Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Song of Drar and Murin: Game 3

Alas! Would that I never laid out the dungeon tiles this hateful day!

With the figures I am planning to paint this weekend in the flocking tray drying, I decided to play another game of SODAM; Murin and Drar paid the ultimate price for my decision.

For this scenario I wanted to try out the Leadership trait of the Goblin commander. The dwarves start at the centre of the board and must exit via any of the three ends to win. The Goblin commander is randomised to one of the three immediate tiles, and may "activate" a card if he enters a tile.

The set-up.

The deployment. With the dwarves protected/blocked by a wall, I decide to head left and avoid the Goblin commander.

The measuring template from Litko makes an appearance.

Murin faces off the Goblin commander while the rest make off to the left. The Goblin commander decides against a confrontation and calls for more troops instead.
Things are looking good... but it won't for long...
The Goblin commander closes in. Drar is beset by two goblin warriors and Murin decides to come to his rescue.

Murin charges in and orders Drar and the archers to retreat... but Drar is cut down while trying to break off contact!

While Murin is stunned by his friend's death, the Goblin commander falls upon him and slays him too!

The rest of the dwarves lose heart and flee pell-mell, and one more archer will fall at the hands of the Goblin commander before the battle ends.

With a figure with the Leader trait on the goblin side, they become much deadlier. The dwarves were a little unlucky this game - the Goblin commander made 3 activations to charge at Murin and make a Powerful strike, and then rolled high enough to kill him.

I guess my question now is whether I should continue the campaign with the surviving dwarves and hopefully gain another leader figure by winning a game, or whether I should play the next games from the point of view of the goblins instead.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Of Gods and Mortals


After a 5-month wait, my copy of OGAM arrived today.

Despite having learnt and played a few games of SOBH, I am not ready to play OGAM yet as there are some differences between the two systems, particularly in the melee resolution part.

The interplay between gods and mortals adds a level of strategy to the game, which I think will take some practice for a player to become good at.

Anyway, the first thing I did was to look at the army lists, and come up with lists for my forces.

So far, I've got:

Celtic

God

Balor of the Evil Eye - 304 pts

Legends

Bres (as Ferdiad) - 70 pts

Druidess - 54 pts

2 Fomorian champions (as werewolves) - 160 pts

Mortals

Unit of 8 Fomorian Warriors - 136 pts

Unit of 8 Fomorian Archers (using Celtic archer stats) - 176 pts

Total = 900 pts


Norse List 1A

God

Odin with Gungir - 380 pts

Legends

Norn - 30 pts

2 Valkyries with Flying - 180 pts

Mortals

Unit of 7 Dwarven Nobles - 154 pts

Unit of 6 Dwarven Armoured Archers - 150 pts

Total = 894 pts


Norse List 1B

God

Odin with Gungir - 380 pts

Legends

Norn - 30 pts

Geri or Freki (as Fenrir) - 104

Mortals

Unit of 8 Dwarven Nobles - 176 pts

Unit of 8 Dwarven Armoured Archers - 200 pts

Total = 890 pts

I decided Odin should get the Prophecy advantage given by the Norn because he drank from the well of Mimir...


Norse List 2

God

Thor - 376 pts

Legends

Dwarf Champion (as Valkyrie) - 70 pts

Dvergar Weapon Smith - 50 pts

Mortals

Unit of 8 Dwarven Warriors - 120 pts

Unit of 8 Dwarven Warriors - 120 pts

Unit of 8 Dwarven Rangers - 160 pts

Total = 896 pts

The Thor list is difficult since I can't really add most of the Legends as Thor cannot take Giants, and I don't think it's thematic for Valkyries to be fielded with non-noble Dwarven warriors, but as I must take 1 to 5 Legends, and the bonus from the Dvergar Smith is wasted if I take only him, I am sort of forced to take a Valkyrie-proxy.

Egyptian List

God

Set - 356 pts

Legends

1 Greater Mummy - 86 pts

Mortals

Unit of 8 Egyptian Elite Warriors - 152 pts

Unit of 8 Egyptian Elite Archers - 192 pts

Unit of 6 Mummies - 108 pts

Total = 894 pts


Trojan List

God

Apollo - 380 pts

Legends

Hector (as Achilles) - 108 pts

Aeneus (as Armoured Greek Hero) - 70 pts

Sarpedon on chariot (as Mounted Greek Hero) - 86 pts

Mortals

Unit of 6 Trojan Spearmen - 120 pts

Unit of 6 Trojan Archers - 120 pts

Total = 884 pts


Well, those are the plans anyway.

I'll see if I can get a review of the rules up in the near future.

Song of Drar and Murin: Game 2

I managed to squeeze in a game of SODAM on Wednesday evening.

The scenario is based on the Moria fight scene from The Fellowship of the Ring: the dwarves are trapped in a room with a troll and some goblins on the other side of the door, and must make a break for it.

Hmm, quite a few choke points there...

Lucky die-rolls put the attackers in a side-room - time to make a break for it!

The troll falls down in the first combat, and won't get up for many turns. The slayer holds off the goblin warriors while the rest push on to the next room.

The third room is empty! What luck! Let's lug it, boys - I think I can hear the troll coming...

Uh-oh. This doesn't look good...

The dwarves are caught in a choke point and unable to bring their full force to bear.

Until a warrior scores a Gruesome Kill on one of the goblins, which sends the rest fleeing.



The troll gains on the dwarf bowmen, who try to hold him off with their arrows, while the warriors clear the goblins guarding a line of rubble in the fifth room.

The warriors cross the obstacle and clear the last room, but the bowmen, needing two successful activations on 4+, are stuck! Finally, Murin runs back to motivate them...

The end position. Miraculously, none of the dwarves were killed.

The game took about 90 minutes and lasted a little over 30 turns. I gave myself a target of 4 turns per tile, which means while they all survived, the dwarves failed the mission.

The time limit does make the game more challenging and exciting. I am a little disappointed by the troll's performance, but when led by a Goblin Leader, I think he will be deadlier.

I think I will introduce the Goblin Leader in the next game...

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Pleasant Surprise

Soon after I decided to build a Warhammer (The) Empire army I joined the Warhammer Empire Forum (yes, we Empire types have a Teutonic approach to naming things; none of this Round Table, Herdstone, UnderEmpire, etc. frivolity, ja?).

It's a lively forum with many excellent painters and terrain builders, and a place where I go for some inspiration every time I feel I need to recharge my painting mojo.

Anyway, they have this annual minis exchange project called "Pleasant Surprises" where you, upon joining up, are assigned a "giftee". The object then is to cyber-stalk your giftee and find out what he or she might want for a gift.

My giftee was someone who was involved in an online RPG who had once said that he would like a certain Reaper figure to represent his character, so I painted him that figure.

Today was my turn to receive my surprise, and what I got was this:


As you can see, it's the same scheme as mine, so the gifter has done his homework.


I have certainly enjoyed the exchange this year and plan to sign up again next year, and aim for a bigger, more ambitious project than a single figure.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Song of Drar and Murin: Game 1

Well, I managed to get the tiles from my brother and play the first game in the solo campaign! I'll give a narrative of the game, followed by my thoughts.

The dungeon set up using the random method I devised... OK, I cheated - the first time I rolled, all the tiles were in a straight line, so I re-rolled.

The dwarves enter in formation. You can see the stat cards in the foreground.

The first room is... empty!

Feeling confident, Murin moves into the next room... and is ambushed by goblins!

Things get hairy for Murin, and only one of his followers recovers his senses in time to rush to his rescue.

The dwarves quickly regain their composure, and despatch the goblins.

Murin decides to get everyone organised before they head into the next room, which is a good decision because they find four goblin warriors ready to spring on them.

The Slayer does sterling work with his two-handed axe - I think he had the highest body count for the evening!

All right, boys, two more rooms to go!

Once again, an over-confident Murin nearly gets into trouble.

By the time they tackle the final room, the dwarves have got it more or less organised - warriors to the front, archers to the rear with clear lanes of fire.

I had fun.

Setting up was a breeze with the tiles and the cards made things simple and clear.

For this first scenario I used 5 tiles and removed the goblin commander and troll from the deck. The goblins are rather weak compared to the dwarves, and given that the dwarves tackled them one room at a time, it wasn't really very challenging for me. Well, except for the time Murin nearly got killed. I think a turn limit may be required to make the dwarves move faster.

The "terrain" on the tiles were great. There were narrow doorways which prevented all the dwarves from moving together, and enough obstacles to block line-of-sight and thus line-of-movement; this is important as in SOBH figures may only move in straight lines, so to charge a goblin around a corner a dwarf may have to make two or three successful activation rolls, which makes things riskier for them.

The goblin placement rule worked quite well, and added another element of variability to the game. I think I will add the rule that if a goblin is placed adjacent to a dwarf it counts as an ambush and ends the dwarves' turn.

In terms of tactics, I think I didn't really use Murin's Leadership special rule well. In the next game I will move the warriors in a group move to enter new tiles, and group the archers to perform concentrated fire from behind them. For all his Combat skills, Murin should not always be at the forefront of fighting. The slayer proved to be a real asset with his Lethal v. Goblin skill.

I will be busy for the rest of the week, but I hope to be able to play the next game in the campaign next week. I think I will let the troll make his debut next...

Dungeon Command tiles - Mind Blown

I was googling for images of Dungeon Command tiles to see what people did with them, when I found this picture:

image from http://papatreasures.blogspot.sg/

By connecting the tiles in a "brick-tiling" fashion instead of full edge-to-edge, I can create more possible configurations!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Song of Drar and Murin: planning a solo dungeon crawl campaign - Part 3

Well, I managed to make the cards I need for the campaign using a free online Magic card maker.

The first of these cards is a stat card, which shows the troop type, special rules, as well as the "doctrine" of that figure. The numbers on the bottom right are the stats: Quality and Combat.


The second one shown here is a "Monster" card, which shows what the dwarves encounter when they enter a tile, in both graphics and words:


I'll be getting the tiles from my brother tomorrow and hope to test the rules and hopefully even play the first scenario of the campaign.

Song of Drar and Murin: planning a solo dungeon crawl campaign - Part 2

Old foes soon to meet in a different setting?

With the rules decided, I could begin to work on the details of the game.

Taking the basic 300-point warband as the starting point, I looked at the points for the goblins faction, and found that a troll was 54 points while a Goblin Leader was 45 points. This gave me the idea of assigning the goblins in "cards", each of which represented a total of approximately 60 points - with one card randomly assigned to each tile, I can easily calibrate the opposition faced by my dwarves by deciding the number of tiles a game will have. This automatically gives me a ladder campaign mechanic: by adding one extra tile each subsequent game, I can raise the challenge faced by my warband.

A quick inventory of my figures told me that I can have 1 Goblin Leader plus one warrior card, 1 Troll card, and 3 each of "four warriors", "two warriors plus one archer", and "one warrior plus two archers". Adding a "blank" card and a "draw two cards" card will add more variety and unpredictability to the game.

Terrain placement is facilitated by the design of the tiles. I begin by placing a small tile as the entry point for the dwarves, then randomly picking a large tile to be joined to the starting tile by one of its three "open" sides, which again is randomly diced for. I will then dice to see which of the two remaining sides the next time will join to, again rolling to determine which of its three sides will be connected to the previous tile. This goes on until the number of tiles I want for the scenario has been placed, whereupon any "open" side will be "closed by the remaining small tiles.

The goblin cards are then shuffled and dealt face down onto each tile, to be revealed when a dwarven figure enters it. The exact position of each figure on the tile is determined by rolling 2d6, which will give the co-ordinates for its placement in a Cartesian fashion. One placed, the figures activate using the algorithm specific to its type, unless they come within Long range of the Goblin Leader figure, in which case I they may be activated as I see fit.

Now revealing the goblins tile-by-tile may look unrealistic, but I have decided to consider that the goblins are "arriving on scene" when they are revealed. This means that the goblins were not actually in the next tile all along, but have been rushing towards the sound of combat and have only just come into a distance where they can influence the course of the battle.

Campaign progression can be a in linear, ladder fashion, starting with a 5-tile dungeon (with the Goblin Leader and Troll cards removed from the deck), adding another one or two tiles each subsequent game, till a finale 10-tile dungeon with the Goblin Leader and Troll cards shuffled into the top half of the deck and placed onto the last 6 tiles.

Instead of logging individual advancement, I will award the warband either an extra trooper figure or a warband advance with each scenario won, with only the two "leaders" (Drar and Murin) being eligible for individual stats advancement.

So far the plan seems sound to me, and I hope to start playing next week once I get the tiles from my brother. In the meantime I would like to hear any suggestion from you, my readers, particularly on whether I should have different scenario objectives, and what those objectives should be.

Thanks.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Song of Drar and Murin: planning a solo dungeon crawl campaign - Part 1

picture from BoardGameGeek

I've been toying with the idea of solo-wargaming for a while now, and it seems like the pieces are coming together, if you will excuse the pun...

I already own a few terrain cloth and terrain items, but setting up and cleaning up afterwards is a bit too much of an effort for a solo game, so my mind turned to dungeon tiles. These have the advantage of being being to store, set-up, and take down, and look good even though they are 2-dimensional. I wanted something geomorphic, but unfortunately the selection on RPGnow were more of the "toolkit" variety.

The breakthrough came when I saw the Dungeon Command box sets which my brother had bought; these are "ready to play" faction sets which contain rules, pre-painted plastic miniatures, game cards, as well as double-sided cardboard terrain tiles which interlock in a jigsaw puzzle fashion. Each box comes with two large tiles (8" x 8") and two small tiles (8" x 4"), as you can see above. My brother has bought them for the pre-painted minis, which means he will be passing me the tiles, giving me a total of ten large tiles and ten small tiles.

Now the large tiles are the key here, because they are large enough to allow a mass skirmish while still having features that block line-of-sight, and they are geomorphic to three of their sides, which means I can combine the tiles in a large number of configurations.

Also contained in the box sets are creature cards for both the Dungeon Command game (which is a diceless skirmish game) and the other D&D dungeon crawl games. The latter are the second key to my plans.

They describe the tactics used by the creatures the cards represent, and tell the player what a creature would do if it was adjacent to a player character, what it would do if it was near a character, and what it would do if it was far away from a character. This gives each type of creature a "doctrine" which while predictable was logical, and did not require an additional die-roll and looking up of charts.

With these two elements in place I looked to the figures I already own for a setting, and the top choice was dwarves versus goblins in a "battle for Moria" setting. I will play a dwarven warband against the goblins occupying Moria, which will be controlled by the game mechanics.

Now I think the traditional dungeon crawl where you go from room to room to find random creatures, kill them, take their stuff, then carrying on to the next room where the occupants act as if they hadn't noticed what had been happening next door a little... silly. Having a "monster" faction with few troop types seemed a more realistic option for me.

The next step was to decide on a set of rules, and since we are going to be playing OGAM soon, I decided to turn to the Song of Blades and Heroes, which the OGAM rules are based on. The use of three range bands instead of measurements for movement and shooting allows me to write the algorithm for the goblins based on their distance from the dwarves: for example, goblin archers will move away from a dwarf if in contact or within short range, shoot if at medium range, and move to medium range and shoot if at above medium range.

Once I got the ruleset decided, I could start working on the maths.

(continued in Part 2)

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Dungeon Crawl: The Legend of Drizzt


I was feeling a it lazy this weekend so we decided to play a dungeon crawl boardgame.

Adrian and fg must have a more than a dozen different dungeon crawl games between them, but we decided to try the Dungeons & Dragons: The Legend of Drizzt game.

The game was easy to learn and quite fun, but silly in the way most dungeon crawls are - traveling to his own wedding, fg's character Wulfgar found that his two groomsmen were actually a lizard and an assassin in disguise! The game components are of high production quality, and I think I will be using the tiles which my brother will be passing me as the basis of a solo dungeon crawl campaign.

I haven't quite decided on what system to use for my dungeon crawl project yet, but I think I will use the existing tile plus the reaction system, with the actions of the "monsters" being determined by their proximity to the heroes.

An easy option will be to use my LOTR dwarves and goblins, in a sort of a classic Moria-esque setting, with perhaps s small band of dwarf warriors led by a couple of heroes, versus a horde of goblins controlled by a reaction system. The challenge is how to make the whole process tactically interesting, but I am quite keen to start on this since I already have most of the components needed.

Sunday, October 06, 2013

When the gods conspire

I'm usually a rather cautious about starting new armies, and will ponder over the issue for weeks if not months. But sometimes the gods conspire against you, and if reading the Iliad has taught me anything, it is that you can't fight the will of the gods...

It all started when I was doing some reading about the Norse gods when I found that that Thor is the patron god for the peasant class, while Odin is the god of the warrior class. This prompted me to search for a suitable figure for Odin.

I decided on a Mithril 32mm Gandalf figure, as I wanted to represent the Wanderer aspect of Odin rather than his warrior aspect. I went on ebay and found that the seller offering the lowest price for the figure was also the one who had the lowest price on the Wargods of Aegyptus Harbinger of Set figure I had been watching; since I was paying the postage, I decided to get the figure too, as I already have these:


These are the latest line of resin bases from Fantascape, which I decided to buy when I got the bases for my Norse warband since they looked really nice. I had so much fun painting the large chariot base that I think it may turn into a new hobby for me; it will be the movement tray for the Egyptian spearmen in my OGAM Egyptian warband. The sloping surface on the 40mm base is a good match for the pose of the Harbinger of Set figure.

The round bases came in a set of three. The last one is quite nice but I don't have any figure posed to take advantage of it, and so I used it as the centre piece of the movement tray for the archers in my OGAM Egyptian warband.


I ordered a pack of Foundry Egyptian spearmen and one of Egyptian archers, and plan to get the Great Mummy figure from Northstar's OGAM Nickstarter. I really love the crown on that figure. When all those figures are painted, I will have myself a full Egyptian faction for OGAM.

You would think that the gods would be appeased with my spending and give me a break, but...

While looking at Redoubt's page, I found that not only are they planning a Christmas sale soon, they will also be increasing their prices come next year. This means that I will have to buy the Trojan warband which I have been thinking about this year. When I do, I will end up with all four factions in the basic OGAM rulebook.

The gods must be laughing at me right now...