Thursday, December 31, 2009

Wings of War night

Last night I hosted a Wings of War evening. Wings of War is a miniatures based air combat game, with a dedicated fan following. We used their 1/144 scale pre-painted WWI biplane models for the games. Currently, their are 36 different models, with a new set involving observation balloons and more planes coming out in the new year.

In the photo below, Alaric, Frederick and Dallas contemplate German tactics.

Most of the players had never played the game before, but this didn't turn out to be a problem. Game play is very simple and elegant:

Each model comes with its own set of maneuver cards specifically designed for it, with large arrows on them. The player controlling a plane plans his turn, choosing three cards in sequence and putting them face down on the gaming mat. All players reveal at the same time the first card for the turn, put it in front of the plane and move the latter so that the little arrowhead on the rear of its clear flight stand matches the arrow in front of the maneuver. Planes thus "fly" on the tabletop. This is repeated for each of the subsequent phases, for each turn.

A ruler (provided in the game) is used to see if a plane has enemy planes in its field(s) of fire; if so, the player may choose a target. The target plane's player must draw a damage card with a random amount of points (optional rules cover special damages, too). Short range fire (up to one-half ruler distance) means two damage cards drawn instead of one. Maneuvers available, firepower, and amount of damage sustained before being eliminated all depend on the specific airplane chosen.

Below, Kevin and Brian observe the results of the Allies' cunning plan.

After a short while, the players weren't thinking a lot about the game mechanics any more. Rather, they were concentrating on anticipating their enemies' moves, and on how to best utilize their own plane's advantages.

We were able to get in a half a dozen games, trading planes and sides throughout the evening. Some battles were just straight shoot 'em ups. The last couple were bombing scenarios, where a force comprised of a two-seater escorted by some fighters was opposed by a flight of enemy fighter planes.

Highlights included:
  • My DH-4 being blown out of the sky by Frederick's multi-coloured Albatross D.III, just shy of my target

  • Alaric's Roland C-II was on fire, but he still was able to drop its bombs on target - just before being shot down by the combined fire of Kevin's Sopwith Camel and my Nieuport 17

  • After all other planes on both sides were shot down or fled, Alaric's all-red Albatross D.III was left alone on the table, a menacing presence to be sure

Thanks to Alaric, Brian, Dallas, DaveO, Frederick and Kevin for taking part in the festivities.

Happy gaming, and have a safe and happy New Year!

Trucks for the Truck Stop and a mini-batrep

Note: click on the photos for larger images.

When playing Warhammer 40K, I very much like playing objective-based scenarios, like the ones written for the Astronomi-con tournament series. One of my favourites is "Truck Stop". The model trucks Christian, Mike and Keith use for Astro were custom built by some generous folks in Ontario.
I wanted to be able to run the scenario on my own table, so I purchased a half dozen "Rebel" light utility trucks from Old Crow Models. Also, such vehicles will be useful for any number of scenarios for 40K, Stargrunt II, Gunschwarm, Zombieland and the other sci-fi games we play.

These Rebels are very sweet model kits. Old Crow cleans up the models before they post them out. In addition, the resin they use is of very fine quality, with no bubbles or pitting. The six trucks went together in about the same time as just one 15mm scale T-60 light tank from the Flames of War line (examples are seen to the right in the above picture). Mold lines, mold mis-keys, and thin lead gun barrels that need to be replaced with wire all contribute to the slow progress on my Soviet "Tankovy" battalion. On one truck I added a plastic 40K machine gun from my spares box, mounted on a searchlight stand.

I finished the basic painting on some Rebels in time for a fun game with Duncan on Tuesday (I'll have to go back and weather those trucks at some point...).


Duncan rolled with a Thousand Sons Chaos space marines army, and I went with my usual mechanized Eldar. That is, skimmer tanks (with some mechanized infantry), jump troops, and jetbike mounted HQ - very, very fast. As the game started, trucks scattered all over the table. Both sides' Reserve rolls were sub-par; the Eldar forces came on piecemeal, and the Chaos forces only received their Vindicator assault tank late in the game.

Some game highlights:
  • The Eldar Farseer accidentally blowing up a truck and its contents (oops!)
  • The Farseer single-handedly holding up an entire Raptor squad of jump troops for multiple turns (yay!), before finally falling (boo!)
  • Eldar Warp Spiders trying to keep a truck and its cargo out of Chaos hands but failing to destroy it like they wanted to (rats!), whereupon the Raptors attacked the Spiders and clubbed them down like baby seals (sigh)
  • Half the Eldar Fire Dragons being consumed by the explosion of their target, the Vindicator tank (funny!)
  • Two entire squads of Thousand Sons marines, including a Chaos Sorcerer, brought low by massed gunfire, plus the energy blades of the surviving Howling Banshees (ouch!)
At the end of the game, each side had one prize in their hands. A slight advantage was granted to the Eldar due to secondary game objectives - control of more table quarters and having more scoring units alive at the end of the game

In after-game discussion, we discussed how one of the Thousand Sons squads spent valuable time trying to chase on foot after a truck, instead of helping support the other scoring unit. This allowed the Eldar to use their skimmer tanks to keep those squads separated and subsequently defeat them in detail. Mutual support is important in objective-based games. A squad can be doing its job merely by staying alive.

In the picture below, Corporal Parnell's gunner/mechanic, Lance, decides that discretion is the better part of valour after the destruction of the Thousand Sons.

Edited to add Jan. 3, 2010:
Added some light weathering with Country Grey, Burnt Sienna and Skin Tone Base acrylic paints:

2009: The Year in Gaming

Being that this is the last day of the year, I thought it would be enlightening to look back at the year of gaming that was 2009. I have tried to keep track through the year (on a mini-calendar on my office desk, no less) of what we, the Conscripts, got up to week-to-week.

Statistically, the most popular scale was definitely 28mm with 17 games played. The type of game most often played was - no surprise - Spacekrieg! (we played that 4 times) - followed closely by Star Wars miniatures and WWII, each played thrice. 6mm was a well-represented scale this year with 4 games. It was the most played scale after 28mm. We played 3 games in 15mm scale too.

Aircraft gaming was popular, we played 2 games of Aeronautica Imperialis and one of Airwar C21: Korea. We also played Check Your Six! twice and last night, Dave V. put on some very cool Wings of War games.

We also played in 40mm scale with a great "Three Musketeers" game staged by Curt, and a 40mm modern skirmish game. We gamed with Gladiators, killer cars in a Dark Future, Warhammer 40K and Fantasy, and Formula De. Even snuck in a couple of zombie games, and three painting nights for good measure!

Anyway, I thought you might be interested in these stats. Also, I wanted to take the opportunity to thank all of you for coming to my house to play with toy soldiers, and for inviting me to your house to do the same. I really don't think that there is a better bunch of gamers or friends around, and I feel fortunate to know and game with all of you, and count you as my friends.

Cheers, and best wishes for the New Year.


ps see you for 40K on New Years Day!! d.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

All three dreadnoughts done!

I bought the first one when the plastic model first came out and gave it a TL Heavy bolter. They took that option out of the next edition, so I bought another one and made it a long range dread. The third one I bought because I wanted to play with magnets. I originally painted them all as Salamanders, but unfortunately the paint job sucked. I didn't see the point in repainting one and not the others, so I redid them all and magnetized the weapon arms of the first two.
Now I just have to put the finishing touches on a few Rhino's and I should have a 1500 point SM army ready to go.

Gotta Love Monday Night Football

I have to say, Monday Night Football is a great way to get some painting done. Especially when it is an NFC West game featuring the Cardinals (who are really not a good team, no matter how hard the pundits try to spin it) and the 49ers (who got so used to being a good team way back, they have completely forgotten how to bee a good team since, and now suck).

The game provided a great chance to finish a couple of figs. Up first, a new officer for Gün Schwarm, who clearly need improved battlefield direction following last week's debacle.

I also finished a second unit of Seven Years War 6mm Austrians, and a command base. The figs are from Adler and are based for "Might & Reason".

I'm about half-way through the infantry pile that came with the "Leuthen Battlepac".

Assuming I actually get any Christmas holidays, I hope to finish more by the new year, and also start on some of the cavalry. I just waiting on an Osprey book before I get started on that...

Friday, December 11, 2009

After Action Report: Future Gordon Brown Celebrates Bloated Victory

Taking a break from my recent horse & musket focus, last night we played a game of Future War at my place. Mike F rolled out with his FutureBritz, including some newly converted and painted AT-43 suits. I deployed Gün Schwarm, with the new "Space Hetzer", and the 40k Valkyrie as part of the lineup. Brian and Cam came out too. Brian joined me on the Gün side, and Cam and Mike rolled with the Britz (New Labour - there's an app for that).

We set up on a 6'x4' table and fought over a village. No big reason was given - perhaps it was emitting too much carbon? We'll never know, in particular because of Mike's Future Churchill...

Suffice to say, it was a brutal outing for Gün Schwarm. We got a few kicks in, slaughtering some infantry, but the Britz knocked our vehicles to pieces in the space of four turns, and we did a terrible job of replying. The Valkyrie killed a few Brit infantry, and deployed a squad on to one of the objectives on the table, but a pair of "pie-plate" blasts from Mike's Space Churchill eliminated that threat.

It was a decisive win for the Britz. Even the Schwarmbot got smacked around! The Gün Schwarm Ministry of Information will have its work cut out when it comes to spinning this disaster.

Here are some pics from the game:

Mike F's brits looked awesome. Thanks to everyone for coming out!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Some (blurry) SYW Progress

More progress over the weekend on the Seven Years War project. I have almost finished my first 6mm Austrian unit. I am basing them for the "Might & Reason" rules by Sam Mustafa. The rules are abstracted to brigade level, and each "unit" is represented by two bases, two-inches wide and one inch deep. I didn't actually know how many 6mm infantry figures I could pack on to the bases, so it was a bit of an experiment. Turns out the answer is 20 per base, meaning 40 castings per unit.

The picture above(sorry - it's a bit blurry) shows the unit nearly completed, with the section on the right still "baking" into the goop, while the section on the left has been painted and had some static grass added.

I can remember Brian H. mentioning to me that one of the few criticisms of the "Might & Reason" rules was the basing system, and he definitely has a point - it's hard to place the standard carrier and command group in a way that feels "right" when your frontage is divided equally across two bases. But I decided to stick with the two-base system anyway, because I'm too impatient to wait for more bases, and one postive is that I find it creates a sense of the rigidity that permeated the linear doctrines of the era (i.e. it should not look right UNLESS you are in line).

Further progress tonight - hopefully Monday Night Football will provide a background to finish a second unit.

PS - here is a blurry pic of the finished unit - using a flag for the Napoleonic setting - a bit beardy, but it's 6mm so I figured it was close enough.. (Hey Brian - I need some flags!)