Sunday, 23 March 2014

Warrior Heroes: Legends - First Game

I had finished my big HotT game last week and needed to keep the table pretty clear for a game of Twilight Struggle I had arranged for today, but I wanted to fit a quick game of something in if I could. I had recently bought Warrior Heroes - Legends from Two Hour Wargames and wanted to give it a go. I knew a bit of what to expect as the core mechanics are shared between most of their rules and figured it wouldn't last too long (as per the company title), so I thought I'd give it a go.

I bought it wanting to use my Lord of the Rings figures with it. While I am happy with the GW rules, I like the solo-friendly nature of THW rules and the fact that they often lead to something unexpected happening. This was to be the case in this game!

I decided I would lead a small party of Gondorian soliders on a border patrol. I used the 'Wandering' scenario which is designed for such things and for traveling between places. You don't have a specific objective in the way that a Raid mission would, for example, but you need to check the area for possible enemies and clear them out if any are found. I chose quite a high encounter rating, which meant there would be a high possibility of other forces being encountered, as well as additional potential contacts being generated throughout the game.

So that's the background, but due to me not thinking about the consequences of how I changed the random encounter tables it all went a bit odd...

My intrepid band set off into the wilderness

The first encounter resolves at the edge of a forest. Another Gondor patrol! We exchange pleasantries, but they want to be on their way and don't join me.

They make their way of the table and I head to the ruins where I think something might be lurking (the large green markers show where potential contacts could occur when within line of sight).

What ho?! Two Gondorian soldiers, clearly shirking their duties. Be on your way!

This place seems to be suspiciously busy with allied troops...

Two more potential contacts. I head round to come into LOS with the one at the top of the picture.

A Gondorian Ranger?! Seriously? This is the most heavily patrolled patch of so called "wilderness" I have ever seen!

I bid farewell to the Ranger and head for the last marker. Meanwhile another is placed on the board due to a random event and resolves behind me...

Two more Rangers! Okay, this is now entirely daft. I guess the commander doesn't trust me to get the job done myself...

Finally! The final encounter and it is resolved as 3 goblins. Hmmm. What a challenge...

The goblins charge before I can react. Pesky creatures...

And are instantly cut down by my trained warriors. End of the game, table cleared...

That was just odd. All those encounters and one measly bunch of foes. It was entirely my fault though. I just picked one of the encounter tables I thought would suit the region and substituted human results for soldiers and rangers and kept the monsters as they were mostly suited to LotR anyway.

But what I didn't take into account was that, in a 'typical' fantasy world, your band of adventurers could easily get into trouble with official forces of a nation. But my soldiers would hardly get into a scrap with other Gondorians, so aside from rolling to see if they would join me, there wasn't a lot of action to be had. As the table I picked  was weighted towards that as a result and the high encounter rating meant most of the potential contacts would turn out to be figures, it was mostly likely that I would end up meeting a whole bunch of allies rather than anything meaty to fight.

Entirely my fault for rushing into the game and not thinking things through! What I'll do is draw up a map of the region and create tables to reflect what kind of enemies my Gondorians might face. Then I am ready to get on with a campaign, one which involves something more dangerous than bumping into a bunch of mates out in the woods...

Friday, 21 March 2014

Machinas: First Look

A couple of days ago, I received the rules PDF for Machinas, the new post-apocalyptic racing game from Two Hour Wargames, which was recently successfully funded on Indigogo. The decks of cards and hardcopy of the rules should be back from the printer soon and ready for shipping, but in the meantime I was keen to give it a go using the counters provided in the PDF.

So what is it?
If you think 'Mad Max' you are pretty much there. Death races in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, with cars bashing and shooting each other, as well as vying for first place in the race. The rules cover organised races in an arena, a bit like Roman chariots, but also 'ungoverned' races in the wasteland.

Each car and driver is made up of 3 stats: Savvy (general racing ability), Tech (shooting and vehicle control) and Speed (which is pretty much what it says it is). Added to this are different weapons and equipment, the option for drawbacks which reduce the points value of your car and specific driver skills (or ineptitudes!). This all gives a good amount of customisation options. Although the information is in the rules, the game does come with a deck (or more depending on how you pledged), so you can layout all the information for the cars in front of you. You can also choose from a range of vehicles, from motorbikes all the way up to big rigs.

Rules PDF, printed cars, reference sheets. Let's race!

How does it play?
A unique aspect of this game, which I like very much, is the concept of the pack. Cars are tracked by cards, which show their relative positions in the pack. The pack itself is tracked with a marker to show where everyone is on the course. This means all the cars are in the thick of it at all times. At first I wasn't sure how I felt about this, but when I thought about it, I realised it was basically just like the kinds of films it could emulate. The cars are usually racing in a fairly tight group unless they are destroyed, in which case no one cares about them any more. Films don't concern themselves with inept stragglers, it is the skilled racers in the main pack who are of interest. And the game reflects this.

My test race in progress

The first phase in a typical turn is about positioning. Players decide if they will attempt to overtake or not. Chosing not to allows you to draft and gain a bonus die for future use. These dice are very useful as they add to what you are allowed to roll for skill checks. You start with a certain amount, usually 9, and managing this resource is an important part of the game.

Once the passing choices have been made, random events are diced for and can be good or bad depending on the result.

After events, the passing phase takes place. Cars involved roll a number of dice based on their Savvy skill, plus or minus modifiers for the type of vehicle, how many bonus dice are being used and a few other factors. If the winner is the car trying to overtake, they can either do so, or take the opportunity to shoot at or bash their opponent, which can result in damage or outright destruction!

Once all cars that wish to do so have tried to overtake, the pack marker is moved to the next section of the track and the process repeats itself.

Is there more to it than just the races?
Yes, there are also campaign rules where you can your make your way from low level races to the glory of the big arenas. This covers things like developing drivers, scrounging equipment from defeated opponents and making repairs to your vehicle. All of this is covered in rules which get the job done in a simple and effective way. There are also rules for chases and how to use the Machinas rules in other THW game systems. There are also some solid NPC rules so it is simple to set yourself up racing against the game system.

Are you going to be your usual pedantic self about the rules?
Yes, sorry. I just can't help it. By and large the rules are solid and make sense. The turn structure is simple and clearly described. On the other hand there are a few typos, most of which affect the reference sheet. Nothing too major. A couple of the rules could do with some clearer explanation, but nothing that a simple FAQ won't clear up. There are a couple of oddities in there. You need to successfully make a pass check before you decide to pass, shoot or ram. I imagine this represents the maneuvering required to bring your guns to bear, but the result is that a heavily weaponised big rig may not get a chance to even fire against a nippy sports car. Something else I noticed is that, due to a hefty negative modifier on the loss of control chart, the same big rig is more likely to flip and become a wreck. I'd have thought that part of the point of a massive, heavy vehicle, was that it just keeps on going no matter what. But more games need to be played to see how this kind of thing plays out. I'm not a great fan of house rules, but it would be a simple thing to correct if I felt it needed it.

Is this your new favourite racing game then?
It is a bit early to say. I don't feel I am doing it justice until a have played some more games and seen the decks of cards as well. Then I will be in a position to review it properly. My initial impression is that it is a fairly light game. There are some interesting decisions to be made about how you manage your pool of bonus dice and when you should try and pass other cards, but I personally would love more technical racing options and a greater choice in customising cars. But I'm the kind of guy who would really want at least twice the number of options presented in the rules, so that isn't a massive criticism by any means. I am sure if demand is high enough then more will be produced (or fans will come up with their own).

Okay, wind this up now... Do you like it?
Yes, I do. Despite some of the early observations above, I had good fun racing my car in the wastelands. I kept on wanting just one more turn and half way through the race I realised that yes, there was certainly some strategy involved and my neglect of that fact was why I was at the end of pack. Whoops! I'm looking forward to the decks arriving and will write about the 'whole package' once I have some more games under my belt to make a full and fair assessment.

Oh, and how did your race end?

Badly. I worked my way to the front of the pack and tried to overtake the sportscar in the lead, which promptly dumped a box of nails on me and caused me to lose control and wreck my car.

See, I said that management of the bonus dice pool for when you really need them is an important part of the game!

An inglorious end. But I'll be back for more.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Warhammer Hordes of the Things

A couple of weeks ago I realised that I rather enjoyed the Hordes of the the Things reports written by Colgar6 on his blog. This long overdue idea was soon followed by my slow brain remembering I have a few Warhammer figures painted myself, so why the devil am I not using them for HotT?!

Seeking to rectify this foolish state of affairs, I set about cutting up an old box to make bases for my figures. A few snips of card and blobs of BluTack later, I had two mighty armies arrayed for battle (more than can be said when I use the same number of figures for actual Warhammer... but that's by the by...)

I divided them up thusly: Skaven force 1 - lead by a magician and mostly consisting of allied beastmen and Horde troops. Skaven force 2 - lead by a hero and having Warband, Blades and a Behemoth (a Doomwheel). Empire force 1 - led by a hero and consisting mostly of Blades and Shooters. Empire force 2 - led by a cleric and made up of Spears, a couple of Shooters and a cannon.

So I chucked a bunch of terrain on the table and had at it!

The initial deployment

One of the Skaven forces.

And the also included 3 elements of Lurkers
Empire force led by a Cleric. The cannon would prove useful!

A sturdy human force of mostly Blades and Shooters.

Two turns in and the cannon claims its first victim.

On the left Empire flank, the Doomwheel forces back the Spears

Beastmen being blown away by cannon was a recurring theme of the battle...

The Empire Spears take down the Doomwheel quite handily.

The decisive combat on the Empire right flank. Before...

...And after... Where did they all go?!

All without a single human base lost!

Skaven casualties a few turns in... not good...

On the left flank, Skaven try and succeed where the Doomwheel failed...

The moment the impetuous Imperial knights followed up after a victory and almost ended up in bad going. As it was, no one did all game, so the Skaven Lurkers remained unused.

Having expired all the Beastmen, the artillery turned its attention so the Stormvermin. BOOM!

More Skaven get slaughtered by the Empire spears.

The final view of the battlefield. A resounding Imperial victory.

The final casualty pile. That's right, no humans...

So that was a very one sided game! But very good fun. My final verdict is that if I want zany fantasy with a lot of randomness and a lot of figures, I'll play Warhammer. If I want a rollicking good game that feels like an epic conflict  that can be played out in a relatively short period of time, I'll use Hordes of the Things.

Now, I really need to paint up some Skaven to give them a better chance!

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Cardstock Cowboys

Why is it that when new projects come along, they never come one at a time, reasonably spread out so that I can focus on one for a good while and get it properly off the ground before new inspiration strikes?!

I am still waiting for the rules and figures for my FIW project, but in the meantime ended up getting hold of Six Gun Sound: Blaze of Glory by THW. Now I am a big fan of THW at the best of times, but the campaign rules for SGS are something else. Not only do you get a series of distinct scenarios, covering much more than just your usual gunfights, but a swathe of character class options and specific campaigns for each type, built up of a selection of appropriate scenarios and appropriate happenings between games. So you can choose to be a sheriff, cowboy, gunslinger, Texas Ranger, outlaw etc and the game makes each feel different.

For example, the sheriff has a specific scenario in which he has to disperse a rowdy crowd in a saloon. This can go well and peacefully, or a gunfight could break out. All well and good, but the sheriff also has to work to maintain the good will of the locals in order to be reelected at the end of each year. Conversely, the Ranger campaign places more emphasis on commanding a group of men, managing your resources to cover the year's encounters, fighting Indians and keeping routes between towns free of trouble. The outlaw, on the other hand, has to bring in enough loot to keep his band happy, or he could end up in a showdown with unhappy men. Cowboys naturally spend their time on the trail, driving cattle.

To this you can add that encounter types vary in likelihood depending on how well settled the region is you are traveling through or living in. In fact this can also change over time as small mining outposts grow or suffer from droughts, severe fighting or a harsh winter. None of this is very complex though, just full of flavour. If you can survive the tumultuous years between 1875-1885 you can say you have 'won', although a lot can depend on how you feel you have done in your career or what personal goals you decide to set for yourself.

Now, I have to say I have not actually played any games with these rules, but my initial impressions are highly favourable. Although the core rules are versatile and fit all kinds of gaming in the period, the campaign clearly forgoes the typical 'Hollywood Wild West' type of game and tends more towards an authentic 'Old West' experience and the knowledge Bob Minadeo (the author) has of the era is quite clearly informed more by the history books than the movies.

So I found myself entirely taken by these rules and wanting to try them as cheaply as possible. Thanks to Whitewash City and card standups from Wargame Vault this is easily possible and here is my first bash:

The Saloon is actually a free sample from Whitewash City if you want to give it a go yourself. It is scaled for 28/30mm, but I reduced it to 64% for 15mm figures. It wasn't very fiddly even after reduction!

The figures are also 28/30mm, so I reduced these by 50%. The figures are only going to be a temporary fix as I'll probably get some 15mm chaps from Peter Pig's Western Range. he buildings on the other hand will be a permanent and cheap addition to my collection.

That's all for now, I hope that I will get the chance to complete some more buildings and figures over the next few weeks and show how the Six Gun Sound rules work in practice.

Sunday, 9 March 2014

What's on my table (and a request for naming help!)

Gaming time has been a bit on the sparse side recently. As a result I decided to get on with some painting and have once again found myself mired in the 'multiple projects on the go' problem! This has had a 'vicious circle' effect in that it means the table is taken over with various bits of painting, making it even less likely for me to get any gaming done. I really need to limit myself at any given time to what I can fit on a tray!

Here's what's happening at the moment. From left to right (roughly):

  • Riot police waiting to have their shields attached. These are for modern zombie gaming, but will find use in near future sci fi and other games I'm sure.
  • Lizardman Saurus. One of 6 that I have. He's going to lead the skinks that I am working on.
  • Modern cops and US military. Also for zombie games. I am wanting to get a minimal amount of law enforcement and military done so I can start a proper campaign.
  • AWI British. These four, a freebie from a mate, are heading for the Caribbean to prevent my pirates from running amok
  • Flintloque Freach light infantry section. These chaps were found for me at a reasonable price by another friend. All painted and just wanting rebasing. I need to varnish them and apply some basing material to blend in with what was already there and they are good to go.
  • Lizardmen Skinks. While these might find their way into my Warhammer games, what is prompting their painting is my need for a native force for pirate games. At some point I'll probably want human natives, but for now these are a cost effective alternative.
So really I have three projects on the table I guess. Pirates, Zombies and Fantasy Napoleonics! At the moment I will probably get the figures for Pirates done first, so you can expect some swashbucking adventures in the near future.

But the main point of this post is actually to ask for a bit of help. My blog, you see, has a rather boring name. Even my wife, who is usually intrigued by my hobby endeavors finds it not up to my usual standards of imagination... So I really want to change it. Perhaps some facts will help...?
  • Most of my gaming is done solo
  • I enjoy rules by Two Hour Wargames the most but will play almost anything
  • I can't help but get distracted my new projects (yeah... FIW coming here soon!)
  • I strongly dislike having to paint figures and consider myself primarily a gamer
  • Following on from point 3, I have a wide range of games I collect for
I'm sure there is more, or perhaps you chaps have got an impression of me from my blog that I am unaware of (and would no doubt be interested to hear! I think...)

So if any of this prompts you to think of a new name for my blog, or if you have any other ideas, please post in the comments!

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Christmas Flintloque Game

I finally got round to playing my planned Christmas game of Flintloque a few weeks back. A little late, but I ended up needing a few practice runs to get the enemy AI options how I wanted them. It was a straightforward game, with my Ferach trying to cross from one corner of the table to the other, while the Gingerbread men tried to stop them. I wrote it up in my usual format, although the Freach are speaking their native tongue!

All in all it was a fun little skirmish. I look forward to getting larger and more varied forces on the table using these rules. The solo rules work well, although I think different types of troop definitely need different tables for what they do, rather than the generic one in the rulebook.

I'm working on some more Flintloque figures, so hope to be posting more game reports soon. On the other hand, there are also various figures for pirate and zombies games on my table right now, so we'll have to see what gets finished first!