Saturday, August 27, 2016

More Thoughts on a "Modern" Campaign

As I added to my previous post, rifling around through the books on my games shelf (a single shelf. I got rid of more than 1/2 of my gaming related books collection over the past year!) I discovered both Morschauser and Featherstone (in his Advanced War Gaming) provide some interesting mechanisms for running a map campaign.

Both have a simplicity that I like, although Featherstone muddies things up with several optional bits - more complexity sounds great to me at first, but I have learned that in war gaming ,and RPGs, for that matter, there is a point where my enthusiasm wanes in proportion.

Morschauser's system is the harsher of the two, in that if a force loses a battle, they are just done and no longer available for the strategic level. There is the benefit of no record keeping in that case, but it does seem a bit difficult to swallow. Still, he uses painted wooden blocks on a map and who doesn't like the sound of that?

Featherstone 's method for generating a random map sounds quite fun - using 2"x 2" painted squares drawn at random and placed into a 12" square frame .

I believe it was in Featherstone that I saw mention of the often cited "rule" of 1/3 of casualties are killed, 1/3 are wounded and not available for some time period and 1/3 are combat ready by the next encounter.

Even if I did not see it there, that rule of thumb has a long pedigree and who am I to resist something with such history?

Of course, I could combine the two (blocks on a randomly generated map, using casualty recovery)

The other issue I find myself considering is the level of command.

Initially, I was thinking commanding a company at most in a given game, however, a battalion would not be out of the question, either with Morschauser or Blitzkrieg Commander, both of which work with the same basing systems I intend to use. It's more a narrative question than it is a gaming issue.

Scenarios in any case, I think are well accounted for with Blitzkrieg Commander, FiveCore's Company Command, and Platoon Forward (moved up a level) all providing scenario ideas, plus One Hour Wargames, and tabletop teasers (and presumably, situations would naturally arise from the campaign).

Next, I need to look at my collection and see what, if anything, I want to paint (OK, need to paint. Want is a strong word) - I think I may be short some heavy infantry, and I know my anti-tank gun teams need some love.

Friday, August 26, 2016

WWII and Imaginations? Some thoughts and links

Over on 54mm or Fight! you can see that the sole wargaming I've been doing of late is set in Europe, WWII. While I enjoy playing one-off scenarios, my Helvetica Campaign (you can find the posts by going here and scrolling down to Helvetica) remains among the top wargaming experiences I've had, and so, logically, it seems to me that I should try something similar set in WWII or thereabouts.

But, so few wargaming campaigns discussed in blogs seem to be set in WWII, never mind Imaginations WWII-like campaigns. That doesn't mean I won't do it, but I was hoping for a bit of inspiration. (Far mor involve  20th C. South American or African Imaginations, it seems).

The likely route will be the  continental battle between Hefeweizen ( nee Riesling in the pre-unification days ) and the allies of Sauvignon-Blanc, particularly the Federal Republic of Lager. Or, perhaps, less evocative/alcoholic, Army Feldgrau vs Army Olive Drab.

Obviously thin veneers for the actual participants but what can you do?

My searching eventually lead me to an Imaginations 20th century mini-campaign on one of the better respected blogs, Wargaming Miscellany. The posts begin with this one I believe.  Mr. Cordery also stirs up the idea a bit a few years earlier in this post.

As for campaign rules, I know already that I don't want anything terribly complicated - nothing to do with supply and all that, although reinforcements and casualty replacement should come into play. And, I really enjoy the narrative "campaign diary" stuff, so if it supports that in some way, all the better.

  • Jeff, at Saxe-Bearstein's method worked well for Helvetica, and had the benefit of no map being required, although one developed during play. I keep getting stuck on the battle to the capitals though. This is probably a me thing, and perhaps I just need to change the labels? Perhaps the FRL "capital" is actually more akin to Normandy, while the initial battle takes place in a Battle of the Bulge-type situation?
  • Rather serendipitously, Peter at Grid Based Wargaming - But Not Always, has recently posted a series about this very topic. Looks like it might be more than I want, but I may be able to strip out the bits I don't want.
  • Featherstone, in his Wargaming Campaigns, touches ever so briefly on a WWII campaign, but focuses specifically on recon, and leaves everything else for the reader to develop (presumably from ideas presented in other chapters).
  • Kevin White (one of my all time favorite contributors to Lone Warrior),  sets up a map based WWII mini-campaign in issue 182 of Lone Warrior. I had trouble following some of the setup, and need to re-read this.
  • TMP is always a stop for debates about nothing, and this time is no different :D And here the participants debate why 18th C. imaginations over imaginations in other eras.
  • Platoon Forward might work if I change the scale upwards for a company per side, or I suppose I could just use it at the intended level.
Edit: It turns out I should have paid closer attention to Morschauser and Featherstone (Advanced War Games). Both have systems of map moving that would work for modern games. Indeed, Featherstone  explicitly uses a WWII campaign for his example.

If you have a preferred way of building campaigns, particularly for WWII company-level engagements (maybe battalion), please shoot them my way.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

What Was I Thinking?

I was thinking this blog was probably dead, which is why I started 54mm or Fight! What little hobby stuff I had been doing, other than reading, had been solely focused around 54mm games and a focus on that seemed logical.

But  now, as I find myself with the unusual situation of increasing free time, thanks in part to the Young Lord Shadowmoss (who just turned 5) playing more independently (some evenings, he disappears after dinner to play Minecraft until bedtime), my mind has been turning to neglected projects.

So, instead of being dead, it may be that this blog was just dormant. Color me surprised.

One thing I'm not going to do is set any kind of hobby goals (*crosses fingers*) , despite my natural inclination to do so.

That said, these are the projects/areas of interest at present that I'm jumping between:

54mm WWII - mostly just playing games, as I have a decent enough collection here for toy-like games (I'm generally not aiming for simulation). I did switch from mostly 1/35ish vehicles to 1/50ish, and though they cost more, I am much happier with the look of the thing. US paratroops are on the paint table since I just re-watched Band of Brothers.

1/72 Italian front, WWI - I read The White War: Life and Death on the Italian Front 1915-1919  (excellent book and highly recommend) for background, and I've got several more books to read. But of course, I've started painting (slowly) because I couldn't wait.

Still deciding on rules/basing. Possibly HMG from Agema (command a battalion, individually based) or Hordes in the Trenches (command a battalion, up to a regiment / brigade maybe base per Hordes of the Things), or maybe just GASLIGHT (make individual units a company or battalion; individually based) with some rules for gas and barrages. Trying to keep figure totals small. Contemptible Little Armies (individually based) might work too for that reason.

54mm AWI - this is a very slow going project for giggles since of the places I've lived, I lived in Philadelphia the longest(plus, I recently read David McCullough's 1776). Figures are mostly Imex  and I've got all of 2 painted so far. Might just base these for Neil Thomas OHW with a 4" base, with 8 figures per base, or use them with a set of rules for the period by Charles Wessencraft (woo! Old school!) or All the Kings Men.

Solo RPG
- Deluxe Tunnels & Trolls kickstarter stuff came with a bunch of solitaire modules. It's not the free form of The Ever Expanding Dungeon, but I really want to play these modules as they are usually a fun time, very low commitment and obviously, very low prep.
This is not the edition of Buffalo Castle I have, but I wish it was.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Back in the Gaming Groove (sort of)

Hi there!

After a long time away from blogging about my gaming, or even reading other blogs about gaming, I'm back.

However, now I'm over at

I plan to mostly talk about wargaming with 54mm / 1:32 figures as the name implies.

Not that that's all I'm working on (Italian Front WWI and my ever ongoing GNW project, both in 1/72), but I haven't painted anything in almost a year, nor gamed in any other scale in that time, so there's little to say there yet.

As for solo role-playing, the thing most people seem to know me for, and still come here for according to the stats, I haven't done any in quite some time.

Even my 2 year+ Trelleborg campaign for my in-person group has dissipated (due to other projects I'm involved with that use the bulk of my creative energy and time), so, as you can guess, I'll be quiet on the RPG front a little longer.

Still, I just read the Deluxe Tunnels & Trolls rules the other day and cannot remember the last time a set of rules had me so fired up to play.

And, of course, DragonCon is coming and the possibility of running / playing games is quite high.

I hope you'll join me over on and thanks for reading!

Friday, April 10, 2015

Solo Role-Playing Bonus Feature: Handling Mysteries and Investigations

Games that revolve around a mystery for which investigation is required and clues discovered may take some thought to make them work well solo. The problem with a mystery / investigation is that for a clue to point to the mystery’s solution, we are starting from an effect and working our way back, not to possible causes, but to the one and only particular cause of that instance of the effect.

Clues must present a logical and coherent picture (real or imagined) when examined, if players are to have any hope of solving the mystery. Worse still, as seen in social games with poorly designed scenarios, the correct interpretation of the clues hinges on one particular clue, which the players might not find. It is no wonder that there is often an element of railroading in social investigation games, as a result.

When reliant upon randomization for story elements, or subject to it, if that is your position, then that logic and coherency must either be imposed by the solo gamer and thus surprise and sense of discovery limited as the player tries to direct the results of random generators and sets up scenes that point to a particular solution, or ignored, which potentially results in a frustrating investigation of a mystery that remains unsolved.

If one simply accepts that some mysteries will go unsolved, then there is no problem, but for those who cannot, or for RPGs which base character changes on such success or failure, that may not be an option. For those games, some of the following might work, but I will admit to having little experience with them, as I subscribe to the idea that not all mysteries can be solved:

  • Expand your role as the GM. Determine several possible solutions to the mystery, decide which is most logical. As the player, explore that possibility first - if the results point to this being the answer then there you go. If not, look at the remaining solutions, and explore the next most logical, etc.
  • Decide IN ADVANCE what the resolution to the mystery is. Create a pack of cards - each containing a clue - for each scene, draw a card to see which clue you stand to gain and play out a scene around it. I think, to add to the challenge, make the possibility of losing the clue part of the scene - and if you don't collect enough clues, you can't succeed. When you have all (or whatever number you require) of the cards, you have solved the mystery and can play out the resolution. If you don't get enough, then you fail.
  • As an alternative, you have all of the clues up front, your goal is to play to determine how those clues add up, and determining what they mean. The game is about finding coherency among possibly unrelated elements.

There is a bright light, so to speak, if one disregards a logical coherency of the clues and that clues must point to their cause. Lovecraftian style games, where the protagonist hopes merely to escape with their wits intact, let alone actually solve the mystery presented, benefit from this potential lack of coherency. Tenuous connections between clues spur the investigation while driving the protagonist closer to things that should be best left alone. Typically, in Lovecraft at least, the unexplained remains so to the end.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

First Point for My Saga Vikings!

These are plastic Gripping Beast Dark Ages Warriors.

They will make up the Warriors (as opposed to Hearthguard) for my Saga warband - 8 warriors counts as 1 point. Four points is a starter warband.

Initially, to keep costs low, I'll stick to 4 units of Warriors, which I can make from this one box of plastics. I'll pick up some Hirdmen, probably in metal since I only need a small number, after I've played a bit.

Admittedly, their shields can use some work, but overall, I'm happy with their appearance. 

Pictured on my S&W Whitebox digest-sized hardcover.

I was under the impression the box came with bases, but I might have misread that. I bought the box on ebay, so make of that what you will. 

I ordered bases last week and they should be here in a few days.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Session 37: The Ever Expanding Dungeon

This session was played in JANUARY. I tried something new: recording notes in a spiral notebook, and then promptly misplaced the notebook. I found it and so present this brief escapade to you:

After examining the pit, Leegand held a rope while the rest of the party used it to climb down into the pit. Leegand, who was last, hung off the edge of the pit and the fighters, Runolf and Eomond caught him as he dropped down. With Zilliniy's grappling hook, they easily scaled out the other side, and resumed marching order. 

[ Mythic, Does this succeed? Likely. 66. Yes]

They crept down the steps checking and rechecking behind them as they went. At the bottom, the steps joined directly with a long corridor, well carved and laid with flagstone. A straight shot took them to a T-intersection, with a door to the South and to the North. 

Eomond listened at the North door and could hear voices on the other side [Is he able to make them out? 50/50, 76, No.] but was unable to make them out. Testing the door, Leegand found the door was unlocked but was stuck [This was determined from my own Solo Traps process] . Force would be necessary. They quickly rearranged into room entering order, with Maglom and Runolf in the front. Behind Runolf, Zilliniy knocked an arrow to fire over the dwarf's head if need be.

[Contents: Monster, No Treasure. Rolled 1d6 to see if monster surprised . 2 = yes]

Runolf forced the door open to the surprise of three elder gentlemen in wizarding finery, including pointy conical hats covered in moons and stars. Maglom was quick to apologize for the intrusion,but [I'm using the b/x reaction roll this time: reaction roll 2d6, 4 hostile] they were very clearly displeased by the interruption. [Are they swayed by Maglom's apology. Reaction: 6. They are uncertain.] They seemed divided as to whether or not the party meant them harm - the knocked bow of the elf and the fact that they kicked the door in without knocking really didn't help.

Lykidas stepped to the fore to explain the party's presence, in hopes that one of their own might fare better. He suggested perhaps a small donation from the party as a sign of their sincerity. [I gave them +1 for the gesture. Rolled 2d6: 3+1, 4. Nope, not going well!] With a sharp rap on the table, the eldest of the three rose and pointed a knurled finger at the door.

"Go!" his voice was hoarse and whisper like, yet the command hit the party as a hurricane. 

Maglom and Runolf closed the door and the party debated the possibility of returning later when they might be on better footing to deal with such powerful magic.

To the South, the 10' pole failed to trigger a trap and instead poor Maglom accidentally found the odd colored piece of flagstone that dropped the floor from beneath the feet of the front two ranks. Maglom, Runolf, Ygg and Zilliniy [Minimal damaged suffered: Maglom lost 3, Runolf lost 2, Zilliniy lost 2 and Ygg lost 1] Leegand, Lykidas and Eomond lowered themselves down and the party repeated their earlier pit crossing exercise.

Neither Eomond nor Leegand heard anything beyond the next door. The door was not locked and did not appear stuck, so the party assumed door order and moved in.

[Contents: Monster, No Treasure]
For a moment all was silent, and then the air filled with the screeching of large mosquito like birds with long piercing beaks - thirteen stirges looking to feed.