Halloween 2022 Zombie Game – The Battle Of Yonkers

It can’t have escaped anyone’s notice that our pet game “Apocalypse: Earth” has been conspicuous by it’s absence so far this year. There’s a fairly straightforward reason for that – the setting is based around a rampaging Soviet Empire under a genocidal lunatic trying to enslave the world and this year that hasn’t really been escapist fantasy, it’s just been.. well, the news. And as such, neither Dan or myself have really felt in the mood for it.

But after spending a month last year painting a whole load of zombies for a specially themed Halloween game, we both rather fancied the idea of breaking out the Atlantic Alliance to fight out a scenario based on the Battle of Yonkers from the brilliant novel (and passable film) World War Z.. if you haven’t read the book – well, you definitely should… if you haven’t seen the film – well, it’ll be on telly again before long, there’s no rush!

Basically the Battle Of Yonkers saw the US military making a concerted stand at the town of Yonkers, NY against a crowd of zombies numbering in the millions. There’s some fascinating descriptions of the effects of MLRS and artillery against the undead, as well as the Land Warrior system (which correct me if I’m wrong, never did make it into service in real life) and the famed “Silver Bullet” tungsten / depleted uranium armour piercing shells.. if you haven’t read it, I won’t spoil it but let’s just say it doesn’t go too well for humanity… the US Army being a finely honed instrument of warfare honed for a completely different war than it found itself fighting.

With this in mind we set up a half urban, half rural board with a bunch of woods on the rural side and ruins on the urban side to represent Yonkers city limits, and put our big group of trusty Airfix civilians (who seem to be forever getting caught up in this sort of thing) in the middle, and with a randomly rolled up mob of zombies either side, homing in menacingly…

Civilians approach Atlantic Alliance lines with shambling hordes closing in from both sides…

We were winging the rules as we went, but the basic idea was that each zombie mob would get reinforced by (Turn Number)xD6 zombies each turn.. and behind the Alliance lines were four spawning points that would spawn (Turn Number-1)x D6 zombies each turn.. trust me, it was simpler than it sounded! At the far side of the table was a waiting APC to shuttle out the survivors.

Buffalo 2-7’s infantry component take up station on the city limits
A crowd of civilians rush toward them, hoping for sanctuary from the undead..
Lt. Grant leads his men forward to link up and clear out the zombie mobs approaching from the flanks
Behind you! Bravo Squad wheel around to discover zombies shambling towards them.. Keeping the rear areas secure would prove to be a major tactical problem for the Alliance in this battle
On the other side of the street, Alfa Squad are dealing with their own problems..
Grant ushers the civilians under his wing
Allied rifle squads sweep the rear areas clean of undead
Allied troops gun down approaching zombies, holding them off to allow the civilians to escape inside the city limits
Out of the frying pan…
It’s a trap! Zombies boil from their spawning points, getting up close and personal with the civilians and soldiers..
Undead to the left of them, undead to the right of them… it’s getting sticky for the Allied troops!
And still they come!
Beset by crowds of zombies from all sides, the undead get in amongst the living…
Lt. Grant falls! We ruled a 50/50 chance of a living model being reanimated as a zombie.. which he duly was!
With Platoon Sgt McAuliffe now in command, the troops blaze away at the encroaching hores of zombies but the sheer numbers are just too much…
Another zombie mob appears, interposing itself between the civilians and their escape route – Alfa Squad rush to take them down!
In desperation, Alfa Squad cut loose the frag grenades despite danger proximity to the civilians – they cut a swathe through the zombies, but at the cost of two civvies!
HUGE numbers of zombies now on the table, homing in on Allied forces from all sides and blocking escape routes!
Alfa Squad are surprised and eaten!
It’s looking grim…
“RUN! DON’T LOOK BACK!” McAuliffe screams as his surviving men turn to face the oncoming horde, desperate to hold just a little longer…
Last stand… Mac & the boys knuckle up to sell their lives dearly
“It’s been an honour, gentlemen…” Mac & the remnants of 2-7 lock & load, ready for the final act
The boys give it their all but vanish under a horde of flesh-eating ghouls.. the last civilian catches Mac’s eye as he boards the APC, just to see the sergeant mouth the words “Remember us…”

Well that was a belter! Took a little time to get going but the gradual ramping up of zombie numbers turned what initially looked like a walk in the park for the Alliance into a lethal and cinematic last stand where once again, Buffalo 2-7 died gloriously to a man in defence of freedom! Great fun and hiding out in the gaming shed kept us safe from the attentions of wandering trick or treaters.. bah humbug! X-D

So, what next? What zombie-themed scenario could we investigate for Halloween next year? There’s almost a year to figure something out… drop us a comment and we’ll see you soon!

Another Hole In The Head Pt. 7 …Characters! Flags! (and a battle report!)

Let’s. Get. This. DONE.

With the Last Regiment finally finished, the end of this project is tantalisingly close… so let’s keep on!

I’d separated out the remaining figures into five “Boss” figures – one of which would be promoted to Warchief Ghazrag The Bloody himself – and ten “Shamans” (one of which played Ghaz in the battle reports). This meant there was going to be a SERIOUS amount of of Orca magic going on.. which was fair enough, it’s not like they get much in the way of heavy weapons or missile troops…

So, I based all the remaining models on 20mm washers using a mix of superglue and quick dry PVA, primed them white and then gave them a thinned black pre-wash to help pick out the detail as the eyes aren’t what they were… you might notice a little bit of greenstuff conversion work to make the figures less uniform, including the odd arm bent up or down, as well as a greenstuff cape on Ghaz himself to give him a bit of extra presence. The jester’s hat on one of the shamans was another greenstuff effort, a tip of the hat to the classic old GW Ork Weirdboy from the 90s, and in case it’s not clear, the stuff coming out from the shaman’s outstretched hands is magic, not an oversized novelty foam finger.

Next up, flags. Having failed spectacularly with my freehand attempts with the Blood Angels, I decided to take a different tack – a Google Image search for “Warhammer Fantasy Orc Banners” got me this:

So much easier when someone else has done the drawing for you..

The paint schemes were the same as the previous regiments, and I extended that to the banners – mostly red (Vallejo Hot Orange washed with Red Ink), craft bone paint and Vallejo German Grey for black / dark grey bits.

For banner poles I snipped some black paper clips in half, arranged them in reasonably convincing poses and superglued them in place.. and now the big reveal!

Warchief Ghazrag The Bloody, seen here at the head of his horde doing his best John Travolta impression… you can tell by the way he holds his axe, he’s a woman’s Orc, no time to talk…
Orca Boss at the head of regiment of Boyz, now all flagged up and ready to rock
Ghaz and his Shamans at the head of his regiment of bodyguards
Head shaman rocking VERY fly hat
Dey’s over dere, GET EM!!!!!
The Mighty Horde!!

Now admittedly, Orca strategy is largely:


But it’ll still be nice to have all these Bosses to help keep the assault rolling forward

But before all that, Warchief Ghazrag had the small matter of an Ancien Regime force to match wits with in his quest for ever-holier stones…

The battle lines are drawn…
The Ancien Regime forces deploy with their flank anchored by the Steam Tank
Ghaz leads the boys in a pincer movement around the ruined church (or at least that’s the plan)
Supported by the Arrer Boyz, the Orca pile forward – Ghaz attempts to lead his bodyguard forward in the centre but is defeated by the terrain..
Watching the Orca thunder toward the Ancien Regime lines, the Steam Tank takes cover for a flanking shot
Ancien Regime Grenadiers fall victim to Orca Arrer Boyz but the line holds… “Let them come on, lads!”
Caught in the open, the Orca Warriors fall to the Steam Tank’s firepower!
Rifle regiment receive the first of many Orca charges!
Despite massive losses, the Rifle regiment holds, buying time for the Cuirassier cavalry to counter attack with a devastating flank charge
Grenadiers join the party, pushing home the counter-attack
Meanwhile, the “elite” Black Orcs are hit with rifle fire from the regiment positioned on the cliff, and straightaway fluff their morale check..
Not to be deterred, however, Ghazrag and his bodyguard are closing in on their objective!
Grenadiers and Cuirassiers make short work of the Savage Orcs
Making a last gasp dive for the objective after Witch-Colonel Murphy manages to teleport him down the hill, Ghaz is felled by rifle fire as the remaining riflemen burn through their remaining command points in desperation… the last bullet hits home, felling the Warchief!

Bugger, I cocked that up royally – I tried to keep the regiments together and failed abysmally, leaving them to hit the Ancien Regime lines piecemeal.. hopefully my new cadre of Shamans and bosses will inject some flexibility to round out the army..

There’s still a couple of war machines to build, plus I’ve got a couple of conversions up my sleeve.. and then maybe make some giant spiders.. and this is why projects never really get finished! The Curse Of The Wargamer strikes again…

Stay safe and thrifty out there, we’ll be back again soon

Another Hole In The Head Pt. 5 (And A Battle Report!)

It’s the summertime and the weather is fine, and I’ve been out in the garden knocking back wine…

Time to step away from the Blood Angels for a bit – I’ve lost confidence in my eye for detail (nothing to do with ay criticism, by the way – all the comments I’ve had have been positive, in fact far more positive than I deserve), and I think I need to do a fair bit of freehand practice to get my skills up to snuff before having another go at my command figures. So it makes sense to go to a smaller scale, right?

Well… yeah, actually. See, the issue I had with the BAs was with the smooth surfaces and details like the campaign badges and banners (which also highlighted the downsides to painting with housepaints rather than model paints in some instances… X-D) . The details that are picked out for you on the sculpts – pipes, aquilas etc – I wasn’t too bad with. And with my Orcs, there’s plenty of those. This lets washes and drybrushing take care of the heavy lifting – plus any mistakes you can hide within a regiment of 30, right?

So here we are – a regiment of 30 Black Orcs (Orcs of Colour?):

These lads are the heavy hitters, the elite of the orc infantry, and 30 of them is a big solid linebreaker whether you’re playing Warhammer Fantasy, Kings Of War or Hyperian Wars
Paint scheme was basically the same as the other ladz, but a black wash dulled down the skin tones.
I gave myself a hand by priming these white and then prewashing with thinned Smokey Ink to get to the parts other painting layers can’t reach….
Warchief Gazhrag The Bloody leads his army
A mighty horde!
Fancy seeing this lot coming at you?

So that’s Gazh the Warchief, a regiment of 16 Archers, 2 regiments of 30 Orcs each, a regiment of 25 Savage Orcs and now the Black Orcs – one more regiment to go and then we’re on to the Shamans, and I’ve got a few ideas for support units…

And then, to battle!

Having already kicked the arse of Ratticus McStilton and his Virum Nascii, da boyz fancied a taste of ‘oomie flesh….

Lt. Carruthers’ Sky Marine platoon deploys to the left, with support from an Artificial, Gazhrag’s boyz to the right. The objective is the sacred stones in the middle of the ruined temple… wonder what the Orc Warlord might be wanting with all these stones?
Sky Marines deploy forward with command section and mortar anchored on the low hill in the centre
And there’s the OPFOR…
The ladz barrel forward
No. 3 Squad takes casualties from surprisingly effective Orc archery
Nos. 1 & 2 squads hold the hill overlooking the temple, but it looks like they’re getting company soon
Black Orcs crash into the Sky Marines on the hill
Sky Marines retreat in good order despite taking savage losses, but the Orc regiment following the Black Orcs catch them in the open
Sky Marines fight bravely, but 30 Orcs are 30 Orcs
Command section let fly with rifles and mortar, Jim running down all his Command Points to hammer these ladz before they massacre his troops up close and personal. The “1” you can see is the regiment failing it’s morale check – being within 12cm of unsuppressed enemy troops they are captured (or cut down by quickfire .303 rounds and bayonets)
Next turn Jim won the initiative and turned the attention of the command section onto the Black Orcs – concentrated casualties in the regiment’s rear quickly caused them to become suppressed and surrender too!
However, the command section can’t face two ways at once and the second prong of the Orc attack strikes
Two survivors are all that’s left of No. 3 squad!
Surviving Sky Marines consolidate on the low hill for a last stand

But to no avail, as the Orcs crash into them from both sides!

“Those creatures are tremendous in stature!”
“Wait until you see the reds of their eyes, lads”

And so Gazhrag The Bloody scored another victory, albeit having lost half his archers, his elite Black Orcs and a regiment of regular Orcs in the process… and we ironed out a few more kinks in the Hyperian Wars ruleset, hopefully bringing the publication date to three days before the heat death of the universe.

Stay thrifty out there – Jim’s got something he’s really excited to tell you all about… 😉

The Battle Of Outpost 44 – A Star Wars Story!

As the Grim Darkness of the.. present day.. grinds on, we fancied taking our wargaming as far away from reality as possible- the other week it was Hyperian Wars (which gave us a load of ideas for game development), this time it was our 6mm “Epic” scale take on our rules engine in it’s sci-fi skin “Future Force Warrior”…

I laid out a somewhat similar battleground to last week’s fight, substituting the ruined temple with plasma reactors and the Valiant 44th command centre – codename Objective Hamilton – which would be the objective for both sides… so theoretically at least, it would be best commander wins!

Rebels win the deployment roll off, getting to pick the side and forcing the Imperials to start deployment first. Support platoon with E-Web blasters set up shop in the woods on top of the hill towards the bottom of the pic.
Rebels set up using cover to screen their infantry from Imperial fire (they hope) – mechs lurk in the rocky gulch, speeder bike team in the woods to the bottom of the pic
Overview of the battlefield – Rebels stage left, Imperials stage right, Outpost 44 dead centre
Vader leads the Imperial attack from the front – “Leave them to me!”
Rebel speeders burst from cover, performing a hit and run attack destroying one AT-PT and damaging another, using a command point to move them back into cover before Imperial fire can respond
First blood to the Rebellion!
…aaand back into cover before return fire hits!
Rebel infantry storm forward to consolidate the objective
Yeah, we’ve got line of sight…. (say the Imperial support platoon)
Where’d Yellow platoon go?!? The Empire Strikes Back!
The first turn ends with the Rebels in control of Outpost 44 but they’ve taken significant casualties and Lord Vader is marching forwards…
Red platoon double time forward to capture the outpost, successfully using a command point to gun down a Stormtrooper platoon caught out in the open
Marching forward into cover, Imperial AT-PTs catch a Rebel speeder in the open and damage it
Imperial and Rebel speeder bike teams duel at point blank range in the forest
Inconclusive, but definitely bloody!

Imperial support platoon draws a bead on the exposed Rebel mechs… 6’s to hit?

That’ll do..
Die, Rebel Scum!!
Vader leads the remaining Stormtroopers in a last ditch attack towards the outpost
The moment we’ve all been waiting for! Vader engages Luke in close combat – “I AM YOUR FATHER!”
“NOW YOUR FAILURE IS COMPLETE!” Vader fells Luke and the Rebel platoon look at each other nervously..
…before annihilating him with the combined fire of a full platoon’s blasters! Actually in retrospect we should probably have done all this as close combat, maybe some form of Force shenanigans.. as it was, he took 18 hits, fluffed every Force save and every Hero save…. “NOOOOOOO!”
Rebel speeder team carries the duel in the woods
With the remaining Stormtroopers annihilated by the second Rebel platoon, the support platoon weigh up their options as the sole remaining Imperial unit and decide to retreat to fight another day… it was close, but the Rebel Alliance wins this round!

All in all, a fun little game – we need to finesse the “fighting in buildings” aspect, we were a little inconsistent with how we abstracted that, but on the whole, a solid rules engine and I think we’ve struck a good balance between alternate activation and IGO/UGO mechanics, as well as the range abstraction that dogs wargames… Till next time, May The Force Be With You (particularly if you’re Ukrainian)!

A Clash Of Evil – Hyperian Wars Battle Report

It’s customary in many a fantasy trope to regard humanity as besieged on all sides by innumerable hordes of vile creatures, united as one in their desire for destruction – but on the world of Hyperia, this ain’t necessarily so! As it turns out, be they human, elf, dwarf, or Baddie (TM) – pretty much everyone hates everyone else in roughly equal measure.

And so to today’s battle report, which pits Dan’s Orcathe followers of Warchief Ghazhrag The Bloody – against the Virum Nascii ratman horde of Ratticus McStilton III!

As some of you may be aware, we did a fair few HW games in 2019 and the ratmen kicked some ass and took some names… but then The Great Plague struck and gaming (and thus rule development) all went down the pan. Now, mercifully, we’ve just got potential WW3 to worry about, and until someone invents a facemask that can stop a Satan II ICBM warhead… well, we might as well stop worrying, crack open a bottle and play soldiers.

Dan brought everything he’d got finished, including a commander I hadn’t seen before (!), and because our Virum Nascii horde vastly outnumbers… everything, really, I decided to stick to the basics – warriors, slaves, archers, Plague Priests, Stormtroopers and Warlord. All the special weapons stuff would stay home for now. This was a rough estimate in points values, but also so I could beat him without fear of emotional blackmail – the Orca are tough – thick, but tough – and hit hard in big blocks but have little missile weaponry and no magic (yet).

Rules, for those interested:

Orcs:

Orc Warrior:

SpeedShooting SkillCCRInitiativeArmourHit PointMoraleNotes
1264292RegularDefault: Advance (Assault)
WeaponRate Of FireClose RangePenetrationDamage
Hand Weapons1Melee8+D61

Orc Archer

SpeedShooting SkillCCRInitiativeArmourHit PointMoraleNotes
1253292RegularDefault: Advance (Assault)
WeaponRate Of FireClose RangePenetrationDamage
Bow160cm7+D61

Savage Orc

SpeedShooting SkillCCRInitiativeArmourHit PointMoraleNotes
1264282EliteDefault: Advance (Assault)
WeaponRate Of FireClose RangePenetrationDamage
Hand Weapons1Melee8+D61

Orc General

SpeedShooting SkillCCRInitiativeArmourHit PointMoraleNotes
12563124EliteDefault: Advance (Assault)
WeaponRate Of FireClose RangePenetrationDamage
Hand Weapons1Melee8+D62

Orc Shaman

SpeedShooting SkillCCRInitiativeArmourHit PointMoraleNotes
12553103EliteDefault: Advance (Assault)
WeaponRate Of FireClose RangePenetrationDamage
Hand Weapons1Melee8+D62

Filth (4+): Target friendly unit within 12” gets Poison in melee next time it fights.

Cracks (4+): Target enemy unit within 12” takes 2 automatic hits with AP(2).

Sickness (5+): Target enemy unit within 18” gets -1 to hit next time it shoots.

Lightning (5+): Target enemy unit within 12” takes 1 hit with AP(4) and Deadly(3).

Frenzy (6+): Target friendly unit within 12” may immediately move by up to 6”.

Pestilence (6+): Target enemy unit within 6” takes 1 automatic hit per model.

Virum Nascii

Warrior

SpeedShooting SkillCCRInitiativeArmourHit PointMoraleNotes
1863361PoorDefault – Hold

Slaves

SpeedShooting SkillCCRInitiativeArmourHit PointMoraleNotes
1872361UntrainedDefault – Panic
WeaponRate Of FireClose RangePenetrationDamage
Bow150cm6+D61
WeaponRate Of FireClose RangePenetrationDamage
Hand Weapons1Melee6+D61

Poison Grenadiers

SpeedShooting SkillCCRInitiativeArmourHit PointMoraleNotes
1863361RegularDefault: Advance (ranged)
WeaponRate Of FireClose RangePenetrationDamage
Poison Grenade112+D68+D63 (Blast 3cm)

Stormtroopers

SpeedShooting SkillCCRInitiativeArmourHit PointMoraleNotes
1864361RegularDefault: Advance (Assault)
WeaponRate Of FireClose RangePenetrationDamage
Hand Weapons1Melee8+D61

Assassins

SpeedShooting SkillCCRInitiativeArmourHit PointMoraleNotes
2063461RegularDefault: Advance (Assault)
WeaponRate Of FireClose RangePenetrationDamage
Hand Weapons1Melee8+D61

Warlord

SpeedShooting SkillCCRInitiativeArmourHit PointMoraleNotes
1854492VeteranHero
WeaponRate Of FireClose RangePenetrationDamage
Hand Weapons3Melee7+D61

Plague Priests

SpeedShooting SkillCCRInitiativeArmourHit PointMoraleNotes
1863371RegularDefault: Advance (Assault)
WeaponRate Of FireClose RangePenetrationDamage
Hand Weapons1Melee7+D62

Weapons Teams

SpeedShooting SkillCCRInitiativeArmourHit PointMoraleNotes
1853471RegularIndependent, Default: Hold (Ranged)
WeaponRate Of FireClose RangePenetrationDamage
Vrilrifle148cm20+2D62
Ratling Gun636cm7+D61
Vrilfire Thrower1Template12+D62
Vrilgrinder DrillN/AN/AN/ASets up Ambush*

*Ambush – This unit begins in reserve. When it is placed, it may pop up anywhere more than 18cm from an enemy unit. Any friendly Virum Nascii units not already deployed may follow through the tunnel and pop and deploy with a unit facing touching the tunnel mouth in the case of a regiment or in the case of an individual character.

Master Of Engineers:

SpeedShooting SkillCCRInitiativeArmourHit PointMoraleNotes
1843492VeteranHero
WeaponRate Of FireClose RangePenetrationDamage
Vrilfire Pistol324cm12+D62

Dan brought the Orca general, two regiments of 30 Warriors each, a regiment of 25 Savage Orcs and 16 Archers – I brought the Virum Nascii Warlord, a regiment of 32 Slave archers, 2 regiments of 16 warriors each, 28 Slaves, 6 Stormtroopers and 16 Plague Priests.

We decided on a specific objective – controlling the sacred stones within a ruined temple. To win, a player would have to have an unshaken (unsuppressed) unit within half a move distance, so 9cm for the VN, 6cm for the slower Orcs. To war!

The objective – some holy stones within a ruined. “Why’s dey ‘oly boss?” “Cause dey’s full of ‘oles, don’t ask stoopid questions”

Virum Nascii win the deployment roll off, choosing their table edge and forcing the Orca to deploy first.
Hordes of chittering Virum Nascii swarm forth! Using a new deployment rule to simulate the increased flexibility of faster armies, basically everyone can deploy a double move forward onto the board – meant 24cm for the Orca, 36cm for the Ratmen.
Both side close for battle – Virum Nascii archers attempt to provide covering fire… this is comically ineffective

Orca attempt a flanking manouevre

Cunning Virum Nascii warlord uses his slaves as bait to try and lure the Orca into doing something rash…
Orca flanking manoeuvre hurtles ponderously toward Ratmen lines…
Plague Priests ambush a unit of Orca warriors, catching them in the flank

Ratmen warriors ambush a unit of Orca warriors in the rear, causing them to rout!

Orca archers provide counterbattery fire, covering the advance of the Savage/ Feral (choose your poison) Orca – this is somewhat more effective than their Virum Nascii counterparts….
…causing both the slave warriors and slave archers to rout! Warlord Ratticus does his best to rally the troops…
With the Orca flank threat successfully dealt with, the Ratmen encircle the temple ruins…

First Ratmen Warrior unit sent in is duly demolished by superior Savage Orca numbers and strength…

But then (while the slaves are rallying) a second regiment of Virum Nascii Warriors attacks the Savage Orca from behind, routing them!
…Plague Priests catch the fleeing Orca and annihilate them!
Ratmen attempt to press home the attack in the temple, but the Orca are too strong and too many!
Arrow fire routs the Slave archers… again…
Lord Ratticus send in his finest, the Plague Priests – will they get the job done?
At the height of the battle, Warlord Ratticus charges Ghazrag The Bloody!
…and he is no match for his greenskin adversary!
Seeing their warlord fall, the slave archers leg it as the Plague priests start to struggle, with the Stormtroopers looking for an opening..

The slaves rally…

..but the Plague Priests die to a rat to a crushing assault from Orca archers and Warriors!

With just the 6 Stormtroopers and 20 odd largely ineffectual Slave archers against 16 much more effective Orca archers and a block of 20 Warriors, as well as Ghazrag himself, the surviving Virum Nascii realised they had no chance to take the objective and conceded the game. Victory to the Orca!

Although this was by no means a strictly competitive game – we were tweaking the rules on the fly and working out mechanics as we went – it was still really fun and pretty cinematic watching two VERY different flavours of Baddie go against each other! There are still more Orca to come and lots of special units for the Ratmen too so expect another faceoff in the near future… and of course what happens when these meet the Sky Marines of the Grand Alliance or the massed ranks of the Ancien Regime?

Stay tuned for more fantasy wackiness as we get into summer, and who knows, we may even get these rules out and published before the heat death of the universe…..

Stay safe and thrifty out there, slava ukrainia!

I Am The God Of Hellfire, And I Bring You…

Hellfire!

See?

This is a ruleset I picked up in the dim and distant period of history known as my childhood and recently rediscovered during an attic clearance, along with it’s sister ruleset “Hell By Starlight” – both written by Jim Webster, both published by Wessex Games in the mid-90s, and both entirely “miniature agnostic” as the current term goes. I have a vague memory of mail ordering this aged 14 or so from Miniature Wargaming magazine – yeah, I got all the birds, me.

Reading through it, there were a few nice concepts so I invited Jim over, laid out the terrain cloth and Jim brought his DIY granny grating Star Wars armies to try things out and see what we could do with it. The scenario was simple, with Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker leading company sized forces of infantry with a couple of attached speeder scouts battling over control of the hill in the centre of the table.

Imperial stormtroopers form up on the left, Rebel Alliance to the right
Imperials deploy north west table corner, Vader to the fore
Rebels deploy southeast, trusting to the contours of the ground to conceal them – after all, only Imperial stormtroopers are this accurate.

The game plays basically IGO UGO, with adjustments via command points from the leaders. Each one generates D8 command points which can force each unit under their command to perform extra actions – all the D8s were at Jim’s so we used 2D6 to represent both Luke & Vader being Strong With The Force. These could do things like force extra movement actions, firing etc.

The first few rounds were mainly both sides advancing to contact using the terrain for cover, both Luke and Vader generating command points like crazy to frog march their troops along – meanwhile the scout speeders on each side zipped around the table trying to snipe at each other or any targets of opportunity.

Vader storms up the hill at the head of his stormtroopers.
While Vader powers up the hill, Luke sends his detachments left and right to try and envelope the enemy in a crossfire
Imperial fire kills Rebel HQ – fortunately Luke survives to take direct command of the Rebel Scum (TM)
The moment we’ve all been waiting for! Having secured the hilltop, Vader storms down the hill into the teeth of Rebel fire, shrugging off blaster hits that shred his Stormtrooper bodyguard – Luke Skywalker fearlessly dives into melee combat with his father… cue much Chipmunk voiced “I am your father…” “That’s not true… that’s impossible!”
With their HQ destroyed and Luke locked in combat with Vader, the Rebel assault stalls under fire – although they do manage to take down the last Imperial speeder
“Luke.. I know what you’re getting for Christmas..”
Imperial stormtroopers drive off another assault while Luke & Vader duel – “Luke, I know what you’re getting for Christmas…” “Why do you keep saying that?”
Stormtroopers gun down the last Rebels trying to mass for a final assault, and Luke falls! Vader powers down his light sabre, his work complete – “I felt your presents”

So there we go, a fun little game with a suitable cinematic ending. Hellfire has some fun concepts – the idea of your troops deteriorating as the battle continues, becoming more susceptible to poor morale is a neat one, although I think the way it’s executed in practice is a bit fiddly. The idea of HQ generating command points – well, you don’t need me to approve that, as GW have worked it into the current and last versions of 40k!

My only criticism is that it feels incomplete – obviously, the production values don’t really stand up viewed from 2021 perspective but given this is a 30 years old from the pre-internet era, you wouldn’t expect it to- but a few more specific examples of how certain mechanics work would be nice, a lot of the rules are very open to interpretation and you’re never sure if you’re doing things the way they’re supposed to be done.. that said, it was fun and that’s the end of it, really. However – we’re going to try refighting this using our own ruleset which we’re developing for large scale battles in the Apocalypse: Earth, Future Force Warrior and Hyperian Wars universes, and Hellfire has definitely given us some ideas to try there. So if you find a copy of this floating around Ebay, or just a car boot sale. it’s definitely worth picking up.

Respect to the author Jim Webster, in the unlikely event of him reading this, and we’ll be trying out his other set “Hell By Starlight” in a future post.
As always, stay safe and thrifty out there… the Omicron Variant is waiting like a microscopic Grinch to steal Christmas….

EDIT – thanks to Pete S/P for pointing me towards Jim’s own site here: https://jimssfnovelsandwargamerules.wordpress.com/

And that’s me off for some wine & cheese at a business meeting….

The Big One Pt.3 – Conclusion!

(NB – If you’re new here, go check out Parts 1 & Part 2, because otherwise NONE of this is going to make any sense…)

As we left matters at the end of turn 2, the central valley was awash with (now largely dead) Ratmen, but the objective – the crashed spaceship – was now in the hands of a regiment of humble Virum Nascii slaves and heading towards the Baddies’ table edge, and to make things worse the sorcerous cabal of the People’s Front Of Hazzard 237th Freedom Brigade had managed to conjure up a wall of psychic fire across the main approach route!

On the Goodies’ side, the PSLA (or Imperial Guard, depending on your viewpoint) finally showed up, adding a decent chunk of firepower, but as things stood, firepower was not the issue, we had plenty of that – getting it where it was needed was the problem!

Over on the Baddies’ table edge, Dan cackled malevolently as the Holy Soviet Army’s BIG GUNS appeared, in the form of Stompy Uncle Joe and the IS-6 Rampager (which would prove itself almost offensively useless, but there we go) and another regiment of Orcs arrived, but two more still languished on the sidelines – clearly too thick to find the batlefield.. and off we went for the next turn!

Turn 3 –

Baddies’ reinforcements – Stompy Uncle Joe turns up in the power station, the Rampager in the centre with another block of Orcs, and pay attention to the regiment of Virum Nascii Warriors top left- they’ll be important later on….
Goodies’ reinforcements hit the beach! The Guard arrive, along with the (literal) cavalry from the Ancien Regime, as well as the rest of the League Of European Nations troops
The Baddies secure the initiative and opt to move first – Virum Nascii Vrilseers conjure up a hole in reality for the Slaves carrying the spaceship to jump into, but it goes awry, scattering toward the power plant
Atlantic Alliance Silverbugs race forwards, gunning down Virum Nascii slaves and suppressing them
Just as her crew was readying to immolate the advancing Sky Marines, Inferna is riddled with Stinger TOW ADATS and Roswellium-tipped cannon rounds, exploding spectacularly!
Ancien Regime grenadiers finish off the remaining Ratmen in the valley, being reduced to just three men in the process!
Although the Virum Nascii slave regiment is now suppressed and unable to move, No. 2 Rifle squad picks up the spaceship and begins to move back towards the Baddies’ table edge!
A strong roll of Baddie activations sees the IS-6 Rampager managing to knock down a chain link fence, but despite twin 140mm cannons, two heavy and four light machineguns…. that’s all it accomplishes…. meanwhile the Orc Archer regiment picks up the crashed spaceship and hands it over to No. 3 Rifle squad who move further back toward the Baddie table edge – a very skilful hand of “Pass The Spaceship” by Dan!
Newly arrived regiment of Orc Warriors politely thank No. 3 squad and make off yet further with the crashed spaceship!
Although almost all of the Virum Nascii are dead by this point, a survivng Vrilfire rifle team manages to take down two Jagers! Such is the curse of the newly painted model…
Desperate to clear a path through to the rapidly disappearing objective, the M42 Stealth Tank decloaks and twin autocannons lay waste to Da Skooderia, leaving only the Warboss…
… who then rolls Frenzy, clearly thinking “Sod it – WAAAAAGH!!!” and charges straight up to engage Buffalo 2-7s HQ, killing Lt. Grant before Platoon Sgt. Mcauliffe finishes him off!
The surviving T-48 swings into position to block off the valley – between the wrecked vehicles and the wall of psychic fire, there is now no way through for the Goodie troops, it’s all down to the Rocketeers and Silverbugs..
… and then from out of the power plant comes Stompy Uncle Joe, the massive Soviet war mech immolating a Silverbug with his lightning launcher (taking out a Virum Nascii vrilrifle team as collateral damage, but hey)
The Goodies are throwing everything they’ve got in an attempt to force a passage – on the left the Sky Marines are advancing briskly through the hills to take on the remains of Da Skooderia, while Crimson Fists supported by a Centurion hammer at the centre, but the Baddies are getting away…
Remember the Ratmen warrior regiment from earlier? Well so did the PFH 237th’s cabal of sorcerers, successfully managing to teleport it in base to base contact with the Orcs currently carrying the spaceship..
With the dice gods smiling on him, Dan then successfully activates them (being teleported doesn’t mean they’ve had a turn yet) and they shoulder the spacecraft – then leg it straight off the board! It’s a firm victory for the Baddies!

So there you have it, a very smart Hail Mary play with a little luck on his side and my opponent snares victory! In fairness, had Dan not had the luck he would have won the next turn anyway, there was no way I was going to be able to get enough firepower into position to stop his troops running off with the objective. He damn near won at the start of turn 3 anyway, as the Virum Nascii Vrilseers created a reality tunnel for the Slaves to jump in to – had I not got lucky with it scattering, and not managed to suppress them, he would have had it in the bag right then.

Thoughts? Well, I think I did my usual trick of playing it like a straight up battle where the objective was to destroy the opponent – Dan on the other hand actually played the scenario… which was even more galling because I wrote the scenario!!! Reviewing the battle, he played very cleverly, and with all the ruthlessness that befits a Baddie general – the sacrifice of the Virum Nascii “rat bombing” me on Turn 2 and using the tough-as-nails Skooderia units to stymie me in the centre, then blocking the valley choke point with a psychic fire barrier… well played, sir, well played!

Right, after that MAMMOTH battle report I shall be handing the keys over to my colleague and going and lying on the sofa with a wet flannel over my head and quite possibly a large gin on standby…

Stay safe, healthy and thrifty out there wherever you may be in hobbyland, we’ll see you very soon!

The Big One Pt.2 – To Battle!

And thus was battle joined… We’ve decided to split this report across a couple of posts due to the sheer size of the game and therefore the length of time posts take to write… with this one, there’s every chance you wouldn’t be hearing from us again this side of Christmas! Anyway – enjoy the first two turns:

Turn 1 –

Goodies – most of the Atlantic Alliance, all the Sky Marines and the Crimson Fists arrive.

Baddies – most of the Holy Soviet Army (but no IS-6 or Stompy Uncle Joe), Da Skooderia, most of the PFH 237th arrive.

Goodies bag initiative and get the first few shots off – a Silverbug glides forward and looses off a pair of Stinger/TOW ADATS missiles at the lead T-48s
This blows the cannon off one tank and severs the fuel line of the second, which is quickly finished off by a salvo from the Avenger cannon. First blood to the Goodies!
Holy Soviet Army troops wait for the signal to move alongside the Orcs of Da Skooderia
Elements of the People’s Front Of Hazzard 237th Freedom Brigade shelter in place in the Skalk Point plasma generator station. Creighton light assault vehicle on the extreme left.
Crimson Fists deploy from their APC to secure the objective while Da Skooderia leadership deploy forward into cover
Crimson Fists lose two commandos to fire from the Holy Soviet Army No. 1 Rifle Squad…
Reaction fire downs four Soviet riflemen, but the Russians hold fast under the gaze of their Commissar
Mobile units on both sides sprint for the objective
Lethal fire slaughters Soviet riflemen caught in the open, immobilising and cutting the fuel line on the assault gun
On the Goodie’s left flank, Grand Alliance Sky Marines advance through the heights above the beach
Expert sniping from the Milibandalorian boys deployed on the roof of the command centre annihilates Bravo squad in a storm of plasma!
A superb long range Stinger/ TOW shot from combat support bot (top left) arcs and twists through the trees ,immobilising the 237th PFH’s Creighton tank!
Having been lurking out of sight in the power station, another T-48 roars out of cover and demolishes an M113 with it’s main gun, although fire from it’s machine guns patters harmlessly off the Crimson Fist’s power armour
“Comrade, was that tree always there?” – M42 Stealth Tank performs its’ party trick
The situation at the end of Turn 1 – Goodies command the objective with a single Crimson Fist squad, but have lost two of the elite troopers, plus an M113, damage to a Silverbug, as well as all of Bravo squad and the RTO. Meanwhile the baddies have lost almost all of No. 1 rifle squad, a T-48 and 3 more damaged.

Turn 2 –

Goodies – most of the rest of the Atlantic Alliance bar the two Humvees, League of European Nations – HQ, Jagers, infantry, Ancien Regime rifle regiment & Steam Tank

Baddies – More Soviet infantry, Orc Archers, and as you’ll see, the bulk of the Virum Nascii…

Allied reinforcements hit the beach, but look at the top of the photo….
ALL THE RATS!!!!!!!!! Turns out, Dan had had the plan for this ever since we wrote the rules for the Virum Nascii special weapons teams – the Vrilgrinder teams had been steadily tunnelling through reality itself and as a result they were able to deploy right on the objective, swamping the Crimson Fists lead fireteam and Pedrov Kantrov!
Silverbugs let loose their weapons and arch away from close assault range, Avenger cannons downing three plague priests..
Stinger/ Tow ADATS missiles blow the heat cannon off the Creighton
The Rocketeers throttle forward to try and help the embattled Special Forces team but the rats achieve Frenzy and tear the elite SAS troopers apart!
Said Ratmen are promptly immolated by a plasma missile from the Crimson Fists! The survivors pumped full of heavy calibre explosive rounds
“There’s too many!”
Swamped by Virum Nascii from all sides, even Pedrov Kantrov can’t hold out!
While the Goodies are distracted by the whirling melee, massacring Ratmen right left and centre – a regiment of humble Slaves pick up the objective and start to leg it back to Baddie lines
Atlantic Alliance M113 darts forwards, machine guns pouring fire into the Slave regiment with the spaceship, killing 7 slaves and suppressing them
More Virum Nascii Slaves swarm the Allied infantry on the heights, wiping out Delta squad but dying to a rat in the process..
Kimi Rorkonnen brings Red 7 into play, his gunner Felipe Masha unleashing the heat cannon onto an Allied M60A3 Centurion, blowing the turret off!
Virum Nascii special weapons teams come into play, Vrilrifles damage an M113 pursuing the Slaves carrying the spaceship – immobilising it and blowing a machinegun off it
The second team blow up an M60A3!!
Jagers Marsch!
Cobra missiles from the Jagers demolish Red 7, adding to the utter carnage in the central valley
Ze Churmans are heavily in the fight, 88mw laser destroying Da Skooderia’s battlewagon…
But the sorcerer cabal of the People’s Front Of Hazzard have managed to conjure up a psychically induced wall of fire across the entrance to the ruined town!
The view from the Goodie lines as Turn 2 ends…
Utter carnage in the centre!
Utter chaos as we try and work out who’s winning….
Charles LeclOrk in warbuggy Red 16 surveys a scene of utter bedlam and devastation…and most heartily approves!

So that’s the end of turn 2 and despite monstrous casualties the Baddies are in a good position… they’ve got the downed spacecraft and are scuttling back to their table edge with it, and the main route for the Goodies is largely inaccessible due to wrecked armour and magic fire… what adventures will turn 3 bring?!? Stay tuned, stay thrifty, and stay healthy and safe out there, we’ll be back soon!

The Tiniest Kings Of War Pt.3 – To Battle!

Rules? Downloaded.

Armies? Built and painted.

Terrain? Flexible battlemat built and with the old standby of books placed underneath to create valleys and hills, so yeah, check.

And thus – TO BATTLE!

I gave the youngling the choice and he picked Orcs, I think more influenced by colour choice than anything else… well, I hope so at least, he has a slightly unnerving predilection for the “Baddies” in most films. We’d had a couple of practice games so the basics of the rules were relatively familiar – plus he had his mum on his side as the power behind the throne!

Initial set up dispositions – Orcs at the bottom (south) end of the table, Dwarves at the top (north)

We shook hands and rolled for fits turn – which the Orcs won.

The Orcs charge headlong across the table, mum in an advisory role pointing out areas cover and suggesting firing the Skulk archer detachment at the Dwarven cannon, rattling the crew enough to prevent them from firing this turn.
Dwarves hold fast and return fire, the Ironwatch crossbow regiment routing the Skulk archers
Turn 2 and the Orc charge hits the Dwarven lines! Trolls demolish the cannon and the Orc cavalry pulls a deft flanking manoeuvre that annihilates their Dwarven counterparts… that Orc “advisor” has some explaining to do.. 😉
Ferocious in the defence, the Dwarves castle up on the hill and defend with everything they’ve got! Throwing mastiffs and crossbows damage the trolls and force the Orc Gore Rider cavalry to waver, while a regiment of Ironclad infantry catch an Orc Ax infantry regiment in the rear and wipe them out! However, in an EPIC clash in the centre of the lines, the Dwarf Lord falls to the Orc Krudger!
Victorious in his duel, the Orc Krudger gathers his remaining forces to hunt down and destroy the surviving Dwarves
The Krudger and the Ax regiment smash into the surviving Dwarf regiment
As darkness falls on the battlefield, the remaining Dwarf regiment is forced to waver, before being routed and destroyed in the final turn!

The dice were against me, that’s all I’m saying! In all fairness, although I did roll abysmally, I also made stupid mistakes and completely underestimated my enemy commander (and his “advisor”) – leaving units open to flanking manoeuvres, not concentrating forces properly and while I wasn’t able to capitalise on my enemy’s mistakes, they sure went to town on mine!

Overall verdict on KoW as a system though? Fun! I wasn’t sure how I would feel about the lack of casualty removal in this system, but by Turn 2 I was used to it. It really does suit 6mm scale as well. Easily learned, and although there are a couple of rules that were less than clear in the rulebook, it’s largely very intuitive and I do like how much it rewards tactical positioning, flanking and so forth. Charging your opponent’s rear, for example gives you DOUBLE the normal attacks.. all of a sudden, mobility is worth something serious on the battlefield!

I know you’re all hungering for something non-granny grating related, but it was fun bringing this project to a conclusion (if any wargaming project can ever be said to be truly done) -and as the COVID Restrictions start to lift in dear old Blighty we’ve got something BIG planed once again, so stay tuned as we get everything prepared to Throw Down In Style!

Stay safe and sane out there… we’re nearly there folks!

The Lost Patrol… DIY Spacefleet Battle Report

The bridged was wreathed in darkness. The faces of the crew and officers frozen, eerily distorted in masks of terror as the vast Gothic class battleship was buffeted like a toy by the extradimensional forces beyond the flickering Gellar field.

With a deafening silence, the ship exploded beck into realspace and the bridge erupted with warning klaxons, sparking consoles and the raised voices of hundreds of terrified bridge crew. The captain fought in vain to get his voice heard before reaching for his laspistol and shooting the nearest panicking crewman in the face.

Immediately, the hubbub subsided.

Better.

“Report!” bellowed the captain. “First Officer Volodsky.”

The XO shivered involuntarily. “My Captain, it would appear that we have been knocked off course by unexpected Warp activity. Navigator DeSalle has suffered a mental collapse due to whatever malevolent force caused our diversion.”

“Damage?”

“Largely cosmetic, it would seem, some limited damage to manoeuvring thrusters and life support but secondaries coming on line now. No hull breach.”

“The Gellar field generator?”

“It would seem to be suffering a minor intermittent fault, my Captain. I shall despatch tech priests to investigate

The Captain grunted. “Very good. Now, our next concern is where we are – and what of the Agamemnon?”

“My Captain, she was information with us and auspex indicates she translated close by. Communications should be re-established in moments. As to our location-“

“Contact!” shouted a crewman, peering intensely at his scope. “Long range auspex reports two contacts, definitely not Imperial. Energy signature matches no known human ship, our auspex returns are distorted.”

Captain Fong drew a short breath. Auspex distortion was too sophisticated for orks, and the lack of warp shadow ruled out Tyranids. The Tau had a crude version of this technology, but the main suspects had to be eldar. This could be a friendly encounter – or deadly.

Agamemnon on vox, Captain, they have detected a missile launch!”

“Confirmed, Captain, the second vessel has also launched!”

So, the Eldar had made the decision for him.

“Battle stations! All hands brace for impact! Power to shields and weaponry! AVE IMPERATOR!”

Welcome to the brave new world of remote gaming! With COVID still wreaking havoc left right and centre, it’s pretty clear that despite the heroic efforts of the NHS vaccination program (something like 200 jabs per minute, last time I checked), lockdown isn’t lifting any time soon. Now, we have tried playing conventional games like 40k, Apocalypse Earth and so on remotely before but we’ve really not been that successful as the freeform movement makes it difficult to interpret exactly where you’re supposed to move units too (“No, left a bit, behind that tree.. no not that one – my left.. no, the other left… ” for twenty minutes to move one bloody squad, Dan X-D ), plus “model’s eye view” doesn’t translate too well (“Can I shoot that guy? No, next to him…. no, the other side… no, the guy in front of him” “That’s a bush”).. so in order to maintain our mutual sanity, we both decided something more of a boardgame nature was probably a better idea.

Continuing our love affair with 1991 and the bold primary colours of the grimly dark far future, and thanks to this awesome website full of retro gaming goodness, we followed the trail taking us back to the precursor of Battlefleet Gothic, the short lived Space Fleet. In fact, White Dwarf 139, Dan’s first ever issue and the inspiration for his retro 40k Blood Angels, contained a slew of rules to expand on the basic boxed game. With a bit of research (thank you Snipe & Wib at Codex Compliant), we figured out what you needed, built a board and some spaceships, cut out the endearing Helm Computers, and after a few practice games over Zoom with beers on hand to figure out exactly what we were doing, we were ready to give you guys a proper battle!

In this scenario it’s a straight up fight between two Imperial Gothic Battleships (mine – “Ajax” and “Agamemnon”) and the two Eldar Wraithships (Dan’s – “Mikael Khaine”, “Khainenabel”) as the Imperials have unwittingly strayed into what the Eldar view as their territory. Of course, all the Milky Way Galaxy are belong to the Holy God Emperor, and so battle was duly joined.

The fleets deploy – Eldar weaponry forward facing and better at a distance, the Imperial ships really need to get in close and rake the Xenos with powerful broadsides to get the upper hand
The fleets advance to contact, Eldar more cautious, keeping their distance while both Imperial ships barrel Ahead Full and open up with Vortex Torpedoes..
To absolutely NO effect.
Eldar plasma torpedoes are similarly ineffective
However the Xenos’ laser batteries do manage to cause some damage, stripping shields off both Imperial ships and causing critical damage to Ajax, denuding her of her right broadside
In the second turn the Eldar prowl cautiously forwards while both sides reload the torpedo batteries – Imperial ships break both left and right to pound the Eldar with broadside laser cannons
These strip some frontal shields from the Eldar but cause no real damage. Poor old Ajax takes another battering though, a magazine flashback reducing her to 2 damage points while Agamemnon loses her left broadside!
Turn 3 and with torpedo tubes reloaded, the Imperials blast Vortex Torpedoes at he Eldar and hit…. nothing. Return fire from the Xenos knocks out Agamemnon’s shields, reducing her to 3 damage points! Both Imperial ships are in a bad way and yet to cause any significant damage to the Eldar :-/
Turn 4 and the Imperials get in close, attempting to turn their remaining broadsides on the Mikaelkhaine, in no small measure because of it’s bloody silly name
Finally we inflict some real damage, stripping off flank shields and reducing it to 3 damage points, but at a terrible cost , as another critical hit causes a flashback to Ajax’s magazine and the proud battleship is destroyed in a vast thermonuclear explosion!
With her last broadside, Agamemnon avenges her fallen sister, destroying the Mikaelkhaine, but in doing so is reduced to a single point of damage!

It was at this point we called the game – Dan had a still largely functional Wraithship (with a slightly more sensible name) whereas I had a limping, listing Agamemnon with no shields left and a mere one damage point left. I felt at this point the interests of the Imperial Navy were best served by getting my warship to safety for repairs, and Dan agreed to let me go while searching for survivors from the Mikaelkhaine wreck! Result – solid Eldar victory, well done Dan 🙂

All in all a fun game, and well suited to remote gaming – I can already see how we might expand things… bigger board, add in some of the different spacecraft GW did rules for, plus the Tyranids who apparently play completely differently to the other factions….

Of course, as is often the case with GW, the Imperials got the vast majority of the support – different ships, rules etc.. but thankfully in the 41st millenium it’s not difficult to envisage a scenario where two loyalist sectors wind up fighting each other… so look out for more Space Fleet, and maybe we can even cook up some sort of Spacefleet/ Epic/ 40k mega campaign once we’re all free again? Here’s hoping….

Stay safe, sane and thrifty, we’ll see you again soon!