Sunday, July 15, 2018

The One Shot Dungeon

Tried out Roll20 for the first time this past weekend.  Not for any of the functionality, just for the video conferencing feature.  Two new friends had a weekend free, so they let me run a quick one-shot dungeon delve using a bastardized B/X.  Basically, the B/X combat and movement, but I let them use whatever reasonable OSR ruleset they had for chargen.  Worked out pretty good.  Here's a brief rundown and AAR featuring a lot of nice photos and one that sucks.

Two fighters, a thief, a cleric, and Butterbucket the halfling inspected all three cave entrances.  They couldn't pick the lock on the portcullis, and they didn't like the fancy floor behind door number one...

There's a trap in there, somwhere
 So they took the right hand cave straight into the heart of the orc goons chillaxing around a firepit.
 And came through without a scratch.  They tied the orc leader up to the main portcullis, but he escaped into the wilds after making his strength check after they'd gone inside the dungeon.
 The aftermath with a sneak peek at the rest of the dungeon in the background.

 They found their way back to the front grate, but one of the fighters got cut off after springing a cage trap.  Beset by normal bats, he rolled back under the cage thanks to some quick wits and strong as nails companions.
Then down a long hallway, they found the master of the dungeon, a second level magic-user with two veteran guards who managed to kill the thief before being put out of their own misery.

That narrow corridor really turned this fight into a slogfest that worked in the player's favor.  The door is laying on a rubble pile marking a collapsed cave and the end of the dungeon.
Along the way they found a room full of pools that attacked them, turned a staff magic, and showed them two of the rooms of the dungeon on a successful intelligence check.  They also played around with a magic healing statue (shown on the left) and a magic mirror (shown on the right) that they played with for a while, didn't trust, and basically left alone rather than risk fighting duplicates of themselves.  Sometimes not playing is the smart way to play.

Then it was time to loot the library, fight some skeletons in the dark temple, and say goodbye to the cleric.  His loss in the first round of combat made the fight tougher than it would have been if one of the fighters had died early, but they prevailed, recovered the loot from that alcove in the back of the room, and got out with over 500XP.  Not a bad haul for a four hour delve.

And here we see the remains of the fallen.  The thief in the bottom, and the cleric in the upper part.  Long shall the names of whatshisface and whozit be remembered in the annals of faceless dungeon plungin' players.

If you liked this AAR, you would really enjoy my collection of dragon slayer novellas.  Featuring one tale each for fighter, thief, cleric, and wizard, it even has a bonus tale told from the point of view of an ancient dragon woken from its slumber by ruthless but well meaning conquistadors.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Long Distance Wargaming

The One (Acutally Four) Box (Actually Boxes) to Rule Them All has been blooded.
Check out the Castalia House blog, the best dang fantasy and science fiction blog on this or any other internet, today for a full review of how you - yes, you! - can play miniature wargames across twelve time zones and still capture the tactile joy of miniature wargaming.  All you need is a little patience, a love of painting, and basic human decency, and distance no longer has to prevent you from playing your favorite game with your favorite people.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Wrap It, Stack It...

Smack it on the bing-bong!  The four fantasy boxes are done.
Four mounted troops, three big bossmen, thirty-five infantry, and a cute little doggo.  If you can't field a good four skirmish forces out of that mix, you're in the wrong hobby, buddy.

This aerial shot shows how well the different basing colors work to help distinguish one troop type from another.  From left to right we're looking at humanoids (brown/yellow), undeadish (black), elves (dark green), and heroes (white).

Boxed up in tubs two-inches by three-inches, lined with a bit of scrap foam, they are ready for transport.  Being a cheap friend, they'll go by slow boat, and two of them are headed half-way across one pond, across a continent, and then across another pond.

It might be a while before they see the table in a competitive way.

On to the next project!

Wonder what it will be...

Monday, February 5, 2018

Unleash the Hordes!

Been playing some Orcs Must Die! lately, so the painting slowed a bit.  My four year old loves watching those green waves get sliced and diced and hacked and whacked.  Big fan of floor spikes that one.  She better not expect these little guys to get chewed up, though.  Irregular Miniatures' goblins make a fine full force for skirmish wargaming.  This faction will include four hand melee goblins, two archers, and a pair of boar riders to round things out.

Those are hand weapons on the left, boars in the back right and archers in the front right.

Here's a clean shot of the boar riders.

And the hand weapon guys.

 And and the bowmen.  The eight I got feature a great selection with a wide variety of shields and cloaks, which would be great for a normal 10mm fighting force.  It makes the four boxes I'm building a little eclectic, but they'll do.

Eight goblins is actually a little light for a fighting force in most games, even if they include a couple of mounted outriders, but I don't expect them to fight alone.  They'll usually be paired up with an ogre or two, slaves to a wizard, or teamed up with some orcs.  Above, you can see how well the darker skinned and smaller goblins stack up against their larger orc brethren.  The orcs are from Copplestone, and have a little more detail, but these are two great foes that work great together.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Scale Mail

One of the things every wargamer wants to know prior to purchasing figures is, "How will these figures match with the ones I've already got."  Some think that this question becomes more critical at the smaller scales, because a millimeter out of six or ten is a much bigger difference than one out of 28 or 30.  Personally, the smaller scales are less detailed, and so if there's a slight difference in scale, I think it matters less.

In the interests of furthering the culture of the hobby, and now that I'm back into 10mm skirmish, here's a few shots of my figures from various manufacturers that shows how well they all stand with each other.

Sorry for the focus on that last one.  You can see the heights well enough.  That's a Copplestone, Pendraken (I think - I might have those two reversed) and Irregular elf in each shot.  Bear in mind we're comparing wood elves to high elves, so in my mind a little height difference is understandable.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Make Gondolin Great Again

The One box to Rule Them All continues apace.  Ten bucks netted me all these figures - four complete elven warbands.  The bright blue and yellow will help them stand out against other figures and the ground cover.  Note the dark green bases, which should help as well. 

 One stumbling block here is that the figures are not identical.  The manufacturers, in this case Irregular Miniatures, do a great job varying the figures.  If mounted in a big block as intended, these would look great.  Heck, the look fantastic like this, too.  But they aren't in two sets of four.  The spears are matched sets, as are the bowmen, but the cavalry are nice and varied - no real problem, because as figures they really only serve one function.  For this game set "cavalry" is all we need.  Whether they have shields or not doesn't make much difference.

 Here's a group shot of the one warband that shows the two mounted figures, two spearmen, two bowmen, two swordsmen, and a hero.  The heroes or leaders of each warband look a lot like the swordsmen - they have big yellow plumes on their helmets.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

A Wargamer's Life: A One Act Play

Me:  I'm going to do more playing and less painting in 2018
Also Me:  I'm going to build four matched wargaming sets
Me:  That's not gaming, that's still painting
Also Me:  But it's 10mm, that hardly counts
Me:  It's painting
Also Me:  Have you seen these guys?
Me:  Say, that's pretty - ah, hell with it, you know what?  Paint away.
Irregular Miniatures, take a bow
 Forty dollars netted me another big slew of 10mm skirmish figures.  Since these were bought specifically for this project, I could target actual needs.  The first two orders of business were to build some actual matched factions, so the new contenders are heavy on the high elves and greenskins.  I threw in a few cavalry troops, too, just to keep it interesting.  The new horde includes a few new heroes and some more skeletons to round out the undead faction.

Each kit will get three more skellies and a pair of bowmen painted up in a woodsy, maybe even wood elf style.  At this scale, they can do double duty.

I painted these bases a nice garish green with a hint of yellow to suggest grass, but they don't match my existing figures.  Thinking on the matter a little more, I should use the ground cover to my advantage.  Since the figures are so small, it might make sense to match the ground color to a faction as well.  That's more painting (Me: Naturally!  Also Me: Shaddup, you.) but whatever helps keep the gaming moving.  I'm thinking a nice gray ash color for undead, bright green for the elves, and desert brown for the orcs.  Then the heroes can have a more subtle green/brown base.

And all of them should work fine with the drop cloth.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

End of the Box

To fantasy up the four small wargame boxes, I needed something with a touch of magic.  Hence four wizard towers.  Yeah, they all look a little different.  So do the ponds and the houses and the woods.  And most of the figures.  It's nice - they all have that personal touch that turns this from another boxed game to a personalized gift from a friend.

So that's a total of eight terrain items and fifteen inches of hedges.  Not a bad little setup.  The really nice thing about this setup is that the colors are so garish.  That sounds odd until you consider the purpose of the setup.  Visual appeal might be everything, but this set will be shown via lo-res webcam, so to keep things straight, the pieces really need to jump off the battlemat.  For the terrain, the water is bright, the tower has red splashes, the house is a bright yellow, and the forest has that nice dark shadow.  When used for actual play, it will be a lot easier to recognize these pieces that if I had made the usual attempt to closely match ground color to terrain base color.

Of course, now I'm starting to wonder if my figures
are going to show up at all.  Something to consider...
And here it all is boxed up and ready for storage.  The figures are stuffed in a plastic box under the broken ground.  With a drop cloth and a little bit of newspaper, this bad boy should make it half way around the world with no problems.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Four Ponds and a Dropcloth

Scroll up to see what the bland, tan drop cloths used to look like.  They each cost a buck and half at the local Wal-Mart.  I found them in a bin full of quilting squares and they were the perfect size, but were basic fabric, so I had my crafty wife sew up the edges to keep them from fraying.
 I also threw together four ponds.  They are just MDF with sand glued for land and blue paint for water.  The water got a couple of coats of glossy clear-coat to give them a little shine.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Four by Twenty Figures

Last post I showed you my current project's status.  For those new to Chateau Abox, I'm building four identical game sets, so that I can do some online wargaming with a tactical component.  If you ain't pushing lead, you ain't miniature wargaming, after all.  By using 10mm figures already in hand, and not already in use, I was able to put together a fun little set.

This all fits inside a small shoebox sized plastic tub, along with the figures:
Opening up the blue-handled box, we see the small host of random figures:
Which parts out to a 5-man adventuring party, two ogres with four orc slaves, a minotaur and his three man dog-head retinue, and five skeleton warriors.  Not bad, but needs more Dakka.  I've got another 40 figures per box on order from Irregular that will really round this out and make this box sing.  You'll see.
One thing to point out is that the adventuring parties all consist of a wizard, an elf, a sword and board human, a dwarf axeman, and a hobbit.  They aren't the same fighters, they aren't the same elfs, and they definitely aren't the same wizards.  For example, one wizard is basically Gandalf and another a fire-wizard, and the one shown is more necromancer than anything else. Eh, close enough for 10mm figures shot on camera, right?  This whole thing is a little more abstract than is my usual wont.
That said, I'll have to make sure my planned wizard towers match the figures.  Did I mention the wizard towers?  Oh yeah, we need some serious fantasy terrain to really make this special, and we're going to get 'em.

Monday, January 8, 2018

A Hill Worth Dying On

Banged out four quick hills this weekend.  Two layers of 1/2-inch foamcore shaved to size, mounted on useless CDs, and covered with PVC glue and sand makes for an impressive height on which to fight. 

Generally, I prefer to make my hills gentle so that figures can stand anywhere on them. This style of hill provides a binary on-off that suits the needs of the project.  Remember that the goal is a cheap 4-piece setup that will still look good on camera.  By forcing the players to declare "this figure is on the hill", this system should prevent any confusion when playing long-distance games via computer camera.
Now that is a commanding height.  It should also be obvious that this hill blocks line of sight for figures on the ground.  The default assumption is that the centerline of the hill serves a LoS blocker for figures trying to see a wizard standing on the top of the hill.

One last shot of the hill next to the house for scale, and then let's look at a typical terrain set-up.  Here you can see the drop cloths I bought for this project.  The drop cloth needs work, but I thought it might be nice to see how the stream works as a corner cut-off, and how just five terrain items and a little bit of hedging can make for an interesting set-up with lots of tactical decisions.

One of four
Looking at this, I do think each box could use one or two more items of terrain, so that each battle doesn't feel quite so much like the last.  This is a good set-up, but still limited, because you probably need this many pieces for a good game.  It would be nice to swap out a couple of items, too.

[Edit to respond to Sean's comment because Blogger is acting like an idiot and won't let me comment:  They work really well.  Cheap, durable, thin, and consistent in size and shape, they also take PVC glue and sand like a champ.  One word of warning, though, you have to go pretty heavy on the glue and spraycoat primer to completely cover up the shiny rainbows.]

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Wargaming Wednesday Returns!

In an outreach effort dedicated to reaching out (hence the name) to more non-wargamers, I've resumed posting about wargames at the Castalia House blog.  Each Wednesday, the publisher's blog features a post related to wargames called, not surprisingly, Wargames Wednesday.  I share duties with a number of other smart and erudite wargamer types who focus more on the hex-and-counter style wargames.  This week, I detailed a quick rundown of A Song of Blades and Heroes, and next week will see a write-up of my first stumbling attempts at playing the novel and quirky sci-fi game Rogue Planet.

Over the last month, the blog ran a series of posts detailing Avalon Hill's Battle of the Bulge that is well worth a read for wargamers of all stripes.  Here, for your dining and dancing pleasure, is a link to all five parts of this in-depth analysis of a classic wargame:

Avalon Hill’s The Battle of the Bulge (1981) – Part I
Avalon Hill’s The Battle of the Bulge (1981) – Part II
Avalon Hill’s The Battle of the Bulge (1981) – Part III
Avalon Hill’s The Battle of the Bulge (1981) – Part IV
Avalon Hill’s The Battle of the Bulge (1981) – Part V

If you like that, stick around - the team there regularly produces the best news and analysis of today's fantasy and sci-fi culture available today.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Four Times the Fun

I lied.  In my last post, I promised a big new project for 2018, but after a conversation with a good friend, I tabled that big complex for something a little more intimate and a lot more likely to see some actual gaming time.
The start of a big new small project
What you're looking at here is the start of a new terrain system built for 10mm skirmishing.  Right now the shoe-box sized system has just four small terrain items.  As you can see, we have a bit of broken ground, a small house with six 2.5-inch hedge pieces, a small wood, and a stream.  The round terrain pieces are based on CDs, and the stream on 1/4-inch MDF.  The stream has both a bridge on the left and a ford on the right, and the odd angles to either side allow this piece to be placed on the corner of the terrain mat (forthcoming).
The house is a small, wooden, children's toy block.  The kind with the raised and painted letters on the side.  I trimmed down the corners a bit and fixed cardstock to the front and back, then used balsa strips for trim and cut pieces of towel for the roof. A small woodpile and some bushes add a 'lived in' look to the small hut.
Here's the kicker.  I'm building four of these sets.

While clearing out some older unused wargame items, I realized that I could break up my collection of 10mm fantasy figures into four identical groups of figures.  Why am I doing this?  You can probably guess, but I'm not giving the full reveal because I don't want to spoil the surprise.

Stay tuned, loyal readers, it's going to be a great year for wargaing.