Sunday, November 30, 2014

Attack Wing

So this month has mostly been a video game month. Between Assassins Creed Unity and Dragon Age Inquisition most gaming has been PS4. I've also been reading Call of Cthulhu 7e, Last Parsec, and Land of the Free Wargame rules. I'll comment on those later, but I did get a few games in this month..

Star Trek Attack Wing

I've mostly played the X-Wing version of Attack Wing. However, at Comic Con I saw the new Deep Space Nine Model, and figured I'd be buying at least that. So, I figured I'd get a few ships and see if the game played any different.
Dominion versus Klingons

Strangely despite the same rules (minor differences) the game felt very different. While some smaller ships have the same stats as x-wing, the battleships tend to have extreme stats. However unlike x-wing, the more powerful ships don't change base size.
Just a 6 in offense and no dodging. Look at that upgrade bar.
The movement for ships tends to be more varied as well.

Another change from x-wing is the pilot skill. You pay the points for the ship and captain separate. So have Kirk captain the Defiant or Sisko captain the Enterprise. Most characters are upgrades. Which can greatly change things. Torpedoes can fire in any direction, can be reloaded, and are more powerful with certain ships (I guess firing more?). Shields can be turned off to cloak or do certain mission objectives.

The game felt different in a number of ways. First due to the larger hull values, critical hits seemed to play a bigger part. Also how often in x-wing are 6-7 attack dice being rolled and the enemy having one to no agility dice? Naturally I was the ship getting hit by that barrage and he rolled all hits and criticals.

Overall, I really enjoyed this version of attack wing (except the weak Defiant). It plays different enough from Star Wars that I can see playing both. A warning, the first wave of ships are inferior in painting compared to x-wing. The later waves are equal in quality.

Back to X-Wing

So, we had another Descent session. As Overlord I seem to be failing. Maybe we should be playing the Shadows expansion which favors the Overlord a little more. Anyway we decided after the session to play a four player X-wing game. 
Empire versus Rebels (cause who else)

The game was a fun time. I was the only one who had played before. The rules are quick to learn. We avoided too many upgrades. So a red interceptor, Vader, tie swarm, Luke, an x-wing and two B-wings we battled.
Vader line up the shot...

Rebels one due to a few lucky kills early one. However, everyone enjoyed the game and were looking forward to trying it again. My wife was also quite excited to try the Dragon version which should be fun.

Hopefully, next time I'll talk about the new Cthulhu or Last Parsec.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

First Mid-War Battle and a Team Battle at that

Mid War

So Grimm had a Mid-War FOW tournament scheduled last Saturday. Up to this point I've only played late war games and only my Irish guard are really painted. So, I figured I'd stop by but only play if they needed a fill in.

Of course turns out with me, there were four. We decided on a two on two German versus Russian Mid-War fighting withdrawal battle. Each player had 1500 points. We rolled and the Germans were defending against the Russians.

The battlefield somewhere on the Eastern Front

My team mate has some wonderfully painted tigers. In fact he modified them to match those in Kelly's Heroes. Since this would be four models at 1500 points, I decided to bring my Fallschirmjäger. So, my army isn't painted but I was excited to use them. My list was 2x full troops, hmgs, pak 40s, heavy mortars, nebelwerfers,  LG40s, and commands all with anti tank.

German setup.

Now I've only faced Russians once before. They brought the kind of army I expected. Thirty or so T-30's, lots of troops, full Katyusha, some more tanks, planes, hammer of god artillery and cavalry! They also took Komissar Boris Ivanovich Vasilevsky the 24" Komissar. Naturally they needed the whole table edge to set up.
Tanks, tanks, and more Tanks!

Just a little artillery...

Lots of Russians. Do we have enough bullets?

Since my team was defending, our main goal was to hold. The objectives were in the middle of our deployment, middle right and far right. We planned to have the objectives leave from middle table to right starting turn six. Our right flank would be our final objective and hold it till turn eight.

Two tigers would slow the left flank while the artillery would pound the middle of the Russians. The first few turns saw the Russians moving forward while firing artillery. Our forces returned artillery, hmg, and tiger shots.
Russian arty strike on the Fallschirmjäger.

Tigers holding the left flank.

Right flank holding strong while weakening the Russian mob.

Russians prepping for first charge.

The Fallschirmjäger in the field managed to stop the first Russian charge due to distances but the Komissar held them together. The Tigers on the left pulled back. The following turn the Russians made their charge. Now fearless vets should be fine right? Well see the thing with my rolling... in rpgs I tend to roll very high or very low but in equal amounts. In mini war games it tends to be much more the low....such as now
Seriously! Nine ones!

To be honest this was a game of bad rolls for everyone. This was a survivable encounter had I rolled average. With this many misses the unit was heavily damaged and the 2IC fled.. Luckily between the 2IC, rockets, and tiger we held the objective.
Luckily the Komissar was out of range to help the unit and we retook the objective.

That tiger holding the objective....rolled a one and arty took it out, ouch.

So, we found ourselves in a bit of a problem. We had to hold the objective another turn before we could pull in, and two bases were defending. Could a tiger and the nebelwerfers hold off the tanks, cavalry and remaining troops in the unit for a turn? Now Cavalry is often tough to get in a good position. However, the Russians had gotten it perfectly set to charge the nebelwerfers.
Perfectly set charge on the flank of the nebelwerfers.

Turns out Nebelwerfers are snipers with rifles!

Nebelwerfers turn out to have practiced a lot with their rifles. The hit the magic five times and broke the cavalry charge. This meant we could hold the middle objective till end of turn six. Our right flank objective was secure and too far for the Russians to make by the end. This meant the middle right objective would be the deciding factor. The Russian troops had been damaged but not destroyed. A single Tiger was blocking the objective. The tiger took the risk and assaulted the Russians, he rolled a one during the counter attack and was destroyed. This meant the Russians started the turn with the objective. Game over.
Tigers have bad luck too.

This was a great game. I'm glad I made it to the store. My fellow players were entertaining and easy going. When everyone rolls bad in a game it can get quite hysterical. It certainly got me motivated to paint up my Fallschirmjäger. I find I enjoy Flames of War the most in these team type mega battles. Mid-War has a slightly different balance, I'm curious to see what Early-War is like.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Some old and new...

So, as normal with the first month of a new year, a big drop in gaming. However, got a few games in.

While my Pathfinder campaign hasn't met, my other group has started our Descent Campaign. The four of us went with the main campaign, myself as the overlord. We also used the Conversion Kit since I have so many random DD models.
Of course the one picture I take is with mostly unpainted models.
We played the intro quest, the vampire's masquerade, and the fat goblin quests. The heroes won the intro and masquerade, I won the goblin quest. Both quests came to last minute runs. In the Goblin case I did a little maneuvering to get the big Guy out in time, last minute card to move a second time. In the Vampire case the players worked in a great formation to hold of the monsters and catch the vampire lady. A lot of fun.

General Thoughts:
1. It seems the Overlord is at a slight disadvantage but not enough to lower enjoyment. Maybe that will change as the campaign goes on.
2. I like that the overlord and the characters level up after each mission. It is simple and clean, giving new abilities without going overboard.
3. While it will be almost two months between sessions, the rules are easy enough it shouldn't take long to get back in character.
4. Overlord has to rely on his cards, monster can only do so much. Trip can be great!
5. I like this so much better than 1st edition, has a nice flow and mission structure.
6. Imperial Assault should be awesome skinned on this. For those who don't know that is the Star Wars using the Descent style rules.

So the new is Descent. The old is Hordes. I started Warmachine with the old black and white Prime book and old starter sets. My wife and I each have multiple armies. I've kept up with the rules (and fluff) but haven't played in a year or two.

One of my normal gaming buddies stopped by and was a tad frustrated with the newest GW grey Knight codex. He wanted to try his Trollblood again. So, we decided start slow and do a box set game. His Troll Impalers, Axer and Warlock Madrak versus my Legion shredders (4), Carnivean, and Warlock Lylyth.

I really miss playing this game. At these low point levels it becomes a game of positioning and setting up the best runs of attack. The warcaster/warlock is always so powerful and influential to your army, but if lost costs you the game. How much do you risk? The Fury/Focus mechanic makes so many choice each turn. The boosting to control your odds versus the synergy of your enemies defense.

Of course I'm not sure I'm ready to play in stores again with it. I love the game, but I'm not sure I can play enough to keep up to speed with weekly players. Then again depends if my rpg games pick up again or not.

Speaking of which I will end with this Kickstarter advertising, mostly since I'm excited to run it
Please feel free to share!

Game on.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Hirst Arts Projects

In both miniature games and some rpgs terrain is always an issue. It can be quite time consuming or expensive. So, over the last few years I've collected a number of Hirst Arts molds. These are rubber molds that take in plaster. I currently use Excalibur plaster which is dental plaster that doesn't meet the standards for dental works. Basically the company gets to sell their 2nd tier plaster to modelers for less. I made a number of ruins and basic shapes. I even used it in my wedding cake top...

The current project was to use a number of the tiles to build three different dungeon terrains. I had cast a number of them over the years. I decided to put them on pink insulation foam so I could make pits and such.
This is the cavern terrain pre-painted.

Some more pieces. The lego L helps keep the walls straight.

I mostly went with basic designs with this test run. I did decide on this one fancy wall.

So, next I picked some pain to try. I went with house paint, Behr. First some Egyptian Nile for the cavern base. The paint was slightly thinned to get in all the crevices.

Then came some heavy dry brushing of sand stone

Some close ups (sorry not great light in the garage)

Overall, I like the look and effect. The painting is quick and gives a nice look and terrain. The main time issue is the casting. However, you can do stuff in between sets. Of course with school coming again not a bad activity for a break in grading.

For the fieldstone dungeon I went first with mahogany for the base coat. 

Then a drybrush of puddle for the stonework.
Once again I like the effect with just a little time of painting. I might add a few different color stones to enhance the fieldstone effect. 

Next step will be to start building the more interesting rooms and painting the gothic dungeon. Overall, a nice easy project just takes a little while.


Saturday, August 23, 2014

Some Thoughts on 5th Edition Dungeons and Dragons

New Editions

Nothing can divide a gaming community more than a new edition. Warhammer 40K recently switched to 7th edition. It killed the game at the local shop I go too. The numbers are growing again but I doubt it will ever hit the popularity it had. 

Of course the biggest edition war I can think of was D&D switching from 3.5 to 4e. Part of this was due to the magazine license mess with paizo. The other was Wizards of the Coast (WoTC) marketing. They really bashed the old system and did a radical shift in gaming style. Some people loved it others didn't. It didn't help that 3e was so open licensed and 4e was not. In fact 3e license was designed to allow something like Pathfinder to come into being (Not the first game to do it, but the successor game to 3.5).  

So to be fair I feel I should say my experience with D&D. I played Orginal, Advanced, 2e, returned with 3e. A number of very good modules got me deep into 3.5. We mixed it with Monte Cooke's Ptolus and Arcana Evolved. With the open license we added Midnight, Warmachine's Iron Kingdoms, Pathfinder Adventures, etc. My group played 4e for a while but found ourselves going to Pathfinder when it came out. 4e turned into a one shot rpg with a board game feel (as one friend said our alternate descent). In Pathfinder once again open licence has been a big thing with Ways of the wicked, Rappan athuk, Slumbering Tsar, Razor Coast, Rise of the Drow, etc. My group has also played a lot more Call of Cthulhu, Savage Worlds, Gurps, and Legend of the Five Rings since 3.5.

5th Edition Dungeons and Dragons

Always starts with the Players Handbook
So first things first, WotC treated this release in a far different manner. Of course many people have changed since the 4e days and they seem to want far more outside opinions. In fact they did a massive open playtest of the system. So what was the result? I will note this is from a read of the rules, haven't played it.

Look and Feel

The Player's book first has some great art in it. Closer to the older style than more recent editions. The whole feel of the book takes me back to 1&2e with modern advances. This actually explains the new system quite well. It feels like what I fondly remember of 2e with advances from 3.5 and savage worlds. Character creations is far easier and you are less likely to drive yourself into a useless corner. That's not to say its balanced perfectly, just that there are less wrong choices.

Part of this is due to the idea of your proficiency score. The progression of base attack bonus, saving throws, skills, spell dc etc are all rolled up into your proficiency score. So a 1st through 4th level character has a +2 proficiency. So making an attack is strength bonus plus a +2 if you are proficient in that weapon. A rogue with dexterity proficiency would make a dex saving throw with his dex bonus and the +2. Skills same idea. This simplifies progression. The slow progression of numbers makes monsters last longer as being a threat. This seems great for something like the Original Temple of Elemental Evil.

Character Creation

The normal stats are here as normal (Strength, Intelligence, Wisdom, Dexterity, Constitution, and Charisma). There is a maximum for any stat at 20, not a first level max but for the characters live span. The first choice is race and then a sub-race. Each gives you various bonuses from skill proficiency, bonus to a stat, weapon proficiency,  or other special abilities. Next step is picking your class which decides your proficiency in weapons, saving throws, spells etc. Each class has a number of sub classes to pick from. These have starting equipment options. Finally you pick your background which also adds another proficiency or two to change your character a bit.

The classes with their various sub classes inside of them give a decent variety. The fighter even has a swordmage subclass that with the proficiency setup seems to be effective. The bard seems useful as well which is an odd thought. The classes overall seem decently put together. Leveling up can easily be done at the table since there are only a few choices needed to be made. 


A character at advantage gets to roll two dice and take the highest. One at disadvantage rolls two dice but keeps the lowest. This is a nice way to give a quick bonus due to circumstances. 

General Thoughts

Wish I had this game back in the old days. It seems to be a great game for a group that wants a campaign of DD but doesn't want the detail level of Pathfinder. In many ways the arguments between using Savage Worlds or GURPS. 

I don't see my ongoing campaign group switching over. They like the options and tactical choices in Pathfinder and like the building of the characters. Another group of friends rpg has turned into board gaming. So I'm trying a Descent Board Game campaign with them. Gets the fantasy story campaign feel, but is a nice board game.
The variety of missions are interesting for Descent. To give an example one is a masquerade that a vampire comes in. It becomes a race between the players and the vampire to find her masked target first. Fighting off her flunkies and trying to find who to protect.

Having said I could easily see doing a one shot or a short campaign with a number of players I know. Its nice and easy rules set and doesn't need much thought out of the session. For those without a lot of time its a great system. I also think it is a great introduction to the hobby. The main problem I see is all the other ideas I have for campaigns. Does Dungeons and Dragons win over Savage Worlds set in American or French Revolution? Wierd War II? Cthulhu Acthung? Legend of the Five Rings? Call of Cthulhu? Delta Green? etc. Doesn't help the first module isn't that great. Doing the Temple of Elemental Evil again could be fun. 

So, in the end seems a game I really wanted years ago. I'm willing to play, just not sure it will fit in.

As a side note, how much my wife and I are more rpg than crunch? First 10 minutes of Diablo III on PS4 we make sure our banners looks right.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Summer Projects.... and the distractions

Summer Miniature Projects

This is the first summer in a while that I am not enrolled in any classes or massive rewrites of classes I teach (note the word massive, not none). So, while I continue working on the reaper models I originally started working on building some Bolt Action and Napoleonics.  Bolt action I could probably get a game in after in a little while. It and the Napoleonics will also work well for some Savage World ideas I have. The Bolt Action models are the standard Warlord Games, while the Napoleonics are Victrix British Peninsular War.
While Wellington used Germans, not WWII era.

The models overall went together well. The Victrix had some flash. but overall was fine. I normally have built heroic scale 25mm/28mm models. Building historical meant getting use to thin arms and weapons.

Slight Change of Plans

A number of people in one of my groups were interested in Muskets and Tomahawks. This combined with the new Assassins Creed Unity Trailer and reading the excellent book Saratoga, won me over to the era. I've had a number of rpgs ideas and always wanted to build the American Revolution to Waterloo. I made some orders and received a nod of fate. A Wargames, Soldiers and Strategy arrived focusing on the era.
One of the more interesting articles was the discussion of the Seven Year War being the first World War. I admit not knowing a lot about the era and enjoyed filling in the gap. Before that my main knowledge was it cost enough for England to raise taxes on the American Colonies to help pay for it. Speaking of paying, I had debated working on a 40k Ork army. I have some models and a new codex was coming. However, for the same price as a unit of 10 Flash Gitz I got this shipment of models....
135 Historicals vs 10 Flash Gitz, happy with my choice

So, what did I get? First sixty French Napoleonics to face my British and serve in rpgs. Muskets and Tomahawks seemed the easiest to get into quickly. So, for that I bought twenty Indians and nineteen Redcoats. Since it is a missions based, I also bought some villagers and a powder cart.
The cart serves double purpose. Without fail, my Pathfinder players always buy a cart.
Now they have one.

The Redcoats and Indians were Warlord Games models made by conquest. Overall they are good models. However, I will say I had a bit of flash on the models. Not, terrible but definitely needed some clean up. This seems to be random. I had one friend get a clean set, another far worse than mine.

Most models needed weapons to be attached. The flag poles given are brass rods. I kept them separate to glue in when the flags are ready. 

Villagers as always are important. Some will serve as objectives for wargames or rpgs. These models and the cart are Perry Brother Miniatures. As always these are great models. I also finished some Reaper Bones large models, some of the few that need glue.
Cardinal Richelieu sneaks in with the bones minis.

Soon they were all primed some with spray and gesso to test the difference.

Painting Distractions

Had to replace the water heater so sat with the dogs to keep them calm. So lots of base coating of large models (needed for Whispering Tyrant/Carrion Crown campaign).

So, trying to focus but the reaper minis come out a lot when I have excess paint in the tray. Which is great in never wasting paint, but tends to increase what I'm painting at any one time.

Next Time: Quick Board Games and New 40K!