Friday 30 November 2018

Battle Ravens Preview - PSC games

Battle Ravens is a brand new boardgame created by Dan Mersey and produced by the Plastic Soldier Company ( Apologies to both as I received this pre-view copy a few weeks ago but I haven’t had the time to talk about it until now, better late than never I suppose. The game is currently running on Kickstarter, it has already been fully funded so the game will be despatched to everyone to backs the campaign, along with the relevant stretch goals.  

Box Fresh Battle Ravens


As with other games by Dan these rules appear deceptively simple, but once played it soon becomes apparent that no two games will play the same. Typically for the very first game I failed to read the rules properly (the same reason I still make plastic models kits and then wonder why they didn’t fit together correctly or why pieces are left over). Everyone I played has been able to play the game within a few minutes of starting.

To play you line up your army within the six main blocks and try and smash through the opposition’s shieldwall. It sounds easy but using the Raven tokens enables you to attack, block or move allowing enough variation to make every game unpredictable and enjoyable (even though I’ve lost every single game I’ve played so far). Therefore one stand (berserkers?) could possibly defeat a superior numbered (nine stands max per block) opposing group. To win you ‘simply’ have to break through three areas of the enemy shieldwall. Attacks and blocks are achieved rolling 4,5 or 6 on a D6 with a 6 counting a double hit. The number of dice rolled is determined by the number of raven counters you choose to use.

There are also advanced rules which involves using tactic cards for each army. These enable you to fight in a specific manner i.e aggressive Norse, defensive Anglo-Saxon but you can choose to field the same army as you opponent, Norse v Norse etc.

There are several subtle aspects to the game which I won't reveal here, I'd rather players discover these for themselves.
Peter Dennis artwork - Anglo-Saxons

Peter Dennis artwork - Norse
The playing pieces are drawn by Peter Dennis, my favourite military illustrator (I'd like him to adopt me even though I believe he supports Mansfield FC). The preview copy has Anglo-Saxon and Norse armies from his 1066 paperboys book. Anyone familiar with these will recognise the style straight away but these playing pieces are printed on heavy cardstock paper. The Kickstarter has stretch goals for extra armies for the Normans, Scots, and Welsh.

Little Norse gits
There are understandable limitations to the game; for instance you can’t attempt flanking attacks once you break the shield wall. Although I imagine the game would rapidly culminate if this was an option (I can lose enough games as it is). Games typically last 40-60 minutes.

Please note that this is a preview/review copy, supplied free of charge by PSC Games. This means that the final edition may be slightly different from the images shown here although I can't imagine it would be much different.

If you’re looking for a quick and easy Dark Age themed boardgame where you can crush and humiliate your sworn enemies (well ok, probably only if you’re playing against me) then I’d recommend you take a closer look at Battle Raven but be quick as the Kickstarter campaign only runs until 6th December 2018. The game is due to be released in April 2019. The retail price for Battle Ravens will be £35, but it will be available for £30 through Kickstarter with the Scottish army pack now included for free.

At the time of writing Stretch Goals 1, 2 & 3 have been unlocked which means tactic cards for the armies, a mounted board and more dice, which is more or less what you can see in the images here. Every Kickstarter pledge level will also include a Scottish army (not shown).

I may try a variation of the games using medieval figures but I’ll detail that in a future post.

Thursday 1 March 2018

Long Time No See

Oh hello, fancy seeing you here. It’s been a long time since I’ve posted anything (almost a year in fact and well over a year since I’ve posted any new models or painted figures. There are two main reasons for this. Firstly, as I’ve hinted before, a lot of my spare time is taken up with dancing (Latin and ballroom to be precise). I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to compete at the Winter Gardens in Blackpool on several occasions which most, if not all, dancers aspire to. I managed to pick up these modest baubles (below) at my last comp (yes, they both could be used as a substitute for the mace in Parliament if a rogue MP ever decides to cause a by-election by swinging at someone with the current one).

Over the last few months I’m now concentrating on becoming a teacher rather than competing, but this also has it consequences. I’m generally not intimidated by people or situations but facing a dozen or so mature ladies, on my own, expecting you to teach them the basics of dancing genuinely gave me the willies.

The second reason is that I started a new job. After a change in circumstances at work I realised I had to get out of my comfort zone. This job involved an awful lot of driving. On the rare occasions when I travelled with a colleague I would often fascinate them with 'interesting' historical facts along the way.

Some notable (and all genuine) conversations included:

Driving past Portchester castle “That’s were Henry V sailed from to fight at the battle of Agincourt.”

 “Oh look, that’s Southsea castle from where Henry VIII watched the Mary Rose sink.”

"Over there is Meadow Lane stadium, home of Notts County, the oldest association football team in the world."
“That’s Windsor castle, you know, where the Queen lives.” 

Admittedly the level of interest and knowledge of British history amongst my colleagues tended to vary. Well, not vary as such, more often non-existent.

Occasionally I visited places that, as a member of the general public I'd never be able to access. This included the roof of St. Thomas in central London, which as you can see is right next to The Shard. 

The amount of time I had to play with miniatures has been greatly reduced but I have made some progress with figures, especially for a new set of rules (Rebels and Patriots) from Dan Mersey and Michael Leck. Hopefully it won’t be another year until I post again.

Sharp-eyed readers may have noticed that I refer to this 'new' job in the past tense; this is because I was laid off recently. Ironically it was very likely that I would have quit within a few months anyway as the job I was asked to do wasn't the one I applied for. I'm hoping the will be a blessing in disguise as now I might be able to get my social live back. I'll certainly have more time to paint some of the massive backlist of figures I have.

Thursday 6 April 2017

Wargames Illustrated - WI354 April 2017

Anyone who dislikes ‘personal trumpet blowing’ and /or shameless self-promotion may wish to skip this post.
Wargames Illustrated - WI354 April 2017
I was reading an article, in the latest copy of Wargames Illustrated, about The Pikeman’s Lament rules and noticed in the photographs the Covenanter musketeers and an artillery piece looking pretty familiar. On closer inspection, I realised that some were pieces I painted for Warlord several years ago. It’s nice to know that they are in John (owner of Warlord Games) Stallard’s personal collection and that they are still being played with.

Dodgy photographs of the same figures can be found here [Scots Covenanters].

I remember receiving a reply from Warlord implying that the uniforms weren't the correct shade of Hodden grey and the colour for the Scots Saker cannon carriage was too bright and not authentic. This last part made me chuckle because I got the information about it from someone who I later discovered was an expert on civil war artillery and a founder of the English Civil War Society. I don’t think I have a particularly distinctive painting style so it probably the colour of the carriage that helped me to recognise them.

If you want to purchase a copy of the magazine for yourself, you can do so from here [Wargames Illustrated] And no I’m not on commission, in case you were wondering.

I buy my copy from a local gaming store [Asgard GamesUK].

Speaking of which, I seem to be quite fortunate in that there is also a WHSmith store near to where I live where all three of the usual wargaming magazines are normally on sale. Although there is an obvious push towards electronic versions at least having a physical copy in front of you enables you to be able to flick through the mag to see if that issue is worth buying. I think publishers realise this as more and more of them seem to offer online glimpses into the online/PDF versions.

As an aside, another one thing I did notice was that via a combination of blogs, forums, newsletters, Facebook and podcasts I already know or recognised most of the content. Unfortunately, I believe, this doesn’t bode well for the hard (paper) copy versions of magazines given that online versions seem to offer more content. I still prefer to have the ‘real’ thing at hand to read but this may be a generational thing as I also rarely see anyone young (i.e. in their 20’s) reading a newspaper, for instance.

Friday 17 March 2017

WMMS 2017

As per usual I’m probably one of the last people to post images from the West Midland Military Show (WMMS), aka the Alumwell show (if you’re local and/or remember the original venue). 

I’ve always enjoyed attending this show. There are a variety of different people in attendance, gamers, re-enactment groups, scale modellers etc. and a there’s usually a very good standard of demo games being played.

The show seemed busier than ever this year, a hopeful sign that the local scene continues to be active and in a good form.

I didn’t take these photos so apologies for any incorrect captions.

Another nice thing about this show is that I often bump into people I recognise. This year it was Ade (WargamingForFun) who I haven’t seen for a while. Another bonus was meeting the Pensnett model group. Always nice to see them as I don’t get a chance to attend their club night that often. 

I made a few purchases, including the paper Armada game from Peter Dennis, which I’ll post here as and when I get round to making and painting them.
Rubicon (new?) Sherman variants 

Rubicon (new?) Sherman variants

Loot - Paper fleets from Peter Dennis

Malc's trucks - Pensnett Model Makers Society

Malc's trucks - Pensnett Model Makers Society

Malc's trucks - Pensnett Model Makers Society

Detail - Shrewsbury Wargames Society

Detail - Shrewsbury Wargames Society

Exactly what it says on the tin - Shrewsbury Wargames Society
Detail - Shrewsbury Wargames Society
1/72 Scale model WWII Japanese aircraft

1/72 Scale model WWII Japanese aircraft

1/72 Scale model WWII Japanese aircraft

15thC Buckingham retinue display
A top quality 15th century re-enactment group, representing Lord Buckingham’s Retinue.

Northampton Battlefields Society display

Battle of Northampton game rules
Battle of Northampton game

Battle of Northampton game - Brave Yorkist (brother and myself)
advance on the cowardly Lancastrians hiding behind a wall

Very nice renaissance figures from Steel Fist Miniatures. I didn’t buy any from this range but I did purchase some other figures from them. I will hopefully post about this in the near’ish future

The Kingdom is Ours - Bicorne demo game
Last but not least a hint at a future project.
Tiger Miniatures

Friday 20 January 2017

'The Pikeman's Lament' arrives

In today’s post I received a familiar shaped cardboard package. It was, as I hoped, the latest release from Osprey Publishing, ‘The Pikeman's Lament’. This is the most recent addition to the Lion Rampant family of rules, following on from ‘Dragon Rampant’ and ‘The Men Who Would Be Kings’. This particular book was co-written by Dan Mersey and Michael Leck.
Obligatory poor quality photo courtesy of me.
Regular readers of the blog may know I was involved in a small degree playtesting of the rules and as a sign of gratitude I received a free copy of the rules from the authors and the publishers.

The quality of the publishing is what we have come to expect from this Osprey ‘Blue Book’ series. Lots of top quality painted figures and illustrations from Osprey’s impressive back catalogue. 

I’ll leave to others to review the rules as I’m obviously biased. However I will say that they are probably my favourite set of skirmish rules. Anyone familiar with the Lion Rampant rules will already know the basics. I also suspect some may use them (with a few alterations) to play late medieval (Wars of the Roses etc.). This new book contains a clever officer generation and a simple campaign system which could also be used with the Lion Rampant rules.

I will be sitting down over the weekend to read through the book to see if anything has changed or rules I’ve been playing incorrectly over the past year or so.

The rules are officially released on the 26th January 2017 (from Osprey Publishing) although I know some people have already received copies (even before the authors apparently)

Monday 9 January 2017

The Pikeman's Lament - Playtesting January 2016

I looking around my blog when I noticed these pictures from a couple of games played a year ago which, from some reason, I never got round to posting at the time. With the immenient release of the new 17th century skirmish game The Pikeman's Lament (from Osprey) I thought it might be an appropriate time to post now.

As far as I remember the games, played at Asgard Games in Walsall, involved having to rescue/guard a VIP (a captured general?) but represented here by a D10 as I didn’t have any spare single figures on my at the time.
In the first game my opponent Mark (Parliament orange movement) was the attacking force where I was defending (Royalist red movement). General D10 was held in central building defended by a limited number of units. Other units could be bought on with a successful activation.
Mark split his forces in a pincer movement sending a cavalry towards my right flank. There was a major clash on my left flank with Mark’s cavalry and a unit of musketeers. Mark’s cavalry took heavy casualties but advanced to intercept my units that were desperately trying to reach the building to defend hold onto General D10.
There was a clash of horseflesh with both mounted units being knocked out of play. Meanwhile my supporting(?) unit of musket units carried on in an attempt to reach the building in time.

Meanwhile Mark’s musket and pike units easily pushed back my defenders and snatched General D10.
Mark's force then quickly retraced their steps, with General D10 in tow, seeing off any attempts by myself. A group of Mark's musketeers advanced into an ambush position just to make sure I'd get any closer, all of which rounded off a resounding victory for Mark.

The following pictures are of the next game where the roles were reversed. In my excitement of actually doing well I forgot to take enough photographs and the ones I did take were blurred.

The game ended with my brave troops making a mad dash off the table (very) closely followed by Mark's cavarly. A narrow victory for me this time.

The Pikeman's Lament is officially due out 26th January.