Risk: Europe

I have played RISK on and off for many years, and when the LORD OF THE RINGS version was published, I bought a copy. I have yet to play that edition, although I have used the board in a simple campaign game and the figures to play-test my PORTABLE ANCIENTS WARGAME rules.

Until recently I was totally unaware that a RISK: EUROPE edition – which is set in the Middle Ages – existed, but I managed to find one on sale online, and I now own a copy.

I am not quite sure when I will get around to trying the game out, but I suspect that I may well use the components separately before I do so. In the meantime it can sit atop one of my storage cupboards, alongside its older compatriots.


Travel Battle: My second copy has finally arrived!

After a somewhat tortuous journey, my second copy of TRAVEL BATTLE has finally arrived!

It was sent to me by Perry Miniatures two days after the game was released at SALUTE … but somehow the Royal Mail could not find my address and returned it to them. I sent an email to Perry Miniatures asking where my game was … at which point I discovered that the house number had been left off the original address label. A couple of days later Alan Perry contacted me again, and informed me that the original parcel had been returned to them and that he had was sending it back with the correct address on it.

The Royal Mail attempted to deliver the game to me last Friday … but by the time I managed to get down two flights of stairs from the top floor of our house to the front door, the postman had gone, leaving a card behind that informed me that I could collect the parcel from our local delivery office next day. Unfortunately I was unable to get there on Saturday, but when I did get there on Monday, they couldn’t find the parcel. It transpired that they had decided to send it out again to be delivered, and whilst I was at the delivery office trying to collect it, the postman was at my house trying to deliver it!

I finally managed to go back to collect it yesterday, and it is now sitting in my wargames/toy room waiting to be opened.


Travel Battle Campaign Maps: A more randomised version

When I created my first set of mini-campaign maps they retained a degree of symmetry that was somewhat obvious. I have therefore been experimenting with a slightly more randomised placement of the two boards using the following method:

  • Each board (A and B) was copied in four different orientations (1, 2, 3, and 4).
  • Starting with board A in the top left-hand corner of the mini-campaign map, a D6 die was thrown (1 = 1; 2 = 2; 3= 3; 4= 4; 5 and 6 = re-roll the D6 die) to select which of the orientations of board A to use (e.g. A3).
  • In the space to the right of the first board placed on the min-campaign map, the same method was used to chose the which of the four orientations of board B to place there (e.g. B1).
  • Alternating with A and then B, this method was used to place the next two boards on the mini-campaign map.
  • The second row of boards added to the mini-campaign map started with one of the board Bs, followed by a board A etc.
  • The third row of boards added to the mini-campaign map started with one of the board As, followed by a board B etc.
  • The fourth row of boards added to the mini-campaign map was created in exactly the same way as the second row.

The resulting map is more randomised and looks like this:

You will note that I have changed the colour scheme to make this map look more southern than northern European.


TRAVEL BATTLE was designed and manufactured by Perry Miniatures, and the materials I have produced above are in no way intended to infringe their copyright, and have been created for my own use and amusement.


Travel Battle Campaign Maps: A couple of examples

I managed to spend an hour or so looking at the various combinations the TRAVEL BATTLE boards could be placed in, and produced the following mini-campaign map.

This showed that the concept worked, but I wasn’t totally happy with the resultant map … so I had another go and was much more satisfied with the result.

In particular the road system on the second map seemed to make more sense (a few less ‘roads to nowhere‘!), and there were areas where clusters of hills created obvious barriers to movement and manoeuvre. All I need now is my second game and I can begin to start thinking about running a mini-campaign of some sort.


TRAVEL BATTLE was designed and manufactured by Perry Miniatures, and the materials I have produced above are in no way intended to infringe their copyright, and have been created for my own use and amusement.


A simple idea … that seems to have become somewhat more complex

I am still waiting for my second copy of TRAVEL BATTLE to arrive, and over the past few days I’ve been thinking about whether or not I should paint the boards or leave them as they are.

To help me decided, I had what I though was a simple idea; draw out each board and colour them to see what they would look like. I sat down at my computer to draw some simple images of each of the two boards that come with the game … and some four hours later I had created the following:

I then coloured them in using a very simple colour scheme, and the results looked like this:

I then placed the two boards together …

… and then swapped then over.

The affect of this simple change of position was quite startling. In the top combination there was an obvious choke-point between the two hills in the centre of the map, whereas in the second the terrain seemed much more open in the centre of the map.

I hope to spend some more time over the next few days looking at the various combinations the boards can be placed in, and seeing if it is possible to produce a mini-campaign map using these different combinations together.


TRAVEL BATTLE was designed and manufactured by Perry Miniatures, and the materials I have produced above are in no way intended to infringe their copyright, and have been created for my own use and amusement.


Travel Battle: A review of the latest offering from Perry Miniatures

One of the things that I was particularly interested in seeing at SALUTE2017 was TRAVEL BATTLE, the latest offering from Perry Miniatures. It is being sold as a complete wargame in a box that is suitable for wargamers who are on the move for work, on holiday, or who don’t have a lot of space and/or time. As it uses a gridded tabletop, I was determined to at least have a look at a copy.

The stand was being staffed by both Alan and Michael Perry …

… who seemed to be surrounded by loads of stock whilst being inundated by customers!

Luckily they had a painted example of the game on show …

… and this gave me a flavour of what was inside the box. I eventually managed to get to speak to both of the Perry brothers, and they very kindly gave me a copy of the game to review … only the second time that I have ever been given a review copy of anything related to wargaming.


THE BOX

The box the game comes in is made of corrugated card and measures approximately 38cms x 29cms x 6.6cms (15″ x 11.5″ x 2.5″). It has a plastic carrying handle fixed to the top side of the box.

The box top is decorated with a Napoleonic battle scene that features British and French cavalry and a couple of British Riflemen …

… whilst the back is illustrated by photographs of the games’s components and a breakdown of the contents.

On opening the box, the first thing that one sees is a layer of black foam packaging that is designed to ensure that the game is secure when it is packed away and – more importantly – being carried.

Once this is removed it becomes apparent that the whole game is designed to be stored in an inner foam box, which looks quite substantial and should ensure that the components do not get damaged in transit.

THE COMPONENTS

The game’s components consist of:

  • Two preformed green plastic terrain boards, marked with a squared grid of 1-inch squares

  • A grey plastic sprue of houses
  • A green plastic sprue of canopies for the woods and figure bases
  • Two identical red plastic sprues of figures
  • Two identical blue plastic sprues of figures
  • An eight-page Rules and Guide book

The figures are plastic and the foot figures are approximately 8mm high. The detail on them is acceptable, but no doubt will not meet the exacting standards of some wargamers.

THE RULES AND GUIDE BOOK

The first two pages of the book explain:

  • The six troop types used in the rules
  • How to organise the troops into brigades
  • How to assemble fix the figures to their bases
  • The Sequence of Play

The centre pages cover:

  • How to set up the game
  • Movement
  • Artillery Fire

The next two pages explain:

  • The rules for Fighting
  • How to Rally troops
  • How to show that your troops are in Square
  • The victory conditions
  • How to paint your armies

The back cover explains how to paint the terrain …

… and the origins of the game. (It was conceived and designed by Michael Perry back in the early 1990s.)


PROS AND CONS

I really do like the concept behind this game. It is exactly the sort of game that I would have liked to have designed. The components seem to be robust, and the whole thing should provide many hours of fun to anyone who owns a copy BUT I do have several reservations about the game. These are:

  1. I think that an American Civil War version would have had greater sales potential (I understand that this might be a possibility if this game sells well).
  2. I think that the figures should have been larger. 10mm is any already widely used figure size, and if the figures in this game had been just 2mm taller it would have enabled them to be used in other games and/or players could have expanded their armies with different figures.
  3. I am not that keen on the fact that the terrain is fixed and that I am not able to move the woods, buildings, and hills. This may sound very picky but it is something that I think might have made the game even more saleable.
  4. The rules allow diagonal movement on a squared grid … which is something that I have come to dislike over recent years. Likewise artillery can fire on diagonals at no cost to their range.

That all might sound very negative, but I think that with a little extra thought this could have been an exceptionally good game that a lot of people would have bought and used … and that had the potential for considerable expansion.

There – however – lots of pluses as well as these minuses, and to my mind they are:

  1. It is a very simple set of rules to use and learn. As I know from designing and using my own PORTABLE WARGAME rules, there is a lot of subtlety to be found in wargames that have simple rules.
  2. The rules are very playable and easy to understand. I showed them to my wife (who is no wargamer and not a great lover of boardgames other than MONOPOLY), and she understood them without any problem.
  3. I can see myself using the terrain boards for all sorts of mini-campaign battles, but probably using 6mm or 10mm figures instead of the ones that come with the game.
  4. The terrain items (e.g. the houses) can be used with other wargames fought using small-scale figures. (I placed some 6mm figures next to the buildings and they did not look out of place alongside them.)
  5. The design of the woods provides a neat and simple to the age-old problem of how to conceal units in wooded areas. Simply, you make the wood hollow, with a removeable canopy.
  6. The whole package (including the foam lining) will ensure that the game components will survive the rigours of travel … just as long as my wife doesn’t see me sneaking the box into the luggage on our next cruise!
  7. Just looking at the game as I laid the pieces out to photograph them made me want to assemble the figures and bases and to start playing … but probably an imagi-nation campaign rather than a proper historical one.

So I am I happy with this game?

The answer is a resounding ‘YES‘ … but I will probably use my own rules rather than the ones that come with the game.

One last thing; cost. I have heard and read several comments about the cost of this game. True, it is £50.00 … but this is not much more than the cost of four packs of Foundry Napoleonic figures, so it it not that ridiculously expensive for what you get. As someone who has many hundreds of pounds-worth of unpainted metal figures, £50.00 for a game that I can and will use sounds not only very reasonable, but might actually turned out to be a sensible and economical choice.


A visit to ‘The Works’

On Sunday I paid a visit to the Dartford branch of THE WORKS to buy some more recorded books. Whilst I was there my eye was caught by a board game that was on sale … Alex M Newman’s SUN TZU.

A quick look at the box indicated that it was two-player game, and that it came with 21 Red and 21 Blue soldiers. The price was indicated as being £10.00, but when I got to the till I was only charged £7.00, so it must be a real bargain! Once I got home I had a look on BoardGameGeek, and the reviews were fairly positive.

The box contains:

  • One Game Board divided up into five Provinces (Jin-Yan, Han-Qi, Wu, Chu, and Qin) and with two tracks for the Sun Tzu and King of Chu figures to move along.
  • Ten Score Displays
  • One Rule Book
  • Fifty five cards (40 Action Cards, 10 Warlord Cards, and 5 Event Cards)
  • Forty four 28mm Plastic Miniatures (21 red Soldier, 21 Blue Soldiers, 1,Sun Tzu figure, 1 King of Chu figure)

On the surface the game appears to be quite simple, but reading the rules one gets the feeling that the complexity comes from the tactics the players choose to adopt.


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.


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!