Monday, November 30, 2015

Black Ops, Trial Run

In northern corner, the crew of the G.S.S. Myconis, four hard charging Special Forces.
Crew of the SS Myconis, from left to right, a specialist,
heavy, trooper, and ace.
In the southern corner, a dozen conscripts working for Hazmat Security, Inc.
An ace, a heavy, and ten troopers.
Since this was just a trial run, we opted for an asymmetric, stand-up fight between a small special force of four, and a dozen conscripts.  Nothing fancy, just two 50 point forces, line 'em up, and shoot.  The battle wound up being a Special Forces defense of the lone two-story building on the table.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

From the Archive - Big Red

You know what goes great with leftover Turkey?  Old miniatures!

Every collection of wargame miniatures needs at least one dragon. This one marks the first time that I was able to get the shading on the color red done right.  For some reason it took a big canvas and a little trial and error - and trying to thin red with yellow paint.  All my miniatures before this one used a little white paint to highlight the color red, and so every red piece of fabric wound up looking pink.

The back end of the base for this guy broke off at some point.  He is mounted for use with Hordes of the Things, but the rest of his army is long gone.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Actual Play - Barbarian Prince - Episode 1

If you haven't seen it yet, Castalia House Publishing has a new blog feature called Wargame Wednesdays, for all of us hex-and-counter-philes.  The series has inspired me to push some cardboard around.  All of my kids love themselves some Awful Green Things, and we spent a summer tooling about with the print-and-play games over at the Dwarfstar archive.  We played enough Outpost Gamma to decide it was just too danged tough for the marines, and a game or two of Goblins! before losing interest.

Last weekend, I finally had a chance to sit down and play through the classic hex and counter wargame, Barbarian Prince.  It really is less of a wargame than it is a jumped-up choose-your-own adventure slash analog version of turn based computer RPGs.  But it has lots of hexes and at least one counter, along with a turn tracker, resource meters, and a couple of other wargame signifiers, so I for one am comfortable putting in the wargame family, even if it is one of its distant cousins.

Not only did I get a chance to play, I got a chance to film, edit, and prep a short video to share with you lot.  I've taken the liberty of editing out the dull bits like flipping through rulebooks and tedious die-rolling for combat, so the video moves faster than you might expect.  Barbarian Prince is a solo wargame, so have some leftovers and enjoy watching me play with myself for thirteen minutes*. If there's any interest, I'll probably do another one over the Thanksgiving break.


Links mentioned in the video:
*Probably a bad joke to make - I'm going to start getting a lot of weird spam comments now, aren't I?

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Hump Day Dump Day - Issue #4

Happy Thanksgiving!  Eat too much, laugh too loud, and sleep a little extra, but save Black Friday for some gaming.  Meanwhile, have some more fireside reading for the long weekend.

One Hour Wargames, Scenario 6 (Steve's Random Musings): I then sat down to think of a scenario, but had a bit of a brainwave and decided to have a look-see at what the next scenario was in One Hour Wargames, to see if it could be modified or used.. the scenario is based on Salamanca - flank attack on a moving column - perfect, so the decision was made...
Fall-In Eye Candy (The Man Cave): To be honest the Lad and I were so busy rushing about playing games, shopping and socialising that we only had limited wanderings around the various rooms to check out the great games, and there were indeed many. Still, I eneded up with some pretty pictures so I though I would share them (while I wait for SWMBO to go out so I can arrange my disturbingly big pile of loot for pics).
The People of Yesterday Held Different Beliefs Than We Do Today! WHAT IS WRONG WITH THEM? (Dyvers): Lately I've been spending a lot of time reading through the exploration of Gary Gygax's Appendix N and wondering what is wrong with these people. Their criticisms are often not about the works they're reading but instead about the people who wrote them - people who often reflected the times they lived in by holding outdated views about morality, sexuality, race relations, social justice, and the like. As a result their objections all tend to sound the same: "Author X was writing in 1910 and held views that were common during their lifetime but are completely wrong by today's standards. What the fuck is wrong with them?" I mean who would ever imagine that someone writing more than a hundred years ago might have moral and societal values that are vastly different from the ones we have today. It doesn't end there, though...
Make sure you check back again tomorrow - I've got something really different to show you.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Black Ops, Around the Horn

Welcome to another clickbait article.  This one has a lot less weird tricks and local single moms and a lot more Black Ops.  With the rules out for less than a month, there aren't a whole lot of actual play posts around the web just yet - I haven't written any up yet myself - so here's your old pal Warren's handy finger pointing to a couple:

  • Black Ops rules review and playtest (SP Project): Whilst I attended the recent Fiasco show (great to meet up with a few people but the show wasn’t great- not a good look when a third of your demo/ participation tables are no shows…) I picked up a few bits including the new Black Ops rules from Osprey. As a basic skirmish game the rules work well enough, not better or worse than other comparable sets really though I would have preferred a bit more friction in the activation system. Here the rules really came into their own with wandering guards and noise token which had to be minimised by the raiding player to avoid raising the alarm- though I’d like to see the noise list extended.
  • Black Ops Trial Game (Stefano V): Yesterday night we played our first Black Ops game. We found it quite interesting and we will play it again. The scenario chosen was a stealth mission, assassination over the Terminal map. The target started from the landed helicopter and and to travel across the table to exit on opposite corner.
  • Need to know basis: Black Ops reviewed (Pijlie's Wargames Blog): The best thing that can happen to a wargaming fanboy is to get hold of a new ruleset prior to publication. This happened to me with Black Ops, the coming new release by Osprey Publishing. Unfortunately it took me several weeks to find the time to play it, as I eventually did at Crisis in Antwerp. So I completely blew my scoop! Despite of that, the game is definitely worth a review.

And here are a couple of resources for the game:

Saturday, November 21, 2015

From the Archive - The Splice

Another Saturday night, and it looks like the archives are getting to be a regular feature around here.

These little critters are examples of the Space Lice you can get from Irregular Miniatures for something like a buck and half each.  Like most of Irregular's miniatures, they look awful in bare metal, but take paint like champs.  Matakishi has a more cartoonish take on these guys over at his Tea House.  I just have the one squad, but for the life of me I can't remember why.

Friday, November 20, 2015

15mm Sci-Fi Traffic Report

Scatter terrain.  You'd be hard pressed to ever have enough of it on your urban table.  Mine was sorely lacking in viable vehicles.  Matchbox cars are passable, but they just don't tie together with the rest of the terrain.  There are a couple in this old shot, and you can see what I mean.

It's hard to put your finger on, but the paint is a little too glossy, the scale a little too large, and the style just slightly off.  Some of the construction vehicles work great with a full repaint, but for my money there's no beating vehicles specifically manufactured for gaming.

Like these:
Flit cars and trucks from

Now I know what you're thinking, "Ohmergerd, Warren, those flight stands are just like, totes the coolest.  Like, how did you do that?"

First off, stop thinking like a 15 year old ditz.  Second off, I made them from these:

The clear hooks come in a variety of different styles.  These happened to be the perfect for all of my vehicles.  They may be a bit large for the cycles, but we'll find out later.  All you have to do is clip off the hook, leaving roughly 5mm of plastic in place:

Sand it down to create a broad, level surface for the vehicle:

And add a drop of superglue to the top.  If you want a little more stability, you can pin the vehicle in place or glue a washer to he underside of the vehicle and put that peg inside the washer.  You'll want to dull coat your vehicles before you glue them to the stand - spray varnish will make the flight stand cloud up.

This isn't a particularly cheap way to build flight stands - they cost about $1.50 each, which is comparable to the price you spend at most wargame specific retailers.  You will also have a hard time making all your vehicles hover at the same height above the tabletop.  You can see mine are all over the place.  On the other hand, it is still cheap and dead easy to prepare.  So if you ever find yourself needing some flight stands on short notice, this makes for a good looking and readily available alternative.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Hump Day Dump Day - Issue #3

Welcome to the weekly walk through the wargaming wilds of the world wide web, in which Warren waxes upon whatever weighty and witty works he wagers are worth your while. Would any wretch not want a window into Warren's warm woolgathering - a wisp of what wriggles its way into the weedy wastelands his wisdom?  What wights of whimsy wander along the way?  This winter, when wailing winds whistle in from the west, let your worry wane, and wave 'way your wait, my wolfish wunderkind,  Warn whosoever would withdraw worship that they will win their wish.  While Warren's work with the written word may be weak, it is wrought here this Wednesday in waking wonder for all to witness.

Also, something about a wren wiping a wet wallet?  I don't know.  Here's some links:
Polish Hussars (Badass of the Week): Invariably, whenever most people talk about the military prowess of the Polish cavalry, some joker busts out with some intelligent, well-constructed argument that vaguely resembles something along the order of "YA RITE HOW BOUT CHARGIN NAZI TANKS W HORSIES FTW LOLOLOL OMG I”M HILARIOUS SOMEBODY LOVE ME PLS". Well not only are the wild claims of that infamous engagement dubious at best, but it's time that the Polish cavalry – and particularly the Winged Hussars – get appropriately recognized as one of the most eye-skeweringly hardcore associations of asskickers ever assembled. These daring, brave, unabashedly-feathered badasses crushed throats up and down Europe for two centuries, annihilating battle-tested armies three times their size with nothing more than a huge-ass lance, an awesome set of ultra-cool wings, and a gym bag full of iron-plated armor ballsacks.
Normandy Mini-Campaign, Part One (Geordie's Big Battles): The scenario was a Normandy 1944 infantry probe towards Caen, called Operation Martlet. Before you could say "Jack Robinson Jam" I was in amongst it in the "patrol phase" with markers pushing forwards over what I considered very "open" aka dangerous) ground. I opted to go "Tommy" so my newly painted figures could shoot at me. The alternative was to play SS which left a tangled knot in the consciousness of my stomach. Silly really, but as I had played British before so I should be better able to pick things up from where I left off.
Fall In 2015 (O My Rurtania): I attended the HMGS Fall In convention in Lancaster, PA, last week. Had a good time as usual. Attendance on Friday afternoon seemed very sparse but did pick up considerably by Friday evening and things seemed pretty active on Saturday afternoon. Friday night, I played in Temple of the Snake Priestess, run by Howard Whitehouse, using his Chainmail Bikini rules. The game involved four teams of adventurers entering a ruined Maya-ish city with the goal of getting their astrologer to the top of one of several temples to obtain some sort of Important Sign from the Heavens.
Fluffy Boa Puzzle Mat (Here's No Great Matter): I popped into the hundred yen store yesterday to pick up some tape for work, and as I hadn't been there for a while I had a quick scour of the usual sections to see if there was anything that could be put to honest wargaming use. Lo and behold, there was a sight for terrain mat hunting eyes: 30cm square interlocking foam mats, topped with a greenish teddy bear fur type material. I grabbed four to take home and check out (I could always use them as an actual mat, I said to myself...).
Let's round things off with a post about boxes:
Tournament Transport Box, Part 3 (Lair of the Uber Geek): Sunday morning I was determined to finish up the construction of the tournament boxes. On a whim. I decided to use the remaining plywood from the 4x4 piece of plywood to make a dice tower. This is one of those projects that has zero planning so we'll see what happens. The dice "motivators" are glued in place. I'm sure their is a more technical name for these in the the world of dice tower science but I haven't bothered to look it up.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Black Ops Counter-Intuitiveness

Apparently I'm not the only one having a hard time wrapping his head around a couple of quirks of the Black Ops system.  Over on the Lead Adventure Forums asked a question that had bothered me on my first reading as well.

In Black Ops your model stats are target numbers, and all modifiers are written as modifiers to the target number, not to the die roll.  So instead of needing a 4+ to hit your target and subtracting one from the roll if the target is in cover, you add one to the target number.  These are just two different ways of saying the same thing, and long term gamers should have no trouble converting on the fly.  For you D&D types out there it directly translates to the ascending vs. descending AC situation.  It's really not a big deal...

There were two moments in my first read-through that gave me pause.  In both cases, I couldn't wrap my head around the fact that a Tough roll was easier (4+) to make than a Normal roll (5+).  In both cases, the problem stems from confusion about the face that the word "Tough" modifies the model, not the roll.

When it comes to observation rolls, it is the defender that rolls the die.  When the model makes himself Tough to notice (i.e. by using smoke, poor lighting, or cover) the target number goes down. I read that thinking, "Wait, the Tough observation (4+) is easier than the Normal observation (5+)?"  To which the response was, "Yes, the model has made it harder to be observed, so he needs to roll against a lower number."

The same thing applies when it comes to wound saves, the defender rolls the die.  In this case, the term that appears in the modifiers table is also Tough, but again that word modifies the model itself and not the roll.  A model that is Tough will have an easier time surviving a wound (4+) than a model who is not (5+).

It is really easy when you think about it that way.  You just have to shift your perspective a little bit to get your head around it.

Full thread linked here.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Black Ops: A Capsule Review

Is that what you call it when you write up a review of a game where you've only read the rules?  You'll get a proper review after we've had a chance to take these bad boys for a test-drive.

These rules are great.  in just about every sense they hit the sweet spot between extremes.  Guy has somehow managed to put together a rule set that straddles a number of lines in ways that feel familiar, but fresh and new.  Not only that, but he has put together a modern day skirmish that manages to give you all the options you need without bogging the game down in minutiae.

The basics of the game consist of a card driven initiative system and a model stat line that describes each figure or fire team's abilities.

Your figures break down into four different types of figures: heroes, specialists like hackers and heavy weapons types, standard mooks, and civilians.  Any old deck of cards can serve as your intiative deck with the four figure types each assigned a face card, and jokers thrown in to add that piquant flavor of unpredictability.  Your leaders can use their card to issue orders to specialists and mooks, and figures can forgo their activation to go on overwatch.  Overwatch works as an interrupt, just like most other wargames, but facing is all important for who figures can interrupt.

The stat line consists of the four standard stats for moving, fighting, morale, and toughness, with weapons and special equipment bolted on.  A typical shooty combat consists of a roll to hit and a roll to save with cover and concealment factored into the saving roll.  A typical melee consists of a dice off with both figures rolling against their melee skill.  If your dude makes his roll and the other guy doesn't, then you win.  If you both fail, nothing happens.  If you both succeed, whoever has the better melee weapon hits.  If you can get your little man to charge a model in the back, he doesn't get to defend.

That last bit can play a crucial role in stealth missions, the real raison d'etre for this ruleset.  While the standard game feels like a stripped down skirmish game, and it can certainly be played that way, it is clear that a number of critical design choices were made to enhance the play of stealth incursion missions.  The melee system in particular is designed to allow for taking out sentries in a single, silent attack, but only if you can get the drop on him.

The stealth rules incorporate blind markers, semi-random sentry movement, and a sort of event driven countdown timer.  As the infiltrators move around, take out guards, and approach their goal, they will inevitably make noise.  Each event results in a noise counter that attracts nearby guards and has the potential to alert the defender's heroes and specialists.  Too many noise counters, or one poorly aimed sniper shot on a guard, and the alert will be sounded, triggering the activation of the hero and the arrival of reinforcements.

Taken alone, nothing in this ruleset is particularly innovative, but the way that Guy Bowers has integrated everything is pretty well seamless.  Everything fits together in a way that is easy to understand, builds on each other, and fits together like one single unified system.  All too often the infiltration missions feel like a bolted on separate game that is played before the knock-down drag-out battle.  In Black Ops the stealth mission feels like an integral part of the battle.  That is no small accomplishment.

The game also includes six scenarios, a brief paragraph on using near-future tech, and the obligatory rules for force construction.  A stand up fight will consist of 12-20 models per side, with infiltration missions having 3-5 covert ops up against 10-12 mooks and 3-5 heroes and specialists.  You will need plenty of terrain to get the most out of these rules, though.  As with any modern wargame, wide open spaces will make for a short and bloody fight, and a shorter and even bloodier black op.

Other positives include clear, concise rules written for us old timers that have been through the ringer before.  A first time wargamer could probably suss out how these games are played using this ruleset, but he would have to make a few leaps that experiences gamers know intuitively.  While not terribly complicated, there are better introductory games out there for first timers.  As a non-first timer, I was glad not to have to wade through yet another wargaming primer.

On a related issue the book is easy on the eyes both in the artistic sense and the legibility sense.  The artwork, both painted works like the cover and examples of miniatures in play, is attractive, inspirational, and present in just the right quantities.  The text and tables are clear print on backgrounds uncluttered by noisy graphics.  A definite bonus for us grognards with failing eyesight.  Combine that with the terse conversational writing style, and this book is just plain easy to pick up, read, and understand. 

Sunday, November 15, 2015

From the Archive - Lost in the Maze of Nostalgia

Pop quiz, hotshot.  From the Archive is an ongoing series:
    A. where I show off some of my oldest and most beloved figures.
    B. of filler posts.
    C. Both A and B.
    D. screw you. Warren, I didn't come here for finals week, make with the goods already.

For those of you that answered D, fine.  Here.  Sheesh.

This was one of three minotaurs that came with the Warhammer Quest box set.  The rest of the box set got split out and combined with figures from HeroQuest and BattleMasters to make up a half dozen Hordes of the Things armies.  Those armies got sold off at Historicon to raise money for boring family drama stuff.

Friday, November 13, 2015

The Necromancer War, Chapter 2

When last we left the good people of the Targan Empire, their border towns and forts had been over-run by a sudden invasion of the dark forces of the nearby kingdom of the Necromancer King.  The Patriarch of the Empire, High King Sisterbanger, quickly dispatched a small delaying force to buy enough time to scrape together an army that could repel the repellent invading host.  For their part, the Necromancer King's forces pushed deeper into the Targar Empire along a broad front, encountering only scattered resistance.  The two forces would meet along the road, screened from each other by the early dawn light and a small fortified farmstead straddling the dirt track.

Bucolic farm before the bloodening.
In game terms, we rolled a d30 to randomly determine the scenario and starting forces.  The scenario would be a sort of king-of-the-hill - whoever holds the farm after Turn 15 wins.  We each started the game with three knights, the Targar supplemented by two bows and a man-at-arms unit, the Necromancer King by two men-at-arms and a levy.  Both forces are unaware of each other and must move up the road until one hits the farm.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Hump Day Dump Day, Issue #2

Gabions, everyone.  Gabions.
It's Wednesday, that time of the week when Warren steals content from other blogs gives credit to just a few of the many creative geniuses laboring around the internet to provide you with free inspiration and entertainment - it's a random sampler of inspirtainment!

War Monkey has a great little terrain project for your modern/near future table.  Gabions are those wire baskets filled with rock that military forces have used for cover for over a hundred and fifty years.  They make for some cheap and easy scatter terrain:
Hesco/Gabion Barriers (Silo 1313): I only made a couple for now just to see how the would look and to share what I have learned. I think they are going to be great and work really well for my gaming needs! My plan is to use them in my Zombie games and post apocalyptic games mostly for the military units. This project cost me less then 4 Dollars! And I'll have more then enough barriers then I can think of.
Roger G-S reminds us all that killing a Gelatinous Cube is only the first step in dealing with a massive nearly invisible lump of paralytic goo:
The Bigger, Badder Galatinous Cube (Rolls, Rules, and Roles):  Remember, this is a space filled with solid jelly equal to four hill giants in a huddle. Really, it's more a surging obstacle than a monster you can trade blows with. And the trouble doesn't stop when you kill it: the cube should spread proportionately,creating a 6 foot high mound of jelly spread over 20 feet of corridor. Jelly that for a while will retain its paralytic qualities. As you clear it, more slumps to the floor.
As you are no-doubt aware, your 'umble host is a firm believer in the design philosophy of "Every Game Starts With the Box".  By way of Trojan Point's recommendation for modular Frostgrave terrain), here's a great look at one way to build modular dungeon terrain that packs up nice and tidy for storage and transport:
Paradise Ruins: Modular And Portable Table (One of the many Infiniti Forums):  They wanted a table easily portable (because they had to travel from Barcelona to Madrid), that was modular and playable. So they thought about a variant of Tetris, in pieces on 40x40cm (16x16inches more or less) boards, where they could rotate the pieces, and that the pieces fit inside each other.
And another thread from the Lead Adventure Forums featuring multiple mini-games that fit into a box including a 28mm skirmish game and a rice soldier Napoleoincs game that fits into an actual matchbox.  Scroll down for crazy fun inspiration for your next game in a box:
Transportable Minigames (A DonVoss thread at the Lead Adventure Forums): As a part of my job I travel a lot. mostly one or two day, so I olny carry hand luggage...  Hotel nights could be boring (I am not a tv watcher). So I thought it might be a good idea to get some solo wargaming under way... I grabbed a box (16x10x5 cm) and tried to fill it with some miniatures and scenery. Plastic 28s because of wight. And I had to build some small trees, because my my big one would not fit in."
Some interesting thoughts on evil in gaming from Courtney Campbell.  It's another theme-and-variation on the usual song and dance about orc babies in RPGs.  Given the clear evidence for people and ideas that are objectively evil in the real world, I'm always fascinated by people who struggle with the existence of evil in pretend worlds:
On Mordor, Where the Jock Orcs Lie (Hack & Slash), But for the most part, you're sneaking about listening to orcs. What do orcs do? They drink (grog which you can poison to make them fight each other), they brag, they piss, and they pick on "pinkskins". So if you're not interacting with the orcs, they act just like stereotypical jocks picking on nerds. The question is, what does evil look like when it isn't being evil?
The whole point is to have faceless mooks you can murder without consequence. But is that of value? Philosophically, what is the problem with accepting that the people you are killing are, you know, actually people?
Teaser time: Check back here on Friday.  I've got the next chapter of the Necromancer War all written up and ready for you.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Sci-Fi Characters - Hold the Sausage

Seems like every week miniature wargame manufacturers are adding more and more female character types to their catalogs, and 15mm figures are no exception.  Today we feature a small pack of shorties from Bombshell Miniatures.  They've got a full catalog of big figures with full figures, but just the one pack of MicroBabes.

The one on the left looked like the sister to one Captain Zap Brannigan of the Doop, so she got the full velour uniform treatment.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

From the Archive - Space Rangers

Last week was nice - showing off a couple of really old figures from the attic box.  Here's another figure from way back in the early days of painting.

The chunky plastic flying the colors of my alma mater is a Space Ranger.  Back in the day you could get a box of 30 of these guys for less than 25 bucks from...ICE?  These days you can buy a squad of five from em-4 for something like $4.

They look really blocky, and you really only get two poses, gun to the breast, and pistol packing squad leader.  But they paint up great, are very distinct, and how many miniatures get less expensive over time?  Mine was painted some time around 1995 along with the rest of the box.  They only saw use a couple of times at a day care where my then girlfriend worked.   The rest of the box is long gone from the collection.  They were either sold off or handed down to a neighbor kid to try and grow the hobby.  This one survived as a small keepsake of my college gaming days.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Sci Fi Bystanding Guys

Quick shot of some bystanders for 15mm sci-fi games.  First up, four dudes in space suits of one sort or another.  I think they are all from

From left to right:  ?, HOF57A, HOF86C, and HOF86C

Can't find that guy on the left anywhere on's website, so now I'm thinking he might be a Khurasan figure held over from a previous pack?  That doesn't sound right.

This is some sort of wandering alien holy man.  This sculpt looked alien enough that a simple flesh color would suffice - no need for exotic colors like green or orange or lavender. 

After finishing up the painting, priming, dullcoating, and finally photographing this figure, my son pointed out that when you see it on the looks like a giant erect phallus.  Good call, Warren.  Good call.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Hump Day Dump Day, Issue #1

Lancelot Link to the rescue!
(Eureka Miniature)
A few of my favorite blogs are my favorite blogs in part because from time to time they issue a post consisting entirely of pointers to other blog posts that find interesting. Those always tickle my fancy because they expose me to cool ideas and bloggers that I might not have found on my own.

It is high time I returned the favor for anyone out there with the excellent taste to share my tastes.  So, welcome to the Wednesday link dump.  That's enough ado, let's get to it.

First up, from the "Books About Elves Are Serious Business" files:
That Woefully Incomplete Sampling of Appendix N (Jeffro's Space Gaming Blog), "When John C. Wright wrote an essay about some points I raised in my Appendix N series, the folks at File 770 had a field day. The overall effect was not unlike raw meet being dropped into a piranha pool. 
Who knows how long this would have gone on?! It could have been pages upon pages of righteous indignation, but Brian Z. spoiled the fun shortly after this by pointing out that I had actually covered the book…. The entire discussion gets tabled, with only Jim Henley even acknowledging the link."
Next up, a great point about taking things just seriously enough:
Sincere silliness (Dungeon Fantastic), "It's not ironic enjoyment, but sincere enjoyment of something twisted ironically. It's a hard difference to explain in words, but I can feel the difference between "make it a joke" and "enjoy the jokes." We and the game are in on the same jokes - laughing with the game elements, not at them.
That's why I think it keeps going. No ironic enjoyment here. Nostalgia flavored but looking back for inspiration not elusive fun that was never really had."
Big battles always make me want more time, space, and money.  Or at least a decent local convention scene:
The Big Game XV - Clearing the Viper's Nest (Dropship Horizon), "I must be doing something right. I was invited to host a second participation wargame this year, at my local gaming club TableTopNorth in Belfast...The scenario was a continuation of an ongoing campaign between the rebelling human forces of the RPK republic (near future Arabs) and their evil galactic overlords the Naga (snake like aliens). The RPK regular army forces had support from their air cavalry wing the muster troops and Ikwen militia who had been brought to earth by the Naga as agricultural slaves. The Naga had support from Malig space goblins, a conquered race and various droids."
Deep thoughts on scenario design:
Game Design #57: Asymmetry (Delta Vector), "Whilst I'm not saying to abandon attempt to balance games nor points systems are evil (in fact I am in favour of points systems to "help" balance - without accepting them as a perfect solution) - I think asymmetrical battles should play a bigger part in the already overlooked areas of scenario/mission design. After all, how many historical battles were precisely balanced? It's not an either/or situation. Asymmetry (whether we acknowledge it or not) is a key factor of warfare both before (whether it is through meta gaming the points system) and during (as you attempt to quickly neutralize your opponent and gain battlefield superiority) the battle; so why not consider it in scenario and mission design in conjunction with "balanced" points systems?"
Speaking of inspirational, this thread has some outstanding simple and evocative terrain:
Old Ben is Going To Play More Games (Lead Adventure Forum Thread), "After contributing to another thread on this forum called 'I'm a Lead Hoarder' I've realized I have become a hoarder. I am recently new to the war game world (8 years or so), and I have amassed a huge range of miniatures. Most of the miniatures I have are painted, so that's not the problem. The issue that I have is the same issue that a lot of collectors have-I own too much stuff that sits unplayed in copy boxes. This will be the thread where I'll sort it all out and actually play some games!"
And for you terrain-o-philes out there, another highly inspiration thread featuring some outstanding pulp sci-fi terrain.  This is the sort of thing I tried to do with my sci-fi city:
Planetoid 51 (Lead Adventure Forum),  Hi, here is my project that I've been working on nearly three years. I was able to glean ideas and resources from others here, so thank you. Anyways my theme involes an earth colony that was invaded by a previously unknown alien race. Earth forces are trying to reclaim the colony.
There's also a great thread on the Lead Adventure Forum talking all about how great Osprey's Black Ops is, but I wouldn't know because my copy still hasn't arrived from Amazon yet.  Not that I'm bitter about it, it's just that I'm bitter about it.  Razzin'-frazzin' shipping time to Hawaii...

Monday, November 2, 2015

My New Box Set (of Terrain)

The first stage of any terrain project is planning, and for the rooftop fights and infiltrations, there won't be any drop cloth - only the tippy-top levels of large buildings.  They may be anywhere from three to fifty stories tall.  The precise height doesn't really matter since we're only modelling the top floor or so, and how far a figure falls from the terrain doesn't affect the battle, any fall takes them out of the game.  If we can nestle four large buildings into the box, there should be plenty of room left over for the copious amounts of scatter terrain needed to keep things interesting.

And so it does.
The first consideration must me the box.  For the rooftop fights and infiltrations, the cheap clear plastic box measures roughly twelve inches across, ten inches wide, and six inches high.  That dictates the maximum size of my terrain pieces.  Four pieces should cover a two-by-two foot section of tabletop.  A little on the small side, but we're looking at scenarios with only a few figures and plenty of blocking terrain, so it should work. 

In the above photo, the buildings are separated by alleys which can be bridged with ductwork, pipes, or wires, which would cover more ground.  The nice thing about this set is that you can arrange the buildings in a lot of different ways.  You could leave a nice courtyard in the center, or line them up for a longer more narrow terrain set, like so:

No more pure rectangular battlefields.
The buildings themselves are basic terrain pieces, just foamcore held together with craft glue and scotch tape.  For variety, the buildings are built to three different heights, and the cornice* of each building has a different height.  This breaks up the terrain and serves as additional cover at the cost of no additional space.  As you can see, all four buildings still need a lot of detail.

The tallest building is the only one with an overhang. That way there
is never a covered alley between buildings.
The four smaller rooftop access buildings are built separate and can be swapped around each building to taste.  In addition to providing cover, they make great sniper posts, objectives, and "spawn points".  Naturally, the nestle inside the tallest building for storage.

Next up.  Detailing the base structures.  We're going to need a lot of empty cereal boxes.

*Crennel?  What do you call the raised edge of the rooftop?