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!