Wednesday, 14 July 2021

Field of Glory on PC

Field of Glory Medieval II
Field of Glory as a miniatures game is too involved for me, but I've enjoyed playing Field Of Glory Medieval II and Field of Glory II on PC.

The mechanics of these games are very similar to Pike And Shot Campaigns, but the units consist of vividly coloured, animated figures, so it looks rather like a 28mm miniatures game come to life. Although the game is IGOUGO the little men will go on fighting for hours on their own!

I actually bought the Medieval game first and was sufficiently impressed to get the Ancients one as well. Medievals are mostly undrilled and don't get the free 45 degree turn. This is only right but has a big effect on manouverability. Otherwise the games are very similar. The Medieval one is particularly colourful, but the Ancient one gives you the spectacle of elephants and chariots.

Playing these games has revealed a remarkable ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. It pays to be bold but not reckless. It's good to attack but gather your forces for a concerted effort first. Make a mistake and the AI will exploit it mercilessly.

The AI is very good indeed, particularly on an immediate local level. It is a little less adept at seeing the big picture, so a good strategic plan can pay off.

I've bought every downloadable extension and I've played through every 'Epic' (i.e. historical) battle from the default side against the AI, but have yet to play any other sort of game.

Tuesday, 9 March 2021

Pike And Shot Campaigns - Just like a game with miniatures!

A scene from a game of White Mountain.
Whilst I await return of the impetus to finish and the opportunity to use my 6mm armies for Tilly's Very Bad Day, I've been satisfying my enthusiasm for pike-and-shot warfare with my second PC game purchase - Pike and Shot Campaigns (Byzantine Games). Given the prevalence of ACW and WW2 games, it's good to see an historical PC game covering the 16th and 17th Centuries.

The game uses chess-like alternate turns but with some interaction like reactive shooting. There is also an AI-controlled 'residual' shooting phase.

I understand the game is essentially a PC version of Richard Bodley Scott's Field of Glory and it's very like playing a tabletop miniatures game but with the advantages that computers can provide, e.g. hidden units and painless calculations. I would also say that it looks a great deal simpler than FoG, though to be fair I have never actually played it. I was brought up on WRG-style rules but can no longer tolerate the contortions of Barkerese and its derivatives.

Once engaged in melee, units remain committed unless the program decides otherwise and victors always pursue. Some players object to these features but they simplify play and IMO capture the flavour of P&S warfare more accurately than those rules which allow micro-management of 'break-offs' etc. Outcomes can be frustrating, but that's war.

The game is extremely well-designed and presented with excellent tutorial support and very clear on-screen 'signage'. The author undoubtedly knows his stuff.

I've worked through the historical ECW and French-Italian Wars battles and am currently playing the Thirty Years War ones. Community contributions have provided many more scenarios in and out of the core period. You can also fight infinite pickup games with varying degrees of player input or pot luck, but I haven't tried these yet as reliving historical battles at grand tactical level is more my thing.

The game allows both orthogonal and diagonal facing and movement on a grid of squares. It works well and has made me think again about square grids which are easier to implement than hexes unless you have something like Hexon.

Friday, 5 February 2021

Ultimate General: Civil War - First impressions

A scene from the first day at Gettysburg
I'm not getting much painting done and obviously no gaming with miniatures, but I have revived my interest in PC strategy wargames. 

I'd grown tired of the small screen on my ageing laptop so replaced it with an Intel NUC i5 and a 28" 4K monitor. This wasn't with any gaming intentions, but the NUC seems to be adequate for strategy games and having a big screen was an asset I couldn't ignore. 

My first new purchase has been Ultimate General: Civil War. This is a realtime grand-strategy game, but proceeds at a reasonable pace and is not a clickfest. And you don't have to micro-manage each unit. The AI does a lot for you. 

The game certainly works at tactical level. Play is very intuitive though you will obviously benefit from skimming through the guidance document. I've played through all the historical battles as Confederate at intermediate level and am now repeating this as Union. 

The historical battles are split into different stages. This is scripted and I'm not entirely clear how performance in one stage influences resources in the next. I really prefer the approach in the Total War series of games in which you control the whole battle. 

I'm not attracted to the fictitious campaign battles.The game is fun but when I've completed the current round of historical battles I'll probably move on to something else and come back to the game another year.

Friday, 1 January 2021

2021 Plans

Afghan reinforcements for TMWWBK
There are old projects I'd like to return to including my 15mm Elizabethan English and Irish for Irregular Wars and my 10mm Chinese Warlord armies for Red Actions. And there are new things I'd like to progress, particularly my 28mm Ardennes armies for Chain of Command. I've also been thinking of extending my 28mm Elizabethan collection in an Irish direction (using the Hoka Hey Timeline figures), albeit a duplication of the above Irregular Wars project at a different scale. Yes, I am fond of 'Celtic' armies.

However, my time and psychological energy is limited, so I decided to continue my immediate focus on undercoating and putting initial washes on my least complete 28mm Rampant armies as these jobs won't require too much thought or planning and can be fitted in at odd moments, including at night during bouts of insomnia.

I'll also continue the slow but steady collection of 28mm Russian Civil War figures as this requires only hitting the buy button once a month.

Once I've got all the newer Rampant armies to a minimally acceptable (to me) level I'll probably finish the bases on the fully painted ones which will complete them. Apart from minor repairs, additions and paint improvements, I will then have the following completed armies:

Lion Rampant
Late Saxons and Vikings
Swiss and Burgundians

Rebels and Patriots
American War of Independence
American Civil War

The Men Who Would Be Kings

The next priority will be to finish the 6mm Thirty Years War armies for Tilly's Very Bad Day, including the application of brush-bristle pike replacements. That will hopefully be complete by the end of June in anticipation of a resumption of gaming.

I'll then concentrate on proper painting of the remaining Rampant armies. These are:

The Pikeman's Lament
Border Reivers, Garrison troops, Tudor rebels
1671 Buccaneers and Spanish

Rebels and Patriots
1798 Irish Rebellion

Dragon Rampant
Trolls (Orcs)
Aegean Bronze Age
Nordic Bronze Age
Fantasy extensions to Lion Rampant armies.

The Men Who Would Be Kings (variant)
Russian Civil War (still being collected)

The 1798 armies are already part painted, but there's a huge amount of work in completing the rest, hence my 'play now, paint as I go' approach. At least I am confident enough of this year's fancies to describe them as plans.