Saturday, December 20, 2014

Even More HOTTs

Our most recent afternoon of HOTTs found the Undead facing the Sea King Armored Division again. The Undead featured 8 elements of Hordes, 3 Knights, Shooters, 2 Flyers and a Magician General. The Sea King, defending, brought Shooters, 4 Warbands, 2 Blades, a Behemoth, Riders and a Hero General.

First blood went to the Undead as the Sea King Behemoth fell to a Magic attack, then the Knights swarmed the Hero's flank with support from the Flyers.

While the Warbands chewed through the Undead Hordes on the opposite flank, the Knights surrounded the Sea King Hero General, and with a combination of a hard flank and great combat dice. . .

. . . ended the battle by killing the General. Game One to the Undead. 

The Undead defended in Game Two, facing a modified all mounted and Aerial Sea King Armored Division.

From left to right: Rider General, 5 more Riders, a Hero, another Rider and 2 Airboats behind.

The Undead Flyers were sent out in advance and were promptly jumped by the Airboats. One Flyer was killed; the second was able to escape and cause some damage to one of the two mounted columns that had formed on each flank. . .

. . . until it was hunted down by the Airboats and Hero.

I began to realize that I had tied up the Sea King Airboats with the Flyers but with Hordes and Knights as the main part of my army, did not have enough mobility to engage while I had an advantage. I was going to have to sit tight and wait for an opportunity to counterpunch.

The Airboats attacked the Hordes on a Steep Hill and were repulsed. Then the Sea king Hero wandered within range of my Magician and on the second attempt was Ensorceled. Counterpunch Number One scored!

The Hero ALMOST made it to the Shooters before succumbing to the Magic attack. A series of low Pip rolls by the Sea King permitted the Undead Knights on the left flank to close the range to the Sea King right flank. . .

. . . and separate the Rider General from the column and surround it for the kill. Game Two to the Undead.

In Game 3 we faced a new opponent. . .

. . . Barbarians! From left to right: 4 Warbands, 3 Heroes - the rightmost the General - and 2 more Warbands. True to character they advanced at full speed across the open ground in the middle of the field, spoiling for a fight.

My army was full of "cheaper" troops so my line was longer. When the two battle lines met, the Heroes recoiled the Hordes iin front of them while the Undead Knights, unopposed to their front, wheeled onto the Barbarian flank and killed the 2 Warbands.

Then the battle got so tense I forgot to take pictures! I was able to wheel the Knights into line behind the Heroes and was setting up a combination front and rear attack when the Heroes suddenly attacked the Knights and defeated them in detail before I could pull off my own attack.

In my last bound of the game I elected to make a 3-pip move to potentially kill 2 Warbands for the win rather than "bring back" 3 Hordes to prolong what seemed inevitable with the Heroes on the rampage. . .

. . . and lost the die roll. The next bound the Heroes got the last kill needed for the win. Game 3 to the Sea King Armored Division.

More fun Hott stuff. Welcome to those that stopped by to chat. 

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Monday, December 1, 2014

What the. . . Star Trek?

Star Trek?!  Surprised? My Butterfly Brain takes wing again. . .

Some background. . . and a WARNING: this post is text-heavy and riddled with personal opinions - if you read on feel free to disagree with any or all : )

The original Star Trek TV series was a real part of my childhood, and I turned into a fan of TNG (The Next Generation) begrudgingly, of course. Who would dare try to replace Captain James Tiberius Kirk? Picard made it work, but l lost interest with the onset of the later series. And I like the new "prequel" movies, presumably because they hearken back to the original TV series, but with all the new modern CG thrills. Outside of the Borg in TNG, for me it's all about the Federation stand-off with the Klingons and the Romulans!

I've always kinda wanted to game ship-to-ship in the Star Trek world, but all the games I was aware of were way too complicated for my taste. None of the models I saw appealed to me, either. Very important point. I love the ship designs from the original TV series-era through TNG and none of the metal castings - even painted - seemed to do them justice.

And there's that pesky scale problem. Well, two problems actually. First, the ships fight at distances measured in thousands of kilometers. How do you represent that on the tabletop?! You don't, really. You live with an abstraction of distance, or you can't put decent models on the table. So the models have to be small enough to represent a feeling of distance, but big enough to be worth modeling. Second, the ships have to be in scale with one another. They just have to be. It's part of the coolness factor in playing with model ships.

So where is this going? A couple weeks ago I happened across the WizKids Star Trek Attack Wing (STAW) game in the LHGS. STAW uses the same game engine used in the Star Wars X-Wing game, licensed from Fantasy Flight Games. It's a simple, fun system that works great for dog-fighting, so is a good fit with Star Wars and its "lots of fighters zipping around." X-Wing is not for me, though; I don't find the Star Wars universe compelling at all, and for dog-fighting I'll stick with Crimson Skies. And why the hell aren't I playing Crimson Skies, anyway? Maybe because I haven't asked anyone to play. . .

Getting back to STAW, the Attack Wing adaptation for capital ships - the Star Trek universe - is actually pretty clever, but just doesn't quite capture the feel of the big capital ships, partly because the distance scale looks wrong. (And speaking of scale, the model ships are not in scale with each other - not even close! Ack!) Finally, I don't like all the TV and movie characters being tied up with special events and crew capabilities. It works as a game mechanic; I just don't like the feel.

In tooling around the net looking for reviews of STAW (you can download the rules from the WizKids site) I happened across the release of the new ACTASF: A Call to Arms: Star Fleet on BoardgameGeek

You can get it for free (actually "pay what you want") for a limited time on WargameVault, so I won't bother with a review. I will say that it has more of a "wargame" feel, but is still low on the complexity scale, with a good feel for scale (still abstracted) and the differences in the ships of the various factions. So far, all of the ships are pre-TNG, but I'm ok with that. The capital ships of this era were generally similar in size and comparable in technology, so it's a good place to start. I would play this game. In fact, I'm thinking pretty seriously about playing this game.

So are there models for these rules? Yup, on the Amarillo design Bureau site. But they are metal, and I think these ships, at this scale, just look better as plastic model kits. A plastic model kit I found at a Michael's Craft store started this whole butterfly trip: a 1/2500 scale Enterprise D (from TNG). Round 2 Models has been releasing 1/2500 scale models of the ships from the TV-series and movies as part of their MPC/Cadet series. The original Enterprise is just over 4" long in 1/2500 scale; Enterprise D in this scale is over 10" long! That scale thing again. . . you start to get a sense of how big that Galaxy-class starship is supposed to be when you set it next to the original Enterprise.

After a little research, I found some more plastic model kits - all in 1/2500 scale - apparently the One True Scale for Trek. A new (?) trend seems to be extensive decal coverage simulating the "aztec" patterning on the Federation hulls. Looks really good if done properly.

Some good sources for models:

All-Scale Trek has a listing of all "known" Trek models.

Deltra Quadrant makes resin 1/2500-scale models. I bought a couple and they are very nice; good detail, very crisp casting and minimal flash.
Federation Models is another good US source for more 1/2500-scale models.

Anyone want to play some A Call to Arms: Star Fleet? I'll add it to my project list : )

Thursday, November 27, 2014

HOTTs x 3 more!

Bruce and I met at Tower Games a little over a week ago for some more HOTTs. 3 more games, obviously. I brought the Undead, fielding a more Hordes-heavy version this time.

On the far left flank is "Cruella," an Aerial Hero, supported by Flyers. Continuing left to right: Magician General (on a big zombie dragon but still just a Magician), 4 Hordes, Behemoth and 4 more Hordes. The Undead defended all 3 games. We're facing the Sea Kings again; left to right is a Hero General, Riders, Behemoth, 2 Blades, 4 Warband and Shooters sneaking off to the right.

The Sea King Hero General immediately jumped on my Magician General. . .

And sent him back to Hades. . .

With the general dead, I resorted to a desperation move - my Hero versus his Hero. . .

And lost.

A couple Un-dead Hordes later and Game over. Ouch.

In Game 2 the Undead faces a Macedonian Successor army.

It's fun to see a historical army represented in HOTTs elements; left to right is the Hero General supported by Hordes (peltasts), Riders, 4 Spears (phalangites), Riders, Shooters supported by more Hordes. And a God, yet to be deployed. Zeus, of course.
Cruella was sent of to harry the Macedonian rear, which prompted Zeus' appearance. Zeus promptly chased off the Flyers, and then settled into a protracted confrontation with Cruella, slowly driving her back over several bounds toward the main Macedonian line.

And just as the Mac General was about to sweep around the Undead left flank, the Magician ensorceled it!

Then Zeus tired of the fight with Cruella (damnable 1 Pip Roll!) and headed back to Olympus.

Cruella helped the Behemoth mop up the remaining resistance for the Undead win.

For Game 3, the Macs traded Zeus for a Magician.

As the two armies advanced on each other, Cruella was able to work behind the Macedonian line to catch the Magician alone, and kill it.

The Mac Hero General then attacked the Magician and lost (bad dice!), while Cruella swooped down and killed some Riders.

Some pushing and shoving as the two lines crashed together. . .

 . . .as the Behemoth chased the RIders up onto the hill where Cruella helped deliver the coup. 

Game Three to the Undead!
Another 3 fun games, all different from one another. Tower Games made us feel right at home and will be our venue for the next HOTTs game day.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Desert War Then and Now

Just got a fantastic book: The Desert War then and Now: The Campaign in North Africa 1940-1943. It's a large format book, 592 pages crammed with photos from. . . wait for it. . . then and now, lots in color. If you model or game the North African theater of WWII, this book is for you. It's definitely for me - the aerial photos of Tobruk alone are worth the price of the book.

You can't tell - yet - by this blog, but the North African front is another of my favorite historical periods. Someday I'll game it : )

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Some Colonial American Reading Goodness

Found an interesting new book in the latest ERH catalog: The Pennsylvania Associators, 1747 - 1777. Partial description from Amazon:

Organized on December 7, 1747, at Philadelphia, the Military Association, an all-volunteer military establishment pledged to the defense of Pennsylvania, served as the de facto armed force for Pennsylvania, a colony whose leadership, a loose coalition of Quaker and German pacifists, land barons, and merchants, foreswore military preparedness on religious and ideological grounds. For the Associators, including their most noted supporter, Benjamin Franklin, a defenseless colony was no longer practical. During the War of Austrian Succession and again in the Seven Years’ War, Associators organized defense efforts in defiance of the Pennsylvania colonial leadership. Associators also helped defend American Indian refugees against the infamous Paxton Boys in 1764. By 1775, Associators found themselves as the colony’s only legitimate military leadership and, by capitalizing on electoral gains in the lead up to the American Revolution, Associators assumed offices vacated by former officials. During the critical battles of 1776, the Associators in their distinctive round hats and brown coats proved a decisive asset to the Continental Army.

After playing our first HOTTs game together, Bruce took one look at this blog and asked if I had this book in my library: Fortress America: The Forts That Defended America, 1600 to the Present.

I have it now! The book includes some very good plan drawings of principal forts by Polish illustrator Tomasz Idzikowski that I've not seen elsewhere.

Also a couple new Ospreys with nice artwork and lots of good scenario fodder.

See ya!