Wednesday, 26 April 2017

TravelBattle by Perry Miniatures

TravelBattle Battle by Perry Miniatures


With this blog having a focus on playing games in small spaces and my own like for using grids for wargames, it should be of no surprise, Dear Reader, that I pre-ordered this game when first  hearing about it. 


 

  


The fact that the game covered the cross-over of using figures and a boardgame style grid was of intrigue and I both wanted to support the project and of course have a look how the Perry's had tackled a grid based system.


This post is a detailed of 'out of the box' look at the components and system.


Please use the 'read more' tab for the rest of this post.

First a word about the Perry brothers. They are renowned for producing beautifully sculpted 28mm miniatures and in 2008, when everyone seemed to be saying it would never succeed, they produced the first historical hard plastic figure range in 28mm. Of course hard plastic 28mm has gone from strength-to-strength, with several companies now participating.


So here we are in 2017, with fresh innovation and a background in producing miniatures, again the Perry's have brought something very different to the table.


TravelBattle is basically a small plastic battlefield, marked in a grid of one inch squares, with plastic terrain and small plastic units. It comes with simple rules, representing the napoleonic period. The two key words here are small and simple. 


Missing from this description is the excitement in my mind that this could jump start a direction in gaming that could increase the amount of time that players spend actually playing games (especially on a mid-week evening) and generate a host of house rules and varying complexities and size of game that could stretch across into any era. This is something that potentially has got legs to become something bigger. I have already heard rumour of an ACW version and have seen a photo of a WWII game being played - so here is hoping to success.


 

  


Anyway - on with the goods. TravelBattle comes in a nice box with nice artwork to the front and a good descriptive to the rear. It comes with a plastic carrying handle and so in effect it can be carried a bit like a briefcase and this is perhaps its first credential as a travel game.


 


The Components are packed away amongst some dense foam, which protects the products, but also reminds me of those cases you can buy with foam inserts that protects figures, so again, some credentials as a travel package. 


The battlefield consists of two hard plastic boards (they are different to each other). They are strong and each is gridded with 10 x 10 squares. they abut to each other to form a battlefield that is 20 squares wide by 10 squares deep. They are fully geomorphic, so any side of one board can match any side of the other board and I am told that the maths means that the battlefield can therefore be set up in 16 different configurations.


 


On the board, there are roads, hills and fields, together with woodland and building sectors moulded into fixed positions. The woodland areas have a plastic tree canopy that fits onto the board and the building sectors have individual buildings that drop into place. The other terrain is formed into the tile itself, so that the fields and roads give visual texture and the raised hills give a 3D effect.


 


The buildings are nicely done, they come on a sprue in two halves and look to be a good fit. Again these are hard plastic with very good definition. Likewise the tree canopies are on a sprue together with the bases for the troops to be fitted to.



 


There are four sprues of troops. (Note above is bluer than it should be because my white balance is out on the iPad camera), all identical, with two red and two blue. Both sides have identical forces and these are; Brigadiers (leaders), heavy cavalry, light cavalry, infantry, guard infantry and artillery. They each have a strip under their feet, so that they can fit into what is best described as slotta bases. For this reason, I think for those who wish to paint their figures, it is best to do that before cutting from the sprue.


 


The Perry's describe these as 8mm figures and while there are different ways of describing figure heights (scale creep - yikes!), these look to be true 8mm, that is from their feet to their eyes is about 8mm and I would add another 1mm on for the shako. They are slim and proportional. It is possible that they may not be too dissimilar in frontage (I don't know, I don't have any and am going from memory) from modern 6mm's, but they are noticeably smaller than my Pendraken 10mm, which actually seem to be around 12mm from foot to eye and I have included them here for a comparison, they are on a 30mm base.


 



Above - a close up of the infantry. You can see the cross-belts are visible if you want that level of painted detail.


The rules come in a A5 sized booklet, with 8 pages, but only 4 pages are rules (and well illustrated). One and a half pages are dedicated to describing how both the figures and the terrain boards can be painted / flocked and this does look very tempting. All of the plastic can be painted with acrylics without using a primer. They suggest block painting followed by wash and then adding the fine bits such as flesh and white belts. The wash interested me, they suggest black or a mix of sepia with dark blue, I have never heard of that mix before and am eager to give it a go.


 


The booklet does not include scenarios, rather there is something of a randomising system for board set-up and then both players get three brigades and set up on their edge of the board.


The system - I will not do my usual in depth look at a system and mechanics as I am blatantly aware that in these early days at least, the Perry's need to move product and make money on this and that potential players should explore these rules and their potential to mod them or port them over to home made sets by buying the game and buying the right to do that. Sorry if that annoys anyone, but I would like to protect the Perry investment through responsible blogging and being a buyer and not a reviewer, I am at least putting my money where my mouth is.


However, I can give some general insights. The game and tactics come from the deployment of Brigadiers. Units need to be with leaders to move, so the brigadiers will keep their formations together and will become rather busy if their force gets fragmented. In what is a fairly generic system, quite a lot of player attention will be placed in their brigadiers and unit proximity.


Fighting is done when in contact with an enemy (adjacent) and artillery gets ranged fire. Infantry can go into square when there is a cavalry threat and there is a rally rule to help keep units in the game that have significantly lost a combat. 


Units can fight and move in any direction. I have never really had a problem with units that can fight / move across diagonals when square grids are used. I know the maths is suggesting that they get a distance advantage, but it's not really a big deal in a game at this scale and the same rule applies to both sides. It is a broad brush rule that helps keep the system simple - good!


There are other little one liner rules to add some flavour and help differentiate between troop types.


In the sequence of play, one side goes first, do all of their 'things' and then the other player does the same, then the turn starts again.


Winning is simply based upon defeating two enemy brigades. 


  

 


Above - an example on the back of the box of a painted Brigadier figure - nicely done.


Conclusions - I am pretty sure that this game will succeed and that expansion will follow. Whether the 'travel' aspect was a primary design goal or not, it really is an excellent travel set, but equally useful at home, especially for gamers who have difficulties reaching across tables or have limitations in storage space etc. 


I can see this game also grabbing the attention of innovative gamers who will want mod the game, perhaps with their own rules or to do full table-top conversions with larger squares and bigger figures. The system is stable enough for gamers to bring some of the rules they like from their more complicated system to this board if they wish.  


A few years ago, Neil Thomas brought out a book called One Hour Wargames, its simplicity has its critics, but never-the-less, it has won itself a big fan base, gets modified and importantly, gets people playing, I see TravelBattle much in the same light. I can see myself turning it into all sorts of things. By the same token, for those who do not like the One Hour Wargame level of play, they may feel that TravelBattle is not for them.


At this moment in time, this is a very unique product and I appreciate its release and I hope it does well for the Perry Brothers.


EDIT 27th April - The boards come with fields embossed, but they are not mentioned in the rules. Officially they are just aesthetic and so so count as open. Players may want to consider them as non-open, which would effect how many units can be held in the grid square at any one time (there .... a first possible mod :-) ).


Time - The box says a game can be played within an hour. Since I have really only just opened my copy, I am happy to take that on face value.


Solitaire - This is a two player game, but I can't see anything that would get in the way of a solitaire play.


Size - Well this does 'what it says on the tin'. It is specifically designed for small space gaming and travel. Needing only a 20" x 10" board the player does not need any extra space for charts or anything else that often sits aside game tables. The box that holds all the parts is roughly 15" x 11". I can't imagine getting much more compact than this.


Complexity - The box says 'this simple system' and that is of course spot on. For those that like numbers, saying 1 out of 5 for complexity would be fair. This is a very accessible game, both in terms of size and space and the complexity level just adds to that to make this a very useful game in many settings including mid-week gaming and parents getting some quality gaming time with children. If you put this to one side for two months and then got it out to play, you would be rolling dice within 5 minutes. Everyone has their own idea of how complex they like things to be or what facets they want simulated, this system seems basic and solid enough that bolting on extra rules would be easy.  


Price - I don't usually comment on price as everyone has their own place and space as to their available budget and what they see as reasonable. I have seen some respondents to blogs say they will sit on the fence for a while because of cost, so am including this paragraph. The only observations I can offer are, the two plastic boards by Renedra are of a very satisfactory quality and I cannot imagine them to be cheap, the game is comparative to mid range boardgame prices. I have bought boardgames and never played them, this at least does seem to carry the prospect of playability and replayability, especially within a family setting. The rules are simple and that will mean too simple for some, though the whole thing does deliver the prospect of modding and for some, that has a value of its own.


RESOURCES:


I will likely put up further observations, mods  and playing notes over on my sister website COMMANDERS. Please check out the 'This Week' page from time to time - LINK

http://commanders.simdif.com



The Perry website - LINK

https://www.perry-miniatures.com


25 comments:

  1. Thanks for the game write up. I hope it is successful and other versions appear over time. As you said it is quite unique and yet it still provides opportunities for painting.

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    1. Peter, grids and squares .... right up your street. The fact that this is commercially viable (I hope) does seem to reflect a growing acceptance of grids in wargaming.

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  2. A good review Norm. I look forward to hearing more once you've played it. The price seems fair to me for such a limited market item so I was surprised to hear that but most often the complaint was that they could make their own and buy metal figures for the same price. But then I like plastic figures and feel that the value of the work involved in making something ought to be considered in the cost, as well as, in the case of something like this, the risk involved in producing some new to market.

    I sometimes bristle a but at the mention of the Perry's but its not actually their fault, they are very good at sculpting and at marketing and have been good for the hobby. Its just that they often get credit for inventing rather than "getting it right". For example in the 1970's I had hard plastic 28/30mm Napoleonics from Segom and in the 80's I had 25mm hard plastic ancients from Rospak.

    In that light, I think of the portable game I made that my friend and I played in the club car on the overnight train from Halifax to Montreal in the 90's using a small,thin, wooden board hinged in the middle and 15mm figures using Inro Armati, and I just know if I dragged it out to play at a convention now someone would stop and ask if that was based on the new Perry travel game!

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    1. Ross, I think this is something that I will be doing follow up posts on. The saying is true that there is nothing new under the sun, I think even the existence of this product will have some gamers creative juices going.

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  3. Nice review--by far the best I've seen. The only effort that comes close to this is Battle Cry (the original Commands and Colors game), with 20mm figures. It was quite successful, and like you I hope this is, too.

    Best regards,

    Chris Johnson

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  4. Norm, nice job on the Travel Battle overview. Comprehensive with just enough detail to allow the reader to make an informed decision.

    I am not a fan of plastics but the gameboard looks good with its texturing and 3D terrain effects. I like the building, though.
    Before your overview I did not grasp that the board was in two 10x10 sections and that they were geomorphic. That is a big plus for replayability and usefulness. Being of compact design, those desiring a portable game might find it useful. Perhaps, those having Cordery's recently published "The Portable Wargame" now have a means for giving those rules a try without building a gridded table first?

    I found Thomas' OHW book a very good addition to wargaming literature especially when the scenarios are considered. Simple rules, for sure but playable and producing an enjoyable game. Will Travel Battle have a similar impact on the hobby? Perhaps so. For me, when I want a simple, quick small evening game, I almost always turn to Commands & Colors with 6mm figures. I do not see me being pulled by this product. However, if you feature it regularly in your gaming posts, I might be eventually drawn in.

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    1. Thanks Jonathan, the game certainly adds to the arena of the Commands and Colours genre. If expansions come, I can see some gamers collecting for the sake of the boards alone as they do provide a good gaming surface.

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  5. Thanks, Norm. Great to read another review of what is looking to be a very tempting product!

    Cheers,
    Aaron

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    1. Thanks Aaron - watch this space for even more temptation (I think perhaps Romas might of had you totally convinced :-) ), I am thinking of painting the red force as either Prussian, Austrian or Russian, rather than the obvious British.

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  6. As others have said, that's a very useful review, thank you. It looks like it might be suitable for playing with my nine-year old son, which would be a definite plus for me. I currently play Memoir '44 and OHW WWII with him.

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    1. Russell, I think it would be ideally suited to that and would certainly fit in with those two game you currently play, both in complexity and game length. It will give him another game to thrash you with :-)

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    2. Well, I managed to win the last game of OHW, but he's won all three games of Memoir that we've played :-/

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  7. Thanks for the review Norm, which is very informative. I tried to get a good look at it at Salute on behalf of a friend, but the Perry's stall was somewhat inundated. I was suprised at how small the board was, but then in a space such as that it would look small. They did seem to be selling lots of the boxes. I did get a bit of a shock at the £50 price tag though. I hope the product does well, but personally I will stick with my existing rules etc, which can easily be played on a 2' x 2' board at home with minimal set up time. But then I don't take my wargames stuff on holiday!

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    1. Thanks Steve, I think the crowded stall thing at Salute would drive me insane, I do like to browse and handle. I can see me getting a lot of mileage out of this over time, particularly if there are boards to collect, though as you say, in your situation, you already have everything that is on offer here.

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  8. Norm,

    An excellent review of this game, which the more I look at, the more I like.

    I ordered my copy some time ago, and with the one the Perrys kindly gave me to review, I will soon have four boards to use. My impression is that by placing the boards in different configurations, you can pretty well produce a typical chunk of European countryside over which to fight.

    I like the figures, but as my eyesight is no long what it was, I can see myself buying and using Irregular metal 6mm blocks in their stead. I might also have a lokk at using 10mm figures, especially after seeing how yours look on the board.

    I really hope that this game sells well, and that it is the forerunner of similar games an/or expansion sets of this one. The price seems very reasonable to me when compared to what £50.00 will buy the average wargamer in terms of figures and rule books, and the quality of the various components is excellent.

    All the best,

    Bob

    PS. Thanks for pointing out the error I made with regard to the photographs of the rule book I included in my blog entry. It appears that the command I used to stop people opening the images to full size either didn't work or I had changed the settings. As soon as you mentioned the problem I was able to sort it out, and the photographs are now set at a resolution that makes them unreadable without detracting from giving some sort of sense of what they look like.

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    1. Hi Bob, no problem re the photograph error. i have a similar re-size problem as I use iPad based apps to manage my blog and getting the file size right to balance blur with detail is certainly not an exact science to me.

      I think using lead would be a good alternative, no doubt you have noticed the last photograph in the rulebook, which shows an earlier version with H&R figures (noted for their slimness). At least the figures that come with the game are generic enough to be fielded as a variety of forces.

      It will be interesting to see what you get from your 4 board arrangement.

      Although the rules are light, there is actually quite a lot of nuance held in 'one liners', which I think in other sets would be expanded into paragraphs and would therefore 'look' a bigger set. I think I will make myself a terrain chart as that will help capture the various rules that give terrain an influence.

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  9. Very informative review. I was on the fence about picking this up but you have revived my enthusiasm to give this a try. Thanks!

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    1. Rod, thanks for posting. I like spending your money instead of mine :-)

      The rules will not set the world on fire .... but it is not about that. I think if you were part way there initially about buying, then you are likely a good candidate to enjoy it. Keep an eye on this blog as I hope to follow up with the next stage of ownership. cheers Norm.

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  10. Hi Norm,

    Cool review. I baulk a bit at the price tag but there is something very attractive about the idea of painting the game boards. I think I'll buy them just for that!

    Cheers

    Jay

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  11. Jay, I think the 'tinkering' potential is right up your street.

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  12. Norm,

    Absolutely! I have been looking at the 6mm MDF troops and thinking they would be great on this size grid. I wonder what the WW2 version might look like?

    Just goes to show how excited we can get about this sort of approach. We should perhaps form a GRIDDIES group!

    Cheers

    Jay

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  13. In the new Wargames Illustrated magazine (the Samurai issue - not on the shelves yet), there is an article on the game, which includes a small photo of a WWII game. It looks like the battlefield has more terrain (probably a 35 - 50% increase) on it and they were using what appear to be 6mm vehicles, I could make out tanks, anti-tank guns and trucks.

    This travel set is a simple affair, but I am finding myself energised by it - enough to want to paint it anyway!

    There does feel to be something of an awakening as to the usefulness of grids, the GRIDDIES have much to be pleased about here.

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  14. Thanks Norm, I'll look forward to getting it, time to re-organise my shopping list I think!

    Cheers

    Jay

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  15. An intriguing first look at an innovative new product. Can't wait for our first ftf try out of this latest of Norman's buys.

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  16. Mike, certainly something different, I think you will like it in a Battle Cry sort of way.

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