Someone mentioned to me the other day, rather pointedly, that it was about time for my bi-annual blog post.
Funny guy, I thought. Then I checked the date of the last post and... well... fair cop.
So Point No. 1: Not dead yet.
The planned continuation of San Paradiso wargaming got derailed a little when during a tryout game of the latest "final" edition of Two Hour Wargaming's Chain Reaction, it emerged that some of my regular wargaming collaborators just plumb don't like Chain Reaction. It was one of those awkward rules discussions where it became clear that the participants were operating on completely different assumptions. I've always seen Chain Reaction and the other 2HW rules as more gritty and "realistic" in terms of limiting what figures can do and how little you can control them. I think that comes from my experience with some of the very earliest 2HW sets like Wasteland Warriors, or the original Six Gun Sound, before Ed started introducing more "roleplaying" elements making the leading characters "Larger Than Life".
By contrast, one of the other players I think was expecting a much more "pulpy" fun game, possibly having been swayed by our recent successful introduction to Pulp Alley. For him, Chain Reaction was a failure, because he couldn't do crazy, heroic charges without being cut down mercilessly. Human nature being what it is, once we set our minds that something is "bad", it's very difficult for us to adjust our criteria and perceptions in order to see it as "good" instead.
The rules discussion that followed was... well let's say "robust", and leave it at that. I've since found out that at least one other of our gaming circle doesn't like the 2HW rules, which means Chain Reaction looks like it's going to be retired as a possible ruleset for future games.
One thing I want from my hobby of wargaming is to be able to play different styles and tones of games, depending on the circumstances, how I'm feeling, who the other players are etc. I don't believe there's a "One True Way" that all gaming has to conform to. For example, I love Flying Lead from Ganesha Games, as a kind of default, fairly light firearms skirmish ruleset for up to a dozen figures a side. But sometimes, I might be in the mood for something more pulpy or action-movie-ish, in which case Pulp Alley might fit the bill. On the other hand, if I wanted a more "serious" skirmish game, which rewards more tactically minded play, previously I would have gone to Chain Reaction, which in my experience when you remove the "Larger Than Life" elements does just that.
So with CR out of the picture, I'm looking for a skirmish game that fills that gap. There are a couple of possible candidates out there - the 5Core rules from "5 Men In Normandy" looks like a possible candidate, provided it can handle games a bit larger than the original 5 figures per side. Another interesting possiblity is Infinity, the science-fiction skirmish rules from Corvus Belli. Although written for a far-future setting, at the end of the day an assault rifle is an assault rifle, and the rules are at heart a firearms skirmish game. They also share 2HW's assumption of "overwatch by default", in which the active moving player is just as likely to provoke a deadly response from the opposition by acting as it is to kill the enemy. Although it's sold as a very expensive hardback book (£60!!!!!!), Corvus Belli have published the PDF version absolutely free on their website, along with all the army lists, weapon lists and campaign scenarios that are designed for tournament play. I've watched many Infinity games played out on YouTube (mainly from MiniWargaming) and am playing around with a modern conversion which along with the game's "quick introduction to the rules" should be enough to get a friendly game going sometime.
I'm also looking for a ruleset for slightly larger games, maybe up to a couple of platoons a side, leaning more towards the "fun toy soldiers" end of the spectrum. I've been adding bits and pieces to the collection over the past few months, and itch to see my full wargame table laid out with a San Paradiso game that looks more like something from the good old Tarr and Featherstone era. Something that plays a little like a modern version of Warhammer 40K, but with perhaps a few more concessions to reality. Rulesets I'm looking at include the defunct Battlefield Evolution from Mongoose Publishing, and FUBAR. We've played FUBAR in the past and found it basically enjoyable, but I'm looking at some of the many variants that people have come up with to tweak the basic rules.
Should we ever want to game even larger operations, we already have a winner. One game that I have played a little bit recently was 5Core Brigade Commander. This uses stands representing companies, with individual vehicles representing platoon-level attachments. This means that you can put a Soviet style motor-rifle regiment on the table using less than a couple of dozen vehicle miniatures (assuming two per stand). The game plays really well, giving a good feel of commanding at the higher level, unlike other micro-armour games I've played. A group of us have used Nordic Weasel's brushfire war supplement to generate a bunch of ex-Soviet-bloc Imagi-Nations and are planning a bit of a casual mini-campaign in the near future.
But the main ongoing project has been the industrial terrain, based on the MDF platform sets from Wargames Tournaments. This has been dragging on a bit as in recent months the regular weekly crafting session has had a lot of disruption. However following the usual mantras of "just one thing at a time" and "a little as often as possible", the terrain is starting to take shape. We have various lengths and gauges of PVC pipeworks, including one type that was originally designed to make a set of kids football goalposts (Thanks Dave for donating that find to the project!) We have a couple of minor conversion jobs adding tin cans and pringles tubes to the MDF platforms, we have one fairly spectacular converted toy and lots of appropriate scatter terrain. After a lot of sessions given over to planning and brainstorming and generally unproductive preparations, the test layout currently sitting on the wargame table is starting to look like something that might one-day be playable on.
I can just about make out the light at the end of the tunnel.
The current plan is to initially use the industrial terrain to try out the 7TV rules from Crooked Dice, a set that Mi Hermano Collaboratore Jonesy as been keen to try for a long time. On the painting table we have a bunch of armed technicians from Ainsty (I'm too stingy to afford the Crooked Dice minis) and various agents, spies and villains drawn mainly from the Copplestone and Artisan "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" ranges
Of course me being a typical wargamer, I'm already planning, inspired by and indeed buying toys for the next big terrain project AFTER the industrial one is done. *DOH*