Friday, 14 December 2012

The MHWC 2012 Christmas meeting

Oh Boy, where to start? Every club can claim a great meeting, one that stands out for a specific reason....fantastic win, thousands of figures, bizaar outcomes....this meeting I feel may have been quite unique.

We had a great meeting, our last of the year, and all...apart from Mark, I'll explain later....had a very good time; I doubt many of us had ever laughed so much. The trouble is that it was such an extraordinary meeting I have been struggling to write it up. This is my sixth attempt! I am going to have to start at the very beginning and let the story unfold organically. Cue wobbly fade-out picture and eerie music.....ooooooeeeeeeooooooooeeeeeeeeeooooooo etc

 ........Welcome to the Western town of Clubville. A festive little place caught in a snow drift and sporting a town Christmas tree (fully decorated and with working fairy lights thanks to Mark) and doesn't it look pretty? This was where we were to play out our gunfight, the scene was now set. I had even provided everyone with a home made Christmas cracker and instructed everyone that the wearing of the silly hats was compulsory....I am Chairman after all. As explained in the previous post, the game is driven by playing cards and the higher the card the better, Jokers trumped all. To help with the Christmassy feel I added couple of rule twists....whenever an Ace of a Joker were played there would be the tinkling a fairy bells and a Christmas Present would be delivered to one of the sites on the table; one of the houses, the tree or the Graveyard. If a player moved his figure onto the present he would be rewarded with a random prize to use in the game, a stick of dynamite, a reindeer, a penguin, a snowman, a cuddly polar bear or Santa himself!

Some of the tokens in play....note Santa looking as if he is surrendering :)

You wouldn't believe the trouble I had getting these figures at the right size! Each figure would give the owner a bonus, the penguin increased your initiative, the reindeer your movement, the snowman took a bullet for you and the polar bear gave one out. If you were lucky enough to get Santa then you could pick the bonus you wanted when you needed it. One use only these bonuses. Also note the present awaiting collection in the graveyard.

We almost had a full house for the meeting, so many I had to pull out of the game and umpire it, the lot of a Chairman. There are only 54 cards in a pack and with every player needing five we only just managed. I ran through the simple rules with the players, ensuring they were all wearing their hats and using the new club tape measures I had arranged for them all and had placed into the Christmas crackers. I am such a nice Chairman. The object of the game was to kill as many of each other as they could, a kill won you a specially made token and whoever had the most tokens won the prize, a milk chocolate Battleships game! And off we went.....and all seemed well, the game rolled along...Mark was shot dead almost immediately which did cause some sniggering. All such killed players returned next turn in a random location....and no, not as zombies either.

Our specially made Kill tokens, actually modified children's party badges...isn't eBay great?!
 Everyone was having a good time and the insults and laughter was already building to notably high levels when Maria called out from the hall kitchen that we had a visitor. A guy called John came over and said that he had come along for the meeting and was interested in joining. I introduced my self, gave the man a cracker and a seat at the game. I explained that, this being our last meeting of the year, we played one game that all the members could play together. He settled down and was soon chatting to the other members and asked about the club, were we going to write about the game in the parish magazine and so on. I said we might well do, we often provide pieces for such publication as we like to take part in the local community etc etc etc. and so in like manner all John's questions were thus answered...although John did look a tad unsure about something.

The game continued with more than the usual degree of one upmanship....just because you were shot by someone seemed reason enough to then seek that person out to return the favour; high cards were trumped, turns and initiative stolen, cries of victory and groans of defeat resounded....loudly and accompanied by more laughter and insults....and the sticky badges were being handed out as the dead were piled high and new John took full part. It was then, at the height of the raucousness, that Dave casually asked new John what period and scales he played. John didn't have a clue what he was talking about and said he had never seen wargames before...John, in fact, was there to be co-opted onto the Iwade Parish Council but had got the wrong day; the parish council meeting was the next evening!! This caused riotous laughter that was actually painful...side splitting in fact. To a group of wargamers already in a high and jolly mood (and with not a drop of alcohol in sight) this news stopped play with not a dry eye in the house. All those questions new John had asked had fitted our profile and activities and so the confusion, like a TV sitcom, continued until the truth was revealed. It could not have been written any better. New John, to his credit (and enjoyment I am sure) carried on with the game until the end and even gained a badge or two...along with a club membership application form. I wonder if he will come back? I wonder what he told his wife when he got home and she asked how his evening went????

To add to the general hysteria Mark spent the entire game either dead or with no usable cards in his hand and Clive, in an attempt to navigate past a chair, instead fell full length over it whilst still keeping his party hat on. The game became several smaller and more personal actions as vengeance was sought in various quarters and ended with poor Mark deciding to use the only cards he could to move his figure and the Santa token off the table to end his misery. Even then, with the shotgun armed cowboy leading away a Santa with arms raised in seeming surrender, the silliness continued. Several people wondered what Mark's figure intended to do with poor Santa and you can imagine the scenarios these over excited wargamers came up with! Certainly not a game for the ladies.

The game was eventually won by Bob who had managed to kill five or six cowboys during the evening leaving him the clear winner. Several wondered whether Bob's American roots had something to do with it but all agreed that the game was a great success....except for Mark perhaps. I know it took two days for my laughter induced headache to go away! I may have cracked a rib too.

Monday, 10 December 2012

Army Painter dip and Bank Robbers

At our Christmas meeting we traditionally play one game that all members can take part in, nothing too serious. You may remember that last year we played a Zombie game, kindly provided and run by Clint, where each member had to get their character out of a zombie filled underground car park...and how I was stitched up by my fellow members and was left to be eaten alive. Gits.

Anyway, this year I have arranged a western gunfight using the under utilised rule set 'Wanted: Dead or Alive', by Over the Wire Games. This is a simple little game but one that generates a lot of fun. It is played by using a set of playing cards, each player is dealt a hand and can only move or shoot etc according to the cards he has been dealt. Clubs are for moving, spades are for shooting, hearts are for defence against shooting and diamonds are for stealing turns from other players...this part is another cause of 'fun', usually as I get ganged up on and my turn stolen each time to much hilarity all round. Gits.

I will post soon about how this game goes, I have added a few surprises to make the game more festive and of course and everyone will have the now traditional Christmas cracker with wargamey gift. I sit up all night before the meeting making these with my own two hands 'cos I am such a nice club chairman and not a git...although Mrs. Wargamerson will no doubt have a view here. We have some nice new buildings for this game too from Sarissa, very neat models and well worth the money!

Pic taken from the Sarissa website, figures not mine either but you get the idea.

Anyway, I digress.

I only have a few western gunfight figures, some that came with the rule set when my son bought it many years ago. We painted these up together, as a father and young son (Anthony Leofwineson) should and very enjoyable it was too. Then he grew up and discovered skateboards, girls and cars of course. So some of the figures stayed with me and have done duty at the times when we at the club have played this game but, I thought it time I got a few of my I didn't feel so guilty using his. I bought the Bank Robber pack from Artizan Designs, three nice figures for about a fiver.

I set about painting these in my usual way, neat block colours, in readiness to apply my Strong Tone Army Painter dip. But then I stopped. These western figures would be quite dusty...unless it was raining of course but lets try and keep this post sensible...the dip would not really give that impression at all. I have previously experimented with highlighting the darkest colours, especially black, prior to applying dip with some success and so I thought I would try something new; at least new to me, I am sure others have tried this too. Once I had finished painting the three figures I dry brushed them all with Games Workshop 'Bleached Bone, a little at a time gradually building the effect where I thought it needed it. The trick here is knowing when to stop of course and with my colour blindness issues that can be a problem; I can't see the highlight at all on certain colours and shades! Once I was happy with the result I left them to dry out fully over night, always a good thing if you are going to apply a dip or even varnish. The paint, whilst touch dry, remains porous and you will get a very different result if you dip straight away; it sort of stains colours rather than coat them. I was tempted to leave them as they were to be honest, I was very pleased with the result so far, but I knew that the dip would give them that extra I did, and here is the result.

OK, not exactly award winning I know but, given the simplicity of the paint job...and the fact that I only took a few hours to complete these from start to finish (albeit over two days) I am very pleased with the results. Once again, I was able to paint on the Army Painter Anti Shine varnish within a few hours of the dip becoming touch dry, a massive time saver and a highly recommended product. For me the mix of highlight and dip has worked well and given me the overall look I was after. Another result for the Army Painter Dip party I think!

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Dark Age Hail Caesar!

Our last meeting had two games, a ww2, 20mm Rapid Fire affair...which didn't really get off the ground due to the late arrival of the games organiser....and another Hail Caesar bash.

I wont go into too much detail for the Rapid Fire game, there is not a lot to say. Quite a few people brought newly painted figures along especially for this game, there were quite a few unopened boxes around that evening and one or two disapointed little faces. The players did eventually manage to cobble a game of sorts together but it wasn't exactly Kursk. This didn't worry me too much, I was running the Hail Caesar game :) Don't like Rapid Fire anyway ;p

The club recently purchased a good number of painted 15mm Saxons, Normans etc. We thought they would be useful for several types of club game, HC in particular but also for others, even for SAGA games using one base of figures for each figure the rules require; why not?

I spent days going through the figures and putting together two good sized forces along with a few useful and neat special unit specs such as 'Pigs Head Formation', even worked out a simple but historically accurate scenario. Once again, club member Dave has prepared a game report; top bloke our Dave.

Yet again the great unwashed attempted to infect the civilised world in this great game of Dark Ages Hail Ceaser, where the rebel Saxon forces of Leofwine Lostlandson (sounds like a cheap vintage from Tesco) supported by hordes of Danes, Scots and Irish, invaded Northern England. Leofwine Lostlandson – Saxon Theigns – and Olaf Thereindeerson – Danish Division played by Clive
Allies Hootsmon Gae Gordon – Lowland Scots Division – and Clannad O’Corrs – Irish Division – played by Martin. Judging by their well-founded names, they were doomed to fail !! The valiant and stout defenders, Prince William the Silly – Royal Norman Knights relief Division – supported by the Southern Saxon Fyrd played by Dave. Allied with the local Norman Lord Wilfred De Bramble and the Northern Saxon Fyrd played by Rob.

The scenario was simple. Hold the Kings Highway and prevent the hordes going south. The Saxon Theigns took the right flank with the only mounted units in the rebel army and the Danish allies took the centre right making a solid and tough Viking position. Facing off against them was the local Lord who may have been a bit apprehensive as 2 units of his troops quickly raced forward to take cover in a rather handy wood, leaving his outnumbered mounted unit to cover the flank.  The Northern Fyrd sat on the road waiting for the inevitable advance of the enemy.

Meanwhile, the Scots and Irish war bands massed for their mad rush forward. They were soon to be out paced by the mounted Royal knights who arrived on the right flank of the field in column to ensure movement even with failed commands. The Southern Fyrd raced along behind in a newly learned formation – The Pigs Head.

The first few turns rolled on with the rebel right being somewhat frustrated with failed commands. The Vikings advanced in solid formation whilst the Scots and Irish suffered similarly with failed commands. The Norman archers remained practicing their wood craft in the woods, only getting off a few rounds of ineffective fire.