Death Race in the Land of Ice and Fire

John Lambert reports on a Christmas Gaslands race around the Icelandic tundra.

I’d watched a Top Gear Episode on Extreme Racing in Iceland and thought this would make a good Christmas Game for the club using the Gaslands Ruleset.

The ruleset is very flexible and I wanted to try a new direction where the vehicles were unarmed and the battle was between the drivers and the environment rather than the drivers shooting or battering each other into oblivion. This resulted in an interesting and enjoyable game.

The Vehicles
Each player was equipped with identical buggies with additional hull points to represent a strengthened chassis, Nitro packs to provide additional power to overcome some obstacles and driver skills taken from the Gaslands Refuelled list.

The Course
The course (seen above) consisted of a figure of eight plan on a 5’ square table. Drivers had to take on 5 challenges and could only move onto the next challenge when the previous one was completed successfully. These challenges were :-
1. The Wall
Drivers use nitro boost to shoot their buggies up the side of a lava cliff landing at the top.
2. Firewalk
Drivers carefully traverse a breaking earth crust over molten lava.
3. Boulder Slalom
Drivers pick their way through a Glacial Erratic boulder field
4. Pond Skater
Drivers aquaplane across an icy lake
5. Bog Snorkel
Drivers traverse a bog, hoping not to get bogged down before a quick sprint to the finish.

Victory Conditions
In the Gaslands rules there is a section on Audience votes. The idea is that the event is televised and the audience can vote for those straggling at the back of the game to keep their interest going until the end of the game. I decided to take this idea further so that the winner of the event was the player with the most audience votes, not necessarily the winner of the race.

Destiny Dice
As each challenge is attempted, the driver rolls a D6 dice and applies the result. This would determine success or failure and the number of audience votes received for both success and failure.

Skid Dice
Regular players will know that these are a feature of the game which allow you to shift gears whilst also having the potential to cause hazards. I used the Slide and Spin facings as necessary rolls to complete the Pond Skater challenge and to add additional audience votes to the Wall challenge.

The Event
Grid

Left to Right:- Stig Nonameson, Snorri Snorrosson, Saggi Knackersack, Snotti Stinkinson

There was a route choice around the solidified lava flow with Snorri (top) taking the Right hand option.

Snotti is first to take on the wall but loses control and collides with it first! Despite this set back, the wall is clear at the second attempt. This would prove to be the most difficult challenge and each driver pilfered a celebratory doughnut from Eric’s stash once they were over.

Stig was the last to make the top of the wall.

Eager to make up lost ground, the descent was overcooked and Stig crashed downwards!

The next challenge was the Firewalk with Saggi gingerly picking his way across.

Next up was the Geyser field. Fortunately all drivers avoided the hazard. With barely time to adjust, the boulder slalom was next with Snotti in the lead followed by Saggi. Snorri was closing on the leaders clearing the challenge with ease.

With two more challenges to go, the race was tightening up. Snotti was the first to the water feature but bottled it. Saggi failed to meet the far bank and had to be towed out by the rescue truck but Snorri skated across in style. For Saggi and Stig, their race would end at this point as both failed to clear the water in spectacular fashion.

With Snotti struggling to build up pace for a second crossing attempt, Snorri carefully picked his way through the Bog Snorkel challenge and crossed the finish line. It had been another Hare and Tortoise Death Race.

Raid on Rohan

Middle-Earth beckons again with another of Tony F’s photo galleries.

The next game in our series of Lord of the Rings games was a bit of a stop-gap as our ambitious plan to play the whole of the Scouring of the Shire campaign was put off fro a little while as we simply weren’t ready.

So instead, we played a raid by Orc forces on a small village in Rohan in search of food and other plunder. The Orcs had also become aware that the King’s niece, Eowyn, had stopped off on her journey to Edoras so saw it as an chance to strike a major blow against the Royal House of Rohan.

The village was defended by a small contingent of Warriors of Rohan, stiffened by Eowyn and her escort of Royal Guard. We had a few civilian figures milling around (borrowed from Stephen), with a simple mechanic that determined if they fought, froze or fled when confronted by an Orc.

The attacking Orc force included Uruks and Warg riders, with a strong force of infantry seeking to kill Eowyn and the riders concentrating on the hunt for food.

What the Orcs didn’t know is that Eomer had discovered the Orc’s plans and he was racing with a small band of riders to save his sister…

The initial stages of the game didn’t go well for the defenders, Warriors of Rohan are no match for determined Warg riders. The attackers push into the village in search of Eowyn started well, with a several of the Royal Guard being cut down. But the attack get stuck on a narrow road between hedges with no way out, and the Orcs were unable to push through to their target, who acquitted herself well with a sword. The arrival of Eomer turned things – it’s been a standing joke between Phil and myself that he has always been killed off early in every game he’s featured in, but this time he not only survived but cut a swathe through the Orcs and rescued his sister.

Slammed in the Middle

Tony F reports on a recent big game with lots and lots of tanks…

Back in October we ran a large game of Hammer’s Slammers:The Crucible involving eight players. It was an asymmetrical match-up, with the attacking forces mustering no fewer than six detachments of Slammers regiment tanks and combats cars attacking from two flanks, while the defence in the middle had a mix of armed rebel militia (albeit lots of them) and light armour in the form of local defence forces and two Wolverine mercenary detachments.

Despite the disparity in forces, the game was very close, being decided very late on when the defence finally collapsed and the Slammers were able to sweep away the last remnants.

There’s a full report on the Hammer’s Slammers website; here are some more photos taken by Andy King.

The War of the Dwarves and Orcs

Tony F delves once again into his archive of Middle Earth photos.

Following the defeat of Sauron’s minions in Osgiliath, Phil and I went several hundred years into the Middle Earth timeline, to the war between the Dwarves and Orcs in the latter part of the Third Age. Actually, the real reason was that I’d bought some shiny new Dwarf models from Forgeworld and wanted to use them…

We took a scenario from one of the Middle Earth sourcebooks, involving a force of dwarves defending a human village from marauding Orcs. This needed a bridge, so it was also a good excuse to finally paint up a really nice resin bridge, also from Forgeworld, that had been languishing in the loft for nigh on ten years.

Again, I don’t remember too many specific details of how the combat went, except that dwarves are hard – really hard. Only one of my new, heavily armoured, pike-wielding Iron Hills chaps was killed and they saw off a cave troll to boot. Even a normal dwarf warrior is a tough little bugger, so this was one game that the Orcs just weren’t going to win!

The Laird of the Western Isles

Last meeting we had a game of Saga based around control for the western isles of Scotland. Whoever came out victorious could crown their warlord the Laird of the Western Isles.

The idea was that we would play two games. Each player would keep the same warlord but could change army composition between games. We would be using warlord experience from the Book of Battles. Players were allowed to use warlords who already had previous experience. Players and their warlords were:

Jeremey – Uhtred Siggurdson (Viking)
Tony – Boe Vandradson (Norse Gael)
Eric – Sigvald Ironhelm (Viking)
Stephen – Siward Dunbar (Scots)

Each player would keep a running total of their victory points across both games. The player with the most at the end of the day would win.

The first scenario we played was the Battle Royale – all against all.

This was only the second time Eric had played Saga so he was naturally a bit cautious as he worked out how to use his Saga dice and the subtleties of the game and the use of the Battleboard.

Boe Vandradson leads his men from behind

Boe Vandradson had deployed his troops quite wide apart, threatening both Uhtred and Siward. The wise and wily Uhtred, a veteran of the battle of Lintonsfjord, had been equally cunning and had managed to get some of his bondi around the back of Boe’s axemen.

Siward Dunbar’s men deployed between some rocks, which the norse gaels had occupied and some woods, which were also home to some skulking norse gael hearthguard. The Scot’s archers went forward and showed Sigvald’s raiders what they were made off with a deadly flurry of arrows. Sigvald moved his men slowly forward, using some of his bondi as a spearhead to chase the norse gaels out of the rocky ground, presumably with the intent of occupying this himself so he could harry the Scots.

A steady, unspoken, truce existed between the Scots and norse gaels, who saw the vikings as the greater threat to their lands. How long this truce lasted is a moot point – eventually the norse gael hearthguard came out of the woods and charged the Scots archers!

Exhausted Scots archers after a hard day shooting vikings

Boe Vandradson showed his heritage by taking the fight to Uhtred and his men. This wouldn’t pay off though, as Boe was cut down by the vikings and had to be carried off the battlefield with grievous wounds.

At the end of the game the results were close but the winner had been Sigvald.

The second scenario we played was the team game. Since Eric had won the previous game then he could choose another warlord to swear fealty to Sigvald. He turned to his fellow Dane, Uhtred, and the two viking armies formed an alliance. This left the norse gaels and Sots to unite against the invaders.

Things moved a bit quicker this time. Uhtred had left his bondi back at their longboats to guard their plunder, with just him and his hirdmen to fight this time. Siward moved his archers forward again and they once more let fly at Sigvald’s troops. Sigvald was a little wiser this time so moved his troops up quickly to get into combat with the Scots sooner than later.

Scots and Vikings come to blows

Boe Vandradson, having recovered from his wounds from the previous encounter, kept up with his aggressive reputation and repeatedly charged into the fight, with his bodyguard doing all they could to keep up with him. Uhtred was happy with this and he and his hirdmen drew their blades and joined in with the fight.

Sigvald, exasperated at the casualties his men were taking from the Scots archers, acted rashly, and out of fury charged forward of his men toward the Scots. The archers were defeated and fell back but this left Sigvald out on his own. Seeing his chance, Siward took firm hold of his spear and charged the viking warlord. The last that was seen of Sigvald was him falling under Siward’s blows.

When finally the dust settled and the ravens had glutted themselves on the corpses it was time to see who would reign.

Victory had gone to the norse gaels. The lands had a new master – Laird Boe Vandradson of the Western Isles!

The game had been a close one. No one was trounced and no one had an easy time of it. We all had our bad dice rolls and we all had our good ones. How long Vandradson will keep his title as Laird remains to be seen.

The Siege of Osgiliath

Tony F returns us to Middle-Earth.

For the second of our Lord of the Rings games, we chose to depict a small part of the Siege of Osgiliath. Phil took on the task of creating some scenery for the game, and we both put together a 500 points force. Again, it’s too far back to remember too many details, but I do remember using Faramir’s Rangers as a pretty lethal sniper unit, there was one heck of a scrum around a tree inside a courtyard, and the final act of the game involved Phil’s leader, Gothmog, alone and surrounded.

The Road Goes Ever On

Webmaster Tony sorts through his photos and tries to get organised…

Since the Games Workshop Middle Earth rules first appeared to coincide with Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings film trilogy (way back in 2001!), Phil and I have been amassing an ever-growing collection of figures. I don’t know about Phil, but I’m well over 1000 now (although I’d rather you didn’t ask how many were actually painted…). We used to play quite regularly – in fact, the very first game report on the then fledgling club website was a battle between Rohirrim and Uruk Hai. But as with all wargamers we moved onto something newer and shinier, and the figures had been gathering dust in our respective lofts for a while.

At a loose end two or three years ago, we decided to dig them out again and have a game. Since then we’ve been putting on a regular game at the club every six months or so, including one at the Open Day last year. The idea has been to do something different each time that required us to paint at least a handful of new figures. I’ve always taken plenty of photos but never seem to get around to writing them up, so now I’ve decided to sort through the hundreds of photos and put up a report for each game. Actually, they’ll be more of a photo gallery, the actual reports for each game will probably be quite brief since many of the details will have been forgotten!

The first of those games, in May 2016, was based on the capture and abduction of Merry and Pippin by Saruman’s Uruk Hai. In our game the Orcs are fleeing across the Open plains with their captives but are being tracked simultaneously by the Three Hunters (Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli) and a group of mounted Rohirrim.

Details are sketchy three years on, but from what I remember the three heroes made short work of a number of the Uruk Hai but the Rohirrim were held up by Orcs and the two Hobbits were spirited away by Warg riders, giving victory to the evil minions of Saruman. The photos of this game aren’t great, they were taken on an older phone – hopefully things will improve as the games go along…

The Road to Hel

Stephen slips toward the Underworld, accompanied by the strains of Chris Rea…

I’ve had Osprey’s Of Gods And Mortals for a long time now but it’s taken me an age to get together a warband for it.

Well, I did have one. I thought I’d go with the Norse because I have loads of dark ages stuff, so coming up with one warband was easy.

I just had to put together another.

To keep with the Norse theme I thought I’d go with Hel and her undead minions.

At last week’s SELWG there was a trader who had a stand with some of the Reaper Bones figures. I looked through them and found one called Svetlana The Ice Giant (or something like that) and I thought that would do.

This was my first Reaper Bones figure. I casually noticed it said ‘do not undercoat’ on the back. Wondering why that would be I did a quick Google and it seems that if you use solvent based materials on them they go all sticky.

They certainly are made of an odd material. It’s not the usual ‘hard’ plastic. Nor is it resin. Nor is it vinyl. Not sure what it is (they say it’s made from recycled material).

I gave it a good clean up first and then, wary of the stickiness issue, I used normal brush-on Humbrol acrylic to undercoat it.

Some of the spiky bits are a bit soft and flexible. And the detail is not the sharpest.

If I was to buy another Reaper Bones figure (and I’m sure I will) then I wouldn’t buy a normal ‘human-sized’ figure. I think for the larger pieces it’s OK, but for the smaller stuff I think it’s just a bit too rubbery.

Anyway, so Hel.

I decided she needed a sombre paint job, as befits the Goddess of the Underworld. I didn’t want to go with all over black because that would be too much. And she had to have glowing blue eyes, obviously.

For Hel’s brother, Fenrir, I used a GW wolf. Being GW it is a suitably big wolf figure as you would expect for Fenrir.

The zombies, skeletons, and undead berserkers are from Brigade’s Celtos range.

I used round shields to make them look like they’ve got Norse origins. I also did weapon swaps on the flesheaters/berserkers; again, to make them look more Norse. I have more of these figures to bulk out my Hel warband.

The only other thing I’d like to add is Hel’s other brother – the serpent Jormungandr.

Air War Germany 1944 – Session 3

De Havilland Mosquito Mk IV bombers of 692 Squadron, part of the Light Night Striking Force. These delivered small high level raids as diversions from Main Force raids. They were unarmed and relied on their speed to escape interception.

The results for our third session are in.  This was to be a session dominated by Wild Boar attack over the city of Berlin,as fighters sought to attack bomber caught in the glare of the clouds illuminated by the searchlights below.  One of the JG commanders was absent due to sickness and another had temporarily lost use of his headquarters (aka house) so we were down to three players on the day .  Two players babysat for the missing players JagdGeschwader for their map moves.  Absent players do not affect the tactical combat results, as each player simply flies one plane.

The day began with the Me110s of NJG engaging the bomber stream over Berlin.  This unit was depleted, so the number of tactics was reduced.  3.NJG5 was also handicapped by having some relatively slow Me110F-4s among its Me110G-4s; these struggled to match the speed of the Lancaster at high altitude.  The action was something of a damp squib with no Lancasters engaged and the Me110F of Chris damaged by fire from the defending Berlin flak batteries.

After another map turn the bomber steam continued to move through the city and the German players now had a final chance for their units to engage the tail end of the bomber stream over the city searchlights.

First in were the Me109G-6s of 1.JG302 belonging to Tony’s JagdDivision 1.  Things looked up for Chris as he was first off the scoreboard the day, downing C for Charlie.  However, he did a bit too good a job as his fire detonated the bomb bay and his own fighter was consumed in the explosion!  Things took an even worse turn for the Germans as Tony’s 109 was shot down by an alert gunner on E for Easy.

Next up was Tony’s 3.NJG5 coming round for another go. Michael got involved in a running fight with, funnily enough M for Mike.  His first pass winged the Lancaster, but the defending gunners in turn damaged the attacking Me110.  However, Mike hung on and made another pass, sending the Lancaster down.  Tony now got into his stride with his pilot bagging first N for Nab, then K for King.

As the last of the bomber stream came in over the searchlights the Me110G-4s  of 1.NJG5 also belonging to Tony’s JagdDivision1 arrived over the city.  Tony continued on his combat roll by adding J2 for Jig squared to his total for the day.

The ever persistent 3.NJG5 now succeeded in infiltrating itself into the bomber stream as it left the city, becoming the first night fighter unit to do so.

With time up for the day and four tactical combats played out, the resolution of the Tame Boar attack was left for the next session.

At the end of session 3 the points scored were as follows:

Tony (1JD)                        +5             +3 for Lancasters shot down, +3 for Wild Boar attacks, +1 for Tame Boar infiltration, -2 for fighter shot down

Michael (2JD)                   0            +1 for Lancaster shot down, -1 for fighter damaged

Chris (7JD)                        -2             +1 for Lancaster shot down, -2 for fighter downed, -1 for fighter damaged by flak

Marcus (3JD)                     –             On leave

Bob (4JD)                             –           Unable to fly

That leaves the individual League table so far as follows (with 1JD going into the team lead with 11 points):

Dave (1JD)                        +6         2 sessions played

Steve (2JD)                      +5         1 session played

Tony (1JD)                       +5        1 session played

Mike (2JD)                       +3           2 sessions played

Chairman John (3JD)  +2.5        2 sessions played

John L (7JD)                      +1           1 session played

Bob (4JD)                          -2             1 session played

Andy (4JD)                        -2.5       1 session played

Chris (7JD)                       -3.5           2 sessions played

Worth saying that you score as follows:
Map points:
1 point for each successful interception on the map by a unit, doubled if done before raid passes through own division area
1 point for identifying a main force raid or mosquito raid before air picture is clarified, doubled if done before raid passes through own division area
Air to air combat points:
1 point for shooting down a four engined bomber
2 points for shooting down a Mosquito2 points lost if own nightfighter shot down
Damaged aircraft score half points, for and against.  Ties decided by number of bomber shot down.

Wandiwash India 1760

Seán takes us back to the 18th Century with some colonial action

We had a good day in India in 1760, Pete, Alan O, Tony G, Eric and myself so I wanted to say thank you for the game, though I was umpiring rather than playing. I think it worked well and we got speedy involvement from everyone because I had reworked the Principles of War rules to make them simultaneous.. It meant that with a big battle and about 100 units on the table one side wasn’t standing around for half an hour while the other made their move.

The Battle
It was a rare outing for my glamorous Moghul hordes and the rival East India companies of Britain and France.

Wandiwash was a relief battle. The town was invested by the French and their Indian allies and the British under Eyre Coote came to lift the siege. The French, under the Comte de Lally left 300 men to maintain the siege and came out to meet their rivals for power in India.

In the game I suggested that if the British, with their Indian allies, were to get three units to leave the table by the only road on the left flank of the French/Indian enemy and on their own right, it would be a good indication that they had won the battle. Unfortunately for them the British right flank, entirely consisting of unenthusiastic native forces with no disciplined East India Company sepoys or Brit regulars, melted as snow on a spring day before the wily tactics of the wicked Suraj ud Daulauh (of Black Hole of Calcutta fame). Meanwhile a sturdy advance on the left and centre led by those British company forces looked encouraging. There was only one fly in the ointment which was the growing risk of being outflanked by French company forces released from the left centre by the collapse of the British right – or rather the army of their untrustworthy ally Mir Jafar.

The Winners
There was no disastrous defeat but the near certainty that a message would arrive from Wandiwash saying the garrison had had to surrender was expected at any moment as the relief force faltered and failed to break through. So a win on points for the Comte – which went against the verdict of history.

The rules stood up well and simultaneous movement (which is how it used to be when I started wargaming in the 10th Century) sped up a big game very well. Some necessary amendments arose which I’ll incorporate. There was a request for a colonial battle with the same rules (adjusted for period) so I said I would bring another Moslem army into the field with a return of the 10mm Mahdists of the Sudan for another go at the Anglo-Egyptian imperialists in 1898. Who would like to be a desert sheikh or the model of a modern major general of models for that battle?