Monday, 18 June 2012

A World Aflame

My advance copy of 'A World Aflame: Interwar Wargame Rules 1918-39 (Osprey Wargames)' [link to buy] came last week, so I thought I should probably post up a quick review of sorts!

'A World Aflame' is a new set of wargames rules published by Osprey (of ubiquitous reference volumes fame) written by Paul Eaglestone (PDE of Empress Miniatures fame).

Eaglestone had previously released "And was Jerusalem builded here?", a 39 page pdf of rules for fighting engagements in the Very British Civil War (VBCW), the imaginary conflict that is currently sweeping the nation (well, not literally currently), and this set of rules is built on that framework, but in greater depth (and much prettier too!)

Although this volume focuses mainly on the Spanish Civil War (for which Empress produce a range of rather nice miniatures) there's plenty here for the VBCW enthusiast, as although the rules themselves are designed to be useable for the entire 1918-39 Interwar period, period and regional flavour are added through the use of Scenarios and Chance cards, amongst other things.

Before I look at the book proper, it's worth mentioning how much I enjoy Eaglestone's style of writing - this isn't a rulebook for rules lawyers to brandish at a tournament, it's the sort of book used by a group of adults getting together to create a narrative set in a period of history that interests them by pushing little men around in a gentlemanly fashion, perhaps over a snifter of something, and as such the tone throughout is conversational, and makes for an exceedingly pleasant read.

Presentation throughout is as high as you'd expect from an Osprey production, with the usual plethora of high  quality illustrations throughout, taken as they are from a variety of existing publications. There's also a number of colour photographs of miniatures 'in situ', which provide a great deal of eye candy and inspiration. My favourite would probably have to be "Anglican League Militia take control of a vital communications point", the 'vital communications point' being the local phone and post boxes. If pushed, I would probably say it's a pity that there isn't a large diorama or somesuch to pore over, but that would just be me being fussy.

The Rules: written as they are in a 'retro' style, aiming to "pay homage to rulesets written by such wargaming legends as Charles Grant and Donald Featherstone", 'A World Aflame' gives you the tools to play fun, fast-paced games that mix high adventure with a dash of tongue-in-cheek humour. I won't go into too much detail here (buy the book for that!) but rest assured the book contains rules on how to move, shoot, and measure the morale of your little lead men, as well as less generic rules as smoke and sending runners carrying orders across the table... There's rules for a whole plethora of period weapons and armour too, including rules for boats and planes as well as the expected armoured fighting vehicles (yes, including improvised ones! ). 

The book contains sample units for a variety of conflicts, both the Spanish and Russian Civil Wars, as well as Warlord China and (the one that's most caught my interest) the aforementioned VBCW, ranging from militia rabble to Regular Army Guards. 

The book also contains a sample scenario to show the sort of game you can play using the contents of the book, 'Suicide Hill', aka the Battle of Jarama, February 1937. It's a three-day/three-game scenario, with special rules, orders and suggested chance card decks (from a selection of example cards at the end of the book), complete with a map and some more pictures of miniatures in situ for you to get excited over.

If I had to pick my three favourite things from the book (entirely arbitrarily, and if you were to ask me another time it's likely I'd choose three entirely different things) they'd be:

3 - The rules for attacking armoured fighting vehicles with a crowbar. More specifically, the fact that the second paragraph ends 'Good Luck!' Strange things amuse me.

2 - The Flashman effect - I like the fact that there's a special Legendary grade of officer that you can use in special scenarios that is, well, legendary. It's such a flavourful little rule that it makes me want to convert and paint up some miniatures for use as named characters in a campaign...

1 - Chance cards - the SCW flavoured examples in the back of the book make me want to write up some more of my own to use with VBCW, and I'm sure I'm not the only one. They're a great way to add period flavour to a game, as well as some tongue-in-cheek humour (if that's your cup of tea). I mean, look at 6milphil's chance cards for the sort of thing I mean...

Right, that's probably enough blocks of text to turn anyone from off from reading to this point, so I'll wrap it up here. I could give the book a rating, or a percentage score, but I think a more pertinent score would be this:

A photo my young lady took. Yes, that's me prepping some miniatures having finished reading this book. Sat on the floor at the coffee table as I couldn't wait long enough to sort out the desk that I normally use. If that isn't a glowing recommendation, I don't know what is...

Thursday, 14 June 2012

I'm not dead...

...but my laptop was. I've managed to Zombie Jesus it (again), so I should be able to get back to posting more regularly.

In the period of dead space where I was unable to post (well, other than using the hateful app), I've inevitably not actually finished anything. I'm halfway through making some cork terrain:

As soon as I finish these up (they're currently textured and waiting for a chance to paint) I'll stick up a step by step. When I've not been elbow deep in cork at the dining table, I've been inefectually dabbing paint on two squads of Stormtroopers. Note to anyone who thinks painting two squads of white armoured troopers will be fun? You're wrong. But I will prevail, before I get distracted by something else.

Like 'A World Aflame', Osprey's set of wargaming rules for the interwar period coming out later in the Summer, as my advance copy arrived this week (it's good, I'll post up a review once I've had a chance to give it a more in-depth looking over).

Other than that, not much happening. Booked some wedding venues, which threatens to eat somewhat into the hobby budget, but I've got enough old projects on the lead mountain to keep me busy for a while yet...

Most amazingly, I only got a single miniature in the month since my last post:

The old Dwarf Lords of Legend Slayer, because (as has been mentioned previously) I loves me some Slayers. Maybe at some point I'll actually paint some...

This chap brings the tally to:

57 vs 85 = -28

Final thought: I'm a little scared to turn my laptop off, in case my Zombie Jesus-ing of it wasn't a long-term fix...