Friday 12 January 2018

Rebels & Patriots - forthcoming rules from Osprey

Over the Xmas break last year, Michael Leck of 'The Pikemen's Lament' fame, dropped me a line to see if I would be interested in helping playtest some new rules that he and Dan Mersey were developing. Well, does the Pope pray? Of course I would!!! Having helped out on the aforementioned rules as well as 'Lion Rampant', I knew that they would be rules that I would enjoy playing. 

So out came my wooden blocks, some printed labels and away I went, having great fun trying out scenarios, troops types etc. However, I had to keep stumm, as the rules development was not in the public domain. But last week Dan and Michael were able to talk about these rules and below is the 'press release' from their respective websites:

Rebels and Patriots – Wargaming Rules for North America: Colonies to Civil War

We are glad to announce that we (Daniel Mersey and Michael Leck) are once again teaming up with Osprey Games to bring you a new set of wargaming rules!

Rebels and Patriots will be a set of easy to learn and fast-moving miniature wargaming rules offering you the chance to lead small armies of soldiers across the North American continent in the late eighteenth to mid-nineteenth centuries. The rules are written with a focus at conflicts on the North American continent from The French and Indian War (1754–1763), through The American War of Independence (1775-1783), War of 1812 (1812–1815), Texas Revolution (1835-1836), Mexican–American War (1846-1848), up to the American Civil War (1861-1865).

Rebels and Patriots will help you to refight company-sized skirmishes, ambushes, escort scenarios, and other tasks performed by a small company of soldiers rather than a full army. Game play is intentionally easy and cinematic, and your success is driven by the quality of the officers leading your company: the rules play up the feeling of adventure, where Heroic Officers lead their men to glory…

As with our previous rules, we’ve focused on the overall ‘feel’ and ‘flow’ of the game, rather than worrying ourselves about the minutiae of historical simulation. Our design goal has been to write a set of broad-brushstroke rules that depict the Horse and Musket era by combining elements of our Pike and Shot wargaming rules The Pikeman´s Lament and Dan´s colonial wargaming rules The Men Who Would Be Kings. The aim of the game is to roll some dice and move some models in a Horse and Musket battle game inspired by American history between 1754 and 1865, enjoying yourself as you do so.

More than anything else, we once again wanted to work together to create miniatures game for an interesting period of the history that is easy to play and enjoyably fun. We hope you will agree that we’ve done so: when Rebels and Patriots is released in early 2019, you’ll be able to judge this for yourself!

So far I've had a lot of fun with these, even just using my versatile wooden blocks. Now I like Dan and Michael's rules as I just get were they are coming from. Not everyone does, but then what ruleset does everyone like? Naturally my aim is to replace my blocks with figures, but I'm trying to be good and finish off my forces for use with 'The Pikemen's Lament' before moving onto a new project. At least I'm getting games in though which is great.

Period wise I'm torn between the American War of Independence, the Fenian Raids or the American Civil War, as Pendraken do lovely figures for all 3 periods. Given that I already have loads of AWI figures, it is likely to be this conflict that wins out. Maybe the odd bit of rebasing will be required as well as a few figure purchases, but nothing too major, famous last words.

Even though the rules are for the wars in the Americas, I can't see why I couldn't use them for some Imagi-Nations gaming in Europe, straight out of the tin as it were. The only downside with Europe is that there are less figure poses to choose from from the Pendraken ranges. Again I have loads of figures for the Seven Years War and the 1860s period, so will have to check them out to see if they float my boat.

Monday 1 January 2018

End of Year Review 2017

As is usual at this time of year, many Bloggers look back at their year and take stock of things. I find it an interesting exercise for my gaming activities, as well as enjoying reading how other gamers viewed their year. From my perspective 2017 seemed to fly by. Not sure why, but that's how it felt. It also felt a funny year in terms of my wargaming, with no-coherent feel to it, if there ever can be one for a wargames butterfly like myself. As in previous years, I've broadly broken things down into sections, with some comments at the end. So without further ado.....

Rules Bought
The Pikeman's Lament (free due to being a playtester)
Battlegroup Blitzkreig supplement
BKCIII (free for being a play tester)
Hordes of the Things 2.1 
1871 Franco-Prussian War fast play rules by Bruce Weigle 
To the Strongest! 
Bolt Action: Operation Sealion

In 2017 I feel I bought less rulesets compared to the previous year, which is a good thing. The little gaming time I have means I really should focus on a few core rulesets. However, I find this a tad difficult, as I do like to try new rules and really just to see how the mechanics work, what I like or don't like in them etc. 

The ruleset that really did impress me in 2017 was 'To the Strongest' by Simon Millar. I bought them really as some retail therapy, as I've never been attracted to grid based games. This is possibly as a result of too many games of 'PBI' by Peter Pig against competition style gamers at my old club. However, I was pleasantly surprised at how good a game they gave, straight out of the box as it were. These are certainly rules I want to play more of in 2018, along with their forthcoming release of 'For King & Parliament', due for release at Salute. I've been lucky enough to proofread the rules and they look to be great and really campture the feel of the ECW.

One ruleset that was a disappointment was BKCIII. Having been involved in the playtesting and feedback on this, it was sad to the final product didn't live up to expectations. It shows that advice given is not always listened to. To their eternal credit, Pendraken have taken this on the chin and are reviewing these rules with a re-release due at some point in 2018.

In contrast, 'The Pikemen's Lament' was everything that I hoped it would be. Again I was involved in the playtesting and Dan & Michael, the co-authors, did listen to our feedback and take on board our recommendations.  'Hordes of the Things 2.1' looks to be a fun set of rules, but when I get to give them a run out, I'm not sure to be honest. I have other rules and periods I want to focus on in 2018 that means that these will get pushed the back of the queue.

Wargaming Books Bought
Ralph Weaver Hungarian War 1848 - 1849
Ralph Weaver Three Weeks War
Osprey Italian Medium Tanks 
Osprey Italian Army Europe 1939 - 1943
The Hollow Legions
Balkan War in pictures 
Chariots Wars by Nigel Stillman
Armies of the Macedonian & Punic Wars by Duncan Head
Medieval source books 1&2 by David Nicolle.
WWI source book by Haythornthwaite
WWII uniform book by Mollo 
Osprey Sword Beach
Airfix magazine guide 22 Russian tanks of WWII
Warfare in the Age of Marlborogh by Chandler
Marlborough Military Commander by Chandler
Market Garden Map
2nd Schleswig-Holstein War
Market Garden Wolverhampton War Studies book.
English County Regiments
The Hood Battalion in WWI

As you can see, I bought a fair few books. Many were as Xmas, Birthday and Father's Day presents. A lot were bought for planned projects, such as a market Garden Campaign for BKCII, or for some Imagi-Nations mid-19thC gaming. Others simply for no other reason than they looked good or would add to my knowledge of a period I know little about. A case in point is the excellent book on 'Warfare in the Age of Marlborough' by Chandler. Simply superb.

I'm sure I will continue to buy books, much to the despair of SWMBO, but I love books. Getting those rare chances to read them, when I have a spare few minutes, it is nice just to be able to wander over to the bookcase and randomly grab a title and open it up at a page and start reading. I did this with 'Dunkirk' by Sebag-Montefiore last night. The trouble was it made me think of my planned 1940 campaign and how little progress I've made on it. Such is the life of a wargamer!

Miniatures Bought
Pendraken bits'n'pieces for my Imagi-Nations forces
Magister Militum Elephants and Chariots for my ImaginAncients forces.
Pendraken Italian tanks 
Pendraken WWII additions
Pendraken WWII bits'n;Pieces
Pendraken SYW Hungarian army 
Pendraken SYW Prussian army
Pendraken LoA Allied Army
Pendraken LoA French Army

A lot of purchases in 2017 were for future projects and to fill holes in existing forces. My plan is 2018 is to minimise my purchase if at all possible and simply focus on getting my lead mountain based up, painted and onto the wargames table. I have forces for both sides that cover 17th, 18th, 19th & 20th Century games. Also somewhere in the attic are armies for Ancients and Medieval forces. However, these will be on the back burner as I try to concentrate on the 17th & 19th Century forces first. Whether I'm able to do this remains to be seen.

Miniatures Painted
Leven Miniatures buildings
Dragon Rampant force 
Barbarian for use with 'Crom' rules
Russian WWII tanks
AVBCW tanks
Fallchirmjager for BKCII
The Pikemen's Lament Companys.

Well 2017 was certainly a very patchy year on the painting front. Simply put, a lot of the time the muse was not with me for large parts of the year. When I did feel her presence, work or family life would get in the way. At least towards the end of the year I did have a burst of painting activity, allowing me to finally finish my WWII Fallschirmjager as well as get usable size forces for use with both 'Dragon Rampant' and 'The Pikemen's Lament'.

One positive was that i found a way to quickly paint non-WWII troops to a standard that i;m happy with. Broadly speaking this involved blocks colours on the figures, followed by a Devlin Mud wash. Once dry, the colours had highlights added, which made the figures stand out more on the table. Quite a broad brush approach (sorry for the pun) but it works for me and I'm happy with it. I think for too many years i became hung up on trying to make the figures look as good as those seen in magazines or on certain forums etc. Now i've overcome that mental hurdle, hopefully my painting speed will increase.

Imagi-Nations Ancients
WWII Wehrmacht
WWII Polish

Frankly not a good year on the projects front. I think the lack pf painting time coupled with my wargames butterfly nature saw all of the projects stall or simply never get off the ground. I'm hoping 2018 will be a more focused year. I need to have a think about what I want to achieve and then try to stick to it. Having a few projects on the go helps, as if I don;t feel like working on one, then another is ready there and waiting.

Games Played
Sword & Spear 2 - 4
Battlegroup - 1 
Bloody Big Battles - 4
Honours of War - 1 
The Pikemen's Lament - 2 
Blitzkreig Commander II - 3
Blitzkreig Commander III - 1
Crom - 3 
Trimsos - 1
To the Strongest - 3

2017 was a year of two halves on the gaming front. It got off to a good start with Dave coming round for our usual mid-week gaming get together. However a deployment overseas followed by a job change saw that finish in the late Spring. After that my gaming mojo sort of disappeared for quite some time. At least on average I was getting in a couple of games a month, so not too bad, but some of these were quite short affairs.

In 2018 it looks like it will be a very solo gaming year. So my plan is to try and get some mini-campaigns in, using BKCII and 'The Pikemen's Lament', but of which have good systems for campaigns. Alongside these, I will aim to use my wooden blocks to try out other rules, periods, scenarios etc as I paint up my figures. Hopefully this will help me see what I need to get on the table figure wise for a game. Most games will be on a 4' x 4' table or smaller, so quite small, but perfect for the sort of games I enjoy.

Wargames Shows Attended
Lincombe Barn Table Top Sale & Reveille II

At least 2017 saw my attendance at more shows compared to last year. However I feel that I'm losing my love for shows. Salute was only attended as I was part of a demo-game, which was extremely enjoyable. The show itself I didn't enjoy. I used to love the Colours show, but now I find there is nothing really to draw me to the show as a punter. Being a 10mm gamer I think is part of the reason, as there is little of interest for me at the shows. It is simply cheaper and easier to buy online.

Another reason I think is that the games on show have declined somewhat in the past few years. At least that is my perception. Compare this to some of the shows in the North and, IMHO, there is big difference in the quality and variety of games and scales on show. Fair play to Pendraken who make sure their is a good mix on offer at the Battleground show. So much so that I might even try and attend this show in 2018. A long way to go for sure, but from the show in 2017, well worth the trip. 

These days I honestly prefer following Blogs and reading magazines rather than attending shows. I hope they don't die out but I think they need to up their game to keeps punters attending.

End of Year Thoughts
Well 2017 certainly felt a funny old year on the wargames front as mentioned at the start. So what do I hope to achieve in 2018?

  • For a start I want to maintain focus on a few projects and get usable size forces painted and onto the table. If I can achieve this, then I can move on to other projects to keep things rolling.
  • I really need to have a good sort out of my lead mountain and off load stuff that I'm unlikely ever to use.
  • As mentioned above, get some solo mini-campaigns in. If possible, even make a start on my planned Market-Garden Campaign.
  • Paint more. Hopefully with the above focus, I will be able to achieve more than in 2017.
  • Get a game in once a week. Like many gamers, I spend too much time on the computer, when I could be setting up a game. Not always easy fitting it in and around family time, but something to aim for none-the-less.
  • Read more. As with the above, leave the laptop off and open a book instead.
  • Update some of my terrain, to make it more suitable for my 10mm forces and to cover a wider variety of periods. Off load any items that I no longer use.
  • Get some proper storage for my figures and terrain.

So there we have it. Another year gone and a new one to look forward to. It will be interesting this time next year to see if I've achieved any of the above. Let's hope I can!

It just remains to wish you all a very Happy New Year!