Friday 10 April 2015

Fire and Steel

Yesterday I was very pleased to receive the following rule set via eBay. "Fire and Steel". I was very disappointed at the first reading as I thought they were a dedicated colonial skirmish rule set. And on first reading they covered Seven years war, American Civil war and wild west gunfight. I happen to like rules that are specific to each period and not ones that try to do everything as then tend to end up doing nothing.

But my mind was changed on the second reading. They will still cover all imaginable periods. But I do not have or intend to use them for all periods.

Physically they are a little bigger than A5 with a card cover stapled on. 31 printed pages (32 pages in all but the least one is blank) printed in black and white with a few drawings and diagrams. To my mind this is so much nicer than a bigger tome that has been puffed out with pretty pictures but that don't add anything to the rules. There is no "How to paint figures" or "How to build terrain" or even pages of background history that any fool with 30mins and internet access could discover. No the rules are just that a basic set of rules in an old fashioned format and so much better for it. I have been a wargamer for a few years and so I already know a little about painting figures and making terrain. It is even conceivable that I might know a teeny tiny bit of history already for a set of rules  for which I have an interest.  So I really do thank the publishers "Keep Wargaming" for not patronising me.

The rules are pretty simple, but I can see that they would work and fill the booklet from page 4-12. After which there are some suggestions on troop types  for various campaigns, some notes on characterisations and 2 appendices on Explosions and on Machine guns. From Page 19 onwards it gives a brief note on scenario design (1 Page) and 5 scenarios. And that fill the book. It is a light easy read although  a rules "Numty" like me has had to check a few things by flipping back a page or two, just to make sure you understand and not because I am "thick and useless", which I may be as well.

The scenarios are quite varied in both scale and time period with anything up to 5 players taking part . For club games I think this will work fine I really do. Generally you are looking for 1 player controlling 5-10 figures , the rules suggest 8 but that should depend on the players. So if you want to change period a lot the expense is not too high. There are no points system in the rules, this is deliberate as the design philosophy is not ALWAYS looking for balanced scenarios. Sometimes rather than having things equal it is better to have objective based scenarios. And Objective based scenarios are really not about having an "Equal" Battle but are about achieving a set objective. So with a little thought and imagination players will be able devise completely balanced scenarios where troop equality is not the issue.

Given that the rules have a picture of Afghanis shooting in the Hindu Kush on the front cover This is what I was expecting the rules to be all about. Instead I found a very versatile set of generic rules with a couple of good ideas that one can build a very good scenario based game at club level for. I can see me using these rules at the club and even for show games as they are straight forward and easy to follow. The only issue I have with them is the need for different markers on the wargames table. M Morale markers, R reload markers (each figure may require 6 of those is fining something that takes a long while to reload, T tap load markers if the musket boys want to reload very fast. I am sure I can come up with a way round this but counters on the table do tend to detract from a games look.

Overall I really do like these rules. They are simple to use and to understand and by tailoring the weapons and forces scenarios can be created with a little thought. Will I ever use them? Yes I think I will. They may not be perfect and may require me to think as bit to set up decent situations and scenarios but that is not an unpleasant task. They are a change from the glossy rulesets I have been using but I prefer them for taking this approach. There is no "Guff" just back to basic rules.

What will I use them for? That is a whole different question. I bought them thinking "Northwest Frontier" because of the picture on the front. But now I am not sure I will use them for that as they may be better suited to French Indian wars or Boxer Rebellion.

Thanks for reading today. I have been far too busy to paint much these last few days, but with luck I should have something finished for Sunday's blog post. So take care and see you soon.

Wednesday 8 April 2015

Just thought I would include a bit of music to go with the figures. feel free to ignore it if you want.
For those who want to know it is "Fortunate son!" By Credence Clearwater Revival. As I thought it a nice change from "Paint it black" by the Stones. But I could have selected so many more good songs. As the soundtrack to the Vietnam engagement is one of the best out there.
 I think this finishes my US troops for now, but I do plan to get a few more at the Salute Show. But only a few.

Firstly we have an M29, 81mm mortar and crew. Just a two man crew, there in reality may have been a few more bringing ammunition from the ammo bunker as well as an Officer and Radio operator. But All I need is a simple representation and it may never actually reach the tabletop. But then again it might. I see it being typically used from a "Secure" area such as a fire base and not by a patrol at least in any games. Should there ever be a Big battle yes I see it being used quite a lot.

There are also 3 dead or at least badly wounded. These may also be a scenario objective as the US troops want to return their own dead to the Good Ole... As with all the figures they are 20mm in scale and SHQ by design. And being honest I think they are some of the nicest 20mm figures for this conflict as you can get.

Goping back to the mortar and crew very quickly, I did not put any tall reeds on those figures as I did not want them to look like they were deep "In Country" but that is all personal choice.

Then almost another squad of 9 figures. Not a single Booper or M60 LMG this time. 6 are armed with M16 rifles, 2 with Remington shotguns, while the last has a radio (and a pistol). These extra shotgun figures were stored in a different location to the other squads but at least I now have 3 painted and ready to use. Should nay of my players want to equip their squad with one. I have probably mentioned it before but think "Bunny" from Platoon. (Called Bunny as he has a cartoon tattoo of Bugs Bunny on his arm).

 The guy with a radio is also a welcome addition (I now have 2) as it allows me to easily call in fire support in the form of mortars, heavier artillery, air strikes and even naval bombardment from ships on the coast. Ok ships on the coast will only work in certain areas but it was something that did happen on occasion. Some of the figures are the same casting but that is to be expected when you put 30+ on display or even on the same table. As such I have given them different skin tones as well as where possible different equipment. Such as the red head band.

As I am enjoying Youtube and the ability to put it on my blog here is one more. Yes that's right the iconic attack in "Apocalypse now"

Take care and Paint when you can. Best wishes Clint.


Monday 6 April 2015

Leather stockings

Well a bit of a change. Only because I needed a break. But I can assure you there are some more 20mm Vietnam figures coming. And a shout out to Peter in the wargames club for giving me two die cast helicopters.

But today something a little different. While at the skirmish show you may remember I was given charge of some woodland Indians in a "Muskets and Tomahawks" game. I would have done well if I had not had quite so many Indians killed by my arch nemesis Graham.

So just for fun I painted up some 28mm "Redoubt" figures. They ready were a nice change of pace from the 20mm Vietnam stuff. AS I was compelled "Last of the Mohicans" By James Fenimore Cooper while at college and it at the time was a heinous chore of the greatest magnitude being as I am dyslexic and the book was not written in modern English. Anyway I was at least able to remember the Last of the Mohicans was not a stand alone book but was part of the "Leather stocking tales" which all tell the story of "Natty Bumppo" (Yes I know it sounds like a Hobbit name but is actually the name of the lead character) commonly caller Hawkeye.

So anyway I painted up 3 Indians just for fun. As you can see they all have warpaint and leather stockings as well! And carry a mixture of traditional native and European weapons. I bought them several years ago (about 12 I think) and they have finally made it as far as the painting table. I will be doing some more in the future and may eventually make an Iroquois or Abanaki war party for "Muskets and Tomahawks" but at this stage I must stress they were only painted for the joy of painting and not part of a plan.

Do not take that to mean I have no long-term plan for them as I do. But do not expect to see too many of these in the near future. (Famous last words).

There are problems with the Redoubt figures. They are slightly taller than most 28mm figures and sometimes they are not amazingly well sculpted, but for the price I think they are pretty hard to beat in that you can get 6 for £7.50 (+P&P). And I have found that they do paint up quite nicely so I may well pick up some more at the Salute show. Just another pack or two, not a whole tribe or force but just to be able to put a few units on the table for any future "Muskets and Tomahawks" Games.

Thanks for looking today. More (Vietnam) again soon, then maybe some more WW1 German Jaegers or Zulus or something completely different.

Enjoy the rest of Easter and take care and paint a few figures. I know I will.

Cheers Clint