Friday, 16 December 2011

That's it, I'm done...

As the title suggests, I have a fairly big announcement for my 6 or 7 followers. I have reached the point where I have, quite frankly, had enough and something has to be done about it.

So, I now announce to you all:

I am no longer going to buy any more figures until I have painted the ones I have got.

There, I already feel a lot better. When I look at the rules I use and the figures I have, I see that I have enough figures to play good games with pretty much all of them, if only I would get round to doing some more painting.

But the big statement above does require two points of clarification, however, so here goes:

1) If I finish painting all the figures for a particular period and feel I need some more, then that is acceptable as long as I promise to paint them quickly. So, I am currently working on my WW1 figures. When I finish them all I don't want to have to paint all of my Epic 40K stuff before I get to continue my WW1. That's just silly.

2) The sole exception to the rule is my LotR campaign, as that will require some specific figures for scenarios. This project is on the back burner at the moment, so this shouldn't be a big problem. But I will not buy figures for a future scenario unless I have painted all the ones for the one immediately upcoming.

So, there you have it. This should mean you get to see a lot more interesting stuff on my blog as I get to explore my current hoard of lead more fully, without getting constantly excited about new projects that never see the light of day.

Wish me luck...

Friday, 25 November 2011

Flashing Steel - My thoughts

Over the last couple of nights I finally got to try the Flashing Steel set of skirmish rules from Ganesha Games. First of all I was going to write a straight battle report, but the rules were so much fun to play I became too engrossed to take notes and photographs properly, so instead this post is a mixture of a) Battle Report, b) Rules review c) Solo potential of the rules.

Battle Report
I rolled up missions from the rulebook for each crew of pirates and ended up with one crew wanting to retrieve a treasure chest and return it to their ship, while the other (under my control) wanted to row out to the island and destroy the cannon protecting the village.

The above is a view of the village and docks. Beyond the village is the encroaching jungle, where the lost treasure is located. At the bottom is the island with the village defences. Two small boats provide the means of reaching the island. Unfortunately, both pirate crews find the other between them and their objective!

At this point I want to mention that the tower, rowing boats and dock still need work. The dock and walls at this point are just card and marker pen. I'm going to print out some decent WorldWorks terrain (Skull Island) to replace them.

My ferocious crew:
The treasure hungry mob debark from their vessel:

A shot of the game about half way through.
Most of my guys were still cowering near their starting position, except for a couple visible in the background who were trying to sneak round their enemies. The scurvy dog in the turban behind the wall ended up being the 'man of the match'. His skill with the musket killed several of my crew, including my captain, which effectively brought the game to an end as my mob scarpered.

Neither side ended up fulfilling their objective during the game, but the crew which actually had members on the table would no doubt be able to achieve their goal with no further hindrance!

The Rules

It has been a while since I have played a good pirate game. Legends of the High Seas has been fun, but not as good as I hoped. This is a shame as I love the rules upon which it is based (GWs The Lord of the Rings), but in transition changes were made which I believe left the rules worse off.

So I wasn't sure what to expect from these rules. As with Legends of the High Seas, they are based on a set of fantasy rules (Song of Blades and Heros), modified for pirates, so that didn't bode well in my experience. But I had read many good things about them and playing a Star Wars conversion of SoBaH which a friend of mine put together was very good fun indeed, so I thought I'd give them a shot.

And I am so pleased I did! At the core of the game lies the activation mechanic. The player whose turn it is chooses a character and decides how many actions he wants to attempt, between 1 and 3, and rolls that many d6. Each die that rolls the character's Quality rating or higher allows an action to be performed. However, if the character rolls 2 or 3 failures, then the player's turn is over.

This simple mechanic really makes the rules stand out. You immediately have a decision to make before you even move or shoot with your figure and need to weigh up whether or not it is worth pushing your luck for an extra action or two or if you want to just try for a single action and play it safe. But it soon becomes apparent that, although you can roll for one action and try to activate all your figures without risk of ending your turn early, this tactic just ends up giving your opponent a ticket to walk all over you!

Each character in the game has two core stats, Quality, which I have mentioned above, and Combat, which is added to a die roll with modifiers and compared to your opponent's roll to determine the outcome. In this lies shades of DBA as you usually need to double your opponent's roll to score a kill, merely beating it results in the enemy being knocked down or pushed back. But again, it is an elegant mechanic which covers a range of outcomes in a simple roll.

Extra life is brought to the game by the large range of skills and abilities characters can have. Almost any kind of swashbuckling hero (or villain) can be created with these, and they allow for a great deal of flavour in games without bogging down the core rules. I tend to restrict many of these to 'hero' types, but that is entirely at the player's discretion. The rules include a points system to allow the creation of whatever kind of force you desire. Also of interest is the mini-campaign system, designed to allow a narrative style campaign to be played in one evening, and the useful scenario generator, which I have found to be very handy in prompting creativity.

It is worth mentioning that these rules can be bought as a PDF for a single digit dollar sum, making them some of the best value rules currently available. But most importantly, they are just downright fun to play. The elements come together to provide quick playing skirmishes which really leave you wanting another game. In fact before I sat down to write this I had to set up the table to see if my battered crew could get their revenge and steal the other crew's treasure before they got it back to the boat.

In many ways this short piece is not doing the rules full justice, but I really want to move onto the next section:

Solo Play

Much of my gaming is done solo, so I like to look out for rules which give a good game in this respect. Or at least offer it as an opportunity. Surprisingly enough, I find myself thinking that the system Flashing Steel and most of Ganesha Games' other rules are based on could be my holy grail in this regard.

This blog entry looks at a simple method to allow the activation rolls to be randomised and it works very well indeed. I have used it for both solo play and suggested it as a method of activating a third force in the two-player Star Wars variant my friend came up with. In both cases it works very well indeed. I very much encourage you to click the link at the start of this paragraph to read more about it.

With the activation rolls taken care of, I just needed a way to determine what characters do with their actions. Wanting to keep things simple I devised a chart which the characters would make a 3d6 quality roll on, the number of successes determining whether they acted to complete their mission or got sidetracked by fighting my crew. I actually used two tables for this, one for 'henchmen' types and one for 'main characters'. I decided before hand that the main crew had been ordered to retrieve the treasure, while the captain and his senior crew would be more focused on fighting me and stopping my crew from achieving their objective.

This worked very well indeed, with little decision making during the enemy turn required on my part, but also resulting in a challenging and interesting game to play. The fact that I got a firm beating from my 'A.I.' confirmed to me that this was an idea worth pursuing. I really did feel like I was playing an automated opponent instead of playing both sides myself. It also felt like I was using a method which was an extension of the existing system rather than trying to force some solo rules onto a game which didn't like them.

I'm going to leave it there for the time being, but I am surely going to post more entries about these rules. I would greatly encourage you to buy the PDF (or hard copy) and try them for yourself, whether you want some fun skirmish rules or are looking for a set easily adaptable to solo play.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Painting Challenge. Complete! (And new projects)

Well, the challenge has been completed! The picture above is of the finished army (sorry for the poor lighting).

So... time for a new project. I have been meaning to play more Victorian Sci-Fi for a while now and have everything I need to get started. My aim is to use the following with the G.A.S.L.I.G.H.T. rules:

  • 20 British soldiers (Zulu War period)
  • 2 British officers
  • Mina Harker
  • Allan Quatermain
  • 1 steam tank
  • A bunch of plastic dinosaurs.

This should be everything I need for a dino hunting game (and probably a bit more!). I have a 30 day deadline for this as that is when my trial runs out on Comic Life. Comic Life is a handy bit of software that allows you to design comic pages using your photos. I put together the below in a couple of minutes using pics from my last LotR game. (Apologies for the 'ferry' typo, I didn;t check before I exported it.) I'm hoping this software will be a good way of producing interesting battle reports, especially for skirmish type games.

So that's it for now. After this I am toying with a modern project using Force on Force, but I'll have to see how that goes...

Monday, 26 September 2011

Painting Challenge. 0 days remaining

Well, what a difference a day makes! 8 of the 12 elements are fully complete. The remainder (3xCv 1xCvGen) are painted and partially based. I just need to finish the basing and varnish them, which should not take too long.

With a bit of luck they will all be finished by 5.30pm tomorrow when I depart for the club! I'll varnish the Cv elements first thing so they have time to dry. Then all I need to do is paint, shade and apply grass to the bases.

Job done! Phew. Now what's the next project?!

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Painting Challenge. 1 day remaining

Here we go! A fair bit of progress today. As you can see from the picture, 8 elements are now painted and stuck on their bases. They just need a quick ink wash and varnish. I was hoping to get the bases complete too, but that might be a bonus depending on how tomorrow goes. They may just have to make to with a base coat like the Art, Ps and Bw elements.

That said, I only have 4 elements left to finish and they are well under way! Who knows what might happen tomorrow!

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Painting Challenge. 2 days remaining

Some progress made today. All of the figures are now at least undercoated. Some more work done on the infantry elements and most of the horses painted.

However... the big error of the day came to light when I noticed that my small pot of black paint was in fact gloss paint... I had undercoated most of the cavalry before I realised. I checked to see if they were dry and noticed they were more shiny than they should be.

Nothing to be done about it at this point. It isn't so bad once other paint is put on, but it is annoying. I'm also running low on dark brown. Hopefully there will be time tomorrow to go to the shop to pick up more paint.

I hope to complete a lot more of the painting tomorrow. That will leave time on Monday for making sure they are based and varnished.

Friday, 23 September 2011

Painting Challenge. 3 days remaining

Here is a view of the work area in my man-cave at approximately 21:10 today. As you can see, I have cleaned and superglued the Lh and Cv and undercoated a few of the others. Not the most triumphant of starts, but something is better than nothing.

Hopefully the glue will dry okay and I can get up early tomorrow to undercoat the army...

Painting Challenge. 4 days remaining

Those of you who know anything about me will be aware that I am a slow painter. I usually need a little motivation to get things going. Fortunately a new buddy of mine has come to my aid.

A challenge has been set, one which may make you laugh, but really demonstrates just how awful I am at getting my lead decorated. Mr G has challenged me to paint my DBA Ottoman army by Tuesday and I am to bring the evidence to the club that evening.

There are two main problems:

1) I have not even undercoated most of it yet.
2) It is a predominantly horse army, meaning I have more area to cover than I might like.

I will post updates here with my progress, along with pictures for evidence.

Can I succeed at this challenge? I'm going to try my hardest!

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Scenario 4: The Bucklebury Ferry

Having rested with Gildor following their previous encounter with the Ringwraiths, Frodo, Sam and Pippin set off to cross the Bucklebury River. Passing through Farmer Maggot's fields they encounter Merry, and the four companions set off for the ferry crossing, eager to be free from the threat of the Black Riders.

Set Up:

The Hobbits start a way from the crossing, needing to pass through some woods and evade two pursuing Ringwraiths, plus another which is already searching the trees for its prey.

The Nazgul follow the rules for sentries, and are therefore not free to move as they will, represented by a roll on a chart before they move.

A few lucky rolls meant the Hobbits were able to seize the advantage and pass through relatively freely during the early stages of the game. The pursuing Nazgul hardly made it to the forest and the one already there seemed to have decided that lurking behind a bush was a top way to serve the will of the Dark Lord... :

After finishing whatever it was up to in the bushes, the Nazgul resumed its actual task of Hobbit hunting. But the four diminutive chaps were but a stone's throw from the ferry by this point:

Hurrah! The crossing went off without a hitch, leaving the Nazgul feeling pretty ashamed of themselves:

And they are away! Leaving a lone Nazgul screeching in frustration at the end of the jetty and wondering where his mates were in all of this:


The Hobbits certainly got off lightly. If they had been spotted early on then things could easily have gone the wrong way for them. All in all the game took longer to set up and put away than to play. It was good to tell the story, but I'm looking forward to the more meaty scenarios later on.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Star Wars Star Grunt

I played a game of Star Wars using the StarGrunt 2 rules last weekend. Needless to say, it didn't turn out quite like the films! StarGrunt is a rule set that veers distinctly on the 'realistic' side of wargaming, so putting lightly armoured, pistol armed rebels up against armoured, rifle armed stromtroopers was a recipe for disaster really. This was especially true as the Rebels had to get a droid off the other end of the table.

But the game was great fun and I would definitely use SG2 again for Star Wars, although I might tweak the stats of the models in some cases.

[Urgh. I just uploaded the pictures to blogger and have found they are in reverse order. Can't be bothered to fiddle around with them.]

The point at which the game was effectively over. The Empire had taken almost zero casualties whereas 4 out of 6 squads on the Rebel side were out of the fight. The planetary militia were running away and the elite Rebel commandos had been cut down by the probe droid (more of that later). The R5 unit that had to get off the other end of the board had moved no more than 12 inches the whole game...

An overview of the table. The Rebels started in the shattered remains of a city that had been bombarded from orbit. The Empire troops were advancing through the jungle. You'll note a squad of Battle Droids from the new trilogy. I don't mind too much about that sort of thing and figured the local Imperial force had access to some for some reason.

A shot of the Rebel advance. Sending the locals out first turned out to be a bad idea...

The Imperials advance through the jungle.

This is the first squad of local infantry being blown apart by the probe droid. I had given it weapons that in retrospect were far too strong for a robot that is just supposed to probe stuff! Will be toning it down a bit in future.

The probe droid at the bottom giving the Rebels what for and devastating what were suppose to be elite commandos! Unfortunately, the Rebels were not able to amass enough firepower to make a hole in the imperial lines. The probe droid effectively destroyed the Rebel left flank. As for the rest, they just couldn't seem to make a dent in the Stormtroopers.

Although the battle was rather one sided, it did make for an interesting solo game and I'm looking forward to playing again. I might replay the scenario and change the forces a little to see if it balances things out.

Zombie Fun

A while back I thought I'd have a go at a game of All Things Zombie: Better Dead than Zed, and it didn't disappoint. By and large the rules were okay and it was a fun game, although there were one or two unclear points that I had to make up as I went along. But as it is a solo game, that was not a problem.

The terrain is my regular stuff, although I printed out house plans I had made using Shuffler. As the game allows characters to enter buildings and I didn't have any appropriate ones, I thought it would do the job. To be honest I was happy with how it worked out.

The figures are all from the Last Night on Earth boardgame by Flying Frog.

The game started with the Sheriff and colleague entering the board. Their mission was to search the village for any survivors and lead them to safety. The initial zombie presence was limited, but as the female cop was carrying a shotgun, there were likely to be more attracted by the noise!

Another view of the set up with zombies lurking in the background.

A view of the board with 4 houses (excluding the garage) to explore.

A picture from towards the end of the game. I wasn't originally intending to post this, hence the lack of pictures. Two survivors had been found and joined my group. Unfortunately, someone decided it would be an okay idea to explore the final house alone and they were ambushed by zombies and got chewed up. Another character died shortly later, leaving two to escape off the board.

The game was definitely fun and I'd like to play a campaign at some point. The only downside is that the rules were vague in some places. It does make me wonder about trying "No More Room in Hell" for zombie games instead, but I'm happy to stick with ATZ for a while longer.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Short Cuts Make Long Delays

Frodo departs the Shire and heads for Bree, where Gandalf says he will meet him. Sam and Pippin decide to acompany their friend, after he tells them he is on a trip to Buckland, although being inquisitive Hobbits, they know the truth of the journey.

While passing through Eastfarthing, they hear hoof beats. Thinking it must be Gandalf, and meaning to surprise their friend, they hide by the side of the road. Only when the Nazgul is almost upon them do they realise the peril they are in. Can they escape?

The first picture shows the board setup. The Hobbits start by the hedge at the end of the road (near the tree). Heading towards them is one of the Black Riders, with two more near each end of the hedges. Between the hills on the right is Gildor, alerted to the danger and rushing to the Hobbit's aid.

Here are the Hobbits by the hedge. Sentry rules are in force for the Nazgul, meaning the side with initiative can move them. This gives the Hobbits a chance to sneak away. In addition, the light of day makes it difficult for the Nazgul to see their prey, so they cannot charge unless within 6 inches.

The hobbits also need to make courage checks each turn, lest they become scared and disorientated. Sam and Frodo passed all of theirs, but Pippin failed at the start and headed towards a Nazgul. Luckily the result of the sentry roll meant the Nazgul went right by him.

The Hobbits managed to pass Gildor before the Nazgul saw them. This allowed the heroic elf to charge the lead Ringwraith and engage him in combat, hopefully buying the Hobbits enough time to escape. He failed to slay the Nazgul, but greatly impeded its progress. Without Gildor's efforts all would have been lost.

The end of the game (below). Ignoring their fellow locked in combat with Gildor, the other two Nazgul charge for the Hobbits. At this stage of the game, Frodo, Sam and Gildor had used all their Might points performing heroic moves, allowing them to move first, even when they lost initiative. But at the end, exhausted, the Hobbits needed good initiative rolls to move off the edge of the board, which they managed.

This was a very simple scenario, but managed to capture the tension of the Hobbits' escape. The presence of Gildor also helped to show that there were good forces aiding them at every step, without whom all would be lost.

At the end of the game, Sam recovered his point of Might, and Frodo recovered one point (out of two). The next scenario is the flight to Bucklebury Ferry. Time to get building a river...

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

The Trust of Arnor

Following on from the small skirmish near Sarn Ford, the Ringwraiths have succeeded in entering the Shire. The battle has divided the Nazgul, but also the Dunedain, and the survivors from before are rushing to the aid of their brethren, who are hoping to stall the further advance of the Ringwraiths.

Participants: 9 Dunedain and 8 Ringwraiths plus the Witch-king.

Turn 1

6 Dunedain start the game on the board, although they will receive reinforcements during the game. All the Nazgul start off the board, with 1D3 arriving each turn. On the first turn the Dunedain advance towards the centre of the board. 2 Nazgul arrive.

Turns 2 - 3

More Nazgul enter the board and make their way forward, keeping the forest between themselves and the arriving Dunedain. A lucky shot banishes one of the Nazgul, but the other continues unharmed. Meanwhile the two groups of Dunedain that started the game on the board continue to move to intercept their foes.

Turns 4-5

The Nazgul focus their efforts in an attempt to break through the Dunedain defence. In the centre of the board fighting breaks out in earnest, but the Dunedain hold. The new arrivals pursue the Nazgul round the forest, while the second group of three move across to form a second line of defence, should their brethren fall. (The little white rectangle is to remind me that that particular Dunedain has expended a point of might, avoiding a wound.)

Turns 6-7

It was at this point that I counted the Nazgul on the board and noticed I had forgotten to bring one on, clearly it had got lost... You can see it at the top left of the board. Meanwhile, two Nazgul by the smaller forest are making progress in their goal. The battle on the hill rages, with another Ringwraith falling.

Turns 8-9

The battle takes a turn in the Witch-king's favour during turn 8, as he and some Nazgul fight their way off the hill. In part this is due to Dunedain failing their courage checks to charge their fearsome foes. This leaves our heroes in a precarious position, but luck is with them and they move first in Turn 9, charging into combat and preventing the Wraiths from moving away that turn. However, this is not without cost and one Dunedain gives his life for the Shire.

Turns 10-11

Turn 10 sees one Nazgul and one Dunedain fall and the Wraiths have truly breached the Dunedain defence. Seeing that pursuit is likely to be futile, the Dunedain (bottom of pic) opt to shoot at their foes from a distance. Their shots hit, but fail to wound the foul creatures of Sauron. In the middle of the table hand to hand combat continues with more success as another Nazgul is banished.

Turns 12-13

In these turns, 4 Nazgul manage to escape off the board despite brave attempt to bring them down with archery. The remaining one moves around the small forest in the middle of the table and the Dunedain turn their attention to it.

Turns 14-15

The lone Nazgul falls to the combined efforts of the Dunedain. This gives the Good side a victory, but will it be enough to prevent the capture of the ring and the Hobbit who bears it?

Thoughts on the Scenario

This second scenario was more fun to play than the first, but I am still looking forward to getting stuck in to the 'proper' story, which starts from the next scenario. I know the Nazgul are at their weakest at this point, but they do seem to fall in combat a lot more easilly than you would expect, and they don't seem quite as terrifying as they should be. Still, the Dunedain in this scenario are all heroes in their own right, which helps. I hope the Hobbits are going to be okay!

After recovery rolls, the Ringwraiths were on the following levels of Will (out of 7, or 10 for the Witch-king): 10 (WK), 6, 6, 6, 5, 5, 5, 5, 4. The rather brief rules for linking scenarios do not give guidance for which three to select for the next scenario. I'm tempted to take one of each (i.e. 4, 5, 6), but might take the 3 with 6 Will depending on how I am feeling. It might make for a more interesting game overall.

Next project: Put some final touches to hedges for the next scenario; finish painting Frodo, Sam and Peregrin; paint Gildor.

Saturday, 19 March 2011

DBA Wallachians

I have finally finished my Wallachians for DBA, thanks in no small part to encouragement from the Fanaticus forum!

Just two points:

1) I know my general is wearing red armour. Just a little Dracula related film reference I could not resist
2) I based the general element this morning without checking how I had done the rest of the army. Argh! At least he stands out, I guess...

One done. Now time to start on my Ottoman army. And do further work on the Vikings and Saxons.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

DBA Diversion

Had a bit of spare time so I became motiovated to finish my paper DBA armies. The first pictured is II/47a Early German (Cimbri & Teutones). The second is II/49 Marian Roman, with elements for all options pictured. The third picture is a test game.

All in all I am quite please how these turned out. Better looking than 'top downs' and a feasible way to 'try before you buy'.

Monday, 14 February 2011


No gaming updates really, but I wanted to post a couple of pictures of my first attempt at scratch-building some ruins.

The walls are made from 5mm foam card, coated with ready mixed filler and with brick details added using thin card. The model is based on board cut from a ring-binder. Before the filler was applied, the edges of the walls (where the foam was exposed) were covers with masking tape.

The model was undercoated black, then dark grey, before a heavy drybrush of lighter grey was applied.

Although I am happy with the way the model turned out, I think it would have gained from different shades of grey being used to paint it. I think that the shades are to far appart and it makes the model look a bit messy. This is more evident when viewing the model first hand rather than in photos.

All in all, though, I think this is a good method for making ruins. With changes to colour, style and detailing, the same method can be used to make ruins for other periods. Also, it is a very cheap way to make models as offcuts can be used from other projects which might otherwise be discarded, as was the case with this model.

Saturday, 29 January 2011

The Hunt Begins: Review

As a scenario, I didn't think it was all that exciting to play, but it gains more importance when played in the context of a campaign.

After the game, rolls are made to see how many Will points the Nazgul recover. Being essentially immortal, they automatically recover their wound, if it was lost (unlike members of the Fellowship or other mortal heroes!).

As it happened, they recovered quite well, although the Witch King and one Ringwraith will start Scenario 2 with 2 less Will than normal.

I think it was probably a mistake to try and engage the Dunedain is so much combat, as they turned out to be tougher than expected. Still, the game had a few surprises and was a promising start to the campaign.

The Hunt Begins: Turn 10-11

In the final two turns of the game, the Witch King managed to beat off 6 attackers and then one initiative to move off the board in turn 10.