19 May 2016

Jugula Campaign commences

Match time at the Arena!
Alan and I kicked off our Jugula campaign a week or two ago, pitting my Ludus Caeruleus (see here) against his Ludus Lupi Invicti.  We started with a double header match, both in illegal pit arenas but thats where a poor Lanista has to earn his stripes to get his fighters some experience and progress to contest bigger prizes.
The gladiators advance

Our first match was an interesting one as we really got into the rules - such a myriad of tactical choices with the card system.  Its hard to avoid analysis paralysis at times
Rux's Retiarius falls - first blood to my provocatur Barbus Magnificus
 With 6 choices for each card but only one card to play, we found that deep analysis and reaction means that the game can bog down in decision making
Barbus spins around and takes down Dux's Threax without missing a beat
I think we need to build in some kind of time limit to keep that issue at bay, because otherwise I think its a really rich system

Isolated, Dux's second last Gladiator is cornered...
...and nobly falls in combat!  Victory to me (which is very rare against Dux I might add)
Our second game was more balanced and Dux was more careful to avoid my being able to divide and conquer.

My Murillo Noctis was corned by a Crupilarius and Thraex - and only escaped through a lucky run of cards

The match became a bit of a slog but we learned a lot of about the nuances of the game
Vengeance for the first game - Barbus Magnificus falls (Dux's thumbs down sign!)
The second match as called on time and declared a draw with 3 wound equivalents apiece.

So our treasuries have grown a little larger and we look forward to the next matches!

06 May 2016

May the Fourth be with us!

Take that Imperial Scum!
What better way to celebrate Star Wars day this week then by running some introductory games of X-Wing with the Lads at Odin's Night Games Club.   2 of the guys had played before and 2 were newbies but all were new to the fantastic co-op campaign rules Heroes of the Arturi Cluster - by far my favourite way of playing this game (and thanks again to Miles for introducing MAGNET and I to it!)
Rookie Pilots = Rookie manoeuvring!
You've heard of Red, Gold, Green and Rogue Squadrons but these adventurous Rookies were determined to give to the Galactic Empire by forming Tartan Squadron (dibs on not painting their ships).  Sadly missing callsigns MAGNET and TEACHER for their first forays, the determined lads  climbed into their ships to strike a blow for freedom, harmony and Tusken land rights.

With appropriate thematic music blaring form my phone, the first mission was Rescue Rebel Operatives and together the lads managed to escort the triple HWK-290 off with just 2 hull points left.

With that win in hand, Tartan Squadron proceeded onto the Disable Sensor Net scenario where swarms of TIE fighters appeared from nowhere.  With lots of "Its a Trap!" echoing around the table, the dogfight was on.  Eventually, the sensors were all destroyed and the lads all jumped to hyperspace to go for well earned beverages.

The Biggs Darklighter memorial Commendation for best on ground went to Dave with his 6 (mostly stolen) kills for the night.  Well done Ace! He has now been allocated the callsign THIEF.

THIEF captures imagery and yet another (stolen) Victim!
Everyone had a good time = Win!
 No doubt you will hear more from Tartan Squadron in due course - like it or not!

02 May 2016

The Defence of St Harlot's Wood

...as it is known by Royalist forces, also referred to as the Second Battle for Curmudgeon Moor by the forces of Parliament.  Both refer equally to a cracking day out with Dux at Chateau Millsy yesterday.

Observant members of the blogosphere may have noted the other chaps' more timely battle reports here and here.  What follows here is the one true account as reported to His Majesty.

Two loyal Regiments of Foote deployed in the key approaches to Strumpet's Way, a pivotal strategic point and the key Parliamentarian objective.  The Royalist General and a rag-tag reserve of Clubmen deployed to give this key position depth.
The fearsome Royalist centre
Royalist Commander Sir Hugh Notatall-Surly, Earl of Crapstone
A little gouty on the day and not as effective as his Parliamentarian counterpart 
The left flank was securely anchored on the stone walled Church of Our Lady of Negotiable Virtue (a lovely scratch build by Millsy) with a unit of Commanded Shotte (newly painted by Millsy, surely they were doomed to die quickly and to a man) and a Veteran Unit of Dashing Cavalier Gallopers.

The right flank was anchored on the impenetrable forest of St Harlot's Wood where a massive Culverin demonstrated His Majesty's resolve and might

The Forces of Parliament advanced, determined to force their passage before nightfall and the inevitable Royalist reinforcements.
The real reason its called Curmudgeon Moor...
Early success as the culverin took the Enemy Trotters under intense bombardment and routed them from the field!
While on the left the Commanded Shotte came under pressure by enemy Foote and dismounted Dragoons.  The Cavalry Commander undertook a daring move to relieve the pressure but under intense fire the Squadron broke and fled.  Their Commander was cashiered personally by Prince Rupert after the battle and sent home in disgrace (This was indeed a bold but silly gamble which dramatically failed to pay off...)

Things were looking poorly on the right too, as enemy Dragoons outflanked the line and threatened to take out the artillery.  Some timely intervention by the Royalist Commander (a rare feature of this game, the servants must have been refreshing the claret at this point) manoeuvred the Clubmen reserve into position where they showed remarkable fortitude, no doubt assisted by many flagons of ale.  Their continued resilience in the face of enemy shotte would prove critical to the outcome of the day and preventing the right from crumbling.
Just as it looked like the position was stabilising, misery struck! The understrength and raw Foote in the centre crumbled, fleeing the field and leaving just one loyal Regiment to try and last until sunset.  Could they hold one under such odds?
Under fire from enemy foot, commanded shot and charged by enemy trotter, things were looking grim for His Majesty's forces.
And then divine intervention showed God's true will.  The Culverin belched forth doom and death upon another squadron of Trotters, dispatching them from the field.
As the enemy tried to turn the flank, the darkness enveloped the field and the din of battle died away.  His Majesty's forces had prevented the feared breakthrough but at a fearful cost.  It was indeed a close run thing.

It must be noted that the newly raised unit of Commanded Shotte who so gallantly defended the Church were able to retire in good order with no casualties and having successfully delayed an entire unit of enemy Foote plus a unit of dismounted Dragoons.  Could this be the start of a new era were newly painted regiments don't die to a man in their first ballet? We shall see!
Best on Ground - Tots all round lads!
What a great day out - thanks Millsy for the fantastic hospitality and the chance to play with such splendid hobby goodness.  It was also fun to ooh and aaah in your hobby room and 'cupboard of shame'!

20 April 2016

Blood and Plunder KS

Nobody needs another new project already and we've all backed too many Kickstarters recently but...

and the Frigate model upgrade option looks superb :-)


14 April 2016

The Gladiators of Ludus Caeruleus

These are the first gladiators of Lanista Paulus Barbatum (Paul the Bearded) and his Ludus Caeruleus (Blue School) for use with Tomahawk Studios' Jugula.
Antonitus the Thraex
My School is named The Blue, in the style of the Chariot teams in the Hippodrome being named after colours.  It then gave me a colour palette to use to theme by Ludus.  Perhaps they look a bit too much like a sports team, but I am hoping that in the massed fray of a Jugula game it will be easy to pick out my gladiators.
Barbus Magnificus, the Provocatur
Jugula requires a Lanista to field four gladiators in every match, all of a different type and Ludus Caeruleus begins the fighting season with a Retiarius, Thraex, Murillo and Provocator.  Winning gold through matches, a Lanista can expand his Ludus with new fighters and support staff including medicae, trainers and ladies of questionable virtue to keep up the, ahem, morale of his fighters.
Noctis the Murmillo
These figures are a mix of Crusader and Foundry 28s, kindly gifted to me by Dux (to paint for the AHOC, but ti didn't turn out that way...).  I had initially planned to put a bit of blood and gore on the weapons and bases but have decided not to...for the moment.  As our campaign progresses I shall decorate them appropriately for the kills and maimings they inflict. Bwahahaha!
Sicarius the Retiarius
Note that our club rules require that Appeals to the Crowd (for popularity points) must be done out loud and in Latin.  Given that Alan and Slowpainter John implemented this rule, and both have studied Latin extensively,  this would seem to be unfair.  But it does give rise to great mirth and recreation of such scenes as:

11 April 2016

Great Solo Wargames

Amongst my other gaming meanderings over the years, I have played a number of solo boardgames.  This came up in the context of some other chatting but I thought it might be worth mentioning a few of my favourites here and seeking recommendations from others for new ones.
In no particular order:

B-17 Queen of the Skies.  A classic AH game.  Despite many a wound, crash landing and dreaded BIP (AA burst in plane, usually with fatal consequences), I don't believe I have ever finished 25 missions in the same plane or with anyone left from the original crew.  A great game, after a dozen missions or so it can however feel like there is too much chart filling and 'lap of the gods' destiny rolls.

BTW here are a range of great expansions for this game, for playing out of Italy or flying an RAF Lancaster in Bomber Command.  It also spawned a sequel game many years late B-29 Superfortress.  I helped play test that but it dodgiest have the same tension and excitement of the original game.

One of my 'bucket list' gaming activities is to be in one of those massed convention games where everyone plays bombers on the same mission together.

EDIT - looks like B-17 QotS has been updated as Target for Today by Legion Wargames here: http://www.legionwargames.com/legion_TFT.html

Ambush!  (and its sequels Move Out, Purple Heart, Silver Star).  A wonderfully narrative campaign system in which you command a squad of GIs through the latter stages of W2 in the ETO.  Strongly recommended but you'll need a bit of time to do this one right.

Patton's Best
Command a Sherman Tank in Patton's Third Army from Operation Cobra onwards.  Great mechanic for Tiger Fear - where any unidentified German tank/gun effects you as it it was a Tiger/88mm until you ID it otherwise.  Really drives scouting and pushing forward to recon properly and quickly ID new contacts.  Would love to see this game refreshed with a new version.

The was an expansion for driving a Sherman of the Canadian Amy and a home-brewed variant for commanding Panzers on the Russian front during the Fall of the Reich era that I haven't played but look rather good.


The Hunters and Silent Victory
My solo submarine games of choice that I've been blogging about lately. Love these.

Thunderbolt/Apache Leader
I know DVG did a refresh on this a few years back, but I still prefer my original GMT version.  Lots of other sequel games on this game mechanic too, though most seem rather lacklustre and less successful.

Nemo's War
Play Captain Nemo and drive the Nautilus around the seven seas on your variable missions.  Discover Atlantis, defend yourself from the navies of the world's Great Powers and fight the giant squid! A new second edition was recently funded via KS and looks fantastic.

Wings over France
Command an RAF Squadron France during the Bloody April campaign of 1917.  Not for the faint of heart.  Duels, death spirals and getting jumped by Richthofen and his Aces in Jasta 11.  An excellent set of mechanics make up for the graphically dull game components and make for some exciting adventures over the trenches.

Command your own airship of the Imperial German Navy or Army during WW1.  Like Wings over France this is not a graphically impressive game but the game design and mechanics are well researched and captivating.

Toe-to-Toe Nu'klr Combat with the Rooskies
A quick to play delightful game, this is a real hoot.  Definitely in the beer and pretzels category, its themed on the classic movie Dr Strangelove.  If you liked that then you will have a blast with this game.  And if you loved that movie then you are going to really love this game!  I'm definitely in the latter category so check the blog for more gaming notes and AARs here:

In fact I love this game so much that I designed a follow up game to bomb Commie targets in other places too, but it never got up.  Fun though :-)

There are many others but these ones have been my favourites over the years.  There is a definite platform simulation trend to this collection too, which reflects my RPG/immersion preference for solo gaming.

I'm sure I missed many other favs, but I would welcome recommendations to expand my retinue

07 April 2016

Silent Victory

Exciting news: look what tuned up in the mail today, courtesy of the game's designer Greg Smith
My awesome Hunters series swag collection :-)
Silent Victory was released earlier this year is the sequel game to The Hunters, and instead of sinking Allied convoys in the Atlantic in your Uboat, you command a US Navy submarine operating in the Pacific against Japan.  This system has some nice differences to deliver a wonderfully thematic game without getting bogged down in too much the detail.  And unlike B-17: Queen of the Skies (which I still love) you feel like you are really driving the story rather than just rolling dice on endless charts.

The game has the added bonus of some particularly well researched contributions...
I was delighted to help out Greg with some aspects of this game, as well as another (hopefully) upcoming expansion in due course.  Here we are at Fall-In last year.  Your turn to come visit me this year mate! (and my shout for dinner too as I recall :-)

I admit to some bias here, but its a great solitaire game and I highly recommend it.  If I can get enough players together in the Sydney area I would love to try playing a tournament where players vie for greatest tonnage and medals. Read more about the game here:

And watch a review here:

And the nuts and bolts of how to play here:

Next up in this game series is The Hunted in which you'll command a U-boat in the later years of the war when the Allies have the upper hand.
To survive is to win.