Monday, 24 July 2017

Perry Good...

Apologies dear reader, I couldn't resist the very poor title.

Recently I had the opportunity to play a learning game of Kings of War.

Being the indecisive type I ummed and ahhhed over whether I was going to collect this game (having quite enough games on my shelves already), and then over which army I might collect *if* I chose to...

Having already purchased a couple of boxes of plastics for use with Mordheim, I thought a fairly easy jump-in point would be to use the left overs as the basis for my army, so Kingdoms of Men (a catch-all army) seemed the easiest option.

First off let me say that Kings of War was a remarkably simple game, the stat line is minimal and the game play is straightforward. It is a very beer and pretzels style of game, where large armies can clash, fight for victory and head home for a pint of the best afterwards. The learning game I played was large enough, and was over in around an hour. There is a risk, when designing a simple game, of removing tactical depth, now I am hardly qualified (after one play) to judge Kings of War appropriately, but I enjoyed the game immensely. The choices you make impact the game significantly. The positioning of your units, the timing of your movements, your ability to attack a flank or outnumber your foe are all significant factors that require some thought both in deployment and maneuver. I'll write more on the game as I gain experience, but thus far I am impressed. I had a lot of fun, and am particularly thrilled to have found a big battle game that plays as quickly and simply as a skirmish game.

Having now (finally) begun to assemble my force I felt particularly inspired to comment on a singular observation: Perry Miniatures make some absolutely stunning figures. I have been putting together men-at-arms and archers from the 'English Army 1415-1429' box, and they are brilliant.

I am increasingly disliking the exaggerated miniatures produced at the 28mm scale, with over-sized weapons and proportions... it must be my age. As I have been putting the Perry figures together my appreciation for their quality and excellence has grown significantly. I enjoyed painting the ones I put together for my Mordheim band, I love the look of the Napoleonics models I have assembled for Sharp Practice, and the bases of miniatures coming together for my Kings of War force look stunning.

One of the sprues from the box (obviously archers), which provides some nice choices. The different sprues provide a different range of options; the men-at-arms ones had a variety of weapon choices.

All the pieces snipped off the sprue and trimmed, ready to be glued together and based. I am multi-basing the units for Kings of War.

The crisp detail in these figures is absolutely brilliant, the historical aesthetic, with good proportions and a variety of poses and expressions is also excellent (though the expressions are hard to note on those wearing full armour!). Each of the men-at-arms came with a detached visor which could be added (as above), glued as if raised (below), or not added at all.

Perry Miniatures are some of the absolute best quality figures I own. I know companies like Games Workshop and others have a reputation for producing high quality plastics, but for me, Perry Miniatures has become a favourite. The detail, variety of options, price and aesthetic are all huge ticks as far I am concerned. They are truly excellent, and well worth looking at.

Some Perry figures painted up for my Averlander warband for Mordheim.

Tuesday, 27 June 2017


It's been a little while since I last ventured to the castle cabinet to compose a post, the grounds have needed tending, and the smaller members of the castle staff have required attention. Much has happened in the meantime, however, games have been purchased and played, events run and plans made.

A few weeks ago the inaugural Shepparcon took place, a board game convention in my humble town, and was a smashing success. It was a lot of fun to be a part of the organising committee, and while my contributions were limited, the rest of the crew did a fantastic job. We had close to 90 people come through over the course of the weekend, and much gaming was had by all. The event may well be the subject of a future post, but suffice to say I had a blast. Some of the standout games I managed to play included Eye for an Eye (a prototype of the highest quality), Santorini, and Red 7.

Eye for an Eye is, in some ways, a bizarre game. It's a real-time miniatures game - something I would have considered impossible, but the frantic rolling of action dice, the placement of the dice, and the spending of said dice to move, attack, defend and perform other actions was a huge amount of fun.  Ben Boersma, the designer, is an Australian with several other games to his name. Eye for an Eye is set in his Occulite universe, and is an absolute blast to play. A game that conceptually I thought could not possibly work, Eye for an Eye is, instead, a raucous roller coaster of silly fun. I will certainly be getting a copy when it makes its way into production. If you're interested, you can get the print and play version here.

Santorini is a lovely looking game that ran quickly, had a simple rules set and was easy to play, for those reasons it was highly enjoyable. Some might argue it is very much a poster child of form over function, but the nice pieces really do make the game that little bit more fun.

Red 7 is a strange card game, at the end of every one of your turns you need to be winning, and you do that by playing cards in front of you to match the rule, or by modifying the rule (or both). It's one of those games where every turn you survive you feel like you've managed to do something clever, it was an excellent game, and one I'll be chasing up.

All in all Shepparcon was a success, and we're very much looking forward to what next year will bring. I'm sure the Con is going to grow, and it will be fantastic to be a part of that.

On the podcast front I have been decidedly slack, it's been tough to coordinate a recording time, but finally we have a new episode up (and plans to record another very soon). The latest episode of the On Minis Games podcast can be found here. We talk about Drop Fleet Commander, Drop Zone Commander, Kings of War, and a multitude of Kickstarters.

Lastly, I have been making slow plans to get my RPG group back playing, for a while our games centered around testing adventures for the upcoming Infinity RPG, and I want to take a break from that and try something different. My shelves are over stocked with a variety of games I either haven't played in a long time or ever, so it was to those I went looking. Being the vacillating type, I am still swinging between two options, but I think I have managed to sort out in my mind what I want to run.

I think we'll play through a few short campaigns of 3-5 adventures each, across a couple of different game systems. To begin with I think we'll run with Symbaroum, which is a dark and strange fantasy setting with gorgeous art. The setting is excellent (and very evocative), and the game system seems interesting enough - so we might kick off with that.

The other game I am looking at is Heavy Gear. Heavy Gear is an old favourite of mine, so I am most definitely looking forward to playing it again. I have the second edition rules set, as well as the third edition SilCore set. After some research I think we'll run with the second edition rules, though we may pull a few tweaks from the SilCore rules as well. We'll see how we go!

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

A love of reading

A vast majority of the posts on this blog are related to games and gaming. This post, however, will buck the trend; I want to write about a love of reading.

Books are a wonder. Unknowing and not counting the passing of minutes and hours, reading books can ensnare us, tangle us in other places, times, worlds and imaginings. They can take us on emotional journeys. They can make us laugh, cry, get so angry we have to put the book down only to pick it up again moments later. They can get us so excited our eyes leap from sentence to sentence, racing to see where the action leads. They are a way to experience, a key to knowledge, a challenge to our preconceptions, a teacher of wisdom and language and expression.

Some of my fondest memories from my youth are of me rolled up in my blankets reading Tolkien, Eddings, Feist, Asimov and others, while the silent and dark Earth rolled through the night. I don't read as much as I used to, and it is something I want to get back into the habit of, but I have an undying love of it still, and will, I think, always.

I am lucky enough to have three wonderful children I get to read to, although our evening routine is sometimes just a chaotic and exhausting struggle to make sure they are fed, bathed and in bed. I also have a day job that lets me express my love of learning and reading the (unlucky) kids in my class.

Reading aloud is always something I have enjoyed. Putting expression and emphasis into description, using voices and whispering and thundering the dialog where required appeals to my overwrought sense of drama.

Teaching, as I do, 8-9 year olds, allows for a certain amount of class time dedicated to a class book. I have my favourite books to read, and every year the children in my class will no doubt get to hear of the bravery of Mrs Frisby, the daring of Harry Potter, and the exploits of Mr Fox. Every year I also try and find some new book or three they might also enjoy. The last few years have introduced the kids and myself to Artemis Fowl, A Wrinkle in Time, Alex Rider and many others, and no doubt a few of these will become regulars in years to come.

Every year it's interesting to see the responses of the kids. A few years ago I had a class that would applaud after every reading (unprompted I assure you), this year my class will borrow as many copies of the same book as they can find and sit in little huddles following on as we read.

At the moment we are reading Little House in the Big Wood, by Laura Ingalls Wilder, and I, in a terrible Southern American accent (wrong accent no doubt, but recognisably American at least), and finding myself drawn through the window into a beautifully sketched world remarkably different to our own. The kids have been horrified at a deer being butchered, disgusted by the making of cheese, fascinated by the making of bullets or of little Laura playing with her corn husk doll. In short, it is a fascinating book, remarkably approachable given the span of time, and one I am enjoying a lot. I cannot think of any book I have read that has given the kids more insight into the past than this one, nor one where they have had so many questions. I thoroughly recommend it, though it is obviously also a product of its time (itself a point for discussion).

 Reading is a wonderful thing, and I hope that some of the kids that walk away from my class do so having lost the conception that 'reading is not for them'. To my mind, it is just a matter of finding the right book...

(I should note - all the pictures I put on my white board are usually my poorly executed facsimiles of an image I liked from the web)

Tuesday, 23 May 2017


It has been a little while since my last post, April was a quiet month on the blog, and I only barely managed to hit my minimum of two posts a month - May has followed in kind. Really I should be posting at least once a week, but I haven’t managed it the last month or so, hopefully the coming months will be more productive as far as the blog is concerned.

I have been doing other things though, I have a collection of 15mm Gauls that need to be painted and based ready for use with the Sword and Spear rules, I have been recording episodes of the On Minis Games podcast with Quinton of the Room Full of Resin blog, and I have been getting a few things written for Modiphius.

A practice with a spare Gaul and some black undercoat. I wasn't happy with the result, so I'll be using white undercoat on these.

The last is what has occupied me the most, with the Infinity RPG near to its publication date, I have been busy writing a couple of things for the Adventures in the Human Sphere book, some cards for the decks that come with the Kickstarter, and planning out a few things I’ll be writing for Wave 2. It’s very exciting to see the core book take shape. With the layout, art and styling all done, it is looking really sharp, and a huge tip of the hat to Justin and all the other boffins at Modiphius who have been toiling relentlessly to get it together. I'm proud to have been a small part of the exercise.

In addition to this, I have been writing a few adventures and proposals for the Star Trek RPG, and likewise, this project is very exciting. I'm sure veterans of the industry find it common place, but it is rather enjoyable to think that things you have written are off for approval with CBS, or with Corvus Belli in the case of Infinity, or 343 Industries in the case of my work a few years ago on Halo: Fleet Battles.

Lastly, I managed to get in a first playtest game of Fallout: Wasteland Warfare, and I am very impressed so far. It gave a very enjoyable experience, and I think the system contains a lot of potential for really narrative and interesting game play. I can’t say too much, but we will (if all things go to plan) be recording an interview with Chris Birch (he of Modiphius), to talk more about Fallout, Star Trek and Siege of the Citadel (as well as anything else we might get derailed by). So keep an eye out for that shortly!

Monday, 24 April 2017

2017 Dystopian Wars Tournament...

Well, the 2017 Shepp Minis Gamers Dystopian Wars tournament has come and gone. 25 battles across two days have been waged. It was a fantastic experience again this year, and a big thank you to all of those who attended, it was great to see you all, meet new people and have the chance to play against a range of fleets and opponents.

As one of the organizers, the tournament was, we believe, a great success, and kudos to everyone involved for playing hard but most importantly, for being good sports and friendly competitors.

A huge thank you goes to Gus, of Zepnix Wargames, for again standing up and sponsoring the weekend with prizes. Everyone involved thoroughly appreciated it, and we heartily recommend people check them out, if you don't already.

The standings after day one...

This year we had 10 participants, with a good mix of fleets. The Kingdom of Britannia, Covenant of Antarctica (x2), Republic of France, Russian Federation, Empire of the Blazing Sun, Indian Raj, Black Wolf, Chinese Federation, and Australians all had representation. It was also nice to see some of the new Battleships hit the table...

The prizes this year went to:
1st Place = Quinton, with the Black Wolf
2nd Place = Aaron, with the Covenant of Antarctica
3rd Place = Ryan, with the Covenant of Antarctica
Best Sport = Ryan, with the Covenant of Antarctica
Best Painted = Trent, with the Republic of France

Congratulations to all the participants! We had some memorable games, great conversations and many a Sturginium Flare and Magazine Explosion... Though tired, we're already looking forward to 2018!

Standings at the end of the second day...