Sunday, 25 August 2013

Some DreadBall and a bit of a whine...

Another game of Dreadball at the club last week, me with the Orx against Adam's new shiney (and unpainted I might add) Judwan team.

Here's the state of the game with one Rush to go (basically one more turn.)  Not good for my Orx team, see that green token on the track to the top left?  Well that means I'm six points down in this game.  More frustratingly, I haven't even killed any of the opposing team!  In hindsight, I think I was trying to be too clever this game; I should have spent the first few rushes brutalizing the other team, then walked the ball to the scoring area when there were only a couple left! Would have been a lot more fun too!

I think I'm getting to try out some of the other teams available next week and am really looking forward to seeing how a couple of them in particular play.  Rumours about the next wave of Dreadball teams (Season 3) have surfaced recently, see the BoLS article.  The phrase "The Zee's - A group of identical monkey clones" is just full of win!

Aside from the game, I've not been up to much gaming or modelling recently.  I've had a lot of solicitor and other bills recently and they've really sapped my will to do much of anything. August was particularly harsh as, aside from a weekend away visiting friends, I've done absolutely bugger all.  I had hoped September would be much better, but yet another solicitor bill has wiped out my overtime and my six-month bonus from work.  I'd planned a week's holiday away somewhere (all the advice I've had since becoming single again involves having a couple holidays away on your own) but that's been knocked on the head until October at the earliest.   Suffice to say, I now understand all those lawyer jokes! Well, that's enough whining for one post, just wanted to give you an idea why there hasn't been much on the blog the last few months.

Away to the club again this Tuesday night coming; trying out the new Osprey rules, Ronin.  Quality.

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Pavia: Climax of the Italian Wars

After trying out an unusual, for me, game in Nuklear Winter '68 recently, I wanted to try out something similar.  To be honest, I've always been slightly snooty about some kinds of board games, all those token/card driven, hex-maps, tables and charts kind of turned me off them, despite never actually playing one.  Nuklear Winter was something I never would have considered buying myself, so it was a bit of an eye-opener to find out how enjoyable and accessible it was to play.  Not sure exactly what I was looking for, I went online to see what was available.

 Pavia, the French in white, the Imperials in Orange, deployed ready to begin.
Reinforcements are off to one side. The white lines in the centre are the hunting park walls. 

It turns out (not news to a lot of you, I know) that there's a hell of a choice when it comes to board-war-games.  Plenty of recurring company and designer names crop up in the genre and there are some decent guides on good games over on Boardgame Geek.  In the end, I chose something from Decision Games Folio Series, Pavia: Climax of the Italian Wars.
The generic Pike & Shot rules.

What prompted this choice over others?  Well, from my Italian Wars project, I know a fair bit (for a layman) about the battle of Pavia, which would help when it came to understand any scenarios on offer.  Secondly, the Folio Series is described as on the "entry level" to this kind of game; not necessarily simple, but a relatively small scope and a tight, compact set of rules. Thirdly, Infinity Games had one left on sale for a tenner - a tenner, you don't get three pints for that any more!
The specific Pavia scenario booklet.

So, after that modest outlay, what came in the post?  A slim, brightly-coloured folio (duh) containing an impressive map, a cardboard sheet of 100 counters, two booklets of rules and two plastic bags to hold the punched-out counters.  Just fyi, you need to provide your own D6 for this series, but that's hardly a hardship for gamers!

The Folio Series each come with two rule booklets; the first is a set of generic rules and the second provides the specific scenario and terrain rules for the specific game it comes with. For instance, Pavia uses Decision Games' Pike and Shotte generic rules (also used in the Breitenfeld game) and the specific Pavia rulebook.  Unfold the map, popout the counters, set up according to the scenario and that's you good to get playing.

The Battle of Pavia was fought between the French army under Francis I and Charles V's Spanish/Habsburg army commanded by de Lannoy.  The French were half-heartedly besieging the Italian town of Pavia, camped comfortably enough in a large hunting park, when they were surprised early in the morning by the sudden arrival of the Imperial army.  Penned in by the forests and hedgerows, and unable to coordinate themselves against the enemy due to the heavy mist, the French were badly mauled and King Francis captured.

The main Imperial force and the French siege lines.

The game Pavia is fought mainly in and around the hunting preserve.  Set up is dictated by the scenario, drawn from historical sources, but there are optional, less restricted deployment rules should players want to experiment.

In terms of actual mechanics, the rules are very tight, very specific and, although it took me a good three or four read throughs to finally grasp them, very quick to play and really, really entertaining!  The movement and c&c rules are very slick, your light troops can freely move on their own (subject to the terrain they are in,) while your Tercios and Gendarmes are much more restricted except when near a commander.  This gives you some splendid tactical options; rush in with your shotte to disrupt the enemy and wait for your infantry to trudge up behind, or keep your leaders back and move the whole line forward steadily.
Some tokens from Pavia, a Tercio, Loose Shotte, Gendarmes and two commanders

Combat is handled by comparing the difference in a specific melee or firepower stat and rolling on a D6 table.  Although there are some modifiers to take into account, the combat mechanic is streamlined and efficient.  One gripe, the lower the dice roll, the better - come on, I like to roll high!!!

Some artillery pieces are in the game, although they aren't really up to much, as are light cavalry and some midgame reinforcements.  Victory is on a sliding scale of degrees of success, but this can be offset by accomplishing certain objectives in the game (capturing artillery, looting camps etc.)  All in all, I'm hugely impressed by the scope and competence of this very modest game.  Pavia has certainly helped open my eyes to an area of wargaming I really haven't explored before.  I've had one and a bit games so far, on my own, but I'm looking forward to trying it out against a human opponent.  There's quite a strong board game scene at the club, so getting a game in shouldn't be a problem.
The Imperial vanguard and Francis' camp

There is a fair old selection in the same range from Decision Games, using different core rules for the different periods, 19th century, WW1, WW2 and Medieval warfare.  I'll probably pick up something else from their selection, but I'm quite drawn to a couple other publishers, GMT Games in particular, so we'll see what grabs my attention.

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

July Gaming

Just a quick look back on what I was up to in July.  I don't have anywhere to comfortably paint or model at the moment and that's really been getting me down recently.  However, I've still managed to get a fair few games in over the month.


I had a weekend away, visiting friends in Edinburgh.  In true gamer fashion, I took a few games with me and we settled down for a couple evenings of beers, junk food and games!  Gaz has recently picked up the X-Wing bug, so I took down my copy and a few of the additional ships. Six games over a couple games, giving every ship a try.  Quick summary; Slave 1 is simply brutal, Wedge is still the best rebel pilot, Vader the best Imperial and the YT-1300 (the Millennium Falcon model) will last a long time, but always gets blown up!
I'd like to think that I'm now pretty competent at X-Wing, getting used to the movement phase and predicting where enemy ships will be has taken a long time.  I'm still impressed by how solid the ruleset it, very clear, very logical.  Looking forward to the next wave (fuck knows how I'll be paying for them though!)


One of the most fun games I own, we had about six or seven games over my weekend away. The rules are very easy to grasp, taking only a few minutes to explain.  If you like dice, you'd like this game.  Brings out the competitive edge though... and the trash-talking.

Magic The Gathering

Never played this before, but Gaz and his Mrs talked me through a game of the "Commander" variant.  I kind of understood what was going on, but I think they were being gentle with me and that I could have been crushed quite easily.  Enjoyable enough, but not my cup of tea because...

Android Netrunner

Still my favourite game at the moment.  It's taken me a loooong time to really "get" ANR beyond the starter box (it's a deck building card game if you didn't know.)  A couple weeks ago though, I built what I would call my first "proper" decks, tried them out and was impressed by how quickly the game plays when you know what you're doing.  I'd like to get some more regular games in and maybe try a tournament somewhere (the nearest one is held about seventy miles away) in the next couple months.


You can read briefly about my Fire As She Bears and Nuklear Winter '68 games.  I've also tried out a new (to me) genre of game recently.  Enjoyed it tremendously and I plan to write about it shortly.

Until next time...