Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016 in Review and Looking Ahead

It's that time of the year again when I look back on the games we have played the year past and make inaccurate predictions of the ones we will play in the coming one.

Despite me working only part-time this year, we only managed to play a total of 16 sessions, with 9 of these involving miniatures wargaming. We tried a total of eleven new boardgames, mainly due to my brother passing some of his collection to me and us just being too lazy to set up miniatures games on some days.

However, the score card does not take into account the many Mondays I spent playing RPGs; in fact, taking GM prep into account, I probably had more gaming done in 2016 than before. I've enjoyed our Dragon Age RPG a lot - the characters have all developed over the course the campaign arc, and we have reached a good break in the narrative for the players to review their plans for the characters. I hope to continue Monday Night RPG in the coming year. Apart form the Dragon Age campaign, I hope also to run another Lone Wolf campaign, as a tribute to the late Joe Dever.

Chain of Command saw some love in the first half of the year, but we only managed to play halfway through each of the two campaigns we embarked on. Perhaps we can pick up where we left off in 2017.

The 'surprise' game of the year was Tribal, which I really enjoy and ought to play more of. Perhaps when the rest have painted up their Wargods of Olympus kickstarter figures my Trojans will have some opponents.

I painted a party for Malifaux, but fg and I only played one session of it. Perhaps the arrival of my Modular Underground Project in Oct 2017 will give us cause to dust off our VSF figures?

The Heavy Gear kickstarter arrived and I have painted my share of the booty. What surprised me was Martin coming on board with the Horizon Wars project and driving it. We will probably see more sci-fi action in 2017. Hopefully Martin's enthusiasm doesn't spark off a mecha arms race among us.

Still on the sci-fi front, in the 28mm scale we may be playing more Blast Pistol. I enjoyed our first game, and have already ordered a box of the old Warzone game for the 40 Imperial Regulars that will come in the box (not sure what I will do with the Bauhaus Hussars yet - if you are interested in them maybe we can do some sort of a trade later) and primed a Robogear T-Rex which I bought years ago. A Rogue Stars campaign is also a possibility.

On my painting table now are 20 Frostgrave barbarians, which I plan to paint as Avvars for the next arc of our RPG. In the mail are 20 Black Hat dwarven crossbowmen; I have always liked the way they look but Adrian, our dwarf player, had always resisted me painting a unit of them for him. He finally relented last month after a game and I sent the order off that same day. Maybe we will see some Warhammer action soon.

Blood Bowl may see a revival too if the buzz on the blogosphere infect us - already fg has ordered the new game components... At least I already have a few teams and dugouts painted.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Everything I painted this year

15mm Ancients:

20mm WW2:

28mm Fantasy/Bronze Age:

28mm VSF:

10mm Sci-fi:

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Unboxing Toys: Warzone 2nd Edition Box Set and Random Police Playset

Two weeks ago, I placed an order for box of the 2nd Edition of Warzone.

This is just one of the projects I know I 'have to' do (the others being the Arab Revolt and a Third World/Banana Republic thingy with Toyota technicals). I have been thinking of painting up some unarmoured sci-fi troopers for a while using the cheap plastic Warzone Imperial figures, but have always held off. After playing Blast Pistol and finding it quite to my taste, I decided to take the plunge before they become unavailable.

In the chaos of the holiday season, the box somehow got delivered to me in less than two weeks, ahead of a few other orders I made earlier (which I hope are not lost somewhere...). The box came shrink-wrapped and is hefty.

Inside, the first thing to greet me was a bag of sprues.

The templates and counters are printed on thin card; some of the pieces have come off.

I also got three books and two d20s.

It took me a while to sort out the 80 spures: 40 of Imperial and 40 of Bauhaus. Placed in two piles, they look like this:

But they make me feel like this:

My interest in 28mm sci-fi also sent me to the local mall to look for cheap generic terrain and vehicles which can used, and I came across a bag of plastic toys for under US$9.

Say hello to more little friends!
As you can see, I got a plastic playmat, some streetlamps, signs, traffic lights, some barriers, and even road cones! There are 20 plastic cops, and a plastic chopper (perhaps 1:72 scale?). But what made me decide to grab the bag were the three vehicles: a Humvee, an M113, and an M1117, all in what appears to be 1/35 scale. They are all in moderately hard plastic, and have good surface details. A bit of googling suggests these are knock-offs from IMEX, but I am not certain.

The M113 is of course the inspiration and conversion kit of choice for the 40K Rhino APC. I have some Rhino parts left over from my conversion of the M8 Greyhound, so they will give me a start in converting the M113. The M1117 looks very impressive if a bit high-riding. I am planning to set the wheels a bit higher on the chassis, and perhaps switch the turret with a commercially-made conversion piece. The Humvee is rather recognisable, but hopefully I can convert it to a sci-fi police car.

My hope is to have enough buildings, scatter terrain, vehicles, and figures to create a sort of a sci-fi shanty town. It will take a while, and that's providing I don't run out of steam. Wish me luck, and send me your conversion ideas?

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Blast Pistol and Rogue Stars

I'v been looking for a set of sci-fi skirmish rules for a while; I have a Space Marine force painted up, but I can't seem to get into the 40K rules.

After reading a few reviews, I decided to give Blast Pistol a try. Coincidentally, fg's Rogue Stars arrived soon after we decided to play a game of Blast Pistol, so we tried both sets of rules on Monday.

For the Blast Pistol game I used my marines (3 squads of Unity Banner Troops) and fg used the Imperial Guards he got on a trade (3 squads of Colonial Militia, 1 Unity Infantry squad, and a Unity Agent). The mission was simply to take and secure the shed in the middle of the table.

Shootout in Shantytown!
We started tentatively with some manoeuvring and shooting, before I realised that with their high Toughness, my marines could afford to take a more... blatant attitude. Once they got into the shed, there was little the Imperial Guards could do to dislodge them. Fg's squads took a more circumspect approach, and as a result did not manage to bring their numerical advantage to bear.

'And they shall know no fear."
I enjoyed the rules. It's got a straightforward mechanics, and the weapon characteristics give the rules a sci-fi flavour. The army list for each "race" is rather small, even with all the supplements purchased, but they cover about half a dozen of your sci-fi staples. Other than my marines, I am planning a Morkian platoon with support weapons based on the old plastic Warzone Imperial Regulars, which should be the main project for me in the first quarter of next year.

How did that crate take his weight?
After the Blast Pistol game, we used the same set-up for a game of Rogue Stars.

Fg and I picked two pre-generated crews from the rulebook. Fg took a squad of police, while I picked an ex-military character with a few droids, but tweaked the stats to make her a close-combat expert.

The game is more detailed and complicated, with detailed stats and traits for each of the figures, so instead of fielding around 20 figures each, we were using only 5 figures each this game.

The scenario involved fg's crew trying to reach a vehicle on the opposite table edge from his deployment zone, and my crew trying to stop them.

The cops soften the opposition with a hail of fire.
Rogue Stars was written by the author of the Song of Blades and Heroes series of games, but the only recognisable feature from that series is the activation roll mechanics. A figure can attempt to perform up to three actions during each activation, but must roll above a target number on a d20, and gains one Stress marker per action performed. A figure may activate multiple times per turn, but activation becomes increasingly less likely as it gains Stress markers; with each failure on the activation roll, your opponent gains a chance to react by attempting an activation himself. While a little cumbersome initially, this mechanic produces a rather cinematic feel of momentum grinding to a halt and the initiative passing to the other side.

The use of d20 produces rather wild results, and fg's crew leader was killed by the first shot from my droid early in the game, so we decided to re-roll that and carry on instead of restarting the game. Then the big droid on my side got one-shotted. The cops kept up a steady pressure and crept up on my position. Things were looking grim for my side.

Then looking at my leader's traits, I decided to take a gamble. Using her Fast trait, she dashed out of cover, double-moved to the enemy leader, and using her Weapon Master 2 advantage cut her down in two rounds of combat, and then dashed back into cover again. The sudden reversal of fortune caused one cop to flee off the table, and the remainder were no match for my leader when they got close enough to the vehicle.

The two games are of course very different. Blast Pistol is closer to the 40K style of game where the winning strategy seems to be bringing weapons to bear, while Rogue Stars has characters so detailed that it can actually serve as a set of combat rules for a role-playing game - the number of factions, types of weapons, armour and gear, and the number of traits you can assign to characters makes this look like a game that will reward the player who invests time and effort in the creation and development of his crew.

I can see myself reaching for Blast Pistol when I want to put a few dozen figures onto the table and fight a platoon-level action, and I can also see myself taking a crew through a campaign of Rogue Stars.

Thursday, December 08, 2016

"Joe Dever: The Life of a Lone Wolf!"

By now most of us would have learnt of Joe Dever's passing on 29 November.

Even though I never owned or played most of the original Lone Wolf gamebooks, they definitely had an impact on me as a gamer. I remember my teenage friends and myself marveling at the Magnamund Companion and the many possibilities it promised. Decades after then, when I resumed GMing after a long break, I found myself gravitating back towards the rich lore and unique feel of the setting. Till today, I consider the Magnamund-based campaign I GM'd a few years ago my best work as a GM.

I never sought to find out more about the man behind the world until now, but I believe this video of an interview with him in 2013 gives a good picture of Mr Dever.

I see a man who was proud and confident of the legacy he has given to the RPGing world, and I think he had reason to be so.

A few months back, even as my current gaming group were discussing what other games to play in the future, I mooted the idea of a Lone Wolf game. I even began tweaking the Mongoose d20 rules to fit the Dragon Age engine, but has found it difficult. A few days back I thought about giving the Cubicle 7 version a try, and after watching this interview, I think it is the way to go.

Monday, December 05, 2016

Forbidden Stars again

Adrian, fg, Thomas and I met up for another game of Forbidden Stars on Sunday. We played the 4-player game with custom map set-up.

It was a vicious game which saw the Space Marines' ground troops eliminated, the Eldar cutting a swathe through six boards, and the winner not determined until the last round.

As it turned out we got some of the rules wrong; but we had a lot of fun nonetheless, and are looking forward to playing it again, this time with the rules right.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Forbidden Stars

Adrian, fg and I played a game of FFG's Forbidden Stars on Sunday.

I quite enjoyed the game, even though I came up last. The gameplay itself is a mix of 4X and "capture the flag": to win the game, you must capture a number of objective tokens equal to the number of players in the game - the catch is, each token is in a tile controlled by another player. It is easy to lose sight of the aim of the game and go on a traditional build-invade-conquer-build cycle, but while combat is necessary (and fun), in our game most of the time the objectives were captured because they were lightly-defended as the owning player had shifted his forces to invade another sector.

There are two noteworthy features to the game. One is the placement of the order counters. Players take turns placing order counters on the map sections to indicate the command they wish to execute during the turn; if there is already a tile on the section, you place your tile on top of that tile. The twist here is the orders are resolved from the top of the tile, so if you wish to gather resources from a sector and then build forces, you need to place the build tile *before* the gather tile! Also, as the tiles are resolved essentially in reverse order of placement, it is often better to place your order *after* your opponent has done so. For example, if you foresee an invasion on your sector and you wish to gather resources and then build up your forces, you should let the enemy place his invasion order counter *before* you place your tile - if you place your order before him, then the invasion order will be revealed and resolved, before you have a chance to build your forces.

The other interesting feature of the game is the combat, which utilises a combination of specialist dice and cards. Players draw a random hand of five combat cards and choose three to fight three rounds of combat, with each card played having some effect on the results. This adds strategy to the combat, making it more than just a dice fest.

As usual, the game components are excellent. The map art is especially impressive and captures the mood of 40K.

The game is excellent as it is, but I can easily imagine it being reskinned for a historical naval war, either for the age of sails, or even WW2. Hopefully we can get a 4-player game in in December.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Heavy Gear Caprice Mounts and Iron Wind and Reaper Chaos Warriors

I apologise for the scarcity of posts over the past few months, but I have been doing more RPGing than wargaming; but I have been painting.

These are the Caprice Mounts from the Heavy Gear kickstarter. They still need to be based, but the paint job is done. I painted them specifically with the mat that we are using for the game in mind, and I am quite pleased with the result.

These are the Chaos Warriors type I painted for our RPGs: twelve archers and twelve axemen from Iron Wind Metals, and two boss characters from Reaper. I shoot them on the 2D terrain tiles I use for RPGs because that was the main reason I bought and painted them. In our Dragon Age game they represented Hurlocks; in a Lone Wolf game they will likely represent Drakkarim. Of course they can be used in fantasy wargaming as generic Chaos Warriors too.

Continuing in the same theme, I am now painting twenty Frostgrave barbarians, with the short-term aim of using them as Avvar barbarians for the next arc in our Dragon Age campaign. I made the decision to paint them with white-and-black face and body paint as they are depicted in the computer game, which does make them a bit more specific and limit their use as historical figures. But the two test models I painted this weekend suggests that the white-and-black scheme does work in 28mm, so I will proceed as planned.

I will have a few months to paint the barbarians, because from the next session Jonn will take over as GM and continue our Shadowrun game, and after that fg will be making his GMing debut with Cubicle 7's Adventures in Middle Earth. I am pretty excited about both, and as much as I enjoy GMing, I welcome a break from having to do all the prep work before each session.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

DC Comics Dice Masters

With a couple of hours to while away this afternoon, fg and I decided to play a quick game of DC Comics Dice Masters.

The game is a "deck building" game with a bit of placement mechanics. You start by recruiting heroes/villains, and then deciding how many much resources to assign to each of the characters (in terms of number of dice). There are a few versions of each character, some with different cost to field, and each with different abilities. Each turn, you roll four dice to see how many points or sidekicks you generate - with the points you can put characters into your reserve pool and field them later, and with the sidekicks you can attack your opponent or defend yourself against his attack. Once fielded, the characters bring their powers into the combats.

The game components are very nice, and I am sure there are subtleties to the game we did not appreciate in our three games, the mechanics are too abstract for my idea of a battle between super-heroes and super-villains.

After the game fg and I looked at Cubicle 7's Adventures in Middle Earth which he bought. A quick perusal of the rules got me quite excited, and we are now planning to play the game after the next arc of my Dragon Age campaign (or the one after, depending on when the Loremaster's Guide is released). My character concept is a dwarf from the Iron Hills who is obsessed with the reconquest of Moria, and will spend the next few decades gaining knowledge and allies for this quest; hopefully he eventually goes with Balin to Moria and dies there after a few years, murdered by goblins.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

The Men Who Would Be Kings

My free copy of TMWWBK arrived in my mailbox last week. As with the other books in the series, the pages are filled with nice artwork and miniatures.

This is the fourth free Osprey book I received play-testing for Dan Mersey, and the fifth Osprey wargame I had the privilege to contribute to.

Colonials aren't exactly my period, although I do have both sides of the Indian Mutiny in 15mm. However, after watching The Siege of Jadotville earlier this month, I am wondering if the rules can be used for a "bush war" type of conflict...

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

Red Box Dwarves... kinda

I'm going to touch up the eyes on these guys later, but here are the twelve Red Box dwarves I got from the kickstarter Tre Manor held a while back.


The torsos come from Red Box, but I didn't like the heads and I wanted these guys to be armed with spears. Some trading got me the heads and spear arms from Gripping Beast's Dark Age Warriors box set, and I was in business.

Now while assembling these figures, I realised why dwarves "in real life" didn't use spears or polearms: the distance between your hand and the ground affects how much length you can manage "above" your hand. Sure you can manage to hold a 15-foot pike, but that takes two hands and it isn't really a weapon you can use in a skirmish.

With these guys I now have enough "irregular" dwarves to make a Riot campaign viable. Plus they are always useful for fantasy RPGs.

One reason why I pushed myself to finish these guys is because I have decided to back the latest Frostgrave Nickstarter so I can get my hands on the multi-part plastic barbarians. Barbarians, like dwarves, are useful figures to have for most fantasy settings, so I expect quite good return on investment on those. I would like to paint them with black-and-white body paint like the Avvars depicted in the Dragon Age RPG, but whether I can manage that is an unknown.

If you are looking for some generic fantasy barbarians, do head over the North Star's page.

Monday, October 03, 2016

Horizon Wars first game

I've been talking about Horizon Wars for a while, but on Sunday Martin, fg and I finally got down to trying out the rules.

We played a set-piece battle with 20 points a side. Martin fielded two mechas, a recon drone and a heavy artillery unit, plus three bases of infantry.

I fielded my "Mad Max" force with ten bases of infantry, four bases of bikes, and six 'technicals', all classified as some form of infantry in the game, and due to the way the points system works, each costing a point.

As with most first games, we probably didn't get everything right, and we most certainly didn't play all the rules - in particular neither of us used the Recovery action, which would have made the game last much longer.

We did, however, learn a couple of things.

Mechas are powerful, but can be vulnerable if unsupported. Even with a high Firepower, it can only target one enemy unit per activation, which means it can succumb to horde tactics.

The downside to playing the horde is the amount of book-keeping required, as damage is scored against a unit's stats and there is no 'hit points' per se.

For the next game I think we might want to play with a smaller force and on a smaller area, so we get can down to the nuances of the rules.

Also, the Heavy Gear kickstarter that we backed arrived and I got my sprues. The plastic is a bit softer than I expected, and even the smallest mecha has eight parts, which need to be glued together, so it will take me some time to get all of them assembled. They also came in blacj plastic, which may present a problem when it comes to painting because I want to paint them 'light sand' instead of the canon red. Well, one step at a time then.

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!

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Empire of the Dead party

From L to R: Mr Nathan Sandler, Dr Frank Ernstein, Ms Veronica Clives, Sir Michael Moray, and Sam Benett.

Here are the West Wind Empire of the Dead figures which fg passed to me and which I painted as a not-Penny Dreadful party, based on the cast photo below:

They are not a good likeness of the original (for that, see here), but I thought it would be better to paint something 'good enough' while the interest is there than to spend too much time looking for the perfect figures and losing steam before the whole thing is done.

I kept the colours to a muted black-grey-grey-brown as in the photo, but decided to tie all the figures in the party together by giving each a red accent around the neck region.

For the fluff I thought I might stick close to the Penny Dreadful storyline (spoilers ahead!), and have the characters be an Amercian (non-werewolf) shootist, a medical doctor, a woman with arcane powers, and an explorer and his faithful manservant, in this case a native American instead of an African (because the figure looks like it can pass for the former but not he latter).

Our intrepid party will face the malevolent forces of Merneptah (will Professor Flinders Petrie swtich sides mid-campaign as Professor Lyle did?), and the diabolic vampire master and his thralls that fg is current painting.

Will good triumph over evil (or at least be left alone to do their Victorian things)? Will the mysteries of our heroes' past come back to haunt them? Will I have enough terrain for this campaign? Stay tuned to find out...

Sunday, July 03, 2016

Dropzone Commander Resistance force for Horizon Wars

This little force here had its origins as models for the Axles & Alloys game, but once I got my hands on the Horizon Wars rules I realised I could use them as the nucleus of a low-tech, rebel/resistance style force.

I used black as the main colour for the force - it is easy to paint and shows up well on the light sand terrain we plan to use for our games, plus it gives them a Fremen look - but couldn't resist painting the school bus in a traditional yellow. The bus will serve as the company HQ for my force.

The force is small for Horizon Wars requirements, but if I borrow the vehicles and bikes fg painted, I should be able to field a larger force that can go toe to toe with the other guys' mecha forces.

With these guys out of the way, I hope to paint up some 28mm VSF figures for our Empire of the Dead project. Hopefully my eyes can still do 28mm...

Friday, July 01, 2016

July Giveaway

This month, I am giving away the Tamiya 1/48 scale M20 kit.

I bought this with the intent of converting it to a Space Marine vehicle, but as I mentioned in this post, it was too small for my purpose and I ended up buying a 1/35 kit instead. So let's you and I try to make the best of a bad situation and hopefully get this kit to someone who is already using 1/48 scale vehicles for their WW2/Bolt Action game, shall we?

Let me know if you want the above by leaving a comment, and I will draw a winner on the 15th of the month. This is not a first-come, first-serve offer,

To save on postage, I will be sending this kit in a padded envelop with only the top half of the box folded flat to provide some protection. A few parts (the main chassis) have been cut from the sprue, but otherwise the kit should be complete, with instructions, decals, and a length of string for tow cable.

This offer is free; once I let you know you have been drawn, do let me have your email and mailing address, and I will mail it to you. You don't even have to pay for postage. I am doing this not to get some money back, but to give these toys a good home. If you want to pay back somehow, I ask that you make a small donation to a local charity, or consider doing the same thing I am doing and give some gaming stuff that you no longer need/use a new lease of gaming life.

Thank you.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Mid-Year Review

As we reach the mid-point of the year, I feel the need to take stock and see what the rest of the gaming year may hold for my little group.

The two Chain of Command campaigns are progressing at a reasonable pace: we are two games into each campaigns and I have almost all the terrain necessary for the upcoming games made.

On the 28mm skirmish front the Immortal rules are still in oblivion, but thankfully Tribal has stepped up to the plate. The photo above shows most of the figures I have painted for a Trojan faction, and they will be facing wahj's Trojans/Greeks and fg's Crocodile Games Amazons when they are painted. I think it says a lot about Tribal that it made me complete a project that has been stalled for over two years in just two months. In fact, I have ordered some Hittie Royal Guards from Newline so I can have another unit of melee troops. I have purchased the Olympus tarot decks, and once they arrive I want to start making up rules for using them.

The other event that we have been waiting for this year is the delivery of the Heavy Gear kickstarter, which will start shipping next month. What came as a surprise to me though was Martin coming on board with the project and getting himself a copy of the Horzion Wars rules and some Dropzone Commander figures too. But even before the Heavy Gear stuff arrive I should have painted up the Dropzone Commander stuff that I already have to be able to field a small Resistance force. With luck we should be able to play our first games in the last quarter of this year.

Two other side projects I hope to work on this year are for Empire of the Dead and Dystopian Wars.

For the first I am planning to paint up a 'not-Penny Dreadful' faction using the West Wind figures fg passed me. It may be some time before we have enough figures for a campaign, but I guess VSF is a period that we will come back to eventually.

For the second I am doing some terrain work. I have earlier planned to build an island fort based on a real-life Genoese fort in Turkey, but the construction proved to be beyond my skills. I used the buildings I bought for that project to instead build a harbour-fort based on a Turkish town I visited once, and hope to get that completed soon. Perhaps I will work on some other terrain project after that and gradually acquire the know-how to build the island fort eventually.