Monday, 21 May 2018

Star war Death Star Trench Game

How to build a Death Star


Last summer at my school's May fair I had devised a game based on the popular eighties quiz show "Play your Cards Right" It was good and we had lots of fun doing our "Brucie" impressions, however this fell quite flat due to our School although being British, is located in Spain. After the day was over I started to think of a new game that would be more attractive and draw the "punters" in but use the same type of mechanics of using the playing cards to give the choice of higher or lower to progress along the game. 

Being a Wargamer I thought about the type of scenarios that we could use that I had seen before at conventions. There were some on the short list, Dambusters, Charge of the light Brigade for instance but then I realised I could combine my interest of the original Star Wars and the wargame rules "X Wing" by building the trench run from the Original film.

I've always thought that  "X wing" were a good set of rules, but the models were quite expensive. In the summer I was over in Montanna, U.S.A and found in a shop Hot wheel models of the X wings and tie fighters at a very cheap price around 5 dollars each. They are a little bit bigger than the Xwing models  but with a little paint job they come out really well.

I looked on the internet for some inspiration and decided on using some spare ceramic tiles I had lying around due to ordering too many to make a mosaic a few years earlier and got my milimetres and centimetres mixed up. 

I used quite a few things including unused bases, broken up coasters and the grey is a type of cheap foam material which has the advantage of being easy to cut into different shapes. This tile below was my first test tile.

After I sprayed it matt meduim grey. it came out as below which looked pretty good, however there was a problem with the foam sections because the paint just soaked in. Luckily I used a grey foam so it wasnt much of a problem.

As well as the spare tiles I also had some spare wooden beams, so I could raise the tiles up and make the trench in the middle.

Once I was happy with the first tile, I began my mass production line, making around ten tiles of the same design to spread around the table.

Once these were sprayed grey I felt that the Deathstar surface was begining to take shape and gave me the incentive to carry on. 

My next batch of tiles had spare plastic sprues glued on to act as some type of  pipe.

The next batch of tiles I glued the tops offyogurt sachet drinks that I had collected off the children in my class at snack time. 

I asked a colleague at work who had a 3D printer to see if he could make the gun turrets that were dotted around the surface of the Deathstar. The following week he stopped me at the end of the day and took out six plastic turrets out of his pocket, although some barrels were broken due to being in his trousers all day! I was going to make the base of the turret out of plywood, but I noticed my wife had bought some planter trays that were just the right shape and size. 

After getting permission to cut up her newly bought planter I fixed the turret with magnets to the base so it can easily being turned or removed. 

The turrets were then covered by the grey foam. 

I designed 6 tiles that had a large square in the middle for the  turret to fit in.

Finally all the top surface was complete, now to work on the sides.

The X wing models that were going to go down the trench were mounted on seperate bases, that meant  during the game  that they would have to be moved individually by hand each move. I wanted to try putting them on wires so it looked  like they were actually flying. However the models were too heavy and after a few days of messing around I decided to go back to the drawing board. 

After a few weeks I came up with the idea of putting the x wings on a piece of perspex on a track that is glued to the sides. Therefore the side tiles had to be fixed on permantely.

  To pull the perspex tile, I used fishing wire that was put threaded through the end of the trench to the side

 I also made another perspex tile for Darth Vader and his tie fighters,

Soon as the moving mechanism was working correctly, the sides were then glued with parts especially pipes parts (sprues) and then sprayed. Also the last tile was the infamous exhuast port, for this I drilled a hole in the tile to give it extra depth.

To give the actual surface more depth, I painted the base of the tiles a darker grey. With just a week to spare for the May fair at the school,  all the painting was finished. To finish off the outside of the board, I used some spare grey wooden floor panels. With all the cutting and drilling, this seemed to take longer to do than building the Deathstar.

 As all wargamers know there was still things that were not quite finished before the big day. The night before, I made four tea candle explosions and used some fishing wire and fluorescent plastic tubing to create laser fire on the Deathstar surface.

       During the morning before the game, we stuck the Imperial and Rebel Isgnia on each side of the table.

My original idea was to use the cards to advance the X wings up the trench, however early on in the development stage I decided to change to a large 12 sided dice rolled down a ramp. Basically to advance to the first square you need to roll 2 or more, each square you need a higher number until you reach the exhaust port when you need a 11 o 12. Each time you roll less than the aquired score then you lose a X wing. However Luke Skywalker in the last X wing may "use the force" and have one reroll.

These pictures were taken at the start of the day (didnt get chance after the first hour), the game was so popular we didnt get a break all day with a constant supply of rookie Rebel pilots (I managed to get two mouthfulls of paella for my dinner). We kept a record of everybodies dice score plus whoever actually destroyed the Deathstar got an extra 100points. During the day we had about six people who completed the mission and recieved a Certificate, but also the top three winners recieved a X Wing model.

Im looking forward to playng this with the X wing rules with my friends in the summer and also repeating this hopefully at the summer fair next year with a few small improvements. Im trying to to think of a way of incorporating the dice rolling into the actual trench. Watch this space...

Monday, 26 February 2018

Arte de la Guerre Tournament 2018 Alicante

For 2018 it was decided to try to hold four local ADLG tournaments in the Alicante/Murcia  region so players did not have to travel far to play the minimum number of tournaments needed to play to qualify for the ranking system. The first one was held in Alicante and it was voted to be an open tournament 200 point 15mm army and any list from the rulebook would be allowed. This I feel is the best option due to restriction in unit types that are allowed or armies, will mean less players. I've seen a tournament advertised this year for only the medieval period that has banned Heavy knights, foot knights and pikes! The ADGL rules have been going for a good number of years now and there is still no meta army that a player can win all the time with, and this is what makes the game appealing. Each type of unit has its strengths and also it weaknesses which I feel is well reflected in the points system and break point system.

Maybe to prove the point there were 14 players who took part in the tournament  and all took different armies that were varied in type and ages.

They were

1 -Rafa (Valdavia) - 263 Yuan Chinese
2- Javi (Aliatar)  - 128 Nikephorian Byzantine
3- Javi (Zak) lista - 225 Hundred years War English
4- Guillermo - 172 Normans
5 - Salva  - 72 Galatian
6- Jose Angel  - 40 Alexander The Great
7- Pepe - 79 Classical Indian
8- Phil - 222 Medieval Scots
9- Eduardo Mira  - 161 Christian Nubian
10- Iñaki  - 235 Borgundian Ordonnance
11- Jacques  - 9 Assyrian Empire and Sagonid
12- Vicente  - 258 Timurid
13- Josebi  - 181 Comunal Italian
14- Rafa Aullo lista - 227 Medieval German
15- Pau lista - 228 Medieval Spanish
16- Felix lista - 56 Numidian

I was looking forward to finally try my Scottish medieval army in a tournament, after much debating on whether to take Heavy spearmen or Mediocre pike I opted for pike. I took an Allied highlander corp but the Medium infantry with bow at 10 points are quite expensive, however they are necessary as the army is a little on the light side for light and mediums troops. so my army was as follows.

On the day of the Tournament in Alicante was also Carnival day, where people dress up in fancy dress all day and have a good time, with this in mind Toni the tournament organiser joked that there would be prize for anyone who dressed as the same as their Army. For a bit of a laugh I managed to borrow a kilt from one of my friends to wear on the day.

Actually this photo was from a few year ago when I played with my jacobite army(mostly now converted to my ADLG medieval army), but you get the idea .
 To save time on the actual day, the draw for the first game was done and released the day before. We were going to play four games lasting two hours fifteen minutes plus lunch so time was going to be tight, especially as the Spanish are pretty relaxed when it comes to their meal times.
 My first game was to be against Felix and his Numidians, This was going to be a toughie as their break point was 29 and it would be hard to pin them down with my slower moving pikes and knights. His army was as follows;

After playing quite a few games of ADLG over the last few years I've realised that the placing and knowledge of how terrain effects troops is a very important part of the game. Also your initial deployment can win or in my case lose you a game before you have started.

I was defending and Felix chose plain for the type of terrain. To make my flanks harder to turn, I threw for a coast and also a town. The dice gods were unhappy from the start of the day and I got neither, luckily I had a back up plan and opted for two plantations which I diced for my side of the table. Why plantations when you have a large amount of pikes and knights in your army, are you mad? you may ask. However like "Baldrick from Black Adder", I had a cunning plan and wanted hide my allied highlanders near the centre line of the table in ambush, this has a two fold purpose, to make my opposition think that the missing corp is on a flank attack and also if I did throw a one (which does happen on many occasions) then the opposing player would make my inactive allies become active unknowingly getting close to the ambush. With my left flank secure I knew I could advance confidently up to get grips with his main corp of fake legions.

Numidian Elephants were ready to try to make my pikemen flat as Scottish oatcakes (which are definitely not the same as my beloved Potteries oatcakes). So I dismounted my Knights and placed them in the line. As the Numidian approached they triggered my waiting Highlander with some scouting light horse. Know I know why the English adopted longbows and the Scots decided to use very long pointy sticks. The Highlanders let loose with their bows and couldn´t hit a thing. 

On my left flank my Highlanders fed up of not hitting anything, threw down their bows and drew their claymores and charged into  the gulley in front of them taking out the enemy light troops and securing the flank. The two main bodies advanced steadily until they clashed. Apart from a dismounted Heavy knight unit on the far left of my line which I didnt realise would rout on three cohesions and not four like ordinary foot knights, oh well another lesson learnt. All the rest of my units held their own against the charging Elephants and impetuous troops.

As usual when the real fighting gets going and there is limited time to finish the game, I was too busy trying to break the enemy to take anymore photos. After their initial charge the elephants were like pussy cats and were easy to finish off, routing down their line creating more chaos and damage. My Highlanders charged and finished off the attempted breakthrough on the end of my left line. It wasn't long before the fake legions lived up to their name and broke also causing routs and cohesions to the light infantry that were stuck behind them. Felix tried to break through the plantation on my right flank, but it was too little to late and I was able to pull some units to cover the threat due to my right flank only being threatened by a few pointy sticks thrown by the numerous light horse. On the last turn My Scots went into a "Mel Gibson" blood frenzy and by the end of my last turn I had broken the Numidians comfortably by around 33 points.

My win meant that my second game was against Guillermo and his Norman Army. This was a reversal of adversaries because in two Saga tournaments my Norman faction has fought against Guillermo´s Scots faction, spooky. Guillermo army was as follows;

I lost the initiative dice off again and Guillermo chose to attack and picked  plain terrain. Following my strategy I tried to get a coast to secure a flank, this time I succeeded and put it on my left flank. I failed to roll for a village so picked a plantation to set up my ambush. Guillermo picked a road and a field. There was a bit of discussion about can the road be placed with one side entering the coast. At a previous tournament I had been told it wasn't possible because the coast is not technically a table edge. However Toni the umpire and organiser of the tournament, believed that it was possible. To me this was no problem, there are plenty roads that lead to the coast where I live in Spain and  I sure it was the same in medieval times. I did my regular proverbial "balls up" when I tried to place my carefully crafted ambush in the plantation, only to have it pointed out to me that the plantation was in the centre part of the table and ambushes can only be placed on the flanks. However this wasn't to bad a problem as I first thought after making a quick plan B, as Moltke said "no battle plan survives the first contact with the enemy" my plan doesn't even survive the initial deployment.

Even though I had taken mounted Heavy Knights because they were impetuous and maybe harder to control, I had decided to dismount them in deployment even if there wasn't any smelly camels or elephants running around the battlefield. However due to the realisation that when dismounted they went down to three cohesions I went to my earlier plan of using them as a mobile reserve to protect the flanks or plug any gaps in the frontline. 

I placed my Highlanders on my left flank facing the cream of the Norman knights, hopefully they would be a deterrent for a flank attack. As usual when I throw for my allies on the first time , I get a 1, actually it has become so common for this to happen to me , I am genuinely surprised when I get two or more. However this time I wasn’t to bothered because it meant the Norman Knights might actually be reluctant in activating them and slow down Guillermo´s flank attack.

The Norman´s left flank was a little more successful, however I wasn't to worried as my impetuous Knights were on overwatch ready for any light troops to risk coming out of the fields into open terrain. 

As the main lines began to close, I thought it was time for some traditional Scottish refreshment, unfortunately I had trouble explaining in Spanish that it was made from, as funnily enough I havn't had the need to use the word viga (girder) before.

Guillermo tried to bring a javelin unit through the woods to threaten my pike block's left flank, they were actually stopped by a light infantry unit who were already disrupted but managed to block the advance until some longbowmen were able to support them and actually rout the Norman javelinmen. Running out of time the Norman  knights charged the allied Highlanders on the flank and were soon shot up and the few units that reached the Highlander line was soon dispatched and routed in the rough terrain. The Norman main line was smaller and weaker than my pike block and was soon destroyed as well, meanng that I had won the game. 

Winning my first two games was great and put me in second position. However this meant that the opposition was going to get tougher. Just as we got ready to leave the club for our  lunch I found out my friend Javi a very experienced player (he has won 10 ADLG tournaments and has come second or third around 8 times), so I knew the next game was going to be tough.

 Any fears that I might get strange looks going for lunch on a Saturday afternoon in Alicante city centre wearing a kilt were soon forgotten as I realised due to it being Carnival weekend there were many stranger sights such as Snow white and the seven dwarfs and Star wars stormtroopers walking around the town.

Bloody showoff, how I am supposed to compete with a flaming camel.
After an uncharacteristically quick Spanish lunch we returned to the club for our third game, as I said before I was playing Javi and his Nikephorian Byzantine, his army was as follows -

I was elected as the defender and placed a town on my right flank and impassable terrain in the centre of my deployment zone. This gave me two secure flanks, I placed my Highlanders an ambush in the town. Javi advanced his light infantry until he sprang my ambush.  In the next move, he managed to get one of his light infantry into the town and behind my Highlander corp. This small unit became a real pain in the backside during the game and was possibly my downfall.  

                                        My left flank began to get shot up by the horse and foot archers, which mean't I had a choice to try and hold or advance to try and get to grips with Javi's infantry.

Even though Javi´s light infantry in my town was sandwiched between my Highlander unit and a pikeman unit it was boostered by its general rallying it. Then against all odds the light infantry won again against my infantry routing it. Unfortunately this caused further suffering as both of my units in combat behind the routed unit also lose a cohesion point and are routed aswell. This basically destroyed my right flank and in the next turn my army was broken. As Javi pointed out afterwards, my four units of mounted heavy knights should have been more advanced instead of hanging back and not being involved.

My loss against meant I had a slim chance with my fourth game to get in the top 3 positions. For my fourth game I played against Eduardo and his Christian Nubian, which I was looking forward to because I have looked a few times in using this army in a tournament. Eduardo's army was composed of the following units although through translation I seem to be 10 points lighter than it should be;

Eduardo won the initiative and chose to defend in the desert to give his camels an advantage. This meant I took the unfamiliar role of he attacker. I was so unfamiliar I had placed a plantation in the middles of the table, still thinking I was defending. Therefore his Light and Meduim infantry had a nice piece of terrain to advance and hide in. To slightly off set my mistake I placed my Highlanders to advance and hold the plantation.

Unfortunately the game was quite a busy one with Eduardo´s cavalry and camelry attempting to get around both flanks and I was only able to take a couple of photos. Basically Eduardo didn´t have the units with strength to destroy my pike units and my pike units couldn´t really get to grips and destroy Eduardo´s medium infantry. Therefore the game ended in a draw with both of us losing 20 breakpoints each.

So after 4 games and about 10 hours playing time we had a result for the tournament.

Salva won the wooden spoon with his 72 Galatian Army.

Rafa with his 236 Yuan chinese came in third position

Iñaki came second with his 235 Borgundian Ordonnance.

                                                   Javi with his 128 Nikephorian Byzantine

A special shout out to another Javi (Zak) who as well as participating in the tournament also donated 10 units expertly painted by himself. If you are interested in having some figures painted this is his website

After giving out the prizes it was on to the raffle (sorteo), there were enough prizes for everyone but I think everybody wanted to win Zak`s archers and knights. As wargamers all know randomness has funny way of actually becoming predictable, and the first name pulled out was Zak`s. Genorously Zak to another prize and not his own, I still didn´t win though.

It was an excellent and friendly tournament and I came fifth so not too bad. Many thanks for Toni in organising it even though he was not able to participate due to the even number of players. Can`t wait for the next one in Alcoy in April. Im still waitng for my fancy dress prize though!