Category Archives: Miniatures

Case Study – The Demise of Alien Dungeon (and All Quiet on the Martian Front)


I rarely reblog another guys article, since there’s always something to write about. However, I was working on a piece on my mystification and bafflement about the disappearance of Alien Dungeon. Blaine Pardoe does a better job than I could, and his observations are spot on.

Background: Alien Dungeon is a small company from MD that specializes in miniature games of a fantasy and/or science fictional subject matter. They have had a few releases so far, mostly funded by Kickstarters. The first big release, Fantacide, was released with a lot of fanfare and some amazing miniatures, but I think it would be honest to say it didn’t catch on.

Their second big hit was ALL QUIET ON THE MARTIAN FRONT, which WAS a big hit. Their first Kickstarter release, which was delayed many weeks, was a major sell out. New units have been released since (also funded by Kickstarters). The last Kickstarter abruptly closed without comment, the website went down, and the company has been out of communication for almost two months now. What happened? Read on.

Notes From The Bunker

All Quiet Three Legged Stompy Fun

Back in May of 2013 Alien Dungeon launched a Kickstarter to fund a new miniatures game, All Quiet on the Martian Front – aka AQotMF.  This was a miniatures game of the Martian invasion of the world, ala H. G. Wells, with a hint of steampunk.  Taking place prior to WWI in the mundane world, the Kickstarter was a big success, receiving over $300,000.00 of the $50k target goal. The rules for the game were written by Rick Priestley, a seasoned game writer.  There was a lot of promise here.  Prototypes of the miniatures appeared in the Kickstarter leading us to all believe that the company had laid out all of the groundwork to be successful.

My Martians

They delivered product too, albeit many months late.  Some of the products, like some the big land battleships were not delivered, and other product was cancelled outright – with offers…

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Small Wars: Frostgrave, what’s it all about


Today’s SMALL WARS post is about FROSTGRAVE, the new-ish fantasy skirmish game set in the frost shrouded city that gives the game its name. Frostgrave is a game of magic, combat, looting and exploration that combines a little old and a little new with a strong fantasy narrative element that fosters both a connected campaign game and good storytelling.


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Amidst the frozen ruins of an ancient city, wizards battle in the hopes of discovering the treasures of a fallen empire. In this fantasy skirmish wargame, each player takes on the role of a wizard from one of ten schools of magic, and builds his band of followers. The wizard’s apprentice will usually accompany his master, and more than a dozen other henchman types are available for hire, from lowly thugs to heavily armoured knights and stealthy thieves. Wizards can expand their magical knowledge by unlocking ancient secrets and may learn up to 80 different spells. While individual games of Frostgrave are quick and can easily be played in an hour or two, it is by connecting them into an ongoing campaign that players will find the most enjoyment. The scenarios given in the book are merely the beginning of the limitless adventures that can be found amidst the ruins of the Frozen City. [Osprey Publishing]

[editorial note— I use the phrase “blue line” here to represent most of Osprey Publishing’s recent output of low-cost, introductory miniature game rules on a myriad of subjects, both historical and fantastical, because of their distinctive use of the color blue on the cover.  Osprey does not use this term as far as I know]

frostgraveFrostgrave came out from Osprey Publishing earlier this year (2015), with the usual minimal fanfare I associate with an Osprey wargame release– I knew nothing about this game, then suddenly it was on the Osprey publisher table at wargame conventions, on Amazon, and there was some online buzz associated with it, about as much as any other “blue series” Osprey wargame– one more among the horde of releases, in my opinion.  Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE the blue line series of rules, and I’m happy that Osprey is stepping up to the plate and supporting the natural marriage of great historical art and somewhat okay wargame rules at a very affordable price.  I especially like the Kindle releases of said rules, for various reasons.  I do think the flood of releases tends to create a “cult of the new” effect, when Osprey Publishing might be better employed releasing fewer rulebooks a year and doing the legwork associated with new entertainment products– building some social media buzz, energizing a fan base, recruiting some GMs to run high-profile demo games, etc.  For all I know, this is being done, somewhere, I just haven’t seen much of it in the historical miniatures community.  A quick look at the Preliminary Events List (PEL) at a recent Historical theme miniatures convention (Fall-IN! 2015) showed few, if any, games being run from Osprey publishing previous line of blue line rules.  That’s including In Her Majesty’s Name, a blue line game release that came out with lots of fanfare, two expansion books and a series of excellent 28mm figures from Northstar Miniatures.   In Her Majesty’s Name has only been out since the middle of 2014, and already, well, nada… and it’s a great little game, too!

One game I did start to notice being run at conventions (including Fall-IN!) was Frostgrave, released in the first half of 2015, was not following the “blue line pattern”.  First of all, it’s not a thin paperback, not that there is anything wrong with that.  The print edition is a large format hardcover, with extensive and vibrant illustration throughout.  It’s also 96 pages, which is quite a bit more extensive then the smaller paperbacks.  That’s not all fluff and superfluous stuff, either, but lots and lots of supporting material for the game, including campaign options, but we’ll get to that shortly.

To characterize Frostgrave by a certain type, it’s a points-based, fantasy themed skirmish game set in a consistent universe, namely of various parties investigating the ruins of an ancient city of Frostgrave.  If that sounds familiar to gamers with longer memories, yes, this has been done before as a game– namely Mordheim, by Games Workshop.   Mordheim used a very similar framework for a fantasy skirmish game back in 1999, where small bands of adventurers explored another ancient city for the same motivations– treasure and glory.  Mordheim was a big hit back in its day and (in my recollection) a pretty good small skirmish set– I have seen it adapted to many other settings besides fantasy, including a WW2 game I played in.  One of the selling points of Mordheim was the continuous campaign concept, which is also a feature of Frostgrave, and I suspect will contribute to Frostgrave having a longer shelf life.

Wizards, Schools, Spells and Warbands

The primary focus of Frostgrave is the individual Wizard character.  These are not the wimpy magic users of old D&D.   These are tough, hard-bitten specialists that live lives of adventure, plundering ruins, stealing loot, and they are not shy about reaching for some iron when the magic runs low.  Wizards study at ten schools of magic.  Schools of magic form complex relationships with each other– some being aligned, some being opposed, and some neutral.  This effects spells selection,and in a greater sense, how the game will play out tactically.

Chronomancy
Elementalism
Enchantment
Illusionist
Necromancy
Sigilism
Soothsaying
Summoning
Thaumaturge
Witchery
Table 1: Schools of Wizardy

Each school has a list of spells associated with it (See table 2) and he or she must choose EIGHT of them to start. Three must come from the Wizard’s OWN school of magic, one must come from each of the three ALIGNED schools of magic, and the last two must be from any of the five NEUTRAL schools of magic.  Each description of a school has a small table outlining alliances, neutral schools and opposing schools to make it clear.

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Table 2: Spell list per School

All of these spells have their strengths and weaknesses.  I think this is one of the detail areas that really lends a certain color to Frostgrave games.  Most of these spells are firmly within the “flavor” of their School and caster-type.  Illusionists rely on perception spells, such as Monstrous Form and Beauty.  Elementalists are kind of like magic style Green Lanterns, summoning big Elemental hammers and bolts and shields.  Chronomancy spells localize “something” and allow it to pass through time– causing decay, crumbling, and petrification, but also speeding someone up really well.  If you are at all versed in fantasy style roleplaying games, you know about all you need to know about the background to Frostgrave’s magic and wizardry.  There’s nothing particularly new about it to any avid fantasy geek.

The Wizard’s existence is summed up as a collection of statistics (called a stat line) describing how he performs.. none of that is particularly new to a roleplaying fan– Move, Fight, Shoot, Armour, Will and Health.  The higher the number, the better.  I’m from the “people move a certain way, swing a sword a certain way, fire shooty things in a certain way, defend in a certain way and run away when they don’t want to hang out any more” school of design.  In other words, all the actions defined by the “stat line” are, and should be, generic.  There just isn’t a need for that much detail there.  Frostgrave gets high marks from me for making all this stuff as simple as possible.

Warbands are another critical element to this game.  Wizards may have spells at the ready but it’s suicide to enter the ruins of Frostgrave alone.  A smart wizard recruits some cannon fodder erm, hirelings to accompany them into the ruins.  The wizard gets 500 gold crowns (GC) to hire muscle on a points/cost basis.  A must-have is an Apprentice Wizard for 200 GC.  He (or she) is a little insurance for long campaign games where the boss wizard might perish from wounds.  The Apprentice can rise up and take the boss’s place, and hire another apprentice!  There is a wide range of potential hirelings from the rulebook that can bulk up the wizard’s followers into a proper warband (see table 3).  In addition, the FRPG savvy Frostgrave player can probably add anything that seems to fit into this table, as long as it has a workable stat line associated with it.

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Table 3: Warband Hirelings (from the Frostgrave rulebook)

This is another area that adds color and customization to the game.  I could easily see slinking into Frostgrave, my Wizard being followed by his hireling thief, assassin, and infantrymen.

What do we do with all this stuff?

So you have some miniatures painted, and warbands assembled and some decent terrain put together?  What next?  You actually get into the mechanics of playing the game.  Don’t worry, they’re very easy to pick up.

  1. Initiative
  2. Action Phases in this order:
    1. Wizard
    2. Apprentice
    3. Soldier
    4. Creature

That’s pretty much the bulk of the game sequence.  Action Phases allow each active agent to perform two actions– moving, shooting, casting a spell, etc.  Combat is pretty simple skirmish stuff.  If you have played a skirmish miniatures wargame of ANY kind, including historical, all of this is fairly familiar to you.  Movement hampered or boosted by terrain, objects as cover, melee when bases come into contact, etc etc.  As I’ve alluded to above, I favor a KISS principle for running miniature skirmish games and Frostgrave is all about simplicity.  I’m not criticizing, here.  I think the familiarity that many experienced players will bring to this game is a big strength.  Frostgrave is like comfort food.. meatloaf rather than Pâté, to be sure, but it’s still a tasty meal.   There are some chrome elements of the game– critical hits and the like, and casting spells is a process that can be heavily modified by the tactical situation, but all of this is rather well defined and easy to understand.

Victory (kind of), or the long game

“Winning” is an open ended concept with Frostgrave.  You can score points by gathering treasure, but the real winner is the guy with troops (and most importantly, a living Wizard) who live to loot another day.  Frostgrave plays very well as a one-off 2-3 hour long skirmish game in a fantasy setting, but I think the game really shows its true colors when you start playing campaigns, which the rulebook concerns itself with from chapter 3 onward. There’s a certain satisfaction watching your characters grow with experience.  I haven’t seen that since.. since.. Mordheim, actually!   I have yet to play anything but a couple of quick skirmish games, myself, but the game left me wanting to continue my character from game to game.  If you want a good workable campaign system for fantasy combat, this is the game for you.

In Summary

I think Osprey Publishing has developed a great little game in Frostgrave.  There’s nothing extremely innovative about the game itself– if I could sum it up in a sentence, I’d say that Osprey has taken the fast melee sequence out of a D&D dungeon crawl and called it a skirmish game.  Before I get grief for that statement, understand that I think that’s a great thing.  Many people don’t have the time for long drawn out roleplaying sessions where they build the game narrative through repetitive trips to town to buy things, research things, interact with the local tavern and government.  Frostgrave assumes this is taking place off screen and focuses on the bare-knuckle brawl once the action starts.  I like this approach a lot– it’s about as RPG as I can get at my age and level of commitment.  The game is very well supported by Osprey and supporting material is already being published.  I just picked up Thaw of the Lich Lord and I believe other publications are about to drop or are scheduled for early 2016.   Northstar Figures, whom Osprey partnered with for the In Her Majesty’s Name game (and expansions), is producing quality 28mm figures to represent the primary wizard types, with apprentices, war band soldiers and some summoned creatures.  These are in the popular 28mm scale and can be easily supplemented with standard FRPG miniatures or GW Fantasy figures.

 Northstar Figures Frostgrave miniatures

I have a few of Northstar Figures wizard packs and will be painting them up shortly and blogging about the project, like one does.

In FROSTGRAVE, Osprey Publishing has found a system with legs that plays fast, can be taught quickly to novices, and is big and colorful with a wide-open fantasy milieu.  It’s already being played at conventions and I suspect it will grow in popularity as long as Osprey keeps supporting it.  Osprey should probably develop an outrider-style program for GMs who want to run Frostgrave at cons, as I could easily see this game gaining some traction in the upcoming year.  Well done, Osprey.

 

 

Small Wars; Ramshackle Games automobile combat add-ons and bits.


In today’s Small Wars we’re looking at the latest from Ramshackle Games, a great UK company that seems to specialize in items post-apocalyptic, but don’t pigeonhole them with that category as they have a wide variety of other items, mostly Fantasy, SF, Steampunk and (of course) Post Apocalyptic.  Mostly 28mm but they have their own 20mm line for adapting to car combat games that utilize matchbox and hot wheels cars, and that’s what I’m looking at today.  The “20mm Car Converstion Kit” came in the post yesterday and I have to say, you get a lot of value for your £20.00

Guns, rocket pods, etc. Sculpted pretty huge for the scale.

Included in the pack are: 8 drivers, in post-apocalyptic rig, driving.  2 turrets for larger weapons (you have a range to choose from), 2 manned gun shields with your choice of huge bulky weapon to insert.  2 bolt on rocket pods.  A wide variety of huge heavy weapons, somewhat oversized.  Kind of a strap on bolter effect.  most of these are sculpted with a flat end for sticking into a turret or manned gun shield, but those that don’t are sculpted with a flat bottom for easy mounting on diecast cars.  There are also 8 gunners in various poses, some sculpted firing a support weapon, some sculpted holding an assault weapon at high port.

Gunners and Drivers

The crew are interesting and very post-apoc in theme, but also very tiny compared to other 20mm lines.  The 20mm post-apoc cultists and gangers put out by Stan Johanssen are larger and somewhat bulkier than these drivers.  Here’s the thing though: Matchbox and Hot Wheels cars come in a variety of scales– and there are many cars that just don’t fit a regular 20mm figure well.  I think Ramshackle takes this into account– they aren’t huge but they do get very narrow in the hips which will help you fit them into tiny car cockpits.   So points for that!

Armor bits for various locations on a vehicle scaled roughly 1:72 or 20mm.

Hands down, this is my favorite part of this package.  The conversion parts come with 8 bolt on armor bits, sculpted to be metal slabs with rivets or corrugated metal of some sort.  There are also two big Rams roughly shaped like a bulldozer blade, and some “thing” that might be a rocket or a bolt on jet engine.  These parts are big, rough, rude and very very Post Apoc in theme!  I wish Ramshackle would just double up on these and maybe cut back on something else like the gunner figures.  I’m already figuring out what vehicles to use these with.

General comments: The guns are scaled way large for the figures, but that is the Ramshackle style.. absurdly large guns that look kind of like old WH40K bolters.  I have no issue with this as it adds a kind of comical element to the finished product, and what the heck, why not?  They are larger than Stan Johansen guns, about on par with Brigade Games’ Car conversion pack.  The drivers and gunners going to look tiny versus Stan Johansen driver and gunner figures, hands down.  However, Stan Jo’s drivers don’t fit every Matchbox and Hot Wheels either, so these might be more useful than you think.  The armor is worth the money in itself and I liked the rocket pods.  I wish we could get more armor, less gunners, but in any event, I liked what I got.  You’ll be fudging it a little bit to get it to work on every car conversion but thats pretty much the case with everything.  Kind of a mixed bag, but still very useful.  Recommended and a big thumbs up to Ramshackle Games for releasing some very useful bits indeed.

Now this is a development that might make me change my mind about GW


If you’ve been reading this blog for a few years now, you’ll have already noticed.. “Misternizz isn’t the biggest Games Workshop fan”.. and you’d be right.  I think they are a gang of bullies, price-fixers and legal thugs.  One of the most popular blog posts I’ve ever written was a statement of my disgust with GW back in 2011, after their latest price hikes and attempts to control distrubution (It still gets a ton of hits).   It’s not a popular viewpoint to have, but that’s life, go have fun with overpriced resin figures if you don’t agree with me.   Frankly, it’s easy to take this stand, so it’s kind of hypocritical.. it’s not like GW really produces a current product that remotely interests me.  I think WH40K and WF are simplistic to the core, kind of stupid and they continue to look “creaky” in the face of modern game design.  (I’m not going to talk about cost here, I’ve covered that elsewhere).  I meant it when I said I said there’s nothing that would tempt me to buy another GW product ever again.

However, even Nixon can go to China.

An intriguing note has been circulating on bulletin boards and websites, allegedly from Games Workshop itself.  See below.

What does this mean?  That the games that actually DO show some design innovation and originality MIGHT ACTUALLY SEE PRINT AGAIN?  Well, sod this.. this is tempting.  I’d love to get Epic and Battlefleet Gothic.  It’s not that I think they are better designed than a lot of products on the market now, or that they would do spectacularly well in the face of competition in their niche from modern products.  There’s a lot more competition now and frankly, from better designed games competing in the same shelf space.

There’s just something so damned cool about those baroque style spaceships in Battlefleet Gothic.. and the giant field crowded with little tiny W40K figures in Epic.
Dang, pretty tempting.  And I know they won’t be reprinted after this while I’m still breathing.  Hmm… rubbing chin.  How easy it is for the Devil to tempt me from the path of righteousness.

MORE INFORMATION HERE: Link

Figures that demand “there’s a game in there, I just have to find it”


Have you ever come across a line of figures that, really, you’d love to game with because they’re just fantastic, but there’s no real *game* associated with them?  This happens to me frequently.  There they sit, on the shelf, trying to send you a message and getting under your skin.  Like wearing too-tight underwear, it gets annoying, but not in that bad way.

Some TEN years ago I found the perfect Flashman figures.  (if the Flashman reference is vague to you, read here, then go and read the books and thank me).  They were made by Chiltern miniatures, which appears to have ceased being an independent concern back in 2012. They were beautiful and huge.  Not really 28mm, more like 33mm, and not matching anything I currently had in my collection, which was on the upper side of 25mm and lower side of 28mm.  They were posed exactly like the old illustrations of the novels.  Go to Amazon.com to see the comparison, and check against published pictures here, here and here.  It’s impressive sculpting.  I loved them and if you read the 2005 blog post, I bought every one of them, admired them, then put them in a drawer.

From TMP.

Why? It’s a favorite character of mine, isn’t it?  Sure it is.  The problem is how they are cast.  I could overcome the “they are huge” factor by fudging here and there, that’s not the real issue.  It’s just.. what KIND of game would they ever be used in?  A small skirmish?  Really?  Sure, Flashman is bellicose, but he’s really sculpted for a tableau here– I doubt there are many shoot-em-up war games that require a figure dressed in cricket togs or as the Crown Prince of Denmark.   I’m sure I could jam a figure into a full up skirmish game but he’s really sculpted to accompany figures from a pre-defined narrative.. the books.  So we’re back to where we started.. what kind of game could I make from these?  A roleplaying game set in the 19th Century British Empire?  Now that’s possible.  Sadly that might require a much bigger supporting cast of figures, and since most of the Chiltern figures didn’t match anything else of mine, into a drawer they went. Maybe I’ll flea market them some day.    The problem was I just couldn’t make a game out them.. and not being a rare figure collector, what’s the point?

The pre-written narrative is the challenge.  If it’s too restrictive, you can only do so much with it.  Another example.. I found a bunch of figures that were designed for Army of Darkness.  These were from Leading Edge, a company that specialized in reproducing miniatures directly from science fiction and horror films.  I think they are out of business, as well.

Well, there’s the rub.. I could definitely make a game out of it.   And that game would have to be something pretty close to “A bunch of undead critters storm a medieval castle in search of an unholy book to steal”.  Mind you, I wouldn’t mind that premise, I LOVE Army of Darkness’ final battle sequence.  I just can’t see making any OTHER game than the scenario these figures were cast specifically for.   I can easily find dozens of skellies, zombies and such in roughly the right scale, and paint them up.  I even have a Warhammer Mighty Fortress that might do the trick for the castle.  But, but.. is there any OTHER kind of game I could make here?  Probably a few smaller scale ideas like skirmish games and such.  Ash at the Windmill.. Ash in the desert.. etc.  But it would always be what it is, a game about the movie Army of Darkness..  not a bad objective, but it isn’t flexible.

When I was at Fall-IN! 2015, I finally bought a few packs of figures I’ve been passing by for a couple years now.  These are in the pulp range in 28mm:

In case you haven’t figure it out, these are figures of: Orthodox priests, Monty Python’s “Nobody Expects the Spanish Inquisition” figures, More modern priests and altar boy figures, Middle Eastern Women with Burkhas, and Orthodox Jews.  All with guns.

I’ve loved this line for a long time, and I knew someday I’d buy them (and others like them), it’s just the age old problem.. “Sure these are great figures, but what kind of game can you make with them?”   And after having a palaver with Otto Schmidt last weekend, we hit upon a great idea for a game that could every one of these figures and more like them:

What if the Apocalypse had happened?  Just not the one you were expecting?  What if.. everyone in this figure line was a character in Heaven?  Yes, that heaven.  Fluffy clouds, Doric Columns, Harp playing (if you want).  I love this idea.. the figures are sculpted as if ready for a big gunfight.  They all are playing into perceptions of Intolerance.. as if the player is getting a message that ‘to WIN, I must start shooting the nearest THEM group”.  What if that wasn’t “winning” at all?  What would they do?  After all, they are in heaven.  God wouldn’t want them to kill each other.  It’s heaven!  They made the grade!  They are here, they made it!

“But, but but… what about that group of people over there?  Aren’t I supposed to, you know, hate them?”  The ensuing game could be a lot of fun, but I could see where people might resent it.  Still, I like the idea and I’m going forward with it.  I just need to buy some suicide bombers and virgins now.

Small Wars: Leonardo and his tiny tanks


LEONARDO and “Leonardo Style” TANK, 15mm.co.uk

HOT102 Leonardo Da Vinci

HOT101 Da Vinci Tank

These arrived last night, about a week after ordering them overseas from http://www.15mm.co.uk/  15mm.co.uk is a figure distributor that focuses primarily on Science Fiction and Fantasy miniatures in the 15mm scale, which I am gaming in more and more these days.  I like a full battlefield.  Gavin Syme appears to be the alpha dog of that operation.

15mm.co.uk recently announced the release of some interesting figures.  A single man figure of the great inventor, Leonardo Da Vinci, both standing and riding on a pony (I’m guessing).  Concurrent with the Leonardo figure they released a 15mm scale tank based on one of the Great Builder’s most fascinating marginalia sketches:

Leonardo was and is famous for leaving enigmatic drawings like this all over the margins of his notebooks, which provides game designers and fiction writers with all kinds of ideas about armored warfare in a Renaissance age.  Sadly, there is no definitive proof that any of these more modern ideas were ever built.  That hasn’t stopped people envisioning it, however.  I have a 15mm Leonardo army that is pretty much all based for HOTT and painted up.. and suffers from a lack of opponents.   I have organ guns and hand gunners and even a glider.  The tanks were problematic.  I actually made one by using a Motts applesauce container (with a wood grain pattern), turned up side down and with craft wheels added on the bottom and a large bombard made from a craft wood bit.  The result looks pretty great, actually.. but NOTHING like the original drawing above.  I also tried buying a plastic kit, which looked pretty spiff but it is overwhelmingly large when used with 15mm forces.  Needless to say I was quite happy to see this advert from Gavin and company, and ordered a sample forthwith.

Some pictures.
  The tank comes in two pieces of cast resin, top half and bottom. The cast was mostly clean with minimal flashing which came off with an exacto knife. I didn’t have time to do much with it last night, except glue the top to the bottom with crazy glue. The two sides bonded together reasonably well, but in retrospect it wouldn’t hurt to sand both sides that glue together with fine sandpaper to facilitate the weld a little better. The bottom and top halves are totally flat out of the box and might slide on you. Sizewise, the tank seems smallish next to a 15mm figure but it is probably more accurate than many models I have tried in this scale.

Top View. Wish I had put something in to demonstrate scale.

Bottom half of Leonardo tank detail

The distinctive row of light bore cannons around the bottom of the tank are managed with some rudimentary cannon barrels that will be glued around the bottom in short order.

The Leonardo figure combination is of the Great Inventor standing and gesticulating with a drawing (tank blueprint?) in his left hand, as if he is displaying a handbill or trying to make an important point to either a fellow engineer or mercenary captain. I like this sculpt, it has personality. The accompanying riding figure is pretty much Leo riding on a very small horse or pony, giving off a somewhat placid feel.

Leonardo standing and riding.

Sizewise the Leo figure scales well with my Renaissance army, which is a combination of Minifigs, Essex and Rank and File. I think the Vexillia infantry might be a little too substantial but if you gave Leo a thick base he might look the right height.

Conclusions

This is a great addition to my 15mm Renaissance HOTT army. Leo will make a fine leader figure in either riding or standing incarnations. I’m going to keep my applesauce tank because of the heavy bombard. I’ve seen some representations of the classic Leonardo design with a larger caliber gun barrel (mostly in video games) but the tank by 15mm.co.uk is quite rightfully more “historically” accurate. So my applesauce tank will be the heavy siege gun that stays in the back field, lobbing shells, as my armor sweeps forward supporting the infantry. I plan to buy 3 more at least of the tank model, and I sincerely hope 15mm.co.uk plans on expanding the Leonardo Da Vinci line from this great beginning.

Taranto Progress… Planes almost done


Surprisingly, I’m making a fair amount of progress quickly.


23 Pico Armor Fairey Swordfish models are assembled, painted (rudimentary style) and 21 are even mounted on bases precariously on wires.  I will bump the final count up to 24 so I can have 8 teams of 3 in the final game.  21 flew the historical mission in two waves.  I will have the real pilots names on all the bases (and 3 fictional pilots).  I have 8 Fulmar aircraft, only 1 of which is shown above.  Records indicated Fulmars flew as combat escorts, I’m not sure how I will include them.  It might be fun to have a range of hypotheticals included on the Italian side, including possible support from the Regio Aeronautica.  I’ve ordered some period Italian planes to cause havoc in the future.  i need to touch up the paint jobs, add some detailing and decals, and they are finished.

I’ve got barrage balloons in various stages of completion, these proved to be easy, but I’ll need another order of them.  I have 10 AA tokens painted up, and I just got ten more on EBay.  I’m going with an zone style approach to anti-aircraft fire.  The Italian response was vigorous but inaccurate historically.  The ships all had various AA factors and it seems to be clear that they participated in defensive fire as well as gun emplacements.  I might nominate an AA gun range and give each ship a choice of which plane to target per turn, and that plane gets another AA roll against it.

The fleet is done– painted, based and labeled with names.

Next step is to figure out terrain.

Swordfishes, Fulmars and Barrage Balloons, a laugh a minute


Checking in with the Taranto 1940 project, I’ve finished assembling the Fairey Swordfish aircraft from Pico Armor, which were an ungodly pain in the butt to do.  The top wing doesn’t fit snugly with the rest of the aircraft, see, so you have to glue it, then hold it until it dries.  It’s no a quick process and results in gap filler glue all over your fingers after a while.

Two Swordfish and one Fairey Fullmar

Of course, the mounting on flight stand drill isn’t very straightforward, either. I had to drill the holes out a little using a tiny drillbit. Then I’m mounting them on art wire mounted on a series of MDC squares about 30mm wide. I know, they aren’t painted in this picture. I wanted to test the setup. I’m going to paint the rest of them BEFORE mounting them, but I wanted to see if it works or not before going to a lot of trouble.

I like the Pico Armor planes but the Fairey Swordfish is not my favorite– it’s not made very well, the drilling, mounting, drying and fiddling about element is very high.. so this process is going to take a while, lots of hands on piece work involved and I have about 30 planes to mount. The Fullmars by contrast, come together very quickly and seem to balance on the end of the wire better than the Swordfish do. There has to be a better way…

The Barrage Balloons from Shapeways

One pleasant surprise were the barrage balloons I picked up from Shapeways, the 3D printer miniatures company. These are in scale with the Italian fleet (and there were about 20 in the air, so this works in terms of scaling). My idea is to mount two per small 20mm MDC round base, and place there here and there around the fleet, adding to the difficulty of making the torpedo runs. The models themselves come mounted 20 per small sprue and pop right off. You knock the stem off and drill right into the base of where the stem was straight up, and it mounts snugly and easily onto the art wire. Finally, something easy!

I still want to find an easier way to mound the Swordfish, this part of the job is pretty tedious. However, I am making lots of progress towards getting this game done. It won’t be ready for Fall IN! but it will be for Cold Wars.

On other fronts, I picked up tokens for Anti aircraft batteries (Axis and Allies AA Guns painted up) and torpedo markers from Litko. I’m slightly disappointed with the torpedo markers.. the ink is very faded and the torpedo is kind of hard to discern, I’ll have to end up touching them up with paint.

New vehicles for White Line Fever


IMG_0164

I resolved to not make any more WLF vehicles.  After all, I have more than 60 of them.  No need for any more than that.  Then a couple of things happened.  Lon Weiss from Brigade models started marketing a series of add-on accessories for Matchbox and Hot Wheels post-apocalyptic vehicles, I discovered the tank commander figure in 20mm which I bought a few of from various sources, and finally I discovered the Tank Commander and Stowage Sprues from Toy Soldier Company, all of it in 20mm.  This last bit is a cornucopia of useful in scale bits to add detailing to you post-apocalyptic masterpieces.  Tarps, cables, gas cans, pieces of track (why not?), and infantry weapons slung here and there.  I like the concept of adding more detail, so I decided, eh, what the heck.  A few more won’t hurt, and what I really want to do is retrofit a few of the existing vehicles, particularly with open cockpits, with either tank commander torsos or new weapons.  Or both.  Both Matchbox and Hot Wheels don’t design their vehicles to accommodate an in scale 20mm driver– they cheat and make the floorboard very narrow on most models.  so most actually sitting down figures won’t do the job.  Tank commander figures are a pretty good compromise.. nobody is going to notice they are legless.

Herewith are the new and retrofitted vehicles so far:

The General Lee. Just because. I filthed it up with some post-apocalyptic grime but otherwise I left it as is.

Sand Brother buggy. This is a RETROFIT. Added: a gunner poking out from the center window, and a tank commander leaning out to the left to see better.

Small RETROFIT for the Sand King buggy. Added: Tank Commander driver (with red helmet). Now somebody’s driving this thing!

Found a hovercraft Matchbox car! Not much to say here. I cut off the wheels and puttied up the wheel wells, painted the air cushion black, the vehicle dirty brown, and canopy opaqued. I’ve only added one weapon: the oil sprayer (not on yet in this photo), which is mounted under the fans in back– there really aren’t any mount points on this thing except there. I envision this vehicle as being able to go over Scum Pits without sinking or dissolving, so they are better off road than most vehicles. The oil spray will be a nasty surprise for anyone following it!

Small REFIT for a Ford Falcon XB GT coupe, which I was going to make a Pursuit special from the Mad Max movie, then changed my mind. I added a tarp for covering the vehicle from the desert winds, and a mine dropper. I am re-christening this one BIG SURPRISE.

One of two– the Sisters of Battle. These are two meter maid vehicles I couldn’t pass up. I mounted a Sonic Scrambler on top. This is one of the Brigade Games new accessory weapons. I picture this as being a weapon that can target drivers and gunners only.

Doc and Marty’s ride. The DeLorean from Back to the Future is a new find I HAD to add to the mix. I added a military laser cannon on the roof (from Brigade Games) and just filthed it up, apocalypse style.

Old Number 21, an ancient demolition derby car with attitude. I found this on a thrift store table for a nickel. Added: tank track armor on the front grill (equivalent to a ram plate), A HMG on the hood from Brigade Games, an Armor Slab on the back from Brigade Games, and wheel plates fashioned from tank wheel plates on the hubs. Seriously badass.

Some kind of Galvanic/Rocket car from hot wheels. I picked it up for the flaming zap in the front, which I need to repaint. I just filthed it up, added some trim in gold and a tank commander driver.

The Gypsy Kings. A new faction, similar to Scrappers. These guys favor the Harpoon Gun (from Brigade Guns), and their cars are a mix of stowage items from brigade games and the tank commander stowage sprues. See why I like Convertibles in this game? They come out looking great!

An impressive looking Sand Buggy with a new Ram Plate/beak, a flamethrower, some stowage items, and a tank commander driver.
I like this one, very dramatic looking.

Deadex, because I had to pick up a rival for the Disgruntled Postal Worker truck I already have. I added a gatling gun from Brigade Games, a ram plate (spikey) from the same source, and a gunner figure up top with a shotgun. I also put a trap door up top.

Safari Vehicle. Light Recoilless Rocket gun, Added: Crew, driver and gunner (Driver a Tank CDR) , Gunner from Stan Johansen. Also added some scrap metal in the bed and stowage behind the gunner to keep him upright.

REFIT to a tracked vehicle I was having trouble using. Added: Laser cannon, some bits from Toy Soldier tank cdr and stowage sprue that look like heavy duty batteries for the laser.

Another refit of a hard to use vehicle.. Added: two heavy rockets from Brigade Games’ Vehicle Accesories, a small autocannon from Stan Johansen, improvised blast shields using Styrene plastic and a driver from Stan Johansen.

REFIT of Sand Brother buggy. Added: Crew and Machine Pistol, ammo crate, gas can and rolled tarp all from Toy Soldier Tank CDR sprue,

The OTHER Sister of Battle, this time with a Gunner from Stan Johansen and a dart gun from Brigade Games. The rest of it is improvised.

How mines will work. Drop a token behind the car. roll a tiny dice and place on the marker. The number you roll against to check to see if there’s an explosion. Roll twice on the boom table if it goes up.

Well, there you go. I am liking the new accessories in the Brigade Games line, even if they are pretty big!

Let’s talk about that Taranto Project


Taaaarrrraaaannnttoooo!

“Taranto, and the night of November 11–12, 1940, should be remembered for ever as having shown once and for all that in the Fleet Air Arm the Navy has its most devastating weapon.” — Admiral Andrew Cunningham, British Commander at Taranto

So what’s this all about?

During the first year of World War II, the Italians were a not insubstantial threat to Allied war aims in the Mediterranean Sea.  From their position at the tip of the Italian “boot”, the Italian Regia Marina possessed a geographical superiority over the English and French: from land bases, they could reach out and affect just about all of the Western Mediterranean ocean– including having the ability to strike nearby Malta and interdict naval convoys to the North African theater, and resupply Axis forces there.  Without building expensive aircraft carriers, which suited the Italians right down to the ground.  The ships of Regia Marina were a significant strategic threat that the Royal Navy had anticipated as early as 1936, when the seeds for an air raid plan had first been drawn up.   After war had begun in earnest, Admiral Sir Andrew Cunningham dusted off the old 1936 plan and created OPERATION JUDGEMENT, a plan for an air raid on Taranto Harbor, located at the “instep” of the boot of Italy.   The goals of the air raid would be to damage or destroy as much of the Italian fleet as possible, by bombing and torpedo attacks.

Compared to later operations, the RN did not have a lot to work with.  The principle British Naval attack plane was the Fairy Swordfish, this was a biplane that was by general consensus considered antiquated before the first shot was fired.   The swordfish was slow, it had a low ceiling, it was covered with fabric(!).  However, it was extremely stable and had an excellent ability to loiter over targets.  Swordfish pilots were genuinely affectionate about their aircraft, dubbing them the “Stringbag” for reasons unknown. [editorial note: “Stringbag” comes from the fabric construction and multiple guidewires to keep the wings intact, see the note in comments below. ]

Here’s a little footage of the Stringbag in the air with a torpedo load.  (Video no longer embedded– the owner doesn’t want to share it.  Go here instead)

Accordingly Admiral Cunningham had 21 Fairy Swordfish modified drastically for the long haul to Taranto from the Southwest.  [editorial note: apparently not that drastic, the extra fuel tank conversion (removing the observer seat) wasn’t unheard of, see note in comment below]  The middle seat was converted to a giant extended fuel tank.  The attack was divided into three waves, with bombs and flares being dropped to distract the Italian fleet response while the torpedo planes made their runs.  The resulting attack went astonishingly well for the British.  The Italian fleet was devastated– losing half its operational fleet in an evening:

  • Conte di Cavour had a large hole in the hull, and permission to ground her was withheld until it was too late, so her keel touched the bottom at a deeper depth than intended. 27 of the ship’s crew were killed and over 100 more wounded. In the end, only her superstructure and main armament remained above water. She was subsequently raised and was still undergoing repairs when Italy switched sides in the war, so she never returned to service
  • Caio Duilio had only a slightly smaller hole  and was saved by running her aground.
  • Littorio had considerable flooding caused by three torpedo hits. Despite underwater protection (the ‘Pugliese’ system, standard in all Italian battleships), the damage was extensive, although actual damage to the ship’s structures was relatively limited (the machinery was intact). Casualties were 32 crewmen killed and many wounded. She was holed in three places. She too was saved by running her aground. Despite this, in the morning, the ship’s bows were totally submerged.

Map of the ship dispositions in Taranto harbor that evening. With the barrage balloons up and AA emplacements situated, this was not a cakewalk for the Fleet Air Arm pilots.

Overnight, the balance of power in the Mediterranean had changed drastically.  The operational Italian fleet vessels were immediately transferred North to Naples.   This put them out of easy striking range of Malta.  Although they would play a role in the Med during the ensuing 3 years (until the fall of Mussolini), they would never be the strategic threat they were in 1940 again.

So, why am I interested in this battle?  You mean, beyond the high drama of a desperate gamble on the part of the Royal Navy?  Lots of reasons.  Taranto is the first coordinated attack by a fleet air arm on a major fleet to occur in history.  It served as the blueprint for the Pearl Harbor raid a year later.  Most of all, it just seems such an improbable victory.. only 21 slow, obsolete airplanes against the entire Italian fleet.   A while back, when I first picked up Victory at Sea and wanted to run a few naval games, I picked up enough ships to do Denmark Strait and the Pursuit of the Bismarck (1941).  That led me to the Fairy Swordfish and eventually, to pondering a Taranto miniature wargame.

I bought the Axis and Allies War at Sea models for the Sink the Bismarck game when they were still easily found and affordable on a secondary market, although the game itself is out of print. For the Bismarck game, that worked pretty well, even if the scale, at 1/1800 (roughly), is a little larger than I had in mind. No problems with the miniatures– they come pre-painted and look (roughly) what they are supposed to look like. So, what the heck, I started collecting an Italian fleet from War at Sea models. It turned out to be easy, but painstaking when you are trolling secondary markets– there aren’t as many available as there were a few years ago.

The Littorio and Vio Venetto, left rear. the Caio Diolo, center, some destroyers in the foreground, and various cruisers on the right.

Where to get the ships?  Well, I’ve been a fan of reusing Axis and Allies War at Sea ship models already– when

Italian Cruisers and one pre-Dreadnought era ship, possibly the Andrea Doria.

I’ll probably give them another coating of wash, and touch up the factory job here and there, but pretty much these weren’t hard to collect and maintain. Obviously Hasbro didn’t produce EVERY ship in the Italian Fleet for their collectible miniatures game; to fill out the fleet I made several double buys where one ship of a CLASS of ships had a miniature made for it; that actually is a much easier problem to overcome with the smaller cruiser and destroyer classes where multiples of a single ship model work just fine. Even so, there were a few ships that were either priced right out of the secondary market or were never produced by Hasbro. In this instance, 3D printing came to the rescue. Shapeways.com has quietly been providing gap filler models for various games for the last few years; naturally, they came to the rescue for four ships I couldn’t locate at all. Accordingly,I bought three cruisers and a pre-dreadnought from Shapeways to round out my fleet.

It’s an easy paint job. Base primer grey, a gray wash and then a darker ink wash, then the snazzy striped red and white deck stripes to indicate it was an Italians ship from the air.

The material for the 3D printer is a little grainy compared to the injected rubbery plastic the original series from WaS uses, but from the magical 3 foot mark, it looks great to me. The price is nice, as well.

So, I have the Italian fleet, more or less.. and I’m not worried about the big scale size. They are nice and chunky, the way I like it, and it’s not like they are going to maneuver around in this scenario and go off the table– most of these ships are just Anti Aircraft platforms in this projected game.  I was projecting maybe there being an Italian player who might want to game that side, maybe make a victory condition escaping the harbor under power or something, but I can’t see it.. it wouldn’t be a lot of fun for any Italian player. So the ships will pretty much be stationary objects in this scenario.

Airplane models. I needed 21 Swordfish, I bought 26 from Pico Armor. Plus some Fairy Fulmars.

If I wanted to be true to scale, the aircraft would be pinhead sized. Aside from the fact that there probably aren’t any plane models in that scale, they would just lack any visual impact. So I compromised and went with PicoArmor, who have a great WW2 aviation section. PicoArmor look great and are reasonably sharp in detail (although that’s from a distance). Good choice, even if construction of the plane models is hellishly irritating. Nothing fits together perfectly; I have to cut off flash, rough the edges of the join between upper and lower wing before glueing. THEN I have to hold the model while the glue sets, often gluing my thumbs to the model! At least I have decals. I won’t have to paint the rondels.

As for rules, I was leaning towards Victory at Sea at the start of this project, because I had used it before and it’s relatively “light” and fun to play. However, I’m not as satisfied with the aerial torpedo element of VaS. It’s far too simplistic for what I had in mind and really doesn’t provide some of the elements of the narrative that need to be there, such as the poor state of alert of the Italians, the poor training, the element of surprise. I have come to the conclusion that this isn’t going to be a game where the players play the Italian fleet at all; that would be almost cruel. Yet I want the Italians to have a fighting chance even as targets. So I’m monkeying around with various levels of alertness, and skill and whatnot. I may take a look at General Quarters 3 for the rules, as I like the level of granularity, although I may have to crunch some numbers on the ground scale.

So that’s where I am more or less. There’s other stuff, such as the map terrain.. building the harbor of Taranto, setting up the Anti-Aircraft on the Italian side (which was fierce.. the British lost two aircraft). I’ll probably write a follow up posting on those items when I get to them.

Thanks to Wg Cdr Luddite below for some comments clarifying the Swordfish.

Small Wars: New Car Customization Parts from Brigade Games, a review


Awesome new ROAD WARRIOR STYLE FUN

I have to hand it to Lon at Brigade Games, he has an eye for trends.  The release of the MAD MAX: FURY ROAD movie at the start of the Summer was bound to create at least a mini-wavelet of interest in Road Warrior style car chase games in the hobby, and companies like Stan Johansen Miniatures and Aberrant Games definitely took advantage of the trend with their own line of existing car customization parts and vehicles for post-apocalypse car combat miniature games in 20mm scale (which more or less matches up with Hot Wheels and Matchbox).   Lon maintains his own line of miniatures through Brigade Games and usually produces them in support of some game system he is selling.   It was not a huge surprise, therefore, to see that Brigade Games is making their own line of car conversion parts, competing with Stan Johansen and other manufacturers.

First Sprue: yokes for weapons in the foreground, with a ram plate and some rockets in the rear. Might require some vehicle customization and a Dremel to make them fit. Still, a great idea in the first package.

My first impression, about selection, is very positive.  Lon is carrying a wide range of add on parts.  I bought about four sprues at 3.50 for weapons and armor and 1.50 for the yokes (pictured above).

Here is the range so far, with the bold test representing my first purchase.

  • Complete Set (1 of each option) [+$40.00]
  • 3 Machine-guns – .50cal style w/ammo boxes [+$3.50]
  • 3 Vulcan machine-guns – mini-gun style w/ammo drums [+$3.50]
  • 4 Rockets and 1 oil sprayer [+$3.50]
  • 1 Large turret and 2 small turrets [+$3.50]
  • 2 Flamethrowers and 1 arrow-gun (or micro-missile launcher) [+$3.50]
  • 1 Harpoon gun, 1 sonic gun, 1 mine dropper, and 1 laser gun [+$4.00]
  • supercharged car sprue -stowage, supercharger, front end, exhausts [+$3.50]
  • 6 yokes – these fit any weapon. [+$1.50]
  • 2 rear armor plates and 2 light ram plates [+$3.50]
  • 2 heavy ram plates [+$3.50]
  • Armor sprue – 2 windscreens, pair of side windows, 2 side plates [+$3.50]
  • Armor sprue – 4 large side plates [+$3.50]
  • 2 Stowage [+$2.00]
  • 2 pairs of exhausts and supercharger [+$3.50]
  • Armor sprue – 4 wheel armor plates and 1 hood/roof armor plate [+$3.50]

Harpoon Gun (placed but not mounted) Stowage pack in the back, minigun next to car.

How are we doing with scale?  Well, the weapons definitely fit with vehicles in the HO/Matchbox/Hot Wheels scale range.  They are rather LARGE compared to similar Stan Johansen items so you may need to use your judgement in how you deploy a mix of both.  The miniguns and machine guns seemed large to me, but still workable.  The other more esoteric weapons.. well, who cares what size they are as long as they look good?  It’s the apocalypse, a lot of this stuff is made in an ad-hoc fashion, right?  So in general, with maybe one or two size hogs, I’d use anything in this line on my own White Line Fever games.  And I plan to.  If you look at picture 2 above, you’ll see how large the minigun and harpoon gun seem to be, but if you think about it, what are the standards for a harpoon gun?  Who knows how large it’s “supposed to be?”

Dart gun (yay!) two flame throwers, a laser, a sonic weapon, and a mine dropper in frame with a sample post apocalyptic car (Back to the Future DeLorean)

What about selection?  This is the great strength of this range of parts.  There are some new weapons here (the dart gun and sonic weapon, for instance) and ones that I have imagined but didn’t have a model for (like the laser and mine dropper).  I’m very impressed with the choices.  Now I wish I had ordered more.

Detail (on laser, left, sonic weapon, center, and mine dropper, right)

What about quality of cast?  No problems here.  See the close up on the picture above of the Laser, sonic weapon and mine dropper.  The casting is sharp and though it had a few “tin whiskers” there was nothing really to complain about.  A very good job on detailing, when you consider this is mostly fictional gear we’re describing.

Summary: I really have to commend Brigade Games for this new offering.  These parts work for the games I’m running right now, will be relatively easy to add on to the car models I’m using, and could probably ALSO work for 15mm and even 28mm with some work.  They would be huge for 15mm and smallish for 28mm, but much of that can be tricked with some effort.  It’s not all a bed of roses..the ram plates will require drilling with the Dremel and some heavy epoxy to fit on the (mostly metal) Matchbox and Hot Wheels cars I use, so that will be some effort.  In general, however, I love this new series of customization parts and I encourage BG to add to the line.

Lon? You know what this universe needs?  Driver figures that will fit in open top convertible type vehicles, as well as weapon operators.  Scaled to 20mm. Just a suggestion.

Lepanto big and chunky and in 1:300 scale.. just the way I like it


Recent developments in pre-cut, laser etched designs have created a new niche market in wargaming.  I recently built a Viking ship in 28mm scale from just such a kit, and was impressed with how quickly it came together and how well it represented the historical ship.  There are other vendors popping up here and there on a small scale, vending historical products– such as 4Ground Ltd‘s building and terrain bits.  Another niche company is a small outfit called Skull and Crown.  They are mostly specialized in doing spectacular flats of soldiers from various periods called “Wooden Wars”, but they recently branched out to create a product called Galleys, Guns and Glory!, a set of rules for fighting in the Renaissance era, with an emphasis on Galley combat, a la Lepanto.

More importantly, Skull and Crown has also produced a line of wooden punch out and build kits for several types of Mediterranean galleys of the period. You can see the Venetian Galley above (and at 25 USD, it’s a little higher than average price for a single ship).

I can’t attest to it yet but construction appears easy from a blogpost I read.  The player takes the template, which is precut, and punches the pieces out and build them from the ground up. I built the Viking ship in exactly the same way.

I have no idea what the build time on this might be, but I’d have to include paint time in there as well, and probably pre-build painting and sanding too. So maybe a little under an hour per ship. Maybe more to paint some fiddly little details.

The end result is quite colorful and spectacular.

Credit: Jay’s Wargaming Madness. Read the exciting AAR of his first big battle of GGG! by clicking this picture.

As for the rules? Well, I don’t know squat about them. They appear to be simple and elegant, and that’s what I want out of a naval system. Jay (of the blog mentioned above) seems to have a high opinion of them. I’d be inclined to go with the published rules instead of making my own or using something I have in my collection, as they clearly have a long “tail” of support from Skull and Crown.. lots of neat odd little markers and bits that seem tailor made for the game. I can’t help myself, I love the little fiddly bits.

Will I invest in this? Probably not until after I get done with the Taranto game (what’s that?? you ask? Stay tuned for another post this week on that subject). I at least want to get one galley to put together and see if I like the results.

Realistically, at an average of about 15 dollars a ship, and most fleets looking like this:

A thumbnail guess, that’s probably just a little under 300 bucks there for a fleet.. multiply by two to get an order of magnitude..
Credit: Skull and Crown GGG Blog

Note, I’m not begrudging Skull and Crown their prices, they aren’t that shockingly high for a ship model.  I’m just bemoaning the cost of jumping into a very narrow niche period where I know there won’t be any cheaper options in this scale. I won’t have any other models that I can swap in to save money, so it’s these models or not at all.  So I’m rubbing my chin and saying “Hmmmm” for now.

Stay tuned!

Future Tank Draft 1.08 released


CLICK ON ME TO GET THE EPUB

I did a major rewrite on Future Tank, to get rid of some of the language problems that arose out of using Tank Duel as the core. It is now a very different text (and substantially different as a game).

Changed:

Double Blind is now “Double Blindish” .. the curtain represents a haze of uncertainty due to environmental conditions. The closer the tanks come to each other the bigger the chance the curtain will be removed. The Tank Commanders already know of the layout of the battlefield area in advance due to satellite imagery and drone passes, they just don’t know what it looks like right now.

Added a “Grunt” as an infantry specialist. He is basically an autonomous weapon unit that can deploy out of the tank airlock and go reap havoc on other INF units, exposed sensors and etc.

Clarified the language on the Tank crew tasks and how they react and feed back to the Commander role. Created a matrix of orders and responses for this, in the appendix.

Clarified Scanning (using the tiny whiteboard/blip method) and some of the networked computing tasks that SPARKY performs.

Added: ORBATS and RGEs (Orbital Batteries and Robotic Gun Emplacements) to battle space installations.

Generally cleaned up the language to make it sound consistent and use the same terms throughout.

I don’t have this one on the DIGITAL RULES page (yet) as I consider still in draft stage. You can get an epub copy right here.

Enjoy. Please feedback what you think and any new suggestions.

Game Camp 2015 Day 4 (Thursday): “Ride that Fury Road Part 2”


Gaming Camp 2015, Thursday.

Because of the large pile up being generated right in front of the Trading Post on the end of Wednesday, the consensus was to run Ride that Fury Road for another day and take the X-Wing Miniatures Tournament off the agenda. The game continued at the break point Wednesday night, and we left it set up.

Skool Zout trying to smash through the pile up ahead; two CaptureGangers are directly ahead, and then a big snarl up of several different vehicles.

This happens a lot at Game Camp; in fact, I encourage the kids to set the schedule after a certain point.

White Line Fever was a system the kids picked up on easily and enjoyed quite a bit. Let’s face it; there’s not a lot of heavy calculations going on in a game like this. Decisions boil down to “do I go off road and risk spinning out into a toxic goo pit on terrible terrain or stay ON the road and deal with this terrible pile up in front of me?”

Quite a cha-cha-cha with cars going on. Capture Gangers in foreground, then Blinded with Science, then Git Some, Big Red the Capture Ganger, Hellcab (on fire), the Sensimilia Express, the Merc, and Herbie the Hate Bug farther out.

As kids do in all the games I run, there was the rush to “be cool” (ally with each other while it was expedient) to get to the perceived goal (the donut shop).

Bad luck for the Hell Cab.

As also happens a lot in my games, there was a drive to build a narrative within the game universe created. I’m happy to do that and I helped the process along by building factions in the vehicle set (capture gangers, sand-brothers, Scooter Jocks, Militia Men, Street Punks). This added to the fun but did cause incessant delay around the Trading post as every player felt obliged to see what he could trade there instead of smashing cars. When one kid set up a road block and started charging for passage, things got a little ridiculous. Of course, this was the same kid who traded Daphne for a Recoiless Rifle the day before, so go figure!

Once past the Trading Posts, the Scooter Jocks attacked the truck and supporting vehicles in wave after wave. They were surprisingly easy to kill– TINY doesn’t live long versus MEGA in a ramming attempt, so I just had the truck run over bikes like they were speed bumps. Bikers did manage to board with one Scooter Jock who fought it out on top of the Tanker with the soul remaining Truck Support crew.

Like Gnats annoying a grizzly…

The roadblock caught the attention of the Road Militia.. who consider themselves to be the protector of the highway and charged with keeping it clear. They charged up the road, smashing through annoying scooter jocks and waving nervously at the brothers of the Circle (the Donut Shop) who are creepy enough to creep them out.

Lots of stuff happened in succession– the Sushi Truck who had been collecting “meat” for sushi from the many bodies on the road got shot at, then raised a white flag to the militia. The Hate Bug lost its driver but continued as a semi-sentinent vehicle with the corpse of its driver behind the wheel. They Mystery Machine came under heavy fire and thus we encounter the death of Velma Dinkley.

Ruh ROH! Fallen to a “Driver deader than Fried Chicken” result

Some lucky? players got to the Brothers of the Circle Compound (the Donut shoppe), but managed to create quite a lot of ill will…

Uh oh, the Lone Wanderer best beat feet!

We didn’t get much past this point and it was time to call it. A great Game was had by all.

For more pictures click here

Game Camp 2015 Day 3 (Wednesday): “Ride that Fury Road”


Wednesday, I put on a repeat of the scenario I created for HISTORICON 2015, “Ride That Fury Road”, which is a post-apocalyptic romp down a highway in pursuit of a giant fuel truck that may or may not be the answer to everyone’s dreams. We added in the factions in this game– Scrappers, Capture Gang, Lawmen. plus a lot of independents. The game, which isn’t over yet (more later) featured MORE metal carnage than previously witnessed, zero team work and zero mercy. Almost every player has cycled through at least two cars by now and some have had as many as three. To discourage the kids from getting pouty when their car dies, I encouraged them to all run more then one car or keep a replacement car handy for when the first car dies.

The Truck breezes by the Trading Post

I didn’t get the cafeteria that I wanted but did get the Arts and Crafts room. We ran four tables down the length of the room. Not quite what I wanted, but it would have to do. It looked great!

The Chase Cars initially. This lineup changed fast as they did the Road Warrior classic and fought each other in brutal fashion.

The carnage piled up fast. This is not very forgiving game, and I told everyone that they would have to get over it quick if they lost their vehicle.. because everyone was going to lose one and many would lose many.

Game Camp 2015

Game Camp 2015

Game Camp 2015

Early on, the Mystery Machine jumped into its new role as the “Evil Scooby Gang”. Reid released Scooby XXII (raised as a bomb dog) to run back and take out the Turtle, coming up fast behind it. BOOMM! the ensuing explosion fragged Turtle and damage the cars around it seriously.

Poor Scooby!!

But that wasn’t the bottom of the Evil Scooby’s depravity. They hit a new low!

Evil Fred actually trading Daphne for a rocket launcher. Wow.

At least he hit on one of the things traders want in the post-apocalypse. I wonder if Velma could have got more ammo for the Recoilless?

“But Fred! What? I’m to do WHAT???”
“See ya Daphne! You’re a sweetheart!”
“Freeeeeeeeeed!”

Game Camp 2015

“Yessir, that Daphne’s a swell gal.. what a great deal!”

Game Camp 2015

It’s a hard life in the Apocalypse. We played right up to 2:50 when I had to call it for time. Many kids requested we play this again tomorrow so I have left it set up in situ.

For an interesting slideshow of all the pictures from today, click on the picture below:

Click the picture to see more pictures on FLICKR

Anarchy supreme by the end of the day… CLICK HERE to see more pictures!!

It was a great day, a great game and all the kids loved it.