Monday, 17 April 2017

Hamburg Tactica 2017 / Sunday

Schlacht von Arsouf

"On Sunday Jörg and I played a couple of games on smaller tables that only took about an hour to play. We played a Crusaders versus Saracens board game. The rules were from the book 'Ritter, Waffen, Reiterspiele' by Andrew MacNeil and the miniatures were 54 mm Britains figures. Great Fun."



"Then we went to a beautiful 60 cm × 60 cm table where the author of the ruleset 'Koalitionskriege!' presented his game. We played out a skirmish battle taking place in the age of Napoleon. British versus French. Each player had a set of command markers and secretly had to 'program' each unit at the beginning of each turn. I don't know much about this period, but it surprised me that the author had made close combat more effective than shooting."


"It really depends what 'close combat' represents in the game."

"Yes. I know. I asked the author and he said something about knives on rifles. Anyways, the game was fun. The last game we played was Congo presented by the club Spieltrieb Frankfurt. We were four players, a teenager from Sweden, his father, Jörg and I. The table was covered with red cloth that had patches of grass. On top of it were lots of trees, mud huts and all kinds of African animals. In the centre was a village. One side played a group of European explorers who started in the village and had to make it to the edge of the table with some stolen goods. The other side played an African tribe, trying to stop the thieves. Congo uses cards to activate units. The cards allow you to take certain actions like move or shoot and come with a number for initiative. At the beginning of each round both sides play out a card. The side with the higher initiative goes first."

"That sounds interesting."


"Yes. And you can also bewitch other units, so they can't move or shoot. I played the African tribe with the teenager from Sweden and he was in such a good mood, enjoying the game so much, it turned Congo into the most entertaining two hours I had during the Tactica. Do you know the blog Dalauppror?"


"The author played at the same table on Sunday morning. There is a report on his blog with lots of pictures."

"Hm. I don't read tabletop blogs."

Vegetables from Mars


"Yeah. I know. I'm glad you read my blog once in a while. On Saturday morning, coming from the Abukir game, a bit exhausted, this guy comes to me, Alex, an old friend of my cousin, and says: 'I have something for you.', gives me a bag of miniatures, characters from Foundry's World of the Greek range. I'm like: Wow. Thank you. He says: 'For all the inspiration your blog gives me.'"


"Turns out he wants to do something similar to our Waltrop campaign. Ancient Greeks with mythological elements. I'm going to be in Dortmund with the kids during the summer, so we want to get together and play one day. Man, I was really touched by this. Alex has a wonderful blog. He is an amazing painter and does great pieces of terrain. You should check it out, Dr Moebius Miniature Mania."



"Ok. I'll try to do that."

"So how was your time in Dortmund?"

Behind Omaha

"Nice. I spent the weekend with my brother and his family. He had to work in the garden. I made the mistake to put my niece in a wheelbarrow. I had to drive her around in the garden all day. I was so exhausted."

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Hamburg Tactica 2017 / Saturday

"It's a pity you couldn't come to the Tactica this year.", I said to Krüger.

"Yes. How was it?"

team for historical simulations

the Perry twins + Aly Morrison

"Well. We arrived at 11 on Saturday morning and directly went to a table set up by the guys from THS to see if we could join them for a game at some point. One of them asked: 'Do you have anything to do now?', so we stayed. It was a large game using the ruleset Black Powder. They had beautiful miniatures and terrain, like last year. British forces were landing on the coast of Egypt at Abukir and the French were defending. We had a game master on each side. After a while they got into a rule fight. This reminded me of my early years of wargaming, but these guys must already be gaming in a club for more than 30 years, so I was surprised this happened. Maybe they were nervous because they had a game coming up at 2 o'clock with the Perry twins and Aly Morrison as guests. In any case, this was lots of fun. I mean, they were very friendly with us. Although … one of them kept teasing me that I should role the dice with more verge. I said: 'Man. These are dice. It doesn't matter with how much verge you roll them. You just need to get a random result.'"

Krüger asked: "What other games did you play?"

"There is this club from southern Germany that does excellent participation games each year …"

"Kurpfalz Feldherren?"

Kurpfalz Feldherren

Abu Sintra

"Yes. They were there with a large table, depicting an area of desert in Sudan. I played the British. I had to lead a camel caravan from one small side of the table to a camp on the opposite side, while the other three players, including Jörg, brought in large groups of nomads on camels and horses and on foot from the long sides. After an hour my caravan was stopped coming out of a narrow valley. I didn't even manage to capture an imam hiding in a small village on my right side. The terrain was quite impressive. The two game masters had used cork to depict rocks and the sides of cliffs. I really liked that."

"Great idea."

"All in all I was a bit tired on Saturday. The week before, Marjorie had worked a lot, leaving at 8 a.m. and returning at 3 the next morning. On Monday I had spent four hours on the train, bringing Lina and Hendrik to school, to aikido, to flamenco and picking them up again. And then there was the school strike …"

"So what else was there to see at the Tactica?"

Schlacht am Metauro

"They had a very interesting theme room with games for children and old miniatures and books. You could play several boardgames with plastic soldiers and there was a table with armies made of paper. They were taken from one of the books by the artist Peter Dennis who was also there showing how he worked. I would like to play more strategy games with Hendrik, so all of this was very inspiring. Those paper soldiers look fantastic, but cutting them out with a little scissor and glueing them together must take a lot of time, especially in my case, being such a slow person."

Peter Dennis

paper soldiers

paper soldiers

"We should play 40K with Hendrik."

"Yes. And he could join the Waltrop campaign, play some units of Greeks… He likes slingers."

"Slingers? Why?"

little wars

"I have no idea. There was also a library of gaming books. I flipped through some books and one of the members of the club THS recommended 'Scenarios for Wargames' by Charles Grant. It looked very interesting."

"Do you plan to buy the book?"

"I saw it for 363£ on Amazon yesterday."


Thursday, 30 March 2017

How to Make a Campaign Map

There are certainly people who can draw better maps than me, you can find them in the forum Cartographer's Guild, for example, but since I got asked how I made the map for our Waltrop Campaign, two blog posts ago, here is what I did ...

coastal line

With a large pen, I drew a coastal line on a copy of a hexagon grid. I scanned this and imported it into Photoshop. 


I added a blue background layer.


I added text layers in Photoshop to number the hexagons and cut out the hexagons in the top layer that I wanted to colour blue.

palm trees and mountains
I drew palm trees and mountains.

campaign map

I added these icons to the map as another layer in Photoshop.

All the players taking part in the campaign chose a colour. Krüger who plays wild orcs started on hexagons 20, 38, 40, 68, 78. Sven started on hexagon 61 with his Aquarians, I started on hexagon 32.

campaign map

And this is how our campaign map looks like after 13 turns.

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Orcs versus Green + Yellow Creatures / HotT Battle Report

Here is another short battle report from our campaign, you know, the Waltrop campaign.

After a horrible defeat against the Greeks, GURKBATZ let his orc warband into a piece of jungle (hexagon 47 on the campaign map) and encountered a group of strange green and yellow creatures.

We simulated the battle, using the excellent ruleset Hordes of the Things.

I played the creatures with this army list:

Warband General (yellow), 11 Warbands (green)

The army is made up of 24 copies of a miniature I had sculpted for the 2006 FU-UK sculpting contest. I had wanted to play this army for a long time.

Krüger says monotonous armies are no fun.

He played GURKBATZ and the Waltropical orcs (sounds like some kind of high school rock band) with this list:

Warband General, 7 Warbands, Hero, 2 Riders, 2 Beasts

I was the defender and placed three pieces of woods, a swamp and three rocks on the board.

orcs vs green + yellow creatures

I deployed most of my warbands in a battle line in front of a very large forest.

I didn’t know what to do with four remaining warbands, so they ended up on my left flank.

Krüger deployed his hero and his riders opposite to these and his beasts on the other flank.

He placed all of his warbands, including general GURKBATZ, in front of the large forest in the center, but forgot that warbands don’t get +1 rear support in bad going. Thus his warbands were deployed too clustered.

The large forest in the center put the focus of the game on the fight between his and my warbands. The forces on the sides weren’t activated much.

orcs vs green + yellow creatures

The mistake he had made in deploying his troops and bad luck let to Krüger’s defeat. He lost four warbands and his general.

"That was fun", I said.

"Not for me", Krüger said. "I lost."

"Yes. But you had a good chance of winning. You had a hero, beasts, riders … I only played warbands."

"I’m not very lucky playing Hordes of the Things", Krüger said.

"Sorry about that", I said.

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Ancient Greeks vs Orcs / Dragon Rampant Battle Report

On Friday I played Dragon Rampant with Krüger. It was our third game using Daniel Mersey’s popular ruleset and we enjoyed it a lot. It has elements of other games I like. Movement feels as free as in 40K, troop types remind me of HotT and the battles look a bit like Warhammer. On top of all that the rules are streamlined, simple and encourage creativity.

Herr Zinnling

The game was part of our ongoing campaign which takes place on the tropical island Waltrop. The Greeks from Kalimera under the command of Foibos moved into a piece of jungle controlled by the orcs.

I put a lot of tropical forests and some swamps on the board and other pieces of terrain to represent the jungle.

We choose scenario A (Gory Bloodbath on the Plains of Doom), forgot to dice for leader traits and decided not to use quests in order to learn the basic rules first. 
Foibos’ enchanted weapon didn’t work.

ancient greeks vs orcs

We played with 24 army points. Krüger played the orcs. He was the defender and deployed his troops in this order, as seen from my perspective:

Bellicose Foot / Heavy Riders / Light Foot / Elite Foot (Leader) / Bellicose Foot / Light Riders (Short Range Missiles)

I deployed my troops like this:

Scouts / Light Riders (Short Range Missiles) / Heavy Foot / Elite Foot (Leader + Enchanted Weapon) / Heavy Foot / Light Missiles

I took two pages of notes during the game but unfortunately I can’t decipher them any more. What happened was basically this:

On my left flank I moved the Thracian scouts into a piece of swamp. I sent a unit of Thracian light riders to support them. I also had a unit of hoplites (heavy foot) in that area.

ancient greeks vs orcs

Krüger sent a unit of boar riders (heavy riders) and some night goblins (light infantry) to attack the Thracians. He also wanted to attack with a warband of orcs (bellicose foot) but couldn’t activate them during the first rounds.

The boar riders were able to destroy my light cavalry, but then I attacked them with my hoplites. The boar riders were battered and retreated into the swamp where they were attacked by the Thracian scouts. They had to retreat once more and were destroyed as the result of a failed rally test.

The orc warband arrived too late and made a wild charge into the swamp. They lost the battle against the scouts and were also destroyed.

I don’t remember how I lost my scouts. Maybe the night goblins (light foot) killed them.

I had placed a large piece of forest in the centre. Krüger’s orc boss (elite foot) and an orc warband (bellicose foot) were moving towards my general (elite foot) and a unit of hoplites (heavy foot), while some goblin riders (light riders) and a unit of psiloi (light missiles) were shooting javelins and throwing stones at each other. I didn’t want to enter the woods with my hoplites, so I formed a spearwall and waited for the orcs.

ancient greeks vs orcs

The orcs attacked. Both units were destroyed.

Then the armies’ generals and their guards (elite foot) attacked each other. After a couple of rounds only Foibos and the orc boss survived, they had lost all their companions.

I asked: What is the name of your general?

Krüger said: Gurkbatz.

I thought: Finally the orc tribes, that live on the northeastern coast of Waltrop, have a boss with a name.

In a desperate move Gurkbatz attacked my slingers (light missiles) and was slain.

(Let’s just say Gurkbatz crawled away and left the battlefield, all beaten up and in pain. Otherwise the name „Gurkbatz“ will be lost and Krüger might take two years or so to come up with a new name for another general.)

When Krüger’s night goblins were also destroyed, only four units were left on the table: a unit of goblin riders (light riders) on Krüger’s side and Foibos (elite foot), a unit of hoplites (heavy foot) and a unit of psiloi (light missiles) on my side.

We rolled a die to see if the game ended. It did. I won. The Greeks from Kalimera now control hexagon 11 on our campaign map.

campaign map

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Humboldt and the Lost Treasure

Herr Zinnling, Marjorie, Trinka, Florian

It was Trinka’s birthday and she invited us to Humboldt and the Lost Treasure, an escape room in Berlin Lichtenberg. (Attention! Spoilers!) I had never been to an escape room before. We had to solve all kinds of riddles, so doors and chests would open. Like putting four items in a certain order to get a number combination for a lock.

What I found interesting was how we acted as a group. "Humboldt and the lost Treasure“ has a central room with hints and instructions. It’s probably best if one person stays behind and tells the others what to do through walkie talkies. We didn’t do that. First we couldn’t figure out how to work the walkie talkies. Then we had so much fun looking at all the objects in the rooms, we didn’t even bother to read the instructions. Maybe we are too curious and playful to act efficiently. I was good at seeing how the riddles worked, but too lazy or laid back to actually solve them.

We went through the first riddles quickly. Then we were lost. I had dropped a flashlight and it didn’t work anymore. Marjorie was worried that we had to pay for it later - the game master had said something about very expensive new equipment - and everybody thought we needed the light to solve the riddles. Florian and I were starring at a box with a large wooden centipede for ten minutes. We thought of very complicated things that could be done with the thing, until the game master got impatient and gave us a clue.

Apart from this we were doing fine as a group. We only needed five minutes extended playtime to solve the room.

Now I’m thinking how this experience relates to RPGs. I have never played a role-playing game that was all about solving riddles.

How about you?

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Happy New Year!

plastic plant

Some days ago, I left a comment on a wargaming blog, something like "Wonderful army. Also, I like your terrain, the plastic plants. Happy New Year! Karl" The comment was published and to my surprise removed a day later.

I tend to brood over things. Did I say anything inappropriate? Was the comment removed accidentally? Did the owner of the other blog look at Herr Zinnlings Arbeitszimmer and say: „I don’t want to have anything to do with that piece of shit blog.“ Did he think my comment about the plastic plants wasn’t honest? (I assure you, I love miniature plastic plants.) Did he think I’m a spam bot? Is it considered bad luck in the UK to say Happy New Year on the last day of the year?

I don’t know.

By the way, I’m always happy about comments on my blog and got some interesting, detailed, helpful, funny, inspiring, wonderful responses from you so far. Thanks a lot!

(Ok. I also get comments like „You might be eligible to get a free $1000 Amazon gift card.“)

When I was in Sioux City, Iowa as an exchange student, the most awkward situation for me was to go to the school’s restaurant for the first week. People already knew each other and were sitting at the tables with their friends, of course. I was new to the school, from another country and my English was bad. Also, when I was 16, I was very shy. Ending up at a large table to have lunch all by myself, I found quite horrible at that time.

Well, sometimes trying to communicate with other people about games through the internet, people that tend to be organised in groups, reminds me of my first week at the Bishop Heelan Catholic High School.

Whatever. It’s 2017 and I’m not 16 anymore.

Happy New Year!