Shuffle Battleships

Whilst I was in Waterstones a few days ago, I bought a card game entitled BATTLESHIP.

It appeared to be a card-based version of the traditional paper-and-pencil game and although I could not imagine when I might use it, I thought that the component parts might be of use.

Inside the box were eighty eight playing cards split into two colours, red and blue. Each colour has:

  • Twelve coordinate cards (five are ships cards [an aircraft carrier, a battleship, a destroyer, a motor torpedo boat, and a submarine] and seven are ‘miss’ cards)
  • Thirty destruction cards (ten white ‘peg’ cards, twelve red ‘peg’ cards [seven with one ‘peg’, four with two ‘pegs’, and one with four ‘pegs’], and eight ‘power’ cards), and
  • Two reference cards.

Play appears to be quite simple. Before the game starts each player chooses a colour, and then separates their coordinate cards and destruction cards into two separate decks. Each deck is then shuffled, and the coordinate cards are placed face down in a 3 x 4 grid in front of them. They then take the top five cards from their destruction card deck … which is shown below with the portentous name ‘Deck of Destruction’!

One player goes first. (The rules state that this should be the youngest … but as an aged curmudgeon I object to this sort of ageist tosh!). They select a card from their hand and play it. Once the card is played a replacement card is taken from the top of their destruction deck, and the used card is placed in a discard pile.

Players can use white ‘peg’ cards to search for enemy ships. They choose which of the enemy coordinate cards they wish to turn over, play the white ‘peg’ card, and the enemy’s card is turned over to reveal what is there. A white ‘peg’ card cannot normally do any damage to an enemy ship unless it is a submarine, in which case the ‘peg’ card is placed under the coordinate card and not onto the discard pile.

Red ‘peg’ cards can be used to search for enemy ships and to damage them. It is played in exactly the same way as a white ‘peg’ card except that if an enemy ship is revealed, damage is caused and the ‘peg’ card is placed under the coordinate card and not onto the discard pile. Once an enemy ship is revealed, further red ‘peg’ cards can be played in future turns to sink it. (The number of ‘peg’ cards required to sink a ship are shown on its ship card.)

Players can use ‘power’ cards to:

  • ‘Shield’ a ship (i.e. help prevent further damage to an already damaged ship)
  • Discard a white ‘peg’ card from their hand so that they can draw another card from their destruction deck or play two more cards this turn
  • Repair a ship (i.e. remove a ‘peg’ card from one of their damaged ships) and play another card from their hand this turn or draw three more cards from their destruction deck (thus increasing the size of their hand) of which they must play one.

Each type of ship has special powers as well. For example once a player’s destroyer is revealed, all further white ‘peg’ cards that player uses can cause damage to enemy ships in the same way that red ‘peg’ cards do.

I suspect that the game will prove to be quite subtle when played and not quite as simplistic as it at first appears to be. As to the components … well I suspect that they might well have their uses.

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Some interesting parcels

We spent most of yesterday at the National Archives, Kew, with the result that we were out when the postman tried to deliver some bits and pieces that I had ordered. I made a trip to the local sorting office just after midday today to collect the undelivered parcels … and the contents are described below.

The Spanish Civil War has always fascinated me, and I have been eagerly awaiting the publication of Alejandro de Quesada’s THE SPANISH CIVIL WARS 1936-39 (1): NATIONALIST FORCES. The book is illustrated by Stephen Walsh and published by Osprey Publishing as part of their ‘Men-at-Arms’ series No.495 (ISBN 978 1 78200 782 1).

I understand that a companion volume about the Republican forces is in preparation and due for publication later this year.

The other parcels contained items that will complement my existing MEMOIR ’44 collection. They are the CAMPAIGN BOOK VOLUME 2 …

… and the OPERATION OVERLORD SET.

The CAMPAIGN BOOK covers five campaigns (one of which is an air campaign) set in the Pacific, Malaya, Poland, and Normandy. The book also contains the campaign rules and is accompanied by a punchboard on which is printed a selection of new badges, tokens, and obstacles.

The OPERATION OVERLORD set contains:

  • An updated Overlord Rules Booklet that also covers the Eastern Front and the Pacific War.
  • Two decks of 64 cards each that have been redesigned for use with the Overlord Rules
  • 178 tokens that represent American/Russian and German/Japanese figures … just in case you don’t have enough to use the rules.
  • Eight additional MEMOIR ’44 Combat Dice.

I am really looking forward to spending some time reading all of the above, and using the additional MEMOIR ’44 stuff as soon as possible.


Smiley’s People … and some sorting out

When I was child my mother always had the radio on during the day, and I grew up listening to the BBC Home Service (now Radio 4). It was and is what the BBC call a speech-based service (i.e. most of its content is the spoken word) and even now I prefer to work with a background of people’s voices rather than music.

Today I decided to spend some time taking the figures that came with my recently acquired Eagle Games (WAR! AGE OF IMPERIALISM and THE AMERICAN CIVIL WAR) off the sprues they came on and then to sort them into small storage boxes. (The storage boxes were called ’embellishment boxes’ by Hobbycraft but are actually clear plastic business card boxes that are made by Weston Boxes.)

It so happens that a couple of days ago I bought a number of CD recordings of radio dramas. The plays had originally been broadcast on BBC Radio 4, and the first I chose to listen to today – whilst I was working – was the dramatisation of John le Carré’s SMILEY’S PEOPLE.

The cast includes Simon Russell Beale (George Smiley), Anna Chancellor (Lady Ann Smiley), Lindsay Duncan (Maria Ostrakova), Maggie Steed (Connie Sachs), Alex Jennings (Sir Oliver Lacon), and Kenneth Cranham (Inspector Mendel).

Cutting the figures off their sprues and sorting them into boxes took some time, but because I had the recording of the radio drama playing in the background it seemed to pass very quickly. As a result I now have all my figures stored very neatly and tidily in small boxes that fit nicely into the original boxes the games came in.

A good afternoon’s work … even if I do say so myself!


The combat rules for Eagle Games’ The American Civil War game

During my recent cruise I found time to read the rules from my recently-acquired copy of Eagle Games’ THE AMERICAN CIVIL WAR. The game is mainly a strategic-level recreation of the American Civil War, but it has one interesting difference from similar games I have looked at … battles between the opposing sides are actually decided by the use of a tactical wargame-within-a-wargame.

In the Basic Rules, the figures that are come into contact are removed from the main playing board to a simple battlefield that can be drawn on a piece of A4, foolscap, or A3-sized paper or card. The layout for the battlefield looks like this:


In the more complex Standard and Advanced rules, the battlefield looks like this:

Skirmish

Major Battle

In both instances the players set up their forces with a screen between them (shades of H G Wells here!) and place them in their battle line or reserve areas. (In the Standard and Advanced rules they also chose whether to fight a skirmish or major battle and whether to place their troops the centre or flanks sections of the battle or reserve areas.)

The rules for fighting the battles are very simple, and a battle is won when one side or the other has eliminated all of the enemy troops in their opponent’s battle line (the Basic rules) or have broken through their opponent’s battle line (the Standard and Advance rules).

I have yet to play-test these combat rules, but I hope to be able to do so in the near future.


Another second-hand game purchased on eBay

I was so impressed with the potential uses of the playing pieces that came with my recently purchased WAR! AGE OF IMPERIALISM, that I bought a copy of Eagle Games’ THE AMERICAN CIVIL WAR boxed wargame via eBay.


The box contains a large three-part playing board that is a map that covers the main theatres of the American Civil War, …


… rules (with three levels of complexity from Basic to Advanced), dice, and a large number of plastic 20mm-scale figures, moulded in four colours. (There are two grey, two dark blue, one light blue, and one red sprues in the box, each sprue having 20 infantry, 10 cavalry, 5 cannon [each made from three parts], 5 leaders, and 2 standard bearers.) There are also three sprues of horses (2 brown and 1 black), with each sprue having 24 horses.

One thing that the box does not contain is the Tactical Battle Board, …


… but the rules make it clear that this is not required, and that one can be made from a large piece of card. (It can be bought from Eagle Games as a ‘spare part’ or ‘component’. I would like to buy one, but the cost of $3.00 is outweighed by the cost of postage and packing [$43.00!] … which I think is quite out of all proportion to the price of the item.)

I can already see potential uses for both the playing board, the battle board, and the figures … and I have a feeling that I will begin to explore them over the forthcoming months.


War! Age of Imperialism

Over the past few years I had seen several references to a game entitled WAR! AGE OF IMPERIALISM (which was sold by Eagle Games from 2001 onwards), and recently I decided that it sounded like the sort of board game I would enjoy using … especially as it seemed to come with lots of ‘bits’ that might have other uses!

As a result I have been looking for a second-hand copy to buy, and after a couple of fruitless attempts, I finally managed to acquire a copy via eBay … and very please I am too!


The box is much larger than many of the other board games that I own … and once it is opened it is easy to see why; it is packed full of stuff. Besides three large game boards that cover a map of Europe and the East (North and South American are covered in one of the game’s supplements) and a book of rules (there are three sets, ranging from simple to complex), there are a large number of playing pieces in a variety of different colours.


Each colour’s playing pieces include:

  • 40 Infantry
  • 12 Cavalry
  • 8 Explorer
  • 8 Engineers
  • 10 Mounted Officers
  • 10 Cannons
  • 12 Ships

The other playing pieces are all light grey, and include:

  • Forts
  • Cities
  • Factories
  • Ports
  • Schools
  • Locomotives
  • Zulus (to represent Natives)
  • ‘Arab’ Riders (who look more like Boer Commandos than Arabs, and who also represent Natives)

The playing pieces alone were worth the £9.99 that I paid for the game, and I can already see wargaming uses for them!


Yet another hurray for eBay!

The third batch of AXIS & ALLIES MINIATURES that I bought via eBay has arrived, and they have added some very useful vehicles to my collection. This batch was made up of five SU-76M self-propelled guns …



… and they cost me £5.00 (£2.50 for the models and £2.50 postage and packing).