Wednesday, 23 February 2011

The Table

I've been wargaming for over twenty years now and I have a confession to make. A dirty little secret if you like. Listen closely, because it's just between you and me. Up until the start of this project, I have never owned a gaming table. Why? Well I have always been in the fortunate position of having very good friends with tables or been in close proximity to a very good club at which to play. If I have needed to play at my home, then it was a case of getting out some gaming mats and playing on the floor. In short, I have never needed one, or had the space to store the board and terrain.
That changed about a week ago. We have a kitchen table, which is three feet by five feet so all I needed was a board to put on the top and away we go. With this in mind, my initial plan was to buy an 8x4' piece of chipboard and get it sawn in half, to make two 4x4 boards, which would work nicely individually for LotR, or Warmachine. The boards could also be put together for larger games of 40K or similar, with a line drawn on them to make a 6x4 for standard games. Great plan, and off I trotted to B&Q (if you're in the UK, it is just the larger stores that have the cutting service).
Here's my first cautionary tale from this blog. A 4x4 board is quite a lot bigger and more difficult to get into a car than you would first think. No matter which combination of doors and hatch I used it just wouldn't go. And when I say just wouldn't go, I really mean just. By about a centimetre. Just enough to keep me trying to get the piece of timber into the car for about 15 minutes, scratching the interior in the process. So do measure up first. 
I did seriously consider abandoning the chipboard there and then in the car park, but instead made my way, shamefully, back into the store to get a bit more cut of each end. Now I have a pair of boards measuring 3 x 4', so they will still go together for a game of 40K, but aren't quite as convenient for LotR or Warmachine. The other cautionary note, is that the cutting process produces quite a bit more dust than expected, so don't do on the way back from work in your suit. Fortunately that suit did need a dry clean in any case.

I also picked up a tin of Dulux "Urban Obsession" for painting the Mines of Moria/ City fight side of the board, which is an amazing colour for a gaming table with a great name (almost as if they had an eye on the gaming market). So Junior and I had an afternoon painting the surface of the table together. I also had to make a difficult decision to not cover the table with sand. This was due to wanting to use both sides, one green and one grey and not wanting to risk the ire of Mrs Holdenstein when her kitchen table ends up with sandy divots in it.
The table is now complete. Time to get some games in!

Saturday, 19 February 2011

The Plan

My boy, henceforth known as Holdenstein jr. Has been bugging me to play and model with my toy soldiers for quite some time. We've been playing some of the more simple board games, such as Carcassonne and Summoner Wars for a little while and I've decided that it's time to take the plunge and introduce him to a little light war-gaming, which will have the added benefit of giving us a bit more quality time together.
As an introduction to wargaming, I had two main considerations; a suitable theme and a simple ruleset. So firstly an odd question: What is a suitable theme for a wargame?
This is a question that has puzzled war gamers for years. Wargaming is a simulation of killing people using toy soldiers. There's no getting away from that slightly uncomfortable fact. In fantasy settings people never existed and so therefore there's no problems over "real" morality getting in the way, but anything historical will have moral baggage coming along with it. Why are the forces fighting? Who is right? What happens if the bad guys win? Couldn't they just have talked it over and come to some arrangement? These are all good questions, and ones that I can't be bothered to answer, so I'm going to go for a fictional gaming setting to begin with (although I note that Holdenstein jr.s next school project is about Vikings so that might be a chance to try out some ancient wargaming)

So a fictional setting- great, I have a massive amount of 40K stuff and quite a bit of Warmachine. Well, straight away  we've hit a problem. That problem is that in their quest for a "mature" edgy seeding there's quite a bit in those settings, especially Warmachine's, that isn't really suitable for a young 'un. Both games have their sadomachochist faction, and a general grim dark mentality. Plus Warmachine has too much cleavage. I won't get into whether or not this approach is actually mature, or rather childish in it's own way, but suffice to say I won't be going there yet, and don't get me started on Malifaux. Plus their rules are too difficult to simplify. 

That leads me to where I am going: Lord of the Rings, the Strategy Battle Game. This is a new game to me. The imagery is uncontroversial, the rules are pretty simple and the bad guys are obviously bad, but not in a sadistic way. Hurray. I am actually in two minds about whether to stick with the rules as supplied, or go for the "Song of Blades and Heroes" rules, which are simple but effective. We will try both for a few games each and then make a decision. That's the plan anyway.