On Sunday 26th May 2013, my family and I headed off to the UK Games Expo at the Metropole Hotel. With no clear idea of what to expect other than an expectation of seeing lots of board games we arrived in bright sunshine and found our way to the venue (no help from signage here – just a sign outside the Car Park). We followed the odd person and came to the Metropole. With nothing outside other than a Trooper from Stargate exiting the building to go on we walked through the big doors and into the hotel.
The place was busy looking and a helpful man told us where to get our tickets. We paid (no queue) and got our badges and program guide. Have to say the glossy brochure for the event was a good read. Twenty pounds for a family ticket seems like good value. We walked across to the 1st Dealer Hall and straight away a kindly guy handed the kids a dice bag each. Thanks it seems to “Northumbria Games”…. We all took a look round the Hall.
I spotted a copy of Wrath of Ashardalon then a giant game of Pandemic where the players stood around in white coats. Well, Gamers are a bit mad I think….. 🙂 The “Hawk Wargames” stand was just a sea of bits to buy for DropZone Commander. See the photo gallery for the lovely 10mm scale sci-fi vehicles. The paint job is amazing. My wife and I both liked the modular terrain from Battle Systems, it really stood out. My eldest son piicked up a Walking Dead card game. More Zombies.
Among the Seller stands were a number of tables with what look like demonstration games going on.
We moved over to the Kings Suite Hall where there was a Family Zone so you can just take a game, sit down and play it with help if needed from friendly staff. We tried a fun little game called Coyote which involves a headband each and a numbered ticket that only your fellow players can see. The aim being to bid a number that is higher than everyone elses but lower than the sum made when all the feathers are revealed. The loser takes a Stone axe card. Three of those and you are out. The last one in wins. Simple. It was good for kids to help with maths.
The aim of this section of the event was to promote educational games. The staff running this area from ImaginationGaming were great and the attention to detail excellent.
The kids really loved the Characters that were walking around. The “Who’s Company” and “Galactic Knights” really made their day. These guys and gals were helping raise money for charity and were so sweet – thanks guys. My eldest kid got to have a go at shooting a Nerf pistol at a target range and managed to knock down two targets at distance. Not sure the Clone trooper did much better with a gun that liked to jam…(!)
The kids spoke to the lovely John Levene and got his autograph (I am a UNIT fan, being a child of that era of Doctor Who!) I also made a faux pas when speaking to a Dalek, calling it Mr Dalek and being abruptly corrected as “Mrs. Dalek”. I apologised before being exterminated. My youngest child was fascinated to find one of the Daleks being used to store a suitcase at the end of the day. I think he was expecting an alien to be in there!
We moved on to get some food. The venue is expensive (£4.25 for a Costa coffee and I believe £4.80 for a pint of beer), fortunately, the Expo had its own food concession laid on by the hotel and I have to say that despite a lack of direction to seating (yes, there was some to be had for a bit of a walk) the food itself was delicious and good value.
We moved on to have a look at some of the wargaming going on. We saw Warhammer in all its forms including the old Epic game (good to see). I found our local gaming guru Hammy in the Flames of War area by the lakeside. He was running a late war tournament for 16 guys. I was lucky enough to be asked to give an opinion on the painting of the armies and so got a good luck at what had been painted and brought to the event. Nice work, gents.
By this time, the wife and kids had bought some games being sold off cheap and had sat down to play while waiting for me.
We had another walk around the venue which took us to 4 o’clock. Announcements were being made and the place was starting to pack up. By the time we left for our car it was almost 5 o’clock and we had been there for almost 6 hours. Tired from walking around but happy, we left.
I can thoroughly recommend the UK Games Expo as a place to go. You can try out new games, just sit and play something, wargame, roleplay, demo your own new game or actually buy something. I did my best to avoid the temptation to buy up some new dice from the Chessex stand. The kids enjoyed it as well, so there was a plus. Thanks to all the Staff (nay volunteers I think) for being so great!
I recently got a game of Saga in with Dave from the North West Gaming Centre. Dave was new to the game but was interested in learning more, I have only played a couple of full games, so it was a bit of a learning exercise. I started taking photo’s but as the tension heightened I forgot to take pictures of the end of the game. So here is a brief overview.
6 point “Clash of Warlords”.
(Dave) Normans: Warlord (mounted), 3 x Hearthguard (mounted), 1 x Crossbows, 1 x Bow Levy, 1 x Warriors.
(Mike) Anglo-Danes: Warlord (Dane Axe), 5 x Hearthguard, 1 x Hearthguard (Dane Axes).
The game started with the Normans winning deployment and the first turn. Dave split his cavalry into two blocks of 6 and placed his cavalry on his left flank. The rest of his troops lined up for the advance. The Anglo-Danes did the best they could to stop up any outflanking but Dave had the last deployment of his very mobile Knights!
The Normans tried some shooting before deciding to advance. Two turns of shooting killed 4 of the 8 Dane Hearthguard in the centre of the line. The Normans swung in from the left flank. The Anglo-Danes kept getting “Trapped” off on most turns which slowed down the Normans, but without anything else to add, the Norman cavalry took on the Dane Right flank and crushed it. The Danes in the centre could only try to keep back the onslaught of 12 Knights and the Warlord. The Bows and crossbows couldn’t do much more due to the lack of Saga dice and the fatigue building up!
Finally, It came down to a block of Knights and the Norman Warlord taking on the remaining handful of Dane Hearthguard and their Warlord. The Danes used their enemies fatigue as best as possible. It took three final rounds for the Warlords to resolve their fight as bodyguards kept sacrificing themselves. In the end it was the closest of calls but the Normans prevailed (despite losing four Knights in one swoop to soak up excess wounds as the Warlords tried to kill each other). The Dane Warlord had nothing left to offer and he fell under the hooves of his nemesis.
A fun game – rematch…?!
I just got round to finishing off the plastic GW Modular Hill from last year. I have to say I really like this piece of scenery. I don’t have a foam cutter or a piece of insulation foam to use to make my own textured hills, so getting hold of one of these hills was well worth it. It’s a breeze to paint, drybrush and the glue the static grass too and really does look like the picture on the box (now that really is something!)
Here’s the finished result….
A few weeks ago I had a 1750 late war game of Flames of War with Walt at the North West Gaming Centre in Stockport. We played on the board with the very large hill dominating it. The mission rolled for was Hasty Attack (P.284 of the V3 main rulebook).
I was defending with my US infantry. Half my forces would start in Reserve and arrive randomly on the table edge. Walt had to grab one of my objectives to win but had to take one objective away after I deployed.
Walt had a Hetzer Company (I don’t have the list but it was full of the damn things!) which included a shedload of ….. Hetzer Assault guns plus some mobile AA, 88’s and a pioneer platoon on foot with flamethrowers I believe.
I used my standard US 2nd Infantry list with 11 platoons. 2 rifles with bazookas, HMG, 81mm mortars, weapons platoon, 2 x 57mm AT gun platoons, I and R recon, 105 battery, Armored Rifles and a Sherman platoon.
I won’t go into much detail as the pictures speak for themselves. Walt removed the objective on my left flank. I placed the ARP in Immediate Ambush and used his deployment to assume he would come for the centre of the line.
Walt obliged and came across the centre of the table, ignoring the village and lowland with its woods for now. He had placed a minefield at the base of the hill which really hampered him later on more than me.
The fields of fire were not that great and I just sat around waiting for a decent shot at the enemy. The Axis 88’s could not see anything to shoot at so the Assault guns and later the AA guns pretty much decided to cut to the right and come at me from the lowland.
My AT guns got some shots in but found themselves pinned quite a lot. Eventually my left crumbled for the loss of some Hetzers.
Sadly for me, some of my random reserves turned up on the left leaving them in the open facing incoming Hetzers.
Walt brought his pioneers up onto the hill but could not come at me as I had so much firepower aimed at the hill that it would have been certain death for infantry. II had at least a dozen rifle stands, 4 bazookas, 4 HMGs and a couple of LMGs aimed his way, plus Sherman tanks!
It was hopeless to try to come in from the Axis left as I had 4 bazookas covering the hillside against 4 Hetzers on the hilltop.
In the end, we reached 2.5 hours and called an end to the game. I have no doubt that given time, Walt could have rolled up my left flank and taken an objective but for heavy loss. Either way it would have probably been a 4-3 to one of us.
It was a good learning exercise. The Axis force was not really in a good position to assault over such a long hill into the heart of the US defences. If the terrain had been different I think the game would have reached a clear conclusion. Walt I think commented that maybe he should have taken the other objective off on my right flank. As he ended up going for the left flank anyway, he could have won the game in the allotted time….. maybe.
My AT guns once again proved the stars with some good dice rolling under pressure of advancing forces. I really DO NOT like scattered reserves.
I recently came to paint up my Viking models for Saga and realised that I had 2 lots of the same Hearthguard models. The poses were pretty unique, so having the same models painted up and possibly in the same unit on the table would look silly. Two Dane axemen, two horn-blowers and such.
These models from Gripping Beast are really nice (good clean casts) and I am no great shakes as a modeller so I decided to work with the weapons and shields I had from the supplier plus a little “Green Stuff” epoxy putty. No hacking off more than a small weapon on one model.
The aim was to give each model a bit of variation in detail and then paint them in different colour schemes to draw the eye away from the striking similarities. Here are the undercoated results.
My Norman force was completed recently so here are some pictures…. the models are all Conquest plastics (1 box mounted, 1 box foot) plus a set of shield decals from Battle Flag.
The decals were not as straightforward to apply as I thought they would be. Sliding them in place was tricky and to my disappointment, some of them have picked up marks or creases once in place. Not sure why, but they are not good in close up. I hope this is just a lack of experience on my part.
Mounted Warlord, 3 x Mounted Hearthguard, 1 x Crossbow Warriors, 1 x Warriors (spear/shield), 1 x Levies (bows).