Friday, October 20, 2017

Wargame Design: Innovation is Over-rated

Yup.  I said it.  Innovation is over-rated.  I feel this is especially true in the field of wargames design.  Too many people are trying way too hard, to be way too clever.  Most of the people I see try to re-invent the wheel end up stalling their project and never getting anything to a playable state.  There is no reason to try and make games if you never have anything to play. 

Alternatively, they get something to a playable state, but it comes out way to different and complicated that no one wants to play it.  The players can’t wrap their heads around it, or it requires a lot of tracking, or there is too much table clutter, etc.  People read the rules, scratch their heads and never look back.  Most of the time I see someone trying to innovate a mechanic or system they spiral into If This/Then That style of rules.  Instead, keep it simple.  If you use a method to roll over a target number to resolve an action, use that same model for everything else that requires a test.  Use the same core mechanics over and over in the rules.            
Once, a long time ago I took a class on screen writing.  The professor shared something that stuck with me for a long time and I recognize the truth of.  He said that if you want to actually sell manuscripts for movies and books do not try to be innovative.  Many people are afraid of that which they do not understand or feel comfortable with.  Innovative ideas are not comfortable and therefore lead to a lack of buying.  Instead, take an existing model and re-skin it.  Change the setting, a plot point, or a character around.  The skeleton is the familiar, the innovation or uniqueness is how you combine the pieces.    
My young ears were shocked by this notion.  Then, I actually started to look around at what the entertainment industry was offering me and realized with horror that he was right.  That was exactly what was happening for the most part.  Let’s look at “arguably” the first Blockbuster movie and nerd classic; Star Wars.  There is nothing new in Star Wars.  In fact, it is very “traditional” in its narrative.  The big change was simply placing it in a new setting.  How many times has the Seven Samurai been re-done?  The innovation is putting a new spin or use on a classic idea.  People do not feel alienated by the innovation and instead embrace the subtle change or re-use. 

Therefore, if you want to make games that you can play don’t try to re-invent the wheel.  Innovation is over-rated.  Instead focus on what you are trying to accomplish with your game and look at what other games do to achieve it.  Do they roll to beat a target number, cross-reference a chart, use opposed rolls, use an interrupt system?  Instead of trying to invent a whole new method, use one that works and apply it to your game.  Always remember what you are trying to accomplish and you will not go wrong.
Someone else probably thought of it somewhere first.  That is why it is so important to stay current with new systems and games.  You will slowly create an “inventory” of mechanics that you can then apply to the design problems you face.  These ideas become your “Tool box” where you apply these mechanics together into new and interesting ways.  It is this re-combination of mechanics and how you apply them to new or different problems where you will find innovation.  It is not creating something new from whole cloth.  It is something new from the sum of its parts.
If you read the rules for Castles in the Sky, you will find that it takes liberally from several games systems.  This includes Battlefleet Gothic, Aeronautica Imperialis, Battletech, All Quiet on the Martian Front, Dystopian Wars, and a few other game systems.  In fact, if you are familiar with all of these games then you can probably tell me exactly what mechanics came from which game.  However, how they all work together is what gives the game a unique feel and play style.  Plus, it is a complete and playable game system! 
Too many designers focus on creating the perfect mechanic, instead of just getting on with it and making the game.  Innovation is over-rated if it stops you from completing your wargame project.  Instead, remember what you are trying to accomplish and use the existing mechanics that will allow you to get there.  The innovation will come with how the mechanics integrate together to make the sum of the game.                   

Monday, October 16, 2017

Poseidon's Warriors: Battle Report- Spartan Breakout: The Corinthian War

The Corinthian War was a conflict between an expansionist Sparta and her allies and the combined alliance of Athens, Corinth, Thebes, and Argos.  The war took place between 395 to 387 BC and involved forces on land and sea.  The land warfare mostly took place near Corinth and Thebes while the ocean battles took place around the Aegean. 

Corinth and Athens were the second and largest fleet in Ancient Greece respectively.  They were well established naval powers.  Sparta on the other hand was attempting to build their Naval power to align with their abilities on land.  Most of the Spartan ships were tribute from allied city-states from the Aegean.

Not all battles of these ancient wars were properly recorded and many were lost to the mists of time.  The action below is one such battle. 

This will be a Trireme fight between the forces of Sparta and the Alliance using Poseidon's Warriors from Osprey.  YOu can see previous Corinthian War battle reports here and here.    

The Forces

 1 Slow Trireme unit with Commander, Elite Marines- 210 pts
4 Slow Trireme units- 150 pts each
Total= 810 points

1 Fast Athenian Trireme with Admiral- 200 pts
3 Slow Corinthian Triremes units- 150 pts each
1 Fast Athenian Trireme deploying in reserve- 150 points
Total= 800 Points

On the west coast is a difficult shoreline with access to a bay.  The Spartans are leaving the bay.  They need to get their fleet into the Aegean and secure their allies.  The Alliance is closing in from both opposite sides of the bay and trying to cut them off from heading into the Aegean.  If the Alliance can keep the Spartans away from their allied islands, they might be able to deprive them of growing their own fleet.    

Add caption
Add caption
Add caption

The Spartans are trying to smash their way past the Alliance ships and move out into the open Aegean.  The Alliance is trying to stop their advance. 
The Spartan Fleet emerges from the bay
Turn 1:
The Alliance wins and proceeds to move in and try to cut off the Spartans escape.  The Spartans begin to leave the bay, but turn towards the Athenian Fast triremes. 

Turn 2:
Despite the aggressive Spartan turn towards them, the Athenians press forward.  The Corinthians are also unimpressed and continue to press ahead at full speed.

The Spartan admiral and two other squadrons continue to head for the Athenians, while the other two squadrons head for the Aegean.  However, it seems unlikely they will be able to get past the closing Corinthians without a fight.

Turn 3:
The Athenians turn in to face the oncoming Spartan fleet.  The outer most Corinthian vessels do the same. 

The Spartan fleet realizes it will not be able to escape, and begins to set-up a battle line.

Turn 4:
The Spartan admiral moves most of his fleet to face off against the Athenians, hoping to overwhelm the Alliance forces there with numbers.  His Second squadron is left with the impossible task of holding the Corinthians flank alone. 

The Athenians begin to play coy, seeing that they need to play for time so the Corinthians can fall on the exposed Spartan flank before they are overwhelmed.  The Corinthians rush forward as rapidly as they can, but they must still be wary of the Spartan Second Squadron.

Turn 5:
The Spartans do not have time to wait, and they surge forward with most of the fleet.  Only Second Squadron waits patiently for the Corinthians to come around a small island to attack.  They know that this will allow the Athenians to attack, but they cannot wait.  The Spartans hope that the initial contact will give them gaps to counter-attack and escape through the Athenian line. 

The Athenians do not take the Spartan bait, and instead back away with the Second Squadron and move to reinforce them with the first.  Meanwhile, the first Corinthian Triremes pass the island into the Spartan kill zone.  The rest of the Alliance ships rush towards the exposed Spartan flank. 

Turn 6:
The Spartans close on the Athenians and open fire with their artillery, archers, and slingers from the Fifth Squadron.  The fire kills the marines on two galleys.  However, they are still too far to engage. 

On the Corinthian side, the Spartan Second Squadron leaps forward and lands two strikes on Corinthian Triremes.  Somehow, both Triremes survive the ram with box car saving rolls!  One of the Corinthian ships is grappled and boarded with the Spartan Hoplites killing the Corinthian defenders and sinking the ship.  First blood to the Spartans!

The Corinthian Fifth Squadron and the Spartan Second get into a tangle!  Two Galleys from each side collide head-to-head.  Btoh Spartan ships are sunk, but one of the Corinthian manages to survive!  They then exchange missile fire which removes the marines from 1 of the Spartan ships.   

However, the rest of the Corinthian fleet ignores the Spartan forlorn hope, and heads for the exposed fleet. 

The Athenian Second Squadron is forced to commit head-to-head attacks on the Spartan Fifth squadron.  Both squadrons are essentially destroyed in the ensuing melee. 

Turn 7:
The Spartan fleet sees its chance and makes a break for open water.  If they are swift, the Spartan triremes maybe able to avoid the Corinthians closing in on the flank.  Meanwhile, the Spartan Second Squadron disengages from the Corinthian Fifth and makes for the Aegean. 

The Corinthians may have miscalculated the approach and are hampered by an island.  Meanwhile, the last Athenian squadron backs water to avoid engaging the Spartans. 

Turn 8:
The Spartans continue their hell-bent race to the Aegean.  They pepper the Athenians with missile fire, and destroy the archers on two ships and the marines on the other three.   

The Athenians finally see their chance, and race forward.  It is now or never! A hard turn on the approach allows them to avoid Head-to-head ramming.  5 Spartan ships are hulled and destroyed in the attack! The Spartan Admiral’s ship was the only one to be spared from the First Squadron. 

Turn 9:
Spartan ships from Squadron Four and One counter-attack the Athenians that are up-close and personal.  Two from the Athenian First Squadron are sunk.  Another loses their marines to missile fire.  However, Spartan Third and Second Squadron seem to be breaking out!  Can anyone from the Alliance stop them? 

The Athenian Fast Triremes ram the Spartan Admiral’s galley and sink it.  The Admiral is killed in the attack.  However, his plan seems to have worked as the Corinthians do not look like they can catch the Third Squadron before it escapes. 

Turn 10:
With an unexpected surge of speed, the Corinthian Fourth and Third squadron race ahead and engage the fleeing Spartan Third Squadron.  The Alliance won initiative which allowed them to catch the fleeing Spartans.  Two galleys are rammed and sunk!  The rest are depopulated of marines and archers by missile fire.  Ouch!

The Spartans continue to row madly away for the Aegean. 

Turn 11:
The Spartan Second and Third Squadron make it to the Aegean for a total of 6 ships so far.  The Fourth must row around and island while the Corinthians pursue them.

Missile fire from the Corinthian ships kills archers and marines in the Spartan Fourth Squadron. 

Turn 12:
The Corinthians smell blood in the water and surged ahead one more time (Thanks to winning Initiative again) and catch the last of the Spartan Fourth Squadron.  They manage to send two more to the bottom of the Sea.  However, the last two ships escape into the Aegean. 

8 Spartan ships out of 25 escaped into the Aegean.  It was a tactical victory for the Alliance, but the Spartans were able to reach their Aegean allies and force them to supply aid.  Therefore, a Strategic win for the Spartans.

The Alliance lost 9 out of 25 ships.  However, the Athenians took the brunt of the fighting and lost 7 out of 10 fast Triremes.  The Corinthians might be the dominant naval power in the Aegean now.  Hopefully Persian will pay for more Athenian Triremes and rowers!

The Corinthian War will continue…  

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Aquanautica Imperialis: Battle Report- Raid on the Pirate Fleets

It has been a long time since I have played a game of this.  I decided to break it out again for two major reasons.  First, the death of Dystopian Wars as Spartan Games and their re-birth as Warcradle Games gave me a bit of a hankering for make believe Naval warfare.  The second was reading some of my old battle and looking at some of my old homemade models made me feel a bit nostalgic.  Therefore, I decided to bust out some of the old templates and give it a go again. 

As I go back into the archives, I think I started making this game in 2007.  That means this game is 10 years old, give or take.  I haven’t personally played it since 2012 or so.  Therefore, I will be a bit rusty on the rules and probably make a mistake or two.  I find this funny since I wrote the game!  No one should know it better than me right? 

To get started I decided to use two relatively basic fleets.  I decided to use the Ammoriss Naval PDF versus a Pirate force.  It seemed somewhat thematic.  Before the rebellion of South Ammoriss, much of the Naval PDFs job was to hunt down and eliminate Pirates that preyed on the convoys that criss-crossed Greater Ammoriss.  Even though I have ships made for the Ammoriss PDF but I decided to just use the templates for this game since I do not have any Pirate ships made up.  Let’s see what happens.     

You can find all the rules and stuff to try it for yourself here

The Forces:

Ammoriss Naval PDF
AN Saint Invictus
Dependable Class Cruiser- 250 points

Spear Group 46Delta
2 Assured Escorts- 100 Points

Total= 350 Points

Ammoriss Pirate Fleet
Jolly Roberts- LD 8
Pirate class frigate- 250 points

Sally (LD 8) and Bess (LD 6)
2 Monitors- 150 points

Jackie Tarrow  (LD 8) and Sparrow Hawk (LD 6)
2 Pillager class escort- 200 points

Swift Roe (LD 7) and Sea Nixie (LD 7)
Skiff Escort- 100 points

Total= 700 Points


The Ammoriss Naval PDF is raiding the Pirate Fleet.  In a Raiders mission, the attacker can only use half the points of the defender.  Both sides are trying to inflict Damage Points on the enemy fleet, while limiting damage to their own.  If the Attackers inflict more damage than the Defenders, they win. 

We are using a 4 by 4 board.  The Pirates are placed on the board edge closest to shore 12 inches away.  The Ammoriss Naval PDF is deployed moving across the table from the Pirate fleet from North to South. 

The sunrise was beautiful.  The sea danced under the delicate touch of the sun, and an array of yellow, orange, and red danced and shimmered.  The glow of daylight cut through the sea mist, and a purple haze surrounded the bright ball as it crested the waves.

Captain Smythe-Browne sipped his tea and savored the bitter tang.  This was why he had signed up for the Naval PDF.  Few people got to see the sunrise like this. 

“Augurs have detected unidentified readings at bearing Delta- 456,” one of the crew chirped. 

The Captain placed his tea cup back in its saucer.  The XO had taken charge and began issue the agreed upon orders.  Smythe-Browne handed the tea cup back to his steward, who quickly tidied it away and scampered to his battle station.  The alert klaxon began to sound.

NavComm had been right.  Captain Smythe-Browne didn’t know how they knew and he didn’t care.  That pirate scum was right where they were supposed to be when his force got here.  Now, he was going to smash them.   

Turn 1:
The Raiders automatically start with the initiative.

The Assureds raced around the back side of the small island.  Meanwhile, the Pirate fleet moved out.  The Skiffs and Pillagers stayed in formation and approached the lighthouse.  The Dependable had to turn towards the Pirates to bypass the island as well.  The Jolly Roberts turned to meet the Ammoriss navy ship while the Monitors tucked in behind the other Pirate escorts. 

The Dependable opens fire.  The front turret fires on the Pirate escorts but misses due to range and size.  The Las-batteries arc out at the Pirate Frigate, but a Brace by the Jolly Roberts keeps them from serious damage. 

The Pirate frigate returns fire with her port batteries and manage to knock a DP off the Dependable!  The other ships are out of range. 


Turn 2:
AN wins initiative.   

The Saint Invictus moves to cut-off the escape of the Pirate escorts and cross their T.  However, they are speedy, and one manages to get in front of her. The Assureds turn in to finish them off.  The rest break to the Saint Invictus’ port side.  The Pirate Frigate moves to get behind the AN cruiser. 

The Assureds open fire on the Pillager in front of the Cruiser.  Their combined fire is enough to turn her into a lifeless hulk, despite Bracing.  The second Pillager (Sparrow Hawk) fires on the Saint Invictus, and another shell finds a weak spot and reduces her another DP.  Captain Smythe-Browne may want to try Bracing one of these days?

Instead, the Amoriss Naval PDF Captain orders his crew to Lock-on, but they are unable to.  Instead, the Las-batteris fire on the Pillager, the front turret at the Skiff, and the rear at the Pirate Frigate.  The skiff avoids the heavy shells.  The Pillager is hit once and takes damage.  The Jolly Roberts also braces, but still takes a hit!  The shell manages to strike and destroy the ship’s screw, which is now fouled!

The Monitors also fire on the Dependable, but the shells ring off the Cruiser’s armored belt.  The Jolly Roberts has reduced firepower from Bracing, and only pings a shell off the AN Cruiser’s armor. 

The Jackie Tarrow continues to drift on its last course even after being struck lifeless by the Assured attacks. 

The Jolly Roberts engineers manage to repair the Fouled Screw on their ship. 

Turn 3:
AN Wins

The Saint Invictus sets course for the lighthouse eager to try and keep the pirates in his broadside arc.  However, the Pirates are fast and most manage to scatter past.  The Sparrow Hawk and a Skiff move towards the small atoll island.  The Assureds try to move to pursue, but they are set-up by one of the Skiffs!  It crashes into the lead escort and both sink to the bottom.  The Jolly Roberts moves up to pursue the damaged AN Cruiser. 

Captain Smythe-Brown has the crew lock-on to the Jolly Roberts that is closing and opens fire.  When the smoke clears, all the batteries hit.  The Jolly Roberts braces.  However, it is not enough and the ship takes two hits bringing it down to 2 DP left and crippling her.  In addition, the shells caused massive crew casualties!  The remaining Assured joins in and hits the Jolly Roberts for another point of damage. 

The rest of the Pirate shooting is ineffective.

The Jackie Tarrow continues to drift. 
Both wake markers are removed. 

Turn 4:
Pirates with the Initiative.

The desperate Jolly Roberts manages to All Ahead Full and ram the Saint Invictus, who braces for Impact!  Unfortunately for the Pirates, the Ram causes enough damage to reduce them to 0, and the AN Cruiser is unharmed due to bracing and armor!  However, they are now entangled. 

The Monitors split to go around the entangled ships.  The Assured moves after the Pillager and Skiff.  The Skiff rockets off the board and to safety.  Meanwhile, the Pillager comes around to fire on the Saint Invictus. 

The Saint Invictus fires on the Monitors with his bow and stern weapons.  They both Brace.  However, the Las-batteries cut the front Monitor into shreds.  The rear Monitor fires on the Assured and misses.  The Sparrow Hawk fires on the Saint Invictus and manages to take one more DP off despite him bracing. 

The hulks of the Pillager and Monitor drift as does the tangled Saint Invictus and Jolly Roberts.

Turn 5:
Pirates win Initiative

The Pirates scatter to escape, but the PDF pursues where possible. 

The last fleeing Monitor fires a point blank shot into the pursuing Assured and reduces him to a lifeless hulk.  Long range stern fire from the Saint Invictus overkills the last Monitor and sinks it.  Trailing fire on the Sparrowhawk misses as well.

The parting stern shot from the Sparrow Hawk pings loudly off the Saint Invictus’ armor. 

The other Monitor explodes and sinks.  The Jackie Tarrow drifts, as does the Saint Invictus and the Jolly Roberts.

Turn 6:

The last pirate ship escapes the board. 


The Assured sinks. 

The Jolly Roberts also slips from the entangled wreckage and sinks beneath the waves.

The Pirates inflicted 5 Damage Points, and the Ammoriss Naval PDF inflicted 10 DP.  The Amoriss Naval PDF wins the Raid scenario.


The XO finished briefing him on the repairs underway on his ship.  He sipped at his tea and savored the bitter flavor.  Then set his cup back into the saucer.   

“Has NavComm been informed?”
His XO nodded curtly, “They send their regards for a job well done.”

It was indeed a fine time to be in the Navy.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Rampant Stars: Battle Report- Ambush- Battletech

Welcome to my RAMPANT STARS battle report.  This is a generic ruleset for Sci-fi games that are miniature line agnostic, scale agnostic, and usable in any sci-fi setting from a grim dark universe, to Vietnam in space, to the war against the machines.  Rampant Stars uses relatively broad unit types and Sci-Fi traits to allow you to customize for the game you want.  In addition, Rampant Stars uses a three tiered scenario generator that allows for countless variations for the games you play.  Finally, it is designed to be played in one hour of game time.  

Polanski’s Lancers have been hired by Lacstar Industries to grab some rival Klan Enterprises executives from a corporate off-site on the Low-Grav world.  The executives are travelling under the protection of Thor’s Hammers.  Thor’s Hammers have been contracted to protect the Klan executives while having their off-site team building excursion.   

Polanski’s Lancers
Elite Infantry      Effectiveness rating:  10                                Points: 4 (+2 Points)
Move    Command           Assault                 Defense               Shoot    Armor 
6              2+                           2+                           3+                           2+           1
Rapid Fire- 2 Points

Regular Infantry                               Effectiveness Rating: 10                                Points: 3 (+3 Points)
Move    Command           Assault                 Defense               Shoot    Armor 
6              3+                           3+                           4+                           3+           1(+1)
Blast Radius- 1 Point
Armored- 2 Points

Regular Infantry                               Effectiveness Rating: 10                                Points: 3 (+4 Points)
Move    Command           Assault                 Defense               Shoot    Armor 
6              3+                           3+                           4+                           3+           1(+1)
Armor-piercing- 2 Points
Armored- 2 points

Regular Infantry                               Effectiveness Rating: 10                                Points: 3 (+2 Points)
Move    Command           Assault                 Defense               Shoot    Armor 
6              3+                           3+                           4+                           3+           1
Rapid Movement (+1 Point)- Roll 1 d6 for Double time
Enhanced Senses (+1 Point)- Ignore battlefield conditions

Total= 24 Points

Thor’s Hammers
Regular Infantry                               Effectiveness Rating: 10                                Points: 3 (+3 Points)
Move    Command           Assault                 Defense               Shoot    Armor 
6              3+                           3+                           4+                           3+           1 (+2)
Power Armored (+3 Points)

Irregular Infantry             Effectiveness rating:  10                                Points: 2 (+3)
Move    Command           Assault                 Defense               Shoot    Armor 
6              4+                           4+                           5+                           4+           1(+1)
Armored- +2 Points
Blast Radius- +1 Point

Regular Infantry                               Effectiveness Rating: 10                                Points: 3 (+6 Points)
Move    Command           Assault                 Defense               Shoot    Armor 
6              3+                           3+                           4+                           3+           1
Heavy Weapons- +4 Points- 1 Hit counts as 3.
Armored- +2

Irregular Infantry             Effectiveness rating:  10                                Points: 2 (+2)
Move    Command           Assault                 Defense               Shoot    Armor 
6              4+                           4+                           5+                           4+           1(+1)
Armored- +2 Points

Total Points= 24 Points

Missions are generated by rolling 3d6 three times and consulting a mission, complication, and Location chart.  Of course, you don’t have to roll any at all, but for a test game we might as well go for it!  

The attacker sets-up terrain per the guidelines.  The defender sets-up their models as close to the center of the board as possible without violating zones of control.  The Attacker can place units touching any board edge.  Defenders are trying to move off the board edge voluntarily and in good order without routing or retreating off.  Once a unit leaves the board they can not return.  Attackers are trying to stop them.  If 10 points or more of the defenders starting units escape, the defender wins.  If they do not, the attacker wins.   

The Attackers are Thor’s Hammers.

EMP Storm
The world is clouded in swirling EMP that threatens communications and disrupts electronics.  The Commander can not use his +1 Command Check bonus due to the disruptions on the comm. channels. 

Abandoned Outpost

Bases and Outposts tend to have a lot of small buildings, bunkers, roadways, fences, and walls to break-up the areas of the base.   Double Time moves always are considered to get the full additional movement roll.     

This board is 4x4 in size with ruins scattered all over the board.  The Lancers are around a center building.  Thor’s Hammers are moving in from all sides to attack. 

Turn 1
Thor’s Hammers go first after a roll-off.  The Dervish decides to Double Time forward to try and get into a better firing position.  The Dragon decides to Move and Fire and closes in on the Enforcer.  His weapons open up at long range and….due to the range and reduced firepower from moving fails to cause any damage.  The Whitworth moves forward to cut-off the escape route of the Assassin.  The Hunchback stays put and opens fire on the Quickdraw at long range which knocks him down to 4 hits!  Again, the heavy weapon upgrade rules!

A terrible turn for the Lancers as they all fail their Command checks and are shaken except for the Trebuchet who rushes forward into cover. 

Turn 2:
The Dragon and Dervish are impacted by the EMP Storm and shaken.  Meanwhile, the Hunchback opens fire on the Quickdraw, and destroys him utterly!  The Whitworth moves an snap fires on the Enforcer, and  the range and cover educe him by 1 hit.     

The Assassina dn Enforcer rally, but this time the Trebuchet hesitates unsure how to avoid the enemy attack. 

Turn 3:
The Dervish and Dragon rally.  The Whitworth continues marching forward and shooting at the enforcer, but fails to cause any hits this time.  The Hunchback double times to a new firing position. 

The Enforcer rapid fires the Whitworth with his gatling cannon and the hail of fire causes the inexperienced pilot to fallback.  His mech took 3 damage in the attack.  The Assassin uses its rapid movement to make a break for it and stay away from the Hunchbacks firepower.

Turn 4:
The Dragon, Dervish, and Whitworth are all shaken as their scanners struggle to stay clear in the EMP storm.  However, the Hunchback tries to cut-off the fleeing Assassin.    

The Trebuchet stays shaken as well as the EMP storm swirls around.  The Assassin continues his full speed race to the edge of the outpost with the Hunchback stalking him.  The Enforcer follows to give covering fire. 

Turn 5:
The Dervish, Dragon, and Whitworth rally.  The Hunchback turns the corner spraying auto-cannon fire as he slices the pie.  A shell tags the Assassin and reduces him to 7 Effectiveness.  That means even if he escapes it won’t be enough to win now.  Another Lancer must also escape the board edge.  

The Trebuchet rallies.  The Assassin runs to safety outside of the ruins.  Meanwhile, the Enforcer decides to move rapidly to cover instead of shooting at the exposed Hunchback.  Either the Trebuchet or the Enforcer must also escape the board edge now to secure a victory. 

Turn 6:
The Dervish is shaken again.  This time the Dragon Moves and fires, catching the rear of the Trebuchet and reducing him 1 Effectiveness. The Hunchback maneuvers around the outpost and sees the Enforcer rushing away.  He snap fires but the massive Auto-cannon only needs to graze the light mech to do damage.  The Enforcer is knocked down to 5 Effectiveness but passes a morale test to keep in the fight. The Hunchback pilot calls to the Whitworth to help finish off the Enforcer, but the rookie pilot is shaken by the damage to his mech and does not respond.

The shooting from the Dragon must have woken up the Trebuchet pilot who rapid moves away from the source of the shooting.  The Enforcer also uses a burst of speed to get away fromt eh Hunchback and into cover. 

Turn 7:
The Dervish and Whitworth rally.  Too little too late.  The Dragon loses sensor contact again and it shaken.  The Hunchback continues to stalk his Enforcer prey, but the light Mech is out of sight.  It looks like he may escape too!  The Whitworth looks like he is going to let him scoot past. 

The Trebuchet breaks cover and runs for the board edge.  All the Enforcer needs to do is pass a Command check to escape and win the game for the Lancers.  Which he promptly does and escapes!

No turn 8 is necessary as Polanski’s Lancers have managed to complete the Mission victory conditions.  It is hard to call it a victory when one mech was completely destroyed, and all the others were damaged.  However, Thor’s Hammers were trying to keep 10 Effectiveness points from escaping the board, and 12 managed to escape. 

Some key failed morale checks and Command checks by the Whitworth secured the victory.  If that rookie had kept his head together then the Lancers may have been destroyed.  The Heavy Weapons on the Hunchback again proved their worth as they devastated enemy mecha, even with reduced dice, long range and cover.  It only takes one hit to reduce a target with 3 or less armor 1 Effectiveness, so it packs a punch. 

Overall, another fun game!    

Monday, October 2, 2017

Random: That is not dead which can eternal lie. And with strange aeons even death may die- Dead Games

Is the “Golden Age of Wargaming” coming to an end? In the last several weeks, several gaming companies have been shutting their doors.  The biggest may have been Spartan Games, but there have been many others.  Perhaps the barriers to entry were lowered by Kickstarter campaigns (All Quiet on the Martian Front- though thankfully revived by Ironclad Games) but the reality of business is that the vast majority of businesses do not survive more than 5 years.  We often only think of the big success stories when we think of business.  However, for every success story there are 50 to 80 companies that did not make it.  Therefore, we should not be surprised when a company of any type, even long established ones; end up dying.  It is the nature of business. 

It is even more common that a game itself will die off.  The company may live on but its offspring are left to wallow and fade away.  On this very blog you can see examples of this phenomenon such as Aeronautica Imperialis.   The game is no longer supported by its parent company and no new materials or miniatures will be made.  It is at this point where you have a “dead” game; i.e. one that is no longer supported.

In addition to dead games there is also a type of game I like to call a Stand-alone game.  These games were never intended to have long term support.  Instead, the company simply published them and moved on.  These are typically “rules only” affairs and are frequently range agnostic.  The Osprey Wargames Series is the classic example.

Osprey is a publisher so naturally publish books.  They leave the rest of the business of a wargames company to others.  Such an arrangement allow all involved to focus on what they are good at doing and not try to take on challenges outside of their scope or operations.  Think of Frostgrave.  Osprey publishes the rules, while North Star makes the official lines.  This allows both companies to do what they do best!

Wargamers are an odd breed.  They like to have “support” from a game company.  To most wargamers this means a few different things:

  1. New products to buy! – They want new shiny!  New models, cards, rules, FAQs, custom dice etc.  All things that expand or build on the game. 
  2. Supported Play!- Many gamers want some sort of organized play or a community at the least. Frequently this takes the form of tournaments.  However, it can also take the form of online campaigns, forums, other players.
  3. Company Sponsored Content!- They want the company to keep putting out “new” stuff for them to read or interact with.  This takes the form of battle reports, fiction, artwork, etc.    

If these wants are not met, the game is considered unsupported.  Wargamers do not seem to like “unsupported” game lines.

For me, I see “Dead Games” as an exciting opportunity.  Granted, I know my perspective on games is a bit different than a large and vocal segment of the community.  That is cool.  I am glad they are having fun doing what they do.  Many gamers are only interested in what is allowed.  In a “living” game that is fully supported with the points I outlined above what is “allowed” is the heart of the matter.  Gamers what to play within the confines of what the game manufacturer says they can do with the product. 

For example, if you want to play in a tournament (or with people who go to tournaments) then they are mostly interested in things that they can play at said tournament.  They are only interested in what the rules allow and what the game allows to be played.  This makes sense since everyone at a tournament needs the same base understanding of the rules in order to play a tournament.  Otherwise, it would be like playing a game with a 4 year old that constantly changes the rules as you go. 

However, once a game is “dead” you no longer need to be interested in what is allowed.  There are no tournaments.  There is no organized play.  There are no pre-set models or new releases.  What is allowed in the game is irrelevant since the game is “dead”.  Now is when a game gets interesting to me.  It is no longer about what is allowed, but instead what is possible.  Once a game is “dead” the game is no longer in the realm of purely the manufacturer but in the hands of the community or player.  They are the only ones who can keep it going, keep it relevant, and keep it from stagnating.

Once you own a ruleset, it never dies.  It can always be played.  In a sense, a game is like an undead thing.  It can go on living a strange new life even after it is “dead”.  The community and players no longer need the game designers to spoon feed them what is allowable.  Now it is up to the players to define what is possible.  Once a game dies, it is an exciting time to be involved. 

Of course, I hope all of our “Golden Age of Wargaming” favorites keep being supported.  However, for most of us the chances are very high that our darlings will die.  That is not dead which can eternal lie. And with strange aeons even death may die.  The game is dead!  Long live the rules!    

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Battle Report: Aquanautica Imperialis- Convoy Assault

This is a battle of Aquanautica Imperialis between the Tau Auxiliary Fleet and Ammoirss Pirates.  It originally took place in 2011, so my apologies if the pictures are not 100% in order.  I do not really recall the game.  However, it was brought to the light by the Great Photobucket Fiasco of 2017.  

Aquanautica Imperialis was my first full fledged independent game, and it was designed for wet navies in the Warhammer 40k universe.  In addition to rules, I also made a full set of fleet lists, scenarios, campaign rules, and templates for the game.  It is full playable and free.  Follow the link for more action: Link

On to today's battle report!


Captain Jack lounged in his command throne. Around him, the bridge buzzed with activity as his crew manned their posts. They were a motley bunch. Former fisherman, merchant sailors, a few deserters from the PDF, and the occasional desperate land lubber. He loved them all the same. Trust them? No way. 

“Mr. Ferris, what's our ETA to the merchant lines?” Jack called to his first mate. She would have been pretty if half her face hadn't been scarred horribly by a chemical burn. 

Mr. Ferris turned her one good eye to the Captain and glowered at him. The Captain should have all ready known the answer to his question, “About half a day, give or take an hour,” she replied testily, “We would have been there by now if you hadn't taken us so far off course.” 

Captain Jack smiled, “Mr. Ferris. I'm looking for a fresh kill.” Some of the fisherman in the area had reported strange Augur spikes in this region. It could be a new settlement, rival pirates, or something else interesting to loot. Since he was sailing out to the merchant lanes anyway, he figured he should take a look see. He had managed to convince some of the other Captains too. 

So far, nothing but empty beach and open ocean. Even so, taking this route would mean there was less chance of running into a patrol. 

“Mr. Ferris, what are they going to be serving in the galley tonight?” Captain Jack beamed at his First mate. 

“We have unidentified augur reading coming in fast from landward!” the Augur operator shouted. The man had been part of South Ammoriss PDF before he went AWOL and joined Captain Jack's crew. He knew his business. Mr. Ferris swooped over to the augur station. 

The Captain sat up sharply, “PDF patrol?”

Mr. Ferris looked up, “No Captain. Their energy signature is like nothing I've seen before.” 

“Clear for action. Let's see who or what they are,” With that Captain jack grabbed his Monoscope and stepped to the observation platform. With a practiced ease he swept the horizon. There emerging from a sheltered harbor were several bizarre vessels, like nothing he had seen on the oceans of Ammoriss before. Their lines were smooth and graceful, and utterly alien. He vaguely wondered if such unique artifacts would be worthless or priceless on the black market. 

With a low rumble, the crews pushed the Macro-cannons out on their rails. The huge cannons gleamed in the afternoon sun. Well, if these things were looking for a fight, Captain jack was willing to oblige. 


Tau Auxillary Fleet- 1,000
Bullhead 300
-Electronic Warfare +25
-Galg'El +25 (+1 LD, 1 Re-roll)
Blacktip 250
2 Bluefin 150
5 Kroot Knarlochs 150
2 Sailfin 100

Pirate Fleet- 1,000
Freebooter 150 LD 7
-Boarding Attack +15
3 Raiders 225 LD 7, 8, 8
Pillager 100 LD 8
- Minesweeper +10
Pillager 100 LD 8
Assassin Sub 100 LD 7
Assassin Sub 100 LD 8
2 Monitors 150 LD 8
1 Skiff 50 LD 6

Scenario- Convoy Assault!

The defender is moving across the ocean when they are attacked from hiding by the enemy force. The defenders are placed in a 24v l by 24 wide box 18' from the short table edge, and 12 from one of the long edges. They are all facing towards the furthest short board edge. 

Attackers are placed on the opposite long edge of the tabletop, up to 6 inches from the edge. 

Attacker get first turn. 

The winner is the side that inflicts the most DP.

The Pirates deployed...

The Tau Main Fleet...

Sailfins on the extreme left of the Tau deployment...



Initiative: Tau

Sailfins pass All Ahead Full rolls and dart into the rocky channel. 
Overall, the Tau move to intercept the Pirates while the pirates begin to come about to face their foes. 


The Bluefins use their missile batteries and reduce the Pillager in front of them to a hulk, despite bracing. They also fire a brace of torpedoes at the Pirate Raiders, but they fall short of the targte. 

Using Squadron rules, the Raiders open up on the Bluefins with their forward heavy guns. The Tau Auxilliaries were so intent on firing at the Pillager, that they failed to brace. Both craft were overkilled and sent to the bottom by the Raiders concentrated firepower. 

The Sailfins have no target other than the hulked Pillager. Their missile batteries make short work of the hulk, and sink her. 

The Monitors swivel their long range turret guns, and open fire on the Tau Flagship. However, the range is too great, and the shots fail to find their marks. 

The Bullhead fails to Lock-on, but opens up on the Raiders with his bow missile batteries. The missiles reach out to the small ships, but the pirates PD weapons swat them away. It also unloads a barrage of torpedoes at the small craft, but they are just short of the targets for now. 

End Phase:
The Tau Torpedoes speed through the ranks of the Raiders. The pirates frantically fire their PD weapons and attempt man their stations to Brace for impact. Of the ten torpedoes that pass through their ranks, only 1 is destroyed by PD, while four others detonate. Two of the Pirate craft are left as blazing hulks. What's left of their crews desperately abandoning ship. 

Remove Wake: Tau 3, Pirate 3- ! wake marker remains in play. 


Initiative: Tau

The Sailfins led the Pirate Pillager and Skiff down the narrow channel in a desperate chase. 

The Monitor and Freebooter tried to put some distance between themselves and the Tau capital ships. 

The last Raider veered away to try and bug out.

The Sailfins popped their Mines. 

The Freebooter's guns failed to find the range on the Kroot Knarlochs. And the Kroot were too far away to fire on the Pillager.

The Pillager fired on the Sailfins with her sternchaser, but missed. The port cannons fired at extreme range on the Bullhead, and hit. The Tau craft braced, but the armor absorbed the fire. The Tau missile batteries swiveled towards the Pirate craft, and launched a brief salvo, that veered off the mark. 

The Pirate Monitors also fired on the Tau flagship. This time, one of the shots slipped through and reduced it to 7DP. However, the shot caused Massive casualties, further reducing the DP to 6! 

The Blacktip fired her missiles at the fleeing Raider, but missed. She also fired Torpedoes to cut off the turning Monitors and Freebooter. Finally, she deployed 2 Interceptors and 4 Bombers towards the Pillager and Skiff. 

The Tau Interceptors swoop in on the Pillager. The PD fails to take any out, and one interceptor suppresses the PD as the bombers strike. Three squadrons attack, and the Pillager's deck is hit by smart missiles. However, 1 Interceptor and 2 bomber squadrons break off and return to the carrier. 

Those that remain move onto the Skiff. Again, the PD fails to down the interceptors, and they suppress the PD for the 2 squadrons of bombers. The Skiff fails to Brace, and a barrage of smart missiles turns it into a smoking hulk. The Interceptors return home. 

The Mines drift back into the Sailfins that deployed them. The is caught by surprise, and a single group of mines detonates and damages the trailing Sailfin. 

Remove Wake- Tau 5, Pirate 2- All wake removed. 


Initiative: Tau

The Tau Sailfins blast their way past two more Mine markers, and head to rejoin the main fleet. Meanwhile, the chasing Pillager makes a sharp turn, but still comes in contact with two Mine markers. One is destroyed by vigilant PD gunners, but the second explodes harmlessly against the ships armored belt. Thanks to the Pillagers shallow draft, it just barely avoids going aground on the island. 

However, the Pillager is then swarmed by Kroot Knarlochs. The Knarlochs made short work of the Pillager, sending her to the bottom. However, three of the Knarloch squadrons were also lost as the creatures were killed in the assault or went into a feeding frenzy on the floundering Pirate crew. 

The Tau Capital ships moved to go around the island, one on each side where the Pirate Cruiser
was hiding with her Monitor escorts. 

The Lone Raider performed a Come To New Heading, and raced back towards the Tau escorts. 

1 Assassin sub enters play! The sub comes to attack depth just off the starboard bow of the Bullhed. 

The Bullhead Reloads Ordinance. The Flagship sends a spread of Torpedoes at the Monitors, but they fall short. In addition, the barrage of smart missiles fail to lock onto the small, obscured craft. Meanwhile, the stern Missile Batteries have no problem sinking the foolish Pirate Raider. 

The Pirate freebooter finally has the range on the Bullhead, and fires a broadside. The Tau ships braces in time, and the shots cause only superficial damage. 

The Blacktip Reloads ordinance, and launches her bow torps at the Monitors. She Also deploys two squadrons of Interceptors and 2 Bombers towards the Pirate vessels. The forward missile batteries unload on the low lying craft, but the pirates brace and avoid major damage. 

The Monitors fire sporadically in the Bullhead, but fail to cause any further damage. 

Sailfins Reload ordinance. 

The Assassin fires both torpedoe tubes, but the Bullhead's PD makes short work of them. 

The Tau Torpedoes race into the remains of the Pirate fleet. 

A torpedo from the Blacktip races past the Freebooter's PD, and crashed into the ships side and detonates, causing 1 DP. Three find the trailing Monitor escort. The armor absorbs one, and the other detonates prematurely. However, the final torpedo crashes deep into the hull before exploding. The crew are vaporized in the interior explosion.

The Interceptors bypass the first monitor and race to the Freebooter. The initial squadron is scattered by the pirate's PD, but fire from the second squadrons forces the PD gunners to keep their heads down. 

Two squadrons of bombers swoop in on the remaining Monitor, but fail to hit. One squadron peels off for home. The three remaining Squadrons of Tigersharks attack the ill prepared Freebooter. A bomb strikes home an cripples the Pirate cruiser. 

The Mines stay put. 

Remove Wake- Tau1, Pirates 6- 6 remain in play. One is touching the Bullhead. 


Initiative: Tau win

The Freebooter and last Monitor try to limp away from the Tau ships. Meanwhile the Kroot and Tau Capital ships move in to cut off the Pirate escape. 

The Sailfins turn to rejoin the Blacktip. 

The second Assassin sub enters play of the starboard of the Blacktip, but the cruiser moves, giving the sub a shot on the Sailfin escorts. The other sub lines up to torpedo the Blacktip, and away fromt eh rear of the Bullhead. 

The Galg commander has the Bullhead Reload Ordinance. Stern Torpedoes streak out from the Bullhead, and miss the Assassin sub. Depth charges fall short, and the Tau cruiser launches a mine screen to defend itself. Bow Missile Batteries mark the Freebooter and fire. The Pirates fail to brace, and the smart missile barrage turns their modified merchant into a smoking wreck. 

The Assassin launches at the Sailfin, and manages to cause a critical hits which destroys the first Sailfin. 

An attempt to Reload Ordinance fails. The Tau Blacktip fires rear torpedoes at the Assassin that sunk a Sailfin. One catches the lethal sub, and sends her to the bottom. The bow Missile batteries lock onto the Monitor, and destroys it. 

The last Assassin sub fires on the side of the Blacktip. The Tau PD destroys one torpedo, and the other misses its mark. 

The last torpedo from the barrage that killed the first Sailfin finds its mark on the following Sailfin and turns it into a smoking wreck.

The Pirate Monitor and Skiff hulks drift into each other and sink from the collision. 

One of the Sailfin hulks sinks. The damage and fire in the hulk of the Freebooter reaches the magazine and detonates, killing the entire crew except for a single cabin boy who was knocked over the side during the battle. 

Remove Wake: Tau 2, Pirates 3- 11 remain in play


Initiative: Pirates

The Last Assassin chooses to Run Silent, Run deep. The Command Check isfailed, and the sub collides with the Tau Blacktip. The Tau capital ship suffers from critical damage from the collision! The bridge is destroyed by a feedback power surge, and the stern Depth Charge launchers are crippled. The ship is reduced to 5 DP! The Assassin sub is also destroyed and lodged in the stern of the Tau ship. 


Last Sailfin sinks. 

The game ends.



Tau lose 15 DP
Pirates lose 15 DP

Tie! All though, I think we can call it a Tau victory since all Pirate craft were destroyed in the battle. 


Commander Blackray read the after action report. The Gue'la interlopers had been successfully intercepted and destroyed. However, the interception fleet had been seriously damaged in the mission. It was troubling. 

Envoy Ro seemed to be reading the young Fire Warriors mind, “The mission here on Ammoriss continues. The humans do not know of our monitoring stations. Rest your troubled mind.” 

Blackray nodded, “Yes, but how much longer can this charade last?”

“As long as it does,” Ro answered with a response very typical of the Water Caste. 

His commander laughed, before turning suddenly somber again, “Indeed. I am at peace knowing that those who perished did so for the Greater Good.” 

The two bowed their heads in silence.