Saturday, 20 March 2010

Not just a flash in the pan

Over the last few weeks we have been trying out Warlord Games new Black Powder rules for the Horse and Musket period. We've played three ACW, one AWI and one Jacobite game to date.

For those who are not wargamers, or have been asleep for several months, these rules are the latest outpouring from Rick Priestly and his Nottingham wargames 'clique'. They are intended for playing big multi-player games, preferably with 28mm figures en mass. Further, unlike many previous sets, these rules encourage a gentlemanly and friendly gaming ethos, eschewing points systems and competitive play, in favour of scenarios and making sure everyone has 'fun'. This is very much how we like to play and so to have the rules actively encourage it is a very refreshing and welcome addition.

The games we've played so far have all been rather good close run affairs. The rules seem to cope okay with the armies we've used with just a few tweaks to special rules and terrain rules. Although, they are definitely at the game end of the spectrum and I also suspect that we play them as they are intended, with a fairly live-and-let-live attitude. The holes could no doubt be exploited by more competitive players.

The combat mechanics are very simple, which leads to fast play and makes it possible to play big games in a typical evening game, especially if you plan the scenario beforehand. The order rules get a bit of getting use to but have worked well, allowing the better commanded side to rapidly deploy whilst their dullard opponents move like snails. This certainly gives a big advantage to the well lead professionals and setting command ratings is a powerful tool for giving the underdog a fighting chance. There are some rather arbitrary bits that niggle me, not being able to split fire being the major one but they are easily house-ruled away

Pictures are courtesy of my clubmate Simon. See his blog here for write ups and pictures of some of our games.

The butterfly beats its wings

The Traveller project has been on hold lately. Firstly, as I wasn't well but more recently I have just been a bit sidetracked, as I am prone to be. I did say I was a butterfly at the beginning of all this.

Here is my latest distraction.

Labyrinth Lord is a retro-clone of the 1981 'red box' edition of Dungeons & Dragons and is published by Goblinoid games. You can download the rules for free but I've got a beautifully produced hardback copy that comes with all the excellent Steve Zieser artwork. You can get a taste of the retro goodness from the cover and also on Steve's blog here. The artwork certainly adds greatly to the 'old-skool' feel and I'm thinking about running a game or two, especially as my kids are now just old enough to play. This is something else I haven't done since the late eighties. I wonder if I need professional help. Although, I suppose it's better for my marriage than younger women and better for my bank balance than flashy cars. Somewhat reassuringly I am apparently not alone in this wish to revive old gaming interests. From my reading around there seems to have been something of a renaissance in such gaming of late. It might even be possible to run a campaign as I found this rather excellent template for running a 'sandbox' campaign inspirationally described by Ben Robbins on his ars ludi blog.

Fear not though Traveller fans. I have received several packets of goodies in the last few weeks and will be turning my attention back that way very soon.