Saturday, 27 July 2019

Galactic Heroes - A New Hope

Well, not exactly a replay of the entire film, but A New Hope for my old Star Wars figures. I've been mulling over what to do with my old Micro Machines Star Wars figures for some time, their last outing was over ten years ago with 'Square Wars'. Digging around on the internet I came across a free set of SW rules called 'Galactic Heroes' which in no way infringe any IP rights of either LucasArts nor the commercial game of the same name. No siree. Anyway, they looked like fun and I had the toys so off we went to a Galaxy far, far away.

We had five players to defend the rebellion, Tim, John, Jerry, Diego and Graham.

The lush world of Dantooine. Imperial forces are up to no good and our brave band of Galactic Heroes need to stop them. Points of interest and Imperial activity are indicated by the tasteful poker chips scattered around.

Each player selects a band of characters of varying characteristics (Jedi, troopers, droids etc) up to a set points value (six in this case) and then moves onto the table, trying to collect as many tokens as possible. This stage of the game involved a certain degree of hilarity as we went round the table repeatedly selecting one character at a time and there was a degree of tussling for the limited supply of speeders and droids, with Jerry insisting on picking ones of the same colour.

There is a chip under this X-Wing crashed in a swamp. Each chip can be one of four things, an ambush (Imperial patrol), credits (supplies or whatever), a trap (an essential feature of the SW universe), or a Boss (Darth Vader in this case). Bosses are up to some nefarious plot.

The terrain here is all stuff I already had, the X Wing is a cheap toy from Japan.

Vaders TIE Fighter on its base. There is chip under it too. The bunkers in the distance are painted spice pots. The TIE is also a Japanese toy.

A power generator, just the sort of thing for General Veres to blow up. This was made from a plastic light bulb holder.  The building in the middle distance is a proper Star Wars building which John acquired as part of a job lot of SW stuff.

Johns party, Obi Wan, Leia and C3P0. We used Johns character figures in the main as they are based whereas mine aren't.  Poor old C3P0 has discovered some Storm Troopers, but both Leia and Obi Wan are in blaster/force range respectively, so can help out. Protocol droids like this are cheap but can't attack. They make useful scouts and get bonuses on rescuing people from traps.

One of Grahams troopers finds some Stormtroopers in a wood. This trooper has one of the the speeders (allowing a double move). 

Tim had Han Solo, balanced on the back of a speeder. Han got lucky on his first chip, which turned out to be pile of credits. 

Diegos Chewie unfortunately fell into a trap while investigating this Hab. Jerry despatched R2 to try and rescue him (and nab the chip too). 

Leia and C3P0 cautiously approach a ridge.

Chewbacca managed to escape, and just in time as Han had run onto an Imperial patrol.

Leia was right to be cautious, Vader was lurking on the ridge. He had previously escaped and was now worth two chips.

A flurry of blaster shots and the arrival of Obi Wan saw Vader disappear off somewhere. The local fauna came to investigate (£1 dinosaurs). 

Han meanwhile was up in the mountains, after a rather inaccessible chip. These are profile mountains I made years ago, based on designs from the old Major General site.

The chip turned out to be a trap, and Han was stuck in a cave by this huge plastic Dinosaur. Evidently dinosaurs can climb on Dantooine.

Meanwhile Chewie had discovered that Vaders TIE Fighter was actually Vaders fighter.... Oooer.

One of Grahams troopers also fell into a trap, not that this building looks in any way suspicious or sinister. This is a yoghurt pot sprayed satin black and adorned with creepy red vision slits (which don't show at all in the photos). 

Obi Wan and C3P0 went to investigate this power generator, finding a pile of useful supplies.

R2D2 had meanwhile rescued Han and was wondering how to get down off the mountains. Below, Orange Suit guy checked out the other power generator.

Han went after another mountain chip and discovered a group of Imperial Army mountain troops. Torrents of blaster fire went back and forth.

R2 meanwhile rolled up to rescue Grahams character. Droids get bonuses on rescue attempts. As chips were getting a bit short, lots of other characters were closing in to help too.

The area was largely clear of Imperials now. Vader had flown off in his TIE and the rest of the characters converged on the last chip (Han Solos mountain firefight).

Orange Suit Guy helped Han out and the last Imperials were eliminated, so the game was over.

When the final scores were totted up, John had a very creditable five, but Tim had pipped everyone with six so was declared the winner. Jerry, despite sending R2 here there and everywhere on rescue missions, only came away with one.

Well, that was a huge amount of fun. The game is ludicrously simple, yet the combination of player interaction, unexpected events, a certain degree of competitiveness coupled with daft scenery and toys all blended into am exuberantly enjoyable experience with a believable (in context) narrative.

I expect we'll be having another outing in the not too distant future, but I've got a bit more painting to do first. I take my hat off to Sean Patten for a brilliant game design, far better than my old 'Square Wars'. Galactic Heroes can be found here: 

Saturday, 20 July 2019

PSC Pak 36

The PSC 15mm Early War German Heavy Weapons set is excellent value as it includes not just MGs, mortars etc, but no less than four 75mm LeIG and four 37mm Pak 36 guns.

Here are three of the guns. I didn't assemble all four as I fancied having a go at doing one as a late war one with the big AT blob thingy on the front. I'll do that one day.

The size of the crew shows how tiny these guns really are. Very easily manouverable and easy to conceal, advantages which kept the Soviet 45mm on the same chassis in service right until the end of the war.

The breech and trails. Being plastic this went together so much easier than horrible fiddly metal AT guns (yes, I mean you Skytrex).

View from the business end.

And there we have it, a very useful addition to any German force. Back in the day I would have painted these panzer grey, but I recently found that they were painted RAL 6006 a.k.a. Field Grey. I've seen a couple of examples of 75m LeIG painted in RAL 6006 too (one in the artillery park at Shrivenham and the other with a re-enactment group), so I did these in Vallejo Field Grey with a light tan drybrush to pick out the highlights. Job done.

Saturday, 13 July 2019

Conference of Wargamers 2019

Another second weekend in July, another Conference of Wargamers. That is the twentieth in a row I've been to now, and it never fails to deliver with pleasant company, delightful surroundings and an eclectic mix of gaming experiences.

Rather than do a lengthy report here,all my session reports will be in the Wargames Developments Journal 'The Nugget', available by subscription to WD (or via PDF on the website once the current subscription year has ended).

Anyway, here are a few teasers:

Knuston Hall bathed in sunshine as usual.

The comprehensive timetable. A number of extra sessions were added during the weekend as well! 

The Egyptian team planning their offensive over the Suez Canal during the massive 40 player committee game of the Yom Kippur War (and trying to avoid WW3 breaking out). President Sadat and General Mubarak look suitably determined.

Tims Scary Space Spiders in 54mm.

The very scary Space Spider with glowing eyes. This ate several jeeps and even a tank during the course of the game.

John runs 'A Bridge Too Far', our show participation game for this year. It covers the XXX Corps drive on Arnhem. It was so popular that eager players ran it themselves multiple times over the course of the weekend.

Va t'en Ecosse, Graham Evans take on Culloden in 20mm.

A tiny Coehorn mortar with a huge ammunition cassion. Flanked by Airfix AiW infantry painted as Hanoverians.

Over the Hills and Far Away. Wayne Thomas's gridded, divisional level Napoleonic game, set at the far end of the Bussaco ridge.

Massed French infantry wait to advance, led by their gallant General.

Alan Paulls 'Mission Command Normandy'. A British regimental battlegroup tries to push the Germans back. The British command team pores over maps and strength returns.

While the tactical players fight over a key objective. 

Spain on the Plain. Tims 54mm Spanish Civil War game which was sadly rained off the lawn and played indoors instead. This is Tims small collection of 54mm SCW tankettes, armoured cars and light tanks.

Gandesa on the Ebro, defended by a 54mm battalion of Spanish Foreign Legion.

A Republican Brigade lines up to attack them behind a massive air and artillery bombardment.

The air battle rages over Gandesa.

Phil and Graham's  'Battle of Edgecote'.

The Rooks. John Bassets career game covering Soviet SU-25 pilots over Afghanistan.

Tim reads up on the flight characteristics of the Frogfoot. It didn't really help as player losses mounted in the face of ever increasing opposition.

Toms '2018 Section Commander', a military training game covering modern counterinsurgency operations. Here is the AO for our section and individual character sheets.

A close up of the area of operations. This is in Helmand province.

The compound we were supposed to clear after dodging various IEDs on the way. Walking in the front door proved to be a bad idea.

'Zirkus'. German players peer at a map of Normandy during Johnathan Crowe's game covering the D-Day landings.

The Allies pour ashore after a massive air and naval bombardment. The game covered the entire 6th June at regimental level.

21st Panzer holds Caen at nightfall with elements on the coast at Lion Sur Mer. 12th SS has just arrived and will go into action tomorrow.

RPG7. Our highly sophisticated infantry anti-tank simulator. This is the firing range.

Highly advanced equipment to issue to the players.

Elite conscripts from the Knustongrad Military District grapple with the advanced weaponry.

AK minus 47. Phils wintery wonderland of Cold War arctic warfare.

Opposing forces battle over Ice Station Zebra. Where is Patrick McGoohan when you need him?

The Cyber Game. Toms cyber warfare game. Here, cyber attack option cards are laid out over the target installation after the players have conducted electronic and social engineering recce to find the weak spots.

So, as ever a great weekend and some memorable sessions. The only disappointment was the rain on Saturday afternoon which meant the planned SCW lawn game had to move indoors. It was sunny the next day so we managed to run RPG7 outside, which was great.