Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Posh Lard 2023 Report

Far too early on Saturday morning I set out to drive down the A1 to Peterborough for the latest Posh Lard. Peterborough being roughly southeast of Sheffield and this being November I was driving with the morning sun in my eyes virtually the whole way. Still that was better than the lunatics in SUVs on the same road going back in the dark!

The George Alcock centre at Fletton is a nice venue. For those of you who've attended Ebor Lard, it's very similar to Green Hammerton Village Hall. It wins on having on-site caterers but loses in that we weren't able to take in the closing stages of a village cricket match at the end the gaming session!

Wanting to get back to Sheffield before it was too late, I didn't stick around for the traditional post-event curry but it was pleasant to chat with like-minded gamers throughout the day.

I again ran my Harpers Ferry game and the players (Pippa, Carl, Lewis, Peter, Kevin and Chris) were great. 

Surprisingly the first game progressed so quickly, with the insurrectionist players taking about an hour to get the hostages from the paymaster's office to the engine house, we had time to go on and play Act Two.

The Federal forces managed to get into the engine house led by Marines Luke Quinn and Matthew Ruppert, with Lt Israel Green close behind. Eventually Green found himself face to face with John Brown and attacked with his sword. 

Historically Green had brought his light-weight dress sword in the haste of leaving Washington. His initially thrust at Brown's torso was ineffective as the sword bent after  hitting Brown's belt buckle. Green then beat Brown unconscious with the hilt of the sword. In our miniature version the same thing happened - I'd decided in advance that Green would be treated as if trying to capture his opponent in terms of the Brawlin' rules. This worked really well.

After the first Harpers Ferry run-through, I had a chance to take some quick pictures of the other games.

New Tribes Beyond Us was a Strength and Honour battle put on by a couple of members of the Peterborough club. 

Nice tiny (2mm) units.

On the next table was a Sharp Practice Peninsular War game called Ducrot's Day Out

I liked the models for this game...

Another good looking game was this, using the What A Cowboy engine to run a pirate skirmish action.

I liked the cliffs and the ship, which was obviously based on Gary Chalk's templates in Wargames Illustrated years ago.

Finally we had the Peterborough club's Chef du Pont game covering the hinterland of Utah Beach in June 1944. This game was previously seen at the Joy of Six in the Spring.

Posh Lard is a nice event that should really be better attended. I think there were fifteen players but it could have easily have accommodated another half dozen even with just the games we had and I reckon there was room for at least another game, probably two. If you can come to a future Posh Lard, I'd recommend it.

Sunday, November 26, 2023

City Planning

I want some substantial 1/300th scale built-up areas to represent Stary Boleslav and its surrounding towns for this coming year's Prague Summer extravaganza. By using my 3D printer, rebasing some existing suitable buildings, and adding some homemade ruins, I'm on the way to a reasonable Central European cityscape.

My city units are a mixture of sizes as dictated by the footprint of the available building models.  However, two sizes predominate; I tend to have bases for which at least one dimension is either 9cm or 10cm. The advantage of this is that an entire block of buildings modules can sit between two parallel roads. The first row of modules below, although they vary in width, are all 10cm deep.

The second row, including the small city park below, are on 9cm deep (and often 9cm wide) bases. The mix of depths avoids the whole city looking too obviously grid-based.

In the picture below you can see some pieces added to bring three differently-sized bases up to a common 10cm depth. The strip of pavement in front of the half-timbered house, the strip of bare earth with trees in front of the flats, and the shrubbery in front of the red-roofed building all serve this purpose.

The next plan is to add some triangular modules to allow for some roads going off at angles other than 90 degrees.

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Steel Lard 2023 report

This Saturday saw fans of the Too Fat Lardies rules at Patriot Games in Sheffield for the annual Steel Lard gathering. Across the day we had 46 people each playing two games across nine beautifully turned out tables.

Matt Slade brought along The Spy Who Larded Me, a Sharp Practice game set during the American Civil War. I know Jamie greatly enjoyed it and one of the players reported that he now, at last, understood how Sharp Practice scenarios are supposed to be designed.

Also Sharp Practice and also ACW was Ken Welsh's Morning Glory on the Combahee. I'd have loved to see more of this game as integrating infantry action with ACW gunboats is something I'd like to explore with my Mississippi Marine Brigade chaps. Sadly I was too busy to get much of a look at events as they progressed.

While we're in mid-19th century America, it probably makes sense to mention that Steel Lard saw the first public outing of my own Harpers Ferry game. As we've seen here during its development, this covered the events of John Brown's 1859 insurrection at the Virginia town's Federal Armoury.

With only three hours per session, I was unable to fit in the original plan of running the Martinsburg Militia's attack and the later U.S. Marines assault on the engine house. We stuck with the former and it went successfully on both run-throughs.

Another game using the What A Cowboy rules engine was Simon Walker's Death in the Donga. This took the Wild West-themed rules to Zululand and to the events that, historically, saw the death of the Prince Imperial, the son of the deposed Emperor Napoleon III, whilst serving with the British Army.

Jamie played in this game and managed to ensure the Prince Imperial's escape but had his other character slaughtered about halfway through the action.

Chain of Command was, as always, popular with game-runners and players alike. Alex Sotheran ran Oh Sugar, his WW1 adaptation covering the attack on the ruined sugar factory at Courcelette by Canadian troops. In 15mm scale th ground scale and figure scale match perfectly and really give the impression of the relative emptiness of the battlefield.

John Savage also adapted Chain of Command, this time taking it to the Vietnam war with his scenario Walk this Hue. John is a skilled designer and presenter of scenarios and his players were noisily engaged throughout.

A welcome return to Steel Lard this year was Graeme Atkinson's A Rock and a Hard Place, a Chain of Command representation of the Fallschirmjäger attack on Tavronitis Bridge during WW2's Crete campaign.

This game was seen at Steel Lard a few years ago and it was good to see it one last time before it makes its way to Crete where it will be displayed in a museum close to the battlefield.

An always welcome visitor to Lardy Days is Charley Walker. The charming Borders farmer can always be relied upon to bring a game that has the players enthusiastically engaged throughout. This time it was Mayhem in the Med, a Napoleonic naval battle using a streamlined adaptation of the Kiss Me Hardy rules.

Finally we had Ken (Yorkshire Gamer) Reilly with Rome Or Death. Ken needed reassuring that this was allowable as a Lardy game, the Pickett's Charge rules being published by sister company Reisswitz Press. I figured that if people can run Lard-inspired systems of their own, an official Lard-adjacent game must be OK.

The scenario is set during the Risorgimento - the nineteenth century wars culminating in the unification of Italy. It's always good to have Ken at Steel Lard as his penchant for big games contrasts nicely with the skirmishes we usually see from others.

I'm sorry I haven't been able to present more photos here. I was so busy running Harpers Ferry or dealing with administrative matters that I had no time to do a proper photoshoot. 

For some lovely coverage of the Combahee game visit Ken's blog here.

Also Alex has a video of the tables on Youtube.

Friday, November 10, 2023

What A Cyberman!

It occurred to me that I should have an emergency game to take along to Steel Lard in case one of the scheduled game-runners has a last-minute problem attending.

For a non-Lardy event I'd happily bring along my portable Death of Gustavus Adolphus game or the figures and models to play one of my Pavis skirmishes but these both use non-TFL rules sets (The Pikeman's Lament and Song of Blades and Heroes respectively). I need something that can be set up quickly, understood by at least one of the likely players, and that comes from the Lardy stable. What A Cowboy seems the best bet.

I had an errand to run down in Birmingham this week so five hours in the car gave me plenty of time to plan something using figures I already had to hand and a setting that most people could grasp quickly. The idea for What A Cyberman was born, and yesterday I got to play test it.

The scenario involves the Doctor arriving on Earth in the 1930s to find UNIT involved in a confrontation with Cybermen. Any terrain could be used but I used my existing dungeon modules as they can be taken to the event just by throwing one additional box into the car.

The scenario has a few special rules. 

The Doctor cannot be activated normally, doesn't fight and cannot be attacked. He is pursuing his own agenda. He moves whenever a player rolls three or more sixes on their Action Dice. There are six pre-determined, numbered "Important Locations"on the board. The Doctor starts on Location 4 and moves 4>5>6>1>2>3 etc. If the next Location is blocked by another character being on it or in contact with it, the Doctor moves to the next available numbered Location. 

Initially the Cybermen are hard to kill. They treat all Wounds and Critical Wounds as Shock results. This persists until one of the UNIT figures moves into contact with the Doctor. At this point, UNIT learns of the Cybermen's secret weakness and they can be targeted normally.

In addition, Cybermen don't dodge but any Cyberman can move up to three Action Dice from any Cyberman's Shock Pool by spending a Bonanza Token. They can do this even if the Cyberman in question has been put out of action.

The Cybermen aim to capture the Doctor and take him to the transmat platform from which they can beam him up to their control ship. UNIT (led by Lieutenant Lethbridge-Stewart) hope to prevent this.

The game looks to have some interesting tactical challenges. The Cybermen can use their fast-moving Cybermats to block off some Important Locations, thus steering the Doctor closer to the transmat platform.

In my solo playtest the Doctor was fairly mobile, briefly being captured before escaping (he continues to move, even if captured, when three or more sixes are rolled.

The Doctor is captured whilst exploring
the torture chamber

Lieutenant Lethbridge-Stewart played a key role in UNIT's eventual victory. Firstly it was he who managed to reach the Doctor and discover the Cybermen's secret weakness. Some time later his action dice gave him four threes and two fives. He diced to use all four Aim dice to put a single shot into the Cyberman that was menacing the Doctor. A roll of six gave him a Critical Hit and this was followed by another six - instant death!

Later still a roll of five fours by Private Anderson gave the lieutenant the chance to deliver the classic line, "Anderson, silver chap next to the statue, five rounds rapid!"

In the end the Cybermen were forced to withdraw and Earth was once again safe from the alien menace!

Tuesday, November 7, 2023

Rogue Stars solo

Having printed and painted some marker trays for Rogue Stars I thought I'd have a go at the game to remind myself of how the rules work.

I decided on a starport setting (so didn't roll for terrain) but rolled up the "Rescue" mission profile. The roll for complications gave me "Space Demon", which I decided to ignore while I got back to remembering how to play!

It seemed like a good idea to baptise my starport security building. This suggested a mission by the crew of the free trader Gilgamesh to rescue a crew member held in the cell. The Okh security team would be holding the fort.

I deployed the Okh inside the security building (green with the dark grey roof) apart from one constable standing guard on the door. Roslyn, the free trader's engineer, was in the cell inside.

Roslyn in her cell

The game began with the Okh having the initiative thanks to a roll of 1 by the free trader's crew. Constable Zok moved from his position guarding the door to a location from which he could see black-clad Iklwa approaching with drawn vibro-sword.

Three failures to activate gave Iklwa three reaction chances. He succeeded with all three, sprinting six inches then jumping eight thanks to his bionic legs before striking a blow that immediately put Zok out of the action!

Meanwhile, the robotic member of the Gilgamesh crew, D4QP, approached the door to the security building. It came under fire from Sergeant Gnaar from the roof and replied causing one Pin to the sergeant.

I assumed that, at least initially, the door to the building was in automatic opening mode à la Star Trek. Later the Okh inside would lock it. This resulted in some exchanges of point blank fire through the doorway. Eventually D4QP was put out of action.

By this time insectoid crewman Kekkex and Captain Sabrina had approached the building and started to engage those within in a close-range firefight.

Eventually we ended up with a situation where only three figures remained active! Constable Glyke took a critical hit to the head before spectacularly failing his Endure roll. Dead!

Kekkex and Sabrina broke in through the windows of the office while Sergeant Gnaar waited around the corner within. 

Briefly both sides yielded the initiative to reduce their Stress counters and there was a period of rolling dice but not taking actions until the ideal combination of dice rolls came up. Eventually Sergeant Gnaar rolled two successes and a critical success to activate. This gave him the chance to roll another activation and this too was successful. The resulting four actions allowed him to dodge around the corner and gun down Sabrina before dodging back out of the line of fire.

Another decent set of dice rolls saw him also finish off Kekkex.

So the crew of the free trader Gilgamesh are all captured. Perhaps a prison planet breakout is called for?

Saturday, November 4, 2023

3D printing progress

For a while recently my 3D printing progress ceased completely. Some kind of glitch was preventing my Ender-3 S1 pro from printing at all. It turned out that in responding to a broken filament I'd rethreaded the machine bypassing the filament sensor. Unfortunately the Ender's indication that this was the case was obscure in the extreme...


Eventually, with the help of a user group on Facebook, I managed to sort out the problem and now I'm back up and printing.

I want to use some T-44s in the Prague Summer game and although one of my mates (Andy T?) has a few I thought it would be sensible to have some of my own just in case. I decided that I'd have a go at creating some.

T-44s not being available on Thingiverse as far as I can see, it looks to me like an approximation could be made using a T-54 hull and a T-34/85 turret. Thing was, though, I couldn't find a T-34 turret from M Bergman, my usual source of printable tanks. I thought the KV-85 turret was probably the same so I printed three T-54 hulls and three KV-85 turrets.

This turned out not to be the case so rather than waste the KV-85 turrets, I printed three hulls to go with them.

Three KV-85s

Not the most widely used Soviet tank but I'll keep them in case I need them later.

I've also been producing buildings for the Prague Summer game.

The two buildings on the right are from a collection of 15mm scale WW1 buildings that I've been scaling down to 34% of their original size. They're great for making ruined city blocks.

The one on the left was billed as a German railway station. It wasn't mean to have shattered roof but the print failed due to the model lacking the correct internal supports. With the windows being open, any internal supporting structures would be visible so I'm not going to print a fixed version. I think I can make this into a bombed-out municipal structure for down-town Stary Boleslav.

The final 3D products are these:

Created using Tinkercad, they are designed as status markers for Rogue Stars. A Rogue Stars character has to track three statuses - Stress, Pins, and Wounds. These are intended so micro-dice can be used to track these three statuses for each character.