Thursday, June 6, 2013

The Iberian Pride: A 1650 game

Many years ago, I found a White Dwarf which have a promotional miniature enclosed, “Aenur, the sword of twilight”. This mighty warrior and the Tuomas Pirinen masterwork, the Mordheim rules, are the responsible for introducing me to the miniatures games. Since then I've seen pass before my eyes the enormous growth that has taken our hobby. It has been an improvement in quality and quantity, of new technologies, game mechanics, universes, scales, materials, etc ...

It’s true that not everything worked, and we've seen disappear gems (at least for me) like Confrontation, AT-43, Alkemy and recently all the Specialist games. But the health of miniatures and wargames  industry has given many good times and I hope that despite the current economic complications, continue to give us many more.

It’s curious that some important actors in this success we’re the Spanish and, as in many other things, sometimes we don’t stop to value them as they deserve.
In Spain, either from timidity or just for passivity we have always given back to our historical exploits, achievements and milestones. And therefore, in solidarity, not usually reward neither success nor the talent. About the first suffice to say that while our British friends recall events like Trafalgar, the Nile, Omdurman or even Dunkerque, we have forgotten the bombing of Callao for our navy, the victory of Lepanto or the deeds of Blas de Lezo against the English. Not to mention stuff, much less known, as the request issued by the Spanish Province of Murcia in 1873 to the General Ulysses S. Grant to join the United States of America as a new state...

Therefore I think it's fair to mention here the Spanish artists and companies that have reach great success in the miniature's game business with theirs magnificent talents and difficult sacrifices.
From sculptors like Juan Diaz, Felix Paniagua, Raul G ª Latorre, Edgar Ramos, or Juan Navarro to model makers as Adolfo Ramos. And the miniatures companies like Warmodelling, Vesper-On, creators of "Carnevale" or the successful Corvus Belli, fathers of the top sales "Infinity".
Obviously I forget many more, from here I apologize to them all.

So as a tribute to these great artists I decided to “fly the flag” here and I want to present you a battle report genuinely Spanish, both in origin and universe due to the thematic of the rules, "1650, A capa y espada".
The use of my bad English is the only exception but the game deserves an English language battle report for a much better presentation to the international community.

The setting of "1650" it’s based on a Ucronia portraying an alternate Gold Century Spain, named Iberia. An old and once a mighty empire riddled with defeats and revolts and now confined to "The "Purgatory". A geographical area that coincides exactly with the territory of present-day Andalusia, ¡Ah, curiosities of life! Or not...

There, forced by circumstances, two sides involved in a civil war from the remains of the kingdom in a terrible confrontation full of insidious and ambushes. On one side we find the "Old Regime".The representatives of the dying govern situated in the town of Ysbilia, the new capital of Iberia. Across the river, on the western bank of the city were the "New Order" represented by the remains of the Old Purples Tercio, which were sent to fight to “tierras bajas” and have returned now to protect Iberia from the new threats looming on the frontier…

"1650" is the son of the sculptors Ismael Delgado and Sergio Alonso, whom with the collaboration of Julen Galparsoro have sculpted the beautiful miniatures that captured my imagination from the very first time I saw them. All the figures are endowed with a strong personality and character, and are beautifully carved.

Suddenly “Captain Alatriste’s novels” materialized on the gaming table and I imagined cloaked swordsmen dueling in dark, narrow alleys. All surrounded by an atmosphere populated with corrupt nobles, unscrupulous mercenaries and religious of sinister look, all them with dark designs.

For this battle report I decided for the first commission, "Brawl". A confrontation between two bands in order to eliminate the enemy’s leader.
 I made the roll on the Weather table, obtaining a result of “Heat”, which adds an additional penalty of -1 for the injured pawn’s actions. A second roll on the Moment of the Truth table obtained a result of "Night" so the maximum range of the guns were reduced to 30cm. Bad news for the Purple’s Zurriago armed with a musket.

Both sides deployed a few meters outside from a small village, the "Old Purple" left and the Ysbilia Guards members on the right.

The Convict deployed in the copse. You’ll find the Guarnicionero, the Guard, the Sheriff (Alguacil) and the Recruit in the background.

The Old Purple band deployed with the Mochilero accompanying the Zurriago. Behind him stands the Officer; who is accompanied by the Curtido and the Recio located at the background.

The initiative for the turn 1 falls to the Old Purples. In this game players alternate activating figures. The Recio cover the left wing while the Zurriago try to take positions in the second floor of the big house. The Mochilero will accompany him just in case he would need help. (If the Mochilero stays at 5cm of a firearm weapon with the rule Slow, the weapon is reloaded immediately).

The Officer and the Curtido advanced to the center. They are the best prepared for any threat.

At the other end of the village, the Recruit advance by the right of the small house. The Sheriff cover the reardguard. Meanwhile the Guard and the Guarnicionero start their advance toward the village center. The Convicted advances by the left through the trees.

The Zurriago will try to cover the center of the village accompanied by the young Mochilero. 

On turn 2, the Recruit sees an opportunity to shoot down the Recio with his crossbow, but misses the shot, probably because they can not see well his target due to the coverage.

The Zurriago goes upstairs to take a good shooting position. From there he can dominate most of the Villa.

The Curtido decides to take revenge against the Recruit and heads for the foolish young while the Guard is hiding behind some boxes, thus avoiding being an easy target for the Zurriago.

The Guarnionero wants to lend a hand to the youngest member of his band and advance to confront the Curtido but it only manages to be ambushed by the Officer.

Meanwhile, in the copse the Convict continues down the left flank, while the Mochilero hide behind the well trying to surprise him and shoot him with his slingshot.

During all this time, nothing was known about the Recio. Where was he?
In turn 3 the initiative allows the Recruits to make a new shot on the Curtido but his nerves prevent him from reaching the determined Morado.

With a terrifying war cry the Officer charges against the Guarnicionero, keeping them from making use of his halberd and his distance attack later. The Officer is a man seasoned in the battlefields of “tierras bajas” (Flanders) and easily overcomes the haughty Ysbilia soldier.

The Convict see the little Mochilero and exclaims:  -"Small Ruffian, I'll spit like a sausage" - , the beardless boy looks to the sinister character and when he realizes that the Convict will directed toward him, decides to fall back with the idea to draw him to the Zurriago fire area.

The Zurriago understand what the boy is trying to do and takes his time to aim (using one of the “Maravedies”, coins who can be expended to add a second die for a roll or use a Peculiarity, special abilities).

Yet the shot fails, and cursing, the Zurriago begin the slow process of reloading the heavy Musket. - "Poor boy ..."
Under the eyes of the old Musketeer develops a vile murder when the convict reaches the Mochilero, sewing it to death ...

The Recruit was charged by the Curtido, who is not going to give him another chance to shoot and the fruit of their experience (“Peculiarity” use of a Special skill card) takes a brutal attack on the crossbowmen, who fell at his feet, mortally wounded. - "You don’t use me again as a pincushion, varmint"-

At the beginning of the 4th turn the Ysbilia Guard forces seem to have been quite depleted but the Sheriff is confident that everything will end with the defeat of the rebels. The Curtido try to charge on it.

But the officer's imposing appearance makes the Purple’s veteran lose thrust and stay petrified in front of him, (The Sheriff can not be charged because it benefits from "Authoritarian" special rule). Moreover, with agile movement the Sheriff draws his gun and fires a shot at close range on the Curtido. But this one, with incredible reflexes gets away at the last moment.

The Officer of Old Purples advances over the place where the Ysbilia Guard is hidden but to his surprise, this latter jumps out from behind the clay vessel and throws an unstoppable stab (using a Dexterity card) that causes a serious injury to the Officer. The bleeding is severe and the officer is dazed and confused.  -“Surrender!” - shouts the guard.
As a man of honor and seeing the absurdity of dying in the miserable villa, the Officer surrenders his sword to the Guard. (The Sheriff has the special peculiarity Surrender!, which allows a member of his band to prove victorious in a fight to capture his adversary).

With this last duel ended the confrontation and you might be wondering, where was the Recio?
Well, as I was activating the pawns visually and not spinning theirs cards after each activation, I forgot that behind one of the houses was hidden the Recio miniature. 
Sure there was a loose woman inside of the house or perhaps some coins fallen in the Recio pockets... Who nows...

Thursday, May 23, 2013

The Golden Skull: A Pulp Alley game report

In order to get more practice with the Pulp Alley rules, I played one of the proposed scenarios included in the rules, "The lost keys". Unfortunately I skimmed the deployment rules and terribly misunderstood them, which is unfortunate, because it’s the most fun part of the scenario, but still spent a very interesting time confronting two leagues trying to seize a mythical and fabulous artifact.

Our story begins in Mwali, a small island located in the Indian Ocean. Hide in the dense forest lies the ruins of an old settlement that belonged to the Sultanate of Shirazi who ruled in the mid-fifteenth century the archipelago now knows as Comores. An old legend says that within the ruins of the abandoned place is hidden a bizarre and valued gem, the skull of an ancient Vizier turned to gold and with two beautiful topaz set into the eyes sockets.

Coming from Malaysia there were Lady Guillermina Havelock, sidekick of Warlord Chen Tao, who rules as Mastermind of the Hai San secret society. Guillermina comes with her bodyguard, Hassan and two Moors “Juramentados”, Malik and Maluk. The remaining escort consists of several Baluchis, hired for the occasion as cannon fodder.

 In an attempt to avoid the sinister plans of the Hai San, the British governor of the Kenya Colony has called Calico Joe, a famous adventurer with the mission to foil the plans of Mrs. Havelock. Together with our hero we find Marion Crown, an erudite archaeologist; and Bubú, a French smuggler of Arab origin. The governor has given to Calico a small detachment of soldiers as escort.

 Both leagues deployed, (badly) on opposite edges of a board representing a dense jungle which the ruins in the centre.

 Guillermina Havelock and his allies took the initiative, and a pre-game event benefits Malik, one of the Juramentados, to start the adventure being hidden. The rest quickly moved toward the secondary plots points, needed to get clues that allow discovering the exact location of the skull, (major Plot point).

On the other side of the forest, Calico and Marion strives to cross through the swamp followed by Dudu and the soldiers escort.

Soon the wild and untamed swamp takes its first victim when one of the soldiers is killed by a Chelydra Serpentina ... (a Peril card played by the wily adversary).

 Meanwhile, the Baluchis led by the faithful Hassan headed quickly to guard the path by which their enemies will emerge...

One of the soldiers went through the thick bush to get close to one of the secondary plot point. A few feet away was the clue that could indicate the entrance to the ruins and nothing seemed to prevent the skull were soon held by Calico Joe.

 Unfortunately the plot point was guarded by a trap and the limited intellect of the soldier (Finesse) or his physical strength (Might) were unable to overcome the peril and a bag of poison gas ended his life in horrible rattle.  

Calico Joe tries to compensate the balance and shoot down one of the Baluchis.

 But the stalker Hassan spring his ambush and hit Calico,  injuring him.

Dudú fortunately repels the aggression.

However, the Hassan's attack had given a timeframe for his allies to find the clue that they need to find the ruins entrance, Soon Guillermina can penetrate through the ruins. She shuddered with the sight of the precious artefact. Yet had to overcome the dangers that awaited inside, (a 3 dice Peril card played against her!) and solved the puzzle who allows the release of the precious artefact. (a 3 dice Challege!) Havelock was triumphant of them all!


Marion urged Dudú to start the chase while she herself confront Maluk, the “Juramentado”.

Dudú attempt to shorten distance through the vegetation when a terrible Gabon Viper appeared before him. His dodge attempt (Might or Finesse) were failed and fell to the ground writhing in pain from the bite. (another Peril card...)

Maluk is a hard opponent and Marion called for help in the fight against the mighty Moro. But it was too late to prevent the escape of Guillermina Havelock.

All in all, a fun game with a ruleset that has captivated me for its originality and fun.
And remember..."The jungle is neutral"...or not?