Tag Archives: Game

Simple Fog of War in Boom! Zap!


My plan was to debut the playtest game of Boom! Zap! (my pulp SF reworking of the old Rules with No Name engine) at camp this year, but there was such a clamor to run Frostgrave for another day and Big Danged Boats for another day that it kicked Friday’s game right off the schedule. Too bad, I had invested a ton of time and $$ purchasing and building hallway terrain from Gamecraft, and it looks fantastic (although I really need to work on a paint scheme for reuse). With that said it is very durable and I can use it for next year’s camp so it’s nothing wasted.

I love this stuff– it’s the Science Fiction Spaceship Corridor line from Game Craft, who makes a lot of laser cut wood gaming accessories. It’s durable, goes together with wood glue, and pretty much idiot proof. After you assemble it, it fits together nicely:

The idea behind this stuff is to use it for corridor and setting for a couple of games, one being BOOM! ZAP! (pulp SF) and the other SPY RUN (retro 50s, 60s and 70s spy game) both are 28mm skirmish level and both interact with the terrain (hallways) in a very specific way. One element I’ve been wanting to try is limited perspective based on terrain. Bear with me, this may sound complicated at first, but I think it will pay off in entertainment value.

I’m trying to prevent the God’s eye view benefit from playing factions interacting with each other in enclosed terrain (an outpost). YET! we are in a universe where things like recon probes, motion detectors and the like exist. So groups moving around should have some limited intel about other groups moving around. So prior to contact I create blip tokens similar to those used in the game SPACE HULK.

Each blip reads as a group of people or moving mass (like robots) in the complex or terrain. They enter the complex through three possible entrances (two airlocks, one underground shuttle). Initially, before they are revealed by moving into proximity with each other, all groups move as blips. As they move through the complex, they can, if they have the right equipment, send a probe droid ahead to recon for them for a certain amount of distance. The probe can (under an operator’s direction) move around corners and report back what it sees. It could be empty and likely will be:

empty hallway
Empty Hallway

Or maybe not!

In either case, the Referee takes a picture with his cell phone. He then displays it to the faction reconning the hallway.

Whoops, it is truly empty? What are THOSE?

Eventually as groups move closer together the blips resolve into groups and the hidden system isn’t needed. I just think this might be a fun addition to a skirmish game set in a world with a high tech level. background.

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Game Camp 2017 Day 3: Frostgrave, extended, & Cosmic Encounters


Previous: Day Two-Frostgrave

Day Three dawned with a continuation of FROSTGRAVE by request of the campers.  The older kids love it; they like the super tactical feel, the way spells can totally mess up a plan, and the “spatial” feeling a three dimensional tactical game can be with miniatures.  You can’t get that same feeling on a flat screen.

Naturally, any game I can leave set up and not have to worry about setup times is a game I’m going to like, too.good

Right off the bat, both sides came on aggressively. The Good side got ensnared in the right corner with fending off the evil Sigilist and Elementalist (aka Johnny Flamehands). Our side was facing him with a good Soothsayer and a good Illusionist. The Illusionist somewhat dominated the right middle of the table. specatularly failing to cast a Poison Dart repeatedly so much that he was down 4 points. He redeemed himself when he was the second crew to visit the temple of Fundamental Evil in the dead center. Johnny Flamehands, the Elementalist, tried earlier in the game, and encountered a being so vile, so disgusting.. well, I’ll let the evidence speak for itself.

Don’t say I didn’t warn you! Anyway, there was indeed a Type III demon who was so messed up looking he caused everyone he came in close contact with had to check their Will at a big minus or run in fear. The Illusionist had a Transpose spell– he had tried it before with his Wizard and failed badly, so he tried it again with his apprentice and this time he rolled very high. By carefully placing himself to eyeball the contents within, he could see both the Type III demon blob and the Zombie that was standing behind it being controlled by the Elementalist.
Bam, ZIP! Guess what happens?

One EXTREMELY ANGRY, PEOPLE HATIN’ CRAZY DEMON who likes darkness transposed into the sunlight with a very confused zombie being blinked back into the temple! RUH ROH! Bad news for that Elementalist and his crew who happened to be standing right next to him, mouths gaping in shock and unspeakable horror!

We laughed for about 15 minutes.

That kind of changed the classification of the game from “Maximum Haul” to “Grab what we have and GIT!” Team Evil started leaving the left side of the board rapidly. Team Good had more distance and more leisure. We ended up calling the game and rolling up the treasure.. quickly, as the buses were coming. Team Evil won the day, but by less than ten points, surprisingly.

We also played the hands down, don’t argue with me BEST GAME IN THE UNIVERSE, Cosmic Encounter— you can tell I’m a bit biased. I sat in on this six hand game with Red Menace, Green Machine, Blue Meanies, Yellow Peril and Orange Crush. We create nicknames for our aliens by color (as you can see) so we had to settle on White Blight for me, since the cards came from an expansion set. I engineered a four way win (hey, I’m not ashamed) and it was a great time indeed.

and a little documentary evidence about how canny these little dealmakers were getting by end of game.

Day 3 was great!  A most satisfactory continuation of Frostgrave and an epic game of Cosmic!

All Frostgrave Photographs

All Cosmic Photographs

Tomorrow: Big Danged Boats, my own 15mm fantasy naval game.

 

 

T-574 Frostgrave, Treasure Hunting in the Frozen City!


This is an AAR of Thursday night’s game of Frostgrave, at HISTORICON 2017, put on by the masterful GM: Jeffrey Hiley.  “Masterful” is faint praise for Mr. Hiley’s terrain building skills, which put the rest of us pikers to shame.  Case in point, his Frostgrave city, an expanse upon which I have gamed in the past, sans the harbor area:

Add to this a new feature, a frozen harbor full of ships, a longish quay that had clear shooting from end to end and lots of open lines of sight everywhere, and you have some beautiful terrain that could make for some really tense moments in Frostgrave.

Frostgrave, Treasure Hunting in the Frozen City!. GM: Jeffrey Hiley. Fantasy. 28mm. Rules: Frostgrave. Amidst the frozen ruins of the ancient city Frostgrave, wizards battle in the hopes of discovering the lost magics and treasures of a fallen empire. Each player will take the role of a wizard from one of the 10 schools of magic.
Leading an apprentice and hired soldiers into Frostgrave you will compete with other wizards also trying to find lost secrets. Play on custom made, award winning terrain. Kids 12 and under welcome, accompanied by an adult.
Rules taught, beginners welcome.

The Lighthouse in the Frozen Harbor.

The scenario for Treasure Hunting in the Big City sets up two teams, good and evil.   On the good side were four warbands, led by a Chronomancer, an Elementalist, a Thaumaturgist, and a Witch.  On the evil side were also four warbands each led by a Chronomancer, an Elementalist, a Witch, and a Necromancer.  The sides were very reasonably balanced.   I got the Good Chronomancer.  The GM wisely handed out pre-made warbands with pre selected spells.  This is smart– for a couple of reasons.  First, creating a Frostgrave character takes some thought and takes some time– you have to think about the kind of character you want to play and how you want to play him or her.  Offensive? Defensive?  A character that can take care of himself or others?  Or someone who can throw out fireballs with gay abandon?  Secondly, those crew rosters and figuring out point costs may be easy math, but it also eats up loads of time.  So for a convention, certainly, pre-made rosters are the way to go with Frostgrave.


My Chronomancer and his hired goons step out smartly.

My Spells were: Crumble, Fleet Feet, Decay, Elemental Bolt, Spell Eater, Mind Control, Push and Leap.   This is a good selection, for a Chronomancer.  I would probably select something similar.  The only downside is a Chronomancer’s ability to reach out and impact other groups is pretty limited.  On the other hand, the ability for a Chronomancer to influence matter is pretty good.  Crumble can bring down walls, it can make holes appear under people’s feet.  Decay can make weapons crumble into dust.  Fleet Feet is a passive bonus but it does have a benefit of extra movement for either the Chronomancer or his goons.  The other spells are mostly set up to move other things or other people distances– which helps getting treasure off the map!

Not much in the way of cover out there on the ice floes.  Great treasures, though!

If you know aught about Frostgrave, you’ll know it’s about looting, first and foremost.  The Wizards enter the frozen city, each with a specially picked team of hirelings, and they exit with as much treasure as they can carry.  In Jeff’s game there were treasure tokens all about.  Some were worth more than others– if the treasure token had a gold coin under it, then the treasure was one that implies greater risk, and thus with a greater value (of 10 VP per treasure).   Our four teams on the good side were set up with two teams on my left and one on my right.


Good witch team on my left with giant bear companion (Top). This was mirrored by the evil witch across the table with Troll mirroring Bear for the evil side (Bottom).

My starting position was more or less just a tiny bit right of center.  I was in an area of smaller medieval town buildings, next to a ramp going up to the big causeway that goes up to the big round castle.  Except for the causeway, I had clear control of a high ground with plenty of cover– the third floor of a crumbling townhouse.  Not exactly controlling the right side of the board or anything but offering up good opportunities if my opponents get careless.  I had a lot of good line of sight spells– crumble, push, decay, etc, but nothing that could hurt people from a distance except Elemental Bolt, which has a high casting cost.  So I took my archer and parked my Wizard up high in the drafty crumbling top of the house with the Archer, looking for targets, and sent out my band of thugs to gather and loot with great joy.

I wish I had a sexy tale of my wizard entering into duel with another wizard and slinging bolts and such but it wasn’t like that. I took a commanding presence as I said, and my thugs had a relatively easy time of it. This was due to terrain for the most part. There was a commanding archway directly in front of me which masked the movement of my band (and my wizard and apprentice) nicely. My thugs all got treasure except one. I made good use of my spells and they failed about a 1/3 of the time. Most of them were Fleet Feet to make my people move faster. I hardly ever had another wizard in my sights at any point, but did my best with missile fire and crumble offensively. I never bothered with Elemental Bolt (it’s not a favorite) but I do love Crumble– one of my favorite spells of the Chronomancer group. So I tried to drop a wall away from someone who was next to it and maybe get him to fall. He saved. Then I tried a PUSH on him and it failed. So in order to do a one-two on the bad guys, who were up in the citadel, I started crumbling giant holes in the wall to see IN to the citadel. I did cast a successful DECAY at that point, but that was pretty late in the game now. Oh, and I used MIND CONTROL at one point, which was a lucky roll at 14. I wanted to control a giant rampaging Owl Bear out on the ice floes that was menacing my Thaumaturgist ally, but Jeff plays with spell ranges, and I couldn’t nail him. As a consolation, I was allowed to Mind Control the troll and have him rampage against his former master. That was satisfying.

So my Wizard never really came under fire, nor did my Apprentice.  They were in position to support each other and didn’t risk themselves very much.  This in my mind is appropriate for Chronomancers– they don’t have a way of bringing a world of hurt on other people, but can make things happen.  The closest I came to taking losses was when I sent two thugs and a knight up the ramp to the causeway to grab an extra point treasure.  The knight ran across the causeway to come to grips with the enemy forces in the citadel, while my ally to the left attacked them from the rim of the citadel.  There’s something to be said for having it easy– I had a very clear hand with the loot items.  There was never much danger but the treasures were only worth ten points instead of twenty.

The guys to my immediate left definitely got into it more than I did. They lost an apprentice, but killed two of the enemy apprentices. That was our highest level casualty. The guy on my right (a Thaumaturgist with some good spells) had his hands full and saw the most combat of the entire game. He fought a troll from the enemy Witch team, then ran out on to the ice flows where the good treasure was and got into it a suddenly appearing arctic Owl Bear. So he took the most casualties from the Good side.

At the end of the day, we (the Good Wizards) had a large numerical edge in the Victory Point category.  This was a great event, very entertaining and clearly demonstrating the amount of work that went into prepping the terrain for the spectacle.

HERE is a slideshow of every Frostgrave snap I took.  There are a bunch of them.

Naturally Disastrous First Look


Here you go, I just received the first production copy of Naturally Disastrous by Silver Lake Games. This is a recent funded Kickstarter.

The premise, as promised by the designer, reads like so:

Naturally Disastrous is a 1-6 player co-operative dice driven game of peril and adventure. Your mission is simple enough. Arrive at your destination, verify the conditions and then set up a long range communication array to deliver your findings back to your superiors. Easy, right? Your visit to Earth is supposed to just be a quick investigation into how the planet is doing.

As you enter the atmosphere massively destructive storms make it hard to navigate. Giant volcanoes, earthquakes, thermal gas explosions and flooding are rampant and tearing the Earth apart and what happens next? You and your crew are shot at by some natives claiming that you are violating their air space. As your ship tears itself apart and plummets to the desert floor you know that your only chance of survival will be to pick up the pieces of your communications array that are now conveniently scattered across the driest most self-destructing climate you have ever seen.

All you have to do is find and set up the four parts of the communications array and signal the mother ship to come heal this planet and get you out of here. You will have to navigate around the perilous hazards, avoid snipers who want you gone, secret agents who are stealing your technology, crazy mad scientists who want to perform experiments on you, and a completely different alien race who may even abduct you. Work together efficiently as a team and you will avoid a Naturally Disastrous fate! If you become mutated, you turn against your former allies.

The game is played on a randomized map, with randomly placed tokens. Each turn, the active player must roll to activate a disaster, and then has 3 actions per turn (move, probe, etc.) Combat is resolved with dice. As each part of the communications array is found, it must be transported to one of the corners of the map.  — From Boardgamegeek, “Description”

So my take on this is that this will be a game from the alien’s point of view, a sort of “Forbidden Island” without the sinking part of it.. maybe.  Anyway, we’re going to find that out as I will be playing it against actual humans in the next two weeks or so.  In the meantime, here is my reactions to an actual unboxing– literally the day after receiving it, so I have no idea of what the contents are.

Enjoy, and I apologize for the somewhat shaky Ipad camera. Most of my gear is packed away while my house is being rebuilt. I should get an Ipad stand, as I definitely needed two hands for this thing.

First look at WING LEADER Supremacy 1943-1945 by GMT Games


I’m terribly sorry about the vertical inclination.  I was snowed in and bored, and the box from GMT arrived last night (Oh joy!) so I thought I’d record a first look kind of post with an Ipad.  Pointed the wrong way of course!

Rock, Paper, Wizard! another hand-gesture spell game!


I’m liking Wizkids’ newfound dedication to producing small format, small concept games which play fast, have easy mechanics and lots of replay value (see the recent experience with BLANK WHITE DICE). So along with BWD I picked up another recent publication, ROCK, PAPER, WIZARD! (RPW) also from Wizkids, and decided to set it up and play a three “handed” game solo, just to see how it works– bottom line up front.. surprisingly well!

Flavor text sets up the basic scenario:

In Dungeons & Dragons: Rock Paper Wizard, the dragon has been slain, leaving behind a treasure over which to fight, and the players are wizards who are fighting to claim the most gold from the dragon’s pile.The players have a shared “spellbook” of cards depicting various well-known D&D spells, and each card shows a unique hand gesture that the player must make to cast, while pointing at another player as the target of the spell. All players choose their spells simultaneously, and the spells can move the wizards closer or farther away from the treasure or affect the game state in other ways as well. It’s a game of second-guessing, satisfying successes, and agonizing reversals as each spell cast potentially affects the outcomes of the following ones!

The first player to grab 25 gold pieces from the hoard wins.

Setup is easy. You have 3-6 Wizard characters that start on the center spine of a tiny folded map. The cave exit is on the left and the horde of dead dragon loot is on the right. Wizards start with 3 GP and throw spells at each other to move the other wizards or steal GP.


Basic Setup.

Every turn, the wizards choose an enemy wizard, target them for a spell (in their heads) and then they all chant “Rock, Paper, WIZARDS!” out loud and reveal the spell HAND GESTURE (printed on the card) .  The spells are resolved in a clockwise fashion starting from the wizard who was chosen to go first (as the potion bottle token attests to).

Caveat: since I was just playing around with RPW, I did not achieve the designer’s intent.   The game will (and should) play much better versus other humans, and isn’t a great solitaire design.  I had to come up with random methods of having the wizards attack each other, instead of the fist pumping “Rock Paper WIZARD” which would be much cooler but kind of stupid by yourself.  I achieved random attacks by tossing the wizard tokens in the air and figuring out who was pointing at whom when they landed:


Yellow lady Wiz attacks Blue Gentleman Wiz, he attacks Purple Lady Wiz

Choosing spells was easy enough, of the three in the “Spell Book”, only one was really offensive, CHAIN LIGHTNING.  Still I wanted to try some options so I only selected Chain Lightning for two targets and a Counterspell for the last one (see the setup photo above for the spells on the table).


Chain lightning! (Gold Lady Wiz)


Chain Lightning AGAIN (Purple Lady Wiz)


and Counter-spell (Blue Gentleman Wiz)

Resolving the Spells:

As near as I can tell, the following things happened.

Gold Went first, firing a CHAIN LIGHTNING at Blue, which spills over to Purple.

So Blue moves back 3, Purple 2:


Blue moves back 3, Purple 2 (since she was targeted by Blue)


Then Purple hits Blue with Chain Lightning as well. This knocks back Blue but also Purple.


Since Blue was Targeting Gold, but not with the same spell (instead, CounterSpell) it’s as if Gold’s spell didn’t happen, so everyone moves back a little.

End of turn stuff:

The left most spell card is discarded, and the Wizards are given financial rewards– 5 to the Wizard closest to the horde (Gold) and 3 to the next in line (Purple).  The new card is CHARM PERSON.

And the next turn moves on from there… I think  you get the picture of how this game plays.

That’s pretty much the game in a nutshell.  You play until someone hits 25 gold.  Based on what I’m seeing, that will happen fairly rapidly– I had no problem getting about five turns done on my first game, with no problem figuring the game out and no problem getting a game done.  What are my thoughts?  Well, I want to play it with at least four people.. Four seems optimal, maybe Six is too much.  Three is stretching the boundaries of the design a little and Two is one too few.  I like the “rock, scissors, paper” mechanic redone for spell casting and I think the way they implement spell cards is like a man commanding a dog who suddenly has the power to work a television remote– “Spot ON!”  RPW is pretty silly at the heart of it and probably will be played several times before running through the variations of spells and spell variations and counter-variations.   The game can (and should) be easily expanded with new spell cards, and I hope Wizkids thinks of this.

Rock, Paper, Wizard isn’t exactly a deep thinking game, but there ARE strategies, and decisions to be made– quickly, and with the right crowd this could be all kinds of silly fun.  As I also have some recent experience with a spell casting game that utilizes hand gestures (See multiple posts on THE MAGI), I was curious about this game.  I’d like to have some advanced rules for RPW, like summoning creatures and actually attacking in a way that causes harm to the opposing wizard, instead of displacing him/her.   I could easily replicate this game using miniature figures– I have several painted up in 54mm (as well as summoned creatures) for the Magi game and RPW might be fun as a low complexity introduction to the Magi, which isn’t exactly complex, either.

Bottom line, RPW is fast, cheap, easy to teach, easy to learn.  I can’t wait to play this with some real opponents.

Ogre Miniatures Set 1 Kickstarter


Color me on board!  At long last, Steve Jackson Games is backing a project that brings back the long out of print OGRE MINIATURES LINE (out of print, incredibly expensive in after market) back as plastic miniatures.  The miniatures are designed based on the originals, match the originals in scale and look, and have been cleaned up and retooled for plastic molding process.  The only models currently in kickstarter are the basic OGRE set– it appears that you will be able to recreate the original OGRE scenario (with an Ogre III and an Ogre V to use).  The models are cast in a solid color, blue for the little guys and red for the OGRES.

As you can see they are doing a great job with the sculpts. The molds apparently have been purchased and the deal with China has been made.

You can even buy a reverse set in the primary plastic colors, courtesy of another funding resource


Original


Reverse colored

I’m pretty excited about this one– and I backed it! I may add on a reverse set, as well. The mere fact that SJG is calling this SET ONE means they will likely expand the rest of the OGRE universe.. exciting times!

DETAILS HERE: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/847271320/ogre-miniatures-set-1

 

Armada Wave IV arrived at my house.


Background: FFG’s Star Wars ARMADA might be my new easy Starship combat game.  I love X-Wing Miniatures quite a bit, and I don’t regret investing in it.  However, I feel that the many waves that have come out for that game have compromised the tactical feel somewhat.  The ship miniatures keep getting bigger and bigger, and the light single ship fighter feel started getting lost when they started jamming larger, multi-crewed ships in the same tactical system being used for fighters.  That’s not a severe criticism, you can buy the ships  you want and scale X-Wing the way you want it and have a great time with it.  With that said, X-Wing is still (at the heart of it all) a WWI fighter plane game for single cockpit fighters.   The bigger vehicles make it clumsy.  I think it’s appropriate to have a second game system that focuses on big, lumbering platforms– the big ships firing the big guns and launching fighter squadrons (which are tiny clusters of fighters of X-Wing sized fighters) at each other.  That’s the kind of space-fight I like to see, and I haven’t really seen an accessible game at that scale since the old days of Full Thrust or Silent Death.  Sure, I know, there are other options out there (5150 Star Navy comes to mind, I’ve heard good things..) but I haven’t played them, or a game like, in quite a few years.   FFG’s Star Wars Armada is rooted deep in the Star Wars verse, that is true; but it still has the “big fleet” feel, combined with dirt simple mechanics I can teach to kids, and that’s what I’m looking for right now.  The Star Wars element is nice, not for me necessarily, but it does provide sort of a common cultural experience everyone can enjoy.


Yeah, that’s the ticket… THAT’S a space battle!

With all that said, I’ve been getting into the game by jumping into the deep end over the last year.  I’m still learning the nuances.  We ran a much streamlined version of the game at camp this year and I think it’s a winner.  I currently own six Imperial Destroyers, the Imperial fighters that came with the standard game, The Rogues and Villains pack (which are single ships that don’t seem to fit the notion of fleet operations, but you have to jam the Millennium Falcon & Slave 1 in somewhere, I suppose) , Two Rebel fighter squadron packs (plus the ones that come with the base game), two Home One MC80 Star Cruisers, three MC30C Frigates, 2 ea of Nebulon B Frigate and CR90 Corellian Corvettes, two Assault Frigates and one Imperial Assault Carrier pack. I know, this isn’t a balanced collection. I way overbought, but I’ve been finding some great deals from people who are piecing out their games on Ebay.. getting 2 Star Destroyers for 20 bucks, for instance. Unfortunately they didn’t come with the paperwork I need to make it useful for a game, but I didn’t know that going into it.

So with that said, and it was a lot, I pre-ordered the Fourth Wave of Star Wars Armada.  Armada “waves” are smaller than X-Wing miniature “waves”, judging by experience.  So expect maybe two ships a wave.  Fourth Wave is two ships, the Imperial Interdictor and the Rebel Liberty.   I couldn’t get an idea of scale from the ads on Miniatures Market, so I assumed the Interdictor was a giant “Dreadnought” style ship like Vader’s command ship in Empire Strikes Back.  It’s not that at all– more like a variant of the standard Imperial destroyer.  The Liberty is a classic “big gun” Star Cruiser for the Rebel Alliance.

The Imperial Interdictor Expansion

As I said, I thought this was going to be just a giant Star Destroyer at first glance, but it’s actually a variant of the Star Destroyer, albeit a smaller, less armed and armored version.  The Interdictor has one or two special variants on board that turn it into a specialty ship– namely the gravity well projectors.  In essence, what makes the Interdictor not just another Star Destroyer (but weaker) is this card right here (or left here technically).  The Interdictor has an experimental system for messing with the gravity well that ships teleport into and out of in the Star Wars universe, and it has the ability to stop ships cold (speed zero) when deployed.  This is a pretty neat trick.  Now, I just got the package last night, so I can’t tell you how I’d play this thing, but my instincts say don’t overbuy this ship– one will do, protected by another star destroyer close by or a couple of fighter squadrons– this ship would be easier to take out than a standard Star Destroyer.  I could see this being a fun thing to pull on your victims (friends) in a big, multiplayer game.   In a two player game it might be a little obvious.  The Interdictor is a quirky specialty ship, and I’m glad I got one– but only one.

The MC80 Liberty Star Cruiser Expansion

The MC80 Liberty type Star Cruiser appears to be exactly what I was expecting– a giant honking capital ship for the Rebels, with lots and lots of hitting power, decent expansion cards and great defense. Accordingly, a high point cost as well. The Liberty ship class is designed for striking power (forward) instead of broadside, like the Home One. It is less armed and armored on the sides and will need to keep its face to the enemy, so to speak. Liberty comes with a ton of great upgrade cards as well, which will add to flexibility and features of this hull. Again, this showed up last night when I got home– so I haven’t even taken it out of the box yet. My instinct would be to use this to lead an assault into a line of destroyers with some MC30C frigates or Nebulon B frigates in tow to keep the return fire un-concentrated. Like the Interdictor, I’m glad I just have one of these.. the Victory is less specialized than the Interdictor but it’s so powerful in a forward rush that it’s kind of overwhelming. Of course the proof is in playing it.

Verdict

Wave IV has a couple of great ships in it, but not anything you would want mass quantities of either way. I’m still really digging Armada and have high hopes of continuing with it. I would like to see a decent update on how to play the game with multiple players, and new ship hulls that aren’t necessarily fighters or giant ships. If the next releases are all mid sized (about the size of an Imperial assault carrier in size) that would be fine with me.

Looking Forward

There’s a bunch of stuff that is either forthcoming, or I haven’t picked up for some reason.  The Rebel Transports look okay, but they will probably be the last thing I pick up– the scale is a little small to make them effective in a fleet game (but then again, I bought Rogues and Villains, so you never know).  I am interested in getting at least one Gladiator class destroyer.
The upcoming Wave 5 has some nice ships– I like the Phoenix Home and Imperial Light Cruiser.

Summer Gaming Camp, 2016 Day Two


Our second day started with people wanting to play GOOD COP, BAD COP, which is kind of deduction/bluffing game not too far removed from WEREWOLF but very different mechanics. The players are playing either rogue cops that are working for a criminal mastermind or good cops trying to deduce the bad guy. Instead of Werewolf’s eye-closing routine they use tokens and cards to indicate states of presumed innocence. It’s an interesting take on a similar theme.

The big event of the day was Battletech, Gar’s favorite game, and he ran that while I started prepping for Big Danged Boats, running Wednesday and Thursday. Garrett like Battletech and I suggested we add it to the programme this year and see if it works. We purchased a Catalyst Introductory set and got the figures painted. Terrain was somewhat abstracted, one of my old hex maps and some Heroscape terrain hexes to make hills. I thought it looked great.

Summary: Battletech is a game that Garrett likes a lot, but it’s a little too “Charty” for the kids in game camp. They thought it was a little complicated, though they were game to give it a go. They liked Armada more (so far). We broke for lunch and to play some dodgeball and Room 25. There also was a big interest in painting figures, so I did my best to facilitate and make everyone aware of their options.

So a day of Painting, Battletech, Dodgeball, Room 25 and Good Cop, Bad cop. Fun Times!

Review: Frostgrave Cultists, by Northstar Miniatures


FROSTGRAVE CULTISTS Warband box
Plastic soldiers, 28mm scale, sold as sprues that are assembled into a variety of poses
URL: http://www.northstarfigures.com/prod.php?prod=7731
Created for the game FROSTGRAVE (Osprey Publishing) but can be used for a variety of skirmish games in the 28mm scale. Not really a good addition to historical army, the fantasy theme is very pronounced.

I picked up a box of Frostgrave “Cultist” figures at the recent Cold Wars convention. This is a big box of assemble it yourself plastic figures– and I mean big, you can make 20 figures with this box. The intent of the plastic soldiers is to quickly give a Frostgrave player suitably Winter-themed troops to rapidly bulk up warbands. I’ll stress up front they aren’t required to play the game– you can play Frostgrave with anything that seems to fit the scale and setting. I got them because they looked pretty good (I love pointy headed cultist heads), they are in scale, and there’s a lot of them.

The Box Cover. Click to enlarge.

Details: There are 4 sprues with 5 body variations on them (I think). Essentially a mixture of cloth, leather armor, maybe some studded leather. There are many head variants in this box, most of them with pointy hats, helmets or hoods. Only two bare headed head variants per sprue, I used those sparingly. There is also a few weapon variants sculpted to represent skull heads and skeletal arms. Decent variations for possible weapons– a two handed knobbed club, a bow, a crossbow (two handed), several variations of hand weapons, mostly a Kopesh, a small sword, various daggers, a couple of target style shields, a spear etc. There are some hand-only variations and nice extra bits (like quivers, pouches, sheathed knives etc) to add to the figures to increase variation. Sculpting is excellent here– very detailed and weird looking cultists with a variety that really sells it. The best part of this set is just how well the two-handed weapon sculpts fit on every body type provided, every time, with minimal glue. The plastic type is hard gray styrene, you will need a Testor’s style glue to construct them. Every body provided comes with a matching styrene circular base.

And here’s my first batch of cultists. I actually did make 20, one of them broke and was drying after a repair job. Click to enlarge

I only have them primed up at the moment but they will take a coat of paint nicely. I’m very pleased with my first “war band” purchase from North Star. I would give this a 4 out of 5, for a few minor nits about weapons choices (I would have liked to have a longsword carried by a human arm, and larger shields so we could indicate Men at Arms types, but that really IS minor).

If you purchase these, and North Star’s other warbands, they should mix very well with the regular soldier types and the follow-on skeletons. Don’t throw away the sprues whatever you do. I had to fix some broken weapons pretty quickly– be sure to use a storage system with some padding as the swords can be a little fragile. Scale wise they mix perfectly with 28mm pewter from the same company, but would also work with Warhammer Fantasy (although they might be a tad chunky in comparison), Reaper miniatures, even older pre-painted monsters from the D&D Miniature and Pathfinder miniatures lines, although the latter may lack detail in comparison.

I’m glad I bought these cultists, they will be very handy going forward with Frostgrave games.

Language as a mechanic in Games– Src:Card puzzled over, but not reviewed [Kickstarter incoming]


And now for something completely different, well, maybe not that different, but at least a little unusual.

I heard about SRC: CARD recently when someone (well, the designer) emailed me about it out of the blue.  SRC: CARD is an interesting idea for a tabletop game.  From the promo blurbs:

Src:Card is a standalone 2 player (2-4 with expansion) card game that challenges players to build their own super robot core while attacking their opponent by writing code.  Make your robot core as formidable as possible while creating code to attack and anticipate changes to your opponent’s robot brain. Src:Card incorporates real coding concepts that are challenging for experts and easy to learn for beginners. Anyone can learn the game in 15 minutes.

The robot fighting part?  Eh, that sounds like a tacked on theme to me.  I’ve played Robot Fighting games before, including the famous one.. you’ve heard of Robo-Rally, surely.  The interesting part?  The description of the key mechanic of this game.  You are programming in a language will launch attacks against an enemy computer core.  I don’t have a copy of this game in front of me and I’ll be honest– I’ve never played it.  It doesn’t really exist yet.  However, from the demo I saw on the Kickstarter Page, I was sufficiently intrigued to be interested.  You see, I like linguistic style games with a clearly defined ruleset and consistent, ironbound internal logic.   Somewhat like computer programming, come to think of it.   SRC:CARD is purporting to use a type of language as the means in which to play.  From what I’m seeing, the language is created by playing cards that represent either computer cores or programming statements.  The impetus is on the player to continue playing the statements to form conditional loops, if statements and variables to attack the enemy computer core before the either card “bootup” limit suddenly happens.  Honestly, I’m not sure how it would play– the vibe I’m getting is ERGO, from Catalyst Games, with maybe a little Robo-Rally thrown in.  That could be a good thing.  The only tabletop game that I know of that relies on a learned language to play would be Ergo, though there might be others.  In Ergo’s case, it’s the language of Logic Proofs, in the more abstract form.  Sadly this doesn’t seem to be a concept that attracts potential players– I’ve yet to play Ergo (which I own) with anyone but myself.

I think what might set SRC:CARD apart from earlier attempts at Linguistic Games like Ergo is the Win/Lose conditions of “killing the other robot”. With a simple goal like that, I think people might be willing to give the programming element a try. Let’s face it; either you like programming or you don’t– it’s not a pure sex and free beer kind of occupation. So anything that makes the subject less daunting and more valuable will have value.

In any event, give the KS Video a look and make up your own minds.

Kickstarter Link for SRC:CARD

Likely this will be a niche demand game, but I think there’s a lot of appeal there for the right geeky kind of person.

The Weekend: Gaming on the Mellow Side


I’ve been meaning to catch Otto Schmidt’s THE WEEKEND for a long time now. It’s been tough, as June is a busy month usually with high school age kids.  Now that one is in college and the other is in his last year, I thought I’d spread my wings a little and manage a day trip.  Background: the Weekend is held late June, and appears to be a 3 day affair, so it is about as much of a commitment as any small convention in terms of time.  As I recall, this was started by Otto Schmidt as an alternative for HISTORICON when the latter was slated to go to a much more expensive venue in Baltimore, MD (this did not transpire, for many reasons).  Otto wanted the Weekend to be a gathering of old friends who wanted to blab, gossip, game and hang out.  It is held at the Continental Inn off of Route 30 pretty much right across the street from the Lancaster Host, site of Fall-IN! and Cold Wars.

The Inn is an old building, family owned and operated.  It has seen some hard usage but is not what I would call “a dump” by any means.  The hotel has a major meeting space downstairs and other, smaller rooms here and there in the upper and lower lobby floors.  Frankly, I would have killed for a space like this back in the TriadCon days.  If we’d only known.   It’s not perfect– the handicapped facilities are about as non-existent as they are at the Host if not worse (no elevators in critical areas; no handicapped bathroom stalls) but you can always drive around back to the lower level to unload things, which is a plus.

There is a MST3K (Military Science Theater 3000) set up for this con but I wasn’t there for that.  No vendors that I could see, and a desultory bring-n-buy style flea market.  That was about the normal convention “stuff” present.


An exquisite Age of Reason battle in 15mm, created by Bill Grey, the Author of Age of Eagles. Click the picture to see more.

I got there a little after noon (due to traffic and helping get my son ready for camp).  Literally, I spent much of my time there BSing and catching up with friends, so I’d say Otto’s goals for this convention are certainly being met.  It was great seeing many people I haven’t seen in a month of Sundays, including Dennis Largess, Rich Low, Andy Turlington, Bill Grey, Bob Leibl, Cleo Hanlon, and Pete Frechtling.  And Otto of course, but I talk to him on the phone frequently.

Mr. Tracy Johnson ran AFTER THE HOLOCAUST, the old rare SPI game on a giant splodey map with army men. It had a great look to it. For other pictures, click on the picture above

When I got there there was an ACW game going on in the corner, and two being set up, an AFTER THE HOLOCAUST (SPI) game being rendered in miniature form by Tracy Johnson, a two player game set in 1714 being run by Bill Gray,  and an I Leonardo game run by Pete Frechtling.

I definitely wanted to play the I Leonardo game, by temperament and experience.  I’ve played in Pete Frechtling’s skewed version of the Italian Wars (with Leonardo Da Vinci tanks, helicopters, gliders and etc.).  So with your kind forbearance, I will sketch things out as best I can, providing something of an “After the Battle” report of sorts.

The basic set up was the Imperials holding a bastion with supplies on one side of a canal that opened up into a river.  There was only one established bridge over the river (made of stone) and it was being defended by a force of two commands of Imperials, with two Leonardo style tanks each (not the conical tanks, the flat ones).  The Imperials also had a ship loaded with mixed troops and cannon to defend the water entrance with.   On the far side of the canal were the Allies– British (red striped tank), Swiss (green striped tank) and French (blue striped tank).  Each Ally had one “castle” style Leonardo tank, painted as I have noted, plus a wild mixture of artillery, infantry and a little cavalry.  I took the French (blue striped) command on the far right of the line.  I had the tank as mentioned, a grenadier, Leonardo himself, some engineers, some cavalry units, some foot knights, and a bridging unit (important!).   The Swiss to my left were in the center.  They had more artillery than I and some ruins to hide in.  They kept a hot fire going against the forces that would venture clear enough to be shot at in the center of the line opposite us.  At the far left was the British and the Allies’ two ships.  The ships also (important!) had a bridging unit.   The idea being they would sail into the canal, beach, and construct the bridge from their ship to the opposing side.

I didn’t spend a lot of time tracking the naval conflict, but it was protracted and savage.

The English engaged such targets of opportunity as were available across the canal.  With the canal there to impede movement the battle became kind of a long ranged slugging match over the canal as both sides attempted to bombard each other.  The big guns on the Imperial side were their two flat rectangular tanks, and a flame thrower style vehicle that was somewhat hindered by being in the midst of a pack of infantry.

We were in a stalemate for the first few turns.. The French being the closest to the existing bridge (played by your humble correspondent) we were going to have to swarm over it somehow and take the bridge.. Unfortunately the Imperials had placed one of their two precious tanks to cover that very narrow defile, and they were aggressively defending with everything at their disposal, including a land rocket that misfired and went fizzing off in a random direction (panicking my troops but causing no damage).   My plan was to make a big demonstration and hoo-hah at the center bridge and focus the defenders there, while building my bridge train on the far right of the battlefield.

 
Now that’s a satisfying reaction! More smoke clouds please.

The Swiss did their best to support me, and were game to swarm over the center bridge as well, but we had to move the vehicles out of the way to accomplish this.  They had the advantage of some ruins to disperse into and set up artillery and other fun Leonardo style weapons (including a machine gun) to plaster the Imperial bridge defenders with.  I had a single artillery piece on my front which did some service fighting the opposing tank unit.  About midway through the game I steamed over the bridge and tried for a ram on the opposing tank.  Yes, I know this sounds decidedly risky but sometimes  you have to push things to win things.  The ram did not accomplish much, nor did the follow on fire into his sides at point blank range.  It wasn’t a bad idea, really, I just rolled pretty badly throughout the game.  I followed it up with a fusilade of infantry attacks which DID cause problems… the French grenadier tossed a grenade into the mix and it actually exploded more or less correctly, starting a fire and killing several of the crew.

Here we come, you knaves! Take that, and that, and that…

Meanwhile the bridge building gang on the right had succeeded at their task and the first independent bridgehead over the canal had happened.  The opposing player realized this and moved half-armored knights into the gap to engage with me.   On the left, the Imperials attempted to move all their infantry down the road, lost their general to gunfire, and moved their secret weapons out to engage the Allied Ships, which had bested the Imperial and were heading up the channel.  The flaming water borne holocaust the Imperial player was loudly fantasizing over (repeatedly) did not transpire, and thus the left flank was able to create a bridgehead over the canal as well.

Victory is nigh!!!

Although we were slated to play until 10PM, I was being frantically called from the home front, over a matter of shoes for my son’s camp.  Timing came together wonderfully, as Peter declared the game a victory for the Allies at the end of the turn where the second bridgehead had taken place.  This makes sense.  Although the center bridge was very much in dispute, I could still push men over the the entangled two tanks and even though the defenders had a larger group of infantry there, it was so narrow between the buildings he would never have the chance to use them effectively.  I actually welcomed such a push of the pike.    The much referenced “secret weapon” (flamethrower) amounted to almost nothing and the two Imperial tanks were heavily damaged.  The French tank (mine) had suffered damage but was still firing and reloading.  I was expecting casualties on the right flank as our crossing attempts had triggered some ambuscades from hidden troops.  Still, I could see the tide of battle was changing rapidly in our favor, and who was I to contest the GM’s view of things, anyway?  My thoughts on the I, Leonardo game system was that it seems remarkably bloodless.  Most of the Imperial arsenal was taking a heavy pound throughout the game and we really didn’t kill much of anything– we disabled a lot, and killed some crews.. but that’s about it.  I would like to redo the charts to this one some day.. just pondering.  I like the system itself just fine, but it’s really for a history geek audience who pretty much know the subject already.

For an amusing SLIDESHOW of the I LEONARDO BATTLE, click here.

As mentioned, I had to depart earlier than planned to solve a problem at home but I was glad I had an opportunity (at long last) to visit THE WEEKEND.

Post-Apocalyptic Scooby Gang, in Color!


Creating a post-apocalyptic car combat game has its whimsical moments.  I present “The Scooby Gang”, alongside the Mystery Machine:

L to R: Fred, Velma, Daphne, Shaggy. Mystery Machine (up armored) in background. Scooby is in foreground.

 Figures were Elhiem, the Van is Hot Wheels with some Stan Johansen flourishes..

Same lineup as before, another angle

“1970’s Style Teen/twentys Pesky Kids and Great Dane”

and another new car…

The Grease Palace! He drops oil slicks and junk parts behind him…

Yes, it’s fun living in a blasted Apocalypse, devoid of all hope!

COUP by IoS: Reassessing


I have to admit, I wasn’t much impressed with COUP (the IOS game) when it was announced recently. I will not dwell on the In Game Purchase model, which I think is rather greedy for very little in return– why? Because the game is perfectly playable as a free product. You need never purchase a single other expansion and you can still have fun with it. So it’s kind of hypocritical to complain about the publisher trying to squeeze every last drop out of this turnip. They aren’t requiring you to buy anything.

I was, however, not impressed with COUP as a game– it didn’t seem to capture the concept of bluffing as well as the regular pasteboard version did, and again, my reasoning was based on incomplete information. I have, since, actually played a game of COUP as a card game (loved it!), and

There’s a little chat button, top right, that has a lot of canned statements you can broadcast to other players. Included are statements such as “Play your card already!” and “I have a Captain Card!” or “I have the Duke!” This can play out in a lot of different ways– when you are playing an action associated with a card you don’t have (like drawing taxes as the Duke when you dont’ have that card), and actually SAY “I have the Duke card”.. that is.. actually LYING (read, bluffing), and even if it isn’t anything the other player should give credence to, if he’s smart, it’s still a nice touch. It certainly acts like a fantastic distraction to keep the other guy guessing.

In summary, I’m warming up to the game quickly and actually enjoy playing it. I’m only winning a third of the games I play so there’s a lot to learn.

Road Warrior / White Line Fever update ver 2.2 to 2.4


Just a quick note. RW/WLF has been updated, from version 2.2 to version 2.4. This update covers oil slicks and road debris, and as well as adding the one shot heavy rocket to the arsenal. There are also some rules for limiting the game based on ammunition expenditure and a point-based victory point system (the last two optional appendices).

Anyway, you can find it in the standard places, under DIGITAL RULES on the DIGITAL RULES page. See that handy tab at the top of this page.