Category Archives: wargame

Expanded Road Warrior Rules now as an EPUB in Digital Rules section


As part of the WHITE LINE FEVER project, which entails producing a post-apocalyptic Road Battle game in the spirit of ROAD WARRIOR and the upcoming FURY ROAD movies, I am using a set of rules written by Eric Goodlater that I have played at a few HMGS conventions (Fall IN! 14 and Cold Wars 15).   I liked the ease, and more importantly the SPEED with which they depict the finale of ROAD WARRIOR.  Eric was happy to share the rules with me, which showed up as a word file and a scan of a chart done in pencil.  ROAD WARRIOR is a pretty simple rule set heavily influenced by G.A.S.L.I.G.H.T. skirmish rules.  Being a tinkerer kind of guy, I tinkered with it, and created an epub out of the results, which you can see here.  You can get it from the Digital Rules page. 

Jon Southard’s CARRIER (VG) for IoS project of Mr. Cyril Jarnot


Carrier Box

Cover

Jon Southard’s CARRIER game was published by Victory Games in 1990.   Victory Games was a subsidiary group of the venerable Avalon Hill Game Company, comprised of ex SPI Staffers that were on the beach when SPI folded.  From the start, Victory Games were designed and marketed to the serious gamer crowd; their games were known for lengthy rule books chock full of detail, and games that took a lot of thought and time to commit to.  I owned several of them in my day, notably VIETNAM, AMBUSH, HELL’S HIGHWAY, 1809 and a couple of the Fleet series games.  One game I did NOT own was the subject of this post, CARRIER, a solitaire design by Jon Southard, an industry veteran.  Given how high this game is priced in the secondary and tertiary boardgame market, it’s unlikely I’ll acquire it at this juncture, which is regrettable.  I love good solitaire designs– and Carrier is definitely a game that fits that category.

Carrier is a solitaire simulation of both historical and hypothetical carrier battles in the Southwest Pacific Theater during 1942 and 1943.  The player plays the U.S. commander, maneuvering recon flights and task forces to located and destroy the enemy before he can locate and destroy the player’s forces.  Game mechanics governing the movement of the Japanese are not all that difficult to grasp.  One of the aspects of the simulation I like is the ability for the game to surprise you.  You will not know the Japanese are on top of you until they are flying bombing runs on your airfields.  Carrier, like a lot of older wargames, is also a tough, slow playing game with a lot of charts and detail.  Or so I thought.

Splash/Front Menu

Mr. Cyril Jarnot, an IoS developer of no small talents from France, has been slowly working on a conversion of the game from a series of charts and counters onto an Ipad virtual map.  I had opportunity to try out this conversion in playtesting phase and so am able to relay a few impressions.    Note Bene, all pictures reflect a playtest version, not far from final release but not final at time of their capture.

To begin with, all the chart-checking to simulate the movement of Japanese forces is still taking place, only the computer (Ipad) is now being doing all the dice rolling behind the scenes, which make the Japanese movements far more mysterious.

They could be any number of things… from a tuna boat to a task force.. but they are definitely Japanese contacts.

and closer up… details reveal themselves after you send reconnaissance planes out to check what’s under those counters…

Oh ho, see what lays in wait to bomb my airfield, eh?

When you DO bump into the Japanese, combat can be multi-stepped and sequential.  To commit planes to combat, the US Player has to move them to various ready areas on his display to simulate where they are in the process of confronting the Japanese over a combat area.

The sequence you follow to commit planes to combat… and there is a LOT of air combat in this game.

You can’t just “commit  everything I got to CAP and hope for the best”– you have to move groups to the ready state, in a sequence, as you see here (above).  Once combat does occur (The Japanese come to you, or you search out and find a Task Force or incoming flight of planes), you will see this sequence:

If there is a CAP force over the target, it would engage the incoming planes first. If not, then they attack the ships (or shore) immediately., subtracting losses for AA Defensive fire.

The game is quite challenging on the Ipod, I was very pleased at how aggressive and uncompromising the AI is.  For one thing, you are outnumbered in this time and place in the war, and that always works against you.

oh.. THAT Japanese Task force.. as opposed to those OTHER Japanese Task Forces…

The game teaches itself at a nice programmed pace, similar to the old SQUAD LEADER “programmed instruction” approach from Avalon Hill. This is just as well– the game (in paper version) is pretty complex and that’s a lot of meat to chew on in one bite. Mr. Jarnot has taken the approach of cutting your meat up for you and feeding it to you in delicate little bites, a bite at a time. So keep in mind (as of this writing) you will have to go through ALL of the tutorial modules before “free play” can happen with CARRIER for the IoS. This decision is in spirit of the old Victory Game rules and Jon Southard, apparently, approves.

Now, is it a straight port? Is it replicating every nuance of the old paper map and counters version published in 1990? I am not educated enough to say for sure. I never owned Carrier. It certainly plays in the spirit of the old VG games I played back then; lots of complexity under the surface, and thankfully (for playing time) it keeps a lot of the chart checking behind the scenes. I enjoyed it quite a bit. I have no idea what Mr. Jarnot’s plans are for this game or how to get a legal copy for yourself; I will steer you towards the CARRIER forums on Boardgamegeek, where he is easy to find. Direct any questions to him there. I sincerely hope the IOS app I helped test becomes a commercial product, I would gladly pay for the final version, and support Mr. Jarnot’s efforts.

SLIDE SHOW OF CARRIER on the IOS PICTURES

White Line Fever car conversions Part 1


Slideshow of all Road Warrior photos: HERE

I have been playing Eric Goodlater’s ROAD WARRIOR rules at the last few conventions.  It’s the kind of game that you play at night with a lot of beer and pretzels nearby, and loud talking.    After the third game I decided I could probably run something like this and started purchasing Hot Wheels and Matchbox.  They are surprisingly cheap and there are manufacturers out there that will gladly sell you armor and weapon add-ons to make your bland kiddie cars turn into highway death machines.  I’ve bought, I think, maybe four bundles of Hot Wheels and some select matchbox packs, and they cost 4 bucks -ish each.  This yielded an amazing amount of useful cars for a Road Warrior style romp in the post-apocalyptic wasteland.  Hot Wheels, in particular, makes some pretty bizarre cars these days, all decked out in neon orange and green colors– and maybe just a tad too fanciful.  However, once you begrime them and turn the bright colors into muddy dusty earth tones, they look very appropriate for post-apocalypse and very interesting to boot.

Click to see closeup. Pre-conversion cars, all from a discount store, all sold in packs of five for four dollars and some change.  First challenge is to get rid of the DayGlo Hot Wheels color schemes.

I’ve started adding conversion kits from Stan Johansen Miniatures, plus plastic pieces (styrene) and pieces of the gridwork from needlepoint grids.

Vehicles in the foreground came from a Matchbox “military vehicles” set and a Hot Wheels “Horror Cars” set. Even the goofy horror cars start looking tribal when you give them a post-apocalyptic paint job. Click to enlarge

And a few more from the military set and a couple of cherry picked vehicles. That’s the same kind of car as in Mad Max just south of the reddish SUV with a turret up top. Had to have one of those. I gave Max a gatling gun, though.
Click to enbiggen

They look dingier, to be sure, but I’m not remotely finished. I’m going to give everything a big patina of rust and dust, so that means a lot of washes and then dry brushing. Also I have to color the windows/cockpits and add a few color highlights here and there.

An expanded look at what’s been done so far and what remains.
Click to enlarge

I’m not done yet with collecting; I’ve just got the easy stuff you can get from Wal Mart and comparable places in the Value-bundles. I have some specific vehicles I want to get in the game– I have a Nash Rambler on the way, and a Tanker Trailer (of course), and a Gyrocopter, which wasnt’ easy to find. I also would like at least two pickup trucks, a couple of vans and a Mystery Machine (from Scooby Doo), but that has eluded me so far.

The next post will be about other Vehicles (including the Oscar Meyer Weiner mobile), the Tanker and any other vehicles I’ve picked up between now and then. I think a psychotic Lunch truck, a postal vehicle and School bus (in scale) need to be added! I’ll run this at Historicon of sure and definitely for game camp.

Relevant Links: 

Stan Johansen MiniaturesROAD WARRIOR accessories and miniatures
c
an help convert regular Hot Wheels and Matchbox into post apocalyptic Road Warrior style vehicles with weapons, armor and turrets.

Aberrant Games WARLANDS is a new series of rules set in post-apocalyptic ravaged highways.  The miniatures are nice– they have a Gyrocopter for the tanker chase, and several small dune buggies and motorcycles.

And of course, there’s the grandaddy of them all: Car Wars by SJG.

Wars and Battles: Review


Wars and Battles
Turned Based Strategy, multiple eras
Publisher: Kermorio (France)
SRP (as of writing) 6.99 base, 9.99 per IGC module
website: http://www.warsandbattles.com/

I was given the opportunity to play and review the recent game from the Battle Factory, called “Wars and Battles”.  The core of Wars and Battles is a hex based battle game with an old school look to it, set in a very narrowly defined battlefield in linked campaign.  Battles are launched from a standard interface that should be able to host future campaigns from other eras.

The main screen

Kermorio is gambling on a standard interface approach, somewhat modular with unit icons OR 2D pieces being the default view.  These are played on a standard 22 hex map with variable terrain features whose cumulative effect is usually reduction of movement or influencing combat or line of sight.

In game touch tip and tutorial help is very good, as you can see above.

A Campaign is essentially a linked progression of battle scenarios played out on these 22 hex battle maps.  Campaigns are in game purchases, with the base game being 6.99, and at time of writing, the Normandy Campaign in WW2 is available for additional charge beyond the default basic game.

Having played through the Normandie (sic) campaign, I would recommend this IGP.  Historical material is very well done and it’s clear research went into this game– each unit has a background piece and it’s more than a drag and click interface.  The historical campaign follows Normandy closely and I had no complaints based on what I know about the campaign from a historical viewpoint, which is a decent familiarity.    Campaign missions follow a progression from Easy to Very Hard, and you are debriefed for success or failure at the end of each one.

Mission Debrief, end of every scenario

I’m not sure if the map sizes will expand beyond the 22 hex per screen standard or the approach will be to stay modular.   I can see the benefits of a modular system when

More Normandy Fun

More of the Wars and Battles in tutorial mode

Artificial Intelligence in this game is decent to moderate and the decisions being made were okay, though predictable at times.   I found it to be overly defensive and not as aggressive as it could have been, but if you factor in that Normandy actually is a defensive campaign for the Germans I guess that makes sense.  The campaign structure is logical and sensible.  Players will accrue experience over time and replacement units to fill in for casualties.  In this respect I was reminded, strongly, of several other games I’ve played in the last year that use a similar progressive campaign structure– in particular and variation of Panzer General or its various incarnations over time, or near-knockoffs.  That’s neither here nor there– a campaign really needs some form of structure or it is difficult to execute, and the PG template works as well as anything.

The modular “game engine” approach is somewhat new for wargames on the IOS.  Kermorio has high hopes of porting the same approach to many different battles, including Napoleonic or ACW era battles.  I remain unconvinced the scales of those two eras will work in this engine, but I’d be willing to give them a try.

In Summary, Kermorio has had a very decent first outing with WARS AND BATTLES– which is a mix of old and new ideas that will appeal to hard core wargamers and newcomers alike.  For 6.99 plus a pittance for the IGPs, I certainly think there is plenty of value for the retail price.

Little Lambent Meteors by Jim Wallman (Digital Library)


Hey! I haven’t converted a ruleset to epub lately. Here’s a great candidate right here:

Click on the Cover to go to the DIgital Rules page.

I stumbled upon this quirky little rule set by Jim Wallman recently. It is a simulation (or not, that’s really not the word for it), let’s call it a humorous study of exactly what’s referred to in the subtitle, rioting mobs of the 18th Century. Having played GANGS OF ROME in the not too distant past, I was immediately attracted to the concept of this game– I don’t see it playing in a scale much larger than 6mm myself, but it should be easy to paint!!

Disclaimer: the PDF version of these rules can be found in many places online– this is a simple epub conversion, for private use on your tablet computer, smart phone or e-reader.  There is no charge for this file, but don’t sell it, rename it or republish it.   If Mr. Wallman has an objection to this, I will remove the file immediately with my profuse apologies.

As always, click on the graphic above to go to the digital rules page, where you will find the link to the epub for this file. Thanks.

Commander: The Great War, reviewed


Commander The Great War
Publisher: Slitherine Ltd
Available on PC, Mac  and Ipad
Itunes Link SRP as of review: $19.99

I’ve been meaning to get to this review sooner rather than later, but this is no light historically-flavored game, like my previous two Slitherine reviews (Quadriga and Frontline: Road to Moscow).  Commander The Great War  (CTGW hereafter) is designed for serious wargamers who are in it for the long game– and willing to pay a serious price for the privilege.   Yes, that’s right, CTGW is not going to be a cheap purchase, it’s 20.00 as of this writing.  Is it worth the high end price tag? Right up front I’ll say yes, it is, with a few caveats that I will expand upon.

SCOPE: Commander the Great War is a grand strategy scaled game. Players assume the role of supreme leader of a nation or coalition of nations on either the Entente Cordiale or Triple Entente sides of the Great War (meaning World War One in this instance). In pursuit of this role, the player will be making strategic decisions for the individual nations on his or her side, including army movements and attacks, naval movements (and resulting battles) as well as research and development of new military technologies.

Game Start and setup– with some nice multimedia bits

If I were to draw an analogy to a boardgame, CTGW relates to Advanced Third Reich and/or World in Flames the most, in that the player has to operate on the same grand strategic scale in a major theater of war, and there’s a similar diplomatic and research element to those games. Yeah, I know, World War Two. I just don’t know of any that fill the same niche set in the First World War era– certainly not Guns of August. In terms of computer games, Matrix Games’ own Guns of August (PC version) is roughly similar in scope, but not mechanics. To End all Wars (also published by Slitherine) looks similar in scope but is mechanically very different (being developed by Aegeon), but I have no experience with it.

The setting for Commander the Great War is vast; playing out on a hex map of Europe from North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula up to the North Sea, East to the Ural mountains, West to the Atlantic and French coast. That is a lot of hexes and a lot of ground to cover, especially in the grand campaign games after 1916, when so many fronts are opened up. This can get a little confusing on the Ipad, as one furiously swipes across the map to see what the enemy units are doing during his opponent’s turn.

There are five preset Campaigns:

  • 1914 The Great War
  • 1915 Ypres – Artois
  • 1916 The Battle of Verdun
  • 1917 The Nivelle Offensive
  • 1918 The Kaiserschlacht

Echoing the course of the Great War, the Triple Entente (Germany, Austria, Turkey) are favored in the first two scenarios and somewhat in 1916. In game terms, 1917 and 1918 become a real challenge for the Triple Entente player as more and more military technologies are present at start of the game (tanks, better airplanes, better artillery, armored trains, better ships, and etc).

I’m playing Serbia in the 1914 campaign versus the AI. Serbia is a thankless role, but the whole shooting match starts here and it’s worth a shot as the Entente Cordiale player. I do have the advantage of interior lines, and a ponderous response from the Austrians, but numbers eventually tell.

No matter which you select, don’t expect to be done with any grand campaign quickly. The AI is slow to make decisions (More on this later) and progress is very incremental.

Here are my vacation snaps from the invasion of the Low Countries (also the 1914 scenario). No grand Schlieffen Plan here; it’s more like a bulge forming in the Allied line as the Germans pour in after limited local success. This pattern repeats throughout the game– It’s ALL about finding a spot to break through and exploit– it’s a real gamble, and broad front assaults are almost impossible

There doesn’t appear to be any instructions or help file anywhere, but most of the action happens in a few screens and are very easy to figure out.    Mechanically, moving land troops is just dragging them from hex to hex and clicking on highlighted squares when the moving unit is adjacent to  enemy units.   Terrain and Zones of Control factor into movement and combat in a very general way, in that you will move faster on a railroad and be held up by terrain features, or not be able to pass an enemy formation.

Example of moving Serbian movements into the abattoir.

The mechanics aren’t the interesting part of the game, not so much. It’s the decisions you make per turn that will change the game one way or the other for the player. Those decisions are made using a simple five tabbed menu:

How to fight a war, emphasis mine!

The management menus lead to production, research, diplomacy and management sub-menus.  This is the point where I remind you of your role– you may want to fight those tactical battles, they’re fun and very visually rewarding.   However, you’re in it for the long haul here, and you are making decisions about what you’ll be doing not just this year, but the next two years.  So you need to start making the hard decisions early.. do I spend a lot of money on researching better weapons and hope I’m just lucky and don’t need a lot of infantry replacements?  Or do I feed more men into the meat grinder I’m dealing with right now?

The Diplomacy screen is rather innocuous, I haven’t seen much come as a result of using it.  Players need to focus on Production and Research decisions exclusively– resources are what they are– very precious.  You have what you have and you must spend them wisely to be effective.

Serbia’s rather bleak production options in 1914.

What can Serbia research this early in the war? Well, I’d choose barbed wire…

When you play a side, depending on the campaign you’re playing, you are playing multiple fronts and multiple nations, with multiple national priorities. The Serbian/Austrian front at the start of the war is pretty much a doomed confrontation, so the Serbians need to do what they can do to stall the Triple Entente until the other powers can get engaged. So that “Cheap Infantry now versus expensive Tanks later” equation doesn’t really work there, but it will for, say, Germany or England. You also have to consider what the major front you are working on needs– not just now, but in three turns. For instance, Russia could use those cheap cavalry units. Sure, they are crap troops– but they are great for moving vast distances without railroads fairly quickly, and can cut off troops nicely. The Germans will be tempted to spend it on better airplanes and artillery to force a result on the Western Front. The English may be the best power on Water but that superiority doesn’t necessarily last forever– and what about buying transports and more infantry, you know, to help those Allies out somewhere?

And this is where you get feedback from your decisions, each turn. What will be next in the production queue, what is coming up in the research queue..

There are a lot of variables in CTGW, and a lot to experiment with– just don’t expect a quick payoff. As I’ve already mentioned, this is a long game, and you NEED to be in it for the long game. Don’t bother if you want a quickly resolving tactical battle game like Frontline. That’s not the focus of Commander Great War. Even success creates tough situations– combat is often very bloody for both sides– when you lose most of your attacking force in a victory, what then? What happens next year when the other side comes roaring back in a counterattack? I certainly hope you planned for reinforcements!

What does all this mean? You have to plan ahead in almost every turn. In this respect, the game really generates interesting, and often historically flavored results. The game really does feel like World War One– there’s no way a broad front strategy works– The Western Front ends up a pushing match, the Eastern Front has great scope for movement. The best results for the Western Front is to exploit a salient and push through in localized areas. That often is such a grinder that the Entente player really IS tempted to explore other fronts like Turkey.

The technological developments really enhance that feeling. Germany is tempted to use its finite surface fleet early– but things really change for them when U-boats come into play.

If I sound enthusiastic, I am– however there are a few drawbacks to this game– it’s slow, which is why I found it harder to review, than, say, the last 2 Slitherine games I’ve bought. I find that the AI is very capable, but is facing so many decisions that it does bog down somewhat after about four turns. Before the last update, the AI was consistently freezing right about turn 4. That seems to be fixed. It’s still not greased lightning but remember, this isn’t an arcade game. Each turn will require a lot of actions on the player’s part, expect that to be the case for the AI as well. The other element that I find a drawback to total enjoyment is the lack of transparency. I often was stumped about units appearing out of the “Fog of War fog” that is on the edges of the map.. sometimes I was asking myself how the heck that unit got THERE.. teleporting? I also would like to know what the AI player’s decisions were in the proceeding turn. I know it’s historically appropriate for the human side to NOT know this, but it would help understand the mechanics, which certainly aren’t explained.

Summary: Commander Great War is like a sipping whiskey; drink it too fast and you’ll choke. CTGW is far too complex of a brew to be swallowed whole on first sip. You’ll have to be patient, take it in gradually. This game will reward patience and foresight, but not an arcade player. Commander The Great War is a game of elegance and simplicity, and it will reward a player with a strategic mindset. Is it worth 20 bucks? That’s up to you. I think there’s a LOT of game in that 20 dollars, and a real wargaming fan will consider his money well spent. Replay value is excellent.

Wargame Bloggers Quarterly–a Neat New Magazine


misternizz:

I don’t often reblog a post, but Wargame Blogger’s Quarterly is such a neat idea, I’m really taken with it. A big tip of the chapeau to Thomo for finding this and I’ll definitely be investigating it in the future (and who knows, maybe something from here will be on there, but I doubt it!).

Originally posted on Thomo's Hole:

Wargamers_Quarterly It’s big, bold and pretty!

There is a new quarterly wargames magazine available in the Internet called Wargame Bloggers Quarterly. This is, as the title suggests, a quarterly magazine designed to highlight the best looking of games and and reviews.

I have had a quick look through issue one and I am impressed. No fancy tricks, just good solid text and images.

This first issue has chapters on:

  • Bloody Cremona from Simon Miller
  • Trouble Brewing in “Serenity City” by Dave Docherty
  • Whitechapel 1888 by Michael Awdry
  • Lledo “Days Gone Bye” Horse Drawn Carriages from Robert Audin
  • Inside the Mind of Loki – Vallejo Model Colour and Triads from Andrew “Loki” Saunders
  • Iron Mitten Plays “Spot the Royalist”
  • and lastly, a copy of the Official Charter of the Magazine

Well worth having a look – I know what my lunchtime reading is today … and tomorrow!

View original

Game Camp 2014, Day Three: BDB Quest for the ORB Pt. 2


On Wednesday, we played out the rest of the Orb of Power scenario for Big Danged Boats. It was a very frenetic game, with lots of odd stuff happening that tested BDB’s boundries. Big Danged Boats is a design that’s hard not to tinker with, and I’ve been working on ways to speed it up a little. I like the combination of shooting, boarding, fighting and magic that I’ve developed so far. It’s a good mix, but I designed to build a narrative, a story, and it’s not the most speedy game ever. On the other hand, it’s a lot of laughs. What other universe has Squid Gods, Dead god’s feet, and Armored Cheeses?

HIGHLIGHTS FROM TODAY

The Iron Dwarf player (Spence) came to grief early today. The Plunger took many hits from the tower and eventually was uncrewed. The Damage track also went to critical, and a severe engine failure was the result, requiring two turns of Wrenching to fix.

The guys wanted to run it through to the finish. The idea of allying together against a third party seemed to be an anathema to some and other players took to it. One side of the board was Chaos with ships shooting at each other and backstabbing galore. The other side was like an exercise in barter economy– Reed (playing Battenburg, who had bought a ton of reinforcements) traded off Slingers for Gold, Gnomes for Gold, and generally acted like a capitalist. The Wood Elves, the Karstark Gnomes, and the Little People Brigade all acted in close concert with each other, made deals, made room for each other to pass and navigate around each other. So it all looked like they were on board with the “Fighting Gordon the Enchanter” thing.

The Red Menacer charged to the assistance of the Plunger, and managed to get two Dwarf Marines on board to Wrench on the broken crank propeller. Unfortunately, the Seng were sailing through in an incorporeal state and a traffic jam might have ensued if he were “solid”.

The Seng sailed THROUGH the Dwarf ships in incorporeal state. On the other side, the Augmentation price for the spell ran out and Patrick wasn’t willing to pay any more gold to keep it alive. So the Wizard was going to go up in a nimbus of blue flame, but Patrick booted him out of the ship at the last second. “Nice job, Wiz, SEE YA!” BOOM!

The O.R.C. immolates themselves in revolutionary martyr fashion!

The Orcish Revolutionary Council (O.R.C.) performed in revolutionary martyr spirit. They sailed right at the front door of the Tower, as if to ram. One of the Martyrs tried to ram the front door but got caught up in melee, and pulled the “Stupid” result from the Red Badge of Courage, and so ran around the tower base instead of self-immolating.. The next martyr managed to impale the aquatic mine with his pump charge, and a disastrous explosion took place.

About mid game the tone of the game changed and the knives started to come out. The Little People Brigade boarded the Von Ripper of the Iron Dwarves. Amazingly they didnt’ choose to eat the Holy Mushrooms and transform into Gnogres. And they won! Those are some tough Gnomes!!

The Alliances that were in place at the start of the game started to fall apart. The Karstark Gnomes turned on the Iron Dwarves. The Bone Brigade, which had been shot to pieces in its ill conceived attack of the previous day, scrapped with the Foot of the Dead God and the Primus, starting the day off with a nasty event card on the Cult and exploding their one and only artillery piece, which angered them to no end. Primus fought with the Bone Brigade at a distance, and he retaliated with every missile weapon he has at his disposal, wiping out most of the BB. The Bone Brigade player (Cameron) didn’t understand the impact of talking smack one turn during an ambush, and then begging for an alliance the next. The Seng managed to board and capture the Plunger, and operate it (clumsily) to spar torpedo the Blue Magoo from the Little People Brigade, doing severe damage.

The Seng could only operate the Plunger slowly and clumsily, being man-sized and trying to operate a Dwarf-sized submarine.

The other successful boarding of the day, The Von Ripper, under new Gnome management.

The cult of F’Vah pulled out their big trump card, Summoning the Squid God, and it was hideously effective.

Goodbye, Black Galley! And suddenly, it was no more!

The Bone Brigade was a shambles– shot to pieces by the Rats and Cultists, and missing one ship to the Squid God, but they bounced back playing the Faction card: Surprise, They’re already dead! which brought back 5 skeletons to life, so at least the Deadnought fought its way clear of the mess.

And the Rat Men managed to at land a small lodgment at the bottom of the tower..

And then the allies on the far end, the Rat Men and the Cultists, fell out when the Cultists turned on them like a prison punk in the showers.

The Cultists hit the Rats with the Squid God, and destroyed the Primus…

By the end of the day, the game was left still not resolved, so the fellows requested at least another session in the morning.

Here’s the Slide Show of today’s FUN!

The Union Forever! The Battle of Mobile Bay


Leo Walsh ran a 1:1200 scale game of the Battle of Mobile Bay on Saturday night at HISTORICON.  The rules were AGE OF IRON.    I jumped in and ran a small line of 90 day gunboats and double-ender style ships.

The UNION FOREVER!!

Most people know the Battle of Mobile Bay as the “one where Admiral Farragut said Damn the Torpedoes, full speed ahead“.. and (perhaps) that’s true.  There was a lot more to Mobile Bay than a few jingoistic slogans, of course.  Mobile Bay was one of the last great sheltered ports of the Confederacy, and as long as it was not thoroughly blockaded, the South could run blockade runners in and out with impunity.  So a Union victory at Mobile Bay would have strategic consequences for both sides.

Admiral Farragut’s plan was to attack Mobile Bay in two lines, with the ironclads closest to the local fort (Fort Morgan) where their armored sides would withstand the heavy siege gun fire, and the Wooden ships lashed together with the weakest ones outside the range of fire. The Confederates also set up a line of aquatic mines (torpedoes) that had the effect of forcing the ships to pass in front of the fort’s guns.  We considered that idea, then went for the idea of FOUR lines.

The miniature terrain, such as it was, followed the historical layout reasonably closely, although the OOB was greatly expanded from the original. In addition there was the CSS Tennessee, one other (ahistorical) casemate that started farther out in the bay and was pretty slow to engage. There were four other medium to small gunboats with sizable ordinance on the other side of the barrier.

Union Forces closer up

Originally our attack plan was going to be three lines, with the ironclads protecting the more valuable screw frigates, like the Hartford and the Richmond. Leo told us that would not keep the frigates from getting hull hits, so we spread the line out over four lines– the ironclads closest to the fort, the screw frigates in two lines, and the lighter 90 day gunboats and double-enders in line farthest from the fort. I offered to take that line over the line of mines (torpedoes) that was funneling ships towards the guns of the fort. My idea was that the lighter ships going over the torpedo line would offer a huge distraction to the Confederate gunboats on the other side of the barrier.

I’m in charge of the rickety ships on the right hand side.

If it worked for Farragut, it might work for me. I managed to slip my first two ships over the barrier with no difficulty. We engaged with 3 gunboats of varying sizes on the far side of the torpedo barrier. We were using Age of Iron, which is a pretty good rule set, providing a mix of history and playability. I’ve played with them before, though not in a long time. The rules certainly address differences in armor, ship sizes and and ship aspect. I had a surprisingly lethal exchange with two Confederate gunboats, one of which was pretty tiny and hard to hit, but as I got more and more ships over the barrier, it became obvious to the Confederate that the was stuck, cut off between a line of pilings that will rip out their hull and my line of gunboats.

Sometimes the “stupid strategy” is stunningly successful

One interesting thing about those supposedly weak 90 day gunboats and double enders: put enough of them in a line, and they throw out a tremendous weight of iron at a single target. When the second Confederate ironclad showed up, my line of gunboats laid into him, ship after ship, and in one turn he suffered from 4 armor hits and 6 hull hits, and was on fire. That’s pretty good for some wooden boats! Contrast that to the line of Screw Frigates that shot past the fort and engaged the Tennessee. We lost two of them, the Brooklyn and the Richmond, due to gunfire exchanges with the Fort and the Tennessee. I lost two ships from my line, the Metacomet (lost to gunfire) and the last ship in my line, the Port Royal, finally hit a mine and sank.

Victory!

Leo’s victory conditions were basically “Sink all Confederate ships”.. and by 1100 PM it looked like we were on the way to doing that. The Tennessee was pretty shot up, and couldn’t turn very quickly, so wouldn’t be able to engage again during the time span of the game. The other (ahistorical) ironclad very likely wouldn’t have survived another turn at the rate it was receiving punishment.

So, a Union naval victory, Huzzah~! Perhaps not as complete as the historical one, but we had more ships engaged, and were facing more Confederates, too. I had a lot of fun with this game and hope to play Age of Iron again very soon.

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WARLORD Soldiers and Strategy


WARLORD Soldiers and Strategy

You knew it had to happen sooner or later.

Added to Digital Rules: Warriors of Mars (TSR) in Epub


Quick announcement:

Visit the DIGITAL RULES page (tab up top) to get a copy

I’ve added TSR’s old WARRIORS OF MARS rpg/skirmish game/sourcebook for Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Barsoom stories.  Warriors of Barsoom was written by Gary Gygax and Brian Blume in 1974. I found the PDF for this game, quite by accident, on Archive.org, so I’m assuming the original owners have no concerns about free distribution, but will gladly take it down if TSR/Wizards/Hasbro squawks about it.   Somehow I don’t think they’ll get all that upset about it.  There’s an EPUB version on Archive as well, but it’s pretty bad– clearly someone ran a conversion script and didn’t clean up the file afterward.  I pretty much had to recreate it from scratch, which was a chore!  Visit the digital rules page if you are interested.

A simple method to use hidden information in Miniature games


Well, simple if you have a tablet with a camera and a photo editor app, that is.
Say you are running a miniature wargame with lots of hidden information in it, like the location of snipers, minefields, ambushes, “hot zones” etc.  This can be problematic in the normal “God’s eye view” of a miniature battlefield.  I’ve seen various ways of hiding hidden movement in plain sight, or tracking it off the battlefield, with various degrees of success.   I’ve tried this recently, and it works perfectly.

Say you have a battlefield laid out, or you are about to.. just one little detail.  You ask the defending player– “where are the hidden units?”

Then take a picture of the battlefield using your tablet camera, like so:

Map 1: the battlefield. The defender needs to set up a minefield, a sniper and an ambush.

Quick like a bunny, switch to a photo editor of some kind that allows fast edits and saves, and where you can use your finger for a stylus.

I use “AVERY” but there are a lot of photo editors out there.

Then, bring it up in an editor, hand it to the defending player, and have him mark the actual photograph with edits showing where this stuff is on the map. He knows where it will be, but the assaulting player will not.. until he encounters it.

Map 2: Marked up with hidden points. Mine field on left, sniper, bottom left. Ambush point, top center.

SAVE out and use it as a reference when the action starts.

Sure, that’s absurdly easy. Easy and fast is good when you have people waiting to start playing! Total time elapsed, less than five minutes.

EDIT: LordAshram from the Miniatures Page suggests, and I concur, that you make a picture for each hidden map feature, so you can only depict a single hidden map feature at a time. In the example above, there would be a minefield map, a sniper map, and an ambush map. Easy enough to do– and you wouldn’t have the pain in the neck of showing ONE thing on the photograph and trying to hide the other things with your hand or a piece of paper.

the Wargaming Rules EPUB Project, a small collection


NOTE, read first: this post is going to get very unwieldy if I keep adding file links and cover images to it, and also a lot harder to find as I continue to post here and it gets buried.  Therefore, I’m adding this content to a PAGE called Digital Rules.  See the tab up at top there?  Go there for Epub wargame rules.  Got it?  Otherwise, there’s the direct link.  Thanks!

First of all, I must tender apologies for not posting in a while.  I haven’t had the mojo and have been more concerned about my workaday world job than my hobby.  So it goes.

Secondly, I’ve been playing with SIGIL lately, the Epub editor that Google recently acquired and are distributing on one of their Google Code pages.  I’m finally satisfied that I’ve found a decent editor that can clean up sloppy Epub conversions.  Sigil does an excellent job and has tons of features.

Looking around the various resources on the internet, there have been plenty of free, good rule sets available over the years.  Mostly these get distributed as PDFs, webpages (HTML) and sometimes text files.  EPUB and MOBI formats are becoming the gradual standard in digital publishing for mobile platforms, and is even showing up as a format for distributing rule sets, as I reported in March of last year.  I think this is a great trend– I’ve been running games using only an Ipad lately– which works if the game isn’t TOO complicated.

That had me thinking.. there’s a ton of older, established easy rule sets that have been hanging out in various corners of the web here and there for decades, almost.  As a learning experience, I’ve downloaded a few and converted them in various ways– text to epub, html to epub, pdf to epub, etc.  Then I’ve gone back in in Sigil to tidy up the resulting mess.  It’s time consuming (especially for games with lots of tables), but anyone with a little XHTML experience can do it.   So I’m going to start making a few of these projects available as I create them, figuring that somebody somewhere with a table or other device might find them useful for gaming.

The first two are A HOTTER FIRE, a simple ACW Ironclad game by Alan Saunders and available on the Staines Wargame Group website.  The other is RENCOUTER, a simple skirmish game by Ed Allen that’s been on Web-Grognards.com for almost fifteen years.   The last is THE FOUR EYED DOG IS DEAD, another great Staines wargame club game, this time on the Taiping Rebellion.  I didn’t request permissions to do this, but I figure my efforts to be just another version of an established web presence for these files, and in keeping with the designer’s desires to distribute his work freely.  So I hope the authors don’t get to waspish about it.  If you are the creator of anything I post and have the slightest issue with an epub conversion, contact me and I’ll take it off the website immediately.  On the gripping hand, if you want me to convert something of yours, contact me and I’ll see if it is a good candidate.

If you want to get a copy, click on the cover pictures to access the raw epub files.

Click on A HOTTER FIRE cover to download the rules epub

Click on RENCOUNTER cover to download the rules epub

Click to download the EPUB to The FOUR EYED DOG IS DEAD. Taiping Rebellion Rules by the Staines Wargaming Group

Note: Four Eyed Dog has a Quick Reference Sheet HERE as a separate file and a set of Order Counters on the source page.  Since these are “print once and done” files designed to be printed out, I didn’t jam them into an Epub, where they would be somewhat useless.

2/7/2014 Update:
I may end up moving these to a page on this blog, rather than just this post.  In any event, here’s MUNERA SINE MISSIONE, one of my favorite simple gladiator sets by Mr. Alan Saunders of Stronghold & Staines Wargame Group fame.  I like his work.

Click to download Munera rules in Epub format.

09 Feb Update:

I’ve moved the content to the DIGITAL RULES page.  See the tab above.

Enjoy! Let me know how these work out for you. I plan on converting more. I’m likely to create epub files for my own THE MAGI and BIG DANGED BOATS.

Possible future projects will be VIKING LOOTERS, my new man to man Nappy game, and maybe some decent civil war land battle rules. Suggestions welcomed– the criteria being they shouldn’t be too complex, have too many tables and pages and are light on the illustrations.

Have fun and enjoy the game.

Sample page

An example from A HOTTER FIRE, being read in IBooks, on an IPad Air tablet. Pagination isn’t 100% perfect! The file is readable and if care is taken with the table of contents, fairly easy to navigate.

DISCLAIMER. I did the best I could with what I had, but some of the times, a table will carry over to the next page or the pagination isn’t 100% clean. I’m not responsible for the consequences of loading epubs on your tablet. Use at your own risk.

DRIVE ON MOSCOW by Shenandoah Studios, Preview


“After three months of preparations, we finally have the possibility to crush our enemy before the winter comes. All possible preparations were done…; today starts the last battle of the year..” — Adolph Hitler on Operation Typhoon, Völkischer Beobachter, 10 October 1941.

I had opportunity to get a preview of DRIVE ON MOSCOW lately and have already taken it out for a couple of test drives. Drive on Moscow is volume 2 in the “Crisis in Command” series of two player war games that started with Battle of the Bulge. It will cost 9.99 and the release date is 21 November, 2013. Players can play asynchronously, via hotseat, or against the AI.

Drive on Moscow, in case you’ve been secluding yourself under a rock, is the follow on to the wildly successful Battle of the Bulge, by Shenandoah Studios. Shenandoah Studios is helmed by ex-SPI and VG Staffers Eric Lee Smith and Nick Karp. Their company is doing their best to bring real wargames to the Ipad format, and last year’s Bulge has set an industry standard.

Main Menu, Drive on Moscow

Drive on Moscow is based upon a Ted Racier design. The game plays out the very tip of the spearhead of Operation Barbarossa in 1941, when German forces were halted within sight of the city of Moscow. Barbarossa was Germany’s first and best chance at winning the war in the East; they came within a hair’s breadth of success. After 1941, the German forces would suffer attrition at an alarming rate and never again enjoy the numbers they had attacking Moscow in 1941. The Soviets, by contrast, start out somewhat weak and disorganized strategically and only gain in strength as the days and weeks pass and Soviet Russia’s phenomenal manpower and industrial resources come into play. Drive on Moscow features area movement and an identical game engine to the Bulge game. There are many similarities, but many differences. For one thing, the scale is much larger. Players now attack with Panzer Corps and defend with Soviet Shock armies. In Bulge, the player plays the role of a harassed area commander, either trying to stave off disaster by funneling reinforcements to weak points, or a very understrength attacker, trying for an breakthrough before the faltering supply chain gets compromised. In Moscow, the player steps into the shoes (or jackboots?) of Army commanders the like of Guderian, Von Beck and Zhukov. Units are larger and have greater staying power.

The situation at start. Piece of cake, right?

Above is the basic scenario. There are victory objectives on the map, as there were in Bulge, but very clearly labelled. Of course, the plum is Moscow (top left).

The German player, will enjoy early success, as he has several panzer corps to use as his spearhead. A reasonably proficient player should be able to break through the Soviet line, especially on the left. That can be where the problems start, however.

Clearing space in the road to Moscow

The Soviets will have more and more infantry to throw into the equation and any spearhead at the gates of Moscow will soon find itself isolated by lots of annoying infantry armies and some very good tank armies rapidly popping in out of nowhere. So German attacks must be supported if they have any chance to make it to the big city. The unit mix is roughly the same, adding in railway (strategic) movement, cavalry and airborne troops which are very handy inded for the defender.

Victory is decisive and easy to understand– it’s not all about capturing Moscow.  There are multiple strong points all over the map that the Soviets will fanatically defend.  If the Axis player captures one, victory points are given for the initial capture of a strong point and more for each turn it is held; the initial bonus is lost if the Soviets recapture it. So it’s safe to say that the Germans should attack the named VP areas as long as possible and not lose a lot of time worrying about the open countryside where they won’t gain anything and lose both units and time in costly battles.

Setup Screen

Although the engine and general look and feel are very similar to Bulge, the scale and situation are very different. For one thing, Drive on Moscow just seems more colorful and bright! It must be the muted color palette that the graphic artists at Shenandoah Studios used for Battle of the Bulge, but that game always makes me think I’m playing at night– I much prefer Moscow’s big, bright maps, with clearly marked objectives, railroad movement, and wide open areas. Though I’d play either game, any day.

The New Game’s map and units

I’m only 3 games into Drive on Moscow, so consider this a preview. I’ve only played the AI opponent so far; it seems fairly competent but will cluster around the strong point VP areas after you break through the first defensive line, or at least has in the last 3 games. That’s roughly historical, I suppose. The game has elements of the Bulge experience; one side disorganized and nearly paralyzed at first (see: Stalin’s Command Paralysis, which is part of the game), the other ruthless and efficient, but at the end of a very long supply chain, and with no slack in the timetable of conquest. However, the differences become evident after the first play– railroad movement, and the terrain the map is representing, has very different consequences and outcomes. Drive on Moscow is in every way a fantastic sequel to Battle of the Bulge and will provide wargamers of varying levels of experience and competence endless hours of fun.

I strongly recommend DRIVE ON MOSCOW, which will be in the Itunes App store this week.

X-Wing Customizable Magnetic / Pivoting Flight Stand


misternizz:

A very cool post on Pen and Lead about Customizable Magnetic/Pivoting Flight stands. Being able to demonstrate an angled curved turn really adds a certain visual something to X-WIng Miniatures games.

Originally posted on Pen and Lead:

So, like so many other people, I purchased Fantasy Flight’s new X-Wing miniatures game and purchased all of the expansions thus far.  I am of course, waiting on the new expansions coming out soon.

When playing the game, I wanted a little bit more dynamic “pose” to the ships, and being familiar with flight stands that allow you to rotate and change the pitch and yaw of the mini, I thought I could make my own.   I posted a short video at the end of this post of the finished product.

I made a trip to our local Wal-Mart and purchased some BBs in the air gun section as well as some pellets.  You have to find the right type that are attracted to magnets.  The BBs you see in the image are steel while the pellets I bought aren’t attracted to magnets, so they are useless.

So, what…

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