Saturday, 26 May 2012

The future of WAB

For those who play WAB and don't read the forums, I've just popped up a bunch of polls on the WAB Forum - I'd be interested in folks' thoughts. Please feel free to reblog the link or this post.

Friday, 25 May 2012

Games that define us

From the Frontline Gamer, via[1] Big Lee..The challenge, to list the ten games that define you as a (war)gamer...

So here goes.

1. WRG Ancients 6th Edition

Way back when at school, when we weren't playing other things (of which more later), we used to play WRG Ancients. Being somewhat impoverished, none of us could afford figures: the end result was thus the infamous 'cardboard ancients'. A4 sheets of card, cut to the right base sizes, and lovingly hand-lettered. No such thing as an inkjet printer, so producing (for example) a decent size Basillian Byzantine army was a labour of love. I can still see in my mind's eye the neat lines of rectangles reading "Reg B / EHC / kontos, bow".

On the good side? It was a lot cheaper!

2. Tom Farrar's WW2 rules

Tom was our main man when it came to our club - he had stacks of WW2 tanks in 1:72/1:76, and he had written our rules.

They weren't IABSM, or even FoW, but they were, or so we thought, pretty damn awesome, and there was a tank battle going on most Wednesday afternoons at school.

The other reason these define me, is that the first ever computer programme I wrote was to calculate armour penetration given muzzle velocity, shell weight and caliber at various ranges, for a friend's 8K Commodore PET, to check against the rules.

3. Advanced D&D

Yes, like many folks my age, I discovered AD&D at university. And there, sad to say, went my wargaming hobby - much easier to play when you don't need a 6'x4' table, figures by the ton, scenery and dice, and in fact the players' imaginations is your main requirement.

But, I didn't quite get away without the odd battle...

4. AD&D Battle System

I wonder if I'm the only person who remembers this?

One of the campaigns I played in did in fact have a number of battles, mostly PhilN's empire against Orc hordes. The first edition of Battle System was, actually, remarkably playable.

The second edition should never have happened.

And then there was...

5. Space Hulk

None of my players were GW fans. So none of them had run across Space Hulk, and I'd lucked into three (count 'em!) boxes via the CIX RPG forum. Our campaign had, however, moved into space, via the Spelljammer supplement. and they did just happen to come across a big drifting derelict metal craft in wildspace. So they explored:

Me: The door at the other end of this corridor just opened with a hiss.
[Places two Genestealer miniatures on the table.]
PCs: What the <deleted> are they?
Me: Your characters have about as much idea as you do. [Rolls initiative dice.] Ting ting, round one, segment one.
PCs: [roll initiative, move their PCs the usual one or two squares]
Me: Ok. [move both critters three squares]
PCs: <deleted>! [start counting squares to exit they came in by and know how to close. Come up short.] <deleted, deleted>!!!

Ahhh, memories...

6. Battletech/Mechwarrior

Back before it got munchkinised with the Clans, Battletech was a very nice hex-based wargame with attached RPG, and I loved it.

So much so, that when I found the online BT3056 MUSE (a multi-used text based Battletech sim), I spent a heck of a lot of time on it. It's probably the first game of any sort that encouraged me to write - to the extent that three of us co-crafted a novel outline for FASA. Nothing came of it, but it was a rather fun exercise.

7. Blood Bowl

What the hell. Introduce one GW game to an AD&D campaign, you might as well introduce two.

Which is why a number of the PCs in my campaign (which used an extended skill system) have strange skills like Block and Blitz! And the players are very good at negotiating 'my Block skill should be good in this situation, right?'

8. Wings of War

My first introduction to my current club, courtesy of our local assistant Vicar (who as far as I can gather was mostly into Warhammer, but I won't hold that against him!)

A fine, and fun game - I don't have every single plane for the WW1 set, but I do have enough for a good several-player-a-side fight.

9. Warhammer Ancient Battles, 2nd Edition

Probably the system I play the most now - I have three full armies, and the unpainted plastic for two more. I like it because it was easy to pick up (even not having a background in WHFB or 40K), and it does have a decent community of all-round nice folks to play with.

Pity about Warhammer Historical, though.

10. Operation: Squad

Fantastic, quick, simple to learn, WW2 squad level skirmish game. What's not to like?

Something else, like WAB, I expect to spend some time playing with my son, just as soon as I get together some decent 28mm Normandy scenery.

[1] Dear Facebook. THIS is how you use 'via'. Not the other way round. No love. Me.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Warhammer Historical is no more

And I quote from their website

Warhammer Historical Has Now Closed

We can no longer accept any further orders for our products

We would like to thank our customers who have purchased our publications over the years and hope you will continue to get many more years of gaming enjoyment from them

If you have any queries regarding orders that have been placed with Warhammer Historical please
contact the Forge World Customer Service team

Email address:

Phone number:
0115 900 4995 from the UK

011 44 115 900 4995 from the US/Canada

00 44 115 900 4995 from Europe
 The WAB FAQ links are still up, though who knows how long for - see the WABForum for links.

The Saga of the White Ravens

I sing of the Saxons, spears shining brightly;
To British king's borders with battle to ride.
Gedriht and Geoguth, yearning for conquest,
'Neath wingèd Wyrm marching, to watchtower's fastness.
At Cynrig's command, came countless brave warriors,
To muster by moonlight, paying mind to Aelfwîne.

Five were there foremost, fearless in battle.
Swords all sharpened, spears of the thegns:

Léofwéald leading, long-legged banner bearer,
Red dragon raising, roaring defiance.

'Neath cross of the Christ-God, claiming his power,
Broadsword bearer, Bishop Oswulf.

Ecgfrith from East-lands, eyes of the Duguth;
Wild-maned warrior, with wolf-banner marching.

Young men, the Geoguth, with yellow-haired Wulfric,
Hungry, the hunters, hasten to battle.

Far-flung on the flank, for hidden ford searching,
Déorwine leads Duguth, on dappled horse riding.

Red beacon burning, blazing its warning,
Begging the Britons bring swords to their aid.
Strike fast the Saxons, swords and spears wielding,
Taking the tower, foemen turning to flee.
Shieldwall stand steady! Strike at the heathen!
Blade against blade, battle fresh joined.
Unlooked for, unheralded, under the pinewoods
Ride the White Ravens, reckless Déorwine.
Shoulder to shoulder, sharp spear points levelled,
Thegn's hoofbeats thunder, through dark woods they come.
Clash of charge, and clattered weapons,
Blade that bites, bright mail holding true.
Foemen falter, flee like their women,
Hooves trample, heedless; brave horses charge on.

I sing of the Saxons, spears shining brightly;
To British king's borders with battle to ride.
Rise the White Ravens! Ride, Déorwine!
Valiant, valourous, bringing victory close-fought.

For the full battle report, look out on Andy Hawes' blog later this week.

Translations for those not familiar with Age of Arthur/Saxon unit names:
Cynrig = King
Thegn = Thane (obviously enough)
Gedriht = hearthguard, elite warriors
Duguth = seasoned older warriors
Geoguth = younger warriors

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

20,000 pageviews!

Shows how busy I've been this past few weeks, as Trouble At T'Mill flipped past 20,000 page views sometime on Sunday and I didn't notice.

Thank you to everyone who reads and comments: I have to say I've really enjoyed the whole blogging process, and generally getting my non-fiction writing chops up to snuff.

There will be more posts soon:

  • the final part of the Horse Of A Different Colour series is awaiting me painting up some decent sample horses, and as a pile of Conquest Games Normans and some Napoleon at War Chasseurs à Cheval are next in the painting queue...
  • I'm about a month behind on battle reports - photos are in the can, and I'll try and get caught up on those this week - expect some WAB, some Saga and some WECW
  • I'm also a mile behind on book reviews (and on getting stuff out of the library)!
  • Battlegames 29 and the latest WSS are out and will be reviewed,
  • I've now actually had chance to use some of the new Army Painter paints, so I'll let you have my thoughts soon...
So, plenty to come. Watch this space!

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Bank Holiday weekend fun

The good guys' jumping off area.
Back from (surprisingly) sunny East Ayton (in N. Yorks) for a remarkably fun couple of days with the WD3 folks, participating in a sprawling two day Imaginations battle, with over a dozen players and (at a rough guess) well over a thousand figures on a 24'x6' battlefield (plus an extension on the second day due to us over-achievers on the right flank).

I had an absolute ball, and many thanks to the organisers, as well as everyone involved - made to feel very welcome, and really enjoyed the game.

In-character details will follow on the Duchy of Elland blog, but here are a few pics to whet your appetite.

The Duchy's VIth Jager Regiment take cover behind
a rocky outcrop

The traffic jam on the right flank, which took most of
two days of gaming to unsnarl.

The Duchy's forces spearheading the advance on the
far right.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Battle Report - 30-Apr-2012

Skipping ahead while this is fresh in my mind :D I'll go back and catch up on the three outstanding reports later!

Last night AndyH and I convened at the club to playtest an Age of Arthur scenario for WAB. This was one Andy had designed and sent to me for critique, and we'd gone through several rounds of back and forth (see my posts on scenario design for some of the things I was thinking about while suggesting tuning - predominantly use of the board and terrain). The final map we designed is visible to the right - it's going to get a few tweaks from here still, and I may well post an 'evolution of a scenario' post later. As for the actual detailed rules of the scenario - you'll have to wait for those :D

The initial setup, looking down
the ridge line to the tower.
Advance apologies for the quality of some of the photos - the light was a bit low, and I wasn't allowing enough time for camera shake on the iPhone.

So for now - a battle report. Andy was the attacker with his Romano-British, and my Saxons' solitary unit of Duguth plus some bowmen had just lit a fire in the watchtower to warn the rest of my army of their approach!

Andy advanced, and I rolled for arrival of the rest of my army - pretty decent, in that half the units from the village off my table edge showed up. Next turn, his first unit of Milites made it to the tower, attacking up the slope, and his cavalry crossed the river and began to threaten my approaching reinforcements.

Andy's cavalry forge across the
His attacking force was met by a hail of javelins and arrows, but managed to scare off the archers defending the hill top, and hauled their way up the slope.

Meanwhile my cavalry (from another village) showed up on Andy's left, and the left flank turned into a rather involved battle of manoeuvre between his cavalry and Milites, and my Gedrith and cavalry, which lasted most of the game. At the same time, Andy's (disloyal scum of a bunch of) Saxon allies turned up on the right flank and moved in to join the fray around the tower.
Eagle's eye view of the battle at
the watchtower

Back at the tower, the Milites were repulsed, but rallied, and the battle at the tower itself became something of a standoff. His Saxons (boo, hiss) routed my Geoguth, and proceeded to chase down my other unit of Duguth in the centre. The archers, who'd rallied in a wood almost on my baseline, decided this was too much, and fled.

"If you go down in the
woods today...."
In the last but one turn I managed to charge his cavalry on the left, after several rounds of cautious manoeuvring, and after two rounds of inconclusive melee, my Gedriht caught them in the rear, and destroyed them. End of battle, and... wow. I don't think I've ever had to think that hard in a WAB battle before - the terrain and scenario meant that line-up-and-smack-the-crap-out-of-each-other was never going to work.

The final result? A bloody standoff, in the best traditions of AoA battles. My thanks to Andy for being, as ever, a gracious and fun opponent, and for letting me critique his scenario and rip the original terrain layout to shreds!

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