Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Roman-Sassanid Game 1

View of the battlefield from the Roman side

Wahj, Martin, fg and I got together for a game of our Dux Bellorum-Impetus mash-up on Sunday. This game features several 'firsts': it's the first use of my new Deep Cut Studios mat for a wargame, the first use of my new woods terrain pieces, the first use of the card Armenian church building, and the first match between our Late Roman armies against Martin's Sassanid Persians.

Wahj and I took the Romans, with him taking the bulk of the troops, while I took the Goth contingent on the Roman right.

Centre of the Roman line

Martin split his forces into two halves, commanding the bulk of the cavalry on his right, and giving fg command of some cavalry, the elephants, and the foot.

Sassanid battle line

Both sides were reluctant to move from their start positions at first, but eventually the Persians made a wide flanking move on the right and pushed forward their foot skirmishers on their left. I responded by sending my Goth cavalry in a headlong charge that saw my general surrounded by foot units and dying an ignoble death.

Cavalry clash. Note the use of replica Roman coins for Leadership Points

On the other flank the battle culminated in a massive cavalry clash that eventually ended with the Persian general being surrounded and killed.

As usual the game ended with talk of getting more units to make each army more effective.

I have earlier backed West Wind Productions' War & Empire III kickstarter, with the aim of painting up another 8 units of Roman foot to give wahj a helping hand, but as he is currently on a painting spree (and the kickstarter fulfillment won't be till the end of the year) I have decided to pass the bulk of the deal to Martin, who is planning to get some Palmyran units, while I plan to get some Arthurian foot to use as Goth infantry.

The other reason why I wanted to give up my stake in the kickstarter was because I have just bought some thirty 28mm figures and two chariots for my Trojan War project. These will allow me to field two warbands - one Trojan and one Lukka - for Tribal. If all goes according to plan we should be playing Tribal again in July.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

D&D Arena Board 2

This is the second of the two D&D Arena boards I built for the charity event, this one being my suggestion - somehow the word 'lava' popped into my head and I just had to build a lava board. Unfortunately, it didn't see any use in the event as they ran short on time, but it ended up as a prize for one of the winners, so hopefully it will see some use still.

The design considerations were the same as with the previous board, so I ended up with a design that is geometrical and symmetrical. the paths linking the corner islands to the central island are set differently to break up the symmetry a little.

The lava texture was from an image I found on google image, and the "land" texture are once again from Heroic Maps, this time their Volcanic Fields set. The printed maps were glued onto 5mm cork sheets, which are then roughly trimmed, and the exposed edges then painted with a dark brown paint, followed by a dry-brush with a lighter shade of brown.

My original intention was to have the whole board being flat, but some error in the alignment resulted in the central island being too big to fit. I tackled the problem by stacking a smaller cork square under it, thus elevating it a little above the pathways - as it turned out I think this added character to the board.

To prevent characters from having lines-of-sight to each other at the start of the game, I made some rock pillars (from the same 5mm cork sheets) and set them such that when the characters from the same team are placed vertically opposite each other, the characters from opposing teams cannot see each other.

Building these boards had been a fun and educational experience. I had other ideas for arenas, but ultimately the end products had to be something that were visually appealing, yet unambiguous and easy to use, without undue bias to either a melee- or missile-based character.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

D&D Arena Board 1

One of the gamemasters in our local RPG community organised a D&D Arena event for charity, and I volunteered to make a couple of terrain boards for it. After some discussion, we decided on the size and themes for the two boards, the first of which is featured in this post.

The event pit teams of two point-bought 5th level characters against each other. The board needed to be large enough so that characters couldn't get into melee range in just one round, but not so big that it disadvantages melee-based characters excessively. Based on this I recommended a 20 x 20 board, which is a common size used for commercial battle-maps.

For the first board the organiser asked for a ziggurat. Thanks to my experience in building the inverted ziggurat in White Plume Mountain, I knew it was easier to build than it sounded. A trip to the art supplies store got me all the materials I needed: cardboard, 3mm MDF boards, hot glue sticks, glue sticks, and 5mm thick cork boards (for the other board).

I was fortunate to be able to find 12" x 12" MDF boards, which meant that each arena would be based on a set of four boards, which can be taken down for easy storage and transport. It also meant that I could use one of these MDF boards as a base for the ziggurat itself, as cardboard would not be sturdy enough in this role.

As the primary aim of the arena board is for a competitive event, the layout had to be symmetrical to ensure it does not bias against one side or the other, lines of sight had to be unambiguous, and measurement of movement and range had to be easy. With these considerations, I chose to use printed grid maps for texture, such that all movement increments were in 1" (with the exception of the steps on the ziggurat).

The maps used were all from Heroic Maps, with their river set providing the field and the moat, and their Ancient Dungeon set providing the stone pattern for the ziggurat. Despite being designed for use as a 2D terrain map, the stone pattern worked well for a 3D structure, and allowed me to "wrap around" the corners of the ziggurat, giving it a more natural look.

I am not sure whether this set-up favours a melee-based character or a missile-based character, but I will be attending the event to see how the players deal with its challenge.