Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Clash of Empires

  Yesterday a copy of Castle Risk turned up in the post. I had been looking for a copy of this game at a sensible price for a long time and although they seem to be plentiful over the pond, over here in Blighty you just don't see them.

  I am a massive Risk fan and used to play all the time in my school years when a group of us used to huddle around the game board when we fancied a change from Dungeons and Dragons or Atari. I have a copy of the 80's white box version and it is still one of my favourite games. I've owned a copy of a couple of the newer versions of the base game but I just didn't get on with the little infantry and cavalry pieces which always fell over or the flappy crappy board which would never lie flat.

  These days I own a few versions of this classic game with my current favourite being the Game of Thrones version with beautiful playing pieces depicting the different houses and an absolutely huge game board if you play the full 7 player version. Add in maester cards, secret missions and different character abilities and you have a gem of a game. The Lord of the Rings trilogy edition is also pretty cool although not as cut throat as you work as good vs evil as opposed to GoT's more machiavellian nature. Narnia is ok too and is fun to get out with kids so you can fight over Father Christmas and turn people to stone.

  Anyhoo I unboxed Castle Risk this morning and played through a 6 player dummy game and had a hoot. The rule changes from trad Risk work really well and the map has been really well thought out with no bottle-necks or areas where armies will just sit dormant having no effect on the game. The cards which bring into play various characters such as generals, diplomats and spies work really well and I called it a day after Britain had won 3 banners (beating France and Germany) over Russia which had 2 (beating the Ottoman Empire) and Austria's 1. The little castle pieces are really nice the boat is so cool. The only thing I changed was that the army pieces are a bit fiddly so I used the trusty pieces from the eighties again. They just can't be beat.

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Blood Bath at Orc's Drift and other Tales

  Phew. It's monsoon season here in East Anglia. Close, sticky heat giving way to winds and temperatures bouncing around from the mid-teens to the mid-twenties. Anyhoo I've managed to fix a leaky cistern, fix a lock onto the back gate and have just had new flooring fitting downstairs so now maybe a bit of stability is in order so that I can get to gaming again.

  My mind has been on various Warhammer campaigns since I have once again obtained a copy of "Blood Bath at Orc's Drift". This was the first campaign supplement for what was then the red box 2nd edition and the version I played as a teen many moons ago. It's pretty basic to modern eyes. The first scenario pits 40 orcs, their boss and a giant against a beleaguered group of high elves waiting for reinforcements that will never arrive. There is also a half-orc spy held within the elves stockade who the orcs must dispose of who the elves must try to escort to safety. There is almost no way the elves can achieve a military victory but instead must execute a safe withdrawal with their prisoner to score victory points and win the battle. I'm getting some high elves painted up and can't wait to play this out and see how it runs.

  I first became interested in Warhammer after reading the Thistlewood scenario in White Dwarf 45. It looked so cool with ranks of soldiery slugging it out across a small village. I bought a copy of the red box and amassed quite a lot of Chronicle's range of orcs complete with wolf riders and a rock lobber which never stayed in one piece as I tried to hold it together with milliput. That army is long gone but I have a new tribe pieced together from various starter kits with added fanatics, another rock lobber and recently a big boss mounted on a wyvern which I am dead chuffed about.

  A few years ago I bought a copy of Mighty Empires, Games Workshop's campaign game for Warhammer in a big ass box with loads of little counters and stuff. After a careful read of the rules I began setting out the tiles for a game. By the time that was done I had time to play through three turns before packing it up again for another day. I love this game. Even through you can be unlucky and have your forces decimated by dragon attacks or just bad dice rolling I like the chaotic aspect that can upset plans and force you onto the back foot. Not for bad sports but great if you want to play out an epic campaign and have the time to field your troops into the many battles that will ensue.

  Blood on the Badlands was a recent campaign book (2011) and is a fun read about one of Games Workshop's house campaigns with light campaign rules and lots of glossy pictures and interesting scenario set-ups. It's almost the complete opposite to Orc's Drift as the players field armies with a mass of different figure types and the emphasis is definitely on making everything as huge and awesome as possible. One battle features TWO mighty fortresses fitted together and lots of expensive plastic scenery as opposed to their old school cardboard glue together buildings. Those old buildings have a lot of charm, something missing from modern versions of the game and I miss that DIY build it yourself idea. 

  I'm currently waiting for a copy of the General's Compendium to arrive in the post after reading lots of good things about it online. I'll still use Mighty Empires but am looking forward to some new ideas and a bit of inspiration. To battle!

Ps. Whilst looking for the White Dwarf containing Thistlewood I found two cardboard sheets with the sentry tower, bridge and ruined cottage templates. Result!

Thursday, 23 June 2016

Orc Rock Lobber

I've just finished painting up the Orc Rock Lobber and crew. I'd bought it pre-undercoated in white and I have found that this is a lot less forgiving on my amateur brush skills than a black undercoat. Something to be aware of before starting the next batch of miniatures I've also painted up my home-made bridge and have been scouting the net for figures to replace the cardboard stand up tokens from the 4th ed. starter set. The mounted elf lord from the last starter set and orc chariot from the 6th set now join the rock lobber and the elven bolt thrower will be easy to pick up. That just leaves the wyvern...

Ps. I have just managed to get a copy of Blood Bath at Orc's Drift minus the buildings and counters. I had this classic 2nd edition pack as a teenager and am really excited about getting my hands on it again. 

Sunday, 12 June 2016

This Must Be the Place

  Me and Mrs F spent yesterday clearing out the junk and re-sorting the back bedroom. It's nice to have a bit of space to spread out in again, especially if I want to leave a board game mid-way through without having to call it a day. New pics are up on the walls, new shelving put in and everything is nice and tidy.

  I haven't been posting very much lately  due to a bunch a stuff but now the laptop is easily accessible and I have a few projects on the go so plenty to natter about. The biggest thing that has been keeping me occupied (sane?) is Oldhammer. I bought a 4th edition starter (goblins vs high elves) set last year and started something off. The 6th edition starter set (orcs vs empire) followed and I soon began tracking down the 4th edition army books. I wasn't going to bother painted my soldiers until my sister's boyfriend sold me a Citadel starter paint kit for a fiver and so I set to work. I now have a small army of orcs and goblins from the 4th, 6th and 7th sets painted up with some extra fanatics and a recently purchased rock lobber. As of yesterday I now have all of the starter sets, 4th edition army books (including the Chaos set) and the magic box. Cardboard buildings have been assembled and scenery is getting scratch built and painted.

  I guess I settled on using the 4th/5th edition rules just because they felt right to me. I had the old 2nd edition box when it came out but never played that much. At the time I had a bunch of Chronicle orcs which looked great, their wolf riders were really something. They are now long gone though after I had one of those "put away childish things" phases some people have. I cringe now at the stuff I cleared out. Never mind. I know 3rd edition rules get a lot of kudos but as much as I love flicking through the book it all feels a bit overwhelming. I like the stripped down nature of the 4th/5th  rule set and the fluff and graphics of this era bring the conflicts to life. As much as I can admire the rule books of the 6th - 8th edition I've never been into all of that grimdark stuff. I much prefer the full colour (too much red) gonzo craziness of the mid period stuff.

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Herohammer Fun Day!

I'd bought some Warhammer starter sets cheap last year but never had any intention of painting them until my sister's BF sold me a starter paint set. I've now painted up the orcs and goblins from the 4th, 6th and 7th starter sets and got hold of some of those cardboard buildings which are quite charming. For a first go I don't think they've come out too badly. I'm now going to crack on and paint the elves from the 4th set and work through the Empire and then the Dwarves of Skull Pass. When that lot is done I'll finally build the 5th edition set. Phew!

I've been enjoying using the 5th edition rules, they are just a whole bunch of fun as long as you points cap character models. The look and feel of Warhammer from this time just feels right to me, but then again I grew up in the eighties and so I love the gonzo attitude of the army books and cartoony illustrations. Definitely nothing grimdark around here.

The orcs were the first figures I've ever painted. Was far too heavy handed with the undercoat but you have to learn somehow. I still like them though.

The infamous watermill, bane of crafters. Took a lot of patience that one.

Thursday, 17 December 2015

Into the Great Wide Open

  I've converted my players' characters from my home-brew Pathfinder rules into 5th edition with remarkable lack of hassle. There is so much less math involved and the equipment choices and new rules for magic along with the traits, flaws, bonds and ideals make creating a new character more than just a stat balancing exercise.

  After that I converted Albie Fiore's classic "Lichway" scenario (not too hard) and updated my world encounter tables to bring them in line with the new Monster Manual (aquatic encounters were a pain but they were in the Pathfinder version too).

  The party will be starting off in the lakeside village of Garen's Well  12 miles west of Falcon's Hollow in the County of Tydd Gote. After a quick trip across the lake into the mountains the party will be ready to face what lurks beneath...

Monday, 30 November 2015

Good to be Back

  I've been working the summer over at a family restaurant at a popular seaside resort but am now back on regular hours and can do stuff other than work and sleep again. Some friends of mine want to start up a regular D&D session and could I dm for them? Sure can! We will be using 5th edition rules but I will mainly be using 1st edition adventures because it's just such an easy rule set to use and I love them old school scenarios. First up will be "The Lichway" by Albie Fiore from way back in "White Dwarf issue 9" and "Best of White Dwarf Scenarios".

  I love this adventure. It's one of the first I remember exploring as a character when I first started playing this game 30 years ago and it has heaps of atmosphere and great little details waiting to be discovered. I'll tap up a play report after our first session with conversion notes and what have you.
  If they survive that then they should be 2nd level and ready to discover the sinister secret of Saltmarsh.