Saturday, June 25, 2011

My latest miniature gaming obsession was sparked by picking up a copy of the new Force on Force rulebook from Ambush Alley Games.  I'm most interested in playing modern asymmetrical games, so I've been busy making buildings for a middle eastern town.  Here are a couple pictures of my buildings set up on a 2' x 2' board (for 15mm scale).

I picked up the "Operation Darkstar" campaign battle box from Rebel Minis, and the layout shown above is based on the first scenario from that set.  The buildings are all made from foamcore and have detachable roofs for placing figures inside.
After assembling the buildings, I drew areas onto the foamcore where I intended to show exposed bricks, then covered the rest of the wall surfaces with spackling, to give give them that stucco look.
With this done, it was time to paint up the minis.  The battle box from Rebel Minis comes with 13 special forces figures, to represent Task Force Black, 24 terrorists, and 1 hostage.  Here is a picture of the three fire teams that make up Task Force Black.
I wanted my Task Force Black minis to look like they were in multicam.  I tried several variations; it was hard to simplify it down to give the right impression in 15mm.  But I'm relatively pleased with the results.  Here's a close-up of one of the four-man fire teams.
And here is a close-up shot of the five-man assault team armed with SMGs and combat shotguns.

The terrorists are organized into six-man cells.  All my minis are based on 3/4" steel washers for magnetic storage.
Here's a close-up of the hostage, who appears to be in big trouble.
My terrorist figures have a color-coding with their hoods, an idea I got from the forums on the Ambush Alley Games site.  The leaders have very light gray hoods and the support weapon guys have red hoods.  Makes them easy to pick out of the crowd.
I plan to post battle reports for the "Operation Darkstar" scenarios as we play them.  So be on the look out for that.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Despite my best intentions, we have been unable to finish our AWI battle, so the battle report will have to wait.  Instead, this entry will be a short article describing our last monthly board game day.  On the first Sunday in June we played the following:

We got started with a four-player game of Tobago.  My friend Billy loaned me the game, so that I could learn it for game day.  I like the logic puzzle nature of the game, as players work collectively to determine the location of treasures on the island.  This mechanic is what sets this game apart, as I haven't seen anything quite like it before.  I played the game twice during the week with my sons, and from my three plays, I can say that I do like the game, but I probably won't be looking to pick it up.  The game is fairly light, the sort of fare I like to play with my family and folks that aren't hobby gamers.  But it has the rules complexity of a more middle-weight game.  This mismatch between the depth of play and the learning curve means it would not likely get played very often at my house.

I always bring my crokinole board and set it up, and it saw a number of plays throughout the day.  It's one of the Mayday Games boards, from their first shipment.  There were reports of some serious problems with the quality of these boards, but mine had no issues and I've been really happy with it.  As you can see from the picture, it's a game that can be enjoyed by all ages.  You can explain how to play in a few minutes, so it's also a great option for people who might be a bit daunted to learn a new strategy game.

I didn't have a chance to join the game of Lords of Vegas, but my sons said they quite enjoyed it.  I like dice games and area control mechanics, both featured in this one.  I will have to give it a try in the future.  The components looked to be very nice quality as well.


I forgot to take a photo of this game in progress.  It's a very light card game for 2-4 players.  The box claims it's for ages 13+, but I taught my eight-year-old nephew the game and he picked it up just fine.  The age range on the box probably has more to do with the avoiding entanglement with the CPSIA law than the complexity of the game.  It's a nice little filler and I like it best as a four-player partnership game.

This is a perennial favorite at game days.  Simple rules and engaging tactical play are what makes this game shine.  It also scales well, with an easy change of playable board area, for 2-4 players.  I'm tempted to pick up a copy of the newest printing by FFG, simply because of the peg-and-hole score tracks.  My only complaint about the game is how easy it is to accidentally shift the little cubes used to keep score in the original version.  Well, I suppose I also complain that the orange cube looks nothing like the orange color on the tiles, and the orange plastic peg in the new edition looks to be much better matched.  I'm slowly talking myself into a purchase here.

TTR is a family favorite.  I wasn't a part of this game, but in my most recent play I achieved something I've never done before.  I was able to use all my trains and managed to have them all in a continuous route.  We were playing the "Mega" game with the 1910 tickets.  I believe they decided to use the standard tickets plus the Mystery Express tickets for this game.

As I write this up, I see I had a day of pretty light games.  I'm quite fond of Yspahan, though I've played it more online at Yucata lately than over the board.  So it was a pleasure to roll some actual dice for a change.  I'm afraid I rather ran away with this game, but my opponents got a first-hand view of how to work the caravan for serious points.


I had not ever played this before.  It was a good way to end a day of gaming; chaotic, silly, and plenty of opportunity for screwing with other players.  There was a lot of laughter and half-earnest finger-pointing.  I was thinking whether I already had a game in my collection that fit into this category - perhaps Survive: Escape from Atlantis! though it's about twice as long in playing time.

It was a terrific day of gaming and my thanks to everyone who came and played.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Neil Thomas inspired rules for the AWI
I have long been interested in gaming battles of the American War for Independence, and I came across a set of variant rules based on Neil Thomas' "Napoleonic Wargaming" rules.  There are actually a few such variants floating around the interwebs; the set I like best was written by Brian Cowan and posted the the Neil Thomas Yahoo group.

The first few playtests have gone quite well.  The rules seem to capture enough of the flavor of the period without getting bogged down in details, which is what originally drew me to Neil's rules.  The only house rules I'm using at this time involve morale rolls, where units that fail continue to roll until they pass or run out of stands, and the artillery rules.  The standard rules call for an artillery unit to be immune from charges by enemies when within 8cm of a friendly unit.  This has led to some very irregular situations on the battlefield.  So at this time I'm experimenting with a rule to require an infantry unit to attach to an artillery unit to protect it.

I thought it would be fun to post a detailed battle report with pictures.  First, I'll give the army lists used for the battle.

Continental Army List:
4x Continental Regulars (Infantry, Average)
2x State Militia (Infantry, Levy)
1x Dragoons (Cavalry, Average)
1x Artillery (Light, Average)

British Army List:
4x Line Infantry (Infantry, Average)
1x Grenadiers (Infantry, Elite)
1x Light Infantry (Infantry, Average)
1x Dragoons (Cavalry, Elite)
1x Artillery (Light, Average)

As you can see the lists share several units of similar quality, but the Continentals get inferior militia units while the British get versatile light infantry and elite grenadiers.  To offset this clear advantage somewhat, the Continentals will be put in the role of the defender in the scenario and the militia will have a sturdy stone wall to line up behind.  The playing area is 36" square and the Continentals will be allowed to set up anywhere on their half of the board.  The British army will approach their position, starting within 6" of their board edge.

The next post will show the initial deployment of forces and the opening turns of the game.