Monday, December 30, 2013

WW2 Eastern Front Card Game - on Kickstarter

Collins Epic Wargames has revised the latest offering from their excellent Spearpoint: 1943 series of WW2 tactical card games. The new title (on Kickstarter from Dec 6 for 45 days, until Jan 20) is Spearpoint 1943 Eastern Front

Image from the Kickstarter Page.

The original is a favorite here at Gaming with Chuck - it plays fast and well, is easy to teach, and rewards good decision making.  The original pits US and German forces against each other.  This new offering - now being funded (and, as of this writing, very close to success) through Kickstarter!  Project page here.

The new title is Eastern Front and faces off the favorite foes of WW2 wargamers everywhere - Russia vs. Germany.  The cards, units, and play all look great from what has been released so far (including a print and play combat preview - very nicely done CEW).

A nice video, from the Kickstarter Project page, gives an overview of how the game is played.  This is a really nicely done video, something of a standard these days with new games. And Collins Epic Wargames has done well here. Check it out at the Kickstarter page.

In addition, there is already a nice entry at Boardgame Geek with lots of images of components, etc.

An older video, from earlier in 2013, shows a great example of game play for the system.

If you are looking for a good, solid combat card game, that rewards good thinking and decision making, and still has enough luck in it to make it dramatically exciting to play - consider backing Spearpoint 1943 Eastern Front.  You'll be glad you did.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas from GWC headquarters

We had a very nice Christmas with all the very best parts. Gifts, family time, a nice walk in the park, and a great turkey feast.

Lots of new board games and some miniature rules, so look for reviews in the next few weeks.  A new RPG acquisition is the Fantasy Flight title, Edge of the Empire - the boxed set introduction to the Star Wars rules.  Looks good, with gorgeous production, good setting info, and great characters.  It uses a set of special symbol dice, and I am not sure how well I will warm to those.  A review will help me sort it all out.

New miniature projects, as well as existing ongoing work planned for the new year.  Maybe some solo battles, for photo ops.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

War of the Roses Army - project planning and analysis

So, if one were going to build a 28mm army for wargaming the War of the Roses, a couple of things should be done to begin the project.  First is to decide on the scope (size, scale, etc) of the project.  Second, is to decide on a side, or army nationality.  Third is to decide on the size and composition of the miniatures army.  Fourth, is to decide on the typical figure type/sculpt type.  Fifth is to choose miniatures, order them, and begin the prep/paint/finish process.

Step one has been done - this will be a 28mm project, and I would like to aim for enough miniatures for a medium to large army good for a single player in a several hour wargame.

Step two is MOSTLY done - I have been looking at both the Lancaster and also some of the Yorkist Pretender armies.  The reason for this is because Chris, my intended opponent, is looking strongly at a Yorkist Army.

Step three is a tricky one.  More on that later.

Step four is down to two choices, I believe.  The first choice is to use the Old Glory War of the Roses range.  These are good figures, and I have had great luck with the Old Glory figures in the past.

Old Glory War of the Roses Longbowmen - from the Old Glory UK website
The second choice would be using as many as possible the Perry figures for the War of the Roses.  These would be plastic, and I have always loved the Perry brother's sculpts and look of their toy soldiers. An older range of Perry War of the Roses figures exist - the figures from Wargames Foundry (or The Foundry).  These, while quite excellent, are not as animated as the new figures from the brothers, but they would mix well.
Perry plastic set that allows the building of Billmen and Bows.  From the Perry website.

Step five is in progress - in fact, trying to decide which is what led me to write this article.

Okay, so back to the unfinished step - Step Three.  I want to, if I stick with Lancaster, model the army of Somerset from the Battle of Towton (March 29, 1461).  This is a pretty standard late medieval army, both in command structure (three battles, each under the command of a separate Noble) and in composition (predominantly foot, with some heavy infantry knights and men-at-arms, as well as mixed ranks of billmen and longbowmen).  For reference, there are several well known books on the subject, as well as a great website on the Battlefield. Some of the books, of use for wargamers, are Boardman's book on The Battle of Towton, the Osprey Campaign guide to Towton, and more recently, the title Fatal Colors: Towton 1461 - England's most Brutal Battle, by George Goodwin.

Map from the Towton Battlefield website (link above)

From a wargaming perspective, there are some fantastic pictures at the Grimsby Wargaming Society (gallery 1 and gallery 2).  There is also a great compilation of War of the Roses battle descriptions (Albans, Towton, Wakefield and Barnet), using DBM, from Wargames Illustrated, the collection of articles exists as a PDF file here.  The details on the battle of Towton were by (as they all were) Eric J. Cruttendon.  Towton appeared in issue 137.  Using that article as a reference, the three battles of the Lancaster army are composed of these DBM elements -

Somerset's Battle
Kn(S)1Duke of Somerset C-in-C
Kn(S)2Royal Bodyguard Men-at-arms
Bd(O)8Retinue Billmen
Bw(S)16Retinue Bowmen
Bd(I)4Shire Levy Billmen
Bw(O)18Shire Levy Bowmen
Bd(I)6Northern Border Foot
Sp(I)12Northern Border Foot
Bg(O)6King's Baggage

Northumberland's Battle
Kn(O)1Duke of Northumberland
LH(O)2Northern Border Staves
Bd(O)4Retinue Billmen
Bw(S)8Retinue Bowmen
Bd(I)4Shire Levy Billmen
Bw(O)18Shire Levy Bowmen

Exeter's Battle
Kn(O)1Duke of Exeter
Bd(O)4Retinue Billmen
Bw(S)8Retinue Bowmen
Bd(O)4Shire Levy Billmen
Bw(O)16Shire Levy Bowmen

These descriptions are all well and good, and serve (as a wargaming reference) as an excellent guide to the composition and ratio of the three battles involved on the Lancaster (Royal, Red Rose) side during the battle of Towton.  However, I am currently thinking of two other sets of possible rules to represent the battle.

The first set of rules would be Warhammer Ancient Battles 2 (sadly, out of print as Warhammer Historicals was, for some reason not to be gone into here, shut down), following the War of the Roses army list from the fan supported publication Armies of Antiquity 2.  For this set of rules, for the infantry units, I would go with 12 figure Retinue units (with 1 unit of 12 billmen, organized with two units of 12 each bowmen, giving a total of 36 figures for a bill/bow block), and maybe 6-8 figures for the mounted units.

The second would be using a fan supported modification of the Dux Bellorum rules, modified for War of the Roses battles.  That modification can be found here - at the Shire and Everything After gaming blog.  As a mounting/organization size, I would use two stands of 60mm x 40mm bases for a unit in this set of rules.  For foot, that would be 12 figures, and for mounted that would be 6 figures.

The nice thing about the 60mm x 40mm mounting is that it works for either ruleset, as well as a bunch of other rulesets that could be used - the WRG Renaissance rules could be used, as well as Impetus, Armati, HOTT, or even the Neil Thomas rules for Ancient and Medieval games (as well as his more general Introduction to Wargaming rules).

So, looking at the DBM lists above from Cruttenden's article, we can surmise the following, choosing to analyze the basic ratios, and looking at blocks of bow/bill troops that were 33% bill.

Somerset had two bow/bill blocks of Retinue soldiers, the other battles had only one each.
All three battles had maybe 2 blocks of Shire/Levy (Militia) bow/bill blocks, with additional bodies of archers.
All three had bodyguard elements (knights) for the C-in-C
Some (scant) other knights (maybe 1 unit) were in each, as well as a few other lighter units (Northern spear and sword units, currours, staves).

In Warhammer, doing a Retinue bow/bill block as I described (12 billmen, 24 bowmen) would cost the following:
12 Billmen - @12 points each, with +1 for heavy armour, so a total of 156 points
2x12 Bowmen - @13 points each (as per the errata), so a total of 312 points
Giving each body a leader, musician, and standard bearer gives each a cost of +15 points
Total, for all three bodies of troops making up the bow/bill block would be 513 points.

On the other hand, using the Dux Bellorum rules variant, a Retinue bow/bill block (again, with 1/3 of the troops being the bill unit, and two associated bow units), has the following
Retinue Bill - 12 billmen (two stands of six each) 3 army points
Retinue Bow - 2 units of 12 bowmen each (two stands of six each unit) 2x 3 army points each
Each such bow/bill block would be 9 army points.

To build two such blocks (the number of figures are the same, and I would even do the basing the same, either way), requires the following:
Total (two blocks): 24x billmen, and 48x bowmen.

Using the Perry Plastics, you would need two boxes, and then you would have a couple of figures left over (for command, no doubt).  Going with the pricing from The War Store this would come to a total of $64 (plus shipping, if any).

Using Old Glory 25s, you would need 1 bag of Billmen, and 2 bags of Bowmen.  Assuming an Old Glory Army membership (40% discount), and ordering 1 bag of WOR-08 (Billmen in Livery Coats) and 2 bags of WOR-09 (Longbowmen in Livery Coats), the price would come out to 3x$21 = $63 (plus shipping, if any).

So, the price is about the same either way.  Now I have to decide....

Friday, December 13, 2013

Secret Santa - wonderful gifts!!

Each year, we participate in the Secret Santa list at Boardgamegeek, which is a great way to exchange board games with the community.

It works like most Secret Santa lists - you submit your name, and there is a randomizer that spreads them all around - so you get another name in return.  Then you purchase some gifts ($50 minimum is suggested for this one), and send them to your target.  The person who got your name does the same in return.

By looking at people's wishlist on BGG, you get to see what they want, and it encourages people to keep their wish list up to date.

This year, my Secret Santa really did a great job.  I got three really fantastic, and different, gifts.

Image from Z-Man Games website.

First, I got the board game Troyes.  From the publisher (Z-Man Games), the following blurb appears:
Built by the Romans during the first century in Belgian Gaul, Tournay experienced most of its growth along the Scheldt river.

Unfortunately, the river also contributed to its troubles, because in 881, the Normans traversed its watery path, and thereby easily captured the city. That act of aggression stunted Tournay’s prosperity. This game invites you to participate in the reconstruction of the city, in order to establish a glorious era that will last for more than seven centuries. Help your district flourish by cleverly coordinating the work of the city’s three domains: military, religious, and civil. Certainly the prestige of your buildings will brighten the entire city!
 On the Boardgamegeek website, a different blurb appears, that is more about the actual game play.  I haven't played yet, but it involves rolling dice to generate possible actions where you place markers to control areas/actions, and improve your situation that way.

In Troyes, recreate four centuries of history of this famous city of the Champagne region of France. Each player manages their segment of the population (represented by a horde of dice) and their hand of cards, which represent the three primary domains of the city: religious, military, and civil. Players can also offer cash to their opponents' populace in order to get a little moonlighting out of them—anything for more fame!
Make your underlings:

  • work on the cathedral
  • combat misfortune
  • bustle about the city
  • and other such tasks that are below your family's stature
I am really excited about this one - it looks like it has tons of theme, and lots of medieval history and medieval inspired (and actual) art in the game.  Just from looking through the cards, I am sure Anita and I will love this one.

The next game in the gift package is Unexploded Cow - the Deluxe edition from Cheapass Games.  This game, from the fertile mind of James Earnest, involves using Cows with mad cow disease to wander across fields of unexploded ordnance in France, trying (or not) to blow it (and the cow) up.  Wonderful theme for a game, I can't wait to play this one with friends over Christmas travels!!

Here is an image from the Paizo blog, although I suspect it might be a Cheapass Games image...

Nice full color components, including money chits, cards, box, and even a dice.  Color rules folio?  Cheapass games has come a long way from their beginnings (with everything printed on cheap white paper, and stuffed in a plain white envelope, with dice and money, etc coming from your own collection).

Here is a video of James, and friends, explaining the game.  Very nicely done.

And finally the third game that came in the package is not a game at all, but the latest "big" expansion for Carcassonne.  This one is called (in English) "The Count, the King and the Robber".  It wasn't availabe in English for a number of years, although the component expansions (it includes several smaller add ons that were published, separately in other places, previously) were part of some of the Big Box releases.  It comes with River II, the Count of Carcassonne, the King, and the Cult.

image from the publisher - Z-Man Games
 The last one (the Cult) was the one I was most keen on getting, as well as another copy of River II (we like using a big sprawling river to play our games, gives everyone lots of room to spread out, so another dozen or so of river tiles and branches are very welcome.  Curiously, rather than being published in English by Rio Grande Games, this one was published by Z-Man games.  Strange.  But, Rio Grande had given this material out in small expansions, and part of Big Box 2 previously, so maybe not so strange.

So, some wonderful new stuff to try and play, over our Christmas holidays.