Wednesday 30 April 2014

A Quick Board Game Review - Temple Run Danger Chase

A while back now I made another one of my impulse purchases from The Works, this time coming away with the board game Temple Run, which is based on the popular app for phones/tablets.  I was addicted to the 'temple run 2' app for a while and when I saw this at the bargain price of £4.99 I couldn't resist giving it a go.  That was around 6 months ago, last weekend we finally played a couple of games.

Gameplay is rather simple and your aim is to be the last runner standing and get the other players eaten by the evil monkey daemon who runs after you.  On your turn you first hit the timer and then roll the five dice, this dice will either show a monkey symbol, one or two people or be blank, apart from the monkey symbol any dice may be re-rolled as many times as you like until you either hit the timer, or the monkey screams via the timer.  You then either move to the back of the pack (if you left it to long and heard the monkey) or move forward the total number of people you rolled, any monkey symbols move the monkey forward and closer to the runners.  The dice mechanism is similar to the one in travel risk and works well, I'm not normally a fan of electronic timers, but in this case it adds to the tension without becoming overbearing. 

Apart from that there's only a couple of other features, first you have to be aware of the obstacles in the path ahead as if you hit one that's instant death!  There are some power-ups to collect which can help you get further along, avoid getting killed by an obstacle or steal a power-up from an opponent.  The board is also never ending and simply recycles round.

It's quick as well, our games were taking 15-20 mins to complete.  If (when) you do get eaten by the monkey on your turn you get to roll the dice once to see if you can get the monkey to move forward, this has the effect of speeding up the game as more players die, which is good as nobody likes waiting around for a game to finish after you've been killed.

The components are of OK quality, but aren't great, this is a cheap game, and it shows.  Having said that all the bits do their jobs fine and having high quality components would raise the price to the point were it wouldn't be worth it for the level of gameplay included.

In conclusion, this is actually a pretty good light hearted game suitable for all ages and levels of gaming immersement, it won't keep you occupied all afternoon, but will provide a bit of quick fun.  Recommended at discount price even if probably not at full retail.

Thursday 24 April 2014

PSC Stuart Jalopy Conversions for Flames of War

In my post on my recent acquisitions for flames of war I showed off my new platoon of Stuarts from the plastic soldier company and highlighted the insane amount of spare parts that came with the kit and I asked for some suggestions of how to use them.  Luckily Red Dog came to my aid and suggested I tried to make some Jalopies out of them.  I have to confess that I'd never heard of a 'Jalopy' at this point, but after a quick bit of research I discovered what he was on about, turretless Stuarts found in some late war British lists (I've even found a list they feature in amongst the many I've downloaded from battlefront over the last couple of years), it seemed like I might just be able to make it work and decided to give it a go.

The first step was easy, stick the tracks to the chassis, but this highlighted the essential problem, whilst most of the parts to create a new tank were there, certain crucial bits were missing.  There was no bottom fronts, backs or bottoms.  The fronts were built from the spare ammo carriers from the late production model tipped upside down, the backs were just a bit of thick card decorated with stowage, and well who needs bottoms anyway.

I affixed another piece of thick card under where the turret should be and then added spare tank commanders and machine guns that I had left over from the Open Fire boxed set.  All that was missing then were the hull mounted machine guns which I created simply with a small section of stiff wire with a dash of liquid green stuff to cover the joint.

I know that these aren't perfect, but I'm really rather pleased with myself for creating what are essentially four free tanks!  Thanks again to Red Dog for such a great idea.  On a final note does anybody know what 'Jalopy' means?  Its seems like an odd name.

Tuesday 22 April 2014

More For Flames of War

One of the advantages of playing a historical game, like flames of war, over a sci-fi or fantasy game is that whilst there will be an official range of models, there are no copyright issues and there is nothing to stop anybody else making cheaper versions of the same vehicles/troops at a compatible scale.  This post shows this with a number of new additions to my flames of war collection and whilst it includes a few official minis from battlefront also features minis from the plastic soldier company, zvezda, forged in battle and wizards of the coast.  This wasn't intentional, it was just the result of a bit of searching on ebay in an attempt to increase my collection and gaming options whilst not spending much money, I think it's worked out well.

lets start with this platoon of Cromwells for my late war British collection.  These were made by wizards of the coast for their now defunct axis & allies miniatures game, which like the star wars minis and D&D minis were prepainted randomised collectable minis.  They're not the best minis, but I did pick these up very cheap (£3.99 for the three) and the previous owner had already converted one into a command tank using a flames of war tank commander.  Although they were already painted I've given them another lick of paint to match the rest of my force.

This next platoon is the most exciting for me, it's a group of Stuart V's from the plastic soldier company.  This is important as this is the other option to allow my armoured squadron to field a 1000pt force when I don't think the Typhoon is appropriate.  They are also fast tanks and recce, and ultimately a whole other bunch of tanks for my opponent to deal with.

How many spare parts?

These are my first ever minis from the plastic soldier company, and I'm impressed, really high quality plastics with great crisp details.  Each tank comes with the components to make it either a early, mid or late production model.  I've gone for a mix, just because I can really.  One consequence of this is that this box of five has come with a lot of spares, anyone got any ideas on what to use 10 spare stuart chassis for?

Another cheap ebay job is this British rifle platoon, it was already based when I got it, but it was unpainted.  Most of the figs are from forged in battle, like my other British rifle platoon, but the command stand and one of the NCO's are from battlefront, and are in shorts!  Still nothing like an eccentric British officer to add a bit of variety.  As I've mentioned before I don't particularly enjoy painting infantry at this scale, but having this second infantry platoon opens up a lot more list options for me.

This is a KV-1 soviet tank from Zvezda's act of tactics range.  I've been picking up odd tanks from this range for a while now, I just can't help it, even when like this they have no obvious current use, I think I may be addicted.

Tuesday 15 April 2014

Army Focus - Star Wars Miniatures Starship Battles

This is absolutely my last post on my Star Wars miniatures collection (I promise), whilst I have already posted about all the figs used in the main game Wizards of the Coast also released a one off set of starship minis, which although part of their star wars minis line were clearly not compatible with the main range and in fact formed their own game; Starship Battles.

Of the 60 ships available in the range I actually have at least one of 59 of them (I'm only missing the droid control ship) SWM was my entire gaming life at this point and I was just buying stuff to try and complete collections, which has lead me to getting more than I could possibly need.  The game its self wasn't great and we only played it for a couple of months before mainly forgetting about it.  it wasn't a compete loss though, I do have a large collection of very cool star wars ships, and whilst X-wing is a great game for small scale dog-fighting, I always like battleship clashes, hopefully at some point I will get around to making a victory at sea mod which I can use these ships in.

The game only has two factions light side and dark side, which I've always found very odd.  The light side contains republic forces from the prequel trilogy and rebel/new republic forces from the original trilogy and just after.  The dark side forces feature the seperatists and the galactic empire.  We soon gave up this system and played either rebels/new republic vs empire or republic vs seperatists.

The ships are split into four classes, fighters, frigates/crusiers/transports etc, battleships and huges.  None of the ships are too scale and are essentially representations of a ship, or flight of ships (in the case of fighters).  Whilst it can be annoying it does allow you to field both X-wings and star destroyers on the same table.

The rebellion and a huge Mon Calamari ship that was built in the early years of the new republic.  I actually have a bunch of A-wings as well, but they seemed to have missed their photo-op!  The rebels were very much king of the middle ships with the Millennium Falcon, Tantive IV and the Nebulon-B frigates.

 The Imperial fleet has a lot less variety, but star destroyers are very good!

These few ships didn't quite fit into any of the categories 100%, but wild card and the two versions of slave 1 were useful ships nonetheless.

The republic fleet has quite a bit of variety and is a bit of a miss-mash of styles and abilities.  The Arc-fighter above highlights one problem with this range, occasionally the soft nature of the plastic produced figs  resulted in really bad warping and ruined minis.

And finally we have the mostly droid fleets of the seperatists.  the droid fighters were poor, but the big capital ships packed a real punch and were tough.

Friday 11 April 2014

Flames of War - Late War British Armoured Squadron

I've  now painted all my allied forces from my open fire boxed set for flames of war.  It came to a solid 830pts and a quick look at the army list provided and I spied an opportunity to add 170pts with a single typhoon model, which makes it a nice round 1K force with very little effort.

The core of the force are the Sherman tanks crewed by the British, with a HQ section of 2 tanks and 2 platoons each with 2 Sherman V's and a Sherman Firefly.  I've not played a real game with them yet, but the shermans look like quite passable infantry tanks, but not very effective at anti-tanks duties, which of course is where the fireflies come in.  These are great little models and I really enjoyed painting them, it was really quick and easy as well.

The British are supported by a platoon of American airborne infantry, whilst I enjoyed painting the tanks, I didn't enjoy painting these anywhere near as much as the tanks, but I'm happy enough with the end result.

Finally we have limited air support from this Hawker Typhoon.  This is a very cheap model (£2.25 inc. postage from ebay) in 1:144 scale from the Revell microwings range (flames of war planes are in 1:144 scale not 1:100 scale like the rest of the range, I have no idea why, maybe someone can enlighten me).  It isn't the greatest model ever, the moulding is poor and there is no option to have the landing gear up, I had to improvise as a grounded plane wasn't much use to me.  However it does allow me to play around with the air rules for very little investment.

Monday 7 April 2014

Flames Of War - Open Fire 2.0

So this time it's really going to happen, I'm going to start playing flames of war, yes, definitely!  Some time ago (2011 actually!) I bought the 2nd edition starter set for flames of war, it wasn't much, just 5 tanks and the rulebook, I painted the tanks and had a quick flick through the book and that was it.  Over 2 years later I've now purchased the 3rd edition starter set (somewhat lamely also called open fire like the 2nd ed boxed set) and I have a cunning plan to make sure I actually get to play some games.  I'm actually only keeping half this set and my friend Mike is taking the other half, so we both get a starter army and have someone to play against!  I've got the Allies and Mike has the Germans.  Lets have a look what we got in the box.

I'm going to start with the paperwork the box contains 2 books and two reference sheets.  The most important book is the full game rules, it's a A5 full colour format, much like the ones GW put into their starter sets, although this one is much thicker at nearly 300 pages!  Battlefront do produce a nice full sized hardback version, but I really can't see the need for me to go out and get it and I am very happy with this version, although I won't deny that nearly 300 pages of rules is a bit daunting.  The second book is the quick start rules this full size 50 page book contains the core rules in easy to swallow bites, considering the size of the main rulebook is this is very useful.  The best bit of this book is tucked away at the back, I was very surprised to find two army lists, not just the stats and points values for the troops you get, but actual army lists for a British armoured company and a German Grenadier company, which means you can start adding more models and expanding your game without the need to go out and buy an expensive hardback book straight away.  Finally the box contains two double sided army reference sheets which help new players to have their stats easily on hand.

Now onto the most important element of any set of this type, the miniatures.  The box contains two starter armies, one for the British (with American support) and one for the Germans, both are for the late war period and they both clock in at around 800 pts.  As I mentioned above I'm only keeping the Allies, so they're the only ones I've assembled, but it does actually feel like a real army and looks like we can actually have a proper game with what we've got in the box.

The bulk of the British force is 6 Sherman V tanks and 2 Sherman Fireflies arranged in one company HQ of 2 tanks and 2 platoons each with 2 Sherman V's and 1 firefly.  The British are also supported by a platoon of American airborne infantry that is made up of 9 stands including 6 rifle/MG teams, a command team a bazooka and a mortar.  The infantry is very good quality sculpted plastic's for such a small scale they really do look great.  The Shermans were a pain to construct, the joint didn't quite match up and I ended up having to place them in my mini-vice to get them to stay right as the glue dried.  However once stuck together they also look great, they retain the 'organic' look of the rest of battlefronts range and each sprue comes with a range of optional stowage parts that you can use to make all your tanks individuals.  I was also surprised to find the shermans came with little magnets which hold the turrets down and allow you to rotate them, they work really well.

Whereas the British force is a tank company with infantry support, the German force is an infantry company with armoured support.  The bulk of the force is made up of 2 platoons of grenadier infantry supported by a company HQ, 2 anti-tank guns and 3 StuG assault guns.  That's 4 platoons in total, which isn't a bad way to start a German collection.  the infantry are the same high quality as the Americans, I've not tried to put the stuG's or anti-tank guns together so can't really comment on these.

One thing that starter sets are often missing is any sort of terrain, it takes up valuable box space that could normally be better utilised by adding more models, but ultimately every wargame needs terrain of some sort or there really is no game.  Battlefront have worked out a good solution to this, firstly they've included a plastic V1 rocket launcher, which is rather nifty, unfortunately I said Mike could have this to go with his Germans, so I don't get to assemble it.  What I do get to keep though is a set of flat cardboard terrain that represents woods (4 lots) houses (3) and walls (4).  Now it's clearly not ideal to be using flat 2D terrain in a 3D miniatures game, but I'm really glad they included it, it's a good stop gap till I can get some more 15mm terrain sorted.  As another nice touch it actually has the rules for the terrain written on the card, this will clearly be great for new players as it's another thing that they don't have to remember.

Of course you also get a bunch of card tokens that you need to play the game with and some dice, it's a nice touch that you get allied & german coloured dice.

Overall this is an excellent starter set, and I'd like to see more like it, the full rules, two real balanced forces and enough terrain to cover a reasonable battlefield makes me a happy customer.  As I write this I've nearly finished painting the allies from this set, so expect to see them soon.

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