Monday, December 11, 2017

Men of Bronze: Battle Report- Marathon



Regarding the Battle of Marathon from Herodotus The Histories in Book 6:

When the presidency came round to him, he arrayed the Athenians for battle, with the polemarch Callimachus commanding the right wing, since it was then the Athenian custom for the polemarch to hold the right wing. He led, and the other tribes were numbered out in succession next to each other.46 The Plataeans were marshalled last, holding the left wing. [2] Ever since that battle, when the Athenians are conducting sacrifices at the festivals every fourth year,47 the Athenian herald prays for good things for the Athenians and Plataeans together. [3] As the Athenians were marshalled at Marathon, it happened that their line of battle was as long as the line of the Medes. The center, where the line was weakest, was only a few ranks deep, but each wing was strong in numbers. 112.

When they had been set in order and the sacrifices were favorable, the Athenians were sent forth and charged the foreigners at a run. The space between the armies was no less than eight stadia. [2] The Persians saw them running to attack and prepared to receive them, thinking the Athenians absolutely crazy, since they saw how few of them there were and that they ran up so fast without either cavalry or archers. [3] So the foreigners imagined, but when the Athenians all together fell upon the foreigners they fought in a way worthy of record. These are the first Hellenes whom we know of to use running against the enemy. They are also the first to endure looking at Median dress and men wearing it, for up until then just hearing the name of the Medes caused the Hellenes to panic. 113.

They fought a long time at Marathon. In the center of the line the foreigners prevailed, where the Persians and Sacae were arrayed. The foreigners prevailed there and broke through in pursuit inland, but on each wing the Athenians and Plataeans prevailed. [2] In victory they let the routed foreigners flee, and brought the wings together to fight those who had broken through the center. The Athenians prevailed, then followed the fleeing Persians and struck them down. When they reached the sea they demanded fire and laid hold of the Persian ships. 114.

In this labor Callimachus the polemarch was slain, a brave man, and of the generals Stesilaus son of Thrasylaus died. Cynegirus48 son of Euphorion fell there, his hand cut off with an ax as he grabbed a ship's figurehead. Many other famous Athenians also fell there. 115.

In this way the Athenians overpowered seven ships. The foreigners pushed off with the rest, picked up the Eretrian slaves from the island where they had left them, and sailed around Sunium hoping to reach the city before the Athenians. There was an accusation at Athens that they devised this by a plan of the Alcmaeonidae, who were said to have arranged to hold up a shield as a signal once the Persians were in their ships. 116.

They sailed around Sunium, but the Athenians marched back to defend the city as fast as their feet could carry them and got there ahead of the foreigners. Coming from the sacred precinct of Heracles in Marathon, they pitched camp in the sacred precinct of Heracles in Cynosarges. The foreigners lay at anchor off Phalerum, the Athenian naval port at that time. After riding anchor there, they sailed their ships back to Asia. 117.

Scenario
In Men of Bronze there will be a section on historical battles.  Of course, the Battle of Marathon must be present.  One of the challenges of creating a wargame is that you want to set-up the battle as it initially happened, but still allow the players to play their own game.  Therefore, the following scenario is an attempt to capture the key participants and objectives of the battle, but allow the players to dictate the deployment and strategy for the game. 

The Persians were attempting to break-out of the plains near the beach and head inland into Attica.  The Athenians were trying to halt this break-out and repel them.  To represent this, the Athenian side of the battlefield will have two passes that lead inland.  The Greek force will be able to deploy anywhere in front of those passes.  The Persians on the other hand have their back to the sea and can deploy anywhere on that side of the table.

The Forces
Again, it is challenging to completely recreate the deployment of the forces and still give the players the ability to change it up.  To be fair, we also know very little about the Persian force except that it had archers and lacked cavalry.  We also know that the Persians outnumbered the Greeks to such an extent that they had to stretch their Phalanx width by reducing the depth, which cost them the fight in the center. 

Greeks
1 Drilled Athenian Hoplites
1 Militia Athenian Hoplites
1 Militia Plataean Hoplites

Persians
3 Archer Units
1 Drilled Infantry Unit
1 Warband Unit

This is equal points in the system and should prove an interesting game. 

Deployment
Unlike the actual battle, the Greeks decide to place their Drilled Hoplites in the center in Phalanx.  In front of both passes is a Greek Militia Phalanx in formation and ready to fight.  It is critical that the Persian units do not get behind them and out of the either of the passes behind the Greek line. 

The Persian deployment is to have the Archers on their left screen the Warband infantry behind them.  Then the center is the Drilled infantry, which is flanked on the right by another Archer unit.  Their forces are unequal to the Phalanxes in close combat, but they outmatch them in ranged firepower.  In addition, the Persians will also have the advantage in Arête Points.


Will we see a repeat of history with the Greeks victorious, or will the Persians manage to force their way ashore?   Let’s find out!

Turn 1:
The Persians bid 2 Arête Points to start the battle, and the Greeks decide to spend none.  The Persians move out first.  The Greeks are content to watch them as they move forward, with the Persian left taking the lead.  The Greeks are not eager to get into Persian arrow range, so hold their position. 

Turn 2:
Persians again Bid 2 Arête Points to go first, while the Greeks bid none.  The Persian archers can not move and shoot, so they decide to continue to advance.  The Persian Drilled Infantry moves so it is forward of the archers to its left and right, but not blocking Line of Sight for them.  On the left, the Warband infantry lurks behind the left most archer unit. 

The Greeks again watched the Persians maneuver and were content to hold back.  Now, they are in a bit of a dilemma.  The Persian archers will have them in range, but probably the less effective long range.  If they move now, they will close the gap and be able to engage sooner but potentially leave the passes unprotected from the numerically superior Persian force.

The Drilled Hoplites could use an Arête Point to slide towards one side or the other, but that would force one of the Militia Hoplite units to hold its own against many more Persians.  The Greeks are on the horns of a Dilemma, and decide to do nothing and let the Persian plan unfold. 


Turn 3:
This time the Persians see a pattern, and decide to only bid 1 Arête point, expecting the Greeks to bid 0.  They bid 0 and the Persians get to move first. 

The left most archer unit forms itself in what it hopes to be just beyond charge range against the militia Athenians.  The Warband Infantry moves to cover their left flank.  In the center, the Drilled Persian Infantry move forward to challenge the Athenian Hoplites.  The Persians wait a moment before going to their next unit to see if the Athenians will try to interrupt and charge the isolated Persian Infantry.  However, the Athenian general judges the distance to be too great and holds. 

The two Persian archers units left open fire on the Militia Hoplites opposite them.  The Athenians throw up their shields and weather the storm.  The Plataeans are less successful, and the first death screams fill the tense air of the battlefield. 

The Greeks can now either stand and wait to get hit again, or begin to move forward.  The Plataeans decide to move forward towards the Persians, and the Drilled Athenians do likewise.  They still judge the distance too great to charge.  The Militia Athenians hold position, not liking the numbers on their side. 

Turn 4:
This could be a big turn.  The Greeks decide to bid 2 Arête Points to try and charge first.  However, the benefits of outnumbering your opponent shows as the Persians bid 3.  That leaves the Greeks with only 1 left! 

Now, it is the Persians time to make a tough decision.  Their open order formation will allow their Drilled Infantry to rush the Militia or Drill Hoplites.  They could also choose to rain more arrows, but that would allow a potential Greek interrupt.  However, the Greeks would then have no Arête Points to launch a true charge.  Now the Persians need to make a tough decision.


The archers on the Persian right decide to fire a barrage of arrows at the Plataeans, but fail to cause any injuries this time.  Feeling like they can fire with impunity and not get a reaction, the other Persian archers open fire at the Athenian Militia Phalanx but fail to scratch them. 

The Drilled Persian Infantry decide to charge the Plataeans, and they use the last Greek Arête point to counter-charge.  The Persians get to count it as a flank attack. The two meet with a loud crash.  The Persian infantry lose 1 Courage in the combat, but pass their Courage test.  The Plataeans push the Persians back 1 Base width.    

The Persian left has the Warband Infantry move forward.  In response to the Persian activity, the Drilled Athenians break into open formation and drop back to protect the pass off the plains.        

Turn 5:
With Arête Points reset, it is time to bid for initiative.  This time the Persians bid 1, and the Greeks 0. 

The Persian Archers on the right rush forward to support their infantry against the Plataeans.  The rest of the Persian force moves forward, with the Left flank trying to extend the line beyond the edges of the Greek troops there.  The Persian archers do not fire their arrows, and march instead.  The Greeks watch it all patiently. 

The Plataeans and the Persian Drilled Infantry both lose a point of Courage in the melee.  However, this time the Drilled Infantry of the Persians fail their Discipline check and start waivering, along with the supporting Archers.  I thought the Drilled Infantry would put up a bit more of a fight, but they haven’t broken yet!   

Turn 6:
The Arête Points get reset yet again, and the Greeks still have 3 to Persians 5.  The Persians bid 2 to go first, and the Greeks also bid 2.  The Persians choose to up their bid by 1 so they will go first. 

After winning initiative, the Persian Archers on their left across from the Athenian Militia Phalanx declare a charge with an Arête point.  The Athenians elect to counter-charge and meet them half way to try to finish them early.  This uses the last Greek Arête Point.  This locks the Greek flank unit up in combat, and the Persian Warband infantry move to skirt around the battle.        

The final unengaged Persian Archer unit charges into the Drilled Hoplites who can not counter-charge as they do not have any Arête Points remaining.  This will be the decisive turn. 



Unsurprisingly, the Athenian Militia Phalanx easily beats the Persian archers, and reduces them to 1 Courage.  However, they pass their Discipline check and stay in the battle, tying up the Greeks.  In the Center, the Drilled Athenians utterly crush the Persian archers and send them fleeing!   

On the Persian right, the Plataeans are reduced to a single Courage point, while the Persian Infantry and archers they face are routed.  They turn to flee with a Courage of 0.  The two remaining Persian units make their Collapse and Morale tests.

 
Turn 7:
Things look bad for the Persians.  They only have 2 units left, and 1 has a single courage point.  However, they also have a unit in position to get to the board edge.  The Arete Points are distributed 2 for Persia and 3 for the Greeks. 

Persians bid 2, while the Greeks bid 1.  The Persian Warband Infantry make a break for it, but will need 1 more turn to get off the board edge. 

Both unengaged Greek units break into open order and turn to the Persian enemies.  Seeing the Warband infantry making for the pass, the Drilled Hoplites do not bother to reform and instead declare a charge using 1 Arête Point.  They charge forward, but fail to come into contact with the sneaky Persian warband! 

The Athenian Militia chases off the last Persian Archery unit easily.  The Plataeans move towards the middle of the plain to help support where needed.  They stay in open order. 

Turn 8:
The Greeks get 3 Arête points to the Persian 1.  The Greeks bid 2 to ensure they can go first.  The Persians decide to save their’s for a re-roll.

The Drilled Athenians use the last Greek Arete Point to charge into the Persian Warband Infantry.  The other Greeks stay in loose formations and move towards the melee.  The Athenian Hoplites manage to reduce the Wraband infantry 3 Courage, and the Athenians lose 1.

 
Turn 9- Final Turn
The Persians collect their 1 Arête Point, and the Greeks 3.  No one bothers to bid for initiative, and the roll off goes to the Persians.  However, since they are locked in combat it is sort of a moot point. 

The Athenians and Persians continue their struggle.  The Persian Warband infantry reduces the Athenians another Courage point, but are routed in return. 


Athens is saved!

Final Thoughts
This version of the battle did not go down exactly like Herodotus describes it, but the outcome was the same regardless.  In this version, the Greeks may not “thin” their center to make a weaker unit there.  Instead, the big decision the Greeks have to decide is how far are they willing to move away from the passes and where the Drilled Hoplites are going to deploy. 

When I designed the “historical” scenarios I wanted to allow the player to still have decisions to make, and not be a slave to the historical deployment.  However, I want the tactical problems to be similar.  In this case, the Persians greatly outnumber the Greeks and that almost allowed me to win with the Persians by turning theGreek flank.  Ultimately, I wasn’t quite fast enough. 

The Persian Drilled Infantry was disappointing against the Plataeans.  The effectiveness of the Persian archers to soften up the Hoplites in Phalanxes was almost nil.  If the center archer unit could have been supported and held up the Drilled Athenians only one turned, this could easily have been a Persian victory.  Oh well. 

I have also received my shipment of Victrix Greek Hoplites.  They are off to my painter to get cracking on them.  Maybe I can have some painted battles coming up, but until then these paper templates will have to do.  I have added the Persians to the Templates on the Messageboard, so you can have them of a quick run through of Marathon on your own. 

On a side note, this battle took me almost two months to play to completion!  The game itself took about 90 minutes with documentation and verifying the rules.  However, that is how crazy “Real Life” has been for me lately.  Typically, this time of the year I am productive on the hobby front but not this year.  Hopefully my next game for the blog will not take nearly as long to get played, posted, and published.           

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Review: Gaslands- Osprey Games


The Car Combat genre of wargames is an interesting breed.  It has a long pedigree, going all the way back to the 80s.  It is unclear where the origins of the car combat genre first appeared, however I imagine the Mad Max series of movies played a large part in their origins.  The first Car Combat games I can recall are Steve Jackson’s Car Wars and Games Workshop’s Dark Future.  I personally never really got into either game as they were not my cup of Tea at the time. 

The majority of my exposure to Car Combat games was actually through video games.  Here the genre has a rich history!  Of course, you could argue that the grand-daddy of the Car Combat game is the Twisted Metal franchise.  In the Twisted Metal world, the game was sent in a post-apocalyptic world ruled by a god-like being who hosted the Twisted Metal tournament.  The prize was the winners wish to come true. 

In a way, Gaslands plays off the ideas of Twisted Metal and meshes it with the movie The Running Man.  The game represents teams competing on a season of a TV show called Gaslands where the winning team earns a trip of the post-apocalyptic ghetto of Earth to the paradise of Mars.  They only need to beat all the rivals to win.

I have a personal history with Car Combat wargames as well.  I was an avid player of the Twisted Metal games.  When I was 13 or 15 one of my first tries at writing a wargame was attempting to make a Car Combat game.  I called it Burning Rubber and it involved making a team of racers.  They actually raced around a track that had pre-set squares.  The track had obstacles like ramps, oil slicks, cows, mines, potholes etc.  You bought drivers and cars and equipped them with weaponry to fight each other with.  For a first timer, it had a lot of the hall marks of some of my later designs such as campaign play with driver experience, injury, vehicle permanent damage, and resource management of the team.  Looking back, it wasn’t a bad first attempt.  There were even different types of car races, with the ultimate goal to be the first team to get a car across the finish line.  I wish I still had the rules, but they were lost to time long ago. 

When my kid was younger, I also made up a quick race game that involved math Flash Cards.  The track was composed of facedown flash cards.  To move your car, the player had to answer the flash card.  Cars could only go a certain number of flash cards in a row.  This was a fun game to help teach my kid math instead of boring flash cards.      

Since then, I have continued to work on Car Combat games.  My current title is Total CARnage.  Here the focus is on making a simple, fun, family game based on dexterity mechanics that was heavily inspired by playing Flick’em Up!  In addition, I have been working on the campaign and expanded rules for Redline which is a more traditional wargame using templates, rules, dice, etc.  for mechanic resolution.  This game has mostly been inspired by airplane games more than other Car Combat games.  So, I was eager to dig into Gaslands.  Let’s get in under the hood….

Things I Liked
Right off the bat, I loved that this game was designed for using Matchbox cars, Hot Wheels, and other similar sized brands.  That element spoke to the affordable gamer in me.  I don’t have many of those sitting around anymore, but they are cheap enough and now have some wacky designs. 

This game uses a clever Initiative/movement mechanic called “gears”.  A turn is divided into 6 Gears.  Depending what Gear your vehicle is in determines how many times it can move and influences what maneuver templates it can use with or without penalties.  Vehicles in a higher gear are activating more often and therefore “moving” faster than lower gear vehicles.  As you go up in gears, some movement templates become easier or harder to do.  This acts as a form of stress that can cause cars making the wrong maneuver to wipeout.  Higher gears also make it harder to control if you wipeout.    
The movement templates mean that a player never uses a tape measure, worry about turning radius by degrees, etc.  It is a relatively smooth and intuitive system.   Templates are also used for ranged shooting attacks.       

Rams and shooting attacks are opposed rolls.  They are very simple based on the number of attack dice of the weapon, with a success being 4+.  Easy to remember.  Vehicles being attacked can evade and nullify a hit with a 6+.  I prefer when a game allows you to nullify a hit and not just sit there while getting shot up.  Simple and intuitive mechanics for combat

Finally, I like that many of the scenarios are actual races where you need to get through “Goals” the fastest.  That means you need a balanced force of speed and muscle to get you through the scenarios successfully.     

Things I Did Not Like
For some inexplicable reason, this game uses custom dice!  Granted, they explain it as 1= this, and 2= that but it encourages you to make your own custom dice for the “gear shift” mechanic.  The “Gear Shift” mechanic seems to take a page right out of X-wing and similar games.  Each vehicle has a handling rating, and you roll the gear shift “custom” dice.  Some results can be used to cancel results, and others put stress on the car/driver by causing a slide, spin, or picking up a hazard token.  Too many hazard tokens and your car will wipeout.  Gear Shift dice allow you to change your gear up or down, remove hazard tokens, or nullify slide/spin results.  Ultimately, cars with high handling lead to a lot of fiddliness to determine their “gear Shift” dice. 

I was disappointed with the campaign system.  It allows you to create teams based on sponsors and get some sponsor perks but ultimately drivers and cars do not have much of a path for advancement or debuffing.  They use Audience Points to allow some customization, but the campaign season is just not as meaty as I would like.  I mostly blame space limitations for it.  However, there is a lot of good details in the sponsor and sponsor Perks section to allow you to make distinct race teams. 

From Gaslands.Com the game's website

Meh and Other Uncertainties
The game uses a dashboard off to the side for each vehicle.  That is where you keep track of hazard tokens, gear, damage, etc.  I am glad that the game specifically calls out that these go on the side board of this game would seem very token heavy on the game board.  Thankfully, this is not the case.       

The game allows for a wide array of vehicles culled from all sorts of sources from motorbikes, to monster trucks, to helicopters and tanks.  I am pretty sure I could build all of the cars from Twisted Metal franchise for use in Gaslands if I wanted to.      

The back of the book has all the templates and dashboards you need to play ready to photocopy.  I am pretty sure they are also on the website for Osprey too.  However, you will need to make your own.  It also has a quick reference section as well.  

I enjoyed the full color art in the book, even if it was a bit stylized for my usual tastes.  There were also many shots of cars driving aroudn and fighting.  Some of the Browner colored cars were uninspiring, but some of the Performance Cars looked very cool.  Plus, they used a couple of interesting angles to add to the drama and "TV Show" look.     

From the Osprey Publishing website
Final Thoughts
I could see this game being sold by Fantasy Flight Games.  It has all the potential elements.  It basically uses the flight path model with movement templates.  It has custom dice with symbols that cancel each other out and add tokens to the car’s dashboard.  I could easily see them selling single car packs with driver and equipment upgrade cards too!  It really feels like this was a game pitched to them, but picked up by Osprey in some “Freaky Friday” style of mistake.

This game will ultimately work best as a club game where each player has one or two cars they control.  The rules are relatively explicit about this when they go into the scenarios and building a team.  It should lead to some good mayhem and seems easy enough to play.  I agree that the “Gear Shift” mechanic will be better for fewer cars on your team rather than more.    

Ultimately, I am glad I got these rules.  I think my family will prefer to play Total CARnage but I think my regular gaming buddies would prefer this game.  It also gave me some ideas to explore for my own Car Combat games in the future.   

         

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Total CARnage: Battle Report- Thanksgiving Massacre!

Over Thanksgiving break, I spent time with my family.  I am sure this is not unusual for most of my gentle readers.  My daughter asked if we could play Total CARnage.  Thankfully, my in-laws still had a box full of old toy cars and a bunch of wooden blocks. 



My daughter and the other young ones quickly picked cars and set-up a board.  I set-up the gangs and we gave each of the cars silly names.  I then explained the rules and we got playing.  I didn’t expect much, just a game or two and then off to other things.  We had several video game rigs (including VR) and a number of board games.  Why would we want to play Total CARnage for very long. 

I was in for a surprise.  The kids couldn’t get enough of it!  We probably played for about two hours the first day, and as soon as I woke up the next day they were asking to play more!  We probably played another three hours.  I guess they liked it.  Even some of the adults rotated in.  I know what I am going to do for the kids Christmas presents this year, a box of Hot Wheels cars, some pennies and a quarter, and a print-out of the Total CARnage rules PDF. 


I didn’t get a chance to get many pictures, but here are a few below.  Notice the festive table covering to verify it must be Thanksgiving!  We played several sceanrios including Kill’em All, Get the MacGuffin, Convoy, and Race to the Finish.  




Some of the car names included: 
  • Deathtrap
  • Coffinmaker (Which we kept calling Coffeemaker as a joke)
  • Duece
  • Dragonhood (Which we called Dragon Bonnet as a joke) 
  • Moneymaker
  • Turbo
  • Speedline
  • Barbie Basher (It was a neon pink car) 

There were some innovative tactics too.  The kids would try to shoot blocks to get them to fall on rival cars, ram cars into other obstacles for extra damage, and once someone hit a ramp and jumped on top of the other car and immobilized them.  It was pretty insane.  

My daughter recommend I make a similar game, but for Green Army Men before Christmas.  I think I have been given a challenge! Stay tuned. 

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Wargame Design: New Title: Turf War

The astute reader of this blog will have noticed that the number of Free Wargames has grown on this page!  When I first started there were 6 games available for free there.  That selection has grown a lot in the past year and a half.  It is now a whopping 11.  Not bad productivity for 18 months or so. 

The newest addition to the Blood and Spectacles fold is Turf War a game of 1930’s Gangster battles.  I like this game since it is a skirmish game that allows for campaign play and RPG-lite style scenarios.  It uses the Combat Pool system for combat found in The Games: Blood and Spectacleand Tournament Pageantry and Pain.  However, it also uses pools for other non-combat actions such as smooth-talking, safe-cracking, and other RPG-lite options.  Not everything has to be solved by a flurry of Tommy Gun fire…. but it can be.   



In addition to the Core mechanics of everyday gang warfare Turf War also has a strong campaign system built on the model of some of my favorites such as Necromunda, Strange Aeons, and TheGames: Blood and Spectacle.  Lowly gangsters can gain experience to earn skills, get injured, or improve their abilities.  In addition, the game uses a Turf bidding system prior to games to represent the give and take of territory based on the results of a game.  Resources for your gang are managed such as Reputation, Take, Turf, and Favors.  In addition, the Boss has to manage the recruitment and retention of his gang too.  The game also uses a Most Wanted rating to gauge relative gang strength that allows for catch-up mechanics for those just entering an existing campaign or who have had a run of bad luck. 

Overall, I wanted the game itself to force decisions making, and reward good gameplay.  Sometimes, campaign games focus too much on the campaign and bolt the gameplay on as a secondary concern.  That is not the case with Turf War.  I wanted the game to be full of decisions.  The theme of Turf War is to try and force decision making on a risk vs. reward continuum.  This is primarily accomplished through resource management of dice pools for combat, non-combat, and even activation.  Combat Pool is bid and used to attack and defend, but it will not be replenished until the following turn.  Therefore, as the player you have to decide when is the right time to use it, and how much of it. 

Activation is also a push your luck system as a model can only do one thing per activation such as move, shoot, perform and action, etc. You can risk trying to chain activations together as well.  I used a similar activation system in Combat! Starring Vic Morrow as well.  Failure to activate multiple times risks losing the initiative and allowing your opponent to start activating.  Therefore, additional activations are another risk vs. reward decision point.

The biggest sticking point in completing these rules was coming up with interesting Scored (scenarios) to play.  In the end, I used some “generic” wargames style scenario with some added period flavor.  Inspiration came from StrangeAeons, Mad Dogs with Guns, Pulp Alley, Rogue Trader, and Rogue StarsHowever, there is room to combine or modify the scenarios in the rules and adding more RPG-lite elements is strongly encouraged.

To help kick-off the game, I of course made some paper templates that you can use to get your gangs started.  I also put together a couple of gangs for playtesting.  These should give you a good quick start into games.  They can be found Here on the Messageboard.  


Of course, I have also started picking up a few gangsters here and there to paint.  You probably recognize these Pulp Alley figures from the Painting Desk.  Well, I have one doen to get a start on one of my gangs! 

   

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Random: Aeronautica Imperialis- Tree Campaign


In my last post I talked a bit about what is on the painting desk.  I also opined about how I dislike painting as it is my least favorite part of the hobby.  That hasn’t changed.  However, painting does get my thinking about how I plan to use the models and excited to play again.  This is what I have been working on first, the Varingyr aircraft. 



You can find the rules for these aircraft in the Airspace Rules Compilation.  As I was reviewing the rules for the Warlord Super-Heavy Airship and the Strike Eagle ground support fighter it got the wheels turning.  I think I could string together a few games into a mini-campaign? 
  
For those familiar with the Blood and Irongard campaign you know that the Varingyr(Squats) have a rich history and a developed setting in the Galactic Core.  I admit, I haven’t kept up to date on the “Dark Imperium” setting of 8th edition so I have no idea if the Galactic Core even still exists or was replaced by a warp storm or some such.  However, in the Blood and Irongard campaign we are introduced to the Belt of Varin, a section of the Core that was once home to the Varingyr empire.  However, they fell victim to Imperial aggression and then Genestealer Infestation which led to civil war and destruction on a society shattering scale. 
          
Since those dark days, the Varingyr that remain have been slowly trying to re-build and recover their lost Strongholds.  The enemies were Tyranids beasts, Ork marauders, and even human Rogue Traders.  However, the worst enemy of all was the Genestealer Infected Varingyr held sway by the Ancestor’s Curse.  The idea of reclaiming a lost Stronghold held interesting possibilities for a campaign.

After per using the mission ideas in the Airspace Rules Compilation I started to sketch out a branching campaign.  In this Campaing, the Varingyr have located a former Minehead that has been overrun by Orks.  However, you could also use Rogue Traders, Tyranids, or other opponents.  Naturally, the Varingyr want to reclaim their homeland and launch an attack.  The campaign will determine the success of failure of their forces in reclaiming the Minehead from their foes.  There is still plenty of room for me to fluff the background out if I wish, or leave the basic skeleton in place. 
 
Of course, this campaign is designed to allow me to use my Varingyr aircraft from the humble Iron Eagle to the mighty Warlord Airship.  Feel free to play through it yourself.  The Missions and unit profiles are in the Airspace Rules Compilation and the Cleansing of Grex Silex books.


Oh, by the way I got those Varingyr aircraft models painted up too.  Finishing them inspired me to start putting a campaign together to use them in. 


         

Monday, November 6, 2017

Random: On The Painting Desk

On this blog I rarely talk about the painting or modeling side of things.  Of all the aspects of wargaming it is one of my least favorite aspects.  Clearly, it is not imperative to me as I am more than willing to use Paper Templates to play a game.  However, I am also attracted to the spectacle of wargaming and prefer to have actual painted models when I can.  Sadly, for that to happen that means I have to paint them.  I am no great shakes at painting and do not really enjoy it.   

Recently, I re-read my Goals for 2017 and the progress I had made on them up to July.  I have been making good progress on my playing and designing goals.  The main things that had been holding me back on my 2017 goals were the painting side of things.  With only two months left of the season, I had better get cracking on with some painting if I wanted to improve from July!

Suitably motivated, I went online and finally ordered those Victrix Limited Greeks I was going to need for Men of Bronze.  I ordered enough models, bases, and transfers for 1 Spartan army, 1 Corinthian army, and 1 Macedonian army.  I told myself that had been one of my 2017 Goals, so I was helping get me closer to finishing them!  The second reason I had to act now is that I needed to get 30 digital photos of Greek Hoplite miniatures to Osprey prior to May 2018 for my deadline

With that out of the way, I decided to head into the old Game Cave and find some of those projects that I still needed to paint.  Many people have a dedicated painting area where they keep all of their projects to work on.  I do not do that.  Instead, I keep everything stored and packed away.  I only pull it out when I actually intend to paint something, and when I am done I tend to pack it all away.  Thanks to this approach, I do not have many “On The Painting Desk” type moments.  This is very different from how I handle wargames, as I will get them all set-up and leave them set-up to play until I play the game, and then switch out the table for the next game I intend to play.  That is why the Messageboard has threads dedicated to what is ‘on the table” to play, but not to paint. 

So, here is what I pulled up out of the gaming area and set-up to work on this weekend,  we will see if any of it even has a brush applied to it before it ends up packed back away. 

First up we have a Spartan Games Prussian air ship.  The actual name escapes me, but it is a big one.  I will be using this for games of AeronauticaImperialis as a Varingyr Warlord Super-heavy aircraft.  You can also see four Steel Crown Valkyrie Gunships that I will also be using for Aeronautica Imperialis as Varingyr Iron Eagles with ground attack weapons.  I have painted a usable force of Varingyr using Steel Crown models, and you can see them in a number of Battle Reports on the blog.  This will just fully round the force out.  Sadly, I think Spartan Games and Steel Crown are now defunct. 



Next up, I have some Mobile Artillery Steam Tanks for All Quiet on the Martian Front.  As you can see, these still require some assembly of the metal parts.  I will need to go get some super glue for this project.  I look forward to adding them to my Minnesota Volunteer Army to help push back the Red Menace in the Minnesota River Valley campaign.  I have had these since the end of last year and I assembled the plastic parts of the kit early, I did was put off by the metal components.

 
Lastly, I have a few models for Turf War.  These are models I picked up when I ordered Pulp Alley.  I think they are called DA Thompson and the Red Queen, but I am not 100%.  Either way, they looked like they would be great models to get my gangsters started for games of Turf War.  I figured I could also use them in Strange Aeons, Pulp Alley, or Mad Dogs with Guns pretty easily.  That will make them nice versatile models once I get them painted up.

         
That is what I have on my desk for the weekend.  Typically, I tend to have more than one painting or converting project going at once so as one dries I can rotate to the others.  I normally only have a scant few minutes to paint so I try to maximize any time I can sit down and get to work.  I am hoping I can lavish some attention on these models and show some results soon.  

Monday, October 30, 2017

Random: Big News for Blood and Spectacles

This is a blog about playing and designing wargames.  Most of my posts fall into the playing category, but a few of them go into the design category too.  I have had a very productive year on the playing and design front so far, and I hope to finish the year out strong.  We will see. 

Today, I want to focus more on the design side of things than the playing.  I have a couple of big pieces of news and I wanted to share them with you, my gentle and kindly readers.  I am pretty excited about them and hopefully you will be too.


The first announcement is that Rampant Hordes is now available on the Wargames Vault for purchase.  After reading Daniel Mersey’s DuxBellorum and Lion/Dragon Rampant I always hoped he would go back and mash the two up for a Fantasy Mass Battles game.  Instead, he created something completely different with The Men WhoWould Be Kings and Pikeman’sLamentFair play to him and that forced me to get off my backside and do my own dirty work for a change. 

Rampant Hordes is inspired by Dan’s works regarding Leadership Points as a command resource, generic units augmented by Fantasy traits, and being a scale/model agnostic rules system.  Plus, I peppered in some of my own not-so secret sauce.  You know I find Innovation to be over-rated anyway.  It also took some ideas from other works such as Warmaster, Warmaster Ancients, Hail Caesar, Sword and Spear, Swordpoint, and good old DBA/DBM. 

Rampant Hordes is intended to scratch the itch that 3mm-15mm Fantasy Mass Battle itch.  The mechanics are relatively simple and straight forward.  Measurements and terrain are fairly abstract to fit a variety of battlefields from green, rolling fields, to the volcanic slopes of Mt. Ing Dredd.  Combat resolution is quick and easy with pushback mechanics moving the battle line to and fro.  In addition, you use Command Points as a resource to activate special orders, buff your troops, and keep them in the fight.  Generic units are augmented by fantasy traits to give them their own unique flavor.  Lastly, there is a battle generator and campaign to go with the game.  I find it much more fun to link a series of battles together. 

If you give the game a try, feel free to discuss it in our Messageboard.  I would love to hear about your adventures and travails.


The astute observer will notice that two other Wargames works are no longer available on the blog.  The two works in question are Menof Bronze: Ancient Greek Hoplite Battles and Heirs to Empire: Wars of the DiadochiBoth of these games were finished works.  Other astute observers will probably also notice that typically, works in the completed state that do not rely on other people’s IP typically go to the WargamesVault however neither of these works are there.  What’s up with that?  

Well, I am delighted to announce that both of these works are slated for potential release by Osprey Games.  Due to their publishing schedule it most likely will not publish until late 2019 for Men of Bronze and late 2020 for Heirs to Empire.  It may seem like a long time, but I am thankful for the delay as I must procure, paint and photograph a large number of Greek Hoplites, Macedonian Phalangites, and other fun tidbits prior to publication.  I will need that time to get all of that together and photographed to a high-standard.  I guess these Iphone photos in my basement of paper templates just won’t do! 


That wraps up the big news for today.  If you managed to snag a copy of these rules before I removed them from the Blog feel free to drop my some comments or feedback on the Messageboard.  If you have high-quality photographs of Greeks fighting Greeks that you are willing to give-up the rights to and see published drop me a comment there too. 




Thanks for all of your support and help on this journey.  As I get closer to the big day, I will probably post again about the process and a few insights gleaned here and there.