No Mr. Bond, I Expect You to Die!

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7TVWell here is something completely different. Anyone who has been visiting the site recently knows we’ve gotten sucked back into 28mm gaming. Well as if that hole wasn’t getting deep enough we stumbled across Crooked Dice Game Design Studio’s 7TV: Wargaming in the world of Cult TV.

We have always been huge fans of the original James Bond movies. The mix of action and campy 60’s fun and style is classic. 7TV essentially brings that world to the tabletop. You can play the game as a literal ‘TV set’ simulation with as much or little campy action and over-the-top characters as you wish or drop out the concept of TV altogether and play it as a straight modern skirmish game.

Minions with SMGsAt its heart 7TV is simply a 28mm skirmish game — of course there is no real reason one couldn’t play in 15mm either. Scale is 2m per inch and each turn is 1-5 minutes of real time. The game is designed to be played with about 12-40 miniatures. Each miniature has various stats such as movement, agility, morale, etc. It uses an interesting activation and leadership mechanic and uses cards for special weapons (gadgets) and events.

7TV includes complete character and force generation mechanics plus a huge amount of pre-generated characters. Complete scenario and campaign generation rules are included as well. Four scenarios are included.

The 186-page rules are available as a PDF or in full color print. They are extremely well laid out with clean, clear text and lots of period style. Even better they are very well written and easy to understand. There are also plenty of expansions adding new missions and characters.

If you like the theme at all or just want a good skirmish game give 7TV a look.

Missile ControlCrooked Dice have their own 28mm miniatures line for 7TV that is very nice. For additional figures and terrain they recommended both Hasslefree Miniatures and Copplestone Castings. The Copplestone Room Sets are very nicely cast resin interior pieces. Many of the pieces are double-sided so can be placed against a wall or in the middle of a room — they really make your rooms and buildings look great. 15mm gamers are not left out either. Khurasan Miniatures has their 60’s Spy line of figures.

You can never have enough minions baby!

[Updated: 3DEC13]

Battle of the Bulge: iPad Edition — First Look

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Battle of the BulgeShenandoah Studio’s released their first iPad game from their Kickstarter campaign. Battle of the Bulge: The Simulation  Game for the iPad is a light operational-level wargame about the Battle of the Bulge designed by John Butterfield.

The good news is the game plays as good as it looks and as good as all of the Kickstarter supporters hoped. It is definitely on the light side for a wargame but offers enough nuance in strategy that it keeps you playing as you try to see how different approaches will work. The game includes two scenarios, a shorter three-day Race to Meuse and the full campaign game. You can play both from either the Allied or Axis side and against two types of AI opponents. The AI is quite good and I lost dozens of games of Race to the Meuse as the Germans until I finally realized I should push in the North. Maybe it isn’t possible to win running down the center or the South but it sure is fun to try. The AI doesn’t seem able to successfully defend against a northern thrust in the Race to the Meuse scenario but does give a good account of itself. The campaign is challenging from either side. You may win an early victory but you probably won’t think it was easy. But if you tire of fighting against the AI you can play a real opponent face-to-face or go online against others.

Bulge iconThe presentation of the game is outstanding and perhaps best of all the game includes all the normal wargame rules and charts that the game uses. It is quite easy to play the game without reference to the rules but if you are curious how things are working this is a very nice, and welcome, addition.

There is also nice historical detail provided on the battle day by day that is there for those who want to read it but does not get in the way of the game.

If you like operational wargames give the Battle of the Bulge a look. It is a great game and great example of how good the iPad can be as a gaming platform.

PocketTactics has a nice review of the game. Three Moves Ahead has an insightful discussion of the game in Episode 200.

[Updated: 12JAN13]

Blenneville or Bust — Now Available

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Blenneville or BustToo Fat Lardies have a new expansion for their I Ain’t Been Shot Mum tactical WW2 miniatures ruleset. Blenneville or Bust is a 300-page PDF campaign pack that covers fictional late-war encounters on the Western front.

Blenneville or Bust! is a collection of fictional late war, western front scenarios set in a valley just south of the Normandy beaches a short time after the D-Day landings. US and British forces are attempting to drive through the German defences in the Ribeaux valley in order to break out into the open country beyond, the Germans are trying to stop them.

The pack contains thirty-one individual scenarios set up in a five-step pyramid campaign i.e. scenario 1 leads to either scenario 2A or 2B; the result of this second game leads to one of scenarios 3A, 3B, 3C or 3D; and so on until scenarios 5A to 5P. Although written as a fictional campaign booklet, no two scenarios are the same: each is unique and is also designed to be played as an individual game.

If you are unfamiliar with I Ain’t Been Shot Mum it is an excellent set of company level rules. It is considerably more streamlined than Flames of War and thus allows players to concentrate more on tactics and maneuver than rules. If you like tactical WW2 gaming check it out.

The 28mm Camel’s Nose — Game Musings

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Well as I feared, Dust Warfare has proven to be the proverbial nose under the tent. Getting deep into Dust Warfare has led us to look at other 28mm scale games. This of course is natural as you get in the mode of painting in that scale, start to gather some terrain, get some more figs, etc. Perhaps an even bigger influence is just the fact that there are lots of excellent rule systems out now that do not require a large number of miniatures to play. This makes it even easier to get into these games without a large investment in hoards of 28mm figure.

I’ve already written about Saga. It continues to be a challenging and fun game. It appears a Roman army is now inevitable. But thanks to Saga I still only need around 50 figs so collecting one is not a particular burden in time or money. The metal and plastic Roman figs from Warlord Games are excellent. But we also grabbed some of the plastic Romans from The Wargames Factory and they are almost as good as the ones from Warlord Games. If you want to have some plastic options they are worth a look. And of course the next Saga expansion, The Raven’s Shadow, with four new factions, is due out soon.

We have officially taken the plunge into Bolt Action as well. The figs are great and the rules are even better. Like Saga you can play great games with just 20-50 figures and maybe a vehicle or three. The rules are very streamlined yet give a nice tactical feel. For more on Bolt Action don’t miss Bolt Action.net and the BAR (Bolt Action Radio) podcast. Anyone interested in Bolt Action might also want to check out Victory Decision: World War Two from A.D. Publishing. It is somewhat 40K-ish and larger scale but still a streamlined game.

Mantic Games recently released a new line of sci-fi figures for their Warpath game. The new Enforcer figs look quite nice. We have always liked the Corporation line in general. Along with the figs Mantic released a new version of the Warpath 2.0 beta rules. The rules look interesting and have a unique activation mechanic. Honestly we can’t say we are fans of the Warpath universe in general but we like the Enforcer and Corporation figs enough that we would like to do something with them.

Spartan Games probably deserves a mention as well. Their new Dystopian Legions game looks quite nice. The miniatures look interesting and well cast. We originally thought the minis were to be resin but for the most part they are pewter. We are unsure how the vehicles are going to be but if Forgeworld can pull off 28mm resin I suppose Spartan can as well. The quick-play rules are available for download and look quite interesting. But we will probably pass on this one. We are fans of Dystopian Wars because we like naval combat but are not big enough steampunk fans to jump into Legions but it appears to be a good effort. But then again we may weaken….

Perhaps the biggest recent find came about as a result of playing the XCOM: Enemy Unknown computer game. The game is a great tactical sci-fi game and gave us an instant desire for some sci-fi tactical tabletop gaming. We dug around a bit and discovered Mercs. It is very much XCOM on the tabletop with five figure units and an emphasis on fire and maneuver at the skirmish level. The miniatures are outstanding and the rulebook is one of the best presented rulebooks we have ever seen. In fact the rulebook is perhaps the new gold standard for rules. Not only are the production values high but it includes fluff as well as a look at the game design and miniature creation as well. We wish all publishers would do this. Thankfully the rules themselves seem to be as good as they look. We have not gotten in a game yet but the card-as-ruler mechanic certainly has to go — A simple fix — but otherwise the rules look very solid and the snap-to-cover mechanic is unique. Also be sure to check out SnaptoCover.com a nice Mercs fan site. We will certainly have more on Mercs after we get some games in.

Below is a look at the Mercs CCC starter pack. This is a quick way to get into the game (you’ll need the rules as well). Games are played with five troops to a side but you have six (and soon seven) to choose from so pick wisely.

[Updated: 1NOV12]

4Ground 28mm Buildings — Review

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4GroundWe got sucked into Bolt Action in a big way. But because we had sworn off all 28mm games (pay no attention to our Saga and Dust Warfare gaming…) we didn’t have any buildings for the scale (especially WW2). Thankfully along comes 4Ground with their new line of pre-painted 28mm buildings. They have a WW2 line as well as a few buildings suitable for Saga and much more. They also have undamaged and damaged versions to add some variety to your gaming table.

The 4Ground buildings are all laser cut MDF or, in other words, wood. They come ‘pre-painted’ but this could be considered slightly optimistic. They are painted but in just four colors: off-white/cream, red, blue, gray (and perhaps a brown as a fifth color but it is very close to the natural MDF color so it’s hard to say for sure). The colors are a very simple basic application to the top of each wood frame. Because the edges are not painted once the buildings are assembled there are certainly some un-painted areas showing. But overall they still look pretty good and you could certainly touch-up the exposed bits with paint for a more polished look on the table. The laser cutting process scorches the paint a bit and that then gives the buildings a nice weathered look. Overall they look good but not stunning.

Assembly is very easy. Each building does consist of dozens of pieces, many quite small, but the included instructions are very thorough with both text and photos. Note that some of the assembly photos are actually split showing multiple views of the same piece. This is not immediately evident and can cause a bit of confusion. You assemble the buildings using white glue (we used wood glue and that worked just fine as well). Once you build your first one others will be easy. The destroyed buildings take a good hour and the non-destroyed buildings maybe 30-45 minutes. The construction of the buildings is quite interesting and basically consists of outer walls and inner walls. Each floor assembly is also separate and thus removable during play for placement of and access to figures. The laser cutting is very precise and clean and the parts will drop right out of their frames or just need a good tap. The only downside to this is that each part is labeled on the frame not the part itself so you will need to exercise care during first assembly so as not to get confused over what piece is what. Only the slightest filing or sanding will be needed on each part if anything at all.

Once assembled the buildings are very sturdy and durable and should hold up to even the hardest play. The scale of the buildings is also very good and fit in great with the Warlord 28mm Bolt Action figures and even look fine with the larger 30mm Dust Warfare figures [Note: Depending on your figure poses and basing 28mm figures will fit fine inside or may be too tall to fit and still be able to place the above floor on top. Larger armored figures will certainly have this problem.]. Also the doors and other bits can be assembled open/closed or left off etc adding more variety to each building. Considering the cost, pre-paint and durability of these buildings any gamer should give them a serious look. Recommended.

Also see: Café Gondrée

[Updated: 28FEB14]

Saga — A Tale of Pointy Sticks

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SagaOk I admit it. Frankly I got sick of hearing the WWPD podcast interrupt their stellar Flames of War coverage with all this yammering over some ‘Saga‘ thing. So I finally broke down and decided to take a look at it for myself. Now I should mention that, except for a somewhat recent foray into Napoleonics, I have had little to no interest in gaming much prior to WW2. But of course like many interested in military affairs, I have spent a bit of time looking at the Roman era and later Medieval periods but the Dark Ages certainly held little appeal.

Well, weakened as I was from my self exile from 28mm gaming by Dust Warfare, this decision probably came at a bad time. Saga turns out to simply be a great set of rules. It quickly transcended any lack of interest I may have had in the period and sucked me in. So now my new Battlefront M4A3E8s sit idly aside as I once again pick up yet another range of 28mm miniatures.

Rules

The WWPD have done a great job supporting Saga and they now have an entire site dedicated to the game called The Tapestry. The Meeples and Miniatures podcast has also devoted two shows to Saga that cover the rules and the new Northern Fury expansion. They also have a written review covering the basics of the game. The Wargamer blog has done a nice Saga review. The Life and Times of a Wargames Butterfly blog has another Saga review. Those sources should provide you with all you’ll need to decide if Saga is for you.

Figures

I had originally intended this post to be a primer on how to get into Saga because it took a bit of digging for me to settle on forces. But once again WWPD has done a great job and they have a wonderful post, Sourcing Saga, that outlines most of the miniatures available for Saga.

Men at ArmsBut of course I couldn’t take the simple route and go with the standard Norman forces. I had a box of the Perry Men at Arms hanging about so I decided to proxy the Norman forces using later Middle Ages period forces. This also demonstrates a strength of Saga. There are eight official Dark Age forces now with certainly more on the way. But fighting with shields and pointy sticks is rather similar across the years so one can easily adapt (or simply proxy) forces for Saga from 300BC or so right up to the 1400s AD. Firearms are probably not well suited for the rules but almost any melee actions are quite doable. I suspect we will see Saga officially expand into later periods as well as visit the East and the Samurai at some point as well.

So with that in mind I suddenly had a reason to buy 28mm Romans! I had always been smart enough to know I’d never get enough such forces painted to play regular army level Roman-era games but Saga only needs around 30-60 figures so you can quickly get into a new force without much fuss. And that is how the spiral begins…If you would like to consider some alternate Saga forces here are a few options:

Terrain

Perhaps due in some measure to the success of Saga, Dark Age terrain options have increased as well.

Closing

If you like a good, fast playing game with some real tactical nuance give Saga a try. If you don’t want to start collecting another set of 28mm miniatures you better just move along…and whatever you do DON’T pay any attention to the WWPD and all their Bolt Action talk!!!! Oh no, my wife is gonna kill me….

Also see the official Saga forums.

[Updated: 21SEP12]

Dust Warfare Resources — September 2012

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Dust Warfare[Note: See our new updated post that reflects the distribution change from FFG to Battlefront.] FFG’s sci-fi miniatures game Dust Warfare is really picking up steam. The game is not only gaining in popularity but FFG and the DW community are really putting some quality effort behind it. Below are some useful resources for Dust Warfare fans.

  • Dust Warfare Force Cards — The cards that come with the miniatures are actually for Dust Tactics. While one could modify those cards easily enough it seems a shame not to keep them for games of Dust Tactics. Plus there are some unique DW attributes that are difficult to add. Well Rodney Smith and others to the rescue. Rodney has created a great set of Dust Warfare specific cards you can print out and use. So far there are two sets: The Core Set and the SSU Set. Also see post 449.
  • Dust Warfare Force Builder — So far there is no official Army Builder app or anything for Dust Warfare. Luckily C. Jackobson decided to just build his own. It is a website that gets the job done and produces basic text output for your army.
  • Paolo Parente’s Dust Site — The man who started it all. Here you can see the Premium Models as well as the unique Dust 48 line. There is also Dust Terrain and of course Dust publications. If you can’t find these things at your local retailers or favorite online store you can order from Paolo and he will ship out quickly.
  • Dust Warfare PDF Rulebooks — You can get the PDF versions of the rules from Wargame Vault.
  • Dust Chronicles — There is a new fanzine devoted to Dust Warfare and Dust Tactics. Only one issue so far but very well done.
  • Fantasy Flight Games’ Dust Warfare Forum — FFG’s Dust Warfare forum is a great source for news and questions.
  • FFG’s Official Sites — It can be a bit confusing because FFG generally covers the miniatures under their Dust Tactics section but then covers Dust Warfare book releases under their Dust Warfare section.
  • BattleTactics TV — BTTV has some excellent videos that cover the Premium Models as well as other aspects of the game.
  • Beasts of War Dust Warfare Coverage — The blokes over at The Beasts of War occasionally have some good DW bits including video unboxings of new units. Also see their YouTube Channel.
  • BoLS Dust Warfare Coverage — The Bell of Lost Souls occasionally pulls itself away from 40K and covers Dust Warfare.
  • Unit Forward — Unit Forward is a Dust Warfare fan site with nice coverage. Great photos and lots of AARs.
  • Dust-War — Another fan site with solid Dust Warfare coverage.
  • Watch It Played — A series of videos on how to play Dust Warfare.

[Updated: 7MAY13]

Dust Warfare — August 2012 Update

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DW minisFantasy Flight Games is busy churning out Dust Warfare goodness. GenCon 2012 provided us all with some nice peeks at new upcoming products. Thanks to Russ from The D6 Generation and BattleTactics.TV for their great coverage. For a great look at the upcoming DW minis see BattleTactics.TV’s excellent video. FFG also now has a post with more information. Below is a recap of the recent news:

  • First up is the release of the Campaign Book: Zverograd that introduces the SSU and a few additional Allied and German units. You can also get the book as a PDF on Wargame Vault. (Note: For some odd reason the book still does not show up in search on Wargame Vault but if you follow the link you will be fine.)
  • FFG also announced Campaign Book Hades. It will include the first Soldier 4 unit in the game, the SSU Hero ‘Winter Child’.
  • The various SSU helicopters have started to hit the stores.
  • As you can see in the BTTV video  there is a huge amount of upcoming goodness for all factions. This is what you’ll see:
    • Allied: British Commandos and French Foreign Legion Kill Squad. Both are three-man Solider 3 squads. They are in the Allied suit armor but with bare arms. They come in the same package and you just swap heads to make one unit or the other.
    • German: Two new vehicles shown. They are large walkers based off the Vehicle 7 walker chassis. Shown were the Prinzeluther and Sturmprinz that both are sort of a mix of the WW2 SdKfz 251/D and SdKfz 232. They both have small turrets and open topped transport compartments. For infantry there are the new Jagdgrenadiere and Laser-Jagdgrenadiere. What is unique about those is that they are both three-man squads all based together on a single base (similar to GW IG heavy weapons). Perhaps the biggest surprise was the new German aircraft model prototypes. Also see BTTV’s aircraft video. FFG has now officially announced these with the upcoming Operation Icarus expansion for Dust Tactics. Also the P-38-eque aircraft in the page art is rumored to be the Allied fighter.
    • SSU: The SSU get the most love with all sorts of new goodies:
      • Hero Winter Child
      • IS-48 Karl Marx – Heavy Tesla gun-armed heavy tank
      • IS-5 Vladamir Lenin – KV2-like heavy tank
      • IS-5 Mao Zedong – AA tank. Both IS-5s also carry troops.
      • IS-48 Lavrentiy Beria Tank w/155mm main gun – Looks like an IS-3 tank
      • KV-3 Matrioshka – Walker with two main guns
      • KV-3 Babushka – Walker with Gatling guns
      • Red Guards Assault Squad
      • Red Guards Antitank Squad – With 2 Bazookas

Dust Warfare FFLAll in all life is looking very good for Dust Warfare fans. FFG is providing strong support for the game. Now if we only knew what the fourth faction will be!

[Updated: 12OCT12]

Decisive Campaigns: Case Blue — Now Available

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Case BlueDecisive Campaigns: Case Blue is now available. Case Blue is a WW2 operational level computer wargame on the German’s 1942 drive towards Stalingrad in Russia. It is a follow-on to the well done Decisive Campaigns: Blitzkrieg Warsaw to Paris. The game manual is available to download.

It is the summer of 1942 on the Eastern Front, and Case Blue is about to begin. The German Wehrmacht must continue their drive to Stalingrad and into the Caucasus in order to secure victory against the Soviet Army. As time passes and the battles rage on, winter arrives and with it the Soviet winter counter-offensive dashes hopes of a speedy victory for the Wehrmacht.

Decisive Campaigns: Case Blue features an easy-to-learn interface and a challenging AI for all levels of players. Among the many new features for the Decisive Campaigns series is the optional high command order system, which puts you in the position of the historical commander, with often difficult and unrealistic goals assigned by your superiors. Succeed and you may be able to guide the future strategy of the campaign – fail and you may find yourself removed from command or facing a firing squad!Case Blue Screenshot

The new full campaign scenarios cover a remarkable sweep of history, including the full Case Blue campaign with all of its many historical options.  The order of battle may change based on your performance and the entire direction of the campaign is even within your reach if you do well enough.  Whether you start in the summer of 1942 or take control as Operation Uranus begins, there are virtually endless “what ifs” in each of these remarkably detailed campaigns.

[Updated: 23JUL12]

WWPD Interview with John-Paul from Battlefront

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WWPD PodcastWell the boys over at the What Would Patton Do podcast score a big one with a great interview with John-Paul of Battlefront, makers of Flames of War. The boys must have had his family tied up at some undisclosed location because they got him to spill the beans on just about everything! You won’t want to miss the interview for yourself but here are the highlights of what John-Paul mentions (forward the show to 51:00 to get right to it) :

  • Nuts book at printer now. Next Battle of the Bulge release.
  • The new European building range shown in Wargames Illustrated 296 will include about 12 total buildings.
  • Mid-war remake (probably starting 2013?) will see campaign books on topics such as Tobruk, El Alamein and Kursk.
  • Market-Garden compilation will be ready for Christmas 2012. It will be two ~80+ page books.
  • Next early-war release will be winter war (Barbarossa?) in 2013.
  • Sea Lion will be done as a campaign book(s).
  • Vietnam gets proper campaign/rules book in February 2013 with lots of ‘new things to come’.

John-Paul gives some nice details on their efforts in plastic production where he mentions:

  • Battlefront makes over 640 vehicles, over 400 of which are armored vehicles.
  • Battlefront wants the plastics to look like BF game miniatures not scale models.
  • An Open Fire! boxed game will be released in October 2012 that will include ~11 tanks/guns, ~150figs and a V1 Rocket on launcher all in plastic.
  • Battlefront ships 70-80,000 packs (of miniatures?) a month.
  • Battlefront produces 1,500-1,700 pages of Flames of War material a year.

[Updated: 31AUG12]