Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Forbidden Stars

Adrian, fg and I played a game of FFG's Forbidden Stars on Sunday.

I quite enjoyed the game, even though I came up last. The gameplay itself is a mix of 4X and "capture the flag": to win the game, you must capture a number of objective tokens equal to the number of players in the game - the catch is, each token is in a tile controlled by another player. It is easy to lose sight of the aim of the game and go on a traditional build-invade-conquer-build cycle, but while combat is necessary (and fun), in our game most of the time the objectives were captured because they were lightly-defended as the owning player had shifted his forces to invade another sector.

There are two noteworthy features to the game. One is the placement of the order counters. Players take turns placing order counters on the map sections to indicate the command they wish to execute during the turn; if there is already a tile on the section, you place your tile on top of that tile. The twist here is the orders are resolved from the top of the tile, so if you wish to gather resources from a sector and then build forces, you need to place the build tile *before* the gather tile! Also, as the tiles are resolved essentially in reverse order of placement, it is often better to place your order *after* your opponent has done so. For example, if you foresee an invasion on your sector and you wish to gather resources and then build up your forces, you should let the enemy place his invasion order counter *before* you place your tile - if you place your order before him, then the invasion order will be revealed and resolved, before you have a chance to build your forces.

The other interesting feature of the game is the combat, which utilises a combination of specialist dice and cards. Players draw a random hand of five combat cards and choose three to fight three rounds of combat, with each card played having some effect on the results. This adds strategy to the combat, making it more than just a dice fest.

As usual, the game components are excellent. The map art is especially impressive and captures the mood of 40K.

The game is excellent as it is, but I can easily imagine it being reskinned for a historical naval war, either for the age of sails, or even WW2. Hopefully we can get a 4-player game in in December.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Heavy Gear Caprice Mounts and Iron Wind and Reaper Chaos Warriors

I apologise for the scarcity of posts over the past few months, but I have been doing more RPGing than wargaming; but I have been painting.

These are the Caprice Mounts from the Heavy Gear kickstarter. They still need to be based, but the paint job is done. I painted them specifically with the mat that we are using for the game in mind, and I am quite pleased with the result.

These are the Chaos Warriors type I painted for our RPGs: twelve archers and twelve axemen from Iron Wind Metals, and two boss characters from Reaper. I shoot them on the 2D terrain tiles I use for RPGs because that was the main reason I bought and painted them. In our Dragon Age game they represented Hurlocks; in a Lone Wolf game they will likely represent Drakkarim. Of course they can be used in fantasy wargaming as generic Chaos Warriors too.

Continuing in the same theme, I am now painting twenty Frostgrave barbarians, with the short-term aim of using them as Avvar barbarians for the next arc in our Dragon Age campaign. I made the decision to paint them with white-and-black face and body paint as they are depicted in the computer game, which does make them a bit more specific and limit their use as historical figures. But the two test models I painted this weekend suggests that the white-and-black scheme does work in 28mm, so I will proceed as planned.

I will have a few months to paint the barbarians, because from the next session Jonn will take over as GM and continue our Shadowrun game, and after that fg will be making his GMing debut with Cubicle 7's Adventures in Middle Earth. I am pretty excited about both, and as much as I enjoy GMing, I welcome a break from having to do all the prep work before each session.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

DC Comics Dice Masters

With a couple of hours to while away this afternoon, fg and I decided to play a quick game of DC Comics Dice Masters.

The game is a "deck building" game with a bit of placement mechanics. You start by recruiting heroes/villains, and then deciding how many much resources to assign to each of the characters (in terms of number of dice). There are a few versions of each character, some with different cost to field, and each with different abilities. Each turn, you roll four dice to see how many points or sidekicks you generate - with the points you can put characters into your reserve pool and field them later, and with the sidekicks you can attack your opponent or defend yourself against his attack. Once fielded, the characters bring their powers into the combats.

The game components are very nice, and I am sure there are subtleties to the game we did not appreciate in our three games, the mechanics are too abstract for my idea of a battle between super-heroes and super-villains.

After the game fg and I looked at Cubicle 7's Adventures in Middle Earth which he bought. A quick perusal of the rules got me quite excited, and we are now planning to play the game after the next arc of my Dragon Age campaign (or the one after, depending on when the Loremaster's Guide is released). My character concept is a dwarf from the Iron Hills who is obsessed with the reconquest of Moria, and will spend the next few decades gaining knowledge and allies for this quest; hopefully he eventually goes with Balin to Moria and dies there after a few years, murdered by goblins.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

The Men Who Would Be Kings

My free copy of TMWWBK arrived in my mailbox last week. As with the other books in the series, the pages are filled with nice artwork and miniatures.

This is the fourth free Osprey book I received play-testing for Dan Mersey, and the fifth Osprey wargame I had the privilege to contribute to.

Colonials aren't exactly my period, although I do have both sides of the Indian Mutiny in 15mm. However, after watching The Siege of Jadotville earlier this month, I am wondering if the rules can be used for a "bush war" type of conflict...

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

Red Box Dwarves... kinda

I'm going to touch up the eyes on these guys later, but here are the twelve Red Box dwarves I got from the kickstarter Tre Manor held a while back.


The torsos come from Red Box, but I didn't like the heads and I wanted these guys to be armed with spears. Some trading got me the heads and spear arms from Gripping Beast's Dark Age Warriors box set, and I was in business.

Now while assembling these figures, I realised why dwarves "in real life" didn't use spears or polearms: the distance between your hand and the ground affects how much length you can manage "above" your hand. Sure you can manage to hold a 15-foot pike, but that takes two hands and it isn't really a weapon you can use in a skirmish.

With these guys I now have enough "irregular" dwarves to make a Riot campaign viable. Plus they are always useful for fantasy RPGs.

One reason why I pushed myself to finish these guys is because I have decided to back the latest Frostgrave Nickstarter so I can get my hands on the multi-part plastic barbarians. Barbarians, like dwarves, are useful figures to have for most fantasy settings, so I expect quite good return on investment on those. I would like to paint them with black-and-white body paint like the Avvars depicted in the Dragon Age RPG, but whether I can manage that is an unknown.

If you are looking for some generic fantasy barbarians, do head over the North Star's page.

Monday, October 03, 2016

Horizon Wars first game

I've been talking about Horizon Wars for a while, but on Sunday Martin, fg and I finally got down to trying out the rules.

We played a set-piece battle with 20 points a side. Martin fielded two mechas, a recon drone and a heavy artillery unit, plus three bases of infantry.

I fielded my "Mad Max" force with ten bases of infantry, four bases of bikes, and six 'technicals', all classified as some form of infantry in the game, and due to the way the points system works, each costing a point.

As with most first games, we probably didn't get everything right, and we most certainly didn't play all the rules - in particular neither of us used the Recovery action, which would have made the game last much longer.

We did, however, learn a couple of things.

Mechas are powerful, but can be vulnerable if unsupported. Even with a high Firepower, it can only target one enemy unit per activation, which means it can succumb to horde tactics.

The downside to playing the horde is the amount of book-keeping required, as damage is scored against a unit's stats and there is no 'hit points' per se.

For the next game I think we might want to play with a smaller force and on a smaller area, so we get can down to the nuances of the rules.

Also, the Heavy Gear kickstarter that we backed arrived and I got my sprues. The plastic is a bit softer than I expected, and even the smallest mecha has eight parts, which need to be glued together, so it will take me some time to get all of them assembled. They also came in blacj plastic, which may present a problem when it comes to painting because I want to paint them 'light sand' instead of the canon red. Well, one step at a time then.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Twilight Struggle

Things have been a bit slow on the gaming/painting front, but fg and I managed to play a game of Twilight Struggle last week.

The game is highly rated, and you can find reviews and tutorial videos of it (that's how I learned the game), but my personal take is that it plays like Go with cards. The world is divided into six regions, and within each region there are countries. The aim of the game is to score victory points through the playing of cards and also by having more influence than the other player in a region so you can dominate it.

As the Soviet player, I initially got off to a strong start in Europe, but lost steam after a while. I shifted my focus to the Middle East, but a good event card which would have let me dominate the region was cancelled by one played by fg. Thereafter I got some bad cards that gave fg central and south America, and I lost on VPs before the game ran to its turn limit.

For us, the fun of the game was mostly topical - the events described in the cards were things we heard about as children and teenagers, even if the true significance were not apparent to us. If you are a child of the Cold War era and cheered when the Berlin Wall went down, you will like the game. If, on the other hand, you don't know how David Hasselhoff single-handedly united East and West Germany (or that there were such things as East and West Germany), then a lot of the game will be lost on you.