Saturday 30 December 2023

2023 in review

FoG II Medieval: Rise of the Swiss
In the first half of the year I managed to play a few games of Xenos Rampant and Blucher and produced the Blucher low-relief scenery. 

Towards the close of the year I filled some hours of insomnia by playing through the 100YW English, Burgundian, Swiss, Timurid and Matthias Corvinus campaigns in Field of Glory II Medieval. I've always found computer games to be a good way of easing myself back into tabletop gaming.

Finally, I pulled my finger out to write the last four posts for this blog before year end. Occasionally I find time to read and comment on other wargaming blogs.

Friday 29 December 2023

Some games of Blucher

I fought another three games of Blucher in 2023 but seem to have photos only of the first two. They all utilised my new, flat scenery, and were all played against fellow club member, Simon, who kindly introduced me to Blucher.

French vs British

This was very much a fight to take and hold the central, urban objectives. I commanded the British. AFAICR I may have achieved some initial success but was beaten back on my left flank.


 Russian vs Ottoman

This game was loosely based on an historical battle. I took the Russians and attacked uphill turning the Ottoman right flank.


Thursday 28 December 2023

Ultra-low relief scenery for Blucher

As planned I developed some light, very low relief scenery for use with the Blucher unit cards which sit on top of the terrain pieces. The aesthetic idea was that the table should resemble an aerial view and be as convincing as possible at first glance, at least from a distance.

As my wargame club is in walking distance, I usually load my stuff into a shopping trolley. I always have that option, but my idea for this project was to keep things as light as possible so the game could be carried in a bag. Given that the armies are just cards, burdening myself with heavy and bulky 3D scenery seemed disproportionate, and, indeed, rather odd in comparison to the flatness of the units.

Anyway, here is the scenery I made or utilised in the order of table placement:

HILLS

As the hills are placed under the game mat, there are no aesthetic requirements and they can be very rough and ready. I’d accumulated a lot of foamboard offcuts, so I sandwiched these between hill templates cut from new card and trimmed with a scalpel.

The templates were sized and shaped to maximise storage in Really Useful Boxes, and the templates and offcuts were stuck with a Pritt stick, a huge bonus as Mrs Phalanx is particularly averse to glue fumes.

I've nearly exhausted my supply of offcuts so if I need more hills or other shapes and sizes I'll revert to my initial plan which was to make hills from card and plastic milk bottle tops.

Alternatively, I can also use any of my existing hills, most of which are reasonably light. Once under the game mat, they will all look the same!

GAME MAT

This is an old felt cloth and not my best game mat, but it's light and soft, and shapes itself over hills put underneath. Think of the creases as natural folds in the ground!

ROADS, RIVERS, MARSH, PLOUGHED FIELDS

These had already been made or bought for previous games. A small metal bridge is my one concession to conventional wargame scenery.

FOREST

These are made by applying a diverse mixture of Woodland Scenics Underbrush Clump-Foliage to leatherette templates using Hob-E-Tac glue. They bend to fit hill contours. They have been fixed with a spray of Scenic Cement. As suggested in the rules they are mostly 3-base widths long which is also a nice fit for storage in RUBs.

ROCKY GROUND

I didn't want anything heavy, tall or messy. I eventually hit on the idea of using broken up cork floor tiles.

BUILT UP AREAS



The village or town areas are 100mm (4") squares so they can be conveniently occupied by a single unit card with a little space to spare to remind players that attackers are entering rough ground. The buildings are from old Monopoly games picked up in charity shops. Some are finished as city areas, the rest as villages. Making the BUAs was fun.

FORTIFICATIONS

Flat lolly sticks with matchsticks. I added Tetrion Filler to one side to create revetments.

The terrain pieces are stylised but convincing enough. More pictures of the scenery will be featured in game use in my next post.
 

Wednesday 27 December 2023

Two more games of Xenos Rampant

I played two more games of Xenos Rampant early in the year but my memory of them is now a little hazy. The first was against my friend Ian and utilized my still unpainted 15mm Near Future armies. I was wondering if more cover would overcome the tendency to get bogged down in firefights. There was more movement in this game until the forces converged at the centre where mine were convincingly ground down.

The second was against Ian's house guest, Ivan, utilising some of Ian's 28 mm 40K armies in a crowded urban environment. Some of the units had only a hand-to-hand capability and this also helped to induce movement. It was an aesthetically attractive and fun game which I marginally won, shooters having some advantage over those trying to close.

Since playing these games my attention has been drawn to the 'Stabilised Weaponry' attribute which allows infantry to move and shoot as an ordered activation in the same way as vehicles. I will try this in the future in another attempt to avoid shooty games.

My forces on this side. Ian's in the distance.


 
In the first of these two games, the progression to the centre is pretty obvious in these overview photos.

My heroic humans move forward...

...backed up by mortars.

The monstrous opposition was beaten back.

Sunday 19 November 2023

Crossfiregrad on overdrive

Steven Thomas' 'cool' Stalingradesque ruins

My commitment to wargaming tends to get elbowed out during the Summer months, but the obsession usually returns at some point. I did, in fact, play a few games up till June, but my posts here ended in February. If time permits I will at least dig up some photos of the games (Xenos Rampant and Blucher) and take some photos of the semi-flat scenery I made for Blucher.

I haven't actually yet returned to gaming and painting/modelling, but my interest has been stirred by the magnificent collection of Stalingradesque ruins that Steven Thomas of Balagan has recently completed to play the Crossfiregrad and Ponyri Crossfire scenarios.

Originally inspired by Steven's '2 foot city' Crossfire scenario, I turned out some foamboard buildings in 2011. They involved a lot of cutting! But technology has moved on, and this allowed Steven to design and commission customised MDF kits from Warbases. Please read all about it on Balagan!

Steven is a phenomenal gamer, modeller and blogger, and Balagan is probably the most useful wargaming website I have ever encountered.

Tuesday 28 February 2023

Old West at Cavalier 2023

Bank robbers make their getaway

Tonbridge Wargames Club staged a highly innovative Old West participation game at the Cavalier show. 

Masterminded by my friend and regular wargame opponent, Ian, the game utilised a simplified version of GW’s Legends of the Old West to present a range of simultaneous and potentially interactive scenarios ranging from bank robberies to Indian attacks. 

It wasn’t just cinematic, but a complete splice-up of Hollywood Western themes, and proved particularly popular with youngsters keen to make their own imaginative contributions. The figures (mainly Dixon) and buildings (mainly Products for Wargamers) were from Ian’s collection except for the train and Chinese labourers which were provided by Bernard.

A small Western town: home to so many dramas

The Tonbridge club (not to be confused with Tunbridge Wells Wargames Society) is a small but friendly club that meets just off Tonbridge High Street and plays a wide variety of games. 

Tonbridge Wargames Club

Monday 30 January 2023

Foamboard trays for Really Useful Boxes 2

I thought I'd better photo the completed modular foamboard RUB storage trays described in the last post. All the trays have a 1/4 or 1/6 footprint and are 1/4 or 1/3 of the internal height or multiples thereof. 

 

A 9L RUB with the trays in place.

All the trays without the RUB.

The top layer.

The bottom layer.

For 28mm pikemen and similar I'll add a bottomless collar which can be taken off and will make it easier to fish out the figures.


Thursday 26 January 2023

Foamboard trays for Really Useful Boxes

Rebetting foamboard
Really Useful Boxes are the best friends of many wargamers. I simply line them with magnetic sheet for storing multibased figures on steel bases, but I discovered the hard way that this did not provide adequate buffering for individually based 28mm metal figures which ended up in a heap when transported.

My first solution was to create interlocking slats from 5mm foamboard in the form of a hashtag (#) but I more recently became aware of the Warbases  MDF RUB trays which would allow me to pull out complete units en route to tabletop deployment.

Unfortunately the Warbases trays (with full-size and half-size footprints) lacked the granularity I personally needed to minimise figure movement. So I decided to make my own foamboard trays for my individually-based 15mm Sci-Fi armies with 1/4 or 1/6 footprints and various heights based on dividing the internal height of a 9 litre RUB by 3 or 4.

I worked extensively in foamboard when producing my 'Crossfiregrad' buildings. The methodology here was exactly the same but without windows the foamboard trays required a lot less cutting.

The trays were planned using CorelDraw, printed onto paper and Spray Mounted onto Foamboard. As before, the trays were rebetted, stuck with UHU Por and reinforced with dress pins. This makes them strong and keeps the corners square. The tray bottoms are lined with heavy-duty magnetic sheet. 

A 3-storey 1/6 footprint tray under construction

The 1/4 footprint trays measure 105mm x 168mm, the 1/6 footprint trays are 105mm x 112mm and the heights are 35mm or 46mm or multiples thereof, i.e. 70mm, 92 mm or 105mm, depending on what needs to be stored. You can fit two 35mm-high trays in a 4L RUB or four in a 9L RUB. Three 46mm-high trays will fit in a 9L RUB.

The advantage of this approach is that the trays are completely modular and can be swapped between armies as required. Although they require more work than the hashtag dividers, they will be my preferred solution in future.

Thursday 12 January 2023

Xenos Rampant: first game

Eurasian forces massed in a corner of the
table. The armies will be getting some paint
when reinforcements arrive from GZG.
Ian and I played our first game of Xenos Rampant. We improvised a scenario based on points for controlling three objectives, the points value of destroyed enemy units and a limit to the number of turns set by dicing for game end from the sixth game turn onwards. The game actually ran to seven turns at which point I readily admitted defeat.

As expected, the Rampant engine proved sound and we both enjoyed the game. There were, however, some issues we need to address.

Firstly, we mistakenly overlooked some unit characteristics which would have made certain units more effective.

Secondly, there were some flaws in army design within the context of this game. My side lacked anti-armour power and my Heavy Infantry hit only on a 6. Upgrading to 10 strength points would make them to hit on 5+ which would give them a much better chance against heavy armour.

Thirdly, we should have kept the table to the standard 4' x 4'. I increased the size because we were using 36 point forces but it wasn't really justified as the units were expensive rather than numerous.

Fourthly, and most importantly, it got very shooty. Once enjoying a target, even at extreme range, there was little incentive to move. I put this down to the unlimited ranges. Now, unlimited ranges are quite realistic for a modern/futuristic skirmish game and I actually like that aspect, but it seems to me to put the game in the same territory as Crossfire which would be unthinkable (and not worth playing) without closing down the ranges with close terrain.

Current events indicate that modern war is all about concealment and detection (not to forget artillery). Forces should only expose themselves and attack when they have local superiority. You can't capture that type of battle on an open table where everything can be seen, so our next game is going to have lots of woods for more of a hide-and-seek approach.