Sunday, October 22, 2017

Ghost Archipelago - Review and First Impressions

Just as I was preparing the latest batch of Haitians the latest distraction landed on the door mat. Frostgrave: Ghost Archipelago, I only played the original game once it was a little heavy on the terrian side for my liking but when I saw the setting for Ghost Archipelago it felt like a rule set that could bring all of my odd collections together on one table top allowing me to get to use some of the mini's that rarely see table time.

I backed the base level pledge in the current Nickstarter from Northstar, which provided me with the Rules, spell deck, a box of Crew, Crew Rooster, Treasure tokens and preproduction casts together with the novel to get you in the mood for island hopping.

Everything was well packed with the books bubble wrapped for extra protection. The presentation style is excellent, the rules are hard back and have a high production feel to them, no pages will be falling out of this set unlike Cutlass! 
The Snakeman's sword was damaged but being only one I can't see much use for him anyway.

I did not go to the trouble of selecting the Heritors and Wardens but am happy with the random figures, they have a Eastern feel to them which will allow me to use some of my Ottomans should I need to ground troops or extra crewmen.

I quite like the idea of my Atlantians guarding the various temples and jungle outposts, they will definately feature as some of the "bad guys" the rules cater for waterborne warfare with rules for boats, perfect as I picked a couple of these up from Iron gate scenary at Derby a few weeks ago.

The rulebook is 144 pages filled with full color photos of painted miniatures are some lovely art work to inspire the modeller in you. The rules within the book are relatively straight forward and with specific chapters for each area its easy to to find the specific rules. The contents include. Heritors, Wardens, and Crewmen, Chapter 3 Playing the Game, Chapter 4 The campaign followed by Heritor Abilities, Warden Spells, Scenarios (eight in the book), and the Bestiary.

Flicking through the rules and set up this morning, Ghost Archipelago, provides for a basic warband consisting of 10 members that must be purchased using 250 gold coins. Outside of the Heritor and Warden the warband can filled with a mix of  Standard Crewman and Specialist roles such as the Pearl Diver or Scout.

The Wardens must choose from five branches—Beast, Earth, Storm, Warden, Vine, and Wave, allowing your Warden/Wizard to influence the terrian and creatures on the board.

To spice up your encounter Ghost Archipelago also provides a Random Encounter Table with three levels of encounters each giving a different type of creature and with rules for your average wildlife through to Dinosaurs and the undead, plenty of choice to allow me to get those long forgot miniatures on the table - Fishmen anyone?

Ghost Archipelago feels perfect for those mid-week games where you only have a couple of hours to spare, the terrain demands are minimal espically if like me you have been collecting fish tank terrain for years. With 10 figures aside the investment for a warband is quite low and you can always swap out the monsters to fit what you have already - You never know the Bugs may make an appearance....

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Star Eagles - Playtest 2.

A little behind on the posts but finally a few minutes to report back on the recent Star Eagles run through. A simple affair with the newly commissioned War Ricket Ajax sent off on a mission to attack the the capital of Frigia, the Ice kingdom ruled by Queen Fria.
Flash and his allies set off to intercept it.

For this encounter added in a couple new skills for pilots and I increased the quality scores, which in retrospect I should have kept at Q4 for your average pilot by moving to Q3 there were very few misses on the night.

Ajax and it's escort move towards the Frigian Capital.

The lightly armed Frigian fighters move to intercept the Imperial forces with Flash in support.

The Frigian craft are swept aside. Flash sends out a transmission for help.

The Hawkmen Squadron enters the table and make their prescence felt, destroying an Imperial fighter.

After some very unluckly dice for Ming where he manages to roll early double fails two turns in a row, Flash evades the imperial fighters and tails the Imperial bomber firing his blasters at short range. The turrets of Ajax inflict minimal damage in return.

In true Saturday morning TV style, Flash brings down Ajax with less than a minute or two to spare just as it was lining up for it's bombing run.

It's been quite a gap in between games but Star Eagles is quick to pick up and the game has some very subtle rules that keeps players interested along the way, unlike other Songs of Blades rules, once activated a ship can perform its move without the need to use an action, actions are only required to perform special moves such as firing or special moves.

When tailing and with aimed fire you find yourself pretty much out of the fight very quickly but long range and side fighters stick around for a while before they are back in the box. Watch out for flying through unactivated enemy ships who take pot shots at you as cross their arc that can be annoying.

There are a couple of areas which need some clarity or perhaps a deeper understanding of the rules.
In particular ships with multiple weapon systems and whether once action allows you to fire all guns?
The question of height given the over and under taking between Flash and the War Rocket at the end and does the enemy get a free shot when you leave his arc rather than simply passing through?

But all in all a good game, I plan on pulling together reference cards for each fighter and introducing a few more weapon variables together with introducing player strategy cards in the next game to see how they change the dog fights.

A fun nights gaming and plenty of action. 
You should be Flash and Star Eagles making an appearance at Hammerhead in March let's hope the Kickstarter is not to delayed.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

War Rocket Ajax

With a club outing this evening I wanted to try and see how a larger Crusier type would fair.
From the first play test, fighters were mighty fast so how would a larger craft be handled under the rules?

Another casting from the chaps at Hydra and their War Rocket range and perfect to represent War Rocket Ajax from the Flash Gordon movie of the 80's.

It is a beast 4x the size of the other ships with 3 turrets and 2 front facing lasers. Full AAR to follow.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Star Eagles Latest News

This Kickstarter is a little on the late side but I was heartened to received the following update for Star Eagles.

Sorry for the slow rate of updates.  I know it has been frustrating for you all waiting for some news on the project.   Not wanting to make excuses, but my day job decided I was not working hard enough and has been sending me all over Asia for the past few months to deal with manufacturing problems. Things have final returned to normal and I can get back to focusing on finishing this project.  Normaly I am very responsive on my KS projects and I am sorry for the lack of more frequent updates. 
Production of the minis will begin this month, I have finalized the scaling of most of the ships and will be sending them off for production later this week. Based on where I am now, I expect the revised timeline is to have the KS shipping in later part of December.   
I am also working with Litko to have the move templates and counters made of Acrylic rather than cardboard. This will be a perk for the delay in the project.  Hopefully can show off some of these in a few weeks. 
In regards to the rules, I have received a lot of playtest comments and it seems the inititaive aspect of the game is causing a lot of confusion.   I have been rework the initiative mechanics to enhance the flow of the game and make it easier to understand.   I estimate I need about another two weeks to finish the rules and then I’ll be ready to release the most current version for all to see.  I will then wait for another round of feedback before passing it off to Andrea for formatting.   I think the revisions improve the game a lot and make it evn better than before. The feeling of a dogfight will be even more intense.

This does give me the opportunity to paint up a couple of items hanging around the paint table, I would much prefer to have a refined product than rushed out with holes in the rules and poor finishing to the production.

Carrying on the Alex Raymond - Flash Gordon theme, I thought I would paint up these War Rocket Mini's as Vultan's Fighters, Hawkmen on their own are not enough to protect Sky City from Ming's War Rocket's, although how they they got into the cockpit with their wings is one for me to think about...

I opted for a couple of shades of gold with white strips for effect, they blend with the mini's I painted several years ago which have been in storage for several years and looking at some of the older pic's could do wth a make a make over as my painting style then was rather flat.
Perhaps one day they will get a repaint but for now the new fighters will be gracing the table on Sunday.
Image result for 28mm flash gordon hawkmen

Friday, October 06, 2017

The Pearl of the Antilles - Haitian Revolution AAR #2 Life's a Beach

Somewhat behind on posts due to work commitments but finally the Haitians make an appearance in their new formation, this time defending a full blown British landing.

The Brits had come looking for trouble with a naval landing party under the command of Captain Horatio Lawnmower, Lt Stanley and a detachment of Royal Marines. A Company of Regulars together with Lt Richard Blunt of the 95th Rifles oh and don't forget a flaming cannon.

Opposing them was...... Honestly loads.....

The mission was a simple one for the British seize the church and defeat any local forces.

The table from the British end, add a couple of palm trees to your Spanish terrain and suddenly you are in Haiti.

The Brits are first out of the bag and get a fair number of troops on the table securing the beach.

As the first turn ends a couple of Haitian skirmish units appear on table but out of range of the British now advancing across the sand.

The Regulars and 95th fire a volley at long range wounding Captain Gabbon, the Haitain force morale drops to 8 it was going to be a long day in the field.

A view from the British corner with all troops deployed.

Troubled by the red coats now seizing the tree line and how quickly the Haitian skirmishers and fallen back. Time to bring out the "big choppers" and two groups of freed slaves looking to defend their rights and freedoms.

The Slave units advance across the dunes as the British look to bring additional troops to bear.

The Sailors and Marines pour fire into the advancing slaves but are unable to stop them reaching the beach on the edge of the table. The voodoo sorcerer is called into play taking shock off the leading unit just as tiffin brings the turn to a close.

Clash of Clans - Jack Tars and Slaves fight it out on the beach. Waving a ruddy big green snake must have had an impact on the jolly sailors.

The sailors are beaten and run for the row boats, the British commander looks a little pale and is no longer mocking my rag tag stick waving troops... They have forced the Brits on to the defensive but have lost their leader in the fight and the force morale takes another knock.

The slaves fall back to the cover of the dunes looking to recover their shock and elect a new leader.

The action moves to the centre of the table as Sergeant Hope(less) moves towards the Church.

The big reveal as Hope draws closer, the main Haitian firing line apears on the walls of the church, they let fly a ragged volley which despite looking impressive inflicts minimal damage on Hope who falls back down the slope out of close range.

Sensing victory the Haitian regulars make an appearance on the right of the Church and march boldly forwards only to be greated by a shower of canister they quickly march backwards, Force morale clicks down again. I am so glad I spent late nights getting these chaps ready... :-(

The British are frustrated lacking sufficent man power to force the insurgents from the walls they resort to cannon and long range rifle fire to which the Haitains have no answer. The Marines attempt to push up through the dunes but skirmishers in the bush keep them pinned back. The clock ticks down.

Rather like a test match between England and the West Indies both sides have spent all day in the field only to agree on a draw, the charge of the unarmed masses really knocked the British on their heels but the loss of both Haitian units and their leaders pushed the Haitian force morale down to less than 4 which made activations more difficult. The cannon kept the native forces at bay and was begining to wear down the defenders which given more time would see them being forced to leave the field.

A fine days gaming with us both thinking about different tactics on the next outing as the British push in land.

Monday, October 02, 2017

Haitian Napoleonic Flags 1791- 1805

The final figures leave the paint table before setting off on their first major outing with the full force.

Another batch of Freemen from Trent Miniatures, the separate heads do make for plenty of variants within the unit. The standard bearer and drummer is always useful within Sharp Practice to give your force a couple of options.

Ideally I would like to have purchased readymade flags but being one of those off the beaten track projects I could not find them commercially available anywhere so I had to improvise.

Given the mixed history of the war it not unsurpising that the flag varied as well.
As the revolution spread to the colonies so the revolutionary flag was adopted by the freemen of the island so any troops fighting against the monarchy would have been seen carrying the following.
French Republic, 1794

In 1798 Toussaint L'Ouverture wrote the Haitian constitution adopted the French tricolour as his flag when he was nominally governor of the colony. After his kidnap and transportantion to France  Jean-Jacques Dessalines led the fight for independence against the returning French. In 1803  Dessalines tore up the French flag, threw away the white stripe as a symbol of the whites and had the remaining stripes sewn together by Catherine Flon, the goddaughter of Jean-Jacques Dessalines as the first Haitian flag. 

Revolutionary Haiti, 1803

The inscription "Liberté ou la Mort" (Freedom or death) was added and this was used as a military flag for a number of the fighting units.
Military Flag of Haiti, 1803

In 1804 the flag was modified: this time the blue and red bands were placed horizontally: this was the first flag of the independent republic of Haiti.

Republic of Haiti, 1804
On 8 October 1804 Dessalines was proclaimed Emperor of Haiti under the name of Jacques I and the blue band was placed vertically again.
Jacques changed the flag to black on 20 May 1805; this can be interpreted as symbolising the people of the country or the colours could symbolise the motto "Freedom (red) or Death (black)". 

 Empire of Haiti, 1805

I have opted for the 1804 variant, which will allow me to eventually fight the later war with the Polish Legion, but I have my eye on a couple of Congo type figures which will make perfect standard bearers for the insurgent force so you are likely to see a couple of the 1803 types on the table in the weeks ahead.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Burning the candle at both ends - Haitians complete.

It's amazing what the motivation of a big game can do for your painting efforts.
A couple of late nights and a few early mornings and the Haitian Slave Army is complete six groups, 4 bigmen and a priest.....

The extra units of Hand to Hand troops should come in very handy, equiped with "Big Choppers" they fight as clan in the first round before reverting to Wallahs.

The extra musket troops provide me with three distinct sections good for one decent round of fire if I can keep them under control.

A few extra's to keep my wargaming friend on his toes (more on that tomorrow) and we should eb good to go.