Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Plotting the afternoon away

Played a quick three player game of Condotierre this afternoon.  Nancy (dark purple) won at the start of the fifth 'round' of battles, over Paul (red) and me (yellow).  It was Paul's first game of this little machievellian gem and, in his obligitory 'I'll read the rules for myself thankyou,' we found a couple aspects that I'd missed on our trial run a couple days ago.  This was the situation at the end of the game:

Purple 6, red and yellow 3 each

The nature of the game for three players was noticeably different than it had been with four.  With three players, that classic 'cut-throat' dynamic came into play, with the added bonus that in this game there are so many ways to do over both the opponents while nominally 'helping' one of them.  Paul and I managed to practically 'give' Nancy's second territory of her eventual six to her and she never looked back from there.  It seemed that two out of every three battles were in effect for the game from not long afterwards so that it is with some pride that we held her off for so long.  Well done Nancy!

I'm looking forward to playing this with five or six players.

Monday, January 07, 2013

Why didn't I think of that?

Over at Steve's Random Musings on Wargames and Other Stuff I came across his most recent, culminating, battle from his Wars of the Spanish Succession Project.  His site (hard to just call it a blog) is an old school wargamer's paradise (at least, for those like me who came to the 'hobby' of wargaming via Charles S. Grant and friends), a very good example of what blogging based creativity can come up with.

Anyways, the last photo on the most recent battle report has the following picture on it:

Skype plus Charles S. Grant
 
When I saw it I instinctively thought, 'wow, of course.'  And then, 'why didn't I think of that?'  I wonder how many other wargamers out there are into this form of gaming, is there a meeting place to find opponents, etc etc.  Maybe TMP?  Hmmm, if I find time will have to go and look.

Sunday, January 06, 2013

Condottiere

As previously advised, I received a game of Condottiere for xmas.  Up until yesterday I'd had to satisfy myself with admiring the quality of the components and reading the rules a couple of times.  Sturdy box, good artwork on the cards, nice practical colourful wooden pieces that look good on the 'cute' foldboard map of renaissance Italy.  Rules are clear, crisp and comprehensive.  The possibilities for good clean dastardly deeds seemed pretty good with this.

Dirty Deeds

Yesterday we managed to try a four player game (Me, Nancy, Shaun, Sharon).  Within the hour we were close to finished, with Shaun playing for the win when he had to go to work (actually, we were all still playing for the win lol) and the game had to end.  My assessment was that the next battle wouldn't have decided it, but the one after could have - with everyone in the running.  

In the hour that we played we had one false start, and still managed to use all of the various types of card (mercenaries, heroines, courtesans, priests, scarecrows, surrenders, drummers, spring and winter), generally to their intended effect.  We had started getting the hang of hand management as well as bidding strategies and strategems.  The game flowed well, was easily learned by our relatively neophyte gamer (Sharon), and posed enough possibilitiy to tie the most devious mind up in knots. 

A tribute to Machiavelli, the Borgias and the Medicis indeed, to match the artwork by Michaelangelo.  And, most importantly, it was fun!

Saturday, January 05, 2013

Snap!

I forgot to mention that we gave my youngest grandson a copy of Usborne's 'Knights and Castles' snap cards for xmas.  He's developed a fascination for the Arthurian Cycle of tales over the past year, with a concomitant knowledge of fighting equipment and techniques, genealogies and heraldry, geography and mythology, ethics and moral quandaries, so it seemed a perfect gift for a three year old born into a gaming family.

A Gallant Knight

It's turned out to be a great hit, with numerous and many (!) games and sessions with the cards that are too large for his hands to comfortably hold, the pictures that play games with the 'snap reflex' of the players by foreshadowing similar designs for different cards (eg, battlefield, hunting and tournament cards are easy to mistake for each other at first glance), and the inevitable advantage for older more cynical players that goes with a game where the excitement of waiting for the next card slows down the thinking needed to get the snap! hand down before mum's.

A bargain at the price, a great introduction to cards, a tough and pretty physical product and an enduring game formula.  That's my summary.  And, great fun!

Monday, December 31, 2012

Still Gaming!

It's been almost a year since last post.  In that time I have had a busy life with not enough gaming to keep the beast in me satisfied.  A lot of what gaming I have done has been online, World of Tanks.  That's on the backburner a little bit now, though I still like taking my PzIV for a bit of a spin.

About a month ago I did manage to get in my first ever game of Agricola.  If you don't know, it's another Eurogame with lots of bright colours, non combative themes, wooden counters and elegant rules.  Agricola is latin for 'farmer', and the idea is to be the best farmer at the end of fourteen turns.  Players are judged by family size, house size and construction, herd and crop sizes, as well as farm improvements.  I managed to win (30pts), with Julie a narrow second (27), then Nancy (20) and Tony (17).  I've given our copy of the game away for xmas, but will soon get another as it got the thumbs up from all concerned.  Here's a pic from the end of the game:

A hard evening's farming in Agricola.

We gave several games for Xmas, including a copies of Billionaire and Treasure Island to my nephews.  In return, I picked up a copy of Conditierre - a card based bidding game themed around the Renaissance Italian Wars.  I hope to get a couple games in after New Year.

Speaking of the Renaissance, I have brought my character back to a (lower) level of activity in Renaissance Kingdoms.  I'll be posting on the experience in future, but I'll say here that is was kinda nice to stretch my alter ego's legs after over a year of inactivity (just enough to stop him being eradicated).  I am so glad I kept him because now he can be older and wiser.

Finally, my most excellent missus has finally gotten around to clearing out another room in our house for my use in gaming and modelling.  This was needful as the last attempt at doing this was promptly followed by a stream of visitors that hasn't stopped who all use the 'spare' room.  The kids might miss their 'toy room', but I think I'll be able to convince them that it's a fair trade if I get space to model and game.

Anyways, sorry to be away so long.  Glad to see that my blogging comrades have kept up the good fight in my absence.  And, Adelaide Gamer wishes you all a brilliant New Year and many good dice rolls in the one that will follow!

Friday, January 06, 2012

AAD and other things

Well, I hope all those who read this had a safe and fun silly season. We at Adelaide Gamer did, most certainly. Not much in the way of games though, except for a bit of Tanks. And a recce on some modelling, for when I get the chance.

In the World of Tanks I have seemed to shift up a gear in my playing style, although it isn't necessarily immediately obvious when viewing the stat pages I think I am playing a lot smarter than I was a month ago. This is reflected in steady kill ratios of 1 per game or higher, and climbing averages for experience across my stable (T34, T34-85, IS2, SU-85, MS-1(!)).

I have also joined a clan, the ANZAC Armoured Division (2nd Battalion) - or AAD2 for short. The core of the clan consists of committed long term WoT players, it was formed in April 2011. The original AAD is presently 89 members, the 2nd Battalion has 30. The 1st Battalion is the gang who will provide the armies when Clan Wars finally starts up a Asia-Oceania server and fighting the daily round of battles in the quest for World Domination at a time more suitable for oceania timezones than does the present North American based server (early afternoon aussie time).

When you realise the First Battalion is composed of those with top level tanks waiting for the clan wars to start, and that the Second Battalion is for the more relaxed, less developed Tanker, then you'll probably understand that I give no secrets away when I say that the plan is to hit the ground running when Oceania opens up for conquest, grab territory and hang onto it. Apparently there's some well established russian clans with the same idea, so it will be interesting.

On a more mundane level, the AAD runs a basic forum and Team Speak set up which, when combined with a little message discipline and the ingame information streams in WoT, provides good forums, meeting points, communications networks and information storage to run a pretty major operation. The TS server set up is good, with channels for individual platoons, companies, training ground players and miscellaneous use, as well as main lobbies. Very functional and focused, without being neurotic about it. Kinda like us ANZACs (Australia New Zealand Army Corps, from WWI and Gallipoli) like to think we are.

Oh. And I'm chasing down some putty for the T34-85 model, and eagerly awaiting the end of silly season so I can set up and use my new air compressor and spray gun.

And there's a Knizia game of the Hobbit to learn and play.

And S&T is releasing its Germany-Russia 1920 hypothetical game in a couple months.

2012 looks like being a very good year.

Monday, December 26, 2011

The day after the day after

I almost was a xmas grinch by throwing out our old tree when one of the elves dropped off a new one the day before the day before. Instead, I left it out on the roadside verge in case anyone who saw it needed a tree (with a little note saying they're welcome to it). No-one took it, and the bin won't have enough room for it for a week or two to come, but at least I avoided grinchisness.

As for the treasure ... a high grade micro air compressor (variable flow, water trap) and modeling airbrush plus fixtures, models of Fokker Dr VII (biplane) and 1:35 Russian Tank Crew, an Order of Battle of the Red Army's main fronts in WWII and a more detailed history of their armoured forces, and a military history 'daybook'. Treasure for those near and dear included 'The Hobbit' boardgame (a Eurogame designed by Knizia) and a pretty dramatic scaletrix track and cars (slot cars). So, Santa was kind indeed, and at least as perceptive as has been in past years.

And it was nice on the day after the day after the curse of grinchisness was avoided to finally take some time out and settle back into some solid driving on my IS-2 in World of Tanks. More on those adventures later ...

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Six hours tankin' it

Just ended what was about a six hour World of Tank session with the Lizard King. My prime tank was initially a KV13 (Tier 7), while he had a T44 (Tier 8). We were striking pretty well, but in the battles where our platoon got knocked out early we then filled the time with our reserve vehicles (T34-85 and M4A3E8 'Easy Eight'). At about H+5 I had achieved the necessary credits to trade in my KV13 for an IS Heavy Tank (Tier 7).

Much as I was a bit sad to sell my KV (over 170 battles I had become quite attached to its nifty combination of speed and heavy armour, albeit its relatively weak 85mm gun was irritating at times), it was nice to move into a heavy tank for the first time in WoT. And I'm within a handful of games of being able to research the T43 from the T34-85, which will make it 'elite' and allow me to hopefully get 100% camouflage ratings on the crew while I accumulate the necessary credits with which to trade it in and actually purchase the '43.

But for now, I love it when a good plan comes together.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Two new old blogs on my list

I've added Winter of '79 and Клементи Ворошилов ('Klementi Vorishilov' - thanks Ralph) to the blogs I follow. The first is imaginations in a thatcherite UK after the coup, the second is an ASL inspired rave with a bit of attitude. Sadly my own imaginations project stalled part way to first base (ah, the fate of a million projects) and I have never played ASL (being an unregenerate Squad Leader fan), but love both blogs. Worth a look.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

WoT update

I've been playing World of Tanks (wikilink*) for just over two months now (seems like forever) and have some decent vehicles in my garage. I have just fought my 100th battle in my KV13 Medium Tank, and hope to change that for an IS Heavy sometime in the coming week. I've been in over 500 battles in my T34-85, and am within about a hundred battles of being able to begin production of the T-43 (which line of development will eventually culminate in the T-54). For a bit of light entertainment I also have an SU85, armed with a 107mm tank killer, which I may or may not decide to upgrade to an SU122 sometime in the future.

I have of course kept my T34, and still enjoy charging around with it and its rapid firing 57mm gun. One can almost sense the surprise of some of those I bump into when I seem to pour shots into them twice as rapidly as the more normal 76mm armament would!

And I still have my MS-1, though hardly ever drive it now (these days getting my lower level kicks from driving my level/Tier 5 T34). It won't last much longer though, as after I replace the KV13 with an IS, I will need the 'slot' presently occupied by the wee MS-1 for my T43 unless I wish to sell off either my T34 or T34-85 (which I don't), or stop developing my line of tank destroyers.

All good fun, and all free. What more could one ask for?

*Updated 'wikilink' to wikipedia link (18 Dec '11).

S & T Nicaragua - First Impressions

My impressions of Strategy and Tactics Issue 120?

In a word, 'impressed'. Several articles about revolutionary warfare central american style makes both for a sad list of the countries that had to undergo the ensuing 'uncivil wars' and an interesting analysis of 'low intensity' warfare environs and the strategies and tactics for use by the various factions. Of course, it hones in on Nicaragua, but the coverage is much wider.

And then there's the game. I haven't yet played it, but look forward to doing so. Suspect it might be solo, but look forward to it none the less as it appears to be a genuine 'simulation' as well as a game. I can easily foresee situations arising in the game which the dark humourist in me would enjoy - in the same way one enjoys a game of Junta or Illuminati.

Cadres, fronts, social classes, public institutions, terrorism, guerrilla tactics, diplomacy and foreign intervention, popular will, political programs, military combat and repression, propaganda, psychological operations, all interwoven quite neatly through simple row and column shifts and dice rolls. In my mind's eye, it seemed to make sense. To get a feel for it, the map and its provinces is more a 'political geography' of the land than a simulation of the terrain. In fact, the terrain rules are optional extras for the basic combat system.

Definitely a wargame, but with more of a eurogamesque approach to simulation than is usually found in such. I look forward to playing it.

To see some graphics of it (and reviews etc), check here.

As a final sidenote, the biographical notes on the game's designer (and author of almost all the articles) say he was (is) a retired US Army Captain. His military career seemed to have been spent in the psyops and then academic fields of endeavour. Thus, my theory of the game as being as much 'simulation' as 'game' might actually be correct!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

S & T

At loose ends one lunch time in the city I wondered into a newsagent's that I hadn't been inside before to scan their 'hobby' section of magazines. Imagine my surprise when I found a copy of 'Strategy and Tactics' for sale! I haven't seen this magazine for decades (!) and, when I last did, it always seemed to be more S&M than gaming fun, what with its concentration on the design, backstory and rules of the hardcore game which was contained in every bimonthly addition. Never-the-less, and realising that I've allegedly 'grown up' a bit in the intervening years, I purchased it. It was edition #270 from Sept/Oct this year, featuring analysis of the American Revolution and the game of that name.

I must say, I was a little disappointed. Firstly, no game. I know, I knew that before I purchased it, but it was still disappointing. And secondly, I felt the articles were less 'meaty' than my memory was telling me the old ones used to be. Larger font, more pictures, dumber diagrams, more filler, less content. Still a good read, but ... well ... disappointing.

It can't have been too bad, however, because when the next edition came in the following week, I bought that too (this one, looking at the Second Battle of Kharkov)! Edition #272 is going to be about the Battle of Lepanto (might give it a miss) but the following one will feature a game called 'Reischwer'. Which, of course, I am already excited about. I might even order the game itself...

Anyways...

Imagine my further surprise this morning when I'm visiting Miltary Hobbies for my bi-annual visit and, while I'm there, the storekeeper pulls out some newly arrived bundles totaling about a hundred copies of old S&T's and plonks them on the counter to show an old customer of his. Unable to help myself, I mosey on over and browse through. These were all old editions, complete with game maps and pieces (still unpressed). Gold!

Restraining myself, I ended up choosing #120 from July 1988 (the 'Nicaragua!' edition, the whole magazine being dedicated to the game, analysis and design notes for the game and background articles examining later 20th century Latin American revolutions) and #156 from December 1992 (concentrating on the Russo-Polish War of 1920 and 'White Eagle Eastward', the included game). At $10 each I considered them a bargain, and nearly got another but had blown my budget rather badly already. Might need to make a return visit!

I'll have a closer look at my purchases and report back here as to whether the inclusion of the games was as wonderful an idea as I thought at the time, and whether the content of the magazines themselves was indeed more substantial than the modern day equivalents.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

RIP Anne

I have just heard that Anne McGafferey passed on on Monday. She was 85 years old. I've read a few of the Pern series, been intrigued by the world she created, read a few of her other books. One of the great women of sf/fantasy.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Can anyone here help Ralph?

Ralph, over at Клементи Ворошилов (how do I pronounce this?), is doing some really interesting stuff with Advanced Squad Leader. After reading this post, outlining some of the travails of one dedicated to simulating obscure yet important campaigns (in this case, the Brit-Soviet invasion of Iran in 1941), I wished that I knew more of the campaign, or that I had (or had the time to play) ASL - as Ralph was looking for playtesters for his project.

If you can help him, perhaps let him know.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Rule of Thumb

Last week, I commenced work on my 1:35 tank model. On Sunday, I had hoped to complete the wheels and suspension, preparatory to the tracks. Seeing as it was a nice day, however, I thought would go and do some things in the garden. This, sadly, resulted in me being very un/lucky in that I managed to jamb my thumb pretty bad but not crush or amputate it (which was never-the-less very painful). Which put paid to my plan to work on the model. Who want's real blood on their model, afterall?

So I went and looked at modeling sites on the web for a few hours, discovering some most excellent youtube videos along the way. Particularly informative is this guy, who's detailed, understandable, knowledgeable and practical productions will be very useful in future. In retrospect, it was very good that I had this enforced time-out from the blood rush of pushing ahead regardless that comes with a new model. Vicariously looking at the detail of what will be required in future, the various stagings of the project, better enables me to determine what needs doing next (my ultimate question at any particular moment). I suspect that this is saving me a lot of grief down the track, and rapidly accelerating my learning curve beyond the old trial and error ways. Of course, it must be matched by skill development which will take time, but you get what I mean. But I digress...

After a couple of days of web research I was in the middle of a busy working week and couldn't really bring time and inclination together, so contented myself in confirming a probable Xmas delivery of a selection of appropriate decals. By that stage, it would be nice to have the construction done, or at a stage at least where minor variants are all that is required to match up with the particular decal and paint job that I decide on.

The only 'real' modeling job I've done since spraying my 67 parts of wheel, suspension and lower hull, with undercoat last Saturday was to grind the diameter of the axles so they fit the wheels a bit more comfortably. Without doing this the fit would be too tight to allow what I learnt from the videos was the advisable method of construction (put on the wheels to fit the tracks during their construction, remove them then prior to painting, glue them on prior to final detailing) and I would likely have experienced grief and heartache at some point.

I've also checked out what a modeling spray gun would be worth, to give the enamel coats of paint and varnish prior to the weathering work with brush and oilpaint. Luckily for me, the Mrs thinks this is a good idea. I'm a lucky man.