Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Black Powder: The Three Villages!

Introduction

The battlefield after 1 move.  Mouse-over the image to see who is who...
So, last weekend Steve came round for a day's gaming.  This is something we're fortunate enough to be able to do every few months and since it's quite a long journey for poor Steve, we try at least to make it an activity-packed visit.  This time we managed to fit in 2 games.

As is customary, we started with a big game of Black Powder using our 6mm Napoleonic forces.  We also managed a game of Song of Blades and Heroes, using my Robin Hood-themed warbands.  More on that another time.

On with the show: here's a description of the Black Powder game...

The Scenario

In 1809, a large Russian force is approaching a plain which contains the 3 fictional, central European villages of Großrinderheim, Württemfeld and Tauberbischofsberg.  Help (?) is on its way to repel the invaders, in the shape of a mixed force of French and Confederation of the Rhine troops.  The Confederation troops are outnumbered but have a more flexible command structure.  Would that be enough to make a difference?  Oh, the allies also have a lot more artillery than the Russians...

Victory would be determined very simply: each of the 3 villages is an objective.  Whoever holds more villages at the end of the game would be declared the winner.  The game would end either when 1 side were all dead or ran away, or when we ran out of time or energy to continue!

In the past, we have found troops in buildings to be nearly invulnerable under the Black Powder rules.  Since we didn't want this game to stagnate, it had to be at least plausible to assault an occupied village.  To achieve this, we reduced the morale save modifier for troops in houses from +2 to +1 and the combat result bonus from 3 to 2.  Maybe these buildings are wooden rather than stone?  Or maybe our troops haven't read the manuals on the best way to defend such a position?  Who knows?

The Forces

Most of the troops we used in this battle were fairly standard, with few special rules employed.  However, we wanted to test out the optional rules for Personal Characteristics of Commanders.  We could just have rolled dice for the results and written them down on paper, but I like things to be a bit easier than that.  I've made a deck of cards with a reasonable distribution of these characteristics on them, so all we needed to do was draw one card for each general and brigadier.

Russians

The Russian force was made up of 3 identical brigades, each consisting of 4 infantry units, 1 battery of artillery and a unit of (unreliable) Cossacks.
When we assigned characteristics to the Russian commanders, we discovered that the corps commander, Generallieutenant Raevskii, was average but that his subordinates were anything but!  Generalmajor Rylieff was timid and hesitant (!), Generalmajor Pantzerbeiter was decisive (probably an emigre with something to prove, I think...) and Generalmajor Palitsyn was also timid.  OK, this could be interesting...
Totals: 12 infantry, 3 cavalry, 3 artillery units.

Confederation

The Confederation had 5 small brigades (1 Bavarian, 2 French, 1 Hesse-Darmstadt and 1 mixed light cavalry).  Each of these typically had 2 units of infantry or cavalry and 1 battery of artillery.
The commander (French general Saint Cyr) was decisive, but all 5 of his brigadiers (Cossons and Dalesme for the French infantry, the Hessian Schiner, Bavarian von Minucci and cavalry commander des Essarts) were all completely bland.  A bit disappointing, perhaps, but I suppose it simplified things.
Totals: 9 infantry (7 normal, 2 small), 2 cavalry, 5 artillery units.

The Game

The Russians moved first and immediately force-marched regiments of infantry into all 3 of the villages.  Some of their support forces were a bit slower off the mark, but they were well entrenched in the objectives before the Confederation forces got close.  As the armies approached each other there was an outbreak of firing all along the line, though most was relatively ineffective due to the use of skirmish screens.

The exceptions to this were in the centre, where the French General Cossons steadfastly kept his infantry in attack columns (without a screen!) and the otherwise professional Dalesme advanced the "Lucky 56th" Ligne into a storm of cannon and musket fire without any support.

The Musketry Exchanges

For most of the game, fire was given and taken all along the front line, with the Russian line anchored in the 3 villages and the Confederation just beyond them.  Rather than bore you with a turn by turn account, here are the highlights:
  • French Hussars tried to outflank in the north, but were met by Cossacks.  In an inconclusive skirmish, both sides withdrew behind their infantry supports.
  • In the south, a probe by Bavarian cavalry and light infantry was met by a Russian square.  Without any nearby artillery, the Bavarians were unable to advance any further and a stand-off developed.
  • First blood went to the concentrated French and Hessian artillery on the northern ridge.  One unlucky Russian regiment was decimated and then fled in rout.  There were still plenty more like them, though...
  • At the near end of the line, the Russians found themselves unable to make use of their superior numbers.  A combination of hesitant command and the occasional blunder led to a bunching of units with no room to deploy.
  • Meanwhile, the Russian front line took a pounding, especially from the Confederation artillery that was mostly placed along the ridges in their rear.  In particular, the Russian centre fell into disarray and had trouble reacting.

The Assault

Seeing the Russian centre apparently in disorder, General Cossons ordered his columns to attack.  With banners waving and shouts of "Vive L'Empereur!", the 24th Légère and 44th Ligne regiments marched in double time towards their enemies.  At the last moment, the columns broke into a run and crashed into the confused Russians.  At the same time, General Dalesme's 4th Ligne made a diversionary attack on the village of Württemfeld, fully expecting to withdraw after distracting the defenders from the fight to their flanks.

Disoriented the Russians may have been, but they were going nowhere!  2 of the attacks stalled and halted in stalemates, whilst the 44th Ligne was repulsed in disorder.  Oh, crumbs!

Near Tauberbischofsberg in the north, a single Russian regiment attempted to close with some of the artillery that had been galling them all through the game.  This was a small but bad mistake; the nearby French cavalry made several fake charges to force the attacking infantry into a square.  As soon as this happened, the Hessian artillery and skirmishers set about the poor Russians with a vengeance.
All the square could do was hold on and pray for deliverance; if they moved then the hussars would have been on them in a flash and if they didn't then they would be pummelled with cannister from the cannons.  A unit of Cossacks attempted to charge the guns to relieve their infantry, but these light cavalry refused to charge home and withdrew after taking a few losses.

The Turning Point

In a completely unexpected turn of events, the next round of the 4th Ligne's diversionary attack on the central village succeeded in eliminating the defenders with no real loss to the attacking regiment.  The French soldiers quickly occupied the objective and then poured a thunderous enfilading volley on the unsuspecting Russian regiment at the far side.

Seeing this, the nearby "Lucky 56th" Ligne charged at the wavering Russian unit.  In a tremendous crash, both regiments just disintegrated, leaving whoever was left alive streaming from the field.

Suddenly, it was all over.  The Russians had lost 3 regiments completely, but enough of their other units were shaken for 2 of the 3 brigades to now count as broken.  Since most of the brigades in the army were broken, the entire army was broken.  This came as a complete shock to both players, I think!

Rather than play out the rest of the game, we decided to allow the defeated Russian army to retire in (relatively) good order.  No doubt the small numbers of Confederation cavalry and the ever present Cossacks would have prevented a close pursuit and a total rout.

Conclusion

Well, that was unexpected!  Most of the Confederation units had taken some hits, but were still in good shape.  The Russian infantry never really got going; their superior numbers (especially in the south!) couldn't be brought to bear because of a mixture of hesitant leadership from General Rylieff and frequent disorder in the front lines.

Heroes of the hour were the Confederation artillery: the guns lined the ridges and pounded away on the masses of infantry below.  Some counter-battery fire from the few Russian cannons to get into action had done a lot of damage, but not enough to silence their enemies.

The cards for leaders' characteristics seemed to work well.  We found that most of the time the characteristics didn't have much influence on play, though just occasionally they made a critical moment more ... interesting!  That's as it should be.  Having the cards laid out made it easier to remember which commanders had these special rules.  It also brought a more personal touch to the game: the officers had both names and portraits (even if the pictures are technically all in Russian uniforms!)

Finally, next time I think the Confederation should take fewer brigades, but with more regiments in each one.  5 sub-commanders is really a bit too many!

Thursday, 21 August 2014

The Hospital (it's a part-work)

Once again, I've missed my self-imposed Wednesday deadline for a new article.  I'm annoyed with myself that this keeps happening recently; maybe I've got too many things going on simultaneously?

That being so, here's a quick description and a couple of pictures of my part-built Grekwood hospital.  I really need to complete this before I can continue with my ATZ campaign, as the last couple of episodes have clearly been leading up to a scenario set in a place of healing.  Please be patient; it may take me some time yet and I'm also finding this quite frustrating...

As you can see, I have made a start on the hospital!  So far I've completed 1 ward & day room, 1 corridor section and the entrance hall (less the steps and sign).  Also you can see the floor for a second hallway.

My vision is for a 2-storey affair with 4 "wards", though I'll probably only outfit 2 of them as real wards.  The remaining 2 should contain other hospital services, though I'm not sure what.  Perhaps a cafeteria and out-patient clinics?  Or an operating theatre?  Or administrative offices, a pharmacy, a laboratory or even an industrial laundry?  Ah, so many ideas; I know that I cannot realistically do them all.

At least the build is very modular, so this does leave open the possibility of expansion later.  It should also make the pieces a bit easier to store, I hope.

So far I've really only got the shells for these rooms.  I've done a little work on the roofs, but almost none on the furniture and fittings.  Hmm, perhaps this is all too ambitious and I should settle for a much smaller establishment?  Ah, but I have such dreams...

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Traffic Jam!

Introduction

I've written a few posts on paper models recently, so I think it's only fair that I photograph my entire collection.  As well as being a visual treat for your eyes (I hope!), getting the entire collection together in one place also allows me to take stock, find any notable omissions, spot any damage that may have occurred and so on.

Everything together in one big picture

So, let's break this down...

Military Vehicles

My army trucks and APCs are all from Genet Models, which used to be known as Ebbles Models, I think.  These all come from the Patrol and Convoy kits - at least, that's what they were called when I bought them.  I think that the site may have been rearranged since then.

One note about the Genet kits: they're huge!  If I remember correctly then I printed these out at 84% or so of the original size - and they're still very large vehicles, if not quite so overwhelming as before.  At least you can resize paper models easily!

Emergency Services

My collection of emergency response vehicles are almost entirely police machines and almost entirely from WorldWorks Games. There is a single ambulance but no fire engines (a distinct gap in the market, I think.  I've not seen a fire engine yet that I would wish to build).

The other outsider is a solitary white "No Go Zone" police car in British colours.  It's a nice idea, but the car body has a very complex shape and the texturing is bland.  I wouldn't recommend this to anyone unless you are an experienced card modeller and have a particular need for UK-branded cop cars.

"Regular" Cars

Here is my collection of compact and sedan cars.  All of the ones at the back are from WorldWorks, but the four at the front are from Stoelzel's Structures, if I remember right.

Note the convertible at the front: I'm very pleased to have it, but it did take a lot more effort to build than any of the other vehicles here.  Obviously, it has an interior and that complicates the design quite a bit.

Also note that the convertible is a little larger than the other "civilian" automobiles.  This inconsistency of scale is something that afflicts most manufacturers to some extent.  Mind you, I think that WorldWorks is probably a far worse offender than Stoelzel in this respect.

Trucks and Buses

I have a relatively small collection of large commercial vehicles: 2 buses and 2 articulated trucks (with 1 extra trailer).  Also there's a garbage truck.  This latter is an early WorldWorks model and although it has all the right components, it just doesn't look quite right to me.  The cab is too narrow, the body too wide and tall.  Additionally, the double tyres at the back are badly aligned with the single tyres at the front.  It's an odd model.

On another note, buses are some of the easiest card models to make, so I would recommend them strongly to anyone who wished to begin making this type of kit.

Pick-ups, Estates and Vans

I have considerably more light commercial vehicles than I do of the large ones.  Most of these are from WorldWorks, though 2 in the front row are Stoelzel's and the white box van at the rear is a No Go Zone kit (one of my least favourite models.  It was a little awkward to build and I don't think that the result is very impressive)

Note that this picture clearly shows one of the worst discrepancies in scale between the WorldWorks vans and their pick-ups.  I'm not an expert on cars and trucks in real life, but surely the vans should be rather bigger than the pick-ups?  If anything, it's the other way round for these models.  As before, I could resize the printouts, but it's somewhat annoying to have to do so when the kits are all from the same publisher.

Oddments

These are the remaining vehicles that didn't seem to fit into any other category.  There are 2 "Lamborgharri"s, 2 burnt out compacts, 3 motorcycles, a classic roadster and a hearse.  The latter is from Mega Miniatures; the rest are again from WorldWorks.

Most of these models (apart from the hearse) are significantly more complex than average to build.  You should be able to tell this just by looking at them!

Conclusion

This may look like a lot of models, but remember that each one is very cheap to make.  Once the kit has been purchased, each new car is typically just half a sheet of cardboard and a little printer ink and glue.  They're also relatively quick to build, which is partly why I have so many: card vehicles are very good filler models between other projects or when you only have small amounts of time for the hobby.  I've never sat down to build more than 2 or 3 vehicles at any one time, yet over the years the collection has grown steadily!

So, what do I think is missing from this collection?  Well, I could use more estate cars (station wagons).  The Stoelzel's car set has a number of these in it so I'm certain to build some in due course.  There are no good fire engines on the market, at least ones that I know about.  And I've never come across any kits for construction or agricultural vehicles, apart from a single excavator (?) in one of the WorldWorks kits.  I'd really like a cement mixer; imagine what you could do in a game with that!

Thursday, 14 August 2014

The Robots from Combat Zone

Introduction

I've just realised that I missed my normal Wednesday post.  There's no excuse for this, save perhaps that the household is a little more chaotic than usual because the kids had their first day back at school.  These days, everything just seems like a blur; I wonder how I ever manage to get anything done...

Anyway, here's a quick post about some mechs!

The Mechs


So, does this mean that I've suddenly become interested in yet another new genre of gaming?  No, not really.  These 3 models are all plastic robots which came from the Combat Zone boxed set.  Incidentally, although I bought my set many years ago, the same product is still available from EM-4 Miniatures.  At a little over £15, I think it must be the cheapest introductory wargame set available!

It's obvious to anyone who looks closely that these 28mm "robots" were originally Battletech-style mechs and therefore must be in a much smaller scale (1:300?).  However if you're not too fussy then they can be used alongside larger human figures.  I rationalise this by thinking of the models' windows as being sensor housings rather than human-sized cockpit canopies.

The Combat Zone world is really classic Cyberpunk, with high tech and lowlives.  Gangs roam those parts of the cities which aren't patrolled by corporate police forces and all sides have access to a lot of fairly traditional firearms.  In addition, robots are widely used and can be heavily armed.

I've painted 2 of these 3 robots (Street Tiger II and Avenger 500) in opposing gang colours, whilst Sentinel Type 37 is a police machine.

So, how do these models look alongside 28mm humans?  The picture above shows the trio of mechs next to a pair of troopers (also from the EM-4 Combat Zone set).  The robots are clearly a little bigger, but not so much as to overwhelm the people.  These aren't Transformers or city-eating monster machines!  However they are nice little models and they're incredibly cheap!

Sunday, 10 August 2014

28mm Big Rigs

Introduction

A little while ago, I mentioned that I was building some WorldWorks trucks for my 28mm modern wargames such as All Things Zombie: here.  Note that this was an impulse decision and not based on a need for trucks in any upcoming scenario.  Still, here we are!

So far, I have built 3 semi-trailers and 2 tractors.  That's probably enough for now; much as I enjoy building these vehicles I do need some time for all the other model-making projects which have been on hold for the past 2 weeks or so!

The Container Semi-Trailer

Both the red and the blue tractors have been built straight from the WorldWorks Mayhem Industrial kit and so I won't spend a lot of time describing them - the only modification is the addition of a socket to take the trailer's coupling, as described in my previous article.  Mayhem Industrial gives 3 choices of colour scheme for each of the long-nose and cab-over variants (blue, yellow & green for the long-nose and red, white & black for the cab-over), but sadly there's no black long-nose.  Maybe I'll kitbash one some day, with a little rubber duck mascot on top of the bonnet/hood?

The container semi-trailer is also built straight from the kit and is also one of the 3 possible variants that are supplied.

The Flatbed Semi-Trailer

As well as the container semi-trailer, I thought that a flatbed would be useful.  I can put any kind of loads I like on this: logs, concrete pipe sections or large pieces of machinery.

For the most part, this is also built straight from the WorldWorks kit; it's basically just the container semi-trailer but without the container on top.  There are a few minor modifications to my version, though:

  • I've added a "headboard" at the front, to stop loads from sliding forwards into the tractor.  This was cut from a spare piece of the trailer bed, so it matches the colouring and style perfectly.
  • The card for the upper and lower sides of the trailer bed were separated and then used to sandwich a piece of mounting board.  This makes the model much thicker and rather stronger than it would have been otherwise.
  • As with all of my semi-trailers, I've glued a Hama bead on the underside to act as a pivot.  This fits into the tractor's socket and thus holds the rig together.

The Tanker Semi-Trailer

Articulated tankers are such an important part of many movies and other sources of inspiration that I just had to have one.  However there was no such model in the Mayhem Industrial set.  What was I to do?

So, there are essentially 2 parts to this model: the undercarriage and the tank itself.  The undercarriage is all from the WorldWorks kit, but very heavily modified.  The tank is entirely my own design.

I'm not a graphic designer of any kind, but I'm reasonably good with 3d shapes and how they can be built up from 2d designs (nets).  The tank itself is just an oval prism, though I swept back the front end a bit.  I have added some texture to the model, but sadly it doesn't look very evident in any of these pictures.

Rolling a card tube of this length is very difficult, so I added an old block of balsa along the centreline.  Even with this support, I'm not entirely happy with the way that the tank turned out.  The front was particularly troublesome and I couldn't get the curve even from top to bottom - I don't know why.  Perhaps I should have added more formers along the length of the tank?

Compared with the tube, the top block (with the hatches) was very easy to build.  Note that this tanker is about 4 or 5cm shorter than it would be if the model were true to scale.  That matches the length of the WorldWorks semi-trailers.  I haven't measured them but I suspect that this is a compromise in the name of playability.

As mentioned before, the undercarriage of this model has been adapted from the WorldWorks components.  Here are the main differences:
  • The "underbody" has been narrowed considerably, so that it just peeks out from underneath the tank.
  • I've changed the wheel arrangement from 2 axles with double tyres on each side (i.e. 8 wheels) to a 3 axle, single type arrangement (i.e. 6 wheels).  This involved both widening and lengthening the axle unit, as well as sourcing some single wheels from the tractor unit.
  • A mudguard was taken from the "long-nose" tractor and lengthened (a lot) and narrowed (a little).  I also changed the colour to a neutral grey, before fitting the mudguards around a specially-designed black half-oval.

Conclusion

These are nice models to have and will no doubt find a use in my ATZ games or anything with a similar (modern) setting.  For the most part, they're straightforward to build (but oh, I'm tired of making wheels!).  The tanker semi-trailer took far longer than all the others put together; this was entirely due to the design work needed.  Every time I undertake such a task, I come out of it wondering where all the hours went!

10-10, Good buddy!

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

"We don't need no steekin' badges!"

Introduction

I've got several small projects that I'm dying to show you, but none of them are quite ready yet.  This means that today's post will be a good opportunity to carry on my work in documenting my collection of figures.  Actually I doubt that I'll ever come close to completing this self-imposed task, but I'll give it a good shot!

It occurs to me that I've described a number of games of The Rules with No Name, but I've never shown any of my Old West figures.  That's an omission which needs to be remedied, so without further ado here are my 28mm Mexican banditos!

Oh, the title of this article?  It's a very famous misquote, possibly the best known line in any Western.  The original encounter between Humphrey Bogart and a group of banditos from which this line derives is, of course, in The Treasure of the Sierra Madre.

The Leaders

I have 2 models that I use as El Jefe, depending on the role that the Mexicans are to play in a game.  Santos is smartly dressed, well off and honourable.  He's probably the owner of a ranch south of the border and not really much different from his American counterparts.  Santos comes from Knuckleduster Miniatures.

On the other hand, Tuco is just plain evil!  Don't be fooled by his unkempt appearance; this man is a ruthless and sadistic killer.  He'd shoot his own men just as happily as anyone else's if he thought it would help his cause.  Tuco is made by Artizan Designs.

Lieutenants

Rafael is known for his habit of firing 2 revolvers at once.  He thinks it makes him look tough, though in reality all he achieves is to make a lot of noise and smoke.  Rafael doesn't have much in the way of brains, but he'll willingly undertake any dirty task that his boss commands.  Put plain and simply, he's a thug!  Rafael is from the same Knuckleduster pack as before.

Unlike the other lieutenant, Emilio is quieter and more reflective.  He's intelligent but not particularly strong-willed; he'll try to please his chief by following orders.  Also, Emilio is a very good shot with his rifle.  This model also comes from Artizan, though not from the same pack as Tuco.

Foot Soldiers

The banditos gang has a lot of cannon fodder at the bottom of the pecking order.  These are a mixture of disenchanted peasants, low grade crooks and aged has-beens!

To be honest, in all the games we've played, these characters tend to blend into each other.  I find it difficult to remember one such bandito from another.  The only exception to this is Rico, the drunk.  He's always been crazy and unpredictable; sometimes passing out without firing a shot and sometimes charging into fistfights with hostile shootists.  Never a dull moment, except when he sobers up!

The first 4 of these models are from Knuckleduster, whilst the last 2 are Artizan, again.

Conclusion

I've always liked the banditos.  They may just be used as generic bad guys, but in my mind they're more than that.  Perhaps they're displaced farmers who have resorted to banditry to try to feed their families?  Maybe they're misunderstood revolutionaries fighting for a better world?  Or possibly they're just 2-bit outlaws after all!

Obviously I need to get some more guys for this gang sometime.  The Magnificent Seven wouldn't even get to shoot 2 banditos each, let alone an entire village full!  I'm also lacking any mounted models or casualty figures, though I do have an as-yet-unpainted Mexican taking a siesta under his sombrero!

Sunday, 3 August 2014

My day at Claymore, 2014

Introduction

Last year, I was still on holiday with my family when the annual Claymore wargames show was held in Edinburgh and so I couldn't go to it.  This year I made sure that we took our vacation a little earlier and therefore I'd be able to attend on Saturday 2nd August.

As before (see here), my younger son (A.) was very keen to come with me.  On the Friday evening, I warned him that we'd need to leave quite early (it's a long drive from Helensburgh to Edinburgh) and that he'd need to be ready in plenty of time.  The boy is not normally known for getting out of bed early, but on the Saturday morning he was up and about hours before I awoke.

The journey to Edinburgh College was long and dull.  A. slept for most of it - not really surprising under the circumstances!

The rest of this article describes our experiences on the day.  It's not a full show report, but rather a personal account.

The Venue

Part of the main hall, early afternoon
Edinburgh College, Granton campus was formerly the separate Telford college.  It's in the north-west fringes of Edinburgh, with ample parking and (I believe) a good bus service to the city centre.  Claymore uses the main hall/cafeteria and a large sports hall, both on the ground floor but somewhat separated from each other by a long, narrow corridor.  Either hall would be a good-sized event if this was a regional show, but together they make it a very comprehensive exhibition.

The only negative comment I'd have about the venue is that the catering is awful.  The only choices seem to be fried and yellow or brown in colour; I couldn't even see any pre-prepared sandwiches!  Added to that, there's very little seating, presumably because the show has taken over the tables and chairs for games and trades.  Last time I went to Claymore, I promised myself that I'd take a packed lunch on future visits - but I forgot.

Games: Old West

Almost as soon as we entered the show, we were offered the chance to play in a cowboy shoot-out game.  I forgot to record the name of the group hosting this game, but they had a large table and 6 or so gangs ready to go.  I took the "drunkards" whilst A. took the "cattlemen".  2 other lads joined in as the "Mexicans" and the "outlaws".

My "drunkards" (black) take on the "Mexicans" (orange/red), whilst the "cattlemen" (brown) approach from the rear
The rules for this game were extremely simple, to the point where there didn't seem to be any tactical finesse possible.  My gang made a beeline for the Mexicans, whilst A's cattlemen approached more cautiously.  Meanwhile the outlaws ran the other way and had pretty much reached the further outskirts of the town before an umpire suggested that they turn around!

In a blaze of gunfire, A. and I reduced the Mexicans to a single survivor.  Unfortunately the Mexicans concentrated their return fire on me and (with some luck on their side) wiped out the "drunkards" completely.  Since he'd wiped out another gang, the lad who was playing the Mexicans was rewarded with a Wagon Wheel biscuit (cookie to readers in U.S.A.).

Now that he realised what was at stake, A. then spent the next several turns chasing down the lone remaining Mexican with his untouched cattlemen, before finally cornering the poor fellow and gunning him down to earn himself a Wagon Wheel too.  Shortly after this, A's gang ran out of ammunition and he surrendered to the newly-returned outlaws.

The Dambusters

3 players in the "cockpit" of the Lancaster.  No, that's not me or A; just some random strangers.
The club from Leuchars always put on a good participation game and this year was no exception.  A team of 3 players had to fly a "dambuster" bomber to attack one of the dams on the Ruhr.  In order to do this, the team had to enter a mock-up Lancaster cockpit, wear a rubber "flying helmet" and guide the aircraft towards the target.

View from the "cockpit" as we approached the dam
When we played this game, we flew in plane "L"/Leather.  I was the pilot, A. took the front gun turret and some other lad was co-opted as bombardier.  For some strange reason, the aircraft kept drifting to port, A's suppressive fire wasn't enough to keep the enthusiastic flak from hitting us and...well we didn't do too good:

This was a quick game (perhaps 10 minutes), but had a great atmosphere and was fun.  Just how it should be, so many congratulations to the enthusiasm and inventiveness of the Leuchars club!

Dreadball

A while ago - maybe a year - I bought a reduced Dreadball starter set.  Soon after, A. saw the half completed figures sitting on my painting desk and has since indicated a lot of interest in playing the game.  At Claymore this year, we had the opportunity to play a Dreadball match, with a rather tired-looking but very helpful referee (to whom, many thanks indeed!).

A. took the Orks (in red), whilst I fielded the human "Corporation" team in the green uniforms.  Within 4 turns, most of my players had been flattened and were temporarily out of the game - I was down to 3 models at one point.  A's goblin even got the ball as far as one of my strike zones, but didn't get a chance to shoot for goal before my desperate substitutes rushed onto the field, snatched the ball from him (with some difficulty!) and ran in a score of my own!

We didn't play out the rest of the game, since it would have taken quite a bit longer and we'd have been holding up the demonstration slot.  Still, I think that we both came away happy: me because I managed to score a single point and A. because he crippled half my team!  I'll have to push my own Dreadball figures up the painting priority queue, I think...

Firestorm Spec Ops

In our final game of the show, A. got a chance to try out the not-yet-released Spec Ops rules from Spartan Games.  This covers man to man combat in their Firestorm science fiction universe, which is otherwise best known for the "Firestorm Armada" space combat game.

A. took a Dindrezi commando squad against a somewhat harassed-looking demonstrator's human forces in a mission to take over and destroy a command centre for a missile bunker.  From what I saw, it appears that fire power is weak relative to armour: 2 squads blazing away at each other from point blank range and without cover would tend to cause a single "wound" result rather than mutual annihilation.  Also there didn't seem to be much in the way of command and control subtlety and morale results were perfunctory.  However perhaps we saw an introductory subset of the rules rather than a rounded whole?

Either way, A's aliens obliterated the defenders and blew up the command centre without even breaking a sweat (if that's something which Dindrezi do anyway?).  The big guys on his side - there were some troopers that were considerably larger than the others - seemed especially effective, to the point of being almost invincible.  A. came away from this with an urgent desire to get the game and play it some more!  I'm not so certain...

Shopping

OK, now for the obligatory loot picture.  I got some cheap sci-fi books from the Bring-and-Buy (something of a guilty pleasure of mine), as well as some boardgames.  Mantic sprues were being handed out quite liberally, so I ended up with a couple of free terrain sprues for their new "Deadfall" game.

I pre-ordered a SAGA Strathclyde started army, so I'll have lots of Dark Age ponies to paint up at some point.  For now, however, that package has been taken from me by my wife, to be handed back on my birthday.  In the meantime, I have a pyre with bound victim that will be made up as a witch being burnt at the stake.  Also a large pack of Dark Age casualties from Old Glory; these will be used as decoration on the bases of SAGA warlord models or as separate fatigue markers or something like that.

A. also got some loot: a sprue of Mantic elves, a blister of Perry knights and a few figures he found in a "rummage" box.  I suppose he'll be asking for help to build all these some time soon...

Return Journey

At the end of the day, the trip home was just as long and dreary as the journey out had been.  This time, though, there was torrential rain for much of the time, which didn't help.  Once again, A. slept for quite a bit.  I'd have liked a nap myself, but since I was driving I couldn't really do this.  Still, Sunday will be a very quiet day, I think!