Thursday, January 24, 2013

It's still summer somewhere in the world!

To all my fellow 'northern hemisphere' Ronin taking part in the Analogue Hobbies painting challenge, and especially to Jason Meyers at Der FeldMarschall, I thought I would offer you a couple of pics to let you know that, despite you being under inches (Britain/Europe) and feet (Canada) of snow, it's still summer somewhere in the world...

Last weekend it was so hot we took the kids to a local swimming hole called Devils Elbow on the Waikanae River, to cool down...

Me, above standing in the river cooling my feet... to the left of the rocks in above pic a tiny tributary peels of from the main river , (which continues to the right of the picture), and fills a deep water / swimming hole before re-joining main river...

My son (9rs) swimming across the swimming hole...

Quite pleased with himself for making it across... in NZ we are surrounded by the sea and rivers so swimming is a must have skill... of course dear ol' dad was ready at a seconds notice to dive in to the rescue if needed... yeah right , the water was frikin freezing ;-) ... Funny how the kids don't notice it so much yet I stick my toe in and go 'Brrrrrr!' ;-)

Also thankfully NZ has no dangerous flora or fauna that would pose a risk (other than certain types of poisonous algae), so swimming is safe.

So as you can see, finding time to pick up the paint brush at this time of year is tricky ;-) But I am getting there, slowly...

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Vampiric Boardgame goings on...?

After our gaming evening the other night, that I mentioned in my previous post, my son was asking me if I knew of any Vampire/Dracula boardgames...

There are two that I am aware of...


Vampyre was a fun little paper and card counters game from TSR back in the early 1980's... What I recall I liked about it, was the clever two phases of the game, the first part being a map based search for the Vampire round eastern Europe, and then when you had the vampire cornered in his lair, you turned over the map to reveal a castle floor plan, and you had to search the castle, beat the bad guys and kill the vampire. 

Great fun as I recall...

Of course my copy from 30+ years ago has long since disappeared... If anyone still has a copy of this in reasonable condition, that they would part with, I am interested (PM me or comment below).

Which leads me to ...

Fury of Dracula:

Fury of Dracula was a game originally released by GW I believe(?), back in the days when they were a games shop, and not just a 40k & WFB shop...

I never bought it then, but its always remained in my mind as a possibilty to get. More recently the game has been taken over by FantasyFlightGames.

However, I note this game seems to be just the chase across the European Map part of things, with, from what I have read, a disappointing final combat sequence. Some reviews also consider the map play 'dull'.

And I know my son will want some feel of confronting the Vampire / Dracula on the tabletop!

So, what do people think? Whats a good Vampire game these days that will convey a sense of the chase / hunt, plus a good scrap at the end?

I had actually pondered the idea of using Fury of Dracula, as a back drop to a Empire of the Dead Campaign...? Play out the chase across the map, then once the beast is cornered, break out the miniatures for a table top game???


All comments and suggestions welcome!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Painting Challenge doldrums and Elder Sign.

For those who have been keeping an eye on the myriad of activity over at the Analogue Hobbies painting challenge, you may have noticed I am languishing near the bottom of the pack (as I anticipated), without a submission to my name, as yet...

I am steadily plodding away, and have got the 36 goblins from the The Hobbit starter set, about 75% done. I have also got the Goblin King, Scribe and the two goblin captains assembled and base painted.

 And the throne... that was quite a mission as the back of the sculpt is hollow and undetailed which I didn't like, so had to pack it with foam and filler then clad it in bark chip to texture it as rock. No small task...

 But its progressing steadily...

And Sunday night saw the Bowman family head back to the cinema to see the movie again, just to top up the motivation ;-) . I have to say, we saw the 3D version again , as that's all that was available locally at the time we could go, and as much as I love the movie, I think I prefer the 2D version, as there's less blurring, and a clearer image throughout.

The weather hasn't helped either, were finally getting some consistent summer days and its darn hard to stay inside and paint while the weather is glorious. But I did get a little hobby time in over the weekend, and enjoyed sitting out in the sun, under the patio table's umbrella, sipping a chilled beer, or three... while I sat and snipped, trimmed and assembled my 15mm PSC half-tracks (again!) this time though for the command vehicle upgrades, using the PSC upgrade kit.

I made three half tracks with the addition of the  optional PaK36 AT gun mounted up front, instead of the forward firing MG.

This leaves two more to do and I have a choice of stummels, 8cm mortars or flame throwers... I can't decide which to pick! I could add the stummels or mortars to my existing 2 of each, bumping up the platoon size of each to 4 vehicles, or I could add the flame throwers for something a bit different.

Anyone with any experience of using half track flame throwers please shout up!

While I deliberated over that, I started making the 15mm PSC Tiger I kits I got, and got the first 'big cat' assembled. Three more to go...

I picked the 'Mid period' model as my Wehrmacht forces are themed Mid-War eastern front onwards, and I just don't like the look of the Late period's wheels... so I figured if I need to use these guys in Late-War, we'll they'll just have seen a lot of action and be darn experienced to boot! ;-)

Also, last night we had a spot of board-gaming, when mate Jon came round with his Elder Sign game by FantasyFlightGames.

Elder Sign is a Cthulhu-lite themed game, which is both card and dice played.

It is a co-opertative style game, where the players are working together to beat the game, and stop an Eldritch Horror being released into the world.

A lot of fun, which my 9rd old son also got to grips with very quickly and was rapt!

We played several games over the course of an evening, interspersed with a game of Munchkin too.

Great stuff. I do enjoy a good 'board-game' in the right company every now and then, time allowed,  and I can control the guilt at not picking up the paint brushes!

Friday, January 18, 2013

A (Laser) blast from the past!

Apologies for the non-wargaming post... Cast your minds back, 30 years or so... to the mid 80's...

The home computer was just starting to grab attention... things like the spectrum zx81, the bbc electron, the commodore, the atari... the BBC model B...

At the time, the commodore 64, and the Atari were the bees knees.. and I coveted my friends machines so dearly... yet my parents said they weren't going to waste money on a games machine, but they would buy me a 'proper' computer; the BBC model B 32k. It had a proper keyboard. Wow, not! Most of the games for it were crap in comparison to the c64 & atari...

And then a miracle occurred, and a game was released for it, that broke all the molds and concepts and became a seminal milestone in computer gaming: ELITE

Here's a quick potted history...

Heck, it even had a TV commercial advertising this game! At the time (1984) this was mind blowing!

I played the game endlessly, hour upon hour... I'd literally run home from school so I could get playing it as soon as possible, and it would be on till I went to bed. I might even remember to eat...

But times move on and things change... and I believe the two co-writers had a falling out, and the game never got officially re-incarnated for the more modern PC and other platforms, though it did spawn many spin offs and copies...

 And now, through chance email chat with a mate today, I came across these:

I have clearly missed the kick starter pledge, but will eagerly await this games release in 2014!

If its as good as I hope it will be, it will seriously dent my painting time!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

The Hobbit SBG - Rules trial, Battle report: Dol Guldur vs Dwarves and Elves Alliance.

Three of us got together for a Friday evening game at Bryan's, for a try out of the new The Hobbit SBG rules. Bryan took 500pts of Elves, and Robert took 500pts of Dwarves in an alliance against my Dol Guldur force of 1000pts.

Elladan & Elrohir both Armoured and mounted, with 11 High Elves (1 banner, 4 bow, 3 spear & shield, 3 spear)
StormCaller with 12 High Elves (4 bow, 4 spear, 4 spear & shield)

King Dain plus assorted Dwarves including Kazad Guard, Iron Guard, and warriors with short bow, and a banner.
Balin plus assorted Dwarves including Kazad Guard, Iron Guard, and warriors with short bow.

Dol Guldur:
The Necromancer, plus 8 Dol Guldur Orcs (1 banner, 2 shield, 2 2hw, 2 spear, 1 bow) 2 Giant Spiders
Troll Chieftan, plus 7 Dol Guldur Orcs ( 2 shield, 2 2hw, 2 spear, 1 bow) 2 Giant Spiders
Orc Taskmaster plus 7 Dol Guldur Orcs ( 2 shield, 2 2hw, 2 spear, 1 bow) 2 Giant Spiders
Black Numenorean Marshal armoured warhorse , shield and lance, plus 5 Morgul Knights (inc banner & horn.)

We rolled off 'To the Death', which made the game straight forward, as we simply wanted a try out of the rules, and we hadn't played properly together for a while...

The Dwarven Commander started deploying first and chose to sit behind a central wood. The Necromancer deployed in the wood ready for a fight. The Elves deployed in a covering supporting position, and the last dwarven warband deployed adjacent the first. My trolls warband was in right of woods with the troll just out of the wood. The Taskmaster was behind Necromancer, hugging the wood for cover from the elves shooting. The Knights were exposed on the right of the woods, looking to swing the flank, hopefully with a little help from the troll.

With deployment finished the game commenced.The battle in the woods was going to be pretty, but annoying with models getting caught up in the trees and the trees constantly getting knocked over. So we replaced the trees with mdf disks to mark their position. Not as pretty to look at but far easier to play!

The tactics were fairly straight forward , the dwarves and orcs made a battleline against each other in the wood, whilst the knights and troll came round the flank. The good guys tried to unhorse as many knights as possible with shooting, and succeeded in unhorsing 4.

Once the flank battle line joined in turn 2, things got interesting as the troll chieftan romped in the fight, and we tried out the new Hurl Brutal power attack. The troll won his fight picked up a dwarven archer and flung him down the flank battle line killing him and knocking prone several dwarves and elves facing the Morgul knights. This then allowed the knights to start putting some hurt on the prone battleline, but they proved difficult to actually kill as they were all D6...

The Necromancer had not been terribly effective with spells, as he fluffed his first go at sap will on Balin, then passed it on the second turn only to have Balin resist it. I had been trying to get Balin into a position where I could compel him forward then surround and trap him in the ensuing fight, but the trees were foiling my plans blocking my surrounding moves.

The third turn proved to be more of the same, the good guys were trying to stop the flanking move of the knights, and hold up the central orcs. Again the troll chieftan won his fight and this time flung an iron guard down the battleline, knocking 9 good guys over. The iron guard survived this but killed two of his comrades as he knocked them aside, and wounded one of the twins having knocked him from his horse.

We resolved the ensuing fight phase and called it, as we had reached 11pm with only 3 turns played... we hadn't reached any victory points but evil was declared the winner as they had inflicited 11 casualties, against 7 received.

[EDIT: actually both sides scored 2VP's for having 2 banners each, still alive at end of game]

An enjoyable game, and interesting to see what the new Monster attacks can achieve. It made the good guys decide they probably need to consider taking a better wizard now to deal with the troll / 'monster threats'.

The Necromancer didn't achieve a lot though got a couple of kills. He did allow the upgrage to Dol Guldur Orcs, which gave them better fight skill, matching the dwarves, so no more auto losing drawn duel rolls. That came as a nasty shock to the good guys.

The one thing I didnt realise was the power of the Chill spell. I had glanced at the Necromancers list of spells and just assumed the 5+ spell would be Black Dart. Which I could have used if I had thought about it, on killing the good sides banner bearers. It wasn't till I got home and looked at Chill and realised how more effective it is, as it doesnt need to roll to wound....

I could have killed the banner bearers with ease and started giving a real fright to the stronger heroes including the Stormcaller, relatively easily with the right amount of will and an odd might point thrown in too.

The Taskmaster proved quite useful for a 60 point hero, calling a few heroic moves, and even getting one for free thanks to 'whip of the masters'.

So I certainly liked this list for 1000pt game and learned what its capable of achieving.

There was a little good natured grumbling from the good alliance about the the trolls Hurl ability, but I think Monsters have for a long time been too easily 'nerfed' and often not taken as they rarely proved worth their points. So if these new rules means we'll see more of them on the table, so much the better.

The individual weapon rules were interesting but no 'biggy', and were largely ignored, other than the new way supporting spears work.

Neither side felt the need to Channel a spell...

So an enjoyable game, and we are looking forward to more.

Thursday, January 03, 2013

It's that time of year...

... where we look back over the last year, and look forward to the future...

So what did 2012 do?

Well for me it was quite a bumper year as it turned out!

The stand out game was clearly Flames of War, which dominated the first 2/3rds of the year in term of gaming and painting output, not to mention terrain.

Carrying on from the 'half track horde' from the painting challenge from a year ago, endless Wehrmacht reinforcements  were rushed to the front.
The game itself saw the launch of the V3 rules and this was taken up positively here.
My local group of players also got together to set up a local FoW club, with its own blog presence, over at KapitiFoWGamers, and this blog has grown steadily from humble beginnings.

We also forged connections with the local 'GW' orientated gaming club (Kapiti Wargames Club), introduced them to FoW and WWII, and saw a spark of interest there kindled into life, which bodes well for the future.

With this new interest in FoW gaming I even tried my hand at a couple of tournaments, including FRACAS as Shannon, and CALL TO ARMS at Wellington. I didn't do too bad, and I hope at least didn't disgrace myself!? Plus it was great to meet some of the FoW players from around the country who gathered for these events. It made a fun change back to the 'Tournie-scene' which I had not partaken of for many years, my last outing being WAB at Wello CTA a few years back...

And in simple 'getting a game in' terms, my social hobby life positively exploded into life, often with a couple of games a week, where in previous years it seemed I was lucky to get a game a month...

So thanks to all my gaming buddy's (and their respective 'better-halfs' for permission!) for making yourselves available for gaming!

In amidst all this FoW gaming and painting, other games and models fought for their own share of my time and interest.

One such project that barely got off the ground, was an idea a few local gaming chums came up with which was to try and ride the current in vogue trend of VSF & Steampunk, and this was hoped to be done with the game of GASLIGHT.

I bought the above shown compendium, but have to say it was not the easiest set of rules to get to grips with, as its about 3-4 versions of the game blended together, with a kind of 'Chinese-menu' of an index... so for the beginner its a complete mind bender.
The other problem is that whist the game is rather 'all encompassing' its also virtually without stats for anything, (you have to make it up yourself), which again makes getting to grips with it and starting off a lengthy and off putting experience...
And finally, its far from being an off the shelf game. Just about everything has to be scratch built by the gamer. Great for the real enthusiast and skilled modeller, but again another off putting point to the beginner.

As a consequence, after more than a year, this game has yet to see action. I managed to assemble and paint about 30 Prussian troopers. Roly made up some 'Mexican French' and used some Japanese Bandai toys for some contraptions. No idea what Greg managed to achieve as he doesn't run a blog and I rarely catch up with him. Only Joe stayed true to course and churned out a bewildering array of goodies, which oddly enough for me, was almost an off putting exhibition as I knew I had no hope of matching his out put...

So this game has languished...


But I am pleased to say, my 30 odd Prussians will not be without use thanks to...

This is a brilliant little skirmish game, which again rode the in vogue interest in VSF & Steampunk, with a Gothic Horror twist. Any one familiar with LOTR SBG, or indeed its cousins LotHS or LotOW, will adapt to this game like a duck to water....

So my Prussians became Zendarians, and all was well! I have only managed a couple of trial games but they are great fun, though sadly no one else in my gaming group has actively embraced the game. Its only deterrent is the main setting - Victorian Inner City England. Which means terrain of a brick building nature, which is not readily cheaply available, nor the easiest thing to scratch-build...

So I have amassed two basic factions for action plus a whole bunch of 'reinforcements' and back ground figures, and have managed to make a rather nice cemetery as a first piece of themed terrain, but at the moment can only really offer a rural hamlet scene for gaming...


During all this time, was the saga of Maelstrom Games, an online supplier I had long used and to be fair, thanks to them, probably saved $1000's on hobby purchases over the last few years (had I bought the same goods here in NZ instead). Unfortunately they went tits up in the later third of the year, after grabbing a bunch of cash off people through a last minute (should have realized it was too good to be true) sale. I never fully understood the reasons for their demise, but was frustrated they went under with some of my hard earned...

... and yet, phoenix-like, have they risen from the ashes??? I was told, from an email, to sign over my customer details, to a newly formed company, who would honour my outstanding order.... So say hello to Eye of the Storm / Maunsfeld gaming? After a recent email from the new company I was told my orders should be packed and shipped by the end of the week, so we'll wait and see what transpires...


Also during this time, the blogging Liebster award did the rounds. This seemed to add a boost to my blog traffic for which I am grateful, and also introduced me to a huge numbers of great blogs out there. I find I am now following so many great blogs, I simply cannot keep up with viewing them all and commenting on every post. So please if I haven't commented on your blog in a while, I'm still interested! Its just difficult keeping up these days!


And finally for the year, a much longed for return to Middle-Earth, with Tolkien's The Hobbit hitting the silver screen, from director Peter Jackson, ensuring a great continuity with  the existing trilogy of Lord of the Rings.

Knowing this was coming had me grabbing the new Warband army list books, again a newbie for this year, for a return to some LOTR SBG gaming, before the release of the new game, rules and figures.

I had a huge 'falling out' with LOTR gaming a couple of years ago, in part due to my frustrations over what was to me a failed game (War of the Ring). This was compounded by GW's draconian stance, on their ban on online suppliers selling goods outside the EU. This meant I could no longer get my hands of reasonably priced GW goods. In this respect they are and will always remain utter soulless bastards to my mind, simply men in grey suits just caring for the corporate bottom line with no passion for the hobby, nor care or consideration for their customer, new or existing. I wish a thrice fold pox on their soft wobbly bits! 

I can only hope Loki and Bartleby (DOGMA) pay a visit to their boardroom some day... but I digress...

A mate of mine stated recently there was nothing in British Law that can allow GW to 'enforce such a mandate'... but I guess if they found out a supplier was flouting this agreement, they would just stop supply them with product...?

However through a little effort I have tracked down a supplier. It also helps having family and friends in UK willing to help. Even fellow bloggers, so thanks all for your offers of help. 

I will avow again, I'll be damned if I pay NZ prices for GW models again!

So we finally come to, The Hobbit game SBG... a slightly revamped game with a few tweaks, but still fully compliant with the existing game, army/journey books and figures. So that is a huge relief.

Of course GW has found another excuse to rev up their pricing, and this has further frustrated me and many other previously loyal long term GW customers and fans of the game. Some of whom have cried enough is enough, and simply stopped playing or buying new figures. I can certainly empathize.

There are plenty of other great games and miniatures out there for the gamer/hobbyist, GW no longer has the monopoly they did years ago, only their IP, and Tolkien Licence to cling on to...

I have decided to plough on with it as best as I may and can afford. The game remains fun and entertaining, and the on going movie and associated DVD releases will keep me happy in Middle-Earth for several years to come.

I just hope the new movie is enough of a pull to encourage new players to the game, despite the prices, but I doubt it...


I have noted some bloggers have included their win / loss ratio, for their years gaming in their annual review. Well I must admit, my main failing in this hobby is actually winning games, and little changed there this year, so I will refrain from posting any win / loss ration. Lets just say it would probably read 'must try harder'!

I can paint, I can model and make terrain, but I'll be buggered if I can actually win a game! At least that's what it feels like! Oh well...

So what does 2013 hold?

Well my Wehrmacht force for FoW is pretty much complete. Its the sort of game you can endlessly add to but I have most bases covered now, and those I haven't are in the painting/assembling queue and as such already purchased (Tigers and Half track conversion kits, and another Hummel), and if my outstanding Maelstrom/Eye of the Storm order shows up, I'll be able to add those too.

My German forces pretty much cover MidWar and LateWar, and I don't really have an interest in playing the Early War setting, so that means there should not be any major FoW purchases this year.

I have a small British force, but as much as I wouldn't mind doing the Tyne and Tees 50th, I cant see my self getting motivated to do so...


I wouldn't mind trying to make some buildings for EotD, just to try and set the scene and be able to play a few one off fun games here and there.


I have not forgotten my love of Warlord Games; Black Powder and Hail Caesar, and would love to try and get my WSS/SYW army assembled up and painted (Wargames Factory figures), plus not to mention a few boxes of Perry ACW and Perry Nap. Brits. I'd also like to try out their Pike and Shotte supplement rules, and the fan made stats for LOTR gaming with this rules set, after my disillusionment with the GW WOTR rule book. Whilst skirmish gaming is fun, I still feel to do Lord of the Rings justice, it should be with big armies at an 'epic scale'. I sincerely hope GW may do a revamp of these rules, especially with the big Battle of the Five Armies in the not too distant future in the The Hobbit series of movies. Again time will tell on that one... So two possible options there for LOTR.


I still wouldn't mind some more Pirate LotHS gaming as that was great fun too, and I still need to finish that Brig...


And of course, there's simply the Hobbit, and LOTR SBG gaming in general. I have such a backlog of LOTR figures its not funny. There's probably 5-10 years worth of painting stashed away... so some motivation to return to LOTR gaming to get it all painted up will be wonderful!

So I am busy finishing off the figures from the Hobbit starter set. After that I will probably get the set of trolls, though I see these more as a 'collectable', as they are hardly going to feature in any 'armies'.
I do rather fancy some of the new Rivendell cavalry too....

So Middle-Earth fans, stay tuned for more!

All the best to my followers and blog readers for 2013!


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