Monday, September 16, 2019

Review: Last Days Zombie Apocalypse- Osprey Games

This is one of the Osprey Games hardcover rule books. They are a bit bigger than the Wargame Series of books and do not have the distinctive blue soft cover. This is not the first Opsrey Hardcover book I have purchased. I also have Horizon Wars, Frostgrave, and Mad Dogs with Guns. It is also not the first Zombie game in my collection, as I also played The Walking Dead game.

Last Days Zombie Apocalypse is written by Ash Barker. He is relatively famous in the wargaming community for his work in the industry, but also his popular YouTube Channel Guerrilla Miniature Games. I admit, his battle reports for this game intrigued me, even the ones from before the game was published. It looked like it had a lot of elements I find enjoyable in a skirmish game such as distinctive characters, campaign play, and an opportunity for some narrative gaming. The game is set after a zombie apocalypse has collapsed society as we know it, and you get to control a band of survivors struggling to stay alive in the new world. Of course, the enemy is the zombies, but also other survivors as getting the few supplies left is a zero-sum game.

Now that we have a feel for the game, let's shamble into the review!

Things That I Liked
I love it when a game has designer notes. Ash has a nice forward that lays out what he was trying to accomplish beyond the 4Ms of the game. It is only a few pages long, but those few pages were excellent in describing the type of game we were getting into, and were good food for thought for other aspiring game designers. The way he establishes what made skirmish games so appealing to him was clear, and his taste and design aesthetic was clearly laid out. Kudos to Ash!

I also liked that each character could be purchased as an archetype, that gave them different skills, stats, etc. right from the moment of purchase. You could plan roles for each member of the gang, create interesting story beats/backstories for them, and they were different than other members of the band right away.

The game has the player with Initiative choose if they want to move first or shoot first. This is a nice little decision point that has clear drawbacks and potential advantages. However, it feels like in most situations it makes sense to shoot first since the game is alternate activation. It also has an interrupt mechanic called Locked and Loaded where a model can choose to hold their action and fire a lot later as a form of interrupt. I am not sure it is needed in an alternate activation game, but it does add a tactical element to game play and a decision that is needed. It also seems to fit the genre pretty well.

I am enchanted by the art in this book. It can get a bit samey, but I like the style of action shots mixed with full character shots. The art work is more stylized than most Osprey titles, but I like it.

Things I Did Not Like
This game can be rather token heavy, with a lot of activity to track such as noise markers, damage, ammo, Action Points, etc. This doesn't include injuries and upgrades characters will pick up as you play. There is a lot going on during a basic game that requires tracking. Noise tokens lead to a roll that can attract zombies, ammo tokens can cause you to run out of ammo. These are all important elements to the genre of Survival Horror, but I am not sold on the methods or mechanics to add them. I feel like each could have been simplified into a single roll. However, it becomes a decision point how much to shoot as the more you shoot the more noise you generate; I just feel like it ends up being clunkier than I would like.

The game uses Action Points. For some I have an irrational hatred for Action Points and Hit Points in miniature games. I understand why a designer would choose them, but I just find them clunky and unwieldy in game. I prefer 1 action per turn as it forces tacticalgame play. However, that does detract from the cinematic nature of this game.

The game uses simple stat plus d6 roll with modifiers looking for a target number of 7+ for success, or opposed rolls to determine action resolution. This is a simple enough system and it makes sense. I am less thrilled about the damage system. It is a bit convoluted and involves dividing uneven numbers and rounding down. Not a huge fan but it is a good way to make strength and endurance actually matter as stats. Again, it is a bit clunky but it works.

Meh and Other Uncertainties
The star of this game is all about the campaign system. If that is the case, how can I put the “Hook” of the game in this section? Deep breath....

Individual games matter, but the tactical play devolves into simple decisions of target priority. However, that is not always easy with Zombies breathing down your neck! However, the simple game play leads into the campaign where actions in game have consequences with death, injury, and loss of supplies. The game definitely has RPG lite elements that I enjoy. Stat increases seem easy to get what you want by spending extra Experience Points, and I am not sure I am a fan. It also disincentives skills with the current system as attribute bonuses are always better than a situational skill. By spending extra XP you can almost tailor your models and avoid sub-optimal results. However, I do really like the loot table mechanism as it allows for more variety without have a huge list/table like d100. Since this is a game of Survival Horror, the Injury table is not super severe with only double 1's Death. However, injured characters can degrade pretty fast.

The other element that will be controversial is the Zombie “threat” itself. They really aren't a threat. Instead, they are more of a “friction” that a player needs to control for. Sure, if enough of them arrive you can be in trouble..... but that doesn't seem to happen that often. In addition, a somewhat experience gang will only have Zombies act as speed bumps to their objectives. However, I think this was a feature and not a bug of the game. The focus is on Humans vs. Humans and not Humans vs. Zombies. Therefore, they are more like a scenario complication than an actual threat.

Deep breath..... So, you can see why I put the two big hooks of the game into the Meh and Other Uncertainties section of the game. They are good hooks but there are trade-offs between what I like and what I did not like.

This game also bases every scenario around retrieving loot from the battlefield. Thematically it makes sense, but it does make the 6 scenarios in the book feel a bit samey. I had the same criticism of Frostgrave and its Loot system as the main objectives of the game. Unless you are constantly feeding the campaign new scenarios, new monsters, and new variations the game will get stale. It just does not have the tactical game play depth needed to survive on its own merits.

Final thoughts. This was a good first effort and it is clear a lot of thought went into the game to try and match the genre. Ash hits on the key elements that he outlined in his forward, but...... I can't help but feel the game could still use some more streamlining to make it more intuitive and less token reliant.

The main hook was a miniature based survival horror game. However, it feels light on the horror and survival elements that I feel it needs to really catch the feel of the genre. It seems to focused on letting players get “what they want” instead of challenging them to actually “survive” the horror with their opponent being another friction of surviving the campaign. The zombies are not threatening enough, the upgrades in the campaign too easy, and decisions too basic. The game really needs a deeper set of psychology rules like Strange Aeons Black Marks that corrupt a model's psyche as well as a more robust injury system.

In a horror genre, player' models should slowly degrade and only use gains to offset and slow the inevitable collapse.... that's horrifying. Knowing you ultimately can not win only try to make it to the next scenario and the end of the campaign. Therefore, I do not think I have found the definitive horror miniature game yet, but I am getting some ideas!

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Monday, September 9, 2019

Random: Blood and Spectacles Publishing on Social Media

One of my primary goals for 2019 was to expand my Social Media presence. This was to align with the launch of Men of Bronze, but also to prepare Blood and Spectacles Publishing for the 21st Century! The Internet can not be undone. It is always evolving and changing and what was the best place to be last year, is not the best place now. It is hard for a luddite like myself to stay caught up!

With the help of T and T Consulting Solutions, I have been expanding into this brave new world of communication, marketing, and sharing. I have decided to expand in a few different areas:

  1. Website
  2. Facebook Page
  3. Instagram Feed
  4. Blog
  5. Message Board
  6. Wargames Vault
  7. Forums

My website will mostly be static, but will serve as a gateway into the realms of Blood and Spectacles Publishing. If you need a good place to start, the Website is the place to go. It will tell you a bit about me, connect you to my publications, allow you to support the work, and contact me. It is probably the easiest way to contact me on the web! If you have a question or want to share what you have been up to, feel free to Contact Me from the link there.

Facebook Page:
Good old Facebook. Remember when it was just for college kids? I don't because I was all ready too old!

On my Facebook page, you can find a lot of stuff that is motivating me, peaking my interest at the moment, or fueling my imagination. It is not always game related and covers topics like local history, military history, militaria found about town, nature pictures, classic cars, and other random topics that interest me. Sometimes, it even talks about gaming stuff!

Please stop by and follow me so you can stay up-to-date on what is going on in the world of Blood and Spectacles.

Instagram Feed:
All the kids are doing it! You want to be cool don't you? It is far too late for that in my case I am afraid. However, I have an Instagram feed anyway! You should follow it!

Here is where I will post project updates on painting, board creation, miniature pictures, and more. I think the Instagram story feature will give me a chance to tell a more coherent story about one or two projects from beginning to end. We will see if that is how it works out, together.

Of course, Blood and Spectacles got its start on the blog and will continue to be an active place for me to post my thoughts, reviews, battle reports, and other relevant commentary that requires a long form for communication. Chances are, if you found me online it was at the blog. In fact, you are reading it right now! Inception.

Message Board
I am a bit old school, and still think message boards are pretty neat. I think the way they are organized allows long term projects to develop, share documents easily, and allow a story to unfold over time. Sure, you can do all that on other social media sites but there is a certain easy lay-out for slow boil and long term conversations that happen on a message boards. Other Social Media seems to lack this component and focus on instant one way sharing. Blood and Spectacles has had there own dedicated Message Board for a little while, but it has been a slow build on turning into the type of Message board I would like it to be.

Typically, here is where I share stuff that is too Work-in-Progress to share elsewhere, will have open play testing, and also a shared space around various Blood and Spectacles games.

Wargame Vault
Of course, one of the main distribution channels for my games is the Wargame Vault. This is an online site that allows creators to sell PDFs and books to players directly. I like to use Wargame Vault for my work using the Pay What You Want model. I should probably use a $1 minimum model or some such, but I like to try and democratize my games. If you like it, you will pay for it and support Blood and Spectacles somehow, whether that be promoting us, buy more games, or using the support button on the website.

However, Wargame Vault also has a place where players can comment, review and rate games. I am not as fast there but I will respond to items and comments there as well. Plus, I love the feedback these platforms provide from a variety of players.

You can find all my Wargame Vault games here:

Other Forums
Like I said, I tend to be a bit old school about internet spaces. I like to hang out on various online forums and wargaming blogs too. Here is a few of my favorite online hang-outs. Typically I go by the handle Easy E from way back when the internet was young and Portent was still a thing.

In no particular order:

I am sure there are others, but those are the main ones I can think of.

Room to Grow
There are some thoughts for future growth in the form of Podcasting or Video creation for YouTube. However, those are hobbies in there own right. With a full time corporate career as well as my Wargame Design I don't know if I have time for all that. However, in the future I could see some expansion into these areas at least in the form of some video demos of games, video reviews, or other similar content. Who knows?

You maybe wondering why no Twitter? I just do not find it a useful space for sharing and I honestly do not like the one-way nature of it. I prefer longer form writing and most of my Twitter activity would simply be re-directs to content elsewhere. That just seems stupid to me. Maybe I can be convinced otherwise, but what do you think about it? Do you use it a lot for Wargames related content?

As you can see, in 2019 there was a ton of expansion into the Social Media space. For an old-timer like myself it was scary. Prior, I didn't have any Social Media pages. I was way to private of a person for those types of things. This is a whole new world for me, and I look forward to expanding my presence, sharing more with the wargame community, and generally getting myself out there a bit more. We'll see what happens.

Feel free to let me know what type of content you are interested in seeing from me in the Social Media space to help drive the discussion around Wargame Design? What would be interesting to you?

You can follow Blood and Spectacles Facebook page for more fun:

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Or our Messageboard:

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Monday, September 2, 2019

Random: Storytime RPG

Along time ago, I stumbled across these cool little set of dice called Rory's Story Cubes. They are standard 6-sided dice with various pictures and symbols on them. They come in three sets, a standard set, an actions set, and a voyages set. Each has some basic themes on the dice.  Now there are all sorts of themes. 

Since discovering these dice 5-7 years ago I have always wanted to build an RPG game in use with these dice. However, I also hate “Proprietary Dice” with my games so I never got around to it since Rory's Story Cubes are the very definition of Proprietary Dice. Therefore, I never did much more with it.

I have been playing RPGs even longer than I have been playing wargames. I first learned on the good old Red Box Dungeons and Dragons. I was taught at the foot of a Lutheran pastor, and I have never looked back. Since then I have played a variety of systems from Shadowrun, Legend of the Five Rings, FUDGE, D&D of various stripes, Dark Heresy, GURPS, and more. Two notable absences from my list are Call of Cthulu and any of the White Wolf systems. In addition, to these established systems I have played various home-brews and even made up several campaigns on my own on the fly.

To me, the emphasis in an Role-playing game is the Role-playing, as opposed to Roll-playing. In essence, I feel that Role-Playing Games are a shared story-telling experience where the GM sets the stage and scenario while the Players move the action and plot along with their characters. In essence, the GM and Players need to work together for a good game.

In my limited experience, more mechanics actually can hinder a game and railroad players into trying to accomplish certain objectives instead of helping them tell their stories. Accumulating and building in some sort of imaginary game of Minecraft seems to set in, instead of characters growing and developing. That can be fine, but a bunch of extra rules and splat books don't necessarily make a better game. When it comes to RPGs I am a big fan of K.I.S.S.- Keep It Simple, Stupid.

Core Mechanics of an RPG
The key mechanic in an RPG needs to revolve around resolving opposed actions. There comes a point in any RPG, where it will not be clear how to resolve a situation. An NPC and a Player will have opposing goals, and there needs to be a mechanic that determines who succeeds and who fails. That is the only Core mechanic that matters, and everything else is just details.

I have seen some interesting ways this has been done from various Dice systems, Word Ladders, Jenga Towers, Poker Cards, etc. They all have their own advantages and drawbacks. Ultimately, the method doesn't matter so much as long as the players understand it and agree to buy into using it.

In addition, most RPGs have some basic Statistics to measure a characters ability and skills. The stats are usually innate physical abilities, while skills are learned attributes. This is the basic building blocks of a characters' mechanisms.

Basic Characters in this RPG
The basic character is composed of three stats:

Physical- This is a catch all for physical attributes
Mental- This is abilities related to brainpower
Presence- This is all abilities related to interactions

You can divide 8 points between the three categories, with a maximum of 4 in any one category.

Skills are anything you want. Typically, most games have stuff like hand-to-hand combat, shooting guns, gymnastics, playing guitar, building a fire, pre-world war I diplomatic history, etc, etc. In this game, you can choose any skills you want and place a number after each one up to 4, but you can not have more than 6 points of skills.

Of course, a character needs more than just attributes and skills to be a character. You should make a triangle, and then add one personality characteristic on each side of the triangle. For example, Loyal, Folksy, and Disciplined. Then, you should write 2 quirks, eccentricities or habits such as they likes to use a yo-yo, and is a vegetarian. Finally, you should write down 1 reason why people would want this character to succeed such as they are really nice to old ladies.

You now have a character.

Resolving Actions
Resolving actions in this game is very easy. The GM chooses which Attribute you can roll with, and add any skill dice. Roll them all, the GM will let you know how many dice you can keep based on the difficulty of the action. i.e. If you are going to sweet talk an old woman, you might get to keep up to 3 dice, but if you are sweet talking a gang banger it might be only keep 1 dice.

Before you roll, you grab the dice randomly from a pile of all the Rory's Story Cubes. Roll them, and look at the symbols. Choose the ones you will keep. Use the symbols to explain how you resolved the action and what happened next.

The action is resolved.

If it is an opposed roll, both players roll their dice. You keep as many dice as the GM dictates and it may be different by player. The player that initiated the action starts by telling the story with their 1 dice, then the other player, until all dice are spent.

Combat Resolution
Lets be honest, most RPGs have combat as a key action that needs to be resolved. Again, it is very simple in this game. Weapons add dice to add, and Armor subtract it prior to the roll. Weapons can be any value based on the setting, and armor the same. For example, in a Medieval setting a viking axe might add 2, and plate armor 4 dice. In a modern game, the same plate might offer 0-1 dice removal. It can vary depending on the setting.

During play the GM or another player can randomly select a dice out of the pool and give it to another player for doing something particularly awesome. This could be good Role-play, a clever idea, a great story, etc.

This player can hold onto that dice and roll it and keep it for any subsequent action/resolution during that night of play. If you want, you can carry them over from session to session. Just grab a random dice from the pool before play begins at the next session.

If you get to 6 dice you can turn them in for 1 skill dice increase, or 10 dice for 1 Characteristic increase.

So there you go. A quick RPG game for you to go out and use. Sure, I recommend having 3 sets of Rory's Story Cubes, or you could use a deck of Tarot cards, or you could use some other way to randomly generate images/emoji's to trigger story resolutions.

I hope you enjoy it. This has been circling around in my head and concept folder for a long time. Now it is out on the page so you can do with it what you want.  

You can see why I stick to wargames.  In my mind, role-playing games do not need enough structure to make them fun to design.  :) 

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Monday, August 26, 2019

Battle Report: Rampant Stars- Operation: Hemlock

Today we will be playing a game of Rampant Stars set in the Operation: Hemlock setting I devised for the Warhammer 40K universe, but not using 40K rules.  

The Ork migrations to the Deff Islands had caused them to naturally overflow from the Green Zone. As a result, Ork mobs began to make land fall on Baron's Rest. At first, in a series of skirmishes, the PDF forces near Camp Hope(Less) were pushed back, and the refugees were evacuated deeper into Imperial territory. In their place, PDF Troopers from Taskforce: Sword moved into the camp.

With their initial advances successful, the Orks gleefully pushed forward looking for loot and slaves. Forward elements involved fast moving truk and buggy mounted boyz. They raced tot eh entrances of Camp Hope (Less) in an attempt to break through the human defenses and blast past them. However, PDF mobile elements were ready to meet them.


Ammoriss PDF Forces:
Regular Mounted Command- PDF Command Squad
Regular Mounted Effectiveness Rating: 5 Points: 5 (6)
Move Command Assault Defense Shoot Armor
10 3+ 3+ 5+ + 2
Blast- 1 Reduces cover from shooting by 1
Leader- Free

Ragnarok Tank
Regular Infantry Effectiveness Rating: 10 Points: 3 (10)
Move Command Assault Defense Shoot Armor
1d3+3 3+ 3+ 4+ 3+ 4
Big Brute- +4
Heavy Weapons- +4 Each hit causes potential 3 hits
Slow- -1

Regular Mounted PDF Troopers
Regular Infantry Effectiveness Rating: 5 Points: 5
Move Command Assault Defense Shoot Armor
6 3+ 3+ 4+ 3+ 1

Regular Mounted PDF Troopers
Regular Infantry Effectiveness Rating: 5(10) Points: 5 (9)
Move Command Assault Defense Shoot Armor
6 3+ 3+ 4+ 3+ 1
Big Unit- Doubles starting effectiveness rating

Total Points= 30

Ork Hooligans
Regular Mounted Commander- Trukkerz
Regular Mounted            Effectiveness rating:  5(10)                          Points: 5 (9)
Move    Command           Assault                 Defense               Shoot    Armor 
10           3+                           4+                           5+                           4+           2
Big Unit (+4)- Double Units initial Effectiveness Rating
Leader (Free)

Irregular Mounted Troopers- Speederz
Irregular Mounted Effectiveness Rating: 5 (10) Points: 4 (8)
Move    Command           Assault                 Defense               Shoot    Armor 
10              4+                           4+                           5+               4+           1
Big Unit (+4)

Irregular Mounted Troopers- Bikerz
Irregular Mounted Effectiveness Rating: 5 Points: 4 (7)
Move    Command           Assault                 Defense               Shoot    Armor 
10              4+                           4+                           5+              4+           1
Rapid Movement (+1)- Move 1d6
Squad Support (+2)- 1 hit counts as 2 hits

Irregular Mounted- Kartz
Irregular Mounted Effectiveness Rating: 5 Points: 4
Move    Command           Assault                 Defense               Shoot    Armor 
10              4+                           4+                           5+             4+           1

Hooligan Band- Stomperz
Irregular Infantry             Effectiveness rating:  10                                Points: 2
Move    Command           Assault                 Defense               Shoot    Armor 
6              4+                           4+                           5+               4+           1

Total Points= 30

Rampant Stars uses a a random mission generation system rolling a 2d6. Today we got, Forced Entry as the Orks try to blast their way into a side entrance into Camp Hope(Less).

However, missions also have complications and locations. These can also be randomly chosen or picked. Today we picked: Heat and Dessert/Ice World to match the setting of Operation: Hemlock.

This will impact the play of the game Heat reduces the number of times you can Move/Double Time in a row.

The board will be a 6 by 4 board for today's battle. The terrain was placed relatively randomly across the center of the board. The gates to the camp were placed in the center of the PDF board. 

The PDF placed across their side of the board the Helga mounted Squad of 10, then the Flat Bed Helga with 5 was in the gates. Next was the Helga APC command squad. The final unit was the Ragnarok battle tank to anchor the right flank behind the power station. The Orks had the Kartz on their left, then the Stomperz, then the Speederz, Trukkerz, and Bikerz.

Turn 1:
The Orks try to move out across the front with Move orders. However, the Speederz hesitate and fail to move up. The PDF Ragnarok and Command squad move up to engage the enemy, while the rest stay put due to orders.

Turn 2:
The Stomperz push ahead on foot, looking to storm the gates. The Kartz and shaken behind difficult terrain, they maybe having some mechanical issues. The Trukkerz slow their advance and take ineffective potshots at the Ragnarok across a sand dune. The Bikerz also slow their approach to fire on the tank, causing some slight damage.

The Ragnarok fires on the Bikerz, and takes out two with a flurry of battle cannon and heavy bolter fire. The Helga Squad and Flat Bed squad are both shaken by the sudden intensity of the fighting. Meanwhile, the Command squad digs into cover behind a rock outcropping.

Turn 3:
The Kartz again stay shakened. However, the Speederz rally. The Bikerz settle in and open fire on the concealed tank and fail to cause more damage. The Trukkerz change their shooting to the command squad and tag one of the troopers. The Stomperz keep moving forward, but slow their pace enough to kill a Helga trooper.

The Ragnarok returns fire on the Truckerz, but fails to find a mark through the tight cover. The Helga troopers move up and fire on the Stomperz, and reduce them two troopers.

Turn 4:
The Speederz finally get moving and try to move an shoot, but are out of range of the Ragnarok. The Trukkerz fire on the Command Squad and whittle them down further. The Biker inch forward firing at the tank and fail to cause more damage. The Stomperz move up between a rock formation and the center mountain of slag.

The PDF responds with the Helga troopers firing on the Stomperz with minimal effect. The Flat Bed squad moves to the entrance of the camp and blocks it. Meanwhile the Command Squad is shaken. The Ragnarok fires at the closing Bikerz and reduces them to two bikerz left.

Turn 5:
The Kartz have been immobile and shaken the entire battle, and stay that way. The Truckerz and the Speederz try to move and shoot, but the terrain foils their efforts. The few remaining bikerz again target the hull down tank for little effect.

The PDF decide to act decisively this turn. The Command Squad rallies. The Ragnarok fires on the Bikerz and finally wipes them out with a blast form it Battle Cannon. The Helga squad charges the Stomperz, with their APC leading the way and laying down cover fire. The Orks fallback from the attack, but both sides take casualties in the close range fire fight.

Turn 6:
The Trukkerz see the Helga squad as a new threat and gun them down with help from their truks' weapons. The Stomperz move around towards the gates at full speed. The Speederz again are shaken as are the Kartz.

The Ragnarok moves in on the center of the board and fires the Trukkerz with little effect tanks to terrain. The Command Squad moves up into cover again. The Flat Bed squad drives into the Stomperz firing at will. This routs the Ork Stomperz.

Turn 7:
The Speederz rally, but the Kartz fail to rally. The Trukkerz fail to take out the PDF Command Squad.

The Flat Bed Squad moves back to cover the gates. The Ragnarok and Command Squad fire and whittle away the Trukkerz.

The Orks decide that they can not get to the gates and fall back. The PDF let up a cheer as the greenskins fall back. Camp Hope (Less) has been secured and the retaking of Baron's Rest has begun!

Cololnel Brusilov of Taskforce Sword let out a sigh of relief at the news His troops had managed to hold the line. Now, it was up to his colleagues in the other taskforces to keep the Orks from crossing the narrow straits from the Green Zone. His command bunker at Grig's Landing was buzzing with activity, but he flagged down a subordinate to create the communique for the other Taskforces.

The next key to the campaign on Baron's Rest would be to start to push the Orks back. Most of the air assets were assigned to Commodore Miles of Battlegroup: Chalice but Brusilov had managed to get some strike aircraft assigned to him. Now, he could use them to harass the Orks as they fled back towards Look Out Pointe. In addition, Vice-admiral Travers of Thorn would need to keep new Orks from arriving by sea. Operation: Hemlock still had plenty of fighting left in it.

Another quick and decisive game of Rampant Stars. I purposely changed up both armies for this battle to play around with different forces. I wanted the Orks to be faster, and I thought they had a good chance when the Forced Entry mission got rolled up. However, my opponent played a bit conservatively as she was very concerned about the firepower of the Ragnarok. As a result, they failed to consistently push towards the objective. They were also hampered by some poor Command rolls, with the Kartz completely out of the game.

My mounted PDF troopers did their job today and I had much better luck with the dice. The Ork Stomperz did not have any assault upgrades and my professional soldiers managed to push them back in two key close assaults. Overall, I felt confident after Turn 5 that I could hold. Overall, a quick game that took about 90 minutes to set-up, rejigger army lists, deploy, play, and pack away. Good fun.

You can get a copy of Rampant Stars at my Wargame VaultPage.

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Monday, August 19, 2019

Battle Report: Aquanautica Imperialis- Operation: Hemlock

Sea birds squawked as they trailed behind the warships. They hung in the air and lazily flapped their wings as the swirling air currents easily held their frail bodies in the sky. Captain McIntyre reflected on how his forebearers had used sea birds to indicate the presence of land nearby. As he turned to the west, he could see that the ancient wisdom was correct, a hazy shimmer indicated that the Deff Islands were in the far distance.

The Augur operators signaled the XO, and he checked in on what they were seeing. The crow's nest buzzed the Watch Officer with a report. Captain McIntyre pulled out his monoscope and prepared to scan the horizon. The XO and Watch Officer had a quick conference, and then the XO approached.

Captain, look-outs have verified augur reports of unidentified craft off the port. We can not be positively identified. However, NavComm North does not recognize any friendlies in the region.”

Captain McIntyre put his scope to his eye and scanned to Port. He quickly saw the hazy outlines in the distance, “It looks like they are steaming for the Deff Islands?”

Our look-outs are reporting the same. Permission to treat them as hostile and move to intercept?”

As Captain McIntyre watched, the vessels began to change course. It was clear they were re-setting an intercept course. The Watch Officer's comms buzzed to life.

Jochim,” the Captain used his XO's given name, “I think the decision has been made for us. Sound battlestations.”

The XO nodded and the Watch Officer hit the alarm klaxon. Red lights began to flash across the bridge and the nearby hallways. The ugly outline of the enemy ships closed in, their ungainly outlines becoming clearer. Captain McIntyre estimated that they would be in combat range in less than an hour. Considering there location in relation to the Deff Islands, it was clear these were Ork refugees moving to join their comrades.

Greenskins,” The Captain spat the word.

** ** ** **

Today's battle will be a game of Aquanautica Imperialis between the North Ammoris PDF and the Ork Kill Fleets. I decided to not use my miniatures but instead just use paper templates. This allows me and my opponent to have a wide ranging fleet list.


North Ammoriss PDF

Prince of Fire- AN Dependable- 250 pts
St. Augustine's Lance- AN Reliable- 250 pts
Spearfish 345- 2 Constants- 150 pts
Lancer 512- 1 Protector- 75 pts

725 points

Ork Kill Fleet

Def Blasta- Big Dakka Boat- 150 pts
Snazz Uge Ship- Big Dakka Boat- 150 pts
Ugbad's Rammaz- 4 Drilla Killaz- 200 pts
Runteez Tubz- 5 Grot Kuttaz- 100 pts
Red Top- Grot Sub- 50 pts
Sprinkler- Grot Sub- 50 pts

700 points

Both sides are intent on destroying and killing as many of the enemy ship's as possible. The fleet that reduces the enemy the most Hull points is the winner. A straight up battle.

This battle is being played on a 4x4 foot table. There are a couple spots of shallow water in the center of the battle space. In addition, a platform Rig is on the Eastern edge of the battle space. The Orks on the Northeast corner and the PDF are in the South center of the board for deployment.

The Grot Subs are in reserve. The Grot Kuttaz are screening the larger Ork ships. However, the Drilla Killaz are in the wake of the Big Dakka Boatz to protect them as they close. The PDF have the escorts on the flanks with the cruiser's in the center.

Turn 1:
Initiative: Orks

The orks choose to use their Waaagh! Ability an go all ahead full across the board. They are eager to smash through the Oomie fleet and get to Da Deff Islands. They speed across the board rapidly.

The Ammoriss Naval PDF are less than excited to see the Orks steam across so quickly. Both of the Cruisers use Come to a New Heading Orders to get their broadsides out. The Protector stays with them. Meanwhile, the Constants move up cautiously and pivot for a Torpedo barrage.

The Ork big ships open fire with their bow gunz, but are out of range. Their shots fall harmlessly short and churn up the water.

The Reliable's cannons miss, but St. Augustine's Lance manages to sink two shells into the Deff Blasta. The Constants send their fish in the water to try and break up the Ork fleet.

The Torpedoes move up into the path of the Ork fleet. They will have to choose how to deal with them.

Turn 2:
Initiative: Orks

The Grot Kuutaz try to turn and go across the shallow ground to attack the Constants. However, three of the 5 run aground due to poor seamen ship. They are effectively destroyed and stuck there.
The other Orks watcha nd laugh as the grot's feebly try to abandon ship, re-float their ships, or just stand around gibbering at each other.

The tow larger ships need to thread their way through the shallows, and do so. They also seem to clear the torpedoes. The Drilla Killas move up as slowly as they can, but may not be able to avoid the fish.

The Imperial cruiser's continue to try to skirt around the path of the Ork big ships to use their broadsides to good effect. The Protector stays with them, watchful for Grot Subs. Meanwhile, the Constants move up to engage what's left of the Kuttaz.

The Kuttaz manage to fire on the Constants and take out one of them. The other Ork ships fire wildly, but are still out of range. However, the big boom of the gunz is very satisfying to them.

Meanwhile, the Imperial cruiser steam up on the Def Blasta and pound it with shell and Las-Batteries. Despite bracing,t he ship takes a beating down to 5 DP left. One more hit and she will be crippled. The lone Constant takes out a Kutta with her weapon battery.

The Constant's torpedoes streak through the Drilla Killa squadron. Poit Defense fires, but misses. Three torpedoes streak past and continue on their way. However, one detonates against the side of the Ork vessel and turns it into a flaming wreck.

The hulk of the Drilla Killa drifts and grounds in shallow water. Meanwhile the hulk of the Constant and a Kutta also drift away and then sink. The wake markers from the sinkings are quickly removed.

Turn 3:
Initiative: Imperials

The Constant rushes past the Grot vessel and moves to get behind the Ork fleet. As the St. Augustine's Lance turns around the shallow water, the Grot Kutta picks up speed and sails straight into her bow. The Imperial cruiser smashes the smaller craft into kindling, but the hull gets stunk on the front of the Cruiser and entangles her.

The collision forces the Prince of Fire and Protector to try to avoid the tangled debris. Meanwhile, the Snazz Iuge Boat uses Come to a New Heading to try and chase down the Imperials. The rest of the fleet clears the shallows. A Grot Sub is sighted by the Constant.

St. Augustine's Lance locks-on and fires a broadsie at the Def Blasta. She braces and her crew scatters to cover, but it is not enough and she is reduced to 4 DP and crippled. Stern fire fromteh Princ eof Fire clatters off the Big Dakka Ship's hull.

The Grot sub fires on the last Constant, and finds her mark. The escort is destroyed.

The remaining three Constant torpedoes leave the board.

The Constant drifts and explodes. The entangled Kutta and Reliable cruiser also drift.

Turn 4:
Initiative: Orks

The Grot Sub uses Run Silent, Run Deep and leaves the board.

The Big Dakka Boatz fail to come to a new Heading and keep trying to chase down the Imperials. However, due to the entangled wreckage, the Prince of Fire uses Come to New Heading to trya nd turn about and do battle. St. Augustine's Lance fails to become disentangled. The Drilla Killa move up to prepare for a ram attempt, and barely avoid grounding themselves.

A Grot Sub come sot firing depth behind the St. Augustine's Lance, as the Protector is way out of position to defend her.

Finally, the Def Blasta is in range of the Prince of Fire and opens fire with her reduced firepower front guns. They manage to strike home, and reduce the Princ eof Fire 2 hits, and knock out her forward weapon battery. Despite the damage, she Locks-On and returns fire. A shell and Las-beam cut inot the Ork ship and reduce it to only 2 hull left.

The Drilla Killaz fire their weapon batteries at St. Augustine's Lance, and cause one hit. However, it starts a dangerous fire on the ship. In return, the Reliable cruiser's big guns make short work of the escorts and destroys them all in a barrage of accurate shellfire.

A torpedo from the Grot sub is spotted and destroyed by PD gunners on the Reliable cruiser.

One of the damaged Drilla Killaz drifts into the Def Blasta and reduces it another Damage Point, down to 1. They are now entangled. St. Augustine's Lance drfits closer to the mining platform.

Luckily, the Kutta entangling the Reliable cruiser slips off the ships bow and sinks. Another Drilla Killa also sinks.

All wake markers end up being removed.

The Prince of Fire quickly clears the jam on her forward weapon battery. However, due to all the action, the fire teams are not able to respond in time on St. Augustine's Lance and she loses one more Damage point.

Turn 5:
Initiative: PDF

The Prince of Fire is in trouble as the Orks can not get a 1-on-1 ship to ship fight between her and the Snazz Big Boat. She is damaged, bu the Ork ship is not. The Reliable tries to maneuver between the drill rig and the shallows to be able to finish off the Def Blasta. She is tailed by a Grot Sub.

The Protector is way out of position.

St. Augustine's guns roar to life, and the Def Blasta is reduced ot a smoldering ruin and wreckage with 0 Hull remaining.

The Snazz Big Boat fires while the crew of the PSDF ship brace for Impact. The shells whine and clang off the PDF ship, but one manages to hit near the screw and damage it. She is down 1 Hull to 5 and her screw is fouled slowing her down.

Her return fire is weakened, but it is effective as a shell finds its mark and a las-beam cuts intot he Ork ship, starting a fire below decks.

The Grot Sub fails to load ordinance.

A Drilla Killa explodes as the wreckage of the Def Blasta and a Drilla Killa drifts.

The Prince of Fire repairs her screw, the Snazz Big Boat puts out her fire, but he St. Augustine's Lance continues smoking.

Turn 6: Final Turn
Initiative: PDF

The Prince of Fire maneuvers to stay in the battle. However, the ork Kaptin declares a Ram, and Waaagh! Right into the side of the Cruiser with a satisfying Kerrr-runch! Unfortunately, the Ork ship wa sthe one that buckled and took 2 damage, while the PDF cruiser managed to brace and absorb the hit in her armored belt.

However, Ork warriors swarmed forward across the deck, to be met with Point defense cannons and naval armsmen. However, the brave defenders are pushed back into the hull with heavy casualties.

The St. Augustine's Lance slowly sails away, hoping to help with her rear arc. The protector tries to cirlce back to get the grot sub off the Reliable cruiser's tail.

None as the Grot Sub again failed to reload ordinance.

St. Augustine's Lance final manages to put out her on board fire.

The Orks took 23 Damage
The PDF took 8 Damage

Looks like the Ammoriss Naval PDF managed to push back the Ork ships heading towards Da Deff Islands.

Captain McIntyre finished typing his formal report in the handheld. He reviewed it breifly one more time before sending it down with the Watch Officer to the Vox Room.

The Orks had been defeated and driven off, with heavy losses. Looking at other reports, Ork naval reinforcements had been stopped by other taskforces as well. It looked like Taskforce: Thorn was doing its job. Now the Orks will need to get their reinforcements from elsewhere.

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