Monday, June 25, 2012

'Worst Case Scenario #2' - The Crossing at Nussdorf - May 13, 1809

Voltigeurs crossing the Danube by barge.
One of my favorite wargaming subjects is the 1809 Austrian campaign, in particular the Battle of Aspern-Essling. It is regarded as a one of the pivotal actions of the Napoleonic period as it showed to the world that Bonapart, a man who up to that point had never tasted the bitter fruit of defeat, could actually be beaten.

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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Product Review - 'Strange Aeons: A Miniature Skirmish Game of Eldritch Horror'

The man himself: Howard Philip Lovecraft
As a little diversion I recently ordered a copy of 'Strange Aeons' which is a tactical skirmish game set in the disturbing eldritch universe of that wonderfully strange man, H.P. Lovecraft. 

The rulebook is coil bound which makes it great for accessing rules without breaking the spine after hard use.
Not wanting to simplify matters too much, but broadly speaking 'Strange Aeons' is akin to GW's 'Mordheim/Necromunda' except with tentacles, tommy guns and little chance of a happy ending. (So pretty much spot on for any fan of the nihilistic Cthulhu mythos!) The rules call for each player to create and equip a team of investigators, lead by a suitably courageous hero (usually 2-5 figures). Each scenario requires that one of the players run the forces of evil (the badies can be fine-tuned by players to fit the scenario) while the other player (or players) takes in their team to attempt to defeat the dark menace awaiting them.

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Saturday, June 16, 2012

'Worst Case Scenario #1': The Combat of the Thirty / Combat des Trente, 1351



I came across a description of this little donnybrook while reading Barbara Tuchman's 'A Distant Mirror' and thought it might be a good scenario for a large, multi-player game.

By 1351 the Hundred Years War was already grinding through its first generation of combatants. The Battle of Crecy (1346) had been an unmitigated disaster for the prestige of French arms and it had placed their nobility on their collective back foot for years afterwards. With the French warrior elite seriously denuded by arrowshafts it allowed bands of mercenary companies (much of them English soldiers unemployed from the King's service) to roam the countryside, raiding and laying waste to large areas of France. 


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Thursday, June 14, 2012

A New Column - 'Worst Case Scenario'


'No one understands my mad, mad genius... '
(Who amongst you remembers that book cover?)
Ok, I have to come clean about something.

I have an addiction.

I'm hopelessly hooked on game scenarios.

You see, game scenarios are like a drug to me. They are my smack. My kryptonite. I am defenseless against their overwhelming power of dorkiness. I have stacks and stacks of the freakin' things stashed around the house. They can be for any game really; historical, sci-fi or fantasy, it doesn't really matter - cripes, most of them are for systems I don't even play. I usually have a scenario book in my shoulder tote at all times (you never know when you might get bored at a meeting). My wife even lets me read the bloody things at the dinner table - bless her soul. She puts up with me flipping through pages, looking at charts, chortling away between forkfuls of food and gulps of bad plonk, gleefully snorting at umpire's notes and idiotically grinning at victory conditions. Its a sickness really.

Next to reading scenarios I also really enjoy creating them. Grid maps, entry points, reinforcement tables, special events cards; to me they are like some kind of nerd poetry. I often will find myself reading a book or watching a film and think, damn, this would make an excellent scenario. Sometimes I get them onto paper, but often they slip past my espresso-addled mind.

Anyway, I thought I'd share this particular fetish with you by starting a new regular column on the blog that I'm calling either 'Worst Case Scenario' or 'Half-Baked Plan' (By popular vote its  officially 'Worst Case Scenario'!) which will focus on a dog's breakfast of ideas for game scenarios. To be honest these will be pretty rough concepts, not fully-developed or necessarily ready-to-play, but I hope that they might inspire others to take them to the next level and actually try them out. Anyway, I'll give it a whirl and see where it goes.

First up: some orderly, courtly and courteous slaughter from the Hundred Years War...


Monday, June 11, 2012

The Great War in Greyscale - German Infantry, Officers and Maxim Machine Gun



Here are some early war Germans in their distinctive 'Pickelhaube' helmets and full packs. In planning out this project, I knew I would have to find a way to make the various nations' uniforms distinct from one another while being restricted to a fairly generic grey palette. In looking at black and white photos of the period I found the tonal diferences between the tunic of a French Poilu, a German Landser and a British Tommy quite similar, so I knew that I would need to amplify or mute certain aspects of their uniforms to better differentiate them from one another.

With this in mind I purposefully began with the Belgians as their uniform was the darkest of any in 1914. My thinking was that once I established the greyscale palette for the Belgian's almost black uniform then all the others (German, French and British) would reference from that benchmark. 


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Wednesday, June 6, 2012

A Question of Historical Wargaming: 'Ok, Who Wants to be The Bad Guys?


I'm feeling a little introspective lately. This is what comes from having a bit of vacation time to laze about, catch up on some reading and generally navel gaze. As an odd combination, I've been following the faltering Mladic war crimes trial from the Hague, finishing Nial Ferguson's 'The Pity of War' and reading several sets of modern wargame rules, all of which has set me to thinking about our hobby.


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Monday, June 4, 2012

Product Review: Kobblestone Miniatures 28mm European Row Houses


I came across a listing of these 28mm resin building kits from Kobblestone Miniatures on Tabletop Gaming News a few weeks ago and thought they might integrate well with my Great War project. I contacted the owner/sculptor Bill (who was very helpful in explaining his products) and ordered two row house sections - one in idyllic condition while the other suffers from severe battle damage.

Each section of two buildings currently costs $50 to $65 USD, depending on design. Shipping was quick and the parcel was well-packed, with the components arriving without any damage. 
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