Monday, September 30, 2019

Battle Report: Aquanautica Imperialis- Operation: Hemlock- Across the Shallows

The Shallows had been his home as long as he could remember. He had scrapped by on his father's boat collecting scrap and hauling in to be sold at auction on Grig's Island. Eventually, his father had passed, and the boat had been handed over to him. The loyal crew, and at least some of them; stayed on too. From that day on, he had become Captain Jacq.

Since then, he had been lucky, brutal,and cunning enough to survive in the Shallows. His crew had earned enough scrap to upgrade to a bigger boat and a bigger crew. However, there had been a cost. Debts that needed to be repaid, and in addition to hauling scrap Captain jack had taken on a bit of piracy and smuggling as a side job. It wasn't long before he had become embroiled with Hanzo and the Syndicate. That was a dirty business and one Jacq did not relish.

However, Operation: Hemlock gave him a chance to earn enough scrap to get a big enough stash to head out to sea for real and leave the Deff islands and the Syndicate behind. All he had to do was survive, and that is something that Captain Jacq had been doing for a long time.

Captain, the scout is signalling!” the man..... boy really.... in the crow's nest shouted down to him. The blue sky was clear, and Captain Jacq was pretty sure the look-out could see half across the shallows from his perch.

Captain Jacq cupped his hands, “What is it lad?”

Bad news. Smoke sign from the coast. The Orks comin' out! To cross the Shallows!” the boy started hopping in excitement and nerves.

Captain Jacq cursed and made the sign of the aquilla. The Syndicate had given him a few boats and Hanzo himself told him to keep the Orks from making it to Baron's Island. He expected a milk run while the Navy boys did all the dying. He hadn't expected the greenskins to go across the shallows in force.

A fellow officer looked nervously to Captain Jacq, “Captain, what do we do?”

The grizzled pirate shrugged, “Today, we pay our duty tot he Emperor. Make ready to sail!”

** ** ** **

Today's battle will be a game of Aquanautica Imperialis between the Pirate Syndicate of Da Deff Islands and the Ork Kill Fleets. This represents an Ork force trying to force the Shallows between the Green Zone and the battle zone on Baron's Island. I will be using paper templates again to play this round of the campaign.

Since the battle will take place in the Shallows, the Ork forces will face a high risk of grounding, unless they stick to the deeper channels. Therefore, I am going to give them a 20% points bump to the pirate fleet, who are largely immune to grounding thanks to their shallow draft craft.


Syndicate Pirate Force
Jacq's Queen- Pillager- 100 Points- LD 8
Saint's High- Pillager- 100 Points- LD 8
Sea Nymph- Raider- 75 Points- LD 6
Lazy Rider- Raider- 75 Points- LD 7
Low Jack- Monitor- 75 Points- LD 7
Hammer Fall- 75 Points- LD 8
Hwan's Run- Blockade Runner x2- 60 Points- LD 6
Forlorn Hope- Skiff - 50 Points- LD 8
Desperate Times- Skiff- 50 Points- Ld7

660 points

Ork Kill Fleet
Mek RenchEad- 2 Boiler Boatz- 150 Points
Nagstrakz Pointy Bitz- 4 Drilla Killaz- 200 Points
Boss Ardnoze'z Tubz- 5 Tubz- 150 Points
Klobgutz Runtiez- 5 Kuttaz- 100 Points
Angerz On- 3 Mob Boatz

760 points

The Orks are trying to break through the Pirate fleet and make landfall on the other side of the Shallows. They can do this by either landing on the opposite sides shore or moving off the board. If they get more crew points ashore than they lose in damage points after 6 turns the Orks win.

This battle is being played on a 4x4 foot table. The entire board is considered shallow water, except for the dark blue areas. This is regular depth and Ork ships in these zones will not be at risk of grounding. The Shallows is the area between Da Deff Islands, and is not deeper enough for large ocean vessels. However, some navigation channels have been dredged to allow for easier transport of adaconite and other goods.

Orks forces prepare to cross
The Syndicate rady to Oppose them

Turn 1:
Initiative: Pirates

Three of the five Grot Kuttas ground trying to move into the channel. The Drilla Killas WAAAGH! forward and avoid grounding. 4 out of 5 Gun Tubz ground in the Shallows and are hulked. The two Boiler Boatz manage to make it to a channel. Meanwhile, the Pirates moved forward to get ready to pound the few Ork boats that made it into the channel.

The big guns of the Monitors roar to life, and manage to smash one of the Drilla Killaz into a hulk. The Ork ships do not have the range yet. The lead pirate ravager uses its main gun and takes out a Grot Kutta from a distance. Seeing the range, his fellow Ravagers take out the last Grot Kutta.

The Mob Boatz race to get between a couple of small islands.

The Grot Kutta hulked by the Ravager drift.

The hulked Drilla Killa explodes, but does not cause any further damage.

No wake of damage control to be done.

A tough turn for the Orks comes to an end.

Turn 2
Initiative: Pirates

The Blockade Runners move up in front of the Drilla Killas to launch their mines. However, their Kaptin bellows a mighty waaagh! That carries across the waves and the Ork escorts dash forward. Two bypass the pirate vessels, but one rams one head on. Both boats sink immediately. Of the two remaining Ork craft, one grounds itself in the shallows.

Inspired, an Ork Gun Tub does the same against the last Blockade Runner. There is a mighty crash as steel is bent and breaks. Both boats again sink to the bottom.

Ramming Speed!

The Ravagers move in on the channel to kill off the Boiler Boatz. Seeing them close, the 1 stays in the channel while the other Waaaagh! Ahead towards land, but ends up hitting a sand bar and beaching itself with some damage.

The rest of the Pirate fleet begins to move in on the Ork vessels like Deep Sharks.

The Pillager's bow cannons fire on the stuck Boiler Boat that is shrouded in its own steam. Both shots fly wide of their mark. The Boiler boat fires back ineffectually.

The Ravagers fire their long range cannons at the trailing Boiler Boat. One find the mark, but the krew was braced and ready. The Pirates also fire their torpedoes to try to block off the Ork advance.

The Monitors fire on the grounded Ork boat, and miss.

The Mob Boatz are trying to go wide past the Pirates. The Pirate torpedoes raced in front of the Boiler boat and missed.

The Grot KUtta hulks drift and then one sinks.

All wake markers are easily removed.

Turn 3:
Initiative: Orks

The 1st Drilla Killa make sit across to land, and beaches itself. The Orks onboard are eager to get off the boat and onto dry land.

Land Ho!

A Pillager approaches and sets up to kill the stranded Boiler bOat, but it manages to unstick itself from the sand bar.

The ravagers slow down and close in on the other Boiler Boat, while it tries to follow the channel to safety.

The remaining Pirate swarm in on the remaining Ork craft. They are starting to sense the scrap and loot!

The Boiler Boat in the Channel opens fire on the closest Raider, but the one shell is Braced off by the Pirate.

The lead Pillager locks-on to the floundering Boiler boat and fires bow and port weapons. She manages to brace 1 hit, and the armor absorbs a second. However, a third manages to find a weak point in her superstructure and explodes, causing her to be a flaming wreck.

The Pirate Raiders open fire with a barrage of weapon's fire on the last Ork boat and turns it into slag.

The channel Boiler Boat explodes and sinks. The rest drift.

It's over Captain!

The shallow draft of the Pirate fleet paid HUGE dividends for the Pirates. 8 enemy vessels were destroyed from running aground. That was a deficit that the Ork fleet could not make up, especially when 7 of those groundings came in Movement phase 1.

Upon review, the Orks did not really have a chance in this engagement. They started in the Shallows. Next time, they will need to start in the deeper water. The points bump was not enough, and if there is another battle for the shallows the Orks will need to bring air support and more Mob Boats. However, they did some how manage to get 1 escort across!

The Pirate fleet got really lucky. They are fast and agile, but have limited firepower and no armor. Last game I played as them they were wiped out to a ship before the game ended. The shallows really helped them out, and did most of the work.

Captain Jacq was grinning ear to ear. He had spent his entire career working the Shallows, and this was more scrap in one day than he had seen in his whole life! Sure Ork craft were not the best scrap, but it was scrap! Thanks to the Syndicates contract with the Ammoriss Naval PDF, he had the feeling he was going to be a very rich man when the Operation was over.

Of course, he had to stay alive long enough to collect. That might not be so easy.....

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Monday, September 23, 2019

Battle Report: Aquanautica Imperialis: Battle for the Depths- Operation: Hemlock

He wasn't exactly sure of his location, but he wasn't willing to move to surface depths to find out either. He knew he was off the coast of Baron's Rest, closing in on the Ork Green Zone. The only other thing he needed to know was that his boat had got a ping, and he was authorized to identify and sink. The PDF “Air Heads” hadn't been able to contain the threat of Ork submarines ferrying troops from the Green Zone to the rest of the Deff Islands. Vice-Admiral Travers had given a green light to the “Bubble Heads” of the submersible fleet to try and contain the threat.

Captain Huntzmann checked his pocket chrono and whispered the time to his XO. The XO confirmed and repeated it, and another officer dutifully noted the potential contact into the log. This was a trick business, as he knew he wasn't the only Imperial boat prowling around out here. His Augur Ops were positive it wasn't a friendly.

Silence was critical. The Captain had been a “Bubble Head” in the submersible arm of the Ammoriss Navy since the fleet only had a couple dozen boats. He was skeptical of how much noise his hull could cancel out, so he made sure his crew worked as quietly as possible. He gave the hand signal to his XO, who confirmed and repeated it. The Officer of the Watch nodded. With the turn of a key, red combat lighting replaced the artificial white light lumins.

With that, the crew knew that the game was afoot. There were other subs out there, and it was their job to find and sink them, or get sunk themselves.

I made the rules for AquanauticaImperialis: Battle for the Depths a long time ago. However, I only got to try them once or twice. I figured with Operation:Hemlock it would be a good time to try them out a bit more.

This game is to help recreate submarine battles in the Warhammer 40K universe. Therefore, detection and firing solutions are critical in this game. As the commander you need to off set speed, action, and detection vs. offensive capabilities. It can be a challenging mix to get right.

Ammoriss Naval PDF
1 Hunter Sub- “ANS 421: Deep Shark” LD7
1 Hunter Sub- “ANS 356: Northern Trident” LD7
1 Hunter Type- L with HK Torpedo- “ANS 1447: Saint's Shield” LD7

50 Points

Skarbashz Submerzibles
1 Grot Sub- “Rust Bucket” LD5
1 Grot Sub-“Grot Sink” LD6
1 Sneaky Git- “Gobstuk” LD8

55 Points

These are represented by paper templates, as I figured by the time I sculpted and painted up appropriate models.... well the game might never get played then.  

This is a straight forward mission called: The Hunt. Both sides place their subs at any depth and speed within 4 inches of their own board edge. The Imperials are the attackers in this scenario. This is a victory point engagement so destroying enemy forces and limiting your own losses is key.

This time, we decided to use a 4x4 board. We placed some shallow water on the board as terrain, but the board is mostly open. Shallow water blocks movement and LOS below the depth of the water, we got depth 5 and 2 respectively. To go over Depth 2 Shallow water you need to be at Depth 2 or better.

We need to figure out how the game is played before we get too crazy.

The Orks set-up on one side, with the Sneaky Git anchoring the left flank at depth 4 and full speed 6. The Rust Bucket is nearby at depth 4 and speed 6, and the Grot Sink is on the right at depth 4 and speed 6. They are coming in fast!

The Naval PDF have the Type L in the center at depth 4 and speed 4. On the right flank is Northern Trident at depth 7 speed 3, and Deep Shark at Depth 3 speed 3.

Turn 1:
Initiative: You build an order of activation by rolling a d6 and adding the LD of the vessel. Ties are rolled off and the winner is placed above the loser in the order. Lower ranked vessels activate first.

Rust Bucket goes first with the lowest initiative. He moves forward at speed 6 and pivots 45 degress at the end of his move, staying at depth 4.

Grot Sink moves next. Grot Sink gains speed by going up to depth 3 and is now at speed 7.

Deep Shark is up next. He speeds up to 4 and turns towards the shallow water in front of him. He is at a high enough depths to go over it.

Northern Trident applies screw and heads for deep water at depth 7.

Saint's Shield goes down a depth, but uses some screw to stay at her current speed. She is making for the deep water between the shallows.

Gobstruk goes straight at the shallow water and Deep Shark.

No one has the range to try for any type of detections or shooting.

No actions.

Turn 2:
Initiative: The order of Actions is determined.

Rust Bucket makes for the deep water in the center of the table. However, they are too far away for a Torpedo shot at Saint's Shield.

Saint's Shield increases her Screw to 6, maneuvers towards Rust Bucket, and then dives 2 levels during her movement. All of this fancy maneuvers makes her -3 to Stealth and much easier to detect.

Grot Sink goes next and heads for Saint's Shield, but can not match the dive. There is a question of range too. However, it is not relevant due to Depth differences.

Northern Trident moves from the deep water and towards Grot Sink. The active augurs on the Northern Trident reach out, but she is unable to lock on the Grot Sink.

Deep Shark does not like facing down the big Ork sub alone, and dives 2 levels to get out of LOS behind the shallow water.

Gobstruk pivots and moves above the shallow water and tries to target the Northern Trident. The rapid ascent of the enemy sub makes her easier to detect. The Ork sonar operators gibber excited coordinates to the runtherdz in the torpedo bay, who punch them into the torpedo as the Grotz lift the machines into the tubes. The Kaptin has the tubes flooded, and launches them as soon as the runtherdz buzz him the green light to fire. However, the Torps go wide of the mark.

Turn 3
Initiative: The Order of activation is created.

Deep Shark feels safe from the Sneaky Git, but is hungry to do some damage to the Ork forces. However, she tries to slow down and go sneaky to get a shot at the approaching enemy subs.

Grot Sink recognizes the danger of having three enemy subs in the area, and blows some ballast to head for the surface. This speeds her up considerably. However, the process is VERY noisy.

Rust Bucket feels a bit safer, and tries to go under her friend and get a shot at Northern Trident to keep the Oomie sub from getting a chance to attack. However, the Grot Krew fails to get a good sonar lock to fire. They know the Oomie is out there, but they are not exactly sure where.

The Captain of the Northern Trident heard the sonar pings near his boat, and the distinctive sound of torpedoes in the water. He decides to slow his boat and dive deeper into cover to try and build his boats stealth.

Saint's Shield knows the Rust Bucket is in front of her and above. She slows her screw and slowly climbs to a better firing depth. However, the Grot Subs are sneaky and she fails to get a lock to fire.

Gobstuk heads over the shallow water and towards the enemy subs. However, her sonar can not detect any targets in range or depth to try and detect for a torpedo attack.


Turn 4
Initiative: The Order of activation is built.

Rust Bucket continues trying to locate and attack the Northern Trident in front of her, and goes down deeper looking for her prey. However, Grot subs have terrible sonar and crews so fail to find anything.

The Grot Sink continues racing by at shallow depth and high speed.

Saint's Shield goes next. She slows even further to avoid overshooting her prey, and reduces her screw speed. She could try an Augur Spike, that would put her in danger from being detected by the larger Ork sub, but Grot Subs are sneaky and hard to find. Without the Augur Spike, she fails to find the Grot Sub to fire on.

The Northern Trident speeds up and tries to get out of the kill zone the Orks were trying to set up on him.

The Gobstuk moves across the shallow water and turns into the main action, looking for targets of opportunity. Thankfully, the Saint's Shield was moving slowly, quietly, and carefully and barely avoids detection from the big Ork sub.

Deep Shark rises up in depth and detects the Ork Sneaky Git is nearby with her passive augurs. Her passive augurs are enough to fire, and the captain orders a Full Spread. The closeness of the target means the torpedos may hit it and not detonate. The torpedoes streak out, and as the Captain feared they bounce harmlessly off the Ork subz armor and motor wildly off into the depths.

Turn 5
Initiative: Build out the Activation Order.

Rust Bucket tries to slow down and begins to try to circle back into the fray.

Grot Sink moves up slowly, and this time the Runtherd Kaptin orders an Augur Spike to find the Deep Shark and attack it. She detects the Oomie sub and fires a snap torpedo. The torpedo just misses the Oomie boat by a fraction as everyone onboard the Deep Shark breathes a sigh of relief.

With the Grot Sink announcing her presence with the Sonar Spike, the Deep Shark's gunners quickly trace the firing solution back to the Grot Sink. The Captain again has a full spread loaded and fires as they drop to avoid a potential collision. The Ammoriss PDF's torpedo finds its mark and detonate the Grot Sink, killing all on board. First blood tot he Ammoriss Naval PDF!

The Gobstuk moves just above the duel between the Grot Sink and the Deep Shark. The Kaptin orders an Augur Spike and the Sneaky Git detects the Saint's Shield. A barrage of Ork torpedoes lash out of the Sneaky Git, but they swoop around the Saint's Shield and fail to detonate due to the depth differences.

The Northern Trident goes up one in Depth and the Augur operators get a lock on the Gobstuk after their Sonar ping. They send a stern torpedo at the ork sub, but miss the mark.

The Saint's Shield turns into the Gobstuk and goes straight for it. The Captain orders a full spread of Hunter Killer Torpedoes to be loaded. Once the firing solution was calculated, the sub let fly. Two HK Torpedoes strike home and blast gauges intot he huge enemy sub. However, the Orks quickly seal off the breaches and continue fighting. The Saint's Shield also releases a brace mines behind it int eh crowded waterway.

The Grot Sink sinks to Depth 6.

Mines drift.

Turn 6:
Initiative: The order of Activation is built

Rust Busket's Kaptin tries to do Evasive Maneuvers to get back intot he action but fails. He stays shallow and tries to get back into the fight.

The Northern Trident

The Saint's Shield fires it's last batch of mines and turns away from the oncoming Ork Sub. She dives to Depth 5 and goes between the Sneaky Git and the sinking Grot Sink.

The Deep Shark starts to go beneath the Gobstruk. Slowly and steadily.

The Gobstruk dives quickly to get below the Mines in front of it. She threads the needle int eh crowded space. However, her sharp dive and damage makes her very noisy and easy to detect. She tries to use Passive sensors to find the Deep Shark behind her, but can;t get a bead on her location.

Grot Sink goes to depth 7.

The sinking sub and mines drift.

Turn 7
Initiative: Build the Order of actions.

Rust Bucket dives, slows and turns. Still not going to be a factor this turn.

Gobstruk goes below the mines. She uses a active Sonar Ping to try and find the deep Shark, but the slow moving sub is too stealthy and goes undetected.

Deep Shark slowly begins to turn in and follow the very noisy Gobstruk, to try and get a kill shot on her. The Ork sub is easily detected, but the torpedo room does not have time to load a full spread. Deep Shark fires, but the torpedo fails to connect with the target.

Saint's Shield moves away from the big ork sub to gain distance.

Northern Trident easily turns back in by discarding stealth to try and get the kill shot. She easily detects the Gobstruk but her rapid movement did not give time to prepare a full psread. Instead, she locks and snap fires. One finds its mark and reduces the Gobstruk a further 1 hull to 3. She is at half hull.

The Grot Sink is crushed by the growing ocean pressure and destroyed.

The Mines drift apart from each other.

Turn 8:
Initiative: The order of activations is assembled.

The Deep Shark stays in the sweet spot and unloads a full spread of torpedoes into the Gobstruk, reducing her another Hull point, to 2 left. The Deep Shark is out of forward ammo.

The Northern Trident closes in like a shark to a feeding frenzy and unlaods a full spread, but none find their mark.

The Gobstruk turns away from her pursuers, and uses a Sonar Ping to lock onto the Northern trident. A pair of rear torpedoes streak out, but fail to connect.

Rust Bucket and Saint's Shield try to maneuver back into a relevant position.

Mines drift.

Turn 9:- Disengagement Turn
Initiative: Built the activation order

Rust Bucket comes about and tries an active sonar ping to locate the Northern trident but fails to go active. However, the passive sonar is enough as the Northern Trident has been recklessly moving in pursuit. The Grot's fire torpedoes and a dud hits the hull of the PDF sub but fails to detonate.

Saint's Shield begins heading back to base.

Deep Shark, out of ammo decides to head for safer waters.

The Northern trident continues it's reckless pursuit and opens fire on the Ork sub. A full spread of torpedo again fails to finish off the enemy sub, but empties the Northern Trident's ammo stores.

The Gobstruk continues to limp away. An active Sonar Ping Ids the Northern Trident, but the stern torpedoes fail to find the enemy sub again.

Mines drift.

Captain Huntzman signaled the XO to discontinue pursuit. The Ork sub, the big one; was still functioning but there was no way it was going to make it to Baron's Rest. The surface patrols would be able to hear it coming from a few miles away and hit it with Depth Charges. If he was the skipped, he would turn back and head for home port.

With another hand signal, the combat lighting returned to normal. The Saint's Shield was clear of the combat zone. He ordered the XO to Vox depth, and went to the Vox room to report in the NavComm North. Where the “Airheads” had failed, the “bubbleheads” had succeeded.

Well, the Orks lost this battle pretty handily. They took 5 Hull loss and inflicted 0 Hull loss in return. They had a chance to sink some torpedoes home, but couldn't connect. Meanwhile, the PDF were able to swarm the Sneaky Git was damage made it hard for it to hide, but the robust nature of its Hull let it stay in the battle for a long time. The Grot Subs were hard to detect, but also not that effective themselves, low firepower and endurance; but at a low cost. The Hunters and Type-L did there job. However, the HK Torpedo re-roll was worth it but it would have been better on a regular Hunter rather than the Type- L. The Mines were more of an area denial weapon than an offensive weapon.

The game itself you ask? It worked as intended, BUT.... the game has a very low letahlity due to a combination of factors.

  1. The challenge of getting the correct firing position of angle and depth
  2. Then detecting the target sub
  3. Getting a hit was 5+ or 6+ based on depth differences
  4. Then rolling to damage

That made it hard to sink a shot home.

In addition, sometimes the rules were counter-intuitive in a challenging way. i.e. was it better to go slow and improve your Stealth or to go faster to close the distance. There were a lot of decision points, and the first decision was if you wanted to avoid battle or to try and embrace it? It would be easy to simply play a game of keep away, but you still had to maneuver in a way to try and strike a killing shot of your own. Overall, an interesting game to play.

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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!

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

Or our website:

Or our Messageboard:

Or our Wargames Vault Page:

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:

Or our website:

Or our Messageboard:

Or our Wargames Vault Page: