one of the transport helicopters.

A Sagger team pops off a shot at the lead LVTP and misses wildly.

The Marines continue their advance while the second half of the 2nd battalion is ferried in. The Shilka rolls another "1." That dude is fired. At least it'll be a beast chewing up infantry stands.

The Sagger team sails another missile over the heads of the advancing Marines on the west side of town, although the BTR team scores a very lucky suppression on one of the lead platoons.

Action shot involving a ruler, but you can see the proof of my lucky hit back there! My 120mm mortar got ranged in but didn't cause any damage.

Beginning of turn 4 and I get my first reinforcement battalion. Dummy counters lead the way, with T-62s and more BTRs behind. The regiment's Forward Observer and SA-9 battery are out to the left with clear lines of sight.

The Marines make contact. Ugh.

The Cobras go-a-hunting. Double ugh. They've spotted the lead elements.

Those two yellow markers are ranged-in artillery batteries. I had the most effective artillery phase of my career with 2S1s killing two platoons of infantry and the 120mm mortar suppressing an LVTP on the road. As it would turn out, my artillery simply lit a fire under the Marines' tails and they would hustle towards the town. Also note that my Shilka is gone, having been sniped by a Marine with a Dragon missile. Lucky shot if there ever was one!

Turn 5 would see a whole bunch of Marines pile into the town from the west. So much for holding Splotnik.

The Harriers' first pass accounts for two platoons of T-62s. The SA-9's missile was of no consequence.

The battle in the west side of Splotnik went terribly for the defenders. On turn 6 I received by second battalion of reinforcements - I chose to dispense with the dummy counters at this point of the game - it didn't matter much any  longer. You'll also note the second Marine battalion launching their assault into the town.

The Corsair makes its run at the SA-9 stand. I took my AA shot at a Cobra figuring a dead Cobra was worth more than Harrier or A-7 that wouldn't be coming back anyway. The Strela missed its mark, but the Navy pilot's aim was true, resulting in the destruction of the AA battery. No more air defense for me!

The town is overrun. My battalion commander actually survived the fight and killed a stand of Marines but he was left alone and surrendered.

No matter - if I rush the town before the Americans can set up a defense maybe I can contest it!

The reinforcements push forward hard! Unfortunately, the Harriers came back and took out a couple more stands of Second Battalion causing a morale test which they promptly failed.

No time for crying... I still have a full battalion. The Harrier makes its final gun run of the day taking out a stand.

My troops thunder into the town capturing the southeast sector. Well, liberating it for a few minutes. My artillery shook the hell out of the northeast sector.

Like I said, for a few minutes anyway. My BC accounted for a stand an I did manage a few more kills but when the Marine first battalion counterattacked I was done for.

We'd fought for ten turns. It was a very entertaining game. Having set up the scenario, I sort of had an idea of what the airmobile Marines would be doing, but Ziggy did something quite different with them. I figured they'd set up as a screen to hold off my reinforcements but he went straight into the town with both battalions. Good move on his part.

The Soviets needed more AA assets. I think an off-board SA-6 battery would be perfect, and maybe a ZU-23 or two in the town from the get go. I took the liberty of re-classifying the Harrier as a ground-attack aircraft giving it two runs per sortie. They were terrifyingly good but more, and more reliable, AAA would have balanced them out nicely I think. The ground troops were pretty well balanced, although the Marines were hell on wheels in close assaults.

We both liked the idea and execution of the "hidden deployment" markers so I'll add that to the good idea pile and keep it for later games.

The second battle of Splotnik is in the works...

09 May 2014

Oooh! A lead pile in progress!

Some goodies showed up today in the mail - I'll finally get around to putting the wraps on my Roman HOTT army. I finished up a herd of Auxilia spearmen a few months ago and haven't done anything else with them, so I finally got around to picking up some Legionnaires with swords and some cavalry. It isn't going to be a terribly diverse army, but it lends itself well to expansion via a scorpion, archers or a god. I'm still looking for a good 25mm mini which would make a good Mars. One of these days...

I also picked up some d5 dice (d10's numbered 1-5, 1-5). They aren't easy to find. Koplow used to make them but don't any more. I bought scalecreep.com's entire stock.

Have a good weekend. I've got a Modern Spearhead scenario ready for tomorrow - first outing for the US Marine Corps. We'll be trialing some fog of war elements. Should be interesting - not the typical clash of two giant hordes of AFVs.

04 May 2014

Recycling Project

I've had an itch (not that kind of itch!) to play a fantasy mass-battle game lately. Something along the lines of Warmaster. To complicate things, I don't have any minis, nor a worthwhile set of rules. While HOTT is fine, it isn't at all what I'm looking for. I want dragons that breathe fire, wizards who cast mighty spells and unique humanoid races like elves, dwarves, orcs, etc. You know, Warhammer but not Warhammer.

I picked up Mayhem a couple weeks ago and have read through it. Seems worth a toot. Certainly worth the price of admission. It covers the bases for what I'm looking for.

Next problem - miniatures.

I gave a long serious look at 6mm fantasy minis. Even though they aren't terribly expensive, they aren't free - especially to test out a game. Then I thought back to my old Modern Spearhead playtest from a couple years ago. I used home-made bases cut from balsa and glued on Axis and Allies and Monsters Menace America tanks and infantry. The MSH proxies have long since been retired but I still had the bases. I rooted through my boardgame collection and found some willing victims for poaching - Risk: LOTR and Civilization The Boardgame. Both games are loaded to the gills with suitable game pieces. The scales are a bit off - the Civ pieces are about 20mm scale while the Risk bits are about 15mm. I was able to throw together two forces rather easily - humans from Civ and Goblins (since they are diminutive) from Risk. I'll leave them unpainted for now until I decide whether or not I like the game. I also now have a couple armies to try out Kings of War as well!

Here are the armies as they stand right now:

There you have it - two fantasy armies (minus generals) ready for a tabletop trial what amounts to free. They were paid off 10 years ago!