Sunday, 24 April 2016

PC Game Review: Battlefleet Gothic Armada

There are probably many wargamers out there who don't play PC games - so turn away now!  This is for those of you who haven't heard about Battlefleet Gothic Armada which was released a few days ago.  I'm highlighting it here because it's a very faithful copy of the original BFG game, and for those who used to (and still do) play, I'd recommend it highly.  SB5 are currently addicted to it...

It's a basic naval combat simulator.  A big 2D board, ships that move around and fire at each other.  Special abilities, experience, upgrades for your ships - that's pretty much it.  And that's what I like about it, it's so straightforward and unpretentious, it just allows you to drool at the lovely pictures.

It's a strange blend of map campaign and story campaign - you have a sort of star chart you can select missions from.  Certain worlds give certain bonuses etc., and there is one compulsory 'story mission' each campaign turn.  A big plus seems to be that victory isn't compulsory in these (although I have only played through once).  If you fail, rather than loading the game and trying again, you have to sail back to Port Maw for a bollocking off Admiral Ravensburg, which is a nice touch.  As I say, this might be written into the story deliberately but it does make it much more immersive.

You can level up and upgrade your ships with some very nifty upgrades, and (my favourite) you also have the power to rename your ships!

So, good points:

Loyal recreation of models - they are exactly the same as the tabletop game.  Enough said.

Very good AI system - you can give your ships orders to auto-track enemies, telling them what range to try and maintain etc.  I always put squadrons of fighters on this mode and control the flag squadron, the AI is intelligent enough for you to trust and saves micromanaging.

Beautiful visual effects - I don't use that word lightly.  It really is impressive, the time they saved creating a nice simple interface and storyline has been spent recreating space phenomena and weapons effects.  The AI means you have time to enjoy this, instead of madly micromanaging your ships.

And bad points:

Over simplistic story - the story is so basic that it wouldn't fool a household pet.  Perhaps that's deliberate, but the overacted voices (shouty Commissar, sneering fellow Captains, growly Chaos) is a little bit grating sometimes.  As I mentioned above, the ability to lose missions and continue the campaign is a very nice touch.

Too zoomed-in - I wish you could zoom the camera out further, and there was a full-screen map from which you could give orders.  It's easy to lose yourself, especially when the game annoyingly centres the camera on an objective just as you're giving orders.

Display points - minor niggles now - the font is hard to read, and the little logos which tell you your ships' weapons and specs are tiny.  These could be bigger, and clearer.

Looking back at those negatives, that isn't bad for a game that's two or three days out of Alpha.  It's £29.99 on Steam at the moment - not cheap, but certainly value for money.  I'd highly recommend it.

Sunday, 17 April 2016

Valhallan Heavy Bolter Team

Those of you who've had the misfortune to have been following my blog from the Early Days will remember that it started out as a 40K blog.  Indeed Palladian Guard is the name for my beloved 40K army.  But I soon decided that Warhammer wasn't really for me any more.  The game was getting silly (and expensive) - but I still cherished a lingering love for my first wargame.  After some successful patrol clash games, I sold most of my tanks and just kept a 1,000pt all-infantry force.  To be honest, there's been so much historical wargaming going on since then that I've not played a game of 40K in over a year.

We are, however, very irreverent when it comes to rules.  We pick and choose what we like - for instance we still play Third Edition rules because those are our favourite set.  We loved Inquisitor, and we also love Necromunda - so we've decided to start an Inquisimunda game.

What's Inquisimunda?  Well, you make a squad of about 5-10 models.  No rules, restrictions or anything like that - as long as it's sensible by consensus.  Then, you use a made-up hash of 40K and Necromunda rules to fight a nice little skirmish game.

The beauty of this is that you can get some models of whatever army you like!  In my case, Valhallans:

Friday, 25 March 2016

1:2400 Russo-Japanese War Ships

Things have been very ACW-heavy for the past few months, so to prove I have other things on the go I thought I'd share my progress on these Russo-Japanese War ships.  They're from the Tumbling Dice 1:2,400 Age of Battleships range, covering roughly the 1890s to 1910s.

I picked a few up at my last Partizan visit.  Suitably impressed, I've been slowly adding to the range with a view to playing out some RJW naval actions.  These are all based on circular MDF bases, with 'No More Nails' glue sculpted into water.

Thursday, 10 March 2016

The Battle of Sharpsburg

The Battle of Antietam, or Sharpsburg as it was known in the Confederacy, remains the bloodiest day in the history of the United States to this day; 25,000 casualties of whom 4,000 were killed.  So it was not without some trepidation that we embarked on our latest game of Two Splendid Lines, following the history of the Fourth Texas Infantry through the Civil War, battle by battle.

For those who've missed the preceeding posts, TSL is a 6mm game based on the Give Them The Cold Steel ruleset.  It focuses on the morale and tactical dynamics of regimental-level combat - all about the snapshot of a battle.

Saturday, 13 February 2016

The Flag of the Fourth Texas

It's been a little while since I've done a post, so a quick update to whet your appitites for the forthcoming campaigns.
  • The Two Splendid Lines campaign is on hold for a few weeks.  The next battle, Antietam, requires six regiments so I have a lot of painting to do! 
  • I'm writing a series of linked games for Battlefleet 1900, where a team of players takes command of a single ship and leads it to glory.
  •  There's a 40K campaign in the works, using 2mm models and rules based on our Cold Steel super set.
You want pictures you say?  Well, how about the regimental flag of the 4th Texas.  My very patient mother (who still helps her 26-year old son with sewing all his costumes together) made us a very nice homespun regimental flag.

The Battle of Second Manassas

Welcome to the latest episode in our Two Splendid Lines 6mm campaign.  This is a series of linked battles, following all the battles of the Fourth Texas through the Civil War.  We've already fought Eltham's Landing and Gaines' Mill, now it's time for Second Manassas, or Second Bull Run as it's known up North.  Roll call, for the officers of the Fourth Texas Infantry...

Monday, 11 January 2016

The Battle of Gaines' Mill

Welcome to the first proper game of Two Splendid Lines, our 6mm regimental-focused ACW game!  I think I'll let the pictures (properly captioned) do most of the talking.  This was a small snapshot of the 4th Texas attacking the Federal positions on top of Turkey Hill at Gaines' Mill, June 27th 1862.  As part of our campaign we are playing every battle in which the 4th Texas participated in, in order.  We had a minor skirmish at Eltham's Landing last week, but this is the regiment's first pitched battle...

The basic situation.  The Texans start in the gulley on the right, and have to advance up the hill and take the defences.

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Franco Prussian War Supercampaign - The Bridge of Blood

General Corbeau
Welcome to the latest Supercampaign!  Set in the Franco Prussian War, this immersive map campaign pitted Ollie (Prussians) against Kieran (French).

For those who haven't yet seen our supercampaign series, we did an American Civil War and English Civil War campaign earlier this year and had great fun.  Check the supercampaign tag out for more information.  I also wrote a book describing the action as it unfolded, in the style of an Osprey book.

Thursday, 31 December 2015

Two Splendid Lines

Today I'm going to share a playtest of the 6mm regimental game I'm writing - tentatively named Two Splendid Lines, from a Union officer who observed Pickett's Charge and so described that fateful advance.

The aim aim is to represent command and leadership of a regiment in line warfare:
  • Your regiment cannot 'just stop' or 'just turn round'.  
  • Proper commands must be used, just as in real life
  • As well as casualties, order and cohesion is tracked.
As my last post described, I've done a lot of research on the proper drill commands.  Using my Baccus 6mm ACW figures, I playtested an attack on a Federal position using my 4th Texas Infantry.  Each stand is one company of about 50 men.

I was going to wait until I'd painted and built all of these, but instead I've decided to go for a 'warts and all' look at writing a wargame.

The regiment approaches in double column at half distance.  Two companies wide, and five deep - 'half distance' is a good compromise between compactness and space to manoeuvre each company.

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

New Painting Area

Hope everyone had a good Christmas!

I've been a bit quiet of late as I unexpectedly had to move house - I still work in south Wales but now live in North Yorkshire, making for some interesting commuting.

I have two overdue posts with the results of our Franco Prussian War campaign, and the work on an immersive 6mm Regimental 'Simulator' game for ACW.  Both will follow this week - I promise!

In the meantime, I thought I'd quickly share this picture of my new painting area.  Without being to gloaty, I have managed to secure a box room to use as a hobby zone.