Thursday, September 15, 2016

Twilight Struggle

Things have been a bit slow on the gaming/painting front, but fg and I managed to play a game of Twilight Struggle last week.

The game is highly rated, and you can find reviews and tutorial videos of it (that's how I learned the game), but my personal take is that it plays like Go with cards. The world is divided into six regions, and within each region there are countries. The aim of the game is to score victory points through the playing of cards and also by having more influence than the other player in a region so you can dominate it.

As the Soviet player, I initially got off to a strong start in Europe, but lost steam after a while. I shifted my focus to the Middle East, but a good event card which would have let me dominate the region was cancelled by one played by fg. Thereafter I got some bad cards that gave fg central and south America, and I lost on VPs before the game ran to its turn limit.

For us, the fun of the game was mostly topical - the events described in the cards were things we heard about as children and teenagers, even if the true significance were not apparent to us. If you are a child of the Cold War era and cheered when the Berlin Wall went down, you will like the game. If, on the other hand, you don't know how David Hasselhoff single-handedly united East and West Germany (or that there were such things as East and West Germany), then a lot of the game will be lost on you.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Close Encounter with Giorgio

Yes, that's Giorgio Tsoukalos, those are my hands doing the "aliens" motion as I explain Osprey to him, that's a copy of Osprey's "The Nazi Occult" in his hand, and that's the pin on his pocket which I coveted but did not receive - it went to a guy who asked him to sign on a first edition copy of "Chariot of the Gods?"; well played, my man...

Two weeks ago, my cable TV provider held a draw to give away ten pairs of tickets to meet Giorgio Tsoukalos and two other History Channel (Asia) hosts in a meet-and-greet session. Adrian and I both joined for laughs, and when we both won we imagined we were the only two who asked to meet Giorgio, because what were the odds of both of us winning, right? Wrong.

So we each grabbed a friend and went down this evening, expecting it to be a brief handshake plus photo session, but again we turned out to be wrong.

As it turned out all the attendees were there to see Giorgio. Some came prepared with book or CD for him to sign, others had questions. Giorgio, a consummate showman, played his part well and made everyone feel welcomed. He had a ready answer for every question, and answered each question passionately. The other two hosts were relegated to waiting outside the room while Giorgio overran his time.

Now I am not a believer, but I enjoy the series a lot and I enjoyed this session nonetheless. My agenda for the evening (other than shaking hands with a meme) was to suggest the idea of writing an Osprey book on Ancient Aliens by presenting him with a copy of "The Nazi Occult" so he knows that there is a market for this type of thing. So if you see this on Osprey's catalogue in a year or two, you know whom to blame.

Pity I didn't get the pin though.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Newline 28mm Hittite Guardsmen

These are the Newline Hittite Guardsmen that I bought to beef up my Trojan warband. It is within the bounds of historical possibilities that the Hittites were allies to the Trojans, and their proportions, arms and armour are stylistically close enough to those of the Redoubt figures.

They have the characteristic chunky Newline look, and are pretty good casts with just some flash in the areas between the limbs and the trunk. The weapons and shields come loose and the right hands have to be drilled to take the weapons.

With these done, I have four units (three of melee, one of missile) and more than enough leader figures for them. I am tempted to say that I will not add any more units to this force, but then it just occurred to me that if the Hittites can send a unit of infantry, then why not a hero in a chariot?

Monday, July 18, 2016

Romans vs Macedonians again

A close-up of Martin's phalanx.

It's actually been eleven months since we played a game of our Dux-Bellorum-Impetus mash-up, so since Martin got a few more bases of pikes painted, we decided we would haul some metal this week.

The scenario was a pretty straight-forward one, with a relatively flat battlefield broken only by three hills. Both sides deployed with the heavy infantry to the far end of the table, leaving the skirmishers and cavalry to contest the other flank.

As the infantry plodded towards each other for the clash, a fierce battle would rage in the low ground between the two hills.

As the battle reached its climax, casualty markers and dice littered the field... In the end both sides were out of Leadership Points, and were close to morale check point, and there was still no clear winner. We decided that honour had been satisfied, and retired discussing further projects.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Rules modifications for Tribal for the Trojan War

Other than the rules for using tarot I shared in the previous post, here are some rules which I plan to add or modify to lend a more Homeric flavour to our games.

1. Playing area

As the tarot cards are larger than poker cards, the playing area is 4' x 4' instead of 3' x 3'.

2. Throwing Weapons

All Chiefs and Heroes gain the Throwing Weapon skill, and may in addition also make an Throwing Weapon attack after a Throwing Weapon attack has been resolved against them by a charging enemy.

A Chief or Hero mounted in a chariot with a driver may perform a special Throwing Weapon attack at another Chief/Hero in a chariot during his activation at the end of his movement if he started the activation mounted on the chariot. This attack has the range of one long edge (measured from any point from the chariot base to the base of the target chariot) and is otherwise resolved as a standard Throwing Weapon attack; the target Chief/Hero may also resolve a Throwing Weapon Attack after the attack.

3. Chariots

Chiefs and Heroes begin the game in their chariots, which each comes with a driver. A chariot may only carry up to one Chief/Hero and one driver and one Armour token. A chariot is considered manned if there is a Chief/Hero or a driver in it. If there is no Chief/Hero or driver in it, a chariot is unmanned.

If a hit from a Missile or Throwing Weapon is scored on a chariot when the Chief/Hero and the driver are both in the chariot, the owning player may choose which figure takes the hit. The driver may not perform any attack, but if he receives a hit from a Missile Weapon or a Throwing Weapon, he is removed. A manned chariot may not be attacked in Melee - if charged, the charging unit is moved into contact with the chariot's base and the chariot is moved one long edge away from the chargers.

If the Chief/Hero is mounted, the chariot is activated during the Chief/Hero's activation. If the Chief/Hero dismounts, the driver receives an activation card immediately. If a Chief/Hero mounts the chariot, the driver loses his activation card the following turn. A driver may not dismount from a chariot.

A chariot moves one long edge during normal movement, and may Sprint, but it may only move in open terrain. As a chariot's base is much longer than a foot figure's base, this gives a chariot a longer movement than a foot figure. A chariot may only move if it is manned. If a Chief or Hero is manning the chariot, he may not make a Throwing Weapon attack.

A Chief or Hero may dismount from a chariot and Walk during an activation, or Walk and mount a chariot during an activation. A Chariot may not Sprint during a turn when a Chief or Hero mounts or dismounts it.

3.1 Capturing Chariots

An unmanned chariot may be captured by the opposing side. A foot unit captures an unmanned chariot by ending its activation in base-to-base contact with the chariot; a free driver figure is placed in the chariot and receives an activation card immediately.

A captured chariot may be 're-captured' by the original side if it subsequently becomes unmanned again.

A captured chariot that is moved off the table via the player's home edge gains the player 2 Honour Points.

4. Stripping and Capturing Armour

A killed Chief or Hero may have his armour stripped and taken as a prize. To strip an enemy Chief/Hero of his armour, a Chief/Hero must spend one activation in base-to-base contact with the killed Chief/Hero - at the end of the activation, place an Armour token next to the Chief/Hero - he is now carrying the Armour.

The Armour token then moves with the Chief/Hero; while carrying Armour, a foot figure may not move faster than Walk. If the player moves the Armour token off his home edge in a chariot, he gains 2 Honour Points if the Armour was stripped off a Hero, and 3 Honour Points if it was stripped off a Chief, whether the Armour had been stripped from a Chief/Hero from his own side or the opposing side. If he leaves the table with the Armour on foot, no Honour Point is awarded.

A Chief/Hero carrying Armour may not charge but may fight normally when charged. If he loses a combat, he drops the Armour token onto the field/tabletop before he retreats. The dropped Armour may then be picked up again by a Chief/Hero figure that moves into base-to-base contact with the token.

To place an Armour in a chariot, the Chief/Hero carrying the armour must end his activation in base-to-base contact with a chariot. A Chief/Hero does not have to mount a chariot to place the Armour into the chariot - if he mounts the chariot while carrying the Armour, the Armour is in the chariot. A chariot may move normally while carrying Armour. A chariot may only carry one Armour token.

Again, feedback is welcomed. Thank you.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Olympus Tarot and using tarot cards for Tribal

Now it's no secret that I like the Tribal rules, but that's not to say that I don't think it can be spiced up a little, especially since the Trojan War is not specifically covered in the rules.

One of the things that occurred to me was that divine intervention in the Iliad can perhaps be represented by the addition of special cards to the deck, and that a good source of an 'off the shelf' deck of cards with special cards is of course tarot cards. Some googling turned up the Olympus Tarot, which comes in the standard tarot count of four suits of 14 minor arcana cards and 22 major arcana cards. Each card depicts a god (for the major arcana) or a scene from a tale from the Greek mythology (for the minor arcana); many are familiar, but I can't tell what some are supposed to depict because the manual that came with the deck is in Russian.

It is relatively simple to use the minor arcana to replace the standard deck: the four suits (sword, wand, cup and pentacle) represent the four suits (clubs, spades, hearts and diamonds), with values running from 1 to 14.

The major arcana required a little thought.

As the major arcana each represent one Greek god, I thought I would model the effect of each card based on the manner in which the gods intervened in the Iliad. But as not all the gods intervened in the war, and some intervened only for one side, I cannot use all the cards. My current idea is to just include eight of the major arcana, to be split between the two players: the Trojan player will add Aphrodite, Ares, and Apollo to his deck, and the Greek player will add Athena, Hera, and Poseidon to his deck; one each of the remaining two cards, Hephaestus and Zeus, will be dealt hidden to the two players, such that each player has a deck of 60 cards. Alternatively, both players may each receive one Zeus card and one Hephaestus card. The Card Pools rule will be used.

The major arcana cards may be played as a 'numbered' card, in which case they are of the suit that the player chooses, and beats all minor arcana cards (but does not Overpower) if played in combat. If two major arcana cards are played, the card with the lower number in the sequence of the major arcana beats one of a higher number.

The major arcana cards can also be played as an event cards outside of the normal situations called for in the main rules (called a divine intervention) and they have the following effects:

Zeus (I): Zeus forbids the gods to intervene! Played after a divine intervention - negates the effect of the divine intervention.

Hera (II): Hera seduces Zeus! Played after Zeus has been played - negates the effect of Zeus.

Aphrodite (III): Aphrodite rescues her favourite! Played when a Chief or Hero has been charged or is in combat - removes the Chief or Hero in combat and places him three long sides away.

Ares (IV): Ares fills a captain with battle fury! Played just before combat - a Chief or Hero in combat draws two extra cards for his combat hand.

Athena (VIII): Athena encourages her champion! Played when a Chief or Hero charges - the Chief or Hero may cast a Throwing Weapon twice* or gains another long side to move into combat.

Poseidon (IX): Poseidon rouses the troops! Played after completing the activation of a friendly unit - another unactivated friendly unit may activate immediately.

Hephaestus (XI): Armour of Hephaestus! Played when a Chief or Hero receives a hit - the hit is negated, even if it was an overpowering hit.

Apollo (XIX): Apollo thwarts my enemies! Played when a Chief or Hero is charged - the enemy unit that has declared a charge against the Chief or Hero must end its move a short side away from the Chief/Hero instead.

Once played as a divine intervention, major arcana cards are not re-shuffled back into the deck when all the cards are played, but are kept aside.

That's all I have for now. In the next post I will share some other additional rules I am planning for Homeric warfare.

(* - I plan to modify the Throwing Weapon rule such that all Chiefs and Heroes gain the Throwing Weapon skill and may in addition also cast a Throwing Weapon against a Chief or Hero after the charging Chief/Hero has resolved his attack.)

Monday, July 11, 2016

Malifaux test games

Set-up for the first game. A 3' x 3' playing area is pretty big for a low figure-count game.

Yes, I know I said we were going to use Empire of the Dead for our Victorian period game not more than a week ago, but a week is a long time in wargaming...

Anyway, after discussing the rules last week, fg and I decided that neither EOTD nor In Her Majesty's Name fit what we were looking for. I went on google to try to find a set of VSF skirmish rules, and after a while Malifaux came up. Now fg had talked about Malifaux a while back - he bought two starter packs and had painted one faction up. I downloaded the free fluff-free version of their rulebook, and after a brief read thought it was do-able.

I chose the most human of the factions to represent my Penny Dreadful party, and within the Guild faction I picked the Ortega family as their special rules emphasise sticking together and protecting each other, which to me is in the spirit of the party in the show (except for the end of Season 2, which was kinda stupid...).

Instead of the Resurrectionists, fg picked the Nephilim sub-faction of the Neverborn faction to represent his vampire party, which actually fit pretty well too. I suppose I will pick the Resurrectionists to represent my Mummy faction, and fg can use his Chinese Tong for the Ten Thunders faction.

Fg brought some very nice terrain.
Malifaux is a 'small skirmish', competition-orientated game - you run a handful of models, but each has its own special rules which interact with the other members of your warband (called a crew), and on top of that you can buy upgrades for the models, adding even more special rules and interplay to the mix. This means that it takes some studying to figure out the best way to put together a crew and to use them in a game.

We played the first game with 25-points crews, with the scenario awarding victory points for being within 6" of the centre of the board. I found that my supposedly shooty crew actually have very short shooting ranges that are really shorter than charge range of the vampires. Fortunately, some of the crew can hold their own in melee.

The first game ran seven turns, and fg won on victory points. Although we were slowed down by our unfamiliarity with the special rules, we had plenty of time left and we decided to play a second game with a Master added.

Lots of crunch.
For the second game we just needed to inflict casualties on the other side, and I additionally chose two secondary victory conditions that gave me points for being in the enemy half of the boar - this turned out to be a mistake: I should have stayed on my side of the board and shot at the vampires as they came for me. The game ended on turn 2, when my boss characters were killed.

Our heroes are outmatched by the forces of evil!
We enjoyed the game enough to want to play it again, perhaps this time with more thought!