Napoleon!! – Update

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Napoleon 4th EdIt has been awhile since we looked at what is new in the Napoleonic realm. Since our last post there have been a number of new goodies released and we even discovered some old ones.

Perhaps most recent is Columbia Games’ new Napoleon 4th Edition block game fresh off its Kickstarter. Napoleon is a classic game that is now better than ever. Also from Columbia is their Eagles: Waterloo 1815 card game. We finally got a chance to try this and really like it. It takes a couple of plays to get comfortable with but is a quick playing game that gives a nice feel of Napoleonic warfare and the cards are very nicely illustrated. We wish they would expand the game with more battles. Annoyingly Columbia has not posted the full rules, but check BoardgameGeek for a nice rules summary.

Another classic game we got to the table is Age of Napoleon 2nd Edition. If you want a grand strategic game for two that you can play in one sitting this is a good choice.

GMT Games has been busy and put out the Russian forces for their excellent Commands & Colors: Napoleonics system. Either the Prussians or Austrians will be next. They also released Fading Glory: Napoleonic Series 20, which is a package of four small games previously done by VPG. They are small games that are fun and quick to play. We look forward to the next set.

Albion Triumphant v2Warlord Games released two Napoleonic expansions to their Black Powder miniature rules: Albion Triumphant Volume 1 – The Peninsular campaign and Albion Triumphant Volume 2 – The Hundred Days campaign should keep fans of Black Powder busy for awhile. As always the books are also useful to players of many other game systems.

Another very recent addition is 2HourWargames’ new Muskets and Shakos rules. This is a 65-page ruleset covering the period of 1803-1815 at division level.

Computer gamers are in luck as well. Matrix Games released the excellent Napoleon’s Campaigns game. It takes a bit of time to learn but has a nice tutorial and manual and your time spent will be rewarded with a challenging game.

That should be enough to keep your inner conqueror busy for awhile.

[Updated: 9AUG13]

Flames of War Pacific!

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Rising SunWell it looks like Battlefront has finally pulled the trigger on the Pacific theater. Their July release schedule now shows,

In Shops 20 July
FW304 Rising Sun
JBX01 Hohei Chutai (Infantry Company)
JBX02 Type 89 Chi-Ro Platoon (x5)
JP706 Nikuhaku Teams

In Shops 27 July
JBX03 Type 95 Ha-Go Platoon (x5)
JP702 Hohei Platoon
JP704 Hohei Machine-gun Platoon

Rising Sun is obviously the army book. Type 89/95 are tanks and Nikuhaku is artillery. Looks like they will be extending their invasion and D-Day efforts further than we thought although considering it appears this release focuses on early war we’ll have to see.

The gents over at WWPD knew about this a few weeks ago.

So when will we see Marines?

For both the Pacific and Vietnam we hoped Battlefront would produce co-operative rules with the game engine running the non-Allied side. We’ll keep up some hope maybe as an island invasion supplement or something?

[Updated: 22JUL13]

15mm Sci-Fi Painting Progress — Khurasan

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Khurasan Mi-Tech CommandWe actually do get some painting done on occasion. Back in Now THAT’S a Tank! we looked at the Khurasan 15mm Advanced Superheavy Grav Tank. In some of the pictures for comparison were the Khurasan Mid-Tech Humans in Power Armor troops. Well we finally got around to getting the troops painted. The tank is almost done.

The bases we used are custom Litko 3mm plywood bases. For 15mm sci-fi we take the approach that in the future troop unit sizes are smaller and forces more nimble. So having smaller bases with fewer troops makes sense. Individual figures at 15mm seem a bit too fiddly so this approach strikes a good balance. Moreover the bases can be used at skirmish to represent the 1-3 troops on the base or at larger scales could be a fire team, squad or even an entire platoon.

For higher tech forces we go with 1″ x 1 1/4″ for command and some support units (this is the ‘small’ Flames of War base size) and troops and other support units we put on 1″ x 1 1/2″ bases. For horde type troops we put them on 2″ x 1 1/4″ bases (Flames of War ‘medium’ bases). For powered armor troops we go with two troops per base (unless they are very large) and two on command bases. For more mid-tech armor troops we go with three or even four figures per base. Hordes are three or more per base depending on the size of the figure. We have found this basing system works well across a number of rule systems including Gruntz, Strike Legion, Quadrant 13 and Hammer’s Slammers.

The paint job we did is Imperial Fist inspired. The figures have enough detail that they paint up easily and details are easy to pick out without being overwhelming. While Khurasan calls them ‘mid-tech’ troops they fit the traditional power armor mold very well and have just enough bulk to be larger than ‘normal’ troops without being overly large. We think they mix well with other lines. The basing scheme is supposed to be sort of a Mars-ish barren effect. We may add something to them later because they are perhaps a bit too stark but work fine for now.

As you can see in the photos our basing sizes also work well with the Spaceship-X tiles for corridor battles. You can also see something new we tried. For the Khurasan Aliens we wanted that ‘horde stream’ feeling and so based the Aliens on the base the long way. This gives the units some depth. The hammerhead Aliens are a bit smaller than the regular Aliens so we left them on our normal bases to represent that they would fill a more scouting/infiltrating role and are perhaps harder to hit but weaker units.

Deadzone — Now on Kickstarter

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deadzone_largeMantic Games has a new Kickstarter. This time it is for a sci-fi miniature skirmish game with a twist. The game passed its funding goal in just over 30 minutes and blew past $300,000 in funding with 3o days still to go. Designed by Jake Thornton, Deadzone, set in the Warpath universe, is a unique blend of board and miniature game. It is played on a 3″ grid for movement but with 3D terrain. In fact part of the Kickstarter is a whole new line of injection molded plastic terrain pieces that can be used to make custom buildings over which to fight.

The alpha rules are available and they look quite good (Kickstarter supporters now have the full rules PDF and it is very well done). There is also a FAQ. The game is I-Go-U-Go but with special action cards and a nice overwatch mechanic to break up the flow. Movement is simply by 3″ squares but where you move within the square matters. Line of site is also a basic if you can see it you can shoot it. We suspect there is more depth hiding behind the simplicity. How you move your troops and to where in the square will have an effect. How you choose to react and what cards you choose to play and when you play them will matter. Even the game length itself is set by the first player to go through their deck so length will be variable from game to game. All of these simple mechanics should combine to create a tactically challenging game.

EnforcersIn addition to the great plastic terrain, a very nice rubber gaming mat has funded along with a number of new models. While the game is set in the Warpath universe and uses its existing races, all of the sculpts are new for Deadzone. So far they seem to range from good to outstanding. Our favorites are the Enforcers and the Plague.

If you like sci-fi skirmish games at all give Deadzone a look. Also check out Jake’s blog for more information. The Meeples & Miniatures podcast has a nice interview with the designer in Episode 108.

Tablescapes now has a dedicated Deadzone terrain tile set with 1.5″/3″ squares.

The Deadzone Kickstarter closed at $1,216,482. Backers can look forward to a ton of good stuff.

[Updated: 7DEC13]

Heroes of Normandie — On Kickstarter

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Heroes of NormandieHeroes of Normandie is a tactical World War Two boardgame now on Kickstarter. It passed its funding goal within just a few days of launch and now only has eight days left. It has also been running through its stretch goals with just a few more to go. The game was designed by a Devil Pig Games, a couple of French designers, and looks very good.  Devil Pig Games has been very good about posting game play videos and responding to backer requests and queries.

The game is certainly designed to be more Hollywood than history but the draft rules look very interesting and the overall visual design is top notch. Keeping with the Hollywood theme Devil Pigs have incorporated a lot of classic movie/tv archetypes into the game. While perhaps not the most accurate game it looks like a lot of fun to play.

While the game is designed as a pure board wargame the scale (both play and physical size) fits perfectly with 15mm miniatures. So players who wish to do so could easily convert the game for miniature play as well.

The Meeples & Miniatures Podcast – Episode 107 has an interview with Devil Pig Games and they discuss Heroes of Normandie.

We look forward to this one. If you have any interest in WW2 check out Heroes of Normandie.

Update: Heroes of Normandie successfully concluded with over £150,000 in funding. It met all of its stretch goals and supporters will be receiving a ton of cardboard soon. If you missed it look for the game in stores in late 2013 or early 2014.

[Updated: 7MAY13]

Tablescapes by Secret Weapon Miniatures

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TablescapesSecret Weapon Miniatures launched a new Kickstarter campaign that has already funded in just its second day. It is for a new product called Tablescapes. Tablescapes is a line of 12 inch plastic terrain tiles that can be locked together to form semi-custom tabletop gaming terrain. Depending on the success of the Kickstarter we will see three or more tile theme sets produced with much more likely to come in the future. Secret Weapon Miniatures is being very receptive to customer suggestions and is doing its best to be accommodating.

We think this basic concept may very well be the future of miniature tabletop terrain. We initially got very excited about the Games Workshop Realm of Battle Gameboards but they seem to have dropped the ball since its initial release and, except for some very expensive Forgworld pieces, have failed to follow up on the initial design.

The basic issue of course is that gamers really do not need general plain terrain and hills out of such a product. Those basics can be useful but what gamers really need are unique 3D terrain features that are difficult to integrate into a standard terrain cloth based table layout. Thus things like trenches, sunken roads, broken ground, rivers and raised roads as well as more specific pieces like urban streets and sci-fi installation layouts are where these sorts of products really shine. Secret Weapon Miniatures is also augmenting the tiles with new resin terrain pieces as well.

Some have questioned the decision to produce 12 inch tiles but we think this was a smart move. The smaller tiles give far greater variety and flexibility to layouts and anyone who wishes to have a larger tile can simply glue together the 12 inch tiles in whatever configuration they wish. Thus one can quickly make 2′ x 2′ tiles, 1′ x 2′, 2’x3′ or whatever. The 12 inch tiles are also cheaper to produce and thus should allow for more options in the future.

We think Tablescapes has a bright future ahead.

MERCS — Resources

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MERCSWe’re still painting our CCC unit for MERCS. You’d think six guys wouldn’t take too long but you stick in a squad of Terminators, a detour into Dropzone Commander and a little affair with Sedition Wars and there you go. Not to mention our next squad of Bolt Action Germans staring at us the whole time….

But we got some extra motivation to get going again following Beasts of War’s MERCS Week. They really did some outstanding coverage of the game and probably some of their best work overall yet. Our favorite quote of the week was, “Did you say nukes?!” Below are some of the highlights and other useful links.

One thing many folks comment on when seeing MERCS played, and which you’ll see in the BoW videos, is that the cards used as movement templates not only seem annoying but somewhat gimmicky. We agree but you can dispense with them altogether and we think it actually improves the play. The cards are fine for those playing MERCS more as a board game on the paper map but any miniature player is going to want to dump them. Just use a fixed 2.5″ template/stick to measure movement. You can move up to that maximum. We also made the various fire templates out of card so we don’t have to keep holding two or three cards down on the table to check coverage. Basically you just need a 7″ circle, 7″ straight and a T with a 6″ long base and 7″ wide top (the 3-card T) and a T with a 6″ long base and 3.5″ top (the 2-card T). The cards are 2.5″ wide. This all speeds play and allows you to leave your cards free for reference and initiative order sequence.

Also don’t miss the MERCS Bag. It is a nice small convenient size that still allows you to carry 6-10 squads with room for your cards and other misc gaming stuff. It is also useful for any 28mm skirmish game or even 6-15mm games as well.

[Updated: 14APR13]

Flames of War Vietnam — Tour of Duty

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FoW VietnamThe latest issue of Wargames Illustrated (issue 304) has an ad for Battlefront’s upcoming Flames of War Vietnam expansion Tour Of Duty. It is a regular printed army book like all of the other FoW books that makes Vietnam a ‘real’ range for FoW and not just a magazine add-on as it has been until now. “Tour Of Duty, Armoured, Airborne, and Infantry combat in Vietnam, 1965-1971, is a comprehensive 132 page book.” This is what John-Paul was talking about in the WWPD interview.

Also listed is the new model range where we see things like the T-54, T-34/85M, BTR-50PK, ZSU-57-2 and PT-76 as well as the Centurion Mark 5, M41A3 Walker Bulldog and, most exciting of all, the OH-6 Loach plastic kit.

For those scratching their heads over the T-54 and stuff, yes the engagements with these were very rare but did happen towards the end of the war in 1971 such as Operation Lam Son 719 and others. The Battle of An Lộc is the most famous tank engagement where T-54s and PT-76s made a showing. The Battle of Ben Het is also famous for M-48s versus PT-76s (see a nice video of Ben Het). No doubt gamers will fight more tank battles than ever occurred in the war but it is still nice to see these as options to break up the infantry battles.

Now if only we could get Battlefront to produce a set of cooperative rules for FoW Vietnam (and the Pacific!) so one player doesn’t get stuck with the PAVN all the time….

Of course we might as well start the wild speculation about a Flames of COLD War expansion as a possibility! The 1970s was probably the most interesting (and balanced) period of the Cold War era and Battlefront would only need to produce a dozen or so minis to allow for some classic European Cold War battlefield goodness. Who doesn’t want to see M-60s vs T-64s with Cobras and Hinds flying overhead?!

So crank those rotors and get ready for a new theater of battle for Flames of War!

Top Picks — 2013 Update

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Well it was almost two years to the day since we had updated our Top Picks list. Well wait no more! No games got dropped off the list but we included a few more titles and even added a new iPad games section.

If you haven’t tried the games on this list you really should. It is easy to get distracted with all the new shiny that comes out and forget that there are games that rise above to become truly great games.

Update: Oops, we left off Unity of Command. We fixed that.

[Updated: 26JAN13]

Now THAT’S a Tank! — 15mm Khurasan

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Superheavy GravtankWe just picked up some Khurasan 15mm sci-fi minis including the, somewhat, new Advanced Superheavy Grav Tank. We had no idea when we ordered it that they weren’t kidding about the superheavy part!

Like most of the Khurasan vehicle minis, the tank is made out of a nice resin that is very crisp with little flash or mold issues. The resin is a bit soft so you need to be careful when prepping it. The tank is made of five pieces and assembles easily. The kit includes two barrel options that are easily magnetized. But it was the sheer size for which we were unprepared. As you can see in the accompanying photos it is easily one of the largest 15mm tanks we have seen. It is even larger than their own Tracked Superheavy Tank (also has grav options) and even Critical Mass Games’ Kaamados Dominion Dragamaa Heavy Tank. The design is such that it could easily be used in 20mm games as a medium tank or possibly even in 28mm as a small tank.

We really like the look and the tank goes well with 15mm power armored troops such as Khurasan’s own Mid-Tech Humans in Power Armor troops or Critical Mass’ Arc Fleet Heavy Drop Troops and Augments.

VTOL GunshipWe also grabbed the Khurasan 15mm Red Faction VTOL Gunship. It is sort of a cross between a Mil Mi-24 Hind gunship and an OV-10 Bronco aircraft, which is to say it has a nice mean look to it. Its size is also very good without being too big. As you can see from the photos below it scales well with a Battlefront 15mm UH-1 Huey helicopter. If you want to bring your troops to the battlefield with style check it out for yourself.