Friday, 14 March 2014

Notable games and developments on the gaming front in last 18 months

If my painting has been interrupted and blogging completely suspended as the result of some personal difficulties in the last 18 months, I have managed to get some gaming in, if at a much reduced level. While I sadly had to drop out as a full member of my local club and was not able to put on any of my own games.

I did have a few notable games, some of which I took pics of. I'll not include them here but in separate reports when I get around to uploading them. Although it is possible to join lots of great games at my local club, they are generally much better covered in terms of pictures on the club website/forum.

One game that wasn't was though, and I did snap, was one put on my regular gaming buddy, Steve 'the Hat'. Steve took it upon himself to stage his own ambitious Star Wars game, our third foray into trying the FUBAR rules in the Star Wars setting, this time the 'Battle of Hoth'. My contribution was to supply my figures and buy a white felt gaming cloth. I've being thinking of getting for ages to stage games in the dead of winter on snow-covered ground, and settings don't get much snowier that the ice planet Hoth. Steve though really excelled himself in buying not only lots of suitable figures but also a snow speeder and cannons but also turning up with two AT-STs (scale models of the AT-ATs in the film being so large we couldn't get them on the table). I'll put up pics and a battle report when I can, but Steve got so excited he went out and bought another AT-ST and more snow-speeders for another run at it some time soon. Was a great game, and again the FUBAR rules gave us a game full of excitement, drama and interest, despite the rule's apparent simplicity and ease of play.

Otherwise, I did get a few more games of 'Saga' in. In one my Anglo-Saxons were thoroughly shredded by one of the most deviously designed Norman armies I've come across. All archers or crossbowmen who largely shot my force to bits before I could get close. Much as I cursed this cunning army construction, I realised afterwards that if I'd known my own Saga board better, I could have countered these tactics more effectively. I was better prepared, and more experienced with the rules though, when Ben brought a Byzantine Army along. Here it was pretty much my turn to do the smashing, especially in two memorable rounds of combat when my general formed a solid shieldwall against an over rapid cavalry charge which had exhausted his enemy, then led a brutal counterattack of his hearthguard, supported by another unit of thegns, chopped two units of attacking horsemen to pieces, and mercilessly hacked down the enemy warlord, barely losing a figure. Knowing when to do nothing and save some Saga Dice until your enemy's turn, and making sure you deliver a blistering attack with as many extra attacking dice you can get out of your Saga Board when you can get a big advantage from using Fatigue Counters, can be rely decisive in a Saga game.

I also very, very recently have had a lot more time for gaming, if still sporadically for the moment. Two friends have been responsible for inviting me to their own clubs. Tony who has not long retired at a still youthful age has long been a regular at our club, but only shortly before discontinuing blogging on a regular basis did I find out that he had a 'double life' and was not only a member of another club, but was actually the Club Captain at the venerable SELWG Club. Venerable because I actually attended my first ever Wargames Show at the SELWG Club when it was based at Mottingham at the tender age of 14, which many years ago?...better not mention that....

Tony is to put it mildly a keen wargamer and has the freedom to dedicate plenty of time to his hobby. As well as a few games at our respective houses, Tony kindly gave me a lift up to SELWG where I had a great time watching the numerous games at this large club and getting a feel for it.

World War 1 game in progress
My friend David and I had tutorials together at University, and have only recently been back in touch on a regular basis. David was brave enough to confess to being a wargamer at University, while I was somewhat more cowardly and hid my love of toy soldiers as I'd passed into that immature phase when impressing girls with how cool you were seemed important. David though was sensible enough to join the university wargames club and has been gaming with many of its former members ever since. He was kind enough to invite me along to one of their once a month Sunday afternoon sessions.

I had so much fun, I was back next month, even though David himself couldn't make it. I was planning on leaving the battle report on our first game, an Army level engagement on the Eastern Front in WW1 to fellow participant Bob Cordery on his well-followed blog.

But Bob was clearly so deeply engrossed in his part of the battle that he forgot to make any mention of my own Corp at all, where as commander of an Austrian Corp which was historically wiped out, in this game. I instead held off two Russian Corps attacking me, and stopped a third advancing far enough so as to deny the Russians their strategic objective. So I'll have to set the 'historic record' straight and publish my own account.

The second game was based around Navy Seals trying to rescue hostages in the Lebanon in the 1980s. Another great game, if one with a bloody ending for us Seal Teams, the umpire commanding the Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah, Iranian Revolutionary Guards and Syrian Army forces that opposed us. Took lots of pics and will try and get a report out.

Blackhawks move in to drop Navy Seals on a hostage rescue mission in the Lebannon

What these excursions emphasised to me was what a varied hobby I belong to. I've attended 4/5 clubs now and they have each had such different characters. My local club puts on beautifully staged games with superbly painted 28mm figures week-in-week out, but makes no bones of being a friendly 'toy soldier club', although board gamers and anyone else are welcome. The SELWG was also full of very happy people, but the club members were all obviously very competitive indeed, and knew the rules backwards of the clubs favourite rule sets and were bashing away at each others armies- normally 15mm- with a clear intend to win. The Sunday afternoon sessions were different again. They had the benefit of 4 hours plus playing time, were meticulously researched and prepared, only meeting once a month means there is a long queue to put a game on, and the time is used well presenting as much a 'role-playing experience' as a straight wargame.

All very different, all great fun, and proving wargaming is a hobby with so many different aspects, that it is almost a different hobby for everyone or different group you come across.

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