Friday, December 31, 2010

Battle Cry 150th Civil War Anniversary Edition

Wizards of the Coast recently released a revised edition of Richard Borg's Battle Cry to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War. 

I stumbled across this game today and caught it on sale and had to get a copy. Lots of new artwork on the box, rulebook, map board, and terrain tiles. The map and terrain colors are washed out and look more natural. Don't get me wrong - I thought the old version looked good.

Another bonus - the game includes a Jackson campaign and 13 new scenarios in addition to the now "classic" scenarios. There's a lot of 1861 battles and some more western theater scenarios. Another plus - they changed 'The Battle of Chickamunga' to 'The Battle of Chickamauga'. I always wondered how that one slipped by the editor. 

I copied the scenario lists from Board Game Geek's page on the Battle Cry 150th Civil War Anniversary Edition and posted them below:

Classic Battle Cry Battles
* First Bull Run--21st July, 1861
* Pea Ridge--7th March, 1862
* Kernstown--23rd March, 1862
* Shiloh--6th April, 1862
* Gaines Mill--27th June, 1862
* Brawner's Farm--28th August, 1862
* Antietam--17th September, 1862
* Fredericksburg--13th December, 1862
* Murfreesboro--31st December, 1862
* Gettysburg--2nd July, 1863
* Gettysburg--3rd July, 1863
* Chickamauga--20th September, 1863
* New Market--15th May, 1864
* New Hope Church--25th May, 1864

Jackson Campaign
* McDowell, Virginia - May 8 1862
* Winchester, Virginia - May 25 1862
* Cedar Mountain, Virginia - August 9 1862

150th Civil War Anniversary Edition Battles
* Falling Waters, West Virginia - July 2, 1861
* Wilson's Creek, Missouri (Bloody Hill) - August 10 1861
* Greenbrier River, West Virginia - October 3 1861
* Belmont, Missouri - November 7 1861
* Dranesville, Virginia - December 20 1861
* Fort Donelson, Tennessee (Confederate Breakout) - February 15 1862
* Little Sugar Creek, Arkansas - February 17 1862
* Williamsburg, Virginia (North of Fort Magruder) - May 5 1862
* Oak Grove, Virginia - June 25 1862
* Richmond, Kentucky (Union Final Position) - August 30 1862
* Ox Hill, Virginia - September 1 1862
* Perryville, Kentucky - October 8 1862
* Prarie Grove, Arkansas - December 7 1862

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

World War II Skirmish Games

I was a big fan of Easy Eight's Battleground World War II that came out in 1997. It was a fun skirmish game that used the d20 and a card activation mechanic. It had a lot of detail. In short, a miniature got to take two actions (move, shoot, etc) and a typical scenario probably matched two platoons against each other. The game could handle a few vehicles on the table as well. Vehicle combat wasn't overly complicated, despite the vehicle hit charts.  In fact, I don't think the indirect fire rules for off-board artillery were too bad either.

I never played the game with 28mm figures, but I purchased a few on the cheap a couple of years ago in the hopes of trying out the game with some tweaks to the ranged combat mechanics. After all the years spent absorbing the D&D d20 system, I think there may be a better way to do what Easy Eight had in mind. 

Warlord Games has recently released Operation Squad: World War Two.  I am curious to see what the authors have come up for the period. The 46-page softcover appears to be limited to infantry battles and combat seems to revolve around the addition or subtraction of d6s. 

Between the two game systems, with maybe a healthy dose of stolen ideas from Crossfire (Arty Conliffe's company-level WW2 game) and Flames of War, I may get those 28mm WW2 figures painted and on the tabletop in 2011.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Welcome to Scrape

Dungeon Magazine #16 (going all the way back to early 1989) has one of best adventures you will find in that magazine in the last days of 1st Edition Dungeons & Dragons. Technically, 2nd Edition had already been released, but I believe the 1st Edition adventures appeared for several of the bi-monthly issues afterward. The game editions were close enough that a little conversion wasn't too much work. But I digress...

So, what was so great about this particular issue? In a word: Vesicant. That's the name of the adventure and the name of its main villain, a young green dragon with a penchant for magic items and an alliance with Scrape, a town of pirates (human, orc, and goblin). That's her on the cover (right), with the magic wand and the arcane blast of some kind. She was small, clever, and vicious. Vesicant relied on tricks and good tactics to take on the 4th-7th level characters that sought her doom. The idea was that if the dragon was removed, the pirates would be easier to handle.

That was another selling point, by the way - the lovely "mid-level" aspect of the adventure. It's when characters are strong enough to take on tougher monsters, but they cannot ignore the low-level monsters either. Once the characters got to 10th level or so, the low-level monsters just weren't challenging anymore - and you lose some taste to the game. 

Of course, Scrape was a great place to have a lot of role-playing with cloak & dagger perspectives. Without Scrape, the adventure just would not have made such an impression on me. An engaging urban environ that invites the characters to explore, talk, and fight with its inhabitants is always a plus - and Scrape was one of the best places for that.

The heroes just couldn't storm the town, they had to gather info from the port's power brokers so they pick up enough clues to find the dragon's hidden lair in the hills. The human, orcish, and goblin quarters of the town were fleshed out. There was a lot of follow-up adventures to be had in Scrape if you wanted to play them. Hooks were all over the place - the removal of Scrape's tyrant, the half-orc warlord Yorin and his ogre bodyguards could result in a civil war between the town's factions; the appearance of a duergar slaver indicated some trade relations with the Underdark; and a pair of evil elven mercenaries could have meant anything. 

In some ways, Scrape could have worked well as the larger environs of the classic D&D module A1: Slave Pits of the Undercity. I actually used Scrape as part of the Slave Lords' network of outposts. 

Much like I reminisce that Dragon #63 was an epiphany of my early gaming days, this magazine did much the same for me when I rediscovered my love for the game after a few years of hiatus.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

British Army on the Eastern Fronts - World War I

I have been researching the British Empire's eastern conflicts of World War I/post-World War I. It has long been a favorite of mine, despite a lack of dedicated reading on my part. I am debating whether or not to explore Britain's 'Other Fronts' on the tabletop, especially in light of the ANZACs and Turks you can get these days: Gripping Beast offshoot, The Woodbine Design Company, offers WW I in the East range in 28mm, and HaT Industrie offers a good range in 1/72 scale plastic. 

I recently purchased Osprey's The British Army in World War I (3) - The Eastern Fronts (MAA 406), written and illustrated by Mike Chappell. Lots of good info on the campaigns from the Balkans, the Middle East, Africa, and Russia - and they give a lot of flavorful starting points for scenario or campaign designs. Of course, the book is great for working out the kind of figures one might need. I was pleased to see the typical early war 'ANZAC look' - felt hats, with or without shorts - had applicability beyond the Australians. Maybe the biggest thing to consider might be whether or not your tabletop British/Commonwealth/Dominion troops have newer/older equipment and weapons. I highly recommend this title.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Warlord Games to Release Ancients Ruleset

So it seems that Warlord Games is going to publish a ruleset for Ancients with Rick Priestley. Follow the link to check out some very cool pics of Middle Imperial Romans battling Sassanid Persians, painted by Dr. Phil Hendry. 

I don't know if the ruleset will use core mechanics from Black Powder, but I could see some ideas making the fit. I've already thought about how Black Powder (see right) might be a good way to wargame the Warring States of Japan, a period that normally fits in with medieval rules. A game system that focuses a bit more on melee that offers the kind of template-tweaks found in Black Powder might be a good way to approach the 'millennial system' (ie. Biblical to early Medieval) Warlord has planned.

While I cannot say that rules that cover everything from the age of chariots to the Hundred Years War are ideal, realistic, etc., I don't necessarily assume they are bad or not fun. I think there's a number of things that make a particular period or army distinct from others, and some of them probably get a glossing over. I review this kind of thing fairly often in Wargames Illustrated, and sometimes you just have to pick the game that best translates historical evidence (or even literary evidence) to your taste and understanding. Anyway, I'm curious what Warlord will come up with.