Monday, January 20, 2020

Skirmish at the Old Stable

"Did you see that sorcerous warrior taking shelter near the old stable?"

"Yes, he was covered in blood."

"And there were Elves with him. At least two of them!"

The farmers did not normally traffic with the allegedly cursed warriors of the Wizard Empire, and even less with self-evidently dangerous folks like Elves.

"They must be up to something... something not good. What should we do?"

"I say we burn the stable! Then they'll go away!"


This is the report of the first time I've played a minis game with my six-year-old son. He's tried his hand at painting (there's still room to grow his skills), and we've played some board games. But this is the first time playing an actual legit miniatures war game.

Before we started he exclaimed "I can't believe I get to play a grown up game!"

Battle is about to be joined.
The attackers (me) were trying to burn the barn. Every attacking figure in contact with the barn got to roll a d6. On a 6, the barn would burn down and the attackers would be victorious.

The defenders (my son) were led by an old plastic chaos warrior selected because "he has a lot of blood on him, so he must be tough". They'd win by eliminating the attackers.

The rules were basic OSR derived. Each model had the following stats (assigned by me):
  • Hit points
  • Movement rate in inches
  • Armour class
  • Attack bonus (added to d20 roll, must = AC to hit) per weapon
  • Damage roll per weapon
  • Range for bows
This is what the defenders' stats look like. They severely outclassed the attackers. But that's okay, since this is a narrative game.

In terms of gameplay, we used the following rules:
  • Roll initiative per side each round, using a d20 (this felt tedious after a while).
  • Combat is resolved simultaneously (good for less book keeping IMO).
  • You cannot shoot into or out of melee.
  • You cannot move away from melee once you are engaged (I think this will become a free hack thing in future iterations).
You can see how the attackers planned to - and indeed did - move as they attacked.

I don't have a lot of progress pictures as I was pretty focused on playing and explaining (and holding the "no-we-can't-arbitrarily-change-rules-or-dice-outcomes").

Our terrain rules were as follows:
  • Newly ploughed field = half movement rate.
  • Those big clumps of trees and = impassable.
  • To cross a linear obstacle (fence, hedge) move up to it. Roll a d6. On 4+ continue movement, 3 or less you're stuck (this actually felt pretty good in gameplay).
The defenders didn't take a single point of damage. Talk about an unbalanced scenario.

I got five or six rolls to burn the barn, but it failed to ignite and the would be arsonists were mercilessly butchered one by one.

The fate of the attackers is sealed. Note how HP is correlated to shield and shirt colour for easy identification. I guess I should try to get a set of markers that match my paints.
My son was pleased with his victory, and immediately suggested "let's play again, but switch sides this time."

"Sounds good" I said, and we set about preparing for our second game of the afternoon....

The Zenobian 7th Again!

[Battle Report Directory] [Zenobian 7th Main Page]

"Alright folks, I need some volunteers," yelled SrSgt Penny. "Who's wants to get a big screw?"

"Erh, sarge, is that a trick question," asked Pte Langobard. "What kind of screw are you talking about because..."

"Because you're wondering what sort of clever joke I'm setting up, is that it? But no, Langobard, I mean that actual mission objective over there with the code name 'big screw' because that's what it looks like."

"Oh, because you see I was hoping..."

"Yes you were, but you're out of luck."

"Unidentified infantry spotted! They look like they're moving to engage!" The banter between Penny and Langobard ended abruptly as one of the spotters called out the warning.

"Looks like you luck might change Langobard, you may get screwed after all. Alright folks, pull your socks up and point your guns at the hostiles! We're not giving up our big screw without a fight."

My colleague Rodrigo and I set up on a spare table at work and over the course of several lunch breaks had the very first Kill Team game for both of us. What follows is a brief report of the action.

It's a basic 100 point get-the-opfor-objective-without-losing-control-of-your-own match. We didn't using traits, elites, or anything else fancy like that.

We went at it fairly gingerly, and to be honest we probably got a few rules wrong. In fact, I know the Zenobian 7th list wasn't 100% book legal (I think I had two of the same specialist). That's what happens when you work with Rogue Traders!

Even though I brought four plasma guns, I don't think I used them that effectively. You see the problem with shooting your fancy plasma gun at someone is that it will very likely leave you open to return fire. I didn't like that idea very much.

I put my commanding office centrally so she could affect everything, but it made her the only real target for enemy shooting. She almost got killed before she ducked back out of sight! Leading from the front is a dangerous business.

I reckon that was Pte Langobard doing the melee fighting.

The above picture perfectly illustrates the problem with shooting at people. They might shoot back! And hit! Completely unsporting, if you ask me.

Then there was the bit where I thought the central group was close enough to my home objective to claim it, but in fact they were to far away due to the height of the ruins they occupied. Oops.

I'd caused a couple of flesh wounds throughout the match, but the last round was the only time I actually downed an opponent.

In the end, I think the main difference maker was that I didn't expose all my expendable infantry to too much fire, so when it came to claim the objectives in the last turn I could just throw bodies at the problem.

Thanks for a good game Rodrigo!

Friday, January 3, 2020

Three Lists for 2020

I'm normally not one for new years resolutions so this isn't one of those. Rather, it's three separate lists.

Things I'm Pretty Sure I'll Get Around To In 2020

  • Finish painting the minis for two sides of a Dragon Rampant game, and play that game with a friend.
  • Play a few more games of Killteam at work.
  • Buy and read Oathmark once it's out.
  • Paint some more miniatures - especially Vikings, Normans, Gaels as well as small handfuls of goblins, beastmen, chaos warriors, dragon ogres and rpg specific models.
  • Get my OSR derived minis rpg/ skirmish ruleset project to a state where I can playtest it, and do so. Try it out to see if I can make it scale up to early WFB sized rank and flank type games as well.

Things I Might Get Around To In 2020, If Things Work Out Right

  • Play more games of Dragon Rampant in a narrative fashion, building from the one game above.
  • Try out the Xenos Rampant mod fro Dragon Rampant using my 40K figures.
  • Get one or more of my Viking ship models table ready.
  • Paint more miniatures, of course.... looking at 40K Sisters and Imperial Guard, as well as more Elves and some 10mm fantasy.
  • Maybe kitbash (and paint) an assortment of Inq 28 type minis.

Things I HAVE To Do Before Buying More Minis Of Various Sorts

This one is more important, and I'm putting it here in order to keep the twin peaks of Mt. Grey Plastic and Mt. White Metal from growing ever larger.

  • No new fantasy or historical troop miniatures until I have painted at least one full force of Vikings and Normans for Saga.
  • No new fantasy troop miniatures until I finish off my "almost done" High Elf army enough to field a full force for fantasy Saga and/ or Warlords of Erewhon AND I have painted a similar sized force of goblins/ monsters/ beastmen/ whatevers.
  • No new MDF or other buildings until I finish off the Norman Hall and the few other Sarissa dark ages buildings I have.
  • No new "oh this could make some cool terrain" purchases of bits and bobs until I complete at least three separate terrain type projects (small is okay).
  • No new 40K Sisters until I've painted at least half of what I already have.
  • No new 40K Tau until I've painted all the new stuff I have, and at least one unit of the ebay rescues.
  • No new 40K anything else until I'm able to field two opposing Xenos Rampant forces, painted.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Elf Game Heartbreaker

I'm developing a B/X derived miniatures skirmish game as a hobby project.

Tone setting image by Jakub Rebelka, one of my favourite current illustrators.

A little while ago, my wife told me two things:
  • She doesn't realistically think she'll be able to play RPGs until the baby is significantly older. Like in maybe in a year.
  • Looking at the roleplaying games we've played in the past - various iterations of D&D basically - she really enjoyed using miniatures.
... and thus, this post about roleplaying games on my miniatures blog. I'm starting (and hopefully continuing) a project to borrow, modify, and/ or develop a whole bunch of OSR B/X based houserules to make my very own Elf Game Heartbreaker narrative tabletop skirmish game.

Wait... what? What does that mean?

It means that I'm taking an old and fairly simple edition of D&D (B/X), modifying it to make a game to suit my particular needs and aesthetic inclinations. This is something lots of people are already doing in what's collectively known as the Old School Revival (OSR) movement in D&D. And now I'm doing it too.

So what am I aiming for?

Another cool Jakub Rebelka image.

So here is my current thinking about my Elf Game Heartbreaker:

  • Combat will be resolved on the tabletop, using miniatures and terrain and all that. This has a number of implications:
    • I'll be adding and tweaking terrain and combat rules to provide a decent table top skirmish experience.
    • The setting is going to be mostly reflective of the miniatures I own and/ or am likely to buy. I'll have time to do some painting between now and then, but it's looking like it will be centred around a bunch of viking and other dark age types (historical or not), a not insignificant number of elves, some orcs and goblins, some beastmen, and various monsters.
    • I'll be leaning fairly heavily into the morale rules, followers, and adding some friction. Combined with what I hope are effective incentives for taking captives and holding them for ransim, it will rarely be "combat to the last drop of blood." But you can still get maimed or die in a gruesome fashion.
  • I intend to anchor the PCs in the setting and the community, somewhat akin to what you see in the Great Pendragon Campaign and the One Ring.
    • This means the ideal pace of adventures are something like "one every year or two," and - similar to Pendragon - adventures can be failed or abandoned and consequences will accrue in the game
    • It also means slow healing and lingering wounds.
  • The flavour of the game is going to be somewhat Dark Ages and pre-Christian Europe. This means no gun powder, no analogue to the Church and clerics, and no steam-punk mechanical robots, gonzo ray-guns and that sort of thing.
  • I expect there to be more cattle raiding and kidnapping than dungeon delving.
  • In spite of the name, the game will initially be human-centric.
  • If no one except me and my players like it that's cool. If my players don't like it either, maybe I'll try to develop some solo play rules.
... that's what I'm thinking right now. Now I just have follow through. I'm pretty stoked about it, and I have about a year. So it just might happen.

An illustration of the Battle of Brávellir by Christian Højgaard (a Danish book illustrator).
Not completely sure about the historicity of the chariot pulled by the massive horses there.
No rights asserted, claimed, nor implied for any images shown in this post. They will be removed on request by rights holder.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

GW has announced that the old world is coming back, with square bases no less. That sounds like Warhammer Fantasy Battle (my first love) to me.

It is several years in the future, apparently, leaving plenty of time of for idle speculation. With that in mind, here is my 100% purely speculative, utterly unfounded prediction: the new game is going to be in 15-18 mm scale!

Why? New models for everyone (sales), less competition from 3rd party manufacturers (except the old Demonworld range), bigger units, unit price will stay the same but more figures will make buyers feel they are getting value, and GW can use their existing digital files to make the minis.

There you have it, I've gone on the record. Let's see what happens.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

From the Dark Ages

I painted another handful (12) of spear wielding Gripping Beast plastic dark age warrior types. I figure they can do duty as a fairly wide range of early medieval North West European fyrd or levy type warriors, as well as generic warriors, tribesfolk, and/ or angry local farmers in various fantasy settings.

This time I went for a much more muted palette, attempting to represent warriors of more modest means dressed in humble homespun fabric. Again, these lads were painted mostly using contrast paints.

Charging across a white, featureless plain.
The shield designs are entirely speculative.

Friday, November 8, 2019

Granny and the Boys

I finished a few more viking types, including Granny. I'm in the process of planning my first Dragon Rampant game and Granny is going to feature in it - as are her two friends, most likely.

I picture Granny as being a local force, both due to her tendency towards sorcery (real in fantasy games, less real in historical games) and sheer force of personality. The miniatures themselves are (L to R) Citadel, Citadel (I think), Wargames Foundry.