Thursday, May 31, 2012

Palm Tree: Mach 2

A broad leaf palm tree experiment:

You put the lime in the coconut
  • Printer paper - trunk
  • Green construction paper - leaves
  • 3/4" washer/coin/card, etc. for base
  • White glue to affix to base
  • Glue stick to close up trunk/affix stray leaves
  • Craft paints

  • Natural (Jo-Ann Fabrics brand)
  • Dark Brown (Delta CeramCoat)
  • Desert Sand (Delta CeramCoat)
  • Hunter Green (Folk Art? Americana?)
  • Clover (Folk Art)
  • Green Tea (Delta CeramCoat)

THW Contest Reminder!

Don't forget, TOMORROW, JUNE 1, is the last day to enter the drawing for a FREE printed copy of the Two Hour Wargames title of YOUR CHOICE.

To enter:

If you haven't already, just comment on any post on this blog made between 5/11/12 and 6/1/12


Follow this blog publicly (that means using either the blogger dashboard to add this blog to your reading list or using Google+ - either way, I think you have to use a Google product to do this ).

Winner to be picked at random on June 2 from all entries.

If you've never seen or tried THW games, go here, and check out Chain Reaction 3.0 and/or Swordplay for free.

Good luck to all who enter!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Palm Tree Proof of Concept

Earlier today I found this site, which shows a simple, inexpensive way to make if not great palm trees, at least a lot of them for mass effect at almost no investment.

For the first tree I followed the directions to the letter and just used a sheet of printer paper:

The rare Frost Palm. And a cat whisker.
I rather like the way it came out - but obviously a white palm tree is of use in a limited number of gaming scenarios - a frozen planet perhaps?Most certainly not in the Pacific.

I found a palm tree flat online on the Oversoul site, but it's not quite to my tastes. I then tried to assemble one from green construction paper and a tan-ish piece of card stock. The latter looked too much like what it is.

So I got out the paint:

The left-most tree is the white tree painted and the middle tree is the card stock and construction paper with paint.

I like the first tree the best,  and since I want a boat-load of palm trees for my Pacific Theater games, I think this is the way I'm going to go.

Some issues :
  • The fronds aren't quite the shape i want - cutting a different shape is easy enough
  • The trunks get wider at the top - I attribute this to doing this rather hastily
  • Painting the fronds after the tree is rolled is difficult at best - best to paint them even before you cut to prevent unwanted curling (you want some of course, just not as much as you'll get if you apply the paint after they've been cut). They stick together if you do them afterwards.
  • Masking tape wrapped around the trunk may give a more bark-like appearance
These are fun to make as well as exceptionally inexpensive. I think the mass of trees I'll be able to assemble will more than make up for any lack of "realism".

Monday, May 28, 2012

D&D B/X: The Annwyn Investigations - Sessions 1-3

I'm three sessions into my new D&D b/x "campaign". So far, it's strange playing D&D basic as an investigative game rather than hacking and slashing my way to death or glory. I'm not going to give up on this experiment yet, just saying it feels more than a little odd at times.

If write-ups of RPG sessions put you off, just skip this post.

Vandal (2nd level Thief) and Father McDougal (2nd level Cleric) have been hired by a man named Jorix, to find out just why the elven Lady Bana would want the teeth of Serpent of the Nulbizar Spires. She's hired him to go retrieve them and he has been offered a sizable sum to return them to someone else instead. He needs to know what he's selling.

I decided to investigate Jorix as well as the Serpent's teeth - can't be too careful.

McDougal saw Jorix at the open temple wearing a key of the Temple Guardians. The keys are only given to qualified priests - either he got it from someone else, or he's one of the Guardians.

On his way to The Gray Hand (an inn located near the wall between Upper and Lower Annwyn, in well-to-do section of Lower Annwyn where Jorix had told the characters he could be found) to try to dig up some info on Jorix (preferably a room number so he could break in and snoop around later), Vandal ran into one of the barmaids (Mythic interrupt!) from The Sleeping Beggar that he was on friendly terms with- she had been beaten, but would only say she fell off a ladder. McDougal suspected her husband, a member of the town watch, had given her the black eye and bruises, but without confirmation it was just a hunch, one that would merit follow up.

Vandal struck out at the inn - the innkeeper's daughter didn't buy Vandal's story that he was to meet his friend but couldn't remember the room number.  He needed a drink and a moment to think, so he stopped in at a nearby watering hole, where he ran into a rather annoyed Jorix. A chance exchange with the bartender revealed that Jorix had been seen there often with an elfish looking woman named Lady Bana, but that she had left recently with another man. The bartender implied this was the cause of the foul mood. Upon further questioning the bartender seemed to realize he had been saying too much and clammed up. A bribe was attempted but the bartender's asking price was too high.

On day 2 of the investigation, McDougal and Vandal went to the magical ingredients and book shop of one of the known sages in Lower Annwyn, renowned for the owner's personal library. The intent was to try and learn something about the Serpent's teeth. They arrived to find the sage dead, and the assailants still there. A fight ensued and one of the thieves was killed which caused the other two to flee - one got away, but the other was captured.

The prisoner sang like a canary and the characters learned the thieves had been hired by an elfish woman in fine clothes to steal a copy of "The Demonic Esoterica of Milli" The sage was killed because he had tried to stop them. Unfortunately, the escaped thief had the book and was headed to the buyer. They knocked the prisoner out after binding and gagging him, leaving him for the town watch who make regular checks of the local businesses and then scrammed out the back just in case someone saw them go in and then would assume they were the killers.

I made one adjustment to my initial characters before I started the first scene - made them 2nd level, but with 0 XP. Not knowing what this type of campaign might bring, it felt right to hedge my bet a bit.

I'm using Mythic as written - perhaps for the first time in years. I'm impressed by the effect of the altered setups and interrupted scenes. At this point I have no idea what's going to happen next and there are several threads for additional exploration beyond the main objective of this investigation.

Finally, in Mythic terms, this write-up covers just 6 scenes.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

From 0 to 50 in 26 days: Revell 1:72 WWII USMC Done!

Ok, that may not be the fastest painting time ever, but it's pretty good for me. This evening I finished up my US Marines for my PTO project:

"The Old Man"
I'd like to pick up some Shermans for support but I'm jonesing to pit these guys against my Japanese in a game already.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Memorial Day Weekend

This weekend, besides being a "long weekend" and the library book sale I've been looking forward to, is Memorial Day weekend in the U.S.

My family hasn't been in the U.S. long enough to participate in the Revolution (What's this AWI business? is revolution a dirty word? ), the Civil War, etc. They came to America sometime in the early 1900s (for the most part).

Both of my grandfathers joined the army in World War II - one, according to family mythology, gave up a promising path in electronics because he wanted to serve "on the front lines". Ironically, he wound up stationed in India where he killed a tiger, learned to drive and spent a lot of time playing cards. And by tiger I mean the furry variety, not the German armor by the same name. The other grandfather's service I know less about, although there's some notion that he served as an MP in the Pacific. In both cases, they made it home - for which I'm grateful (I wouldn't exist otherwise).

Certainly I'll put out feelers to my family when i speak with them this weekend, just to see if they have learned any more than what I've heard already - but neither grandfather spoke of their service much at all. Other than a picture of the dead tiger and a hazy memory of an  evening at a Chinese restaurant in New Jersey when I was around 10,  with both sets of grandparents present and the grandfathers talking about "The War", I don't think either one ever cared to reflect publicly about their experiences.

In any case, I have no more information than that - and by "more information", I mean specifically unit names, locations, and length of service.

Apparently, only next of kin can request complete records from the National Archives (and even then, 80% of army records from a time period that spans WWII were lost in a fire). However, The National Archives makes a ton of databases available for public access. Best of all, they're free. I managed to find my paternal grandfather's enlistment record. It's not everything I want to learn, but it's a start.

So in addition to the aforementioned book sale, gaming activities, and watching Saving Private Ryan, Tora! Tora! Tora! and a host of other war movies, calling to mind the countless lives lost in the name of war, I'll be kicking around the genealogical tree to see what I can find out.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Campaign Week 8: Battle at Port Guillaume Le Roy

Here's the set up once again - Sauvignon-Blanc is at the top of the picture, Riesling at the bottom (North and South respectively).

I decided to go with the distribution of my force as rolled and attack in force on my right, while sending a diversionary force to my left. My primary goal was not to capture either objective but to force morale checks for Duchamp's poorly rated native units to drive them from the field. If I captured either the fort or the town, that would be gravy.

Duchamp's plan was not pre-determined but was generated using a Solo DBA engine that I managed to find somewhere on the web. The rules (guidelines really) state to roll each bound for the Non-player General (NPG) to determine their battle plan for that bound. Since I don't know what constitutes a bound in DBA, I decided I'd roll for each unit card.

In any case, the Solo DBA engine provided what i would consider a reasonable result overall. It does require player interpretation -the engine provides a list of possible actions in order of priority, but the player has to evaluate the possibility of implementing a particular action on the NPG's half.

Here is the general movement taken by the troops on both sides:

My obsession with arrows continues!

Because of the rain, neither side made much progress in the first 3 turns, although I did send the steam tractor up to position itself to lay down fire on the Sauvingon-Blanc forces gathering in and around the town.

Unfortunatey it was a gamble that I lost - on turn 4 the Sauvignon-Blanc walker activated first and fired scoring a hit which knocked the treads off the steam tractor. Since it couldn't move, it couldn't pivot to bring it's rear-facing cannon to bear. I ruled that the 2 of the four crew could fire out of each window with their rifles and while they would score a hit or two later, the cannon was out of the game as it pointed back towards my own baseline.

At the same time, the Riesling hero, Herr Lowenbraugh met his maker in close combat.

The disabled steam tractor in the foreground. Her crew bravely stayed aboard to offer rifle fire whenever a target presented itself.

Things tooked grim - without the tractor's cannon, assaulting 2e Companie which had taken up a fortified position in the town, would be difficult and expose the Riesling 6th Kompanie to fire from both 2e Companie and the walker's cannon.

G.A.S.L.I.G.H.T.'s close combat rules make it possible for both sides to lose a figure, so units can evaporate pretty quickly. Close combat turned out to be the game changer.

In the center, as a result of close combat, a forced morale check sent members of 3e Goum scattering - including several regulars which went off the table.
Remnants of a Sauvignon-Blanc Guam scatter as they fail their morale test.

The scrum on the left was a violent affair:

Monsieur Jones (Hero) is felled in hand to hand despite his impressive Scuffle value (15):

The 1er Goum was utterly destroyed in the melee:

1er Companie looks on - they can hear the sounds of battle in the woods, but their rifle fire can not penetrate  into the tangled trees.

The center is cleared - 2e Goum also evaporated - and the right flank, composed of  Riesling's  native 13th Kompanie, advances under fire:

At the end of turn 6 the game was over according to my victory conditions - Sauvignon-Blanc had lost all three native units and their hero, to Riesling's loss of their hero and immobilization of the steam tractor.

While I had won, I wasn't sure this should be the case - after all, Sauvignon-Blanc still had their leader, and both 1er Companie, which had taken one hit from the rifle armed crew in the disabled tractor) in the fort and 2e Companie, plus the walker in good defensive positions in the town.. If the battle had continued they would have fared well and it would have been Riesling that would have had to quit the field (a continuation of the game as a "what if" confirmed this).

Still, the more I thought it over, the more I felt like, while Sauvignon-Blanc could recover some of their losses using the campaign rules and maybe press on to another battle they would undoubtedly be outnumbered. Riesling had lost only their hero while all of the units were at least half strength or more - and perhaps more problematic, Duchamp would have to maintain order among a lizard folk populace angry over the use of their own as shields for the imperials in their battle for land which according to the lizard folk way of thinking, doesn't belong to them anyway - it would become a two front war.

So where does that leave me?

And more importantly, where does it leave Dietrich?

I see a couple of possibilities. In no particular order:

  • End the campaign - Duchamp surrenders rather than risk his troops further.
  • Suavignon-Blanc lost the day, but night has fallen and the battle can continue in the morning - both sides get to test for the return of 1/2 of their losses.
  • Declare that Dietrich orders Riesling to quit the field to draw out Duchamp's army into a field battle where they will not have protection of the stone walls of the fort or town. There may or may not be a lizard folk uprising for Duchamp to deal with.
  • Riesling has managed to bring up several artillery crews for the sake of conducting a siege on both the fort and the town (using siege rules from an issue of Lone Warrior). This could spill into a small naval battle (mind you, I have no miniatures for this) to blockade the port.
  • Riesling wins, but now they have to deal with the angry lizard folk in the former Sauvignon-Blanc controlled region.
  • Dietrich withdraws to draw out Duchamp. Meanwhile a naval blockade/siege begins on the town.

I may leave this to the roll of a die, but if anyone has any suggestions on how they would handle it, I'm open to ideas.

Monday, May 21, 2012

First thoughts on USEME WWII

This is not a review of USEME WWII ( available from properly speaking - for one I've only played the game once. Second, and more importantly, this game took place around 2:30 am Sunday morning and to be fair, my brain may not have been working properly. I think the fact that I set up a game at 2:30 am is reasonable evidence of this.

I pitted two units of German infantry and a Panzer IV on a ridge against three units of Soviet infantry and a T-34/76 tasked with getting the Germans out of there. All were rated Elan 3.

Since I felt like using the 1/32 figures, I tripled the distances and ranges (I probably could have gone up to 4x but 3x worked fine). Infantry Movement =  12", Tanks = 18".

One other note, for grins, the game was played on the living room carpet using large throw pillows and the coffee table to simulate the ridge and other large green  sofa cushions to act as woods. It was very much a "toy game".

No pictures were taken but here is an artist's rendition of the setup (force images provided by

Grey areas are impassable and block LOS. The tan-ish trapezoids in front of the German units are sandbags.

The Soviets advance using the woods as cover. The tanks exchange ineffective fire.  The German infantry, unable to use their rifles any time soon, hunker down, and will do so every turn until the Soviets start heading up the slope to their position.

I watched several war documentaries this weekend. Hence the arrows.

The T-34's crew dialed in the Panzer - hitting it once on turn 3 and again on turn 4, destroying it. The crew would then set their sites on the hunkered down infantry on the hill and score no more hits the rest of the game - hitting hunkered down infantry in cover from long range is not easy.

A battle of attrition ensued as infantry fired on each other from cover. It was slow going at first, but once the winged and then struck markers started piling up, every shot seemed to take another figure out for one side or the other.

Overwhelmed by superior numbers, on turn 8, the German commander seeing his forces down to 40% of its starting strength (not counting the loss of the Panzer), opted to leave the field to the Soviet force which still had 75% of its strength left.

As I said, this isn't a review properly speaking, just my first impressions. And they are:

If you've already played USEME001 Science Fiction rules, then the basic rules for USEME003 won't throw you any surprises. If you've downloaded some the free additional material you can get for USEME001 (like civilians and firing for suppression for instance), you'll notice that these seem to come directly from USEME003 WWII's Advanced Rules section.

The solo section is a little skimpier than the one in the Sci Fi rules, but the game doesn't suffer for it.

So is it worth $5 for the PDF if you already have the Sci Fi rules?

If you're a rivet counter, you'll want to go elsewhere. These rules aren't targeted at you. That said, I'm not a rivet counter - I lean heavily towards the "game" side of the hobby, in spite of the reading and research I do to the contrary. I believe it is safe to say that the USEME rules are game oriented but they don't totally neglect history.

Personally, I think there's enough period flavor in these rules  - on table ground attack aircraft, anti-tank and anti-aircraft rules, sniper rules, flame throwers and even partisans - to capture the WWII vibe. I suspect this is especially true if WWII is just a side interest and not your obsession (or if you're like me with a large number of interests scattered here and there such that you have no one obsession).

USEME WWII provides stats for a wide variety of infantry and armor types  for all the major powers - Japan and the USMC aren't left out as they so often are in other rules I've looked at. This is key for me as I finish up my PTO island invasion forces.

And while you might disagree with the stats given, they aren't official. There is no tournament standard to adhere to. They are just suggestions so you can spend more time playing and less time mucking about with force creation. If the later is your thing though, the rules support it.

After only one game it's hard to say if  USEME003 will become a favorite rules set, but they did give me a fun game in the wee hours of Sunday morning, and so at the very least, I think it was $5 well spent.

Campaign Week 8: Battle at Port Guillaume Le Roy: The Setup

*** The Set up ***

Two weeks after the armies last met in the field of battle, Sauvignon-Blanc has fallen back to their capital on the island, the port of Guillaume Le Roy for a last stand. The town is protected in part by the sea to its north, mountains to the west, and by the Fort Geste to its east.


*** The rules ***

I chose G.A.S.L.I.G.H.T. to play this out. As I mentioned the other day, I had a G.A.S.L.I.G.H.T. itch in need of a scratch.


*** The Table ***

The port is in the upper right and the fort to the left.

Both sides have 2 imperial units, 3 native units, 1 vehicle, 1 hero and 1 unattached main character army leader.

Troops and woods were placed using dice to determine location:
The cloth isn't nearly that blue in person.


*** Campaign Related Stipulations ***

The weather had been stormy in the days leading up to the battle and was no different at the start. Torrential rains would limit movement (-1 to -3 inches) and ranged firing. Each turn I'd check to see if the rain would let up.
1er Compagnie for Sauvingon-Blanc is an elite unit. All 3 of their native units are poor.

Riesling's 7th Kompanie is elite and two of their native units are rated as average and only 1 is rated poor.

All imperial units are 10 figures (8 soldiers and 2 main character officer) and all native units are 8 figures (6 native soldiers, 1 native main character and 1 imperial officer). Morale for native units would be rolled using a d8.


*** Victory Conditions ***

Either fight until one army has lost 50% of its units, or until Riesling captured either the town or the fort.


*** Some thoughts ***

This the largest battle I've ever played out with these rules - nearly all of my VSF stuff was on the table!

Not surprisingly, it was also the longest game I've ever played - over 3.5 hours to the victory conditions and then I kept playing for giggles for another 30 or so minutes.

I used a set of Solo DBA rules to guide decisions for Sauvignon-Blanc and I would play Riesling as my own side.

Coming soon: the battle write up.

Friday, May 18, 2012

It is Time for a Return to Helvetica

With an entire weekend to myself - a rare and nearly impossible occurrence - I plan to get in a lot of gaming, in addition to several to-dos around the house (I do have to at least feint at responsibility). This is predicated on how willing I am to stay up very late and how much caffeine I have available to support that. One game high on my list is a return to my campaign on the imaginary island of Helvetica where the forces of Sauvingon-Blanc have been taking a beating from the forces of Riesling.

Each side, you may or may not recall, consists primarily of lizard folk supported by a smaller number of imperial troops (originally this was not the case but some changes occurred after reading an article on colonial armies). I have for the majority of games used Mr. Bob Cordery's Memoir of Battle rules - a system which I find extremely enjoyable to use. However, one side-game saw the use of CR3: FV and the last main contact between the sides was resolved using G.A.S.L.I.G.H.T., another set of rules I enjoy using, especially now that I have some crude (in and out of game) steam-powered vehicles on the table. And, since the one game was not enough to scratch my G.A.S.L.I.G.H.T. itch, I'll be using those rules for the next battle as well.

The next battle in the campaign "map" sees Sauvignon-Blanc falling back to their capital on the island (indeed, their only town on the island). I will represent this with a "fort" overlooking the "town" - with both represented on the table. Sauvignon -Blanc gets 2 guard units in the captial, and I'm contemplating throwing in a unit of militia perhaps (using some character minis) to defend the town.

As I've mentioned before, G.A.S.L.I.G.H.T. requires some prep work, in addition to the campaign record keeping. So I don't expect to play this until Sunday.

In the meantime, I'll continue to paint the USMC figures (I'm down to about 13 or 14 I think). Some solo D&D b/x time is inevitable as well - it's ready to set up and go whenever. Finally, I'm looking forward to playing some games with rules I've recently acquired: USEME WWII and Flying Lead. I really want to get the 1/32 tanks out (a t-34 and a panzer iv) so perhaps this will be a 1/32 "toy game" played out on the carpet.

What are your weekend gaming plans?

(remember all who leave comments, on this or any other post I make on this blog between now and June 1, will be eligible to win a printed copy of the THW rules of their choice when the name is drawn on June 2.)

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Sci-Fi Small Scale Skirmish Rules Tests Continued

I've been playing games again with the various rule sets i'm considering for very small sci-fi skirmish. The new scenario is rather poorly designed but was intended to simply see how a given rule set scales up and when technologically different cultures clash, with those with better tech outnumbered by those without.

The Setup:

The plucky band of rebels had salvaged an old, pre-cataclysm, ambulance and were out to make a pick up from a supply dump when the old engine gave out.

"Base this is Arturo Fuente, we need a lighter"

*crackle* "Roger that Arturo Fuente, fueling one up and it'll be on its way. ETA 3 hours"

Well, it was no automobile club (not that they had any idea what an automobile club was), so nothing to do but sit and wait. Which would have been fine except for all the bugs...

The Forces:

3 low-tech/mid-tech human resistance fighters

8 no-tech mantis men: regardless of rules, all mantis men would have the same stats (be it HP, Elan, REP etc. ) for ease of tracking.

The Game (This isn't a play-by-play):

The van and resistance fighters were placed in the center of the board and the mantis men encircled them - each placed on the far side of cover so they'd have to come out of the woods to attack.

Here's the table after the first turn of the first test (using USR):

"Guys! We need giant can of bug spray!?"

The first problem that's apparent is that record keeping is complicated by the fact that there are 4 poses of mantis men, 2 of each. It is virtually impossible to distinguish them from one another - so I had to use their clock positions to identify them - this mattered most in USR which has hit points and almost not at all in CR3:FV.

Regardless of rules, this setup is a problem - it's not possible to activate the mantis men as a group making their activation tedious.

However, with two of the sets I've used (USR and USEME) this didn't matter as the humans were quickly overrun by the bugs:

Totally. Hopeless.

Where are these glass blobs coming from????

The primary difference is that in USR, the mantis men had 12 HP and my attacks did little damage - I think I killed 1.

In USEME my humans fared little better.

In both cases, TPK.

CR3:FV gave quite an unexpected twist:

Circle of Dead Bugs

The mantis never got close enough for melee!

"Nice shooting team!"

Now not all of them are dead - technically some are just Out of the Fight:

Gratuitous Pic of My CR3:FV  Clutter Reducing Reaction/Status Tracker

Closing Thoughts:

I didn't bother testing my home mashup rules with this scenario - they use card draw for randomized activation and hit points for damage and so wouldn't tell me anything new.

USR took the longest by far, as each side chipped away at HP and resulted in the fewest mantis men dropped. CR3:FV took the least time and had the most mantis men dropped. USEME, with it's 3 statuses was somewhere in the middle.

I don't think the results were entirely rules dependent, however. The fact that the mantis men were overpowering in the USR game (A: 10, W:8 E:6, HP 12, armor) and were slaughtered in the CR3:FV game due to the failed rolls resulting from being Rep 4 - had as much to do with it as anything. Had I made the USR mantis men less powerful and the CR3:FV more so, the results may have been flip-flopped. For USEME, varying the Elan of the bugs would have most certainly have changed the game. There's no "right" values for the stats though - I'd rather stick to my guns about what I think is an accurate portrayal of my concept of the characters within the given rule set than worry about whether one side is too strong or not.

So, for this type of game, one side outnumbered by the other (although no more than 10 figures on the larger side), regardless of technological advantage, I think any of the rules I'm considering would work fine. It largely depends on how much record keeping I feel like doing and how much time I have.

Finally, the rules test could have been a lot more interesting if the mantis men bases were marked so I could easily identify individuals - this would have allowed variable stats for EACH bug man, rather than just universally assigning HPs, Reps and Elans. And if I was playing this as part of a campaign or cared about the outcome, I'd most definitely have added a turn limit for the "lighter" to arrive - which would have greatly aided the humans in two of the three games.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

D&D b/x: Take 2 Continues Finally

180 degrees away from the straight-forward hack-n-slash no characterization of my Dungeon Squad game, I finally started on my new D&D b/x game. In addition to the two rule books, I'm using Mythic GME as intended - with scenes, interrupts and chaos factors.

Since Lady Shadowmoss does not like dungeon crawls - she prefers solving puzzles and such when she plays RPGs - it's also an attempt to see how I might incorporate more of that into the game. Simply fighting orcs to rescue a prisoner isn't really going to cut it if I want to run a session or two for her on our vacation. I've heard her and her friends talk about their LARP events ,so I have a general idea of the kinds of things she gets enthusiastic about.

Inspired by the setup for "Locket Away" (and I recommend you download and play it if you haven't - it's quite fun and a good intro to USR), my two characters are private investigators in a town at least in part inspired by reading Telengard session reports over on Swords and Dorkery. I've never run a game where humanoids of all kinds could be found in the town itself- but that's what I want. Something like Mos Eisley, with taverns more like the cantina in Star Wars than found in a homogeneous medieval setting.

The town of Annwyn-Beneath-the-Waves* is described after the jump along with three NPCs (painted with broad strokes). I've tried to include hints of the kinds of things (people and places) that can be found there while minimizing details so that I can generate them during play (one of Mythic's strengths). Essentially, I'm playing two games at once - one as player characters and the other a world building game.

Dungeon Squad Assemble!

The other night I was feeling in a dungeon crawl mood but I didn't want to spend time coming up with characters, or monsters, or a plot - I just wanted to move miniatures on dungeon tiles and fight stuff.

Enter Dungeon Squad:

Dungeon Squad is a role-playing game designed expressly for young players with short attention spans who demand action and fun.
Rather coincidentally, that also sounds like me sometimes (minus the "young" part).

For the dungeon, I used the Official Tabletop Diversions No-budget No-frills d12 Pencil and Paper Dungeon Generator (with some judgement calls due to the limits of the coffee table) but rather than breaking out the graph paper, I used my Dungeon Tiles Master Set - The Dungeon (contrary to what it says, you can use it with any rule set - there's nothing 4e specific about it).

I set up a an encounter table (I opted to make a goblin lair with some random monsters as well) and a wandering monster table and had at it:

The fighter with no name and his hapless companion burst through the door to find two skeletons rather irritated at their arrival:
Hack and Slash, the Bones Brothers
 A furious fight ensues, but the fighter is victorious.

The next encounter did not go so well.  The Cannibalistic Barbarian of the 2nd Level had been rummaging around the first level when the fighter and hapless companion burst in on him.
Cannibal the Barbarian
I lost 7 hit points (I had lost 4 with the two skeletons). A healing potion that I had purchased in town wasn't worth the money I paid for it. Three lousy hit points.

A skeleton patrol rounded the corner and the fighter with no name, at great personal risk, charged into the fray. Aided by the narrow hallway, he made fast work of the bone brigade.

Skeletons in the Hall

Unfortunately, the next room held the self-declared and undisputed guardian of the dungeon, the Chaos Knight:
Chaos Knight - One Bad Ass Dude.
I may have made his stats a little on the tough side - and paid for it. There was only one option:

Run away!

And here for your viewing pleasure, the dungeon:
Try Not to be Distracted by the Table

In addition to the faux mother of pearl inlay on the coffee table, you probably noticed that not a single goblin appeared. This is undoubtedly because I spent half an hour looking for them before the game began. Had I not gone looking for (and found) them, they most certainly would have turned up every encounter.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Two Hour Wargames Giveaway Contest!

You read that right!

Thanks to Ed at THW:

One lucky winner chosen at random will receive a PRINTED copy of the Two Hour Wargames rule book of their choice.


There are two ways to enter:

1) If you have a Google account, follow/join this blog (you have to do it publically so I can see your user name to enter you in the drawing). All current followers will be entered automatically - unless you tell me you don't want the chance to win the prize. I don't know why you'd do such a thing, but hey, it's your call.


2)Leave a comment on any post I make between now and June 1st. Comments on older posts are always appreciated, but they don't count for the contest!

That's all there is to it!

//Edit: Oops! Forgot to say that the drawing will be held on June 2!

I'll even throw you a bone:

What movie(s) inspires you to play a game (any type, any genre/period, as long as it's tabletop)?

I can just about guarantee that within 24 hours of watching Saving Private Ryan or Battleground, I'll have the WWII figures out on the table.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


A contest is coming! 

With an awesome prize generously provided by Two Hour Wargames! (Thanks Ed!)

I'll post details on Friday May 11, 2012 - so keep your eyes on this space!

Young Lord Shadowmoss is excited for you!

Monday, May 7, 2012

The Marines Have Landed!

First, welcome to those of you coming for a visit from the Two Hour Wargames Yahoo group! I am always surprised when someone stumbles on my blog, let alone posts a link to it.

Second, as the subject of the post says, the first of my 1:72 WWII USMC have landed!

And in sunny tropic scenes;
You will find us always on the job
The United States Marines.

I know my color choices may not suit the purists, but I like how they came out. Especially as I had meant to grab the Sea Foam and instead grabbed the Stonewedge Green. I'll probably paint some with Sea Foam simply because of the variety of shades the marine uniforms took on in the harsh conditions of the Pacific.

Uniform - Ceramcoat Stonewedge Green
Web Kit - Americana Desert Sand
Helmet -Jo-Ann Craft Essentials Olive
Boots - Americana Honey Brown
Rifle and Scabbard - Ceramcoat Dark Brown
Flesh - Ceramcoat AC Flesh

Obviously, the basing needs to be finished and of course, there are 45 more to paint, but this is a start!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Thoughts on: MG-42, CR-1, and Six Gun Sound (1st ed) from Two Hour Wargames

Among the rules I have given run throughs for very small scale sci-fi skirmishing, I included some sets from Two Hour Wargames. Now, I didn't include any of the current sets for sale - I have several older sets and the most recent version of Chain Reaction is free to download. In fact, I played CR3: Final VersionV (CRFV) a short time ago both to test it out and as a side game in the larger VSF Helvetica Campaign.

Chain Reaction, aka Guns and Girls aka CR1, is, as the name suggests, an older version of the rules. The first version at that (although the mechanisms appear in some of THW's other, earlier, offerings). The "in sight" is different for example - only the inactive side rolls. I disliked the received fire table as it sent troopers scurrying home when they passed 0d6. That just seemed inappropriate for the Control Battalion Riflethings. So I decided to bring in the received fire from MG-42, an introductory ruleset THW distributed around the time Nuts! 1st ed. was released. The resulting game just didn't flow right. I played several times as the games go quick with just 3 figs a side, so I had ample opportunity to figure out what was bothering me.

A poor decision in progress - popping around a corner into the open.

The problem I had was the combat system - in CR1, Rep 3 figures are useless against targets in cover and armor, although the rules themselves suggest that's the right value for untested troops. Compare that to CRFV where it's suggested that leaders be Rep 5 and their grunts be Rep 4 AND the rule that if the shooter is a Rep 3 and they roll an unmodified 6 to count the hit. My untested Sepulvedan Rebellion squad was at a decided disadvantage under CR1's system as written. Secondly, the Scratch/Bad Wound doesn't sit well with me either -nor did I like the duck down for x number of turns mechanism.

I then played MG-42 as written. Here, the "in sight" is taken on both sides - certain conditions not withstanding, but there are still differences to CRFV. For the first time ever, though, I think I finally "got" the CR2/MG-42 version of the rules. The game felt "realistic" and with somewhat less to track than CRFV. Still, the game plays insanely fast, in my opinion.

Regardless of version, these rules require a judicious use of cover if you hope to survive to fight another day. And I dare say, that's their biggest strength. While I like the reaction system, it's the fact that the rules force you to consider your risks that makes them interesting. Recklessness will occasionally be rewarded. But by and large, it'll mean you're dead in your tracks.

I gave THW one more go, and played Six Gun Sound (1st ed), basically as written, although I treated the weapons as having limitless ammo. This may have been a mistake. One of the ways SGS broke the chain of reactions in a shoot out is the fact that six-guns have a limited number of times they can return fire. Ditto for rifles and shotguns. It never really felt like a shoot out, it just devolved into rolling one side, then the other, back and forth until someone scored a hit or was forced to duck down -sometimes this took quite some time.

I stand by my earlier assessment of CRFV. I think though, given the speed at which the games resolve, that they are not suitable for my intentions of very small skirmishes. If you're pressed for time, and using limited numbers of figures per side, however, they may be the ultimate in fast play rules.

Just make sure your table has plenty of cover.

Friday, May 4, 2012

The USR Adventure Continues Plus an NPC and another Monster

The last two sessions of my Unbelievably Simple Role-playing (USR) adventure (calling it a dungeon crawl when it's not in the dungeon at the moment seems a misnomer) went in an unexpected direction. Mythic GME featured heavily, although USR got its fair share of the action in the second session.
I'm tempted to write this up in detail, but I don't think it'd make fun reading for me let alone anyone else, so I'll just hit the highlights (the NPC and Monster are detailed below):

Session Highlights

  • Blarg's first order of business was to get some healing. Enter Briza the Healer:
  • Mythic had some odd ideas about what healing costs, and Briza wouldn't accept gold, the offer of a quest (don't people always need adventurers to go an do something for them they don't want to do themselves?). He took the strange, well made tunic. Even then, he only healed Blarg part way
  • While resting, the attacks increased in frequency
  • The townsfolk started clamoring for Blarg to be run out of town (You've got to love Mythic)
  • Finding a porter and torch bearer, let alone fighting men, to accompany him back into the dungeon proved impossible - word had spread about the deaths of his comrades (probably thanks to Reginald the Frail, Jr. (torch bearer on the expedition))
  • Some sleuthing around the sites of the most recent attacks revealed some tracks - the creature appeared to have at least six feet! (thanks Rory's Story Cubes)
  • At this point I realized what I had thought would turn out to be a troll or an ogre, turned out to be a large insect or arachnid of some kind. I created a table of giant sized bug possibilities and also added the possibility that Blarg had mis-read the tracks.
  • A little shopping trip for a bow, arrows and other supplies and Blarg was close to bankruptcy but he was better prepared to save his good name and the names of his dead comrades. He would wait for the creature to attack again and be ready to meet it.
  • On the second night after he took up a post where he could oversee many of the pastures used by the local farmers, bingo! (roll on my table) A giant ant! I checked the D&D bestiary, ants "fight to the death". Fantastic.
  • The battle lasted 7 rounds before the thing gave up the fight and died. Blarg's victory dance was short as 3 more showed up moments later.
  • Both sides were heavily armored, the ants getting a -3 and Blarg a -4 on damage taken.  8 rounds later and it looked for a moment that a badly beat up Blarg was going to come out victorious (no thanks to the villagers, who, to a one, either ignored or did not hear his calls and the sounds of battle). Alas it was not to be.
  • The ants left his body but dragged away their fallen (these choices were Mythic decisions), which leaves the town rid of Blarg, but in the unenviable position of still not knowing just what's been attacking them.
The ants were an unexpected twist. I can see this turning into a fantasy version of Them! Perhaps the ants were disturbed by the gnomes who have been opening up new mines (which is how the gnomes got into the dungeon in the first place)  which connected inadvertently to the ant tunnels. Using the same mine shafts as the gnomes, the ants have only been sending a few scouts up into the dungeon and into the surrounding country side. The attacks are increasing in frequency because it is turning out to be an excellent and nearly unimpeded source of food for the colony.

Will the village send out a plea for help and the PCs respond? Will the village be overrun and destroyed, to be discovered by some PCs who arrive with the next merchant caravan? 

NPC (Stat'd for USR):

Briza the Healer
Action: d8 Wits: d6 Ego: d10 HP: 9,
Specialisms: Cure light wounds(wits + 5), cure serious wounds (wits+2), cure disease (Wits + 3),Bless (wits+4). Roll against recipient's Ego.

Background (written after my encounter):
Briza is not motivated by money. If he was he would never have come to a small village to offer healing and blessing to farmers and merchants.The big cities provide far more opportunity for profit. He is dedicated toward serving his fellow beings. 

That does not mean he does his work for free, but rather uses his skills to barter for things he likes - choosing to take whatever appeals to his eye and is within the means of his patrons to give. A dairy farmer might pay in milk or cheese, a vintner in wine, or a merchant in a fine imported rug. 

He will not go off adventuring if he is asked, although he does wish to travel northward to the monastery and temples of the monks of the sect of Ulrich the Goat (makers of the tunic), as he has heard enlightenment is easily attained there (all of this came up thanks to Mythic), and it never hurts to have some body guards on the long journey.

Monster (Stat'd for USR):

Giant Ant

Action: d10, Wits: d10, Ego:d6
Specialisms: Crushing Mandibles(Action+2), Lifting(Action+5) (they're strong!), Summon Other Ants(Ego+2) - roll against difficulty based on likelihood any are nearby.
Armor: natural body armor -3

They're especially fast (60' per combat round) - think of a tiny little ant, and how fast they go. Now, imagine the ant is 6' long and a few feet off the ground!
They always fight to the death.

The queen didn't come into play but if she did, I'm thinking:

Action: d12; Wits:d10; Ego: d8.

In addition to the other Giant Ant specialisms, she has:
  • Colony Summon(Ego + 3) roll difficulty based on distance from colony (if in colony this is very easy): the ability to summon the entire colony to its aid
  • Ant Control(Ego +4) roll ego vs ego: ability to direct other ants in intelligent ways to benefit the queen and colony during battle.