Sunday, 31 December 2006

Video Review: Pulp Figures' Weird Villains

Here is my second attempt at a Video Review this time it's of some 28mm Pulp Figures from their Weird Menace range:

If you have a google account you can see stills of these in my Picasa albums.

Monday, 25 December 2006

Merry Christmas

I hope Santa brought you what you wanted - he certainly did for me! Not much in the wargaming line but plenty of boardgames!

Monday, 18 December 2006

When did red lights become optional? (rant)

Is someone out there teaching driving by correspondence course? Is there an epidemic of colour blindness? Or has the Government changed the rules of the road into optional guidelines?

This morning I saw not one, not two, but five ... five drivers run red lights! Now maybe I'm old fashioned (and it wouldn't be the first time someone has said that!) but I always thought a red light meant stop. OK so maybe you get some latitude with amber but red? So maybe you could train monkeys to drive better than most people on the road (they might even use their indicators once in a while!) but I though people had enough sense to know to stop at red lights. Is it like speeding now ... you only obey the speed limit where there are speed cameras? So you only stop at red lights where there are cameras? Doh!

Maybe I'll keep a sharp look out when I come up to a green light - there might be one of these cretins coming the other way!

Saturday, 16 December 2006

Too Fat Lardies Festive Sack Full 2006

The Too Fat Lardies have produce a compendium of rule supplements, scenarios and articles for their rule sets twice a year for the last couple of years. This one is a full colour 136 pages of Lardies goodness including Bag the MiG, a Korean War supplement for Bag the Hun (their WW2 air rules), Taxes, Tea & Tories, an AWI conversion for Le Feu Sacre (their Napoleonic rules) and scenarios for them both, I Ain't Been Shot, Mum! (WW2), Le Feu Sacre (Napoleonic), Algernon Pulls it Off! (WW1 air), If the Lord Spares Us (WW1 Middle East), Bag the Hun (WW2 air), Kiss Me Hardy (Napoleonic naval) and Triumph of the Will (SCW) along with a number of other interesting articles.

The Festive Sack Full is available in .pdf form from the Lardies for £5.00.

Speedy Service Award

Maddison Games gets the award yet again for an order placed on Saturday arriving on Tuesday. Games Lore were only slightly behind with an order placed on the same day arriving on the Wednesday. Excellent service by both!

First Look: Shogun

Shogun by Queen Games is a light board wargame by Dirk Henn set in 16th Century Japan using blocks and counters rather than figures. The game appears to be a re-theme of Wallenstein, their Thirty Years War game which has received very good reviews.

As with Wallenstein, the game is card driven with combat resolution using a nice dice tower based mechanic. The game has been designed with language independent components and is provided with rules booklets in English, French, German, Spanish and Japanese.

The game is for 3 to 5 players and is available from Games Lore amongst other outlets for £29.99 or less.

Wednesday, 6 December 2006

Review: Triumph of the Will

Triumph of the Will (TotW) is a set of miniature wargames rules for “revolutionary warfare” in the period 1914 to 1936 by Richard Clarke of the Too Fat Lardies. The rules are designed for brigade or divisional level actions with the smallest manoeuvre unit being the Company and with the basic command unit being a Battalion. Typically a Company will be represented by 6-10 figures; however, the rules utilise the number of figures in a unit to represent the motivation/resolve of the unit rather than the actual size and thus there is no figure ratio.


TotW is available in both hard copy and Adobe .pdf download forms. The rules are clearly layed out in sections with a table of contents and some examples. There are no graphics and, other than the front cover, the rules are in black and white. This obviously has benefits if your are buying the .pdf option and printing it yourself. A few more examples would certainly be beneficial but overall the presentation is good.

Turn Sequence

The turn structure is as follows:

  1. Spotting
  2. Cavalry/infantry/MG fire
  3. All movement
  4. Artillery & AFV fire/Air attacks
  5. Close combat
  6. Command Actions

Two options are provided for turn sequence a traditional I go you go system (albeit with a reserved fire mechanism) or a card driven system (but with all cards being drawn each turn).


A system of blinds is utilised to enable hidden unit movement. Spotting is effected by selecting the relevant blind and rolling on a table with modifications for range, terrain types and weather.


All firing in TotW is based on a rifle unit equivalency system with a unit of five infantry figures being the basic standard. A d6 is rolled for each unit of 5 figures or equivalent with modifiers for troop quality, situation, cover etc. and if the result is less than the firing group’s strength then a hit is achieved. Fire may be reserved to be used in the opponent’s turn.

Firing at extreme range does not cause casualties but rather reduces the unit’s movement in the following turn.


The deployment of the (rectangular) blinds indicates the unit formation (e.g. column, line) and this determines the distance the blind may move. Once spotted, infantry units move their unit strength in inches with vehicles moving on dAv rolls.

AFV Combat

Given the limited development of the AFV during this period the AFV combat rules are simple with weapons categorised into MG/light/medium/heavy and armour into heavy or light. AFVs have strength ratings which are lost as they suffer hits and this is also factored into their firing capability.

Close Combat

Close combat is a pretty brutal affair with units rolling a d6 per figure with the number of dice being modified for unit type, status and the like. This is then resolved on a “six and you’re dead” basis with the casualty levels inflicted being compared and the overall combat result being derived from a table.

The use of a six in this instance is a little inconsistent as elsewhere in the game a low roll is good – we have a house rule where we use a 1 rather than a 6 to avoid this.

Command Actions

Units are given one of 5 orders – Attack/Engage/Hold/Retire/Consolidate. The quality of the CinC determines the number of order changes which they can instruct in any turn (although units can attempt to change their own orders by rolling against their initiative rating which will depend on the period and unit type); however, the type of commander affects which orders he may issue. For example an aggressive commander will find it more difficult to issue Retire orders than Attack orders.

Period Specific Rules / Information

Period specific notes are provided for Revolutionary Germany, the Spanish Civil War and the Russian Civil War (RCW). These include supporting information for the relevant forces and additional rules for specific tactics and equipment. For example there is a whole section on armoured trains for the RCW.

TotW also provides appropriate guidance on the use of battlefield features such as trenches, wire and the like.


Having used these rules for both Russian Civil War and Spanish Civil War scenarios I have found they give a good quick game with plenty of period flavour. The period specific elements help greatly here and whilst the basic mechanisms remain unchanged they add a lot to the feel of the game.

These rules aren’t as well developed or supported as I Ain’t Been Shot, Mum the Lardies main offering, and consequently questions will arise during play. However, the Lardies’ Yahoo discussion group is a good source of information and the author is will usually respond to questions quickly.

Saturday, 2 December 2006

Review: Chain Reaction 2.0

Chain Reaction 2 is a set of modern skirmish rules by Ed Teixeira of Two Hour Wargames. Whilst the rules operate at a 1:1 figure:man ratio they are constructed around a reaction test mechanism which controls figure actions in certain circumstances. This means that the game can be operated with the player playing a single figure but works much better when the player is in command of one or more groups of figures.


The rules are laid out in sections in a two column format with both contents and index but with not interior illustrations. Each section has a summary “The Least You Need to Know” box highlighting key points from that element of the rules.

The rules are available as either hard copy or Adobe .pdf download. Whilst the latter is convenient the cover art work is very dark and thus very ink hungry!


A brief introduction is provided and followed by an outline of equipment required including an explanation of the dice mechanism and figure basing. The dice mechanism requires explanation as almost exclusively the rules use the concept of “passing dice” where individual dice are compared separately to a target number and where the result is lower than (or in some cases equal to) the target the dice is deemed to have “passed”.

Stars, Grunts and Rep

Figures in Chain Reaction are divided into two categories, “Stars” and “Grunts”. The former are the key figures acting as Leaders of groups of “Grunts”. Stars are allowed special characteristics to provide them with greater longevity and the player with greater control. For example, they can be “Larger than Life” (avoid being killed by figures with a lower Rep), able to “Cheat Death” (removed from play to reappear in a subsequent game) and have “Free Will” (choose Reaction Test results).

Reputation (Rep) is a key element within the game which reflects the skills, training and abilities of the individual. It ranges from 1 to 6 and is a critical factor in the majority of the game mechanisms. All figures are allocated a Rep.

Weapons, equipment and points values are provided in the next sections. One key weapons concept is that of being “outgunned”. Each weapon type is given an outgun rating and anyone with a weapon with a lower rating is considered outgunned by someone firing with a higher rated weapon. This is then incorporated into the Reaction Test mechanism and forces the outgunned figure to duck back when they might otherwise be able to react.

Turn Sequence

Initiative is determined by throwing a d6 for each side. The higher roll will go first but is only allowed to move figures, or groups lead by a figure with a Rep equal to or higher than the roll. This provides an interesting dynamic as a high roll will give the initiative but restrict the figures able to take advantage of it. This reinforces the need for effective positioning and use of “Stars” when leading groups.

The player with initiative then moves his figures which may initiate Reaction Tests, the results of which must then be resolved, before moving his next figures. Once the first player has completed his actions initiative transfers to the other player.


Figures move standard distances but may attempt to “Fast Move” by testing against their Rep. The quality of the result allows them to move further or only move the standard distance but in both cases they will count as fast moving with the consequential impact on firing or being targeted.

Ranged Combat

Firing weapons is a simple matter of selecting a target, establishing line of sight and rolling to hit. All weapons have a target rating which determines their arc of fire and the number of bursts which can be fired. A d6 is rolled for each burst, the firer’s Rep added and then compared to the To Hit table. The To Hit table includes for target and firer status and the result will be a hit or a miss. Any time a figure is hit an “Obviously Dead” test is taken by rolling a d6 versus the impact of the weapon. Assuming the figure isn’t obviously dead each hit is then rolled against the Rep of the target on the Damage Table to determine whether the target is Knocked Down or Out of the Fight. The former means no actions until next activated the latter means out of the action until medical attention arrives. When this happens the “How Bad is it Doc?” table comes in to play to determine whether the figure can rejoin the fight or is out of the game.

Tables are also provided to address mounted target situations. The rules also encompass pursuing by fire and grenades.

A section is also provided covering mortars, air and off board fire support.


During hand to hand combat each figure rolls 2d6 (with modifiers for impact, multiple enemies etc.) and compares these to their Rep. The number of passes is then compared to determine the results. An “Obviously Dead” test is taken and then each hit is rolled on the damage table as with ranged combat.

Vehicles and Buildings

Rules are provided for generic armoured and non-armoured vehicles and buildings to enable these to be included in the skirmish. The armour rules include various levels of armour and armour piercing weaponry along with rules for infantry attacking vehicles.

Reaction Checks

The heart of the game is the concept of reaction tests. During any player’s turn the actions of their figures may trigger a reaction test either for them or an opponent which will dictate further actions. This may trigger the chain reaction of the title, for example a fire fight. Reaction tests are taken when figures come “in sight”, when they “receive fire”, “want to charge” into melee or are “being charged”, are “overrun” by armour or are “surprised”. Reaction tests are generally rolling 2d6 and comparing each of these to the figure’s Rep with the more “passes” the better.

An example could be that a player moves a figure into sight of another’s. The opponent takes an “in sight” test which results in them opening fire. Assuming the target isn’t hit they will take a “received fire” test and may return fire (unless they are outgunned in which case they will take cover), the other figure will take a “received fire” test and so on until the reactions end. The original player may then resume their turn.

Campaign / Army Lists

A section is provided to support a variety of genres including army lists, special and scenario rules covering open battles, encounters, ambush, raids, escape, pursuit and RPG like skills and task test rules. The genres covered include military operations, dark future gang warfare, “B” movies and alien encounters.


Because these rules contain a number of novel concepts there can be a bit of a learning curve for new players. Whilst there are examples in the rules these could be more extensive but the support for questions on the Yahoo group is good.

It can take a little while to determine what happens in each situation, remembering to take the appropriate reaction tests etc. However, after a few plays these become second nature and the true nature of the system shines through. Simply said it is one of the best modern skirmish systems I have encountered. Fire and movement tactics, the correct placement of troops and support weapons and the good use of leaders are all rewarded appropriately and “feels” right. The rules work well for two or multi player scenarios and I would highly recommend them.

The rules are available from Two Hour Wargames in both hard copy and Adobe .pdf download for $15 and $14 respectively.

A number of period specific variants of the system are also available including Nuts! (WW2), FNG (Vietnam), 5150 (SciFi), All Things Zombie and Black Powder Battles. Whilst each of these provides additional material in the form of campaign rules, army lists, special rules and scenarios the rules system is basically the same (with some minor but annoying differences) hence I have always thought the Two Hour Wargames pricing policy did not encourage people to buy all the sets.