Monday, 29 July 2013

Testers needed

Could you be a super-secret game tester for me?

I have designed a game for the MHWC members to play during our Christmas meeting. We usually play one game as a club that will provide a winner who gets a prize...bit of a crimbletide tradition...but I need it to remain a surprise for them until the meeting itself; hence my need for non club members to test it.

The game isn't going to be published commercially, it will end up here as a free download once it has been played at the club, but I would like it to be tested by other games to make sure that it, A - actually works, B - is actually fun, and C- that the few game tools I have designed for it are fit for purpose.

The game can be sent as an email attachment and will need to be printed off. The rules are just a few pages long but there are a number of cards to be cut out too, all very important to the game. It will be sent as a couple of PDF files.

If you think you can help, please get in touch, Let me know if you would like more info before hand too. I would also ask that it does not appear on any of your own blogs yet either....not saying it would of course!

Thanks in advance

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Maori War Brits arrive! - A few anyway...

Whoo-hoooo! My Empress Miniatures order has arrived. So far I have been impressed by the company, ease of ordering/time of dispatch/arrival at my door etc. I also liked their multi buy deal for the British Infantry I bought. The packs of four figures are £7.00 but the multi buy deal is for four packs and works out at just £22.00. This is a really good saving and one of the best I have seen amongst manufacturers...and you don't seem to get dumped with a pile of odd crappy figures either like some companies do (see my Crappy Figure Rant post). So far all fantastic, but what about the figures themselves?

They are bloody brilliant!!!!

Those who know me and follow my blog will be aware of my love of all things Front Rank, fantastic figures, fantastic prices, fantastic company to deal with etc etc etc. I can honestly say that these New Zealand Wars figures are at least as good as the Front Rank pieces, very different in style and heft of course, but they are incredibly clean with no flash whatsoever...they even stand up on the bases! All I had to do was slightly straighten the odd rifled musket, you can go from packet to painting tray straight away! Take a look at some of what arrived...

The firing line poses, two of the four pack value set

As you can see, these figures look great straight from the pack, no clean up at all. This next close up pic gives you a better idea.

Not even a mould line in sight, I especially like the slight lean the figure has in anticipation of the recoil.
This shot is of one of the figures from the other two packs in the value pack, the advancing/skirmishing sets. You can see a spec of flash on the musket butt but that is about it! The detailing is very neat indeed, just look at the face!

This is the Regular Infantry Officer set, some very nice poses I think you will agree. Again, look at the detailing and crispness. The heft of the pieces is nice too, just right.

The Homesteader set, Father, Mother (far right) and two daughters. The set is clearly designed to be used in a defensive scenario and a fantastic job has been made of the sculpting, you can see the panic.

These figures are some of the best I have seen and I cannot wait to get started on them. I have sixteen infantry figures, given that is the most economic way to buy them, but I am going to need more. The Units in Muskets and Tomahawks allow me to make two units out of them but I would like slightly larger units, ten figures each for preferance...ish....I have a thing about numbers in units...don't ask, so I will need to buy more, obviously. My plan is to build a 1:1 ratio force based around a reduced Company of regulars supported by some locals/provincials, so now I need to find some info on how British battalions were organised c.1840 to do this properly. Again, I am a bit OCD when it comes to such things. And then there are those nice naval party figures too of course....

The officer set is great but I could really do with more of the sergeant figure, one of the downsides of wanting such stupid things as a perfect 1:1 ratio is that getting hold of enough of certain figures can be a real pain. The contents of the figure sets is dictated by the moulds so securing enough of certain figures could be a problem....or very expensive! I will need another of the great value four pack sets, that will then give me three units of ten figures and a couple over that I can turn into sargeants etc. Final unit size will be set by the historical numbers for section/platoon/company. Then some Provincial troops, some militia....perhaps a naval party.....this could become a tad expensive you know and I havn't even looked at the Maori yet!! Bloody hell....I wonder if I offered to sweep up and make the tea at Empress I could exchange my services for figures? I would bring cake too of course.....smacks a bit of drug fuelled desperation....

I leave you with this last thought regarding skirmish games in New Zealand...terrain is going to be a pig...not many european trees down there you know. There is a solution though, a Kiwi company makes stuff for railway layouts, a tad small for 28mm but who can argue. Seen many of these at your local model shop? Another order form to complete....sigh.

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Maori Wars - a descent into madness?

Here we go again. I lasted until Sunday evening but the writing was on the wall long before then. I have now ordered my first batch of figures for the Maori thing. I tried to resist, I really did, but I am just a weak willed wargames nerd; what chance did I realistically have?

On the other hand, I can qualify the purchase and the project reasonably well and for once it does not hang on pretty figures like these Maori warriors by Empress Miniatures...

....or these homesteaders ....

.....oh no. There is actually a logical explanation for once.

When Muskets & Tomahawks first came on the scene I was immediately impressed; I have a thing for quirky rules that also provide a solid framework. I have always been interested in the AWI and skirmish level games and so here seemed an ideal opportunity. I planned games based upon Lexington and Concorde, drew up figure and unit lists and everything....I even bought some figures; and therein lay the rub. Given the skirmish nature of the game I decided on using the magnificent Front Rank 40mm figures, and they truly are magnificent too. The trouble was that I had miscalculated in my eagerness and love of the figures; 40mm is a bit of a bugger when it comes to terrain. Skirmish games are terrain heavy of course and so my plans and enthusiasm sadly and slowly dwindled, psychologically hoisted by my own petard.

Then, thanks to Andy and Roly (see previous Maori post) the answer dawned to my Muskets & Tomahawks problem, use a different period and theatre for the rules. The New Zealand Wars, as all conflicts in that country are now known, provide all the possible scenario types that the rules were designed for; irregular native forces, local militias, Imperial troops, settlers, naval landing parties etc etc. The wars were generally large scale skirmishes, raids, flag pole chopping, just the sort of thing that the rules were meant for. There are a great deal of similarity between the French Indian war and these 'Fires in the Fern' of New Zealand. The weapons are similar enough to make things easy for adaptation as are the troop types. I can use a variety of readily available buildings, a mix of AWI and even some Western Gunfight buildings are perfect for such a frontier colony that was New Zealand in the mid 19th Century.

So, in fact, I have not actually started a new project at all...I have progressed  in a new and exciting direction that will afford me new enthusiasm and an achievable there....and you cannot say la la la la I'mnotlistening la la la la la

Sunday, 21 July 2013

40K Necron Warriors

I know, I know.....don't hear from me in weeks and two posts turn up in as many days.

I am not a big fan of warhammer stuff but my kids dabbled when they were younger and now my young Nephew has been introduced to 40K by a teacher at his school in Nairobi, Kenya. The club will start properly in the new school year in a couple of months but he did enjoy his first go.

Being a nice uncle I decided to help young Luke out and start his collection off. I bought him a box of figures (got a great 25% off deal from Andrea at Nickel Books) and painted them up so could have a good start. That way, all he needed to do was turn up with his unit and join in.

The idea is this, if Luke enjoys his games and would like to take things further then great; I can help get him started and offer encouragement and advice etc. His poor mum was a bit freaked when I told her what the hobby could eventually turn into and some of the costs involved but, I also balanced this with the positives...reading skills, maths, quiet painting time and social connectivity...and look how well I turned out! Of course that last bit didn't quite help as much.

To continue my helpfulness I have also made a point of saying to Luke that he does not have to get involved in the hobby at all. If after a few games he decides that this isn't for him after all then no problem. The whole idea was for him to try something new and there is no pressure. If he likes it, great; we can build from there. If he doesn't, equally as great; he tried and experienced something and can now move on. I do try and be a good uncle and offer support, guidance and Chinese knuckle haircuts where possible. I will also draw on his face with a felt tip whenever I find him asleep never did my kids any harm and at least reminded them who was in charge no matter how clever they thought they were.

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Maori Wars

Damn, I hate being a wargamer sometimes.

No, that's a bit of a lie....its like saying 'damn, I hate breathing sometimes...'. Doesn't really work does it? I suppose that what I really mean is that I hate how easily my attention is turned....SQUIREL!.....and yet, I am not sure even that is right either. Wargamers have highly eclectic interests and with a hobby that covers so much in the way of history, cultures, game types etc etc is it any wonder we run about like the silver ball in a pinball game? My attention is not so much turned...its more like recognising opportunities to do things that my subconcious has always been interested in but saw no way of doing. Does that make sense to any of you? Just say if you think its just me.

I have always had an interest in the colonial period and the Maori wars was a particular favourite; it had so much to offer the wargamer but rarely ever got a mention. No decent rules or figures, tricky terrain, little information....balanced with fascinating troop types - mix of regulars, provincials, friendlies and even simple farmers - an enigmatic enemy that could be savage and implacable but who at the same time put themselves in danger to give water to a wounded Tommy caught between lines. The conflict was called The Fire in the Fern by many, recalling how the war could die away only to re-appear just as hot elsewhere before dying away again. The Maori would build clever defences to fox the British but then simply melt away and leave them, this made understanding the Maori warrior difficult and like fighting smoke....who could not be interested in a war like this? How the hell would you game it?

At our last club meeting Andy ran one of his great 'The French in Mexico' games for us. This is a 19th century period game but Andy has made good use of a set of Sci-Fi rules with great effect. Star Grunt, available as a free download from the Ground Zero Games site, has a very flixible mechanic that allows you adapt it to other things quite easily; that it could brilliantly cover the French in Mexico opened my eyes. Something about it made me think of a Maori game, the rules and unit organisation, troop type variable could all be covered well. This in turn got me to re-look at Muskets and Tomahawks, a game designed for the French Indian wars of the eighteenth century but that also covers a variety of troop types and irregular warfare. I also kept reminding myself that Empress Miniatures now produce a set of very nice 28mm Maori Wars figures.......Then I accidentally came across a brilliant blog with some very nicely painted figures.....

Picture taken borrowed from the work of blogger and gamer Roly. The man is a demon!

oh my........ I took a good look at the blog, Dressing the Lines, (folow the link in the above caption) and was pleased to find that Roly, the blogger, had written a lot about the subject...painted some damn fine figures too. He has been using the rule set 'Sharp Practice' with some good result although, I have to confess to not having had much luck with the Lardie rule sets to date myself. Roly is a New Zealander and no doubt has some better access to historical sources (...and decent Rugby Union...) than I. He has made a fine job of these figures and others shown on his site. His efforts have added extra impetus to my own disturbed musings and I find myself spookily drawn to the Empress Miniatures site...again....and again...

I like the Epress figure range, I like a set of rules that I am confident will work well, I like the can see where this is going can't you?.... Damn it!!!