Tuesday 31 December 2019

Going out with several bangs - Irregular Wars to finish the year

After quite a hiatus, I managed to get in a couple of games of Irregular Wars just before the year's end. Lee has been working on a French army for the New World - starting with Coureur des Bois with the intention of being able to morph it into French Adventurers in due course. 

In out first game I commanded some doughty Hollanders, and in the second, a rabble of rag-tag Spanish colonials. I'm afraid that the light wasn't great for my shaky hands, and the sandy coloured battlefield caused havoc with the contrast settings on my phone, but I still wanted to give some sort of account for the games.

After recruiting our forces, my Hollanders (bottom of the photo) had more companies present - but then the Disease and Mishaps rolling saw two of my companies - some crossbowmen and a unit of halberdiers - bought off completely. Lee found that one of his coureur companies was late deploying to their designated location, while another was led by an overly enthusiastic captain who ignored orders and advanced into the open before the battle started in earnest.

While most of the Coureur des Bois companies were deadly marksmen and woodsmen, the Hollanders were incredibly unsuited to the wooded and marshy landscape. Unable to cross the river with any speed, the Hollanders started to organise an defensive line along the waterway. Lee played rain cards for the first could of turns, so the Hollander battery of ship's guns lay quiet. 

Just in time for the Frenchmen to come withing range of the Dutch shot, the skies cleared and the guns opened fire, sending plumes of smoke across the flood plain. There was some return fire from the French and their Indian auxiliaries, but surprisingly little impact on either side.

At that point, Lee, a native of Canada, tried to befuddle my senses but introducing me to a treat from his homeland and his army's namesake liqueur. Maple-whiskey-cream, absolutely delightful!

While their commanders were off drinking together, the cunning Coureur des Bois continued to pepper the Hollander drilled shot with bullets and arrows until all three companies scattered and fled the field of battle. 

Things were looking pretty grim for the Dutch until the battery of ship's guns started to land their shots on target. The skirmishing coureurs and Indian scouts fled and, seeing them scatter, the French lord and his company of merchant-adventurers decided that discretion was the better side of valour and ran off as well. It was touch and go for a while, but the superior resolve of the Hollanders won the day. 


Game two took place somewhat further south, in a land of sandy hills and palm trees. This time the Coureur des Bois were the attackers and my Colonial Spanish were on the defensive. Both armies ended up having one enthusiastic captain (in the French case it was the lord himself!), one late company, and a couple of companies suffering from disease. Happily, the Spanish priest had a miraculous recovery. The Spanish lord was an inexperienced fop, while the French lord was experienced, but with a chronic stomach complaint.

In an act of tactical recklessness, the Coureur des Bois lord decided to advance most of his men out of the woods, rather than turning his own company around and retreating. This left a couple of slower moving companies out of the lord's command range and these were become a weak link in the French chain. 

The Spanish advanced across the open in two rough lines, with war dogs and militia shot in the front, and the mediocre-at-best colonial mobs in the rear. The Spaniard's Indian mercenaries advanced towards reluctant French units still the wood, while the two companies of hidalgos took up position in the middle. 

One hidalgo company managed to line up a perfect charge against the flank of a unit of Coureur des Bois that was already engaged in melee to their front against some Spanish militia shot. The coureurs scattered and fled - as the hidalgos pursued them, they crashed into the flank of a unit of French Indian scouts, causing them too to scatter and flee. Unfortunately, the hidalgos continued their charge, pursuing their fleeing foes right off the battlefield...

If the French half-pikemen were still in the battle they may have been able to prevent the hidalgos having free reign over the open ground. However, while they were outside of their lord's command range, their captain decided to turn his men around and lead them away from battle.

Two companies of coureurs made it across to occupy one of the Spanish hills, charging down the slope into the armed mobs, they fought valiantly but wavered and fell back up to the heights. Having disengaged from their melee, the French hunters now became valid targets for the Spanish artillery.   

As the Spanish ordnance caused the coureur's the scatter, the Spanish Indian mercenaries finally chased off the last Frenchmen from the woods and the day was won for His Most Catholic Majesty and his New World order.

Saturday 28 December 2019

More pulp testing

A few more photos of play testing Palaeo Diet: Pulp.  Here, our intrepid adventurers find themselves in a deserted village square, desiccated mummies shuffling just out of view.

Aiming to release the expansion in the first half of next year, we're hesitant about giving too much away before the game is in the final form. What I can hint strongly at, however, is that there are three broad pulp genres that the expansion will provide rules for: lost world dinosaur hunting, curse of the mummy, and cultists and gangsters.

Injured by the mummified priestess, Captain Jean Claude 'Foreign Johnny' van Damme is overcome by a swarm of scarab beetles.

The adventurers attempt to seize eggs from dinosaur nests - all the time trying to avoid the mummy-dinos and their big teeth.

Omar tries to leave a raptor nest with an egg, but makes too much noise as he exits the thicket.

A special forces fire-team lands on the outskirts of town and deploy to retrieve an important droid stolen by space-pirate scum.
This game was a hilarious bloodbath with the space-pirate witch doctor summoning multiple additional goods before being gunned down by two of the fire-team with SMGs. The special forces lost their rifleman, but retrieved the droid and then carried their comrade's body back to the extraction point.  

Thursday 26 December 2019

Age of Civilization

Produced and released through Kickstarter earlier in the year, Age of Civilizations is a neat little worker placement, resource management game from Canadian company Ice Makes Games. It arrived a couple of months ago, not long after the company's estimated release date.

Despite the fact that the title is (ironically and, admittedly, arguably) spelt using a barbarised dialect of English, this a most enjoyable 1-4 player game charting the rise and evolution of civilisations and empires over time.

I've re-posted a how-to-play video from the KS website below, so I won't repeat the basics here. However, after six games (a mix of multiplayer and solo games), I'm left wanting to play more of this wee box-set. The game play is pretty straightforward - at least in its basic form. There are a number of variants that can be added to change game play, and a scenario booklet to spice up solo games.   

Furthermore, the production value is top notch. I can't fault any of the components - and, between the cards and the meeples, there are hundreds of them. 

I'm not sure when this game will be available to the non-KS market, but if you're keen to play a historically-themed civilisation-building game, you should definitely pick up a copy of this one!  

Tuesday 24 December 2019

Christmas message

Well, Christmas is upon us once more and as the year comes to a close, I wanted to leave you with a very important image:

I saw this poster hanging on the wall in the gents of a restaurant I was at with my family recently. It takes a lot to convince me to take out my phone and take a picture in a public toilet, but with my recent testing of Palaeo Diet: Pulp, I made an allowance this time and took the picture. 😁

And with that, allow me to say merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

Sunday 22 December 2019

Yule really need to check out Four Against Ragnarök

The monstrous children of Loki, the Mischief-Maker, strain against their bonds, and writhe and twist and plot to end the rule of the gods. Ragnarök, the destruction of the gods and all of the Nine Realms is coming. It is merely a question of when, and for how long it can be held off.

Based on the highly acclaimed Four Against Darkness series of RPG-lite dungeon delving adventures by Andrea Sfiligoi, this is a standalone solitaire or co-operative pen-and-paper game for 1 to 4 players. You don’t need any other books. No GM is needed! All you need is a pencil, two regular dice, this book, and the luck of the gods!

Available now, just in time for Yule and the festive season!

You can find it at Lulu in book form as a hardback or softback, or as a digital pdf download. It is also available as a pdf direct from Ganesha Games, or on the Ganesha Gumroad store. Soon to be available on Wargames Vault and Amazon too!

Saturday 14 December 2019

Pressurised pulp

JB, Lee and I put Palaeo Diet's pulp-inspired expansion through it's paces this week with a few scenarios exploring the three broad themes in the game. As usual in our playtesting sessions, my carefully crafted draft rules were torn into like a kebab after a night out, but then put back together like a... I don't know, I don't have a good analogy. Anyway, they are better now than they were before we started the testing. Much more polishing to do, but we feel like we're on the right track.

Harry Ford didn't enjoy his first encounter with a t-rex...

Captain 'Foreign Johnny' van Damme faces off against a flock of velociraptors. 

Omar's tommy gun jams as he opens fire on the mummy. 

Miss Blunt lands a closing shot with her pistol, but is cursed and gets the feeling her time is up.  

I don't yet have in-period goons, so we had two rival space pirate gangs attempt to steal the droid from Imperial storm-goons. 

JB's pirates may have technically won, but it was still satisfying taking out his most active pirate with my shotgun-toting pink-haired lady pirate. 

Monday 9 December 2019

Palaeo Diet: Pulp - 15mm dinosaurs and the cat!

Gearing up for the playtesting of Palaeo Diet: Pulp (the dino-hunting, mummy-wrangling, Nazi-punching expansion for Palaeo Diet: Eat or Be Eaten), I've gone and painted up some dinosaurs.

A 10mm scale pentaceratops from Magister Militum.

A 10mm scale tyrannosaurs rex from Magister Militum. 

 A clutch of 10mm scale velociraptors from Magister Militum.

A group shot comparing the scales of the 10mm dinos with the 15mm adventurer Harry Ford. I'm quite happy with the scaling. The t-rex might be a little small, but all the others are pretty much true to scale.

My wee cat - sculpted from green stuff, modeled on my actual wee cat, Milly.

Milly in the round. 

Milly, as a 15mm scale cat next to Captain van Damme to show the scale.

... and lastly, a work-in-progress 15mm tiki mask for my forthcoming witch-doctor.

As always (though it is seldom voiced), thanks for looking. ✊

Saturday 7 December 2019

Welcoming Greeks bearing gifts

As the nights draw in, the temperatures fall and decorations appear in every window, it must be time for more  10mm Greeks. Hippokontistai and hoplite allies for my Macedonians. All are from Magister Militum.

I now have a neat little collection of 10mm Macedonians - 16 units in total, 40 points worth of troops for Dux Bellorum: Hoplomachia - or just over 100 points for l'Art de la Guerre or 400 points should they ever see use in Hail Caesar.