It is slowly becoming a habit that, at the start of the new year, the Regular Opponents and I gather in the Frozen North (Darlington) to bring in the day after New Year’s with a celebration of Wargaming.
In the past, the Creative Regular Opponent has usually run a single massive game of Chain of Command and we’ve played from lunch to dinner, only stopping once our hunger has overwhelmed our love of dice rolling. This year, however, we decided to try something a little different – a taster session, where each of us brought or chose a game to play and then we got to see a whole selection of possibilities. And I have to admit, as much as I like our massive games, playing new and exciting things (or introducing my friends to them) was a really fun day.
However, the day started with a sharing of presents. Unfortunately, I might have forgotten to get my gifts ordered. They should come soon, so I can give them to my friends at Vapa in February.
Luckily, my friends are far better at this than me. My Creative Regular Opponent has decided he wants to lure me away from the way and get me into playing Star Wars Legion with him (along with the Skull Forge figures I have in my 3d printing folder). To help with this, he has given me… the Mandolorian. And two versions of Grogu! After cursing him for making me add another game to my database, I’m actually really looking forward to assembling and having fun painting these guys.
As for the Dastardly Regular Opponent… well some background. All of us met thanks to our airsoft club at university and as such, all of us are familiar with the ever-present safe zone on all airsoft sites. Most of the time, they are pretty barebones – a portaloo, some rubbish bins, wood picnic table to pile all the gear for the first two people to arrive leaving the rest of us to use whatever space we can find. Well, thanks to the Dastardly Regular Opponent carefully selecting some pieces from several places, all three of us now have our own tiny safe zones. They are actually very good for wargaming with, giving you somewhere to place all your dead pieces or your force pre-deployment.
They were immediately put into action, as you can see below. Because we are sensible adults.
It finally got me. The game that all the 40k YouTubers are running to.
I mean technically it was inevitable – one of the first PC games I remember playing was Mechwarrior 3 on the PC (complete with the force feedback SideWinder joystick) and I’ve spent a long time avoiding the game for fear of disappearing under a pile of tiny tiny MadCats.
Well good news – the game actually kicks ass. We played the simple cut down version (so no heat, no swivel and no super detailed damage system) with a mech each. Jumping in, we started the dance to hunt each other down.
By the end, the game finished with my mech a smoking wreck while my opponent had two damage points left on his central torso. The game itself was simple enough to understand – two phases per turn (movement and shooting), the team with the initiative acts last to let you react. In fact, the only thing that took a while to handle was the shooting calculation but the Creative Regular Opponent came up with some cunning ways to mark the range and target values calculations for us using dice and the GATOR table.
I think the next time we play, we’ll play the advanced mode – the lack of heat management meant that by the end of the game, we were just spending each turn jetpacking and dumping all weapons in every turn. However, I’m not actually that worried about the extra crunch – thanks to tools such as Flechs Sheets, you can easily start running with all the fun things like “critical damage” and “swivelling”.
Black Powder Red Earth 28mm
My contribution for the game day was bringing up my box of BPRE28 to entertain the others. After a quick once over (and some marvelling at the cards/terrain tiles), we kicked off a two-mission night raid. The Creative Opponent took control of the local Aayari forces while the Dastardly Regular opponent found himself leading the Scorch Team guys.
Game 1 was Oasis Hemlock on MSR C-211. This mission involves Scorch destroying a building containing OPFOR jamming gear to open up the air waves. What actually happened was that Aayari ended up strongpointing the target building, which deprived the Cold Harbor guys the ability to drop an explosive drone on the enemy horde. Although they managed to take out a few of the stragglers outside, the concentrated gunfire and frags from the defenders boxed in the assaulters and were taken out. Not helped by the deployment of the card “Timetable” by the Aayari player, which turned the game from 7 turns to only 6. The advisor ended up madly rushing the objective only to be taken out along the way. 1 Mission Point and a special card to the Aayari player.
Game 2 was Perdition Charter on Massif Crossing. After Scorch Team has finished its work on-site (read: finished off all opposition) and is cleaning up, they suddenly come under attack from the Aayari Guard and must now make a break out of the area. Scorch set up in the centre of the map and chose one board edge for their extract as the scenario demanded. The Aayari IMMEDIATELY deployed on that edge and then got to work with frags grenades in the Direct Fire phase, attempting to box the Scorch guys in. However, after the drubbing during the last mission, the Dastardly Regular Opponent decided to get spicy. Using “Return to Sender” to remove the grenade close by, the Advisor then continued to drop a drone strike right next to one of the windows of a building full of OPFOR. With all of them having line of sight to the impact point, they were turned into lots of little pieces. With this as an opening statement, the Scorch team went on the attack, using the Automatic Rifleman to hold the angles while the Recce pushed forward. The game ended with the Aayari being tabled, leaving Scorch the victors. 4 Mission points to Scorch.
Overall, feedback on the game was pretty great – it took one game for the players to get it and the second game had some glorious plays from both sides, using the tactics cards and the special stats of the units. More importantly, both players said they would be pretty excited to play some more so I can see some Night Raids coming soon.
Getting close to the end of the day, we wheeled out 02 Hundred Hours. As keen fans of WW2 films and all things sneaky, all players involved had been quite excited to see a game focused on the sneaky daring doo. It is a very nicely produced game, with its own custom cards, dice and tokens, as well as using Wargames Atlantic to release a set of plastic figures for the sentries and commandos.
Which is a real shame as it didn’t quite land as well as we’d hoped. We tried out the beginner’s scenario, with a team of British Paras sneaking past a set of German guards (probably in the aftermath of Market Garden). The mission is for the allies to move from one board edge to the opposite one, avoiding detection from the Germans. It was hard to put a finger on what exactly felt off – while I quite like the activation system (alternate pulling tokens from a bag to see what you can activate) much of the combat and moving felt like a lot of work (and a lot of obfuscation with the unique dice system) for not much satisfying gameplay. I think all of us agreed that patrol routes rather than entirely random patrols would be much more interesting for a starting game (there is a reason we use them in game dev a lot) and we’ll probably give it a go with another mission at some point.
What A Tanker
Finally, as the night came in and our day of gaming was coming to an end, we had time for one final game – What a Tanker. And what a game to end with – it’s ideal for the last game of the day, with some pretty simple rules to get your head around, especially if you know Chain of Command well. I actually have the rules in physical book form, along with the tokens needed for it.
We went for a simple match, a Panzer IV vs a Sherman. These two have the same total value of Strike and Armour, even if the Sherman goes for pure balance while the Panzer IV trades a point of Armour in exchange for a larger punch.
Of course, none of this matters if the Sherman crew seemed to have been channelling the spirit of Tokyo Drift. Rather than cautiously advancing in the Germanic way, the Brits instead rushed forward to engage the rear armour and hammer a round into it causing permanent damage.
The startled German crew managed to mount a response slinging a round back that missed. The British crew, taking advantage of some fantastic rolls, managed to keep moving, reload and reacquire before the Germans could finish turning on their tracks. The German gun crew however, knew their stuff, bringing the gun to bear and even managing to fire twice in one turn (the advantage of rolling multiple 5s and 4s) but both shots bounced off the Sherman’s armour. In response, the Allied gunner delivered a round into the rear of the German tank’s hull that delivered catastrophic damage, immediately brewing it up. Good quick silly fun.
The next game day with the Regular Opponents is going to be the big game at the start of February on the Vappa weekend. But until then, I have to try and resist picking up any tiny mechs…