Monday, 24 April 2017

Salute 2017 - Surprisingly Enjoyable

So I went to Salute on Saturday and have to report had rather a good time of it. If that seems a bit of a strange statement I have to admit my previous visits had been somewhat hard work. The thing is too damned big to take in, so I have in the past ended up walking myself into exhaustion and frustration. This time was different, partly because this time I was involved doing demo's of Dropfleet Commander on the Hawk Wargames stand. In addition to getting in free that also meant I didnt need to queue up to get in (Bonus) but I did miss out on the goodie bad - ah well.

I did a morning shift on the Hawk stand then thankfully got released so I could wander in the afternoon. After a much needed sit down and Red Bull to try and revive myself (having been up since 4 am) I got a chance to see some of the show, and not having too much time seems to have made it a less rather than more frustrating experience.

Notable Salute "stuff"
1. New ships for Dropfleet. Hawk had the prototypes for the new Scourge and UCM Battlecruisers on show and they were beautiful. They were also noticeably bulkier than the Kickstarter exclusive models so if you missed the KS ones you will have a chance to get these "soon". Watch this space.

2. New Plastics coming from Flames of War for Team Yankee. Battlefront had 2 new plastic kits on view, a T64 and a BTR60 PB. Both looked very nice. No details of build options. I had a quick chat with the guy on the stand and asked why the BRDM2 was released in resin when it was crying out to be dome in plastic with all the various Sagger\Spigot, RKh, SA9 and vanilla recce options and his answer was "we don't think people will need many". I have to admit this smelled a bit of BS as they are already making them in boxes of 3 in resin and any vaguely historical orbat will probably have plenty in there, however on the plus side the opportunity for PSC to jump in looks good. If you are watching Will Townsend that would be a good choice. This pic is stolen from the rather fine Breakthrough Assault Blog and used without their permission - hope they don't mind but my phone was almost dead at this point, and from the Blog they seem spiffing chaps

3. Speaking of PSC their T55AMs didn't make the show - not quite ready yet was what they said. Bit of a shame

4. Dr Who from Warlord. I'm far from happy with the initial releases as they looked too "leggy", and yet another "proprietary scale" but the plastic Daleks were very nice. I'm not so sure about the Cybermen - strangely they seem a bit weedy compared to the humans. I got to play a game yesterday and have another planned Wednesday so I will have a fuller look at that after that.

5. Perry's "Travel Battle" . I usually love the Perrys and think on balance they single-handedly saved 28mm historical wargaming, so was prepared to love this, but in this case I came away unimpressed. The components were ok but there was not a lot in the actual box to justify the £50 GBP price tag. At £30 GBP maybe, but not at £50.

So on to The Haul. Given the short time I had I was possibly restricted in the usual impulse buys. In addition to some ships and Command cards for Dropfleet I was so impressed at the quality of the Deepcut Studios game mats we were using to demo that I got myself one. I also got the decals I need to finish my StuG, and a platoon of Modern Russian infantry from Empress Miniatures to help in Black Ops. I also picked up some Desert Domes from Brigade Models to use as alternatives on Dropzone Commander tables, plus the obligatory "show only" Samurai from Warlord to use in Test of Honour. Last but not least some British Napoleonic Sailors from Perrys to act as a landing party for Sharpe Practice 2 games. I also got a "freebie" PzIV from Battlefront just for talking to them, which was nice!

So that was it - 18 1\2 hours all told but good company on the way there from Jamie, Joe and Shaun, and a good catch up with the guys at Hawk.

Sunday, 16 April 2017

It's a bit quiet.....

Mainly because of work, but I have had a bit of painting and gaming time.

New boy in town is Test Of Honour from Warlord Games.

Image result for test of honour

When I first heard of this I was a bit cynical - Warlord trying to find a use for the Wargames Factory Samurai range. However I decided to give it a go - actually I split a starter set with my regular oppo Paul - and I'm rather glad I did.

The box set has some very nice touches. You get two rules pamphlets - layout is ok but there are some essential bits in the second one (the campaign rules) that really should be in the main rules. I wracked my brains over why they went for this layout and the only thing I came up with was they didn't want the whole rules out on pdf as a freebie. Maybe I need a new tinfoil hat? You get some very nice cardboard terrain. As an aside I think 2017 may well be the year of cardboard terrain. FoW \ Tanks started it, with photo realistic top down images on heavy duty card, and Warlord have taken a leaf from their book here. Counters are similarly heavy duty card. You also get a set of the now obligatory non standard dice* (which I have to admit feel very lightweight and cheap), and some cards which are used during the game - again good production values. Lastly you get enough sprues to make 5 Samurai and 30 Ashigaru in a mix of missile and melee troops. You also get some nice 3 fig bases which are a bonus.

That's more than enough to build two sides with just about all the options, as the game starts out at surprisingly low figure count - 6 figures a side to start with.

Warlord also released a series of expansion \ faction boxes. Again the cynic would suggest they are trying to maximise the use of the Warlord Factory sprues as each of the "new" factions is in reality just a sprue of the troops you already got in the starter set but with a metal leader figure and some metal heads to swap for the plastic ones - the "Pauper" set for example is just the Ashigaru missile troops sprue plus some (admittedly nice) metal heads in straw hats. This doesn't really work too well as the WF Ashigaru are all very well equipped and armoured - sticking a straw hat on them makes them look a lot like well equipped Ashigaru in straw hats, not peasants and paupers. The same with the "Masked Men" expansion. These are supposed to be a Warrior Monk analogy, but there was no way to do that with the WF sprues so these are simply Ashigaru Spear men with the addition of metal heads wearing face masks. All the expansions also contain some new cards to use with the new factions. I really should add the figures are a but fiddly to assemble too.

Ok that probably got the cynical negatives out of the way. The game plays very well and has some nice mechanisms in there. The initiative \ activation draw system reminds me strongly of some TFL games but is clearly not copied directly and has some rather subtle nuances around draws and initiative passing. There is also a nice dynamic feel to the actual combat mechanics, which has resulted in some great encounters that feel rather like the duels in a Kurasawa movie. Staying with the same theme the Commoner \ Peasant units also act much like the rather inept but sometimes heroic peasants in films, which I found a bonus.

So all in all I would definitely recommend giving Test of Honour a try - I suspect there may be quite some legs in the game.