Monday 31 March 2014

From The Painting Table #11

Another group of freshly painted models for your perusal today, this time we have a unit of Eldar Wraithguard for 40K, two mercs for Deadzone and a couple of tanks for flames of war.

These are the old Wraithguard models and I had to rebase them so they fit with the current rules, and whilst they looked a bit big on their small bases, they look rather small on their new ones.  Still these are primarily for gaming so large bases it is.  The next unit for my eldar will be a unit of the new Wraithblades, which are a big improvement on these models.

Here we have two mercenaries for Mantic's excellent deadzone game.  On the left we have 'The Survivor' and on the right 'The Helfather'.  Two rather nifty models I think, we've played quite a bit of deadzone since it arrived, but haven't yet got around to using any of the mercs, will need to try and remedy this soon.

And finally these two plastic British Sherman tanks for flames of war.  These are the company HQ for the British armoured company that comes in the open fire starter set.  Does this mean I've gone and brought yet another big box of models?  Well yes of course it does!  However I am splitting it with Mike so it's not too bad.  It also means that after a couple of years of slowly buying flames of wars minis I might finally get a game.  Full look at the boxed set coming soon.

Thursday 27 March 2014

Guest Post - Airfix Tiger 1 Tank (1/76) and Allied 25lb Field Gun (1/76)

Last month I let my friend Mike have a go at writing a post on this very blog, which turned into an epic three-part rant about the current state of Games Workshop.  Well he seems to have got the blogging bug, but isn't yet ready to commit to starting his own blog, accordingly he's written another article for mine. 

As I posted a few weeks ago we recently finally made a trip to the tank museum at Bovington, and I inevitably came away with a tank model (this Whippet), however I wasn't the only one, over to Mike....

I went to Bovington tank museum this month and came away with an Airfix Tiger tank model. My Grandfather fought against Tigers in WW2 so it was the obvious choice. I have also built the 25lb field gun he manned in the African desert campaign and the invasion of Italy.
The Tiger was a little more expensive than a standard Airfix 1/76 vehicle (at £9.99) . I was happy to pay it because the museum is really good, and I wanted to support it.
The Tiger was a beast of a machine in its day and this model reflects that fact. Its a typical, quality Airfix moulding which looks just like the real thing. I used Humbrol oil based paints (I'm not a fan at all of these - Keith), and as usual they worked well. There is some minor bobbling on each model, but that’s because I used a poor brush and I should have left a bit more time for each coat of paint to dry.

The turret is not glued onto the tank turret. That means it turns very easily, which is a nice feature. Apparently allied anti-tanks gunners believed the sides of the turrets to be a slight weakness on Tigers so they targeted this area. My grandfather said that Germans crews eventually began to attach slabs of concrete to defend the weak point. I have so far resisted the urge to make my own slabs.

The down side was the tracks. Airfix produce tracks as a strip of bendy plastic that needs to be bonded together and then fitted over the wheels. The instructions say “Join by applying heat”. I tried a ‘dab’ with a soldering iron but even quite a long touch wasn’t enough to stick the ends of the tracks together.  In the end I had to apply a little more heat than I’d initially wanted to, and this caused a small amount of bumping and warping to each track. It wasn’t disastrous, but its still mildly annoying. (I really dislike the Airfix method of representing tracks at this scale, see my Whippet post for my own thoughts - Keith)

Apparently one advantage of Airfix’s track design is that the tracks are able to move round with the wheels. Unfortunately mine do not. Initially I thought that one of the wheels must have been aligned, but they all appeared to be straight.  After construction I noticed that one track was bent to an angle. I can only imagine that when the track was stretched around the wheels the weak point, the soldered strip, had stretched slightly. Its a bit annoying that after all that work the track edges its way off after one rotation. If I were to build this model again I’d try to staple the tracks together instead. I rate the model 7/10. It would have been a 9/10 if the tracks had a better design, or if there had more thorough instructions for them.
I picked up the 25 pounder for £4.50 all in on ebay – Its a standard small Airfix model, not hard to build and quite accurate in its detail. The three sections of the model attach for transportation.    

Crew members are offered on separate bases. The crew aren’t very well moulded, but its hard to tell from a distance.  Airfix only offer a late war Europe colour scheme, and it took quite a lot of paint to cover the green plastic. Those are my only complaints about the kit really. 
Ideally I would have spent a little more time on each model, and possibly made a diorama. As it stands they can shoot at one another from opposite ends of the shelf!


Monday 24 March 2014

Which Risk?

I had a great afternoon gaming yesterday and one of the games we played was my friends new version of Risk, Risk: the Walking Dead, or Risk, with added zombies.  It turned out to be rather good fun.  I'd be surprised if there were many of my readers who hadn't played a game of Risk at some point, and it's been an important part of my gaming life over the last 20 years, and even in my wargaming drought years whilst I was at uni it was the occasional game of Risk that kept me in the gaming fold.

This afternoon's light entertainment led me to the mull over the collection of Risk games that I own, and have played over the years and to pose the obvious question, which one is the best? If you could only play one version of Risk ever again which would it be?

So in reverse order of greatness I present my opinion of the 7 varieties of Risk that I've played;

7.  Risk: Transformers

The worst version of Risk that I've ever played, loosely based on the new transformers movies.  Upto four players, but only two sides (autobots and decepticons).  The gimmick for this version are the transforming territories and leader abilities.  The two sides ruin this game, in every game I've played it's just throw everything at your opponent, and you either win or loose.  The only real positive is that games of this version tend to be quick (we had game end on turn one when the first player effectively wiped out his opponent with his initial attack).

6.  Risk: Balance of Power

Balance of power was the attempt to create a 2-player version of Risk that worked well, centered only on Europe.  It introduced a neutral army that only defends and never attacks, it doesn't quite work, whichever side gains a slight advantage then steamrollered the other.  I played a lot of games of this at one point trying different ways to make it work, but we never quite could, Risk is a game of 3+ players.

5.  Star Wars Risk: The Clone Wars

This is another version with two distinct sides, the republic and the seperatists, but in this version they don't play the same.  As always the game centres around conquering territories and regions (which will give you more men), you do get added starships in this version though which is cool.  The twist is the 'order 66' mechanic;  The game is set up so the republic forces will be in the ascendency during the early game and at some point the separatist players will have to call order 66.  When this happens you roll for each republic territory and on a certain roll (the longer the seperatists managed to wait the better the odds) each republic territory might fall to the seperatists!  The emperor is then also placed on the board and if the republic can kill him they auto-win.  It's an interesting twist and I like the fact that it plays differently for both sides, but the game really does come down to how well you roll when order 66 is called.

4.  Risk: The Lord of the Rings

This version also has two sides, but based in middle-earth, it has a whole bunch of special rules about the ring moving across middle-earth and fortresses and leaders.  We normally got rid of most of these keeping only the fortress rules and then played standard Risk on the board.  What makes this version good is the map, it provides a really interesting tactical place to play Risk on.

3.  Risk: The World Conquest Game

The classic and original version of the game, conquering the globe in the age of napoleon.  Get yourself 4-6 players and set aside a whole afternoon and you will get a good game.  Taking whole continents is the key to victory, and against a wily set of players this isn't easy, as everyone else will get a turn to take it off you before you realise the bonus from it.  The real world geography hampers this version somewhat as the map of the world doesn't give a balanced tactical situation and somewhat surreally the key continent is usually Australia.  The game also unfairly favours those that go first, with the last players often being battered before they get a chance to move.  All is not lost however, informal alliances can bring victory, it is rare that any player is in a position to resist the attack of all the others.

2.  Risk: The Walking Dead

This is the game that inspired this post, and even after only having played a single game it's taken the no. 2 spot, and was very close to hitting no.1  This isn't a game of armies, but a game of ordinary people killing and being killed by zombies.  The basic gameplay is the same as any risk, the first thing to notice is the map has been designed to be balanced, it's not symmetrical, but regions strategic placing really do reflect their worth and there is nowhere really isolated ala australia.  The zombies are a major part of this game, as well as random initial placement, at the start of each round a number of random territories are attacked by zombies, this means the ususal Risk tactic of leaving your back territories with a single man is a risky one, you never know when those zombies will appear.  All this happens before reinforcements are distributed as well, an inconvinient zombie attack can deprive you of a lot of men.  For a bit of light hearted fun this is probably the best Risk, but due to the random zombie attacks it can all go horribly wrong even when you've done everything right.

1.  Risk: 2210 A.D.

Finally this is what I think is the best version of Risk that I've played, Risk: 2210 A.D. this is a grown up serious version of Risk, and if you can only ever own one try and make it this one (annoyingly I don't have this in my collection).  You can use this set to play a full game of classic risk which adds to it's versitillity, but why would you really.  The basic gameplay and map are the same, but this game set in the future also adds new underwater and lunar territories.  The extra territories are great, they add a bit of balance to the map, but to be able to access them you need to invest in extra leaders/space ports which adds a new level of complexity and tactical thought.  The leaders are pretty handy in a fight too and go some way to negating the random dice fluxuations, although not entirely of course, this is still Risk!  This also has a built in turn limit which is good, the last turn is normally a desperate struggle and territory grab, just don't overreach yourself.

In the end though it doesn't really matter, in my experience any afternoon spent playing any version of Risk will almost certainly result in fun, just don't take it to seriously!

Tuesday 18 March 2014

Classical Ruined Temple

I was in the new 'The Range' store we have in my town the other day having a bit of a nosey around when I spied this fish tank ornament.  It was a couple of quid and I instantly decided to buy it as I've wanted a couple of bits of classical terrain for a while to accompany my ancient/mythological Greek collection.

Obviously it's the wrong colour, and there are some bubbles in it, but a very quick repaint and I have a rather nifty little terrain piece. 

Wednesday 12 March 2014

Army Focus - Star Wars Miniatures The Fringe

Finally we've reached the last faction in my epic look at my Star wars miniatures collection, this time the Fringe, which is also the largest faction in my collection.  The Fringe is a bit different from the other factions, it's not a unified faction in any way, but a dumping ground for assorted scum, villainy, aliens, monsters, droids and mercenaries. 

The fringe can either be fielded as a faction on their own, or more commonly can be added to squads of any other faction.  Some of these, such as the ubiquitous Ugnaught Demolisionist, were so useful it was rare to see a squad without them at one point.  More than any other faction the fringe also contains a lot of 'sub-factions', which I've separated out in the pictures below.

In the past I've always started these posts with a large pic of the whole faction, well this wasn't possible this time, my indoor table just isn't big enough and it's a bit cold out to be taking pics in the garage.

As always click on the pictures for a bigger version.

Tusken Raiders



Prince Xior and the Black Sun Syndicate

The forces of cloud city, Bespin, and the ugnaughts 



Bounty Hunters


Unique characters, from Jabbas palace, knights of the old republic, the cantina and many other assorted places.

Everything else that didn't fit into any of the groups above! 

And finally two Rancors, with a Jedi for scale.

Sunday 9 March 2014

Star Wars: X-Wing - First Thoughts

I've been keeping my eye on X-Wing by fantasy flight games for some time now and today I finally got the chance to play it.  I love Star Wars (as anyone who has seen my series on my Star Wars Miniatures collection will know) and have long hankered for a good starship battle game.  I have a large collection of starship minis from the Star Wars Miniatures: Starship battles game (coming to a post near you soon), but the game was weak and never became a permanent fixture in our gaming schedule, I was hoping that X-Wing would prove to be a lot better.

My friend turned up with several boxes of ships in little plastic boxes.  I was surprised with the good quality of the pre-paints, but they do look a little fragile, certainly better than my own collection of ships though.  We played two games, an initial intro game in which I fielded two tie-fighters vs an X-wing (a win for me!) and then a larger 100pt game, with me again taking the Imperials (a loss this time, but quite close)

My Ties about to shoot down an X-wing

Our first game was very quick, on the first turn we zoomed across the table, then the second turn I advanced my Ties very slowly as my opponent hair-pinned his X-wing expecting me to overshoot him and leave him shooting at my aft.  Unfortunately it worked the other way round and my ties were now just behind him!  The game didn't last long after that.

We then moved onto a proper battle with 100pts each.  I kept it simple by taking 4 Ties and a Tie advanced piloted by Darth Vader, my opponent fielded an X-wing, piloted by Wedge Antillies, a Y-wing and a HWK-290 piloted by Kyle Katarn.

Initial Posistions

I split my force into two groups with an intent to outflank my outnumbered opponent.  All seemed to be going well at first, my main group of Vader and two ties outflanked the Y-wing and Katarn and the other two ties drew Wedge away from the main group.  It then turned out that Katarn and the Y-wing had turrets that could fire 360 degrees and therefore weren't that bothered by their bad positioning, they also had a lot of hull points to soak up damage with, although they weren't dishing out any real damage in return.  Wedge however made short work of the two ties before coming round and taking out everyone else.  Wedge Antillies is very good and killed all five of my ships!  With hindsight I should have done everything I could to take out wedge first before harrying the other two ships. 

Let battle commence

This is ultimately a game about movement, there is synergy and card play as well, but outmanoeuvre your opponent and you will win.  It's done in such a fantastic way as well.  This is the first game that I've seen that's managed to get simultaneous movement to work well.  At the start of the turn you secretly set your movement wheel on each ship showing at what angle and how far you will be going (different ships can do different manoeuvres), you then flip these wheels over in initiative order and move the ships along the set course.  It's simple but makes the game tactically deep, you have to really think about what move you want to make whilst taking into account what your opponent might or might not do.  Some times you get it spectacularly right and it's great, but inevitably you can make some real screw ups too.

What I liked:

- simple enough to pick in a couple of turns, but.....
- obvious tactical depth
- the movement mechanism is fantastic
- great ship models and star wars theming
- different pilots of the same ship models increases variety

What I didn't like:

- too many tokens clutter the board
- turrets on ships with 360 degree fire which took away the need to manoeuvre on some ships
- too easy to knock something when placement is so vital
- it doesn't come with a mat, my fake pine table didn't have the right ambiance

Overall I think it's a pretty solid little game and I can't wait to play some more.

Saturday 8 March 2014

I'm In Shock - FREE Horus Heresy eBook from The Black Library

I got a rather shocking e-mail todays from Games Workshop's Black Library telling me they were offering a free horus heresy ebook to anyone that could be bothered to go here and download it.

I've never known GW to give anything away before, and even a little promotional short story seems to show that changes are afoot, or maybe I'm reading too much into it.  Still Graham Mcneill is one of my favourite BL authors and I love the horus heresy series so I'm rather chuffed about this.

Go grab it now, I don't know how long it'll be around for.
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