Sunday, 13 June 2010

It's only a game.....

.... so put up a real good fight! I'm gonna be snookering you tonight. Dah da da, dah da dah!!

No-one else remember that one? Snooker game-show with Jim Davidson and John Virgo? No?

Thursday night saw the shed being properly christened as N21's premier wargames facility. Rich and Shaun popped round for an evening of Flying Lead.

Its been far too long since the three of us got together but the easy banter soon returned over a fish and chip supper.

Thankfully, so did my recollection of the rules.

Rich is the hallowed author of Flying Lead, available through Ganesha Games, using the Songs of Blades and Heroes core mechanics.

As we were drinking MY tea around MY gaming table I was fully expectant of receiving a good kicking across the table. Its the RULES don't you know :)

Rich has worked himself up a lovely set of figures and scenarios for Afghanistan 2010 and production values were as high as always.

As I'm sure Rich's attire suggests we're quite an irreverent set of gamers looking for a good game. We like to play the period rather than the rules, "feel" being all important.

I've always found it interesting how different gamers and groups feel differently about playing certain periods and forces for reasons of ethics and taste.

We were all once engaged in a very large WWII Normandy tank hunt during a weekend's gaming at a village hall. The caretaker popped by and, genuinely interested, told us about his time as a Sherman gunner fighting his way through the bocage.

We all felt like naughty schoolboys caught doing something bad. He went home to bring back sheaf's of photos loving the fact that we were interested.

Discussing a possible Pegasus Bridge game, the idea of using real squad lists was excitedly suggested. When we caught up with ourselves we rejected the idea as too close to the knuckle. How would you feel firing "your" MG-42 at a "real" soldier.

Yet playing an SS unit is absolutely fine to many, popular if anything. To me it seems to be a matter of abstraction. I've wandered past an Israeli vs Palestinian West Bank game at a show thinking "that looks great, but surely that's a bit keen?". I find the conflict of particular interest but don't know if I could actually game it. Each to their own!

So, on to the game.
1s are particularly important within Flying Lead. Every figure has a quality rating between 2 and 5, lower is better. When activated you can choose to attempt 1, 2 or 3 actions. Each roll equal or under gets you an action. Any roll of snake-eyes ends your turn.

So, playing percentages means doing the easier, less important stuff first but how much fun would that be?
So, our scenario saw a British "brick" patrol holed up with two casualties, one walker and one on a stretcher, whilst the local Afghans close in.

Shaun took the Afghans whilst I had the Brits and Rich supervised.

I had a Viking patrol rolling onto one table edge with Shaun taking the other three. It would be three turns until the guy on the stretcher became critical and dice would be rolled for him.
Remembering my way back into the rules during the first turns I relied on my elite status and "2" rated leaders, going for three activations from the off.

Three turns in and three sets of snake-eyes saw the Afghans closing fast whilst the Viking had stalled.
With the enemy at the gates I actually decided to starting thinking about what I was doing. Thankfully Lady Luck intervened.

Another feature of the game are a deck of Fog Of War cards. Roll off at the beginning of each turn and if you double your opponent, receive a card. Shaun had had three in three turns and the curse of the host was being fulfilled!

At this point the lad on the stretcher had been put out of his misery by a grenade blast and the brick leader, dubbed "Wales", had been dropped by AK fire. The Afghans were a revolting unwashed mass!When I FINALLY got hold of a FoW card it gave me two more draws resulting in a Hellfire strike from a UAV and an off table sniper strike.

Immediately used, four Afghan fighters were caught in the open by the Hellfire ,and sent scurrying, whilst the sniper force the Afghan commander co-ordinating the attack to seek some immediate cover.

This was the turning point with my dice finally balancing out their initial poor performance. Shaun's had been exemplary and became merely "average". As always, the cav arrived in the nick of time, aggressively clearing out the cowering Afghans with grenades and burst fire.

Three plucky Brits were medi-vaced out in the back of the Viking whilst the Afghans melted back into the local population. We ran through the victory points to discover that I'd somehow grasped an unlikely victory. Thanks be to off table support!!

An excellent game all round. The mechanisms all work slickly and the core rules can be applied across a number of periods.

I rather fancy doing so for AWI and cracking my Royal Welch Fusiliers out of their carry case.

Good stuff :)

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