Flames of War Events at Imaginary Wars!

One of my New Years resolutions was to be more active on the blog–which should come easy to me: I was posting on the blog regularly for about a year (and only a little less regularly for about two years  before that). Though my blogging habit was fully disrupted by my opening the Imaginary Wars store, I’ve been running the store for long enough now that it should be feasible for me to be blogging more regularly. The operative word being “should.”

Anyways, I’m sure we’ll see if there’s a gap–and how much of one there is–between my theory of being able to blog regularly and my ability to blog regularly! Following that line of thought, the store just hosted a Flames of War tournament a few weekends back; and though I was first planning to do just a quick-ish blog post about that tournament, I then realised I haven’t made much mention about all the Flames of War activity that’s been going on in the store since summer.

FOW-logo-landscape
It’s been since early summer that the Flames of War involvement in the store has been increasing–in no small part due to a local club, The Calgary R.E.G.I.M.E.N.T. (Reclaiming Esthetic Gaming In Miniature ‘N’ Tabletops). The REGIMENT’s  members have been showing up to game at the store most Friday evenings, and since autumn they’ve done a bit more than just show up for Friday-night pick-up games. This fall we began to host bigger in-store events: a giant day-long tank battle on the American Thanksgiving weekend–in line with all the other Tanksgiving events (despite our being in Canada); and of course the aforementioned tournament that prompted today’s blog post, the Flames of War doubles tournament held on Saturday January 5, 2013.

World War Friday  …every Friday

Every Friday evening, some of the guys from the REGIMENT come down–usually to play Flames of War, but regular fare for them also include Dystopian Wars, Firestorm Armada and (most recently) Heavy Gear (though some mention has been made as well about  Saga and Victory at Sea).
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Tanksgiving!

With many of the club members becoming regulars every Friday night, it took no convincing for me to leap at their request at having the store host one of their Flames of War events. Due to the time of year, we agreed to have Tanksgiving as the store’s first Flames of War event on the last Saturday of November. For those not in the know, Tanksgiving is simply a large bring ‘n ‘battle event where players all bring tank-only armies and is staged the weekend following American Thanksgiving (in case the name wasn’t a complete giveaway). To the best of my knowledge, the event was originally thought up for Flames of War but quickly cross-pollinated and soon also became a holiday staple at GW Hobby Centres and Warhammer 40,000. (The first time I heard of Tanksgiving in the Games Workshop capacity was around 2004.)

Looking down the table: Tanksgiving at Imaginary Wars, 2012.

Looking down the table: Tanksgiving at Imaginary Wars, 2012.

Though originally intended to be a giant tank battle between two sides, it was decided that the Tanksgiving battle at Imaginary Wars would be a little different:

  • First off, more than just tanks-only armies would be permitted in the game; anything except air support and platoons that required foot-based models was allowed in the battle (so no towed guns or infantry forces of any kind…but recce forces and ).
  • Also, rather than the game be a large battle between two forces, each lined up across the table from the other, it was decided (but kept secret from the players until sprung) that the forces would be arranged in a checkerboard pattern: each player in the game would have the enemy in front of him as well as in his flank.
  • Lastly, rather than make it simply a “kill the most tanks to win” kind of game, objectives were placed running along the table center and not only awarded victory points if captured but also came with special rules to be used in-game! When captured, the objective marker would then be turned over to reveal what special rules were now in play. Some markers granted re-rolls, some called in a strafing run (that risked indiscriminately shooting friend and foe alike), some were revealed to be 8.8cm Flak 36 usable by any side in the game.

2012 Tanksgiving 01 2012 Tanksgiving 03All in all, a pretty fun time was had that day and I was astounded to have sixteen people show up for the event–a couple even drove three hours from Edmonton to attend! For a bring ‘n’ battle event!

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January 5, 2013: Reinforcements Doubles’ Tournament

As a follow-up to Tanksgiving, we hosted another event being run by the REGIMENT club: a Flames of War tournament! No strangers to standard Flames of War tournaments, they decided to do something a little different this time around: run a tournament geared to be a bit more casual.

To help facilitate that, it was decided to let  the players know that custom missions would be used in every round of the tournament (which can sometimes help curb super-competitive list building), and it was also decided to design the tournament as a doubles’ tournament–which, on average, tends to bring out the less-competitive tendencies in players. Not only that, the club (who also have some members amongst their ranks who are Battlefront Rangers) thought it would be cool to try to coax people who may have recently bought the new 3rd Edition “Open Fire” starter box to get in on the action.

If you’ve watched the HBO series, “Band of Brothers,” you might remember some of the filmed interviews of the veterans talking about how, following the action in Normandy,  they had their ranks replenished afterwards by recruits, fresh out of the training camps. (Phrases like “green” and “they didn’t know any better” would have been heard during these interviews.) This was essentially the core idea behind the tournament.

To further emulate the whole idea of reinforcements–fresh, well-supplied but inexperienced–it was decided that teams comprised of both a new player and an established player would receive a points bonus to their allowed army total: instead of a standard 1,000 points per player on each team, the “reinforcement” player would be allowed to bring an 1,100 point force and the “veteran” player would be allowed to field a 1,050 point force. Essentially, what the teaming-up of a new and old player would lose (tactical knowledge) would be somewhat off-set by fresh, well-supplied troops!

I loved the idea and thought it was a great way to encourage new players to leave their comfort zones and get into bigger games sooner rather than later! More details about how the tournament was set up and to be played out can be seen at the REGIMENT’s blog here and here; the custom missions they used can be looked at here.

Tournament Day

The day, though long, went off without a hitch–which is always nice with tournaments! I was too busy running the store on a decently-busy Saturday to watch many games, but I did manage to shoot a quick walk through during the tournament’s first round (apologies in advance for my shaky camera-phone cinematography).

When the day was done I could tell the tournament was an absolute success: we had 16 people attend the tournament (with just under half of the attendees qualifying as “rookies” to Flames of War, having been playing FoW for less than a year), we had four out-of-town attendees who made the three-hour drive from Edmonton to play in this tournament and, most importantly, everyone had a great day of gaming!

falaise pocket casualties

Battle remnants in the Falaise Pocket, 1944.

I was reminded just how diligent I have to be with getting photos: between the scramble of all players between each round and my having to run the store, it was exceedingly difficult for me to get half-way decent photos of each player’s army in a state where they were at least somewhat on display–rather than during mid-game …or lumped together as a clump of casualties reminiscent of the Falaise Pocket.

Anyways, what follows are some photos I managed to get of each team’s force. Some ended up being out of focus or in poor enough lighting / with poor enough backgrounds that the models didn’t show up very well…which sucks because I really wanted to show off each team’s force and give credit for each painted force. Ah well; another day, Highlander.

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US 3rd Armoured & 101st Airborne

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German Panzer Lehr & Panzerspah

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German Grenadier Company & StuG Battery

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British 50th Division

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British Tank Squadron & British Air Landing

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Romanian Infantry

(Trying to) Get Back up on That (Painting) Horse

Posted by Kyle.
Kyle avatar - fixed

If you frequent the Imaginary Wars Facebook page,

you’ll likely have seen the post I made onJanuary 22nd:

HG in RL

Imaginary Wars is growing a Heavy Gear community and trying to get as many interested people to get started at roughly the same time! Here’s how it works:
The campaign will grow by 300 points every two weeks for a period of 6 weeks. League gaming days will be every Friday and Saturday each week: with gaming times being Fridays 5:00-9:00pm and Saturdays noon until 7:00pm (Saturdays tend to work better when players arrange ahead of time when to meet up). Our hope is to have the league culminate with a small tournament within a few weeks of the league’s sixth week.
Priority Levels of the forces playing (which determines what can and can’t be included in an army) will be level 1, 2 or 3 –players’ choice.
The BIG catch is that unpainted models will NOT be permitted–hence the two-week period for gaming / getting your next 300 points prepared & painted. (It needs to be pointed out that for *most* of the forces in the game, 300 points is about 5-10 models, and for some of the game’s forces…it is less.)
It should also be pointed out that help on deciding how to spend your 300 points is available at through the “Gear Garage” army-building program available for free from Dream Pod 9 (the makers of Heavy Gear: http://www.dp9.com/ ).
Further help will also be readily available from the staff at Imaginary Wars AND from any of the league players–we want to see this awesome game grow!

The store’s post included the picture above as well as the video below. Sure, sure; the mecha in the video don’t really mesh up with the mecha in the Heavy Gear universe, but still… a life-size fully functioning mecha is just too cool to not include in a post concerning Heavy Gear. Plus, the fact that the pilots sit in the chest of the machine sells me even further on the designing of the giant robot suit. 

I also like that the machine’s builders  gave it wheeled movement. Even though it’s not the “rollerblading” that Gears do as their secondary mode of transportation, the fact that the Kuratas is a wheeled vehicle just brings it that much closer to Heavy Gear.

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SO …with it being so long since I’ve mentioned Heavy Gear, why the sudden attraction to the game once again? First off, I’ve always liked the game and its setting…even despite my limited patience with anime and manga. Well, apart from a relatively short hiatus–the few years working for Games Workshop in the early 2,ooos and through to just before I opened Imaginary Wars–I’ve been championing Heavy Gear pretty much from when the game first hit the market.

I got into the game right from its initial entry in the market as a Roleplaying Game with decent tactical rules covering battles utilizing the gears, and I’ve been playing it / paying attention to it all the way up to its most recent version of Locked and Loaded. Given just how long I’ve liked and played this game, I would be remiss to not rise to the challenge of painting up 300 points of Gears every two weeks….especially because I’m of the opinion that painting up 300 points of models is not an insurmountable task (despite what some have said on the Dream Pod 9 forum’s thread concerning this topic).

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Am I Tempting Fate and Daring Myself to fail?

Quite likely I am.

God knows I’ve been too busy to get any real painting done since I started up Imaginary Wars Gaming and Hobbies, but if I’m not kicking myself in the pants about this, who will? (That and it’s my New Years business resolution to involve myself more in the hobby.)

HG SouthernSidewinder01

HG Naga

I’ve liked the Southern Gears since I first played the game, the Naga Strider and Sidewinder Gear being my two favourites. While it was the Naga’s look that I liked from first blush, it was through the repeated tactical battles that endeared the Sidewinder to me: the thing is awesome.

So what am I going to paint up?

Well, this is the tricky part; I’m a bit of a Luddite and prefer printed material over reading pdfs on my smart phone. Because I have no real interest in an E-reader or tablet at the moment–my desktop rig and actual books generally serve me well enough. So I’m in a bit of a tight spot: Dream Pod 9 has completely revised the Southern Republic rules with their “Forged in Fire – Southern Field Guide” source book. It’s the new book for all armies of the south, and it’s a complete overhaul–built anew from the ground up to match the look, style and substance of the NuCoal source book (which is a good thing, a very very good thing). However, as far as I can tell and despite its December 2012 release date, it’s only been released for sale in pdf format so far. I’m still waiting for the book to come out in its print edition  …heck, as a retailer, I still waiting for DP9 to update their product order sheet: I’m still stuck using the October 19th update that lists all their November, December and January releases as “coming soon.” First world problems, I know.

Though not the end of the world, this does make my ability to construct a legal Southern army a tricky venture. In recognizing that, I’ll just make up my first 300 point squad (or two) using the Gear Garage application (available off the DP9 website–which is cool ….but NOT updated to include the new Forged in Fire source book–which is not cool) and hopefully when Forged in Fire is available in a low-tech format my army won’t be utterly illegal. Not content with playing  a simple Southern Republic army, I’ve also decided to make my army part of a specific country in the Southern Republic: the Eastern Sun Emirates. Though a little more complicated in composition, it’s my hope the way E.S.E. forces are comprised may actually mitigate some of the potential snags I might hit when my list makes the jump from the Locked & Loaded list to the Forged in Fire list.

So it boils down to me being forced to build an army with an out-of-date army book all while the newer book is almost visible on the horizon. Being an Eldar player, it’s a scenario I’ve gotten used to.

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Southern Republic: The Eastern Sun Emirates

I’ve chosen to play an Eastern Sun Emirates army. What does that mean? Well, in the words of Dream Pod 9:

heavy Gear ESE Logo

The Eastern Sun Emirates is an entire league governed by a feudal system based on noble titles handed down from an ancient starship crew that settled on Terra Nova after Earth withdrew its support to the colonies.
Each Eastern Sun Emirates Guard force is unique as it is part of, or possibly the entirety of, a particular Emir’s personal military force. Some Emirs spend massive amounts of their citizen’s taxes on grand armies, while others maintain modest forces of bodyguards, mercenaries, or police forces.
An Eastern Sun Emirates Guard force is generally the private army every Emir is obligated to build and maintain. As such, these forces can vary widely in size and composition. Some Emirs may focus on elite Gears to give them a powerful crushing fist to defeat opponents while others may equip forces of infantry and lighter gears to maintain peace and garrison territory. A unique aspect of this system is that each Emir is free to make arrangements with other governments of Terra Nova and may allow units from other factions into their domain or even buy non-native Gear models outright for their arsenal. ESE factions select a nation that have an ‘agreement’ with and can take a selection of special units from that nation.
In Heavy Gear Blitz, forces from the Easter Sun Emirates have three major rules that make them attractive to gamers. The first is the ‘Honour Guard’ rule that allows a specific Combat Group to be taken outside the normal Priority Level rules and makes a related type of combat group a core choice. Another rule allows an ESE force to take several older Heavy Gear models. While these units are not as powerful one-on-one as the more elite Gears, an ESE force can overwhelm opponents with numbers. The third rule represents the ESE’s unusual makeup as each Emir can have ties to other forces anywhere on Terra Nova. An ESE force selects another faction it has ties to and can take a limited selection from that faction. An ESE force might field Northern Grizzlies or Peace River Coyotes to represent the Emir’s political allies or just Gears bought at outrageous prices on the black market.

My Own Private Emirates Army

After playing around with Gear Garage a little, I’ve decided to skip choosing my Honour Guard just yet–not a big deal considering the “army I’m making is 300 points; I’d like to wrap my mind around this Eastern Suns Emirates force (not to mention re-acquaint myself with Heavy Gear again) before I commit to an Honour Guard….which is also not too big of a deal yet as I’m starting off with my force being Priority Level 3, meaning what my core choices are will have little bearing on my list right now. I have, however, decided to choose my Emir’s political ties: I’ve chosen to max out my modeling options and opt for ties with the C.N.C.S. (Confederated Northern City States–the “North”).

The first 300 points of my force don’t betray the dealings my Emir has with the North; I’ve opted for a General Purpose Gear squad and a Strider squad–which TOTALLY allows me to field the machines I’ve always wanted to! So at the first 300 points, this is what my force looks like:

HG First 300 pts

I think I like it–though I expect this force might struggle initially, seeing as how I’ve apparently decided I’d rather have a little of everything rather than going firmly one direction or another. Jack of all trades, master of none and all that. Still, we shall see. Now all that remains is to see what’s in my collection and get it built & painted within the next 11 days! I’ll post photos and works in progress as I get models bought, assembled and completed.