First Game of What a Cowboy!

What a Cowboy! has arrived – well, the pdf has, I’m still waiting for the paper copy and the cards. But this was enough to stage a simple first game with my mate Stephan. As he lives in Sweden, we did it remotely, using my table and figures.

Now I was pretty hyped about What a Cowboy!, which is somewhat unexpected, as I wouldn’t consider the Old West to be one of my main interests, gaming or otherwise. I know almost nothing about the historical American West, but I always had a soft spot for the cinematic West – in fact, I had a bit of a Western phase when I was around 30 and watched quite a number, classical as well as modern.

Also, a couple of years ago, I did a small Mexican Revolution project, so I have Mexican buildings and figures – enough for a small game set South of the border… Using this set-up, Stephan and I played a small introductory game, with two figures each, one Greenhorn and one Shootist, each only armed with a Colt revolver.

The game was set in the little town of San Serif. Sheriff John Frutiger and his Native American friend Tahoma were tasked with defending their turf from two bandits, Andale and Bembo.

I took the bandits and Stephan played the lawmen. Suffice it to say that I fought the law and won! Tahoma was killed pretty early by a very lucky shot, and while the Sheriff fought on bravely, in the end he decided to skedaddle in the face of superior odds.

We both enjoyed the game very much. I have to say that it exceeded my expactations. I really liked What a Tanker!, the game it is based on, but I’m not interested in tanks at all, so I was happy to see the core mechanic implemented in another setting. This core mechanic is centered around a set of action dice, six D6 at the start for each character, which you roll and which give you a selection of possible actions (a 1 to move, a 2 to spot etc.). This is a great mechanic: it offers uncertainty, but potentially also a lot of choice and decision points. It also makes the game very fluid and dynamic. If you have enough appropriate dice, you can move quite a lot. Not only does it bring you quickly into action, it also allows you to outmanoeuvre your opponent, which, in the town setting we had, led to some really cinematic moments – running up in the back lane behind Main Street and shooting at the Sheriff from behind was quite fun. 

One thing I was surprised about how well it worked was ammunition. In the game, the ammunition for each gun is tracked. Now this sounds like a lot of bookkeeping and potentially unnecessary detail, but it really isn’t – as there isn’t much bookkeeping involved in the game, it’s not complicated. What is more important is that it feels right for the genre and it again produces cinematic moments, when suddenly the characters have emptied their six-shooters and scramble to reload.

I guess this is the thing about What a Cowboy!: it conveys the feel of a Western movie very well.  I’m looking forward to playing more games, perhaps even a campaign – let’s see if I can rope my mates in…

Back to Napoleonics!

A couple of weeks ago I suddenly got bitten by the napoleonics bug again. After a long break of about a year, I’ve rediscovered my interest in the 1809 campaign. There were a couple of lose threads that I left open when I lost interest at the beginning of last year, so I decided to take one or two of them up. I even have some ideas for new things!

The first thread was the 6mm napoleonics project. When I left it, I had home-made rules that worked ok but did not really inspire me. Having recently discovered Drums and Shakos Large Battles (and played a game with my 15mm ACW figures), I wanted to give them a try with the 6mm napoleonics as the rules include modifications for playing them with one base representing a brigade instead of a batallion. I played the game remotely with Stephan in Sweden, but we both came to the conclusion that we didn’t really like the rules. They sound great in theory, but in practice, they offer far less decisions points than one would think. Also, the activation mechanic, which I love in any other Ganesha Games ruleset, makes the game very slow – there are too many units for such a detailed activation sequence.

My next attempt with 6mm will be Sam Mustafa’s Bl├╝cher. I probably should have started with this all along, as a lot of people swear by it. Let’s see how I like it.

However, playing Drums and Shakos Large Battles has actually reminded my how much I love the Song of… series of skirmish games, so I convinced Sigur to play a game of Song of Drums and Shakos, the napoleonic skirmish version of the rules. I also wanted to have a reason to play with Sigur’s magnificent collection of 28mm miniatures and buildings! The game was great fun and you can read Sigur’s detailed AAR on his blog: https://www.tabletopstories.net/language/en/2023/01/song-of-drums-and-shakos-aar/

By then, I was ready for a game of Sharp Practice! When I left off, I was thinking about a small campaign dealing with the fighting in the Traisen Valley. Sigur and I played one game, an AAR of which can be found here: https://www.tabletopstories.net/language/en/2022/01/sharp-practice-traisen-valley-1/

I had one more scenario for this campaign prepared, namely the skirmish for Mariazell. As all of the Traisen Valley scenarios, it is an asymetrical affair and quite difficult for the Austrians. Playing the French defender, I also had my difficulties, which resulted in a hard-fought battle. In the end, I conceded, as my situation did not look good. More importantly, I had taken an incredible amount of casualties, which, in a campaign context, would probably made me withdraw earlier.

Again, you can find a detailed AAR on Sigur’s blog: https://www.tabletopstories.net/language/en/2023/02/sharp-practice-struggle-for-mariazell/

It was a suspenseful game and a good reminder of why Sharp Practice is my favourite game. Now I’m definitely hooked again and want more of it!

One result was that I did some scratch buildings. First, I quickly knocked together an officer’s tent. I deliberately didn’t put any figures on the base so it can be used for all sides.

The second building project is a bit larger and not yet finished. It’s a model of Schloss Sachsengang, which you might remember from a battlefield tour I did some time ago. This will be used in another mini-campaign, based on the events we toured, but also in another, fictional campaign, more of which some other time…

Missin’ in Action 2019

After last year’s success, we had another gaming event with friends. This time, the weather was friendly and we could set up in the garden.

The main attraction was a game I had been working on for quite a while (not continously, though): namely a tavern brawl based on the old Brewhouse Bash rules from White Dwarf #223. I collected figures in brawling poses, which were harder to find than I thought, and built some terrain. The main headache proved to be the playing surface. After several aborted experiments I had to make a last-minute compromise and take a sheet of unpainted PVC floor coating. It looks ok, I guess.

Here are some impressions from the game:

 

The game was simple fun. We had eight player, but it still moved along at a good pace. Austrians of a certain age grew up with Bud Spencer & Terrence Hill movies and the game conveyed the feeling of those comic scuffles pretty well.

Afterwards, we played two parallel games of Sellswords & Spellslingers, which is aways a fun game, especially for events such as these.

Thanks to all the players, it was great to spend an afternoon and evening gaming with friends!

Building a Wizard’s Tower

One of the scenarios in the Sellswords & Spellslingers book demands a wizard’s tower. While there are several available to buy (from the plain Ziterdes keep to the formidable Tabletop World spire), I decided to scratch build my own.

The starting point was a box of pringles. I glued it unto another cardboard roll to, as I wanted to have it protrude from a rocky outcrop. The basis was provided by an old single record.

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For the rocky outcrop, I used blue foam and chunks of tree bark. The basis for a small secondary tower was formed by an empty toilet roll.

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The next step was to fill the holes and cracks with modelling clay (of the air-drying kind) and filler. I also made adoor for the small tower was made out of wood and a parapet for the top platform.

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I then added some details. First, cardboard brickwork to break up the surface of the tower. Second, an oriel made from yet another cardboard roll. Third, the door and windows. I bought those from Thomarillion, as I didn’t trust myself to scratch build nice enough ones. And last, I made protrusions beneath the parapet. They will later carry the Gargoyles, which I also ordered from Thomarillion.

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I then started to cover the whole structure with DAS air-drying modelling clay, an idea I got from Tony Harwood, who regularly uses this technique with great success.

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Before applying the modelling clay, I covered the surface with PVA glue, as the clay shrinks and may otherwise come off when dry. Looking good so far!

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The roofs were made out of cardboard cones, with small bits of cardboard for the tiles. This is a boring and mind-numbing work, but fortunately I’m used to it from other project and those roofs were actually rather small in comparison to some others I’ve made. The base was covered with sand and grit and PVA glue.

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Now there was only the painting to be done… and, after a couple of days, I had my final result – the wizard’s tower!

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