Sunday, 28 November 2021

"Where/How Can I..." And Other Questions...

Personal Thoughts on Regular Queries..

On the various Facebook Groups to which I sometimes contribute (Trans. Upon which I occasionally inflict my maunderings) there are questions which come up regularly...

Being the kind of bod I am - and given some of the mixed bag of responses to these questions which I see from others - I often chip in with my tenpenn'orth and try to be realistic and (I hope) helpful.

However, I find myself repeating the same advice anything from some two to five times a month, sometimes a couple of times a week (I guess folks don't look at  past posts on the Groups they've joined before posting themselves.. Or are jinxed by FB's occasionally bizarre comment visibility thang. Who knows..?*) and so, I thought I'd pen some answers here; both to save my time (I can just post a link to this in future) and also to help concentrate my own wayward thoughts on the subject(s).

So here are some (rambling?) comments from an old stager......

(*Actually, thinking about it, I've noticed this phenomenon of asking a question before researching oneself, and thus forming one's own thoughts/opinion, increasing on Social Media generally. Maybe it's a generational thing..?

My first instinct is to research myself, then ask to fill any gaps I have drawn a blank on. That's how I was taught to learn/taught myself "back in the day", and I guess old habits die hard. Given that almost all the queries I have, or see asked, can be answered in about ten minutes Googling nowadays - as opposed to the old days of half an hour's walk to the Library before spending hours finding and copying from the right book, before walking back - I find this phenomenon a tad odd.. Research is so very, very easy now.. And I enjoy it. But hey, ho.. We're all different and none of us are right....)

OK... So, to the questions.

Regular Question 1) I am new to Wargaming and don't know where to start. Where do I start? What should I buy?

Oh, boy...

I guess I've been "wargaming" (i.e. using dice etc. as part of playing with toy soldiers) since the 60s (thanks to Terry Wise's "Introduction to Battle gaming") so just grew into it. Thus the idea of starting totally from scratch as an adult/teen is outside of my experience. My gaming just evolved (and ebbed and flowed) over the decades) - mainly from historical periods or incidents of interest or stories garnered from reading, TV and cinema. Hence the idea of starting with a blank canvas is actually quite hard for me to imagine. However, my usual response to this question is something along the lines of:

a) What period/aspect/genre are you interested in (i.e. what has sparked the sudden interest?) and "What do you want out of this hobby?".

Personally, before buying anything, I would start by deciding on the period/genre of most interest to you (presumably something has triggered the interest), then think about the scale of the actions you want to fight (that is the size of the fight - not the scale of the figures; we'll come on to that later).

Are you interested in VERY small scale fights (like Old West/Sci-Fi gunfights or swashbuckling duellists) of a handful to a couple of dozen figures where each guy on the table represents an individual or character (basically like RPG)?

If so, this is a great (and cheap) way to start; you'll only need a few figures and something to play on, some rules you like, and away you go.

Or do you want to do skirmishes (say 20 -80 fellows a side on the table and operating with units of bods)?

If so, you'll need more figures (and therefore likely space to deploy and store them) and likely some terrain (ditto). This where scale of figures AND ground scale may start to be factors (how much does a measurement on the table represent and how many men does each figure represent. This may be determined by the Rule Set you chose) - not to mention cost. Remember, the larger the figures, the more space you'll need.

Or do you want to do games at regimental level and above, fighting large "field battles" or recreations of historical events? Figure scale (both size of figures and how many men each figure represents) will be key here, and the rules likely (but not always) to be more complex.

My advice is always start small, simple and work up; it's no good spending heaps of cash on load of figures and terrain and expensive rule sets only to find you don't actually get a kick out of playing...... 


1/A) Figures for First-Timers:

1) For Small fights: a scatter of metal figures won't break the bank if you're going for handfuls (esp. if going 15mm-20mm).

Take a gander at different posts on the blog on Facebook Solo Wargaming With Miniatures and other fora here and you will see small skirmishes written up using 15mm, 20mm/1/72 and 28mm.

2) Unit Level Skirmishes: Plastic, plastic, plastic.... At 1/72*..

(*AKA 20mm, AKA 22mm AKA "small 25mm", AKA 1/76. Seriously, don't get involved in talking about scales yet. Life's too short.)

Why plastic 1/72? Cost and space.You could go 15mm, but it'll cost more.

Try 28mm if you have space and the budget.. But for me they are just too big  - or rather the terrain which goes with them takes up too much space in my Play Room, and British weather makes the garden out of bounds - once you get to forty or more figures..

But the thing with STARTING (and that's what we're talking about here) is keeping the cost down - it's no good ending up with a bunch of expensive bods you can't even be bothered to play with (let alone paint). So I'd go down the plastic route. There's a lot of choice out there, most eras are covered, they are easy to covert and easy to buy; apart from Ebay there are some good online traders out there - and, best of all, you get lots of bang for your buck; plastic 1/72 is your cheapest option.

Also, unlike with a LOT of metal offerings, you can generally see what you are buying.. Yes... You will find that even though we're in the 21st century, some metal figure manufacturers don't put up pictures of their figures - let alone size comparison pics (this, and appearance, are important - see below "Notes on Scales") on their sites, so that very often you can't see what you might want to buy without searching gamers' blogs etc...

I know.. Self-defeating isn't it...? But there we are...

However, not only do most plastic manufacturers (and some traders) show what their boxes contain on their websites, you also have access to the amazing Plastic Soldier Review.

You really do need to get used to dipping into this site if you're going plastic 1/72. It is genuinely invaluable...

3) Large Scale Actions:  See above. Plastic 1/72. Maybe 15mm if that floats your boat.

Personally I go 6mm for large actions (you can see examples on the Blog here) because you can both get a lot of lads on the table PLUS still have a lot of space free for manoeuvre (including running away).

You could go smaller still (2mm), but I've not gone that route.. 

There are examples of 5mm-6mm-1/300, 15mm, 20mm-1/72 and 28mm figures in use on the Blog here..

Personally, were I starting from scratch, I'd start with concentrating on a single period/genre which really, really grabs me, then start small scale actions (skirmishes) with 1/72 plastics or below. Remember that if you want larger figures you may run into space and storage issues (large terrain items).

1/B) Rules for First-Timers: 

OK.. This is SUCH a personal question that all folks can do is point you towards finding what suits them as an individual...

1) Don't pay for a rule set you then find you don't like them. Find a simple, free rule-set (NOT necessarily Solo to start with) online for the genre and level which best floats your boat. Loads out there with a few minutes Googling. Seriously, you do NOT want to burden yourself with complexity. Simplest is best. Otherwise you'll just put yourself off and end up with a shelf-full of unused (expensive) rule books.. Find the style of rules you like by playing.

2) Take a trawl through the Posts, linked Blogs and Files Section here. Loads of ideas for Solo tweaking any rule set. Trawl the multiple videos out there re the various popular rules systems to get a feel for what you like/don't like re. systems. Personally, for me, the more imponderables and unknowns the better (more like real life) but this is Solo. Your Game. Your Rules....

3) If you MUST pay for rules and are the kind of chap who likes to place yourself in someone else's straitjacket, which is fine, but not MY bag, then look at rule review videos and Blogs before you buy. Totally avoid buying ANY rule set costing you more than a fiver (or running into more than 5 or so pages) until you've felt your way in (see above). Go for PDFs before printed where that is an option. Too many unused, expensive rule sets on the shelves make you cross after a while, as well as taking up precious toy space...

4) Remember that ANY rule set can be "solo-ised". Loads of techniques and methods discussed on the Solo Wargaming with Miniatures group/in the Files Section/various Blogs.

5) Remember that this is Solo... Your Game. Your Rules. Adapt, tweak and cannibalise...

Regular Question 2) What is the best Solo rule set for (fill in appropriate era/genre/style etc....  Or not, as the case may be)?

Simple answer; the ones you already play with intuitively and are happy with. Solo-ise them. There is no point in abandoning a good rule set which work for you or to go learning a whole new set of rule conventions for the basics of  movement, fighting, moral, basing (if you must), organisation etc. etc. just to get a solo game.

The ones you already like/know/play intuitively are best - then just add solo-systems.

If you are already happy with a set which tells you how to move/fight/judge morale yaddah yaddah you do not need to learn a whole new new set of games rules just to play solo, since those basics don't need to change. Just add different solo techniques (loads of different methods demonstrated here & on other blogs & Facebook Groups) to the rules you already know and can already play without thinking or having to keep going back to the rule book. Do this till you find what works best to give you the solo experience you want..... 

This really is the best way to get into solo in my book; not sitting down and learning a whole new rules system for movement/morale/fighting etc. etc. - for if you do that you are setting yourself two tasks; getting your head around solo play AND learning a whole new rules system, when you only really need to do the first.....

It's no good having a good set of solo techniques in a rule set if you have to keep going back to the new rule set because the rules themselves handle movement/fighting/moral differently from what you have been doing naturally (or weirdly, or unhistorically etc. etc.). The rules will end up on the shelf...

When I come across a really good solo-play idea (or even two-player technique which can be adapted) in a new rule set I nick the idea/s - and add it/them to my House Rules. I never sit down and learn a new rule set that tells me how to suck eggs in a slightly different way just to achieve the same thing these days. Life is too short......

Which leads into: 

Regular Question 3) Can You Play (insert popular rule set here) Solo ?

All rule sets can be played Solo, but it depends what YOU want from a game. 

If you want to simply "play chess" against yourself, being fair to both sides, and if you are genuinely able to put your head into two different places during a game then this can be fine. It can work, and I've done this a lot.. However, for me this is a limiting and sometimes unsatisfying method because one generally tends to only see what one sees oneself as potential moves. You CAN surprise yourself on occasion, but not often.  Surprises, and tension, are thus reduced. 

If you want to do the same but introduce imponderables and randomness for both sides to make life more interesting there are simple ideas and dice and/or card-based systems covered in posts here, in the Files Section of the Solo Wargaming With Figures Facebook Group and in various blogs scattered across the Web. Once again, Mr, Google is your friend and five to ten minutes searching will turn something up....

Play with the stems, make up your own tables and even cards**. Don't be afraid of ad hoc, mid game, back of the fag packet decision tables. These can make great games and be great fun. 

(**Making your own cards is simple and fun. You can buy packs of "blank on one side" playing cards, or use blank business cards or blank beer mats with a simple home-made stencil on the back (if you must). If you cant draw then there are multitudinous images online - print off labels and stick them on the cards. Or you can get them printed on sites which will do that for you. Loads of examples of home-made/designed cards in use on the Blog here.)

If you want to go the whole hog and play one side against an "AI" over which you have no control, again, there are tips and methods suggested here on this Blog and in the sources mentioned above. Again card and dice systems, tables and flow charts, hidden enemy deployment, use of Blinds, randomised Activation, ad hoc Decision Tables (again, examples on this and other Blogs) are all great aids.

Limit the knowledge you, the commander, has (Yes; OK, you CAN sometimes see everything, but use your "commander figure" as it it were you. You "can't see" what he can't, OK?). 

Use the communications difficulties of the period (there are ALWAYS communication difficulties...) to make life interesting.

Most important (to me) is the narrative element. A fight in a vacuum has no interest for me; I have chess for that kind of thing. I need a backstory. Why are the guys there. Why are they fighting? What do they hope to achieve?

That's where an imagination, films and books for inspiration (you will see examples on the Blog here) or campaigns help. For me the story aspect keeps me interested and inspires me to play - and there is nothing more boring for me than just setting the guys out without having an idea why they are there. Campaigns (again, examples on the Blog) do all that work for you.....

General Thoughts on Rules:

If you want someone to have done the work for you there ARE a variety of solo rules out there which you can pay for, and a scatter of free ones, but personally I've never found a bought system that totally floats my boat - plus it's more rules to learn - but looking at rule playthrough videos or free rules are a good way at looking at different approaches and getting ideas. I'd always start with these first though....

However, for the record, 
I guess the fairest answer to "recommended" rules would be to say which rule sets have influenced me most (Trans. which I have stolen from most..).

For ideas and simple rules works by 1960s and 1970s Terry Wise and Don Featherstone..

For little skirmishes; ideas from Space Hulk (don't laugh), Advanced Heroquest (ditto) and the old "Three Card Trick" duelling (Gerard Du Gre via Featherstone) have stood me in good stead; with some ideas from "En Guard" bringing me up to the 21st century.

For big (unit level) skirmishes: An old Military Modelling/Wargame magazine article several decades ago (Ted Brown) with some basic black powder (IM) rules which themselves were a forerunner in some ways to what got me back into the hobby again a few years back; my "restart" rules being the various Two Fat Lardies' offerings "Sharpe Practice" and Dux Britanniarum. These got me back into the hobby and although not designed for Solo already have a deal of randomisation, which make them a good starting point.

"The Men Who Would Be Kings" also have some interesting solo ideas ("Mr. Baggage"). 

For late medieval I liked some of the aspects of  the relativity recent "Never Mind The Billhooks" - again, easy to solo-ise (see the article here).

I toyed with DBA for large battles a while ago, but it felt too formulaic, so my large battle rules are Home-bashed variants on the above. 

For Sci-Fi I have my simple home-bashed rules, but I recently looked at GreyWizardGaming's (excellent) video walkthrough of 5 Parsecs latest edition - and the skirmish rules seem to do just what I would want from that kind of game (and are very like my House Rules)....

However, if you're going down the bought rules route remember that just because a rule set says "Solo rules for WW2 Skirmishes" (or whatever) the basics of warfare in terms of knowing and not knowing what where the enemy is and what they intend to do is largely just a question of detail (technical, cultural etc.). The principles  - especially the elements of chance, confusion and communication difficulties - generally hold true throughout history (and genre).

However, for me looking at other folk's rules is more about seeking ideas, rather than re-learning how to play. Look at other rules as a "resource", rather than a "how to..." instruction pack. 
Personally I find settling on the processes which flow for you - and setting your own "House Rules" after tweaking and cannibalising various ideas - works best. I never put myself in someone else's straight-jacket unless it really, really fits me and lets me feel right. Remember, it's Solo; you play your game YOUR way... 

What makes a set for me are those with room for a narrative and quick, intuitive, simple mechanics (how far, does it hit, how much does it damage, how does that matter) true to period with minimal tables (and where those that are necessary become imprinted quickly).


While, for me, gaming shouldn't be about "right and wrong" ways of playing, or seeking to rule on what should/should/can't be demonstrated (experienced) on the table, I have my preferences. These have changed over the years (and grown - I probably play more varied types of games/rule conventions than I used to) - largely due to widening interests, wide reading, life experience and the best part of couple of decades of (largely medieval) re-enactment - which, though, again, "playing", has led to a lot of thinking and reflection on some the aspects of command and control, as well as the effect of personalities and group behaviour on The Table....

The above has resulted in sets of House Rules (largely solo) which reflect the (very real) Command & Control issues, personality issues, mob/crowd behaviour  - and above all Chance - inherent in battle, and which try to reflect the fact that most battles are "Lost", rather than "Won". 

Therefore in my large fights (skirmishes are a different animal) the Active Player's role is mainly personality and crisis management, coupled with juggling the communication difficulties which go with the period.

Those rules that allow a God-like "Great Captain" way of playing, shifting units like chess pieces to some brilliant plan (whatever he's doing at the time), just don't cut the mustard for me anymore; I'm a great believer in chance/tables affecting both sides  - especially since I usually actively "play" one side and have an AI (shorthand term) "play" the other. And if the Commander gets personally involved in the Ruck, of course, then all chance of commanding goes out the window.....

For me overcoming the real-life imponderables which affect a friendly army are as much (sometimes more) important to the fun of the game than "fighting" the "enemy"... For me there is little to beat the (post-battle at least) "enjoyment" of losing to a randomised AI because of your own failure to manage your own force effectively, or of winning - despite your own failures - due to the unauthorised actions of a subordinate..

It's horses for courses, of course, and each to their own.

So there we are. A very personal (idiosyncratic?) wander through those regular questions. Hope it helps.

Take a trawl though the Blog for ideas. Nick, tweak and cannibalise. If you have any questions please ask...

Happy gaming...

Friday, 26 November 2021

Battlin' The Federation; Part Two

Episode Two - The Rescue:

Having retrieved its crew The Figulator zipped to the dark side of one of Pictori Prime's larger neighbours, out of range of  planetary sensors.

On analysing the data recovered Averne confirmed that The Federation had indeed intended to take the Professor to the base. However, his arrival seems to have been delayed due to caution on the part of his captors.

Once at Pictori Prime he was to be held until taken further into Federation Territory by a small Task Force of two corvettes and a Fast Frigate. However, because of his captors' late arrival, this force arrived first, and is already holding station around one of the planet's smaller moons. Their presence had been missed by The Figulator's initial scans; possibly due to Moon-Shadow.

The data seized logged some shuttle traffic between this Task Force and the planet surface prior to The Figulator's arrival, but the reason behind this activity appeared unclear; actual communications between the base and the Task Force having been brief and routine. Betti assumes this involved the transfer planetside of Travis and additional guards.

Subsequent monitoring by The Figulator of the Federation Communications Net has also revealed little. Betti had expected some reaction to their raid; at the very least some warning broadcast to the Professor's captors, a request for reinforcements or perhaps some action on the part of the Task Force. The lack of reaction appears suspicious; Betti, Averne and Vellani smell a rat...

After some hours (EST) The Figulator intercepts a message from the ship believed to holding the Professor. It reports it is less than three hours (EST) from the rendezvous. As it approaches it is scanned by The Figulator and revealed to be of an unknown type, small enough to be capable of  landing on Pictori Prime. Betti cannot afford the risk of attacking such a small vessel; it might break up too easily. They will have to wait for it to land, then make the rescue attempt.

Having looked at the data obtained from the base Betti, Averne and Mensac have analysed the various escape routes from the various buildings on the complex - it not being clear where the Professor is likely to be held, or for how long.  Averne wants feet on the ground as soon as possible, she has a bad feeling about the situation, but Betti is more cautious, and is willing to wait for the departure of the captors' ship.

Luckily this vessel does not hang around. It drops off its cargo and is gone.

[Note: Had the vessel still been planetside it's own crew will have been on the Base, possibly adding to the likely opposition.

All of these actions were dice-driven decisions.]

The Figulator approaches the planet on the blind side of the Base and the Federation Task Force - but the rebels cannot afford to hang about; the enemy will be bound to quickly spot The Figulator. As soon as they are within transporter range the Landing Party is dispatched.

Betti elects to divide her team into two, as they have no idea where the Professor is being held.

[Technical Note:  To "discover" the Professor  - or any other personalities - I remove all character cards and Jokers from a standard pack of playing cards and shuffle the remainder.

I randomly, and without looking at the cards, take five cards from this pack to create a Working Deck.

I add a Jack (representing Travis) and Joker (representing the Professor and his daughter) to this Working Deck.

I then take five more Red cards from the remaining main pack and add a Queen and a King. I shuffle this small set of cards and, without looking, pick three cards, adding the newly drawn cards to the Working Deck (which now consists of ten cards - one for each room and rooftop).

For each room or rooftop zone entered or peeked into for the first time a card is drawn from the Working Deck.

Black number cards are ignored (the room is empty).

Red number cards indicate the number of guards in that room.

The Jack is Travis. Throw 1x6D. He is accompanied by that many guards.

The Joker is the Professor and Daughter. They are guarded by 1x6D guards.

The King represents the Base Commander and 1x6D guards.

The Queen represents Supreme Commander Servalan and 1x6D guards.

The figures indicated are placed on the board as soon as the cards are drawn but may not act until the next Federation move UNLESS there is cover in the room.

In the latter case the figures are placed at the beginning of THEIR move and MAY move/shoot or otherwise act.

Note: peeking into rooms containing cover does not work.

All activity outside of rooms is tested for enemy activity as on the previous mission.]

One group, Janice Stenn and Lyn Su, led by Averne, will push towards the Security Area visited on their earlier jaunt. They will carry two explosive charges to be set to destroy these rooms when they leave.

Betti, Gaunt and Vellari will search the other block of three rooms. They carry three explosive charges.

The priority is getting the Professor and his daughter out in one piece. 

And so to the action.......

Averne's group sneak round the side of the Medical Facility they entered on their first mission. Ahead of them a patrol of two troopers appears. The rebels shoot them down easily, then proceed to the ladder accessing the Security Rooms.

Meanwhile Betti's party make their way through the complex, up a stairwell and into one of the Loading Bay rooms without incident.

But on entering the Bay itself, which has a large container in it, they must card test.

Ooops - it is Supreme Commander Servalan and three Troopers!! They have the drop on the goodies. With Gaunt weaponless and Vellani throwing her pistol to the floor Betti has no choice but to accept the situation. They are escorted out of the Loading bay at blaster-point.

Supreme Commander Servelan has a quick gloat (obligatory for all Evil Masterminds) then radios to activate one of the neighbouring rooms - the nearest Tower - whereupon Travis and five Troopers (another card draw) appear. 

Things are NOT looking good...

Betti's party are marched out at gunpoint to the balcony, where they can be overlooked by Travis's men.

So bad in fact that it's time for some desperate measures.

Everyone is very close on the Loading Bay balcony, so Betti launches herself against one of the Troopers, catching him by surprise and pushing him over the balcony rails, while Gaunt grabs the two nearest Troopers and bashes their heads together; they fall, stunned. 

The Troopers with Travis open fire from above, while Servalan makes a break for it down the stairs; unsuitable footwear or not, she's fast on her pins. Betti tries to grab her as she passes but fails.

Vellani and Gaunt run into the shelter of the Loading Bay, where Betti joins them, while Travis and three Troopers rush into the Service Lift to move down from the Tower....

Meanwhile, Averne's party have got to the ladder leading to Security Room One. But a patrol of six roving Troopers appears. They are now on alert, having seen the bodies of two of their colleagues. The rebels hide, but things are looking dicey..

Luckily for Averne's lot Servalan  - with a burst of speed - appears in front of these Troopers and shouts at them to follow her. They do - and rush towards the gantry and Loading Bay stairs leading to where Betti's gang are. Travis leads his party round the side of the building, also heading for the Loading Bay.

[Technical Note: the decisions of all characters or Trooper Groups, other than Betti, are based on ad hoc dice tables.]

With some nine Troopers, plus the enemy leaders, converging on their position - and the exit stairs commanded from the Tower  - there seems only one way out for Betti and her party; up though the gaps in the Loading Bay roof to gain access to the Service panel in the wall to the Tower.

Gaunt tries to boost Vellani upwards, but fails. Then, just to make things worse, one of the Troopers downed by Gaunt staggers to his feet. The Trooper and Betti both shoot, but it is the Trooper who falls.

The other Troopers are getting closer, as again Gaunt fails to get Vellani onto the Loading bay roof.

Over on the other part of the base Averne sneaks up the ladder and there, in Security Room One, are the Professor and daughter...


But also six guards - not so good.

Averne briefs hers colleagues and they sneak up, before rushing the gantry, blasters blazing....

Five Troopers go down, caught at close range and unawares. The last guard shoots, but hasn't the firepower of the three rebels; he goes down - without triggering an alarm. So far so good...

Averne speaks quickly to the Professor; explaining who they are and what they are about. She places Transporter Bracelets around the wrists of the Professor and his daughter. They seem confused, but are compliant.

The rebels check the next room via the window: empty! 

Using the data stolen in the first raid Lyn Su keys in a code and checks the external gantry cameras. All clear. She then taps in the code to open the communicating door. The door opens and she hurries the Prof. and daughter into the next room, then out onto the gantry via the far external door, which, again, Lyn Su overrides with the data gained in the first raid.

A quick patch through to The Figulator and the targets are beamed to safety. Job done.

Meanwhile Averne sets the charges in the Security Rooms. Things have gone very smoothly over this side of the Base.

However, this is not the case with Betti's party.

Servalan directs the fire from one group of Troopers at betti's group while another section storms up the steps to the Loading Bay balcony.

just to add to the fun the remaining Trooper, previously knocked out by Gaunt, now struggles to his feet.

With the sound of boots on the stairs and the shooting Velanni now panics - and used her Plot Point to scramble, boosted by Gaunt, up onto the Loading Bay roof. She quickly taps in the access code and is through the door before anyone notices. Luckily there are no Troopers here. 

Gaunt throws Vellani two of the two explosive charges, while Betti shoots at the men on the balcony, only to be lightly wounded in return.

Suddenly one of the troopers on the balcony rushes at Betti, while Travis storms up the Loading bay stairs with his section. Servalan takes two of her Troopers and runs down to be in at the kill....

Velanni sets one of the charges, then moves onto the elevator on the side of the tower. With no enemy in sight, and a clear, simple mission, she is getting on with the job. She rides the elevator down - again, an other empty room... She sets the second charge.

From the top of the container Gaunt leaps at the guard covering Betti, knocking him to the ground, but blaster fire from beyond the door takes the big fellow down. Gallant Gaunt cannot use his Plot Point to save himself, and is out of the fight.

Totally outgunned, herself and a companion wounded, and needing to keep the Federation Troopers and leaders occupied, Betti has no choice but to surrender.

However, she knows full well that her capture will engage the enemy leaders for some time, since they will want to lecture and belittle her; as is their wont....

She is escorted out onto the balcony by the Troopers.

Travis runs up, snarling and ripping off her Transporter Bracelet; cursing her for the trouble she has caused him - he still smarts from being downed in the previous raid..

Then Servalan herself now slinks onto the balcony, smirking; her stilettos clinking on the steel steps...

From a vantage point, peering around a door, Vellani watches with horror as Servalan delivers one of her hallmark speeches, full of cold threat and preening. The Supreme Leader is enjoying herself, now that Betti has "fallen into her trap"......

Vellani asks to be beamed up to the ship, but Averne vetoes this. As far as she is concerned the game isn't over....

Desperate situations call for desperate measures; Averne leads her group out onto the Security room balcony and they start shooting across at the Troopers behind Servalan, who take casualties.

There is an immediate reaction from the Supreme Commander as she realises that the Security Block has been breached... "The Professor!!" she cries.

She at once orders Troopers to follow her as she rushes for the Security Block. Betti takes advantage of the confusion and steps back into the Loading Bay, while Travis shoots at Averne's party.

Two Troopers step into the Loading Bay with Betti, both covering her with their blasters - and coincidentally getting out of the line of fire from Averne's group. Maybe they're not so stupid after all...?

Averne orders Vellani, who has still not been seen, to try to distract the guard around Betti, but V. keeps failing her Resolve Test.

This goes on while the firefight between Averne's group and the Troopers continues, and Servalan's men move closer to the Security Block.

Suddenly a stroke of luck; Travis and the Trooper next to him go down from a concentrated volley from Averne's group. Travis is knocked out cold.

But Servalan is still directing a group of five Troopers, who, under the eye of their Supreme Commander, are not going to back down. They rake the balcony with fire and Lyn Su is hit..

Averne orders the injured Lyn Su to transport to safety. Although reluctant to do so, she complies.

Up by the Loading bay one of the Troopers with goes outside to check on Travis, and support his comrades with fire.

The other keeps Betti covered - but when his colleague gets hit in his turn Betti seizes her chance and throws herself at him. There is a struggle, but wounded Betti is beaten back into a corner. This trooper is a tough cookie....

Meanwhile, browbeaten by Averne over the radio, Vellani collects herself, and resolves to do something positive.

She scuttles though the building, back to the hatch overlooking the Loading Bay roof, and through the gap sees Betti backed into the corner by, and struggling with, the Trooper.

Vellani shoots - a VERY lucky shot - and the Trooper falls..

Vellani jumps down to Betti, and radios to inform Averne that all are safe, and that she, Vellani, has single-handedly saved the day....

But on the other side of the Base , using move and fire tactics, the troopers are getting closer to the Security Block.

Averne orders Janice Stenn to beam up to the ship, but herself continues shooting, hitting two more Troopers.

Vellani and Betti set the last explosive charge in the Loading Bay, then drag the unconscious Gaunt onto the Loading Bay balcony.

Betti retrieves her Transporter Bracelet from the recumbent Travis. They inform Averne that they are safe and pulling out - and beam out with Gaunt (whose Bracelet the troopers failed to collect).

With one last shot, Averne follows, with Servalan's screeches of frustration echoing round the Base.....

Once back on The Figulator the crew detonate the charges, and the ship zips away at high speed.. Game over......?

Indeed it is...

Without orders, or, indeed, updates (the folk on the ground have been too busy), the Federation ships stay in hiding (using your initiative and breaching Standing Orders within screaming distance of the Supreme Commander is not always advisable) and our heroes shoot off into the distance.

Cue theme music...


Another successful mission. Another thrilling, and nail-biting game.

I used a stopwatch and turn count to manage the two separate "actions" (the Loading Bay situation and the Rescue) to make sure they didn't get out of sync; "fighting" three to four rounds of each, stopping where an obvious "break" occurred, then switching to the other. Seemed to work well - and fitted with the narrative nature of the game.

All in all great fun (I didn't write down all the "in character" repartee which took place during the game, but playing Servalan was particularly enjoyable...).

As noted in previous posts, I like my games to have a narrative. Small scale actions really lend themselves to this. OK, this kind of thing isn't everyone's cup of tea, but I DO recommend games like this to get away from the madness of "real" life..

In other news: once I get my Play Room sorted (am three quarters of the way there) I will have space for actual campaign set ups, as well as battles, so that a more coherent approach among the differing genres I fight - including Betti's Crew's continuing adventures - will (hopefully) ensue... Watch this space.

As always, comments, critiques and queries always welcome...

Post Xmas "Crossfire" etc.

Delayed Follow-Up.. Alas, seasonal duties and a series of seasonal bugs delayed my experiments (and some deliveries tempted me into some dis...