Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Battle Report: Total CARnage- Slaying Song Tonight!

As you may recall, for Thanksgiving my family had a lot of fun playing Total Carnage!  The Christmas Season appears to be no exception.  As soon as I walked int he door, the youngsters were asking to play the "Car Game" again.  I was obliging and we pulled out the cars and blocks and got set-up to play again. 

We used some of the same car names as last time.  Above you can see Barbie Basher scoot past the wreckage of Speedline and sneak up on Black Shadow. 

This game was a Kill'em All scenario.  The top three cars are Barbie Basher, Titan, and Money maker.  The bottom three are Black Shadow, 9-1-1, and Speedline.  We had a smaller table to play on so we only used three cars per player instead of five.

We also played a few Capture the Macguffin scenarios using the top hatted Little People as the objective.  If you ran into him, you picked him up. 

In this one, Black Shadow crashed into the red block, and a yellow pole fell from the top of it and landed on him.  He was destoyed.  That was pretty par for the course as we smashed into terrain and each other like crazy. 

For Christmas, I gave them all a copy of the rules that I had printed out.  They were pretty excited.  Another happy Christmas memory as we sang a "Slaying Song Tonight"!     

Friday, December 22, 2017

Random: 2017 in Review

Another year bites the dust!  It feels like only yesterday when I started this blog and started adding content. Lo and behold it has been over a year!  This seems like a good time to review the 2017 Goals and see how it all turned out. 

Typically, I make these goal lists to help guide me through what I want to accomplish in a year.  They are not hard and fast rules, but more of a guideline.  Some years I do better at completing them than others, but I shoot for a 50% completion rate.   In addition, I break them into categories to help me organize my thought sand efforts. 


1.       Buy all new Osprey Wargaming Series- 100% Succes
I am on track with this goal!  The last one released in 2017 was Gaslands.  I even managed to review it.  Next year, there are at least two new ones to be published on their site, and I expect I will be picking those up too.  I really enjoy the Wargaming Series as it is a low cost way to be exposed to a lot of different rules, genres, periods, and wargaming ideas.  I like spending money to support their efforts at diversity.  I also bought Mad Dogs with Guns and some Frostgrave supplements this year, but they are not technically part of this goal. 

2.       Pick-up Blood Bowl- 100% Complete
I grabbed the box set and the Death Zone season 1 book.  I have even played a few games!  For a long time, this was the only game I managed to play and keep me in the hobby.  However, I never had my own turf or templates.  I have now remedied that situation.  I am set to play for ages to come.  The scale change has made me interested in getting some of the new teams, but it is low on my priority list at the moment and I can still use some of my old teams.

3.       Pick-up one of the following: Blucher, Chain of Command, Martian Empires, or This is Not a Test- 0% complete
There was zero progress here.  I found a local distributor that had Martian Empires for a decent price, but never got around to ordering it.  I think I decided to pick-up Blucher next for my Non-Osprey rules purchase.  The fact that I can play with cards instead of minis appeals to me, plus I always wanted a Napoleonic game to play and Blucher seems pretty cool.  However, “Real Life” has gotten in the way of making more purchases than I have so far. 

4.       Buy Enough Gangsters for Turf War- 10% Complete
I picked up a couple models when I ordered Pulp Alley that I liked the look of.  So far, my gangs consist of 1 Femme Fatale and 1 Enforcer with Tommy Gun.  I looked at a boxed set at my FLGS, but was not impressed with the sculpts.  I also thought about picking up some of the Blue Moon 15mm to save costs, but I am not sure if I can do 15-18mm scale gangsters justice for a skirmish game. 

5.       Pick-up Classic Greek for Men of Bronze- 100% Complete
I managed to buy a lot of Victrix Limited Greeks.  I should have enough for a Spartan, Corinthian, and Macedonian army with some left overs.  I am super excited for these guys and sent them to my painter right away.  I didn’t even open the package for them.  I need them for some photos for when Osprey publishes Men of Bronze. But I am also excited to play the game with actual miniatures and not just paper templates. 

Painting and Modeling:

1.       Paint my Inquisitor 28mm Warband- 0% Complete
There has been no progress on this despite the fact that I wanted to use these guys to play some Pulp Alley or even a modified Strange Aeons this year.  Instead, they have sat on my shelf looking forlorn at me.  I didn’t even base coat them!   

2.       Complete my All Quiet on the Martian Front Mobile Artillery and Mark IV tank- 20% Complete
Some progress.  I did manage to put the mobile artillery together and put them on the painting desk.  I was looking forward to having these guys join my armored column for the Minnesota Militia forces, but I just haven’t been able to build up the stamina to base and paint them. 

3.       Assemble the Destroids for Robotech RPG Tactics-0% Complete
I really can’t bring myself to put more work into this game than Palladium can.  I wanted to use the Destroids in Jugs or Rampant Stars but I have had little time to paint and would rather put that time towards games I might actually play. 

4.       Paint my Warlord airship for AeronauticaImperialis- 100% Complete
I managed to get this done, and the last of my Varingyr aircraft.  I haven’t played all year, but Aeronautica Imperialis is one of those games I keep going back to.  Sure Forgeworld and Games Workshop have long ago abandoned it, but I haven’t.  Thankfully, I do not think unsupported games are dead games.  Plus, there are many “Not Epic” manufacturers making compatible aircraft for it now. 

5.       Paint up enough gangsters of Turf War- 5% Complete
It is hard to paint them if I never bought them!  However, I did get my version of the Pulp Alley Red Queen painted up.  It is a simple but effective model.  I also created a couple of gang rosters to build/paint to.  That is some slow progress.

Rules Writing:

6.       Complete the rules for Turf War- 100% Complete
I went into the year needing to write some scenarios.  I was facing severe creative block on the subject.  So, I did what you do when you have a creative block and stopped avoiding it and just started writing stuff.  It did the trick and soon I had the scenarios I needed done.  The rules are ready to go.

7.       Complete Men of Bronze and publish on Wargames Vault- 100% Complete
Well, technically they are not going to go up on the Wargames Vault.  Instead, they will be published by Osprey in late 2019.  I think that is an upgrade!  That is a different route all together.  The only thing they need to be published now is 30 digital images of Greek Hoplite miniatures, choosing some artwork, and final edits.  Then, it is off to the Wargames Series for them!

8.       Edit and Clean-up the Rules for The Games:Blood and Spectacle for the Wargame’s Vault- 100% Complete
This is complete and the rules are up for purchase.  As of this writing, they have been available since April.  I have been pleasantly surprised by the reaction and interest in the game.  Naturally, I am a fan and looking forward to playing it more.  I want to make a few play aids for it and add them to the rulebooks.


1.       Blood Bowl- 100% Complete
In addition to the exhibition game I posted about, I have played a few other times with my gaming buddies and family. 

2.       All Quiet on the Martian Front- 100% Complete
Another one completed.  I managed to continue the Minnesota River Valley Campaign

3.       One of my Osprey Games- 100% Complete
I have played Horizon Wars and Poseidon’s Warriors x2.

4.       One other TBD System- 100% Complete
I have managed to play all sorts of games this year.  2017 was a good year for actually playing games!  Way better than the last few years.  I hope I can keep up that pace for 2018!
Aquanautica Imperialis

Castles in the Sky

Total CARnage

Men of Bronze


Rampant Stars

American Civil Paw

Rampant Stars
The Games: Blood and Spectacle

Rampant Stars

Horizon Wars

5.       Keep on Blogging- 100% Complete
I managed to keep up a steady pace despite some setbacks.  The Great Photobucket Debacle gave me pause, but I pressed on.  Not everything has been restored, but enough has been updated to keep me going.  However, in 2018, I think the content will slow down as I do not have 3 years of backlogged games to re-post about.

6.       Set-up a Message Board- 100% Complete
I have set one up for Blood and Spectacles Publishing, but no one uses it.  I suppose for 2018 I will need to get on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.  An old man like me can not keep up with all of this Social Media. 

Overall, 2017 was a pretty good wargaming year!  I completed 14 out of 19 goals, and made progress at least on 3 others.  Plus, there were a few projects I completed that were not on my goal lists.  I have had much worse years.  Plus, my list of actually played games is relatively impressive this year.  Once again, it was Painting and Modelling that held me back.  Hopefully I can keep up the moment in 2018 as I continue to push myself to accomplish hobby goals despite Real Life challenges getting in my way.      

Over the next couple days I will start drafting my Resolutions for next year.  Stay tuned.   

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.

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. 

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

3 Archer Units
1 Drilled Infantry Unit
1 Warband Unit

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

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!