Saturday 10 March 2018

Red Barricades Once More - Advanced Squad Leader

Mal and I have returned to Stalingrad after I inconveniently moved to Ireland for a year. We decided to restart Red Barricades Campaign Game III, and have managed a couple of sessions so far. It's taking ages and we are only half-way through the first campaign scenario with potentially thirty more to go, assuming the campaign runs its full course. At our current rate of play, Mal and I reckon it will take us 10 years to complete the whole campaign. Well, everybody needs a project.
The view from the Russian end of the map
 The campaign begins with everything clustered in the north. The Germans enter the map and have to fight their way south through the factories. And loads of them are fortified. Eek!
The view from the German end of the map
The Germans have struck out strongly down both flanks while keeping a pinning force in the middle. Unfortunately, the promised artillery has not turned up so it is down to the grunts on the ground. I got one fire mission from one of my artillery modules, and that only after ages of trying and failing. The other was lost without a shot being fired. Ugh! Also, as I should have expected, the three-hex building on the German right flank is fortified and I am not going to be able to push through quickly. I really should have focused on the left flank more. Of course, if the artillery had come down as intended, it might have been a different story.
Overview of the whole map from the German end
I'm looking forward to the next session, but that won't be until later in April, because neither of us has a free Saturday before then. Ah well, anticipation only sharpens the enjoyment.

Wednesday 7 March 2018

BwendTV Tuesday Tussle - Gaslands AAR

Steve and I tried Gaslands for the first time this Tuesday. I think we mostly got the rules right, but more importantly we had a great time. The game played more slowly than expected. I imagine it will go more quickly now that we understand the rules better, and we need to add the skid dice table to the quick reference sheet, because neither of us has the skid dice that you can buy for it. As someone who played Car Wars to bits back in the eighties and early nineties, I found this a real pleasure to play. There was a good hit of nostalgia combined with a simpler game system: I was starting to find the Car Wars activation system a bit too detailed towards the end. This definitely scratches that itch.

Welcome to the Gladiolus Arena for our Tuesday Tussle. Today's match is a Death Race between the Gladcorp sponsored Team Ztum and the Albion Car and Motor Engineers Corporation sponsored Z-Cars. The teams must race in a figure-eight, passing through each gate in turn, before completing the course by crossing the start line again. The racers must pass Gate 1 before their weapons activate, and then it will be a free-for-all and may victory go to the swiftest and deadliest.

Here we are at the start line. Team Ztum has won the coin toss and taken pole position, choosing the inside line. ACME Corporation has occupied the outside line, perhaps hoping that their trike can take off quickly ahead of the slower cars.

In pole position is Helicopter 'Corners' Cutter in the Black Mamba. This sleek sports car features a turreted heavy machine-gun and will be relying on its driver's skill to keep it out of trouble. Behind the Black Mamba is Gurek 'Spin Doctor' Assigo in The Purple Peril, with forward-mounted heavy machine-guns, nitrous injection, and a nasty mine-dropper surprise in its tail end. The ACME Corporation has refused to reveal the names of its drivers or even the details of its vehicle designs, as is typical for any Albion enterprise. No doubt they are up to some trickery.


'Corners' immediately shows her true colours and practically spins the Black Mamba on the spot, heavily damaging the trike. You can almost hear the ACME driver swearing over the roar of the engines.

Unfortunately, as the trike breaks away 'Corners' is immediately rammed by the car behind the trike. The Black Mamba is heavily damaged and you can see panels falling away. Meanwhile the Purple Peril spins out of the starting gate, while the other ACME car seems not to have realised that the starting gate is lines by heavy Gladcrete(tm) walls.

The Black Mamba seems to have stalled on the start line after that smash, and The Purple Peril has spun around after driving through and writing off the trike. The trike's driver is able to hobble to the Porta-Potty near the crash site where they must wait until the end of the race now.

As the start line chaos shakes out, the two ACME cars form a line and head for the first gate with the Purple Peril in close pursuit. The Black Mamba is really having a hard time catching up though.

As they roar up through the gears, ACME hits the gate first but sideways, closely followed by The Purple Peril. Their guns are now active.

Through the gate, the cars turn, and The Purple Peril uses its nitrous injection to tear ahead of the field. Sliding sideways around the corner it rights itself and races over the second gate in fourth gear, and leaving a nasty surprise for the first car to cross the gate.

A brief spat between ACME and The Black Mamba sees the heavily damaged sports car wrecked, but not before tearing panels off the ACME car with its machine-gun. The Purple Peril races on ahead unchallenged as the ACME drivers try to hit the second gate.

They manage to hit the second gate as The Purple Peril crosses the third gate, but one of the ACME cars triggers the mines and is blown to bits.

With a clear field ahead of him, 'Spin Doctor' Assigo pilots The Purple Peril over the finish line to win the race, followed a long way behind by the one remaining ACME car.

Stay tuned for more auto mayhem with Amateur Night Action only on BwendTV.

I can't remember the last time we  laughed so much at the antics of our miniature alter-egos. Or, for that matter, worried so little about the outcome. Every spin, slide and even wreck was a cause for much hilarity. I'm looking forward to playing Gaslands again and trying a mini-series. I think we are going to have to come up with an experience system for our drivers though. The campaign system in the rules is ok, but it's not personal enough for our tastes. I really loved the corporate Car Wars campaign, and would like to see something like that where drivers gain experience while the team wins money, so you could have separate drivers and team championships.

Tuesday 6 March 2018

Gladtown: 15mm sci-fi terrain pics

In this post:
Buildings and billboards: Mad Mecha Guy
Street furniture: Brigade Models
Mushrooms: unknown (they were a gift)
Battle mat: Dave Graffam

Crikey, I found the enthusiasm to do some painting this last week and a bit! After all my talk of ennui and an 18 month dry spell with no painting, I finally got it together to do some. Two things have grabbed my attention recently. One is my 15mm sci-fi terrain. I still can't bring myself to paint actual 15mm figures, but I did slop some paint on some of my Mad Mecha Guy buildings and print out posters for the MMG billboards. There's a lot more I could and want to do to enhance these buildings, but I'm just happy to have more of them coloured in right now. Once the rest are done, I shall go back and add graffiti, signs and other bits and pieces to improve the look.
Ages ago, I bought the pdf of Dave Graffam's Cobblestone Streets battle mat. It comes as a pdf including a file breaking the map up into A4 sheets for printing. I started printing it out and mounting each sheet separately on mountboard. They are not geomorphic so I am stuck with the standard layout, but that is fine. The advantage of printing this way is that I can easily stack the tiles, stick them in a box file and store them away. I can also lay out only those tiles I need.
My sci-fi faction is the Bwendi, a former African republic that models itself on a caricature of the British Empire. It's mortal enemy is the nation of Albion, descendants of the English whose warped perception of what it means to be English means that there can never be peace between Bwendi (the righteous guardians of fair play and cricket) and (perfidious) Albion. As part of that, I started wondering of Bwendi might not seek to make their towns more Olde Englishe. What better way to do that than to have cobbled streets? So, the Dave Graffam battle mat may well be used as the base for a Bwendi town. The cobbles are unlikely to have much effect on game play with all the grav vehicles kicking around, and they look nice, according to President for life Colonel Throckmorton P. Gladiolus XLVI. I hear that Gladcorp is planning to introduce fog generators in some city centres for a more authentic experience too.
The battle mat is sized for 28mm figures but I have printed it out at 100% and it seems ok for my 15mm figures. The roads are no wider than 100mm which is pretty much what I want, but they lack pavements. I'm undecided about this. Many places I have visited have limited or no pavements, so perhaps this works ok, especially with the perspective that Bwendi is a (darkly humorous) banana republic on a distant colony world, but maybe I need to make some pavements to put around the buildings. I must think on this.
Musings aside, I am really quite happy with the visual effect of the buildings on the Dave Graffam mat. I've been dithering for ages about what sort of base mat to use with the Bwendi stuff, and have printed up a bunch of roads from WWG's Streets of Mayhem set that I have used previously to form towns, but I think the olde worlde aesthetic may well work better for my vision of the Bwendi. We can leave the future, urban dystopia for Albion. After all, they do it so much better.
The other thing that has grabbed my attention recently is my ongoing 6mm WW2 Western Desert project. This project has been ongoing since Miniature Wargames published an orbat and campaign for Operation Brevity in the 90s. I painted up that orbat but became obsessed with checking it against the sources, and quickly realised that it was only a very rough approximation of what was actually present on the field of battle. That led to analysis paralysis and the project stalled. Since getting the Benghazi Handicap sourcebook for Command Decision: Test of Battle, I have been more enthused, but not enough to pick up a brush until this weekend. Once I have some of it completed, I shall start posting photos of that too.