Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 Ten Games, Ten Times Challenge Results

I heard about this idea after nearly half the year had gone, but threw my hat in the ring anyway it seemed to me that there might be something to the idea of playing a game ten times.

As I've noted previously, it has absolutely been a worthwhile experience. I have found, for instance, once and for all, that Nuts! is not for me with respect to multi-squad per side engagements, but the Chocolate & Cigarette rules in 3.0 are fantastic and just what I want them to be. And I have found Blitzkrieg Commander to be among my all time favorite commercial rule sets (joining G.A.S.L.I.G.H.T. as a go-to game) - it has seen action far beyond the initial 10 games.

In total, I played 62 of 100 games for the challenge (I played more games than that total), but given my late start, I'm happy with it.

The 6 games that received 10 plays were:
Adventure Maximus was played 2x and while I think there is potential there to make an interesting solo game, I found it hard to muster the enthusiasm to play a 3rd game. I haven't given up on it though and will try it again at some point.

I've already mentioned Nuts! and BKC, so what of the others?

S&W White Box - There is a great deal of freedom owing to the lack of actual rules here - the trick is to not just fall back on B/X but try to imagine how someone in 1974 might approach the situation (not how I would have done it in '74. I was 2.) I will continue to use these for a little while longer for the the Ever Expanding Dungeon. I am on the hunt for an actual D&D White Box, so that may replace these, or I may try Seven Voyages of Zylarthen which I have downloaded and like enough to consider purchasing the paperback copies.

Song of Blades and Heroes - Initially I was put off by all the special rules and having to use the online war band builder to figure out points easily, but the former was resolved by copying and pasting the necessary rules for a given war band into a word doc to print as a QRS for use at the table. The latter isn't that terrible, because you can just reuse forces over and over again after their initial creation. It successfully scratched my fantasy war game itch, and  got me to paint up some of my Reaper Bones.

Urbion - I really like this card game. It took me several plays to win - a result of luck and skill- and that was just the basic version. I have only scratched the surface of the advanced games and look forward to playing them at some point in the future.

Battle Over Britain - This is a fast play game (less than 15 minutes a game, usually much less) and loads of fun, which is surprising when you see how sparse the set up is. Maybe it helped that I watched Angels One Five, Blue Max and Aces High before I played the final 8 games but I felt immersed in the games as I played. I stuck to the basic rules for all but one game, where i pitted my loan Spitfire against two ME-109s and had to figure out how to handle 3 planes in play (it was surprisingly simple). There are still a load of optional rules and I also have the Solitaire pack  to try, which expands the solitaire rules further.

I will absolutely be participating in the challenge again in 2015.

Did I Do What I Said? 2014 Review

If I were to provide an executive level summary of my gaming related activity in 2014, it would be that, although I don't have accurate accounting, I believe I played more games than I have ever before. Although thoroughly enjoyable, it was not without some cost - this very blog has seen a decline in posts. I felt I was becoming stretched too thin with demands on my limited free time and when given the choice between writing up a game session or playing a game, I chose the latter more often than not.

But how did I fair with my goals for 2014 (half-year review here )?

Great Northern War - This was a lot of wishful thinking at the end of 2013. As I noted in the 1/2 year review, I had to accept that this would be a long term project, which was my way of saying, this just wasn't gong to happen as planned. The figures just take too long for me to paint to really knock them out with any kind of volume. Still, my Swedish infantry are now at 48 figures, which is just how many I need to start basing them.

Fantasy gaming - I call this one completed successfully (although slightly modified from the original).
  • My Japantasy social game never realized but I did play a solo Japantasy adventure using Swords & Wizardry: White Box that was a good bit of fun. I took notes as I played, so I could write it up if you need proof, but note that it gets a little weird.
  • I ran 3 sessions at DragonCon.
  • My campaign at the FLGS has had 15 sessions. Even better, most of the players seem really into the campaign and happy to take advantage of its sandbox nature (despite being centered around a mini-mega dungeon).  I have a core group of regulars and although technically I am still running an open table, I'm not advertising our sessions anymore.
  • I managed to play the following Guadalcanal scenarios: The Goettge Patrol , The Brush Patrol, The First Battle of Matanikau, Battle of Bloody Ridge, Koli Point. That's more than half of the 8 I listed originally and I played some of these multiple times and with different rule sets. I certainly got my money's worth from the Britton Publishers scenario book.
  • As mentioned in the half year review, I am short some Soviet riflemen. It turns out, it wasn't just slothful painting, but that I don't have the figures to even paint. The Airfix sets feature primarily SMGs (which is great if you want to build SMG squads), but the scenarios very explicitly are centered around rifle squads in July, 1943. 
Helvetica - Well, you would't know it from my blog (save for one picture), but I am four turns into a Featherstone style "domestic" campaign. I cobbled together some campaign rules from issues of Lone Warrior, Featherstone and Bath, and I use my own Generic Skirmish Rules for Colonial-ish Games: Celebrating the Exploits of Heroes, Military and Otherwise, in Lands Foreign and Fantastic While Glossing Over the Role of the Ordinary Person for combat resolution. All encounters so far have been patrols being ambushed by lizard folk. Keeping the tribes in line is bloody and dangerous work.

So, despite the big goose egg that is the GNW project, I am happy with what I accomplished. Having these goals didn't entirely limit my gamer ADD, but they did help focus me on areas of the hobby I wanted to spend time on.

Plus, there were other hobby related accomplishments to make up for not entirely hitting every goal as laid out:

I put out issue two of 6 Iron Spikes & a Small Hammer and to my shock, it sold out. It wasn't immediate, but still. Issue 1 is still in print - because it's far cheaper and easier to reproduce and still sells.

I released not one but two free sets of rules this year, World War Risus and Featherstone's Nuts. The latter was quick to make (it is maybe a page long), but World War Risus was more involved. Never the less, it went from idea to a living document in a short time, provided a number of enjoyable games, and got me listed as a Risus SuperFan. My feelings about the rules vary depending on the day, but the experience was enjoyable and I don't regret the time spent. 

The b/x campaign with Ariale that features her violence prone, self-interested elf, Fjorgyn, began this year, and continues even now. Although I have stopped doing write ups for these games, or the Trelleborg games for that matter, take my word that Fjorgyn isn't as totally evil as she seemed, and recently took action that might even be deemed heroic.

I played dozens of games that received nary a mention; my WWII collection is almost always out on the table, I have played several solo RPG one-shots, and even did some figure painting.

And, of course, there was the 10 Games, 10 Times challenge that I took up in June, but that will get its own post.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Obligatory Christmas Loot Post

I hope all those who celebrate Christmas had a merry one. And for those who don't, I hope you had a great Thursday.

My list was void of any RPG related items (I just got Barbarians of Lemuria during the 50% off sale at back in November and picked up my pre-ordered copy of the 5e DMG). So, Santa indulged the wargamer in me this year:

I haven't built a scale model in 30 years or so - that King Tiger and the ZiS have a dizzying array of parts. Coupled with the fact that I've never built scale model armor, only cars and planes, starting with the F4F-4 Wildcat is a no brainer!

All of these will see use on the table as they are completed.

I am debating painting the tanks and truck. Currently only 3 of my vehicles are painted and they were factory painted at that; the rest are the plastic color they came in. If I start painting a few, I feel I'm going to have to go crazy and paint EVERYTHING. On the other hand they might all look a good deal better painted.

Speaking of paint:

This is for the WWI project in plastic 1/72. I've got the Italians and Austrians - or rather the starting forces for both sides. Now, it's time to acquire uniform references and paint and such. Oh and to learn more about this aspect of WWI, since all I know is from Wikipedia.

In addition there were gift cards and some cash that will, at least in part, be put to use on my too many projects.

The Osprey Austrian companion volume to the Italian Osprey above is a definite. Neil Thomas's One Hour Wargames seems to be the rage right now, despite its limitations, so I'll probably pick that up, along with Table Top Battles by Mike and Joyce Smith.

I am doing my best to avoid picking up any more figures or vehicles just yet, but it's almost inevitable that I will. GHQs 1/285 WWII stuff is looking really tempting right about now and they do have that sale going. Never mind that Classic Toy Soldiers is doing a 15% off after Christmas sale on just about everything.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

It's All Done with Mirrors and Painted Smiles

Last week, I had some time off, and since the nanny was here during the day to take care of the Young Lord, I spent much of those two days painting:

Fearless Men Who Jump and Die!

The Flames of War Open Fire! box is a heck of a value, whether or not you plan to play FoW. Of course, it's only a value if you actually do something with the included bits. I started this platoon of US Airborne last year, put it aside and then, suddenly felt the urge to complete them.

This is my first time ever using static grass. I don't know if I did it right or not, but i love it!

It Was Just My Imagi-nation Running Away from Me

I got a Risk set (the AWI looking bits) a few years ago, thinking I'd use the map for a campaign. But it sat in my closet. Lately, I've been reading about Imagi-nations and getting excited again by the idea. And so, inspired by Kaptain Kobold's Great Northern War project with Risk figures I pondered whether or not I could do something similar. And then it hit me, Riseling vs Sauvignon-Blanc 100 years before the current conflict.

Here are 40 Risk figures painted as the Saintonge Regiment of France, which participated in the AWI.  

There are four bases of line infantry, 2 bases of light infantry. 

I speed painted these to look decent as a group, at wargaming distance. Up close, not so much. (it doesn't help that the figures themselves are terrible. Misshapen heads, missing feet, etc). 

Leader of the PAK

1 1/32 Italeri PAK 40 - nice, easy to build model, it took 3 attempts at priming to get it to stick.

It fits nicely into the 6" grid I use for the 1/32 toys.

Itsy-bitsy Teenie Weeny

Sometime last year I picked up 2 sample packs from GHQ just to see what 6mm looked like in person (yes yes, I can look at a ruler but that didn't tell me what I needed to know).

Here are 3 GHQ 6mm US Army Infantry - painted the same way I paint my 1/32 stuff - this was a test to see 1)if i could paint 6mm, 2)if i would like the results. 

Oh. My. God! This may be my second favorite scale after 54mm (what can i say? I am a man of extremes). They painted up super easily - the details are easy to hit with a brush without painting over previously completed kit. I suspect could knock out a 1:1 company in in a few hours. It's just about all I can do to restrain myself from taking advantage of their holiday 15% off orders over $50.00 deal. 

This may not look like much, but some regular readers might know what's afoot.

On their way to a Slitherin village, two Riesling platoons, led by Feldwebels Feuerbach and Handel, are ambushed by lizard warriors.

Monday, December 15, 2014

The Ever Expanding Dungeon: Session 37

Scene 1: Down Time
The party returned to town to rest up and buy a 10’ pole. After 3 days and resupplying, the party returns to the dungeon.

[Chaos 5, 1 = Alter Scene
Are they able to acquire the 10’ pole? 08, yes
3 days? yes 18
I decide the most logical thing is:]

Meanwhile, the innkeeper at the Zealous Dagger collects on their outstanding debts (5 gp each for food and board).

Scene 2: Traveling to the Dungeon

[Wandering monster check on way to dungeon: 1
Roll on wilderness encounter table for forest:1 = dragon. Good lord.
roll d10, 7= Wyvern, well it could be worse.

Wyvern(AC 16, Mv 6/24, bite or sting. Sting 60%, poisonous)
Reaction or Does it Attack?: 
 1 yes, and it surprises the party
2-3 Yes, but roll for surprise
4- 5 No but check again, if not, then it flies away
6 = no and it flies away ]

A dark reptilian shaped shadow fell across the party. 

[6! WOO!!!!]

High above a large flying lizard like thing let out a scream, circled, and then flew away, northward.

The party let out a collective sigh of relief and proceeded to the recently discovered entrance.

Scene 3: Obstacle

Maglom and Runolf led the party past the intersection to their right, to the door to the Gnoll Shrine (see map room 31) at which point the party assumed door opening order. Eomond took the torch from Lykidas so Leegand could get to work.

[Detect traps: 8 (no) - but given that they exited this way before, we’ll assume it isn’t.
Hear noise: 4 (yes)
Is the door locked? 80, no, and easy to open

What does he hear? 57, moaning (DMG 1e)]

The party assumed door opening order, with Runolf and Maglom in front, the torch passed back to Lykidas. Everyone prepared for the worst.

The fighters forced the door open and...

Scene 4:  Room 31
The room appeared exactly as they left it. Tapping with the 10’ pole, Maglom hoped to trip any trap that might be set. Finding it safe, the party moved in.

They spread out a bit - with  four ways into the room they had a lot to cover - while Ygg spiked the the North and South door. Both doors on the East wall, which includes the one they came in, were left alone, in case they needed to beat a hasty retreat.

[Wandering monster check: 4, no]

The party formed a semi circle around Leegand and Eomond, who again, holds the torch.  Maglom dropped the 10’ pole in favor of her weapon.

[Does he find any traps? 1, yes (if there is one he finds it), is there any? He does find a trap - the door is the trigger.
Can he remove it? 16, no, he is unable to disable it. Does it trigger?

1 yes and it efffects this side of the door
2 yes but whatever it does is on the otherside
4 no but roll for wandering monsters again
6 no and all is clear

6 WOOO!!!]

The party resumed door opening mode and

Scene 5: The Discovery

The door opens into a 10’x30’ room with one exit in the middle of the south wall.

[I rolled 3 story cubes and got the following contents: Empty, but Shovel, Sad, Empty Fuel Gauge]

On the ground, three more dead orcs, obviously wounded and somewhat emaciated.

Runolf, Ygg, Zilliny and Maglom covered the doors, while Lykidas Eomond and Leegand searched the bodies.

[Do they find anything?
yes but it’s not much - just their weapons and that one of the bodies has a crossbow bolt stuck in it.

Dead awhile? 28, yes

Leegand checks the door:
Traps: 2, is it trapped? (60, door is stuck, 78, lock is not the trap, 37 door is not a trap trigger either)
Eomond gives it a try? 1, yes, 66 Rustlng

Wandering enconter: 2, nothing]

Door opening order and...

Scene 6: Another Discovery

The hallway ends in a door.

[Wandering Monster 4, nope. Change torches

Check door:
Leegand: 8, does not detect a trap,
Listens: 16
Is the door locked? 62, stuck not locked
Door is a trigger

Eomond listens:6, nothing

The door opens and...
1 yes and it triggers on this side of the door
2-3 yes but whatever it does is on the otherside, check to see who sets it off
4-5 no but check to see who sets it off on the other side
6 no and all is clear

5. Damn.

10’ POLE: 1!! ]

Scene 7: Obstacle
The 10’ pole triggered a hidden pit trap on the other side of the door.

Beyond the trap, a set of stairs led down. They opted not to try to get around it for now.

[Wandering monster: 2, no]

Scene 8: RP to decide what to do

The party debated:
Ygg and Zil. wanted to try any one of the stairways down, arguing it’s time for the party to be first for once, with all deference to the memory of the great parties that have gone before.

Eomond and Leegand argued that there are two doors remaining on this level on the existing map and it would forever nag at them if they didn't check them out.

Ygg suggested that they haven’t ever explored that part of the dungeon and so, in effect, it is unknown to them despite the few notes scribbled on the map about a mad king and evil priest.

[Does this sway the rest?25 yes.] 

With Lykidas, Runolf and Maglom agreeing that it might be more rewarding to explore an area untouched by the previous delves, the party chose to carefully work their way past the pit trip to take this new flight of stairs down to wherever it may lead.

Lykidas lit a new torch and they proceeded to the pit.

Scene 9: Crossing the Pit (obstacle)

To be continued....

Friday, December 5, 2014

Portable Wargame : Modern aka 1/32 WWII Antics on a Grid

I decided to play the same Escort the StuG scenario I played with Blitzkrieg Commander, but using Bob Cordery's Portable Wargame : Modern. All of his Portable Wargame rules can be found at this site.

My table is 4' x 4', divided into a grid of 6" squares and thus, 8 x 8.

Orders of Battle:
9 infantry units (3 platoons) 6 infantry units (2 platoons)
3 platoon leaders 2 platoon leaders
1 ATG 1 StuG
1 mortar1 Company Commander
1 Company Commander

German mission: Get the StuG across the table. Infantry are expendable.
USA mission: Destroy the StuG.

I diced for each side's approach. As fate would have it, the US would send 2 platoons around to their left while the center right platoon would fall back to hold the woods. The Germans would sweep to their own left, to cross the road south of the village.

Here's the setup, the US has quite an advantage of numbers, firepower and position.

The German infantry move slowly to avoid outpacing the StuG, which is stuck in the woods (movement reduced from 2 squares to 1). The US left platoon advances to the village, the right falls back to form a defensive line, per their orders.

Yes, the rubble pile in lower third of the picture moved from the 1st to 2nd turn. I had it in the wrong place!
I got too caught up in the action that followed to accurately record when the next two pictures were taken.

Below, US troops await the coming German force.

And here they come!

The battle was fast and furious; the US lost 4 or 5 squads, while the Germans lost two, with the StuG being hit repeatedly by mortar, ATG fire, and infantry close assault, but escaping destruction each time. 

(The StuG always rolled 5s and 6s to see what the result of a hit would be, and fell back 1 square each time, rather than be destroyed).

A brave squad made a last ditch close assault on the armored sides of the StuG but alas it was not to be. 

On the next German activation, the StuG made it off the table. German Victory. From set up to victory in 1 hour.

Of 3 games played, this was the first German success. In both the BKC game, and in the Big Board Portable Wargame, the StuG was destroyed.

Here's a picture I rather like, from the Big Board Portable Wargame played earlier in the day:

The layout I used was much more in line with my aesthetic preferences this time, and would have worked just as well with BKC. Note to self: if adapting a Crossfire scenario, go easy on the terrain and scenery.

Figures for the US are a mix of W. Britains and Toy Soldiers of San Diego. The exception being the ATG which is from Classic Toy Soldiers.

Figures for the Germans are a mix of Matchbox, Airfix and Classic Toy Soldiers.The StuG is 21st Century Toys.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Blitzkrieg Commander : Escort the StuG

Yesterday, I started having uncontrollable urges to play Blitzkrieg Commander again. 

After clicking around the Internet, I found a bunch of scenarios for company-level actions and came upon a number of Crossfire scenarios over on Lloydian Aspects.  (which I had bookmarked already, funny that). I liked the simplicity of the  "StuG smuggling" scenario, so that's what you see here, albeit shrunk down to a 3 x 4 playing surface, and with my 1/32 toys.

Unfortunately, as is often the case, it was too late to start gaming by the time I had the table setup. Luck was on my side though, and Pumpkin didn't launch the attack without me.

The mission for the Germans is to get the StuG off the opposite side of the table; infantry are entirely expendable. The US is there to try and stop them.

I got two turns in at lunch today. Here's the cluttered table after turn 2:

This is way more stuff than I usually put on the table - I tried to stick to the fact that the scenario was for Crossfire, which has tons of terrain and scenery. In retrospect, I probably should have used the whole 4 x 4 space, but as you can see peeking out the top of the frame, there's a pile of junk I would have to move.

It isn't pretty, but, still, I think it looks like playing toy soldiers.