Thursday, September 11, 2014

Scatter Terrain Mix

In anticipation of a new terrain build - 15mm interiors something along the lines of Tiny Solitary Soldiers - here are a few pieces of scatter cover.  First up, three plastic trees.  These are repainted Toob Trees primed black and dry brushed up.  

The bases of the trees are fortification pieces from the old game, "Shogun" or "Samurai Swords".  They have been flipped over and filled with a sand/white glue mix.  The colored spots are supposed to be flowers.
The bottom row of pieces make great planters.

These boring old cylinders were free, but they have an interesting source.  They are small vented tubes that contain desiccants.  Pharmacists put them into packages of drugs to keep them moisture free.  I went down to Walgreen's, a major drugstore chain here in the US of A, and sweet talked the pharmacist into parting with a small handful for my son's "science project".  That seemed a lot more likely to work than having to go through the whole wargames-or-model-railroad song and dance.  It worked, too.  That nice ol' gal gave me a half dozen for free.

As always, the major dytsopian corporation that runs everything in my games is Buy N' Large.  They have a bright, recognizable logo that is easy to paint at almost any scale.  My interior terrain is likely going to be bright and airy with clean white walls and plenty of robots.

All figures in this post are figures with head swaps.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Berfday Case

My big birthday present this year turned out to be a new miniature carrying case.  The Almost Awesome Storage Case just wasn't cutting the proverbial mustard any more.  My collection is getting wider and more varied, so it was time for a change.  Behold the Plano 1362 2-by Rack System, a tackle box designed for the modern miniature wargamer.  Also for sci-fi and fantasy wargamers.  If you click on the link above you'll see the "Customers Who Bought This Also Bought" is dominated by X-Wing players.

So what's with the "Thick Grip" roll of cupboard lining paper?  That's my secret weapon.  The plastic trays/drawers that come with this bad boy are really, really slick.  Some people line them with magnetic paper to hold their washer mounted minis in place.  I don't always use washers for my minis, because some manufacturers use really thick bases on their miniatures.  (I'm looking at you, GZG.)   
This particular brand of shelf liner paper grips without adhesives, so while your figures don't slide, they don't get coated with adhesives.  It's also very soft - almost spongelike - so when the inevitable slips and spills happen, your figures lie down on a soft surface and still don't slide around.  With sheet magnets a figure that falls rattles all over in a fully hard lined case.

FYI for those of you shopping for one of these, the Plano 3700 4-By Rack System is similar.  It comes with four drawers, but I can't recommend it for two reasons.  For one thing, it's total footprint is smaller, so you don't have that much more storage room.  For another thing, the drawers are a lot shorter, so if you have any outsized figures (like my space dwarf battle-mechs - the purple guys in the second shot) they won't fit in the rack.

The top case would be great for vehicles or the big monster figures.  Mine holds separate cases for the armies with lots of figures - in this case my space dwarves (left) and my big green alien bug horde (right).

Hope this helps those of you looking for a great case.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

One Scale to Rule Them All

It's time for the 10mm sci-fi figures in my collection to shuffle out of the regular rotation.  For a variety of reasons, I'm abandoning the scale.  There are too many great looking 15mm figures out there for me to ever buy and paint them all.  The selection is broader. Ditching the 10mm terrain frees up more space in the limited storage box.  The list goes on...

That's not to say I'm getting rid off all of my 10mm figures, though.  Pendraken's line includes a fair few 10mm figures that work great in 15mm.  Their space minotaurs match up well, for example., two Pendraken 10mm, Khurasan
The other salvagable pieces are the green !aliens.  They are a little undersized, but for a mindless swarm army, they'll work fine in 15mm scale.  Yo check it:

Oh, and speaking of limited storage, wait'll you see my fancy-dancy new case...

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Song of Guns and Tedium

Man, I have got to find some decent scenarios for Flying Lead.  The boy and I lined up 450 points worth of evenly matched forces against each other and just did a shoot-em-til-they're-dead match.  This time it was his space mercs (GZG) attacking my police force.  After more than 2 hours, it was clear I was going to lose, but that it would take another couple of hours.


Alley firefight!
We really need to chase down some escort missions, or grab and runs, or something.  Maybe I'll peruse the Necormunda rules or make up a deck of mission cards for the next match.

The view from the winning side.
We also found that having lots of cool skills (me) is just as expensive as having decent activation, but doesn't do nearly as much good at the table.  His mooks outperformed my skill laden specialists dramatically.  Next fight we'll use a couple of heroes on each side supported by more easy to run mooks.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Song of Sticks and Fat Fingers

Fat fingers?  Not me - I actually have tiny little girl hands, which serves a modeler like me well when it comes to putting together fiddly bits of terrain and figures.  Fiddly bits like these measuring sticks for the Song of... series.  

Fat fingers or no, sometimes you want tight packed terrain, and getting a full blown ruler into the nooks and crannies can require moving terrain around or hovering your ruler eight inches off the table.  That's where these little numbers come in - the little handle lets you plop them down into just about anywhere.

Simple basswood sanded and cut to fit, start to finish these were built in about a third of a Spiderman movie.  Thought about making two sets, but why?  Only one person needs to measure at a time, and the "passing of the sticks" is a great way to signal the end of  a turn.

Now if I can only find time in this three day weekend to try them out...

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Tyranny of Dragons Kickoff

"You've all been hired by the trader Basko to escort a wagon of trade goods to the village of Greenest."

And so begins an Actual Play log of the D&D 5th edition centerpiece campaign.  As an Actual Play thread, the spoilers for the campaign will be flying fast and furious.  All the usual warnings for those who may play the campaign in the future apply from here on out.

The new gaming group started off the long-term campaign, A Tyranny of Dragons, this past Friday with a classic kick start to the campaign – five strangers thrown together as guards for a shipment of supplies through bandit infested lands.  Things have been heating up in the north of Faerun lately, with all sorts of unsavory types doing all manner of unsavory things, even along the most well traveled routes.

Our cast of characters:

  • Raane Inontani, sickly half-elven illusionist/diplomat, my own character
  • Gilgamesh, pale teifling necromancer in dark robes who tends to target opponent’s eyes with awide range of death bolt and death touch spells
  • Karren, beefy dragonborn fighter carrying a big old sword
  • Aramis, human tank style cleric of Helm
  • Grim, an appropriately named human rogue/archer

Tiefling wizard with pale white
skin and jet black dreadlocks.
Basko, the trader who hired the sausage party to run interference for his driver – a friendly Halfling named Jeppo – clearly wanted a group that covers all the bases.  His guards include one each of the four major roles, plus an added ‘faceman’ whose talents lie outside of combat.

What should have been a routine wagon run quickly turned into the running of a kobold gauntlet.  While passing through a small farmstead on the outskirts of their destination, a village called Greenest, the party’s casual conversation was interrupted by a farmwife banging out the front door of her home with several kobolds and a mastiff sized lizard-beast in hot pursuit.  The plucky heroes saved the woman in short order only to be ambushed from behind by more kobolds, this band led by a purple robed maniac. The maniac warned the party that if they didn’t lay down their arms and join in the glorious people’s future they would forever burn in the fires of all dragonkind.  The party put their arms down, right down through the center of the dragon's head symbol on the crazed cultist's chest.

For their part, the kobolds attempted to recruit the one dragonborn member of the part, Karren.  What?  Just because he’s dragonborn he’s the only one worth recruiting?   Racist little bastards.  At this point it isn’t entirely clear whether or not they succeeded.

So.  Cleanup.  The housewife Shelley was quickly bundled into the wagon, given the loot dropped by the kobolds – the least the party could do to help the now widowed, childless, and farmless victim.  Topping the next rise, the party spotted the village of Greenest under attack.  Purple robed cultists and hordes of kobolds running around scaring the citizens, burning homes, and engaging in wanton plunder, death, and destruction.  A large blue dragon circled overhead, blasting the central stone tower with lightning.

After a quick consult, the party elected to take the direct route into town.  The illusionist quickly cast alter self to appear as a purple robed, order barking, maniac.  This plan worked well until the party entered the main square of the village, at which point they blundered into a squad of kobolds chasing down several children and an old man protected only by an injured peasant woman.  Too much for the cleric of Helm, Aramis charged into battle, scattering the kobolds and buying time for the civilians to hop aboard the wagon.  As a side note, while bluffing the kobolds, Raane learned that the scaly little buggers were under orders to capture as many children as possible.  As a main note, the party wiped another handful of kobolds off the face of Faerun.  High points of the fight:

  • Grim has a deadly way with a bow, firing repeated shots into crowded spaces and only hitting enemies each time
  • Karren’s dragonbreath works just as well on dragonkin as it does on humans
  • Raane doesn’t seem too concerned about standing on the front lines of a fight despite being the not-so-proud owner of a measly 4 HP
  • Aramis might just be a cleric of Saint Ineffective, missing on every attack role – on the other side of the coin, his healing touch saved two party members from certain death
  • Gilgamesh the mage is already dealing more damage than the front line fighters, his chill touch and witch bolt devastating opposing spellcasters left and right
  • Karren (whose player is the youngest member of the group, it’s worth noting) was the only one with the presence of mind to capture a kobold alive for later questioning

Openly running now (slowly what with all the civilians in tow), the party found itself in a foot race for the still open gates of the main keep.  Their opponent in the race consisted of a large body of well-trained troops headed in from the opposite direction with a handful of skirmishers out front.  The party arrived at the gates at the same time as the skirmishers, and engaged in a quick fight for control of the gates.  Crossbow wielding enemies - humans this time - set up a withering fire; their bolts put both the dragonborn and the half-elf on the ground.  The leader of the villains, a spellcaster, never got a shot off – the party’s own spellcaster choked the life out of him by way of a well placed chill touch.  Good old Grim managed to lay down effective covering fire from the interior of the keep, staving off the crossbowmen long enough to allow the wagon to enter and the party to drag their wounded comrades into the keep.

BOOM! the front gate slammed down right in the face of a troop of fifty enemy warriors.  Thanks to Grim’s insistence on fulfilling the letter of the contract despite the dragon circling overhead and obviously changing nature of the situation, the supply wagon was delivered and signed for by Tamil and Escobar, a human and dwarf charged with managing and protecting the keep.  The two expressed gratitude not just for the supplies but for the five extra defenders.

While the locals brought the rest of the party up to speed on the situation, Gilgamesh dragged the captured kobold off to a quiet corner for a little private discussion.  During the interrogation, the following three names bubbled to the surface:
  • Bogluk, the guardian of the hatchery
  • Rezmir, a mighty warrior and chief hero of the revolution
  • Frulim, the great overboss of the whole evil shooting match
Following the interrogation, the nameless kobold was re-introduced to his fallen comrades in the next life.

End Chapter One

Monday, August 25, 2014

Old School Skirmish

The best local game shops in town is one of those cramped little shops crammed full of all sorts of odds and ends the store owner has collected over the last two decades.  It's all too easy to while away a full hour digging through boxes of random game titles published since the early 1990s.  This store has a shelf of Paranoia supplements, ICE's MERP books, and more old wargame rules than Carter's got liver pills.  One of those shelves holds a hundred or so small press wargame rules covering everything from ancients to sci-fi and every scale of battle from skirmish to massed battle.

On a whim, I bought a late-Renaissnce skirmish set called Sword and Pistol by a bloke named Richard Stevens.  The copyright on this set of rules is January 1985, making it an interesting look back at the times.  For example, the introduction states that the set was designed for a fast moving game, that "usually lasts for two or three hours".  There was a time where two or three hours was considered fast.  That amuses me.  These days the guys touting their rules as fast are clocking in at less than an hour a game.

So how does it play?  Well...can't say as I'll ever find out.  It's just way too fiddly for my tastes.

Sword and Pistol uses written orders for movement/attack. It classes figures into eight different grades that can move at five different speeds - you can only move up or down two speed classes per turn, so you've got to track that.  There are rules for accidental collisions - even between people on foot.  Each of the eight figure classes has different to-hit chances with the fourteen different missile weapons, given to you in a chart.  There's another chart that does the same thing for melee. Add in charts for morale, quirky costs for figures that turn while moving, and so on, and the whole thing just gets way too complicated for my tastes.  Even with just the 8-12 figures recommended you're looking at spending a lot of time on book-keeping rather than playing.

Don't get me wrong, the rules could be a lot of fun if you're looking for a sort of poor-man's-wargaming-version-of-Squad-Leader. This may be one of those games where having a GM set it up and walk you through the complexities could make for an enjoyable afternoon.  But it's not for me.  I'll stick with the modern skirmish sets like the Song of... series or the Two-Hour Wargame titles.