26 February 2013

Passage at Arms

A War Correspondent ships out on a small, stealthy warship to report the facts from the front.  Along the way the story is really about the crew as they struggle to come to terms with the war, their place in it, and the decisions their superiors are making which impact on their survival prospects.  Sound familiar?  If you seen or read Das Boot  then this book will read like a SF version of it.  So much so in fact that I could guess what was coming next and was rarely off track much.  It even has the bar scene at the start.

I really wanted to like this book, as stories about small crews in adverse situations quite intrigue me (maybe because of too much Biggles as a kid?!?).  But this book just didn't work for me as much as it could/should have.  I found the crew relatively unengaging and there was a little too much technobabble at times which detracted rather than built upon the SF theme.  On the positive side, I thought the use of a first person narrative story worked really well, the intensity of the situations were well written, and it really picked up once you were 3/4 of the way through it.

Overall, its worth a read if you have nothing else on your list, but don't rush to get it.


21 February 2013

Motor Gunboat 658

Motor Gunboat 658: The Small Boat War in the Mediterranean

This is an autobiography of a man who as a young (19) Midshipman joins a 'Dogboat' in the final stages of construction as the Pilot and shortly thereafter deploys to the Med with her.  They first see action in the Sicilian campaign and proceed from there.  As the war progresses he moves up to being First Lieutenant and finally CO of the same boat.

I enjoyed the story, but to be honest probably because it had a lot of professional interest for me and because Coastal Forces are a particular interest of mine.  If you are looking for a mad dash read of action at 30+ kts, this isn't the book for you.  But if you want to know more about the naval campaign in the med, or about life on a Dog Boat, then 'Rover' Reynolds' book will probably get your interest. 

17 February 2013

Flashpoint Miniaures

After years of absence they are back and trading again:
Flashpoint Miniatures make a great range of figures for 15mm gaming Vietnam and Modern Middle East.
95% of all my Vietnam figures are from FPM and they have great character and dynamic poses.

I met Jimmi the new owner, at CanCon and was immediately struck by his enthusiasm for his line and the projects he has for it.  He is  now reinvigorating the company website (here: http://flashpoint-miniatures.com/) and is planning to get some new rules out in the next year or so.  Excellent!

15 February 2013

Ship vs Lighthouse

Going through some training exercises at the moment, reminding me of this golden oldie which never fails to bring a smile!

13 February 2013

The Bridges at Toko-Ri

I read this novel during the week and thoroughly enjoyed it.  Actually at a hundred odd pages it was more like a long short story, particularly for James A., Michener who is more renowned for wonderful tomes like Space and Hawaii.

Written at the climax of the Korean War, it is the story of a Naval Aviator who flies a jet off a USN Carrier conducting strikes into North Korea.  Yet despite his prowess as a pilot he doesn't understand the war, resents the Navy for drafting him, and is bitter at the general apathy of the American people despite he and a few others putting their lives on the line every day. 

It reminded me quite a lot of Flight of the Intruder in that respect. The plot is based on a real life incidents and was turned into a movie in 1954 (high time for a remake!).  A good read about a neglected topic.  


11 February 2013


Penalties are about to take on a whole new meaning in the Man Cave with Judge Joseph Dredd taking his place on the pitch as the Referee:  "Your Foul Creep - BLAM!"
Figure by Mongoose Publishing, from their kickstarter deal from last year.  I wanted to get a whole bunch but in the end settled on this one fig (I spent all my money on DreadBall!), though a whole team of judges would be fun!

07 February 2013

DreadBall - first impressions

Jeff's hand painted Dreadball Stadium - lovely job!
At CanCon last week both Right Stuff and I got to play a Demo game at the stand being very well run by a very friendly and engaging bunch of gamers.  Thanks very much to Jeff, Jenni and Doug for putting on a fun and very friendly game!  After our demo we went home, played a few games, got a bunch of stuff wrong, re-read the rules and FAQ, and are now playing our own home league.  So after all the waiting and all the hype, what's the game actually like?

There are enough posts and articles on the specific rules mechanics so I'm going to focus on what the game feels like.  NOT Blood Bowl is my answer!  Its much faster, looser, and more unpredictable which makes many BB tactics useless (trust us, we tried...).  The rules work differently and I found that while I had almost half the number of figures on the field compared to BB, I had many more choices.  And not in a good way usually!  Being able to react quickly, take advantage of a sudden free action when it comes, or responding to the failures which pop up even when you have set it up to be unlikely is the name of the game.  A balance of Offence and Defence is of course typical in BB too, but nowhere like this.  If you just leave 2 players back to defend in DB, then you are going to be in big trouble when you do score and that ball pops out because there is not time to reset...

Figs from Jeff;'s collection, on his hand sculpted bases
The lack of a 'half' also means that the pace never slackens: no 'only 2 turns until half time so I'll just thump some people' feeling, its all go go go!  We found this lead to a very offensive spirit which saw scoring shots made nearly every turn/rush, because we have yet to work out many effective defensive strategies.  The cards add all sorts of extra options which can make the impossible plays possible with extra actions etc.  There are no rerolls but you can earn extra coaching dice which can be used to take the risk out of actions.  These are earned by currying the crowd's favour by very accurate scores, 3 and 4 point strikes, crippling or even killing players.  The end result is that it feels like you are currying the crowd's favour as opposed to having the crowd interact randomly though the kick off table like in BB.

The FAQ is a bit of a must read, especially once you have played and seen what your knowledge gaps are.  Its is a living document at the game designer's blog here: http://quirkworthy.com/2012/11/03/living-faq-dreadball/

Jeff in action at the CanCon demo table

Overall- we really like it and the ability to get a game done in just over a hour is great (we got in three games today).  The league rules seem a little light on for now but I'm sure they will develop more in time.  I can see us playing this a lot of this and cant wait for a local league to start up.

03 February 2013

Game 6: the Hammer of Hashut

The penultimate game of the season saw Right Stuff's Champions go up against the Hammer of Hashut, coached by the very friendly and encouraging Big Pete who is always a delight to play.  His Chaos Dwarf team weighs in at a hefty 2.06 million gp, and for inducements the Norse took a wizard, a mercenary apothecary, 2 bloodweisers babes, and a 50k card.  Weather was fine and the CDs won +1 FAME.

Norse kicked off to start the game; the dwarves won a brilliant coaching roll, got a touchback and KOed a Norse lineman on the first block.  Was this a sign from Nuffle? The dwarves ground down the left side and a scrum developed.  A dwarf went off with a niggling injury (first blood to the Norse!) as the ball carrying bull centaur broke for the end zone. The Norse scrambled back but couldn't hold back the blodging break tackle monster and he ran in on turn 4.  The Norse were quick to strike back, emulating an elf team with a pass/sprint combo which saw a runner score an equalizer on turn 6. With just turns to go, the dwarves setup strong on the left and enjoyed a quick snap before driving deep, but the bull made an unlikely fall. The Norse ganged up to foul him (nice!), badly hurting him and removing him from the game but leaving an unseen gap for a hobgoblin to go for the line, but after receiving the ball he Tripped over the line! 1 all at half time.

The Hammer of Hashut line out for game start!
The second half started with the dwarves getting Perfect Defence, before the Norse pushed down the left side. The Minotaur stunned the Yeti, tearing a hole in the Norse line though and the dwarves scuttled through. The Norse weaved around with a lineman carrying the ball. The Norse ST4 lineman went into the crowd, (ST broken but apothed to badly hurt), while the bull centaur ran back and sacked the ball carrier, AG busting him.  A hobgoblin scooped up the ball but the wizard lightning bolted him and a Norse runner sprinted and chucked it downfield but it was inaccurate. A backfield scrum ensued for a few turns before some dodging Norse magic occurred and the runner picked up the ball in the end zone in a to to go up 2:1 in turn 5. Could the Norse hang on for the win?
2 Blodging Bull centaurs are hard to handle!
The opening dwarf block killed the ST4 lineman who was apothed to AG bust (his second) and pushed down the right side, dropping a short pass by the centaur but it was caught by a dwarf.  The Norse dropped into a defence in depth line and pulled out the special play card - Fanatic Invasion! He spawned in the dwarf formation near the ball carrier and ploughed into him full force to scatter the ball and stun the dwarf!  The dwarves swarmed onto the fanatic, KOing him and removing him from the field.  A desperate Norse defence held on as the CDs setup for a pass to either the Bull Centaur or a Hobgoblin who were in scoring range, but with no rerolls left the Bull skulled out blitzing to get downfield. 2-1 Win for the Norse!

This was a really  fun game against a wonderful opponent.  Reilly had some good luck on his side, but also made some good plays, especially for his second TD.  One of his linemen (Number 8, who in this game was KOed, injured, healed and injured again for his second AG bust) got MVP and skilled up with a double, taking Stand Firm to go with his Block and Guard.  He and the ST4 lineman are out for the next game against the Wood Elves, but this win puts Odinn's Champions in serious contention to make the play-offs with one round to go!

pointsTD scoreCas score
Crimson BreweriesDwarf
1009 - 332 - 5
Odinn's ChampionsNorse
Right Stuff & Paul O´G
888 - 512 - 14
Woodland StrydersWood Elf
7812 - 109 - 25
Hammer of HashutChaos Dwarf
Big Pete
628 - 723 - 12
Brutle OrcsOrc
Phil W
506 - 411 - 5
Black Mountain LochersOgre
468 - 1516 - 32
Didditon OddrugsSkaven
Peter M
367 - 109 - 20
River Stir SlayersHuman
324 - 810 - 9