Thursday 30 June 2011

Warmachine - Cryx Cankerworm

Finished. I was looking forward to painting this 'jack, but for some reason didn't enjoy it as much as I'd anticipated. I don't know way. Maybe I was having a bit of difficulty figuring out where to vary the colour. For the first time I used Miniatures Paints metallic Copper (on the Cankerwork underside) which came out quite nicely. It's such a rich colour I rarely use it, like the majority of my metallic paints outside of the  silver/brass/gold colours. My warjack rust theme is applied as usual, although it also had been better in the past. The jury is still out on the base as well. We'll see if any static grass makes an appearance in the future. And jus noticed that I should fix the base's skull - rubbish.

And before anyone comments, I realise the mandibles are on the wrong way round from the official pictures. But I'm not removing them so there's no point nagging me about it!

Ach, I'm sure once it's been in the cupboard and brought out on the table I'll be feeling a bit more positive about the whole beast.

I now await the Von "must have" jibe!

Monday 27 June 2011

Slow Progress

A second squad of Marines are finally able to take their place in the "finished" cabinet. I don't know what it is, but I've hit one of those periods of not picking up the paint brush. I've have these waiting for decals and varnish and a Cryx Cankerworm (hopefully soon to come) looking for brief finishing touches for the best part of 2 weeks now. With a bit of luck the Marines gone will facilitate some impetus to finish off the other.

The frustrating part is that both pieces come are for forces that I can see the end of finishing. Eight marines, 6 Terminators and a Rhino (3-ish painting batches at a push) will see me finish my Space Marines force, and I'm only a handful of solo's/jacks away from getting my Cryx army to where I decided to stop.

At times like these sometimes the best advice is to step away for a bit. Alternatively, following the thought that "a change is as good as a rest" painting something fun that has no force building implications attached to it may be a good idea. Time for a pleasant rake through the Old School mini's box I believe!

Friday 24 June 2011

Exploring The Narrative Campaign

A while ago now I was exploring the idea of having more narrative focus on my campaign. I used a D&D story and acted out the encounters with a Skirmish Ruleset, Songs Of Blades and Heroes. Now this year has been quite frustrating in terms of my "regular" RPG group meeting up. Click on the RPG tag and see how few session reports there have been. One silver lining may be that I've had alot of fun with a few games Star Wars Pod racing, but I missed the regular RPG sessions.

We had managed to start a D&D 4e campaign, which a many readers will know/complain about is very focused on the miniature battle side of things for an RPG. I thought I'd try and take it from the other side, and play a skirmish level wargame that had a bit more character definition and the chance of a story campaign. Being a Two Hour Wargames fan I bought "Warrior Heroes: Armies and Adventures" (hereon WHAA) , as this offered up the promise of such an experience. Other attractions were the prospect of everyone playing on the same side; a random (but linked) encounter generation system; and an system defined opposition that was based on the player force strength. This last feature is hopefully a winner, as it will still allow us to play if someone (or even everyone except me) call off.

So three of us gathered on Tuesday Evening (predictably there had been one reluctant call off due to work, MacSver) to roll up some forces and our first encounter. WHAA includes the defined world of Talomir - with different nations, races, and army lists. It also allows each Player Character (or "Star" in rule-speak) to have an accompanying force, should they wish. I'm sure as player numbers fluxuate we can include these extra grunts or not as we see fit. After reading the country descriptions, etc and what seemed like an age rolling on force generation tables we ended up with the following character forces (some extra fan made attribute rules were used):

Melee Adventurer/Warrior from Ekra (Setting Sun alignment)
Rep 4, Hardiness 1, Weapon: Long Sword, Armour: (4) Chain w/some Plate
Social Standing: 0
Combat Value: 2
Attributes: Slow, 1HW Master
Recruits: 0 (due to a social standing of 0)

Skirmisher (Missile) Adventurer/Healer from Mirish (Rising Moon alignment)
Rep 4, Hardiness 1, Weapon: Long Bow, Armour: (2) Partial Leather
Social Standing: 1
Combat Value: 2
Attributes: Dimwitted, Loot
Recruits: Skirmisher, Clibnari (x2), Hykar Cavalry

Archer (Missile) Adventurer from Capalan (Twilight alignment)
Rep 4, Hardiness 1, Weapon: Long Bow, Armour: (2) Partial Leather
Social Standing: 1
Combat Value: 2
Attributes: Agile, Coward
Recruits: City Spearman, Archer, Knight (x2)

As we were all from different countries of origin a central country was picked with a vague background story. After another age rolling on tables to generate a opposing force we were away to try and get at least a small amount of gaming in. In the future I'll have to try and prep the games by rolling up the opposition before everyone arrives, as it not only takes time to generate the force, but you have to look out appropriate figures etc which is bit of a waste of our precious time when assembled.
We managed a few turns of the battle, but all the table rolling had taken it's toll on the clock and we had to wrap up. I'll not document the battle until after next time as I attempt to chronicle the story as it unfolds. We'll see out a few campaign turns and see how we are enojying the whole experience I'm sure.

Sunday 19 June 2011

Last Race of the Season

Saturday was the last meeting of the Livingston Battleground gaming club until after the Summer holidays (which scarily start in 2 weeks in Scotland) so I took along the Pod Racing Kit to hopefully try out on some new and younger racers.
A mass spinout card causes ArabianSquire (in orange) to
miss the first gate, whilst MacSver (back left) finds himself
facing the wrong way down the track.
We managed a race with 5 players, Myself, ArabianSquire, MacSver, his son MiniMacSver and for want of a more mysterious name, Callum. Only MacSver and myself had played before, so it was an interesting test if I ever considered taking the game to a convention.

It didn't take long at all for the new racers to get the hang of speed and laying down the cards. With two fathers & sons playing there was a lot of gleeful inter-family backstabbing, as you'd expect.
MiniMacSver plays the price for over boosting his engines
as the rest of the field zoom past his stalled racer.

We ended up only running 2 laps, which took around 2 hours to play. This didn't include any downtime or players taking a long time to decide moves. The main "delay" (if you could all it that) is with the playing on cards on each other - by the end of the first lap we'd gone through an entire pack of cards!

In the end, after the lead changing several times, ArabianSquire won on the last bend - speeding past the burning wreckage of his fathers pod which he'd blown up with a saboteurs bomb the previous turn! Only one other pod (MacSver's) remained on the track to take the Checkered Flag - a similar non-finisher ratio to previous games we'd played.

Thursday 16 June 2011

Chronicles Of Blood - a review

Chronicles of Blood - Solo War Game

First let me get something in the open. I never play massed army battle games (Warhammer, HotT, etc) so have nothing to really compare this game to, so bear that in mind whilst reading this. I picked up this game for a couple of reasons. I won't be shy and say the first reason was that the basic rule set (looked at here) is free. Further "premium" rule expansions will be released (one to date) for the princely sum of $1 (64p in real money!), so extra rules were not going to break the bank. next on the list of attractions is that it is a simple, solo, generic ruleset. This also grabbed my attention as Arabiansquire plays more often than I do, so it would be nice for him to have a simple rule-based opponent from time to time.

I will only be looking at the frugal free ruleset here. The army composition is pretty generic, as you'd expect, and focuses on a Good vs Bad force set up. This lets you mix Human, Dwarf and elven forces against Orc, goblin and undead alliances - very handy if you don't have enough of one race to fill and entire army list (as is my case). The "Units" are of regiment size, with each regiment having attack, damage, armour, health and morale stats by way of number or different dice types. So the weak goblins have an attack with a d4, where as the stronger Human Infantry have d6 attack. There are charge and flanking modifiers that can be added as well, and some ranged troops. The basic attack is just a comparative roll-off between meleeing regiments, winner rolls damage, anything more than the losers armour stat is translated into wounds until wounds get to zero. No saving throws, etc - pretty quick.

After each armies turn, any regiment that's taken wounds rolls a morale check (again on a d4, d6, d8, etc) and on a 1 flees the battle field. The rule led opponent rules are pretty simple, basically order of activation runs with the regiment strength and engages the nearest enemy. To make things more difficult for you (considering the basic rules for the opponent) , at the start of each turn you have a 1 in 4 chance of having to roll on a random event table to determine what happens - anything from rain halving your arrow range to one of your regiments turning against you!

After running through a game I have to say I enjoyed it. The different dice used as stats moves along quite smoothly and the enemy actions are simple and intuitive. The brutal morale system and random event table really try their best to put a spanner in the works. A drawn melee results in a wound and hence a morale check, and when rolling on the event table you really do "pray for rain". It does give a feel of the rules being "out-to-get-ya", but as long as you realise that (and the rules are so simple you can't fail to notice) it's a quick and enjoyable game. I'll definitely being trying to induce the young lad to the rules (assuming I can tear him away from his new Space Marine fascination)

As a sub note I've bought the first premium expansion which adds extra heroes, simple magic and leaders into the fold, which should give the regiments a bit more individuality on the table.

Test Battle Report.
A quick run through the test battle for the above review. Hopefully the auto-changing gif won't be too quick and you'll be able to follow it. Also you should bear in mind that I as I never play massed games tactics were beyond me!
The graphics are from using Battle Chronicler, which is an excellent free battle report program (which my first time fumblings below don't do justice to!), and GIMP (the open source graphics package - NOT the bloke in the rubber suit in Pulp Fiction)
The forces were taken directly from the rulebook:

The Golden Alliance
  • MaA1: 10 Human Infantry, Men-at-Arms 1
  • MaA2: 10 Human Infantry, Men-at-Arms 2
  • MaA3: 10 Human Infantry, Men-at-Arms 3
  • DS: 12 Dwarf Infantry, Dwarven Stoneguard
  • SOTS: 5 Angel Infantry, Soldiers Of The Sun
  • KOTR: 5 Human Cavalry, Knights Of The Realm
  • ER1: 10 Elf Infantry, Elven Rangers 1 (Ranged)
  • ER2: 10 Elf Infantry, Elven Rangers 2 (Ranged) 
The Unholy Blight
  • OW1: Orc Infantry, Orc Warriors 1
  • OW2: Orc Infantry, Orc Warriors 2
  • GW1: Goblin Infantry, Goblin Warriors 1
  • GW2: Goblin Infantry, Goblin Warriors 2
  • GW3: Goblin Infantry, Goblin Warriors 3
  • GW4: Goblin Infantry, Goblin Warriors 4  
  • BD: Demon Infantry, Battle Demons
  • DK: Demon Cavalry, Dark Knights
  • SH1: Undead Cavalry, Skeleton Horsemen 1
  • SH2: Undead Cavalry, Skeleton Horsemen 2

Tuesday 14 June 2011

Sgt Peppard

Today's delve into White Dwarf's archive comes from White Dwarf #88 (April 1987). The artwork here was supporting an adventure for Gw's Judge Dredd RPG entitled "A Night in the Death of Sector 255" (a sequel and play on a previously printed adventure "A Day in the Life of Sector 255" in WD#83) .

This picture also gives me the great pleasure of cross referencing with another favourite publication: the British Comic 2000AD. The artist here, Brett Ewins has illustrated many stories in 2000AD such as Judge Dredd, and Rogue Trooper, but his style, in my mind at least, will always be linked with the fantastic Bad Company series.

As ever Copyright obviously stays with the original owner (be it Games Workshop or the artist) and I hope that any interested parties will take these posts in the admiring showcase spirit that is intended.

Saturday 11 June 2011

Warmachine - Cryx Machine Wraith #2

To bolster the pain-in-the-ass aspect of my Cryx force I've added a second Machine Wraith.

This time round I was a bit more careful with the delicate railings down his back. Although roughly the same technique was used as my previous model, it's come out slightly lighter.

Perhaps with 2 of them I might actually take something over!

And just to continue the "haven't we seen something like this before": here are a few more 10mm skeletons I'd rushed off as well. Sort of "All Undead Great and Small" feature 9for those familiar with James Herriot!...

Wednesday 8 June 2011

More Pod Racing

MacSver and Azhdeen popped round again last night for a return Pod Race rematch. Rules details are in the last Pod Racing post

A new race - a new course
I'd managed to get my race gates finished after last race night so they were on table. They were constructed from the bases of the micromachine pods that had been removed (with a piece of bamboo skewer). I'd also learned a couple of things about course layout, so I positioned some low "rough terrain" on the inside of the first corner to give the racers a tougher decision of taking damage to cut the corner fine. I also used the gates with terrain to force pods into closer manouvering decisions, which also worked nicely.

The new race gates forced some tight manouvering

The race went along smoothly and was great fun, with damage rolls taking effect, drivers risking engine shutdown with over boosting their engines, and playing spin out cards to throw each other in random directions. MacSver had been working under pressure for the last 16 days non-stop in the real world, so was releasing a bit of steam with highly aggressive driving on myself up front and laying down cards on Azhdeen who'd been brining up the rear all race. This ended in tears as a final bump over the Arabian Pod caused my rig to Kaboom, taking MacSver with it, leaving a gleeful Azhdeen alone to coast to victory, laughing all the way to the checkered flag.

MacSver's aggressive tactics blow up in his face (and mine)

Monday 6 June 2011

A Year of Open Accounting - May (with a bit of April)

cross-posted with A Year of Frugal Gaming

How Frugal is this - 2 months for the price of one. You didn't even have to pay me for the first 10 months either to get the first one!

The numbers:

I missed the April report as it was a quiet month and I got carried away doing other things so didn't get round to it. Money wise nothing was sold as I was looking to sell my wares at Carronade at the start of May (rather optimistically as it turned out). Purchase wise I kept it pretty tight, but managed to fall to a couple of naughty impulse buys. Well one, as "grass effect" mat was more of a chance discovery than impulse, but it's been a great bargain buy and I have no regrets. The other was an Ebay lot of 31 vintage figures. I'd just finished painting an old Ral Partha Ogre and was swept away in a fever of old school mini's. For the price they were still good, and although a few (most!) are unremarkable (elf archers, dwarves) the two Tree Shepherds and the Giant are great. I've been looking for some old Tree Ent like figures for a Forrester themed warband I've planned so very happy. I may even try to sell off some of the other figures to recoop some of the cash (and decrease that lead bought number as well!)

May began with one of my highlights of the year: Carronade in Falkirk (Scotland). Something different this year, as I had along not only ArabianSquire, but also a non-gaming friend of his, so the pressure was on to find the entertaining games. I still wanted to shift so of the Hobby Shed surplus, though. So I booked a Bring & Buy table for the first session to get it out of the way and provide maximum flexibility during the rest of the day for game playing. The sales were not too forthcoming. Having just the first hour of the show to sell was not the best, as most people show up 30 minutes or later after the doors open, look round the halls and traders, THEN have a peak at the B&B hall. Really the 2nd or 3rd slot would have maximised the single hour of selling (I noticed a quite few people have tables for at least a couple of hours). A grand total of £14 was raised which at least paid the modest table rent, my unplanned purchases at the show and cleared a (very) little amount of shelf space.
Bargain Beastmen

After the stall was packed up we had a proper look round the halls. Now ArabianSquire's friend had previously played Heroscape a few time (which had been very much enjoyed) and was the basis of his attendance. He managed to highlight a couple of things that make our hobby confusing to the uninitiated. The first was the statement in the car on the way "I want to buy a game". I had a bit of difficulty explaining that most games there didn't work in that way. Relative expense was a second problem, as the £5 he'd pulled from his piggy bank wasn't going to go too far. I did of course just try to get him to hold back his spend. He ended up with a bag of Halo Clix figures that I didn't sell as a gift as he was so keen, and the generous man at Gateshead Gaming didn't charge him for the 3d6 he wanted to buy. A very generous gesture to a young lad new to the scene that didn't go unappreciated. It meant that his carefully folded blue note went back home with him as well.

As for games played, all 3 of us enjoyed a Great Escape game from RAF Leuchars and trying out Full Thrust, from the Glasgow Wargames club. Despite the fact we arrived 10 miniutes before opening and finished rolling dice 10 minutes after closing everyone had a really enjoyable day. I big thanks to all concerned at Falkirk for their efforts again. Even the new boy was happpy at the end after over 6 hours in an unfamiliar setting. I'll have to come up with some simple rules for his new soldiers, and we'll have a new gamer in town - hopefully.
Bargain Orcs

Now obviously this is a Frugal Accounting post, not a show review, so let’s get down to spends. The bulk of the spend was taken up by a show pre-order from Pendraken Miniatures in the form of a 10mm dungeon booster pack and a couple of figure booster sets. The Bring and buy threw up a few bags of excellent old Orc and beastmen figures (which were marked down 25% on their already bargain price) and a bag old Space Hulk Genestealer pieces for 50p - enough to make a few 'stealers to add to my horde. To cut down on cost (and fussy 9yr old eating habits) we'd taken packed lunches - which was a nice break outside in the sun away from the claustrophobia of the show. My other wish list items never came up (or at least not within my price range) so that was it (barring entry, fuel & a quick snack).

With a purpose I fell upon Ebay to fill the gaps in my want list. And a reasonably priced Dreadnought and fix-up Rhino both were in shed before too long. In fact I enjoyed my Super Smurfy marines so much I picked up some shoulder emblems (and a nice captain figure) to round off the force. This pretty much takes me where I want to be with my Space Marines (which are just really a pleasant quick distraction), bearing in mind I have at least another half dozen old Terminators in the Shed waiting for paint.

Bought and painted in the same month.
We may never see its like again

So to sum up, May was costlier than usual, but not unexpectedly so. My net May bill still came to less than £50. Sales were a bit disappointing, but mostly covered the purchase of 2 fantasy warbands and a 40k Rhino, which isn't bad when you look at it that way. The "figures bought" column took quite a bashing with the vintage lot, a load of 10mm and the fantasy bargains, but in the run up I'd painted a bunch of 10mm (to justify buying the booster pack) and quite a few 40k quick paints, all of which have seen table time.

In the coming months I really must extract a digit from my posterior and get some more of the dwindling Hobby Shed surplus out for Sale to get some more cash in, before the buying urge happens again...

Thursday 2 June 2011

Warmachine - a second, more tasty bite

With all the work getting Necrons, Space Marines and a Dreadnought painted, accompanied with specially making some game tokens, the bookies had stopped taking bets on the game ArabianSquire wanted to play last weekend - Warmachine!

As both sides flank round the terrain, the Cryx defiler
falls foul to the Ironclad Hammer

The allure of those big robots was too much, and he wanted to have another go. After last try out ended in a complicated muddle I had a thought on how to make the game slightly simpler for the wee lad without losing the flavour of the game, recalling that we played a Battlegroup box game last time. The notion of dropping the number of Warjacks on each side (less options for focus spend) was one idea, but to make up the figure numbers required bringing in either units or solos which had complicated special rules. The lad suggested ditching the warcasters all together, but I thought that was too far from the game theme to do that. So in the end we used neither option and just played the rules as they were with the battle group box figures. I allowed a bit more flexibility with Arabian Squire's focus allocation, so although I tried to get him to allocate at the start of his turn, it was OK for him to switch allocation as the turn progressed when he realised that he wanted to run or make a special attack or boost. This and a bit of poor quality coaching helped the game move long OK, and we had an enjoyable game. Those Cygnar jacks get closer to a paint brush as a result...

A combination of Spear, Shield and Earthquake spell
held off the Cryx advance.

We ran out of time in the end, but my limited Cygnar tactics won the day - Shame I was playing Cryx! Obviously a case of "Do as I say, not as I do"