Tuesday, January 31, 2017

League of Legends: Mechs vs. Minions

Before yesterday's Shadowrun game, fg and I played League of Legends: Mechs vs. Minions, another one of the chibi boardgame kicksters that he backed.

The sheer size and engineering of the game is insane. For a start, Amazon lists the weight of the box at 12.8 pounds. Inside, the components all seem to be bigger than they need to be, with the individual trays for the components more luxurious than they need to be - I was reminded of sushi takeaway platters. There is a custom sand timer and metal ring markers, all of which functions could have been served by more generic, cheaper components. The scenarios, or missions, are presented in sealed envelops, each of which contain the set-up rules, the mission, as well as special upgrade and damage cards which are added to the game as you tackle each in turn.

The gameplay is, in essence, Robo Rally meets Zombiecide. Players play cartoon characters piloting primitive mechs (I am not familiar with the online game which this game is based on - sorry), whose actions are determined by cards the players assign to a dashboard. The cards represent movement, turning, or attack actions, and are divided into four suits of different colours; cards of the same suit can stack, making the action more potent.

Instead of just making a circuit around the race track, the mechs in this game have more varied missions, from collecting gems to killing minions to defeating the evil boss mech. The game is co-operative, which is something I don't usually enjoy, but in this instance the time pressure (that's what the timer is for, although we didn't use it) makes it hard for players to discuss their moves in detail.

Each turn, the minions will move either randomly or according to the scenario rules, and if a minion ends its turn adjacent to a mech, the mech takes a damage card, which can be once-off (resolve and discard), or it can be semi-permanent and placed over a command card, necessitating sacrificing an action card the next turn to remove, or moving over a healing square. Mechs can't actually die from damage, but presumably beyond a certain point the damage are too numerous to repair and it just moves randomly around the board.

We managed to play about 4 scenarios over the course of the afternoon. The missions are designed to slowly teach the players the rules, like the tutorials in a computer game, so the first one was a boring one about movement, the second one about killing minions, the third one being a more challenging one, and the fourth one a real struggle battling the boss mech (which has its own specially designed cardboard box within the main box!).

Not knowing anything about the computer game, I cannot say how closely the game replicates the original. As a boardgame, I get a sense that too much is going on and players do not have enough control over the action at times. In Robo Rally (which is my point of reference), the only randomness are the hand of action cards drawn, and the actions of the other players, which may sometimes be guessed at and overcome (that in itself being part of the fun); the board behaves in a predictable fashion, damage is applied in a fixed fashion, and there are no other unknowns. In Mechs vs. Minions, the random damage effects, the random movement and spawning of the minions and the random movement and attacks of the boss mech means there is a lot more unpredictability, which while fun from the fluff point of view, actually takes away from the depth of the game. It seems to me that the designers of the game has tried to bundle too many mechanics into a single game, and ended up with something that doesn't do anything too well.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Robogear T-Rex, Battle Systems Urban Apocalypse Terrain, and resin urban barricades

Marines prepare to take out an enemy walker.

Gaming activities have taken a back seat in the past few weeks, but today I managed to paint up the Robogear T-Rex models I bought years ago, and posed it with some of my recent purchases.

The three buildings in the picture above are from the Battle Systems Urban Apocalypse range. These are punch-out cardboard buildings assembled with plastic clips. The surfaces are printed on both sides, and the windows and doors can also be punched out. I am sufficiently pleased with what I got (the Shanty Pack 2) that I will probably buy more of it. I have ordered some HDF terrain bits from Zen Terrain, which I hope I can paint to match this stuff so the buildings will have a more 3D, realistic look.

The Robogear T-Rex is of course a classic and a favourite of Imperial Guard players who want a proxy for the Sentinel.I have painted this as a support walker for my Warzone Imperial Regulars, which will be painted in the same colour. I only mounted one of the weapons provided (the hard-points for the other weapons are poorly filled in with epoxy) and the exhausts come from another of the Tehnolog kits which I bought for bits - I used them as I wanted a vaguely WW1 look to go with the Warzone figures.

The kit came with two versions of the canopy: a 'solid' version where the 'glass' is moulded, and an 'open' version where only the frame is represented. I didn't want to procure and paint a pilot/driver for the kit, so I decided to use a wire mesh to represent some sort of anti-grenade barrier so I coud hide the interior. It still needs some decals for tactical insignia and numbers and a base, but the basic paintwork and weathering are done.

Finally, we have the resin barricades I bought off ebay. I had expected them to come unpainted, so it was a bit of a surprise when I opened the package and saw what was a reasonable paint-job on these guys - the oil barrels are rusted and even showed oil slicks. I may spray some beige paint at the bottom parts of these sections to help them blend to the tabletop. Or I may not.

What I have also done in the past few weeks was to slowly assemble the forty Warzone Imperial Regulars I bought. This was not an easy task as the figures are made of hard plastic, have some significant mould lines, and have arms (to be more precise: forearms) that need to be glued onto the main torso in a three-point contact. But done they are, and now sitting in a box of sand waiting for the glue on their bases to dry. Hopefully in the next week or two I can get them sprayed in their base colours, and then over the next month finish painting them.

Still on the sci-fi/Blast Pistol front, yesterday I finally bit the bullet and took advantage of Kromlech's 17% sale and bought some resin bits to convert the plastic M1117 toy I bought to a sci-fi APC/IFV. That's spending US$20 on parts to convert a toy that came in a US$9 bag-of-toys. With that kind of money I could have bought a second-hand GW 40K Chimera... but then where's the fun in that?

Monday, January 02, 2017

Frostgrave Barbarians and Shaman

Here are the Frostgrave barbarians from the box set plus the shaman from the Nickstarter. I started painting them in November or December, but only completed them when I powered through 9 figures in a single sitting yesterday, so I guess they count as the first completed project for the year.

I painted them with white-and-black body paint to represent Avvar barbarians in the Dragon Age world - the next arc of my RPG campaign will be set in The Frostback Mountains and feature the Avvars.

I am not quite sure the decision to paint them with the body paint was a correct one - the computer game version looked more striking because they had white-and-black clothing too; these just look like KISS fans or cast of a Chinese opera. Still, what's done is done, and at least they will be used in my Dragon Age RPG game, and can be used as a generic fantasy barbarian warband whenever I need one. Or Dunlending in fg's Middle Earth RPG.

With these done I can move on to the next project, which will be either the Warzone Imperial Regulars (40 plastic figures, one metal hero figure, a Robogear T-Rex walker, plus maybe a conversion project using the plastic M1117?) or the 20 Black Hat crossbow-armed dwarves which I ordered 5 weeks ago if they arrive in the next two weeks.

The Warzone project is set to become a major project for me this year as, despite the figure-count being only 41 plus one or two vehicles, the ancillary requirements in terms of terrain will be significant; already I have placed orders for card buildings, MDF building and building dressings, resin urban barricade sections, and bought other cheap toys and hardware bits to use for scratch-building purposes. Stay tuned.