About Me

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I'm a bit of a born-again wargamer! I played many of the Games Workshop games when I was in my teens and early twenties, but left the hobby behind when I went to University. Over the last few years I have gradually got back into it and am literally having a ball! I'll play pretty much anything now, ranging from ancient historical to the far future! I think that I get more out of the painting side of things than actually playing, but that might just be because I get more opportunity. Hence the title...this blog is all about the colour of war!!

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Fireball Forward - initial impression

I think it's safe to say that we live in a world of rules overload these days, with new books and systems appearing all over the place, and on Kickstarter almost daily, but every now and again a little gem pops up. The latest of these, for me, is Fireball Forward, which is a company level set of WW2 rules. I bought the rules on the strength of recommendations made by fellow G3 club members and, upon reading them, I was really taken by some of the mechanics presented, in particular the ranged fire and the opportunity fire rules.

Now, I'm not going to go into an in-depth review just yet, as I've only just managed to play it last night, but I was so impressed I though I'd post up some initial thoughts about it. The game we played was the first scenario in the book, the assault on the gun battery at Brecourt Manor by Easy Company, made famous by Band of Brothers. This scenario is an excellent introduction to the game as it is quite small in scale but plays to the strengths of the rules system. As the Americans you are under real time pressure to destroy the guns and must use effective fire and maneouver. As the Germans you are really trying hard to interrupt the paras movement and stall them long enough for the guns to rack up enough VP. It's also easily playable both ways in a club night, so I go to play both sides. In both games the Americans won by a whisker (1 or 2 VPs away from losing) and in my go as the Americans the day was actually saved by Lt. Spiers charging across open ground, under MG fire, and destroying the last gun! Couldn't have asked for more!

So what is the game like? First off, the rules are pretty lightweight, although at first glance they may seem a bit clunky with you needing to roll different coloured dice, but once you've played a couple of turns it all becomes second nature. So the games were very smooth, with almost no referencing of the book (although I acknowledge that my opponent was already quite familiar with the rules). They were also incredibly interesting in terms of the tactical situation. You have to pay close attention to the activation order and think about what you're doing or else it becomes all too easy for the enemy to derail your plans. For example, there are MGs putting down grazing fire to deny avenues of approach, so you have to try and suppress them first before moving the fire teams down the trenches. But you only have one activation and you need to destroy that gun before it fires! What do you do? It's these decisions that make a game brilliant fun to play and Fireball Forward definitely delivered! I'm really looking forward to playing it again and once I have a few more games under my belt I'll post a proper review, as I haven't tried the armour rules yet. However, I had enough of a good time to recommend it. If you're searching for a WW2 game using elements as squads (FoW bases are perfect) that is a bit different and a bit fun, the FF is worth checking out and won't break the bank to acquire the book.

Thursday, 20 June 2013

The Brotherhood of the L.O.S.T assembles!

Finished over half of the Brotherhood of the LOST and I thought I'd show and review the figures from North Star Miniatures. Overall, I really like the look of all the miniatures in the In Her Majesty's Name range. I have seen the Servants of Ra in the flesh (or should that be metal), and I am using the Black Dragon Tong for my Brotherhood figures, and the casts have been pretty clean and easy to clean up. There was some flash and mould lines but nothing worse than you'd see elsewhere and it was all removed easily enough.
Dr. Lo Chan Fu leads the Brothers on their latest nefarious mission!

As for the sculpts, they are all pretty well posed. Plenty of action in the figures, but nothing ridiculous. The folds in the clothes are nicely sculpted, not too deep and not too shallow, and the paint went on no problems. Basically there's plenty of detail to guide the brush, but there's also a lot of leeway for some creative brushwork. The faces are nicely expressive and the weapons are all pretty hefty looking. I particularly like the muskets carried by the Boxers. They are very pleasingly proportioned.
These are two Tongs. I think they look a bit more senior than the other two.
I tried to do the kanji for 'brother' on their coats to indicate this.

Here we have the other two Tongs. Excellent figures!

The two Boxers. Again, very nicely scultped figures, particularly the guns.
I still have the more special characters from the set to do, including the Yeti which is a beast of a figure, and I'll post them when done, but if you're interested in IHMN, or any pulp/VSF game, then I'd definitely recommend looking at the North Star figures.

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

The Guns of Gettysburg

I was unashamedly overexcited late last week when a big box arrived in the post. Inside it was the brand new game from Bowen Simmons, the designer of Napoleon's Triumph, one of the best historical boardgames I have. This time, he has turned his attention to the American Civil War and the ubiquitous battle of Gettysburg. Now, this game has been in development for ages, but due to health issues, Mr. Simmons never managed to get it into production (he actually produced, packaged and shipped Napoleon's Triumph himself!). So I was always concerned that The Guns of Gettysburg would never see the light of day...but then...enter Mercury Games! They took on the design of the game and used Kickstarter  in the US to get it into production. Thankfully, they struck a deal with a German games distributor, Histogame, which meant that they opened up preorders for European customers, so we could get access to the game along with the KS pledgers. This was a great move by these two companies, as the shipping from the US would have been completely prohibitive. Anyone that preordered also received one of the KS stretch goals which is an actual bullet from the American Civil War!

So, I now have what looks like being another superb effort from the Simmons stable! I haven't had time to really digest the rules, but there are variable reinforcements and moving objective markers, so it looks a lot of fun! The components are also top notch, with the red and blue blocks being of good quality and the stickers are very...well...sticky! As per Napoleon's Triumph, there is a lot of consideration for the gamer, with a good few spare blocks, zip lock bags for all the blocks and counters, a duplicate sticker sheet and two rule books. The board is easily as sumptuous as the Napoleon's Triumph board (although noticeably smaller, which is a good thing if you only have a wee dining table!) and the rule book is full colour and chock full of diagrams. All in all, I can't wait to give this a try and I'll be sure to let you all know what the actual game play is like.

The box is nice and sturdy! That's the bullet on top.

The board and all the blocks and counters. 

Full colour rule book...

...and lots of examples!

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Memoir '44 - Pacific

Despite it sitting on my shelf since Christmas, I only managed to get a game of the Pacific Expansion for Memoir '44 last week and I have to say I liked it a lot. Well...I like Memoir'44, so that's no surprise, so what is in this expansion that gives it the flavour of the Far East campaigns?

Well, mainly, it's the special rules for the combatants. The Japanese simply must ignore the first flag rolled against them no matter their position. If they happen to be dug in, then they actually must ignore two flags. Quite often it's in your interest to take a flag and retreat away, but the Japanese cannot do that, so they are a little inflexible but damned hard to budge. They also have some quite nasty surprises in the form of the Banzai charge. Basically, they can move two hexes and still battle in close assault and if at full strength they roll an extra die. So decent fields of fire against them is vital! As for the US Marines, they get one rule, but a big one! To model their 'Gung Ho' mentality, the Americans get to order one more unit than the card says. Huge!

Other than the special rules there are a few new terrain types, tunnel complexes and some extra bits like offshore bombardment. The scenarios also feature plenty of dense jungle and beach landings, so there is plenty there to give the flavour of the theatre in question. I definitely found the game was different to the Normandy missions from the base game with much more aggression dispalye by the Japanese as that plays to their strengths. Lots of fun! So here's how the games played out! We played the first Guadalcanal mission (I forget the name) both ways. The Japanese could get victory points for moving units off the American board edge between the two counters visible in the first pic below:
The battle lines are drawn! The Japanese hordes are ready to advance from the left!
They have an armoured reserve, too!

Game 1 - US Marines: Me; Imperial Japanese: Carl

Carl launches a ferocious attack across the river in the center.
The Americans are overwhelmed, but they bring their reserves up.
The Japanese casualties mount, but they are close to breaking through.
The Americans pour it on, though, and a huge artillery bombardment finishes off the Japanese. It was a close shave, though.
Result: US Marines - 5; Imperial Japanese - 4.

Game 2 - US Marines: Carl; Imperial Japanese: Me
I get a few good cards for my strong right flank which I quickly use to envelop the Americans to their front.
The American centre is soon facing a tide of Banzai charges!
The American flank and centre collapses. Japanese forces break through the US lines and seize a clear cut victory!
Result: US Marines - 1; Imperial Japanese - 5.

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