Friday, 27 December 2019

2019 Roundup

I'll keep it brief and to the point. I set out to do more painting and gaming this year. I didn't achieve as much as I hoped, but I did add substantially to my collection of armies and most of these are either fully-painted purchases from eBay or at least based and undercoated (or soon will be) and thus close to being usable according to my own heretical ethos of what is acceptable.

Most-played game of 2019
I played 20 games in 2019 - 9 Rampant games (4 The Men Who Would be Kings, 3 Rebels and Patriots, 1 Lion Rampant and 1 Dragon Rampant), 2 Dux Bellorum, 1 Hammerin' Iron, 1 Black Seas, 4 Commands and Colors and 3 other board games.

Since my six-monthly review in July I've added the following forces:
  • 28mm Halfling army for Dragon Rampant.
  • 28mm Nordic Bronze Age army for Dragon/Lion Rampant.
  • 28mm Aegean Bronze Age army for Dragon/Lion Rampant.
These have been organised, cleaned up, assembled and based. Other new armies, in various stages of completion, include:
  • 28mm 1798 Irish Rebellion figures for Rebels and Patriots. These have been accumulating gradually.  I recently received the last batch so these will be cleaned up, assembled and based early in the new year.
  • 28mm Buccaneer and Spanish figures for The Pikeman’s Lament. I need some reinforcements for the Spanish and some supernumeries but the collecting phase is in sight of completion.
  • 6mm Thirty Years War armies for Tilly’s Very Bad Day. These are based and are currently being painted.
  • 1/700 Black Seas (Napoleonic naval) starter set. These are still in the box and very much on the back-burner.
  • Commands and Colors Medieval. Stickered and used.
One thing that's helped me stay productive is keeping a very brief diary of what I do. At the end of each month I tot up the days when I did at least something. This gives me a sense of achievement and highlights any lapses without feeling oppressive.

Although it’s not been an outstanding year for gaming and painting I made over 60 posts to this blog, partly as a result of illness and post-op indisposition. I'm now much recovered.

Sunday, 22 December 2019

Rant No 1: "Eye Candy"

Eye Candy on a B-17
It's time to vent some thoughts about some more general aspects of wargaming...

In the context  of wargame rule reviews reference to "Eye Candy" is most likely to be pejorative. Eye Candy is the seductive luxury of big-business wargaming represented by Games Workshop and Warlord Games as opposed to the honest typescript of those old WRG rules...

The deployment of Eye Candy, so the usage implies, is at best irrelevant and at worst a deceptive indulgence, rendering a ruleset nothing but a painted hussy of a ruleset and masking essential worthlessness.

But hold on. Before we endorse that streak of Cromwellian puritanism, aren't  the toys we play with Eye Candy too?

You don't need them. You can use counters. But they are part of the appeal, even the main basis of the appeal. And seeing Eye Candy in a rule set is part of the pleasure of wargaming...and inspiring!

Please discuss.

Friday, 20 December 2019

28mm Halfling slingers

I was a bit short of Light Missile figures for my Halfling Dragon Rampant warband so I did some conversions with Greenstuff.

These are Copplestone Adventureres but not very warlike so I changed the staffs into staff-slings. The challenge with Greenstuff is to avoid making the detail too big and clumsy for the scale of the figures, so I've learnt to use as little Greenstuff as possible.

These were two unarmed boys from the Foundry Viking Villagers pack. I needed some wire armatures for the slings but couldn't find any wire thin enough. Eventually I straightened out some 'Bambi' staples. The difficult part was modelling the feet. They do look big in the photo!

These conversions are fairly crude but they're the best I can do and good enough, I hope, for one-off figures. I remain in awe of professional sculptors who achieve such good detail, proportions and a natural look.

Monday, 16 December 2019

Last game of 2019: Dragon Rampant

Last game of the year was a welcome return to Dragon Rampant. I laid out the 6' x 4' table and we played with 36 points (in contrast to Lion Rampant) in order to allow more scope for magical elements. We allowed units to be 1" from friends, but otherwise attempted to play by the rules as written.

We also used Quests, both choosing three very similar 2-Glory ones. Winning the basic scenario was worth 5 Glory, so it was necessary to have a potential of 6 Glory to provide an alternative path to victory.

The game featured Ian's beautifully painted Chaos army versus my barely undercoated Elves on their first outing. As usual, my figures are based on 2p pieces - thank you to my fellow gamers for continuing to keep me supplied. Many of Ian's figures towered over mine, projecting an initial sense of menace and intimidation!

The Elves comprised:

King and Companions EF Leader Missiles
Spearmen LF Offensive x2
Archers LM Sharpshooters x2
Druid HF Wizardling

 'The Chaotic Bunch' were:

Dragon-Ogre Shaggoth ER Leader Level Headed Fear
Centigors LR Short Missiles
Minotaurs GW
Chaos Reavers EF
Bestigors HF Offensive
Gargant BF
Gors and Ungors RH

This is the first time we played with a significant linear obstacle - the stone wall. We were perplexed as to how a unit could Attack an enemy standing back, say 1", on the other side of a linear obstacle, so decided to ignore the obstacle for the purpose of Attacks. What should happen is that the Attack should be done in two stages. The first stage brings the attacker to the wall even though this may be closer to the enemy than 3". A subsequent Attack then takes the Attacker over the wall and into contact. In other words, while a normal move cannot end closer than 3" an Attack stopped by a linear obstacle can. Had we played this way I'd have got in a round of extra shots.

The Pendraken dice-frame strength markers look overly prominent in the photos but work well for Single Model Units and Reduced Model Units. The blood drops (indicating Battered units) are from Products for Wargamers.

The enemy Leader - an Elite Rider with Armour of 4, was a tough nut to crack. At first I started to have serious doubts about the effectiveness of missile fire and at one point I thought everything was lost. But with only 6 Strength Points, Elite Riders (and Elite Foot) are brittle. Killing the enemy Leader fulfilled one of my Quests and caused the enemy Warband to take Courage Tests.

The Minotaurs were after my Druid, another Quest target, and eventually succeeded in killing him. They were about to do more damage when they failed to Activate and crucially lost the initiative. This was something of a turning point in the game and Ian blamed this for losing him the game.

The Chaos Reavers (top left in the above photo) took the Scenic route through the rocky outcrop. This severely delayed them. Had they arrived earlier it could have been a game changer.

The end game. The Chaos Reavers (left) made a strategic withdrawal to take them out of harm's way while the Ravenous Horde (right) were seen off by more missile fire.

Although I had wondered about the power of missiles, they worked in the end and I would seriously consider taking the Spearmen as Mixed Weapons in future rather than as Offensive. Once you decide on a modus operandi for a particular army you might as well rationalise its application. An Elf army in which every unit can deliver a sting rather appeals.

Monday, 9 December 2019

Commands and Colors Medieval

Ian and I played a couple of games of Commands & Colors Medieval. We chose the first two Byzantine-Sassanid scenarios, Thannuris 528 AD and Melebasa 528 AD. These were very much trial games, finding out how things worked and what things worked.

The game functions very similarly to Commands & Colors Ancients, but it's more fluid and more bloody. All things being equal, that should make for a quicker game, but that's balanced to some extent by the introduction of the faction-specific Inspired Actions which give you something else to think about and remind me of the events and tactics in Sam Mustafa's Rommel. These are either an unnecessary addition or a clever way of adding army flavour without proliferating the unit types or cluttering the rules.

Melebasa 528 AD: initial deployment. This is always preset in C&C games.
I'm the Byzantines on the near side. Ian has the Sassanids opposite
I forgot to take any photos of the first game. Ian played the Sassanids whilst I had the Byzantines. It's a very open battlefield and the game was close run. My left was badly mauled but I retreated to and held a couple of hill hexes, successfully fighting off attacks before winning the game elsewhere.

I initially made good progress in taking the central hill mass,
but my attack was badly beaten back and had to be renewed.
Hills are a great equaliser in C&CM and greatly degrade attacking cavalry. In the second game there was a large central hill mass which completely changed the dynamic turning the game into a much more attritional struggle. I eventually won this struggle thanks largely to my Heavy Infantry and then pressed the enemy against his back edge.

Later in the game. Note my nice collection of Victory Banners bottom  right!
The length of Evade and Retreat distances means you can easily end up on or near the back edge. With no place to go this is a bad place to be. At a number of points in the game I was faced with decisions about whether to make voluntary moves which would have meant moving back. But soldiers are there to fight, not fall back. In most cases I rejected that and I believe it paid off.

The main lessons learnt were: (1) Move forward and attack - always a good idea in C&C games - but especially so here to give yourself space, and (2) Find a good use for your relatively weaker Heavy Infantry - this will usually involve hills.

Wednesday, 4 December 2019

Curse of the bendy pikes in 28mm

Eureka Mycenaen spearmen as they arrived:
how could anyone live with these ridiculous whippy extensions?
I bought some Eureka Mycenaen spearmen from their new UK outlet to supplement the Foundry Aegean Bronze Age (Mycenean/Minoan) army I bought at the 2019 SELWG Show for Dragon Rampant/Lion Rampant. They are basically nice sculpts and a good match for Foundry, but they present a particularly bad case of the curse of the bendy pikes. There is no way I would attempt to keep them as they are. I just don’t understand why the designer, manufacturer and other customers should want them like that.

Replacing them is straightforward: it just requires a waste of time, effort and cut fingers.

Clippers, Scalpel, Pin-vice hand drills, Files
First step is to cut away the unwanted cast spears (or whips?). Scalpels might seem the obvious tool for this job but these days I tend mostly to use Clippers and Files. Clippers are great for cleaning up (and conversions). It's surprising how much or how little you can remove with Clippers without damaging what's left behind. Files give a smoother, more rounded finish.

After removal I drill out the hands using a succession of ever-larger Pin-vice hand drills. I have three drills preloaded with different bits. It saves a lot of time changing bits. I think I'll get some more.

North Star wire spears and superglue gell.
Next step is to replace the pikes with wire spears from North Star and other suppliers. I used to use piano wire for pikes, but these days you can get wire with shaped heads and they are only slightly more lethal. These are glued in place with my favourite superglue of recent times, Gorilla Super Glue Gell.

The Foundry Aegean Bronze Age figures are open handed, while the Foundry Nordic Bronze Age figures (which I also bought at the SELWG Show) have thick spears with a reasonable prospect of survival.

Eureka and Foundry spearmen with fitted North Star spears.
I'm prepared to replace a few spears/pikes here and there but I must remember that my next spear/pike army (if there is one) will either come with robust spears or empty hands or be composed of 2mm blocks.

Sunday, 1 December 2019

Lion Rampant: Bloodbath scenario

Simon's Burgundians far side. My Swiss near side.
This was my second game of Lion Rampant, fought back in January, and was a first outing for my Late Medievals. Simon commanded the Burgundians whilst I had the Swiss. The armies were 24 points each.

2 Pike (Foot Serjeants) @ 4
2 Veteran (Expert) Archers @ 6
1 Crossbows @ 4

Swiss halberdiers on the right are reluctant to advance.
1 Pike (Expert Foot Serjeants) @ 6
2 Halberds (Fierce Foot) @ 4
1 Handguns (Bidowers) @ 2
1 Crossbows (Bidowers) @ 2
1 Foot Men-at-Arms @ 6

My Bidowers (left) close but the main attack lags behind.
I had designed the Burgundians as a steady warband with good missile-power and the Swiss as do-or-die desperados.

My plan as the Swiss was to conduct a delaying action on my left with my Bidowers while attacking on my right with the halberdiers and, more cautiously, in the centre with my pike and Men-at-Arms.

Casualties mount on my left-hand halberd unit.
My Fierce troops certainly had Simon worried, a threat I jokingly exaggerated! In the event they were slow to move off and were then very badly shot up. One of the units never recovered. The other was delayed. This was basically the end of Plan A.

My best and only remaining chance then lay in the centre - Plan B. I wiped out the enemy Crossbows with my Men-at-Arms but the opposing pike went into schiltron. This made the pike-to-pike contest more-or-less even when it would otherwise have been in my favour.

My main attack is shot to pieces.
I was successful in using the Bidowers to tie up the units on Simon’s right, but the only point of that was to win elsewhere which I obviously didn’t.

Full marks to Simon for his steady defence. High quality Archers certainly need to be treated with respect.

Some success for the Swiss but a rather sorry end.

Saturday, 23 November 2019

Thirty Years War 6mm progress 4: the main colour

An impressive array, but further patching is needed because of the white undercoat and inconsistent mixing and application of the brown paint.
I wet painted the figure blocks (including the bases) with Vallejo Charred Brown. This may be thin paint but it's not supposed to be a wash. Controlling the consistency of the paint is a bit hit and miss. However you mix it, it tends to separate and to dry out.

The brown needs to be solid as it will be the finished colour of at least 50% of the figure blocks. This brown functions as the base colour of the ground, the shadow between the ranks of figures and any and all parts of the figures which I don't subsequently paint with any other colour.

The blocks may be only 60mm x 30mm but given the indentations represented by the figures and the sand on the bases, they have a very large surface area and positively drink paint. Getting 100% coverage is vital. I don't want any white spots in the middle of an area which is supposed to be deep shadow. The blocks therefore have to be touched up in good light.

It was at this point that I realised I should have undercoated in black gesso according to the original ‘recipe’. Had I done so, covering the undercoat completely wouldn’t be so important. As it was it took quite a lot of time to eliminate any white spots and I still have to go over the blocks again as the brown is a bit thin in places. I am currently awaiting a new supply of Charred Brown!

I know some people may think that basing before painting is a little eccentric, but had I painted the figures first I would not have been able to get at the ground between them given the way in which they are so packed together.

Thursday, 21 November 2019

Thirty Years War 6mm progress 3: undercoating

Cannon and Commander: a black undercoat
would have been better...
Since my last report I snipped off all the pikes and improved the bases that had gaps in the texturing. I then used a scalpel to scrape off any sand that had got onto the figures.

Having completed the texturing of the bases I glued the guns in place. That wasn't done until this stage because the crew had bases needing to be hidden by the filler but the guns just sit on top.

I then applied a 50% solution of white gesso undercoat entirely covering the figures and bases and touched this up in good light. White on metal is not always easy to see in the middle of a 6mm pike block, but I expect the coverage was at least 95%.

Using white was a mistake. I should have used black gesso. It would have been easier to see against the bare metal and easier to cover in the next stage.

That concluded the preparation stage. The next stage is painting.

Saturday, 16 November 2019

Black Seas trial

A pre-game close-up of undercoated ships.
Busy with my Thirty Years War project, I've been holding back on Black Seas. My friend Ian, however, put his ships together and suggested a game which I was happy to take up. The game more-or-less confirmed some thoughts I’d been having so let me get them out of the way first.

The rules are very nicely produced and appear to be fairly clear. I think the 1/700 model ships are very good but very light. I would want to mount them on my normal MDF and steel bases for storage, transport and playing. I don't think this would interfere with how the game is played, as long as I kept them as small as possible.

The playing aids provided are useful for getting you started but they are very flimsy. I'd want to replace most of these with more substantial MDF or metal pieces, and to have proper 3D scenery.

I really don't like the wake markers which are fiddly and ugly. For now I think it’s much better to keep these with the ship cards, aligning the sail setting on the wake with the bottom of the ship card, but I'm hoping for a more elegant solution.

Talking of the ship cards, I also don’t like the red clips used to indicate hull damage, but perhaps someone will market an MDF holder with a peg track as has been done for the sister game, Cruel Seas.

Now on to the game.

I made a strong start, crossing the T and raking one of Ian's frigates which subsequently struck its colours.

It takes time to get used to the manoeuvre rules. I suffered a number of collisions and ended up very scattered. I think I won but this view was not unanimous.

We got through about 5 or 6 of the 15 turns. I really don't think we'd ever get through a game using the massed fleets being marketed by Warlord Games.

We used only the basic rules in our game, but we both now consider it essential to use the more advanced and realistic wind rules and Fire As She Bears.

Overall we judged the game a success, so I may proceed with it if and when I have the time and inclination.

My original intention was to model an American force, but I’m hesitating to order yet another set when the first one is still in its box. I’m naturally suspicious of games tied to one company, and I can see this one proliferating and soaking up a great deal of money.

My French squadron crosses the T. The British frigate (left centre) will strike its colours. In this game I experimented with placing the wake markers alongside the ships. It was less fiddly but they still got in the way. Needless to say, they are an ugly distraction from what would otherwise be a good-looking game. I am lost to explain why the author went down this design path when the ship models are so fine to look at.

Sunday, 10 November 2019

Thirty Years War 6mm progress 2: Curse of the bendy pikes

Bendy pikes.
I levelled the bases with Tetrion filler and then textured them with thinned PVA and fine sand. In larger scales I’d have brought this right up and around the feet of the figures to hide the integral figure bases, but for most of these unit bases I was able only to run the filler and sand around the outside border. This means that the figure bases still show on the insides as in the photo of some Swedish Horsemen below. The photo actually makes the gaps look accessible but I think I would have got Tetrion and PVA on the figures if I'd tried to texture in between them.

There’s not much I can do about it, and I’m hoping the gaps will be lost in the deep brown shadows which will which will be be basis of figures, unit base and all.

At this stage I had to think seriously about the pikes. 
I hate bendy pikes even more than exposed figure bases. Indeed, I’ve even ‘campaigned’ against cast pikes on 6mm (Baccus) and 10mm (Pendraken) figures in favour of separate wire pikes, but it drew little support from other punters. For some time it completely held me back from doing a pike army in 6mm or 10mm, but how could I be right and everyone else wrong? 

All Tetrioned and sanded.
 I had very serious reservations about the thin, fragile pikes on the 6mm Baccus figures but I gave them the benefit of the doubt. Well, I should have trusted my instincts. Despite my best attempts to straighten the pikes and to avoid touching them, the simple process of basing, undercoating and general handling has already proved to me that they are a total disaster. And this is nothing to the bashing they are going to get in use on the table. They are going to end up looking like floppy spaghetti prior to eventually breaking off.

Swedish Horsemen: Untextured gaps to be lost in shadow...
I now realise I have no choice but to snip all the pikes and replace them later. Snipping will be easy but replacing them is going to be fiddly and time-consuming. I'm inclined to snip them now which will give me a little better access to paint the pikemen, even though my painting will be minimal in the extreme and may come as a shock to some readers! I’ll then fit the flags attached to dress pins and finally replace the pikes with brown brush bristles. It can be done as shown here.

The pikes have been niggling me. Having made this decision I am feeling a lot more positive about this project.

Tuesday, 5 November 2019

My introduction to Lion Rampant

The English defending their hearths and homes.
I played this first game of Lion Rampant back in May 2018. This report has been kicking around for some time. The game was set in the Dark Ages but we used just the ordinary Lion Rampant rules rather than the Landwasters and Raven Feeders extension. We didn't use Leader Traits or Boasts.

The English viewed from their left flank. What a nice little village!
I set up a trial scenario based on forcing a river crossing. The Attacker's objective was to get across a ford and contact a settlement. The Defender's objective was to prevent that, but the game was basically about crossing the ford (and trying out the rules).

The Viking marauders.
The game featured my old 25mm Viking army which I'd split into two armies and rebased on coins. My opponent, Bernard, had a generous 34 points of Vikings while I had 24 points of Anglo-Danes. They would never have called themselves that, so let's just refer to them as the English.

Squaring up at the ford.
2 Huscarls (Men-at-Arms)* @ 12
1 Hirdman (Serjeants, Expert) @ 6
2 Bondi (Yeomen, Mixed Weapons) @ 10
1 Berserkir (Fierce Foot) @ 4
1 Scouts (Bidowers) @ 2

The English unit at the ford is well-supported.
2 Huscarls (Men-at-Arms)* @ 12
1 Select Fyrd (Serjeants) @ 4
1 General Fyrd (Yeomen, Javelins) @ 4
2 Skirmishers (Bidowers) @ 4

We played lengthwise on a 6' x 4' area. The river was impassable apart from the ford which was difficult ground. The felt templates represented copses. I didn't have any large trees at that time. The wattle fencing was a linear obstacle, but the Vikings never got that far.

The Berserkir, already weakened, finally make their move.
The Vikings enjoyed a prompt start. Bernard held the Berserkir back to avoid any wild charges but they eventually emerged as his unit of choice to contest the ford, but when they got into position they refused to do so! Evidently too many magic mushrooms. This gave my skirmishers a good opportunity to shoot them down.

The English counter-attack across the river.
We played for about 2 hours before calling time. The Vikings never did get across the ford but had the game continued they probably would have done. As we had not defined a game end point, we agreed to call it a draw.
A ford too far exposes the English unit to annihilation.
We found that shooting can be quite decisive. Faced with missile troops, fighting defensively is not really an option. Had the game continued (and if my Retinue had not been so depleted!) I would have been forced onto the offensive.

Tuesday, 29 October 2019

Thirty Years War 6mm progress

Swedish pike-and-shot, Swedish horsemen, Detached shot, Cuirassiers,
Dragoons, German pike-and-shot, Croats, Arquebusiers.

I've based all the figures I had for Steven Thomas's Tilly's Very Bad Day. The the photo shows most of them (except for Commanders and Cannons), but it was only about half of what I need. Baccus was closed for renovation so I had to wait a while before placing a third order.

The bases are 60mm x 30mm MDF and steel, and the figures were glued on with PVA which gave me plenty of time to manipulate them into position. PVA is hardly the best glue for metal, but I've found it adequate for small scale figures. The figures are not perfectly aligned. This was deliberate.

Monday, 21 October 2019


Colonial forces on the nearside. Boxers and Imperial Chinese in the distance.
Tonbridge Wargames Club put on a 28mm Boxer Rebellion demo/participation game of The Men Who Would Be Kings at the annual SELWG show in Crysral Palace, South London. I wasn't part of the demo team having been rather out of things recently, but I was pleased to be invited to participate in one of the games.

I commanded the Colonial forces consisting of Japanese, British and French marines. These are the nearest units in the photo. The opposition, commanded by Simon, consisted of two Imperial Chinese units (Irregular Infantry, one with obsolete and one with modern firearms) and four units of Boxers (Tribal Infantry).

The objective, for the Colonial forces, was to clear and control the T-junction on the right.

My plan was to advance into range and then to hold back and control the objetive by fire. On my right flank the French Marines swept away the opposition. On my left flank the Japanese holed up in the compound. Despite an heroic resistance with all the advantages of being in hard-cover they were eventually whittled away. The Royal Marines in the centre should have won any firefight but suffered badly initially and never recovered.

In the end game the French Marines who had performed like a Boxer-munching 'Pac-Man' came around in a right hook to clear the last Boxers out of the compound and to gain a Pyrric victory.

It was a very well-balanced game and all good fun.

Wednesday, 16 October 2019

Two games of Commands & Colors Ancients

Commands & Colors: Ancients is probably the best of the C&C games, a series that for me sits somewhere between a boardgame and a gridded miniatures game depending on what you use to play it.

C&C Ancients and its extension sets offer a huge range of historical scenarios which you can set up in minutes.

Ian and I fought two games. In the first, Cynoscephale 197 BC, I commanded the Macedonians against Ian's Romans and won.

In the second, Battle of the Sabis River 57 BC, I had Julius Caesar's Romans against Ian's Belgae and lost. It was a close-run game.

Ian has a lot more experience of board wargames so he gives me  lot of advice. This means he's often playing against himself. So he always deserves the credit, whoever wins!

Like every game, C&C has its quirks and you need to 'play the game' to win. There are no objectives other than the total destruction of a given number of enemy units, and you constantly need to keep that priority in mind.

The other priority is to use your opportunities (the cards) as efficiently as possible, which means that you sometimes have to compromise about where to attack.

Finally, I was reminded of the importance of supporting units with two other units, something I'd completely forgotten about, and, in fact, don't even remember!

Anyway, this has fired up my interest in C&C and I've just ordered a copy of the new Commands & Colours: Medieval which covers the Early Medieval period - Huns, Byzantines and Sassanids.
Cynoscephale. My light troops commence
the game with good control of the hills.
Ian makes a strong atack on my left. I was
tempted to counter this but better opportunities
presented themselves elsewhere.
My left holds while my centre advances
And it's curtains for the Romans. In the real
battle the Macedonians were heavily defeated.
Sabis River. I seem to have taken only
one shot at the end. I was successful on my
right but badly mauled on my left. Caesar
survived but the 10th Legion was wiped
out. Ian pipped me at the post on the
last victory point. In the real battle, Caesar crushed the Belgic tribes.

Thursday, 10 October 2019

Flames of War: A Bridge Too Far – The Battles for Oosterbeek and Arnhem

Photo at beginning of game showing most
of the Allied miniatures.
Ian brought round yet another boardgame for me to try - Flames of War's Market Garden game. I elected to play the Allies. As you would expect, they have airborne troops that need to be reinforced and resupplied by air and ground forces that need to smash their way through to link up.

The Allied strategy does require a plan but going up the central road is a pretty obvious option as that route has most of the points on it.

An early attack on Arnhem Bridge by my airborne troops. It seemed the right thing to do. I took the bridge but could not hold it.
It's an interesting game but odd in some ways. It comes with some miniatures but very few. The board is divided into zones  and these can attack and defend regardless of the miniatures. In some ways the miniatures are a distraction.

There were some ups and downs but it was with great satisfaction that a combination of my airborne and ground forces took Arnhem bridge on more-or-less the last 'Battle' of the last game turn.

Late in the game Ian attempted to cut my supply line by attacking out of an empty zone into an empty zone. This was actually in error as even empty zones have to be in supply and Ian's wasn't. So the moves were taken back leaving me with the victory.
Thanks to the points I had accumulated, mainly from seizing bridges but also from captures of troops, I achieved a 'Strategic Victory' which is the best sort of victory you can get.

It was an enjoyable game but I am left more struck by its oddness than anything else.

Sunday, 6 October 2019

Race to the Rhine

Thanks to my friend Ian I’m currently enjoying a boardgame bonanza. My penultimate experience was Race to the Rhine by Jaro Andruszkiewicz and Waldek Gumienny, a game of resource management in which you compete against other Allied players to be first across the Rhine.

In a two-player game one player always takes the central command, Bradley, while the other plays Montgomery (along the coast) or Patton (to the right). I was advised that Patton was the easiest option so that's what I chose.

There are just three resources: fuel, ammo and food. You have to get these to your forces at the front via chains of supply lorries, but you also have to contend with a buildup of German forces blocking your path or cutting your supply lines. Germans pop up when you attempt to occupy a new town or courtesy of rival players.

Despite going through a very weak phase during which one of my corps was isolated, another had run out of food and my supply lines were constantly being cut, I just managed to pull it off.

The game is very cleverly designed. It has a certain 'unity of design' which gives it a convincing feel, and I imagine it has great replay and solo value.
Patton's Corps are in blue. One is awkwardly
placed behind Bradley and needs to backtrack
before going anywhere.
Making good time. Patton's command enjoys
additional minor supply points on the edge
of the board, so you don't have to bring
everything up from the start position.
Accross the Rhine (bottom right) but cut off.
The supply line is restored and the game won,
although the leading unit is out of food.