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.