Monday, December 28, 2020

Random- The End of 2020: A Recollection Collection


I think that is how everyone feels about 2020!  I am glad it is over, but I don't expect 2021 to start out much different. In some ways, 2020 was good to me as WFH was a big savings on fuel and other resources.  I also feel like I was pretty productive.  On the down side, I was in quarantine most of the year and I actually got COVID despite all of my families precautions.  So, that was not fun.  

Anyway, enough about the train wreck that was 2020 in general.  Instead, we need to talk about Hobby goals for 2020.  As usual, I will be breaking it down into the four categories: 

1. Purchases- Things I spend money on to add to my collection

2. Painting and Modelling- Things I got ready for the table

3. Playing- Games that I played

4. Rules Writing- Games I have built

5. Miscellany- Other stuff that is hobby related

The things I put into the categories at the start of 2020 are not set in stone.  They are guidelines to keep my year on track and to avoid being distracted by the new shiny.  I find it helpful! 


Many of my purchases this year were focused on Ancients.  This makes sense to me as I had Men of Bronze come out for Osprey last year, and I have a second book coming out in 2021 called Wars of the RepublicIn addition, I released Heirs of Empire for the Diadochi Wars on the Wargame Vault.  Therefore, I started bulking up my Ancient forces for more Online content to support these releases. 

I also always like to keep my bookshelf of games up-to-date as well.  I also picked up new rules to keep my tool box of ideas current and full.  So, how did it go?  What did I get from my list?   

Here is what I have picked up:

  1. Clash of Spears
  2. Zona Alfa
  3. Gangster Terrain
  4. Blood Bowl Lizardmen
  5. Last Days: Seasons
  6. Reality's Edge
  7. Victrix Elephants
  8. Victrix Cavalry
  9. Victrix Republican Romans
  10. Rogue Planet- This was a bonus pick-up not on my initial list
Thanks to all of YOUR help!  Your support through purchases of Men of Bronze and from my Wargame Vault page has helped me achieve these purchase goals.  Thank you.  

Things I did not pick up this year: 
  1. Victrix Carthaginians/Samnites
  2. Gangs of Rome
  3. Mortal Gods
  4. Oathsworn Burrows and Badgers Bundle A and B
  5. Blood Bowl Chaos Dwarfs
So, there are still some things out there that I wanted to pick-up.  However, I sincerely doubt I will be buying Mortal Gods.  After reviewing the game closer, there are a lot of "Monetized" elements to the design such as tokens, custom dice, unique cards, and dice pull items.  This is not to my design taste, despite hearing good things about the gameplay and decision making in the game.  Gangs of Rome may fall into the same category, but I am less sure about that right now.  Therefore, these may not transition to the 2021 list.  I am not sure yet.  

Also, it doesn't look like there will BE any Blood Bowl Chaos Dwarfs so..... I guess those might not make the 2021 list either! 

Painting and Modelling
2019 I painted over 150+ models, and I felt like that was an amazing success!  This year, I also had a pretty productive year too!  The tracker on the right hand side of the blog helped me keep focused on moving the numbers down.  Twice this year I ran out of models to paint and got news ones just as I finished the last batch.  

So, my grand total of painted models this year is..... 141!  Not as good as 2019 but still a pretty great year!  Especially since a number of these were 60mm x 60mm bases of 6mm models!  Those were a bear to paint, but I still think it was easier than a 15 man 28mm unit..... 

So, here is a selection of what got painted/built for 2020: 

  1. 28mm Greek Peltasts- 10
  2. 28mm Copplestone Casting gangsters- 12
  3. Blood Bowl Lizardmen- 12
  4. 28mm Fantasy- 8 
  5. 28mm Greek Hoplites- 20
  6. 28mm Steampunk- 1
  7. 6mm Bases- 19
  8. Ork Subz- 4
  9. 28mm Greek Cavalry- 10
  10. 28mm War Elephants- 8 minis
  11. Gangster Buildings- 5
  12. Aeronef Fleets- 23 
  13. Battletech Mechs- 9
Last minute Battletech Mechs finished in 2020!


For being in "lockdown" for much of the year, I got a surprising number of games under my belt.  Most were with my wife, daughter, or both.  However, a few were with my favored Skumgrod or my gaming group.  

I know that COVID killed my D&D campaign, Starfinder campaign, and a Monster of the Week game stone dead.  We tried to migrate to Discord and it just didn't work.  Then, in a lull period we got back together and BOOM, an outbreak in our area killed all our RPGing again! 

Thankfully, I got games in with my Skumgrod early.  Then my wife and daughter filled the gap when we were all stuck at home for long periods of time.  In addition to wargaming, we played card games, board games, and video games too.  My daughter is pretty much willing to play anything as long as I do the set-up and explain the rules.  My wife is much choosier in what she will play and when.  On Thanksgiving I got to play several games of High Noon with the family too.  Do not worry, masks, distancing, and open windows for ventilation were also a part of Thanksgiving too.    

Again, the tracker on the right hand side of the blog helped me keep track of my gaming progress and also served to motive me.  Here is what I played: 

  1. Aeronautica Imperialis- Twice
  2. Wars of the Republic- 3 Times
  3. Aquanautica Imperialis- Twice
  4. Rampant Stars- Once
  5. Men of Bronze- Once
  6. Broken Legions- Once
  7. Turf War- Once
  8. White Star/Red Star- Twice
  9. Rampant Sun- Once
  10. Black Ops- Once  
  11. Heirs of Empire- Twice
  12. Aquanautica Imperialis: Force of Arms- Once
  13. Only The Strong Survive- Once
  14. Castles in the Sky- Once
  15. High Noon- 4 or so times on Thanksgiving

Again, not a bad year for gaming considering all the complications this year threw in the way.  

Rules Writing
Since all I need is a computer, ideas, and time this goal I am usually pretty productive with.  I do not think this year was an exception!  I feel like I got a lot of stuff on paper, especially early in the year when lockdowns were all the rage and employers really weren't sure what they were doing yet.  Anyway, I had a few goals going into 2020: 
  1. Complete writing Wars of the Republic for Osprey Games- Done
  2. Update photos and artwork for Turf War for a Wargame Vault release- Done
  3. Get 1 Game from the WIP up on Wargame Vault- Done.  Only The Strong Survive is there! 
  4. Get 1 new game up into the WIP section of the blog- Done, I have 2 actually

Full points for all those, but that is not all I have done!  Here are some extra points categories! 
  1. Published Rampant Swords on the Wargame Vault
  2. Published Foam Force Five on the Wargame Vault
  3. Posted Heirs to Empire at the Wargame Vault
  4. Tested White Star/Red Star
  5. Playtested AQ: Force of Arms

That means I published 5 games in one year!  Not too shabby.  You should check them out.  I also have plenty more in the pipeline, but there will be more about that in the 2021 Goals post next week!  

This is a catch all term for things that have to do with Blood and Spectacles, but do not fall into the other categories.  Things about blogging, Social Media, marketing, etc.  I pretty much completed all of them but one.  

  1. Post up twice a month- I actually managed weekly! 
  2. More pictures for Instagram- Check my Instagram, I did it! 
  3. Add a Painted Model and Games Played tracker to the Blog- Done and done
The one thing I did not do, was do some work for getting a local Con together.  I did some early work with partnering with some folks that had some experience in running Cons, but then COVID hit.  That completely annihilated this goal.  It had no chance of becoming a reality once the Pandemic started.  

Final Thoughts
To paraphrase Jack Nicholson's Joker in Batman......

"You really were a vicious one '2020'.  I'm glad your dead........ I'm glad your dead.  



Monday, December 21, 2020

Battle Report: Castles in the Sky- Maiden Voyage

 The Royal Navy had been one of the first of the Great Powers to make use of the Air Screw.  Instantly, all other Navies became obsolete.  The Great Aerial Arms Race had begun.  The British had been at the forefront of this race thanks to their great shipyards and the access to the resources of their empire.  In addition, the Admiralty was always trying to stay ahead of the technology curve.  

The First Lord Sir Jackie Fischer had re-upped the game with the launch of several all "Big-Gun" battleships.  They were heavily armed and armored and were a revolution in the Arms Race.  In addition, the British also experimented with a new class of vessel, the Battle Cruiser.  The Battle Cruiser was intended to act as a faster, lighter ship, but still armed with the "Big Guns".  

One of the first of these was the HMS Invincible.  She was launched in 1907.  The Admiralty had her deploy for a maiden voyage around the Mediterranean with one of the armored cruisers she was to replace, the HMS Shannon.  The Shannon herself was a relatively new ship as well, being deployed in late 1906.  

Their were some scattered eye witness reports that the maiden voyage of the HMS Invincible did not go without incident.  There were unconfirmed and scattered reports by local North African fisherman that the HMS Invincible and her escort had a run in with French forces off the Algerian coast.  

The London Telegraph was unable to confirm these reports independently.  Both the French and British Admiralty and other relevant cabinets have been tight lipped on the subject.  


This will be a bit of a maiden voyage for the V4 rules for Castles in the Sky.  They went through pretty complete testing previously as v3.2 and V2.  However, the games revealed some items that I wanted to update.  This naturally led to a V4 with some significant changes.  

I look forward to giving these a maiden run while the HMS Invincible takes a maiden voyage of her own! 


Royal Navy

HMS Invincible- Command 2

-Invincible Class Battle Cruiser    

HMS Shannon- Command 4

- Minotaur Class Armored Cruiser

L'Aire Nationale

Saint Louis- Command 2

-Charlemagne Class Heavy Cruiser

Algiere - Command 4

- D'iberville Class Cruiser

Fantassin- Command 1

- Chasseur Class Destroyer


This will be a Patrol mission.  The French have come out to meet the British.  L'Aire Nationale has claimed that the British have infringed on their national airspace off the coast of Algeria.  They demand that the British land and prepare to be inspected.  Of course, the Royal Navy refuses and a conflict is inevitable.  


The Patrol will be played on a 48 x 48 MU board with 1 MU equaling 1 inch. 

The battle is mostly taking place over the ocean, with a bit of coast on the south side of the board the French are coming from.  That leaves two board sections without terrain on the British side.  We randomly roll the following for these sectors and get a land based feature that does not impact play, so we add a sand bar.  The next we roll a  mountain but that does not make sense over the ocean, so we ditch it.  There is no terrain that will impact play. 

We also roll for complications and get none.     

The French are coming from the Algerian coast to the South.  They are led by the Saint Louis at mid-altitude and full speed.  She is flanked by the Algiere who is also at mid-altitude and matching speed.  Meanwhile, the Fantassin is on the far left at high altitude and matching speed. 

The British are on the opposite side, they are "crossing the T" of the French, and moving across the battlespace to start.  The HMS Invincible is leading the way at mid-altitude and speed, with the HMS Shannon trailing and closer to the coast.  They are matching speeds.


Turn 1:

The French roll 3 dice (Command Rating of the Largest ship + 1 for having an escort) to the British 2.  The French get 1 success, and the British 2.  These success will also indicate the number of Commands the two fleets can use.  The Brits choose to go first.


HMS Shannon increases speed and moves up to try and meet the oncoming French forces.  As she goes up, her increase in speed is eaten up by the altitude change.  The Saint Louis steams ahead, neither gaining speed or altitude. 

Captain Hargrave of the Invincible orders “Come to a New Heading” and scores a success on the Command roll.  He increases speed and turns towards the oncoming French, ready to trade fire.  The Algiere decides to drop two altitude which increases her speed temporarily.  She ends at Altitude 3, and creating distance between her and the St. Louis. 

The French destroyer, Fantassin; increases speed and uses it to climb two altitude. 


No one has the range yet, so no combat occurs. 


No action is needed.

Turn 2:

The French score 0 command successes, to the British 1.  The Brits again decide to go first. 


The HMS Shannon continues to turn into the French Fleet and speeds up.  The Algiere counters by going even lower, and still moving to give space between themselves and the St. Louis. 

The Invincible tries to go All Ahead Full but fails.  Instead, they increase speed only 1 and continue moving to engage.  The Saint Louis is happy to oblige and looks like they are heading to move between the two British ships.

Fantassin, stays high and fast looking to angle in on the HMS Shannon with a Torpedo shot.


This time, the Invincible and Saint Louis have the range!  They decide to engage in a long range gunnery duel.  However, the Invincible’s main gun has a powder cartridge jam in the loader and is unable to fire!  At Long range the ship has only 1 Firepower dice, which it fails to hit with.  This triggered an ammo roll, which the British also failed and jammed their main gun. 

The Saint Louis has no such issues and causes 2 Potential Hits on the British Battle Cruiser.  The Saint Louis has 3 forward firepower at long range, but is firing at a Cruiser class vessel from a Battleship, therefore it is reduced to 2 dice.  Both cause Potential Hits.  Since there are 2 hits it does not cause Friction as that requires 3.  However, we now immediately roll to see if damage was applied by re-rolling the hits and adding the Power rating of the shot, then compare to see if it is over the Target’s armor rating.  1 potential hits is converted to a real hit, and we will determine the damage in the End Phase.   

The Light Battery at long range would have no effect on a cruiser class vessel as it is an Anti-escort gun, this would reduce its 1 firepower to 0.     

The other ships do not have the range yet.   




The long range shots from the Saint Louis manage to light a fire in the Invincible and reduce her 1 Armor point.  This would be very dangerous for the British ship!

The British repair teams scramble to resolve the jammed forward turret and the fire.  However, they fail at both!  Oh no!

 No other action is needed. 

 Turn 3:

The French gain no successes on 3 dice, and the British gain no Successes on 2 dice.  Their will be no Commands this turn! Since the French have more dice, they win! They choose to go first to press their advantage. 


The Algiere continues to angle low to try and get some sniper Torpedo shots at the HMS Shannon, while the French Destroyer does the same. 

 The British Invincible tries to gain height, and turn to use Broadsides on the oncoming French Heavy Cruiser.  The French seem game and rise to the challenge, moving to parallel the British ship. 

 Meanwhile, the HMS Shannon tries to fall into position trailing the Invincible.   


With the French closing the range, Captain Hollande decides to use his Heavy bow turret on the Invincible, while his port Light batteries try and suppress the Shannon.  He passes a Command Check for Target Priority and relays the orders. 

 The Saint Louis forward Turret fires on the British Battle Cruiser, but the shells fail to find their mark.  Normally, the Saint Louis has 5 Firepower at Medium range, but it is reduced 1 as the Invincible is a Cruiser sized target, and the Heavy Battery is for Battleships.

 However, the Light Batteries still do not have the power and range to even harm the Shannon.

 Return fire from the Invincible’s rear turret fails to find its mark as well. 

 The Algiere launches a barrage of Air Torpedoes at the trailing Shannon.  There are 8 dice in the Torpedo attack!  5 look like they are on target, but the Shannon’s Point Defense crews destroy two inbound torpedoes.  3 are still potential hits, but they are all cancelled out by the Cruiser’s armored belt.  This causes 3 Friction markers on the Shannon!

 The Shannon targets the Saint Louis, but her guns are designed for other cruisers and not Battleship class opponents.  Therefore, at the range her bow, stern, and starboard batteries are all reduced to 1 dice each.  The Starboard batteries suffer from a malfunction, but the bow Battery strikes the Saint Louis.  The joy is short lived as the shell bounces harmlessly off the ship’s armor.

 The Fantassin also fires a torpedo barrage at the Shannon.  This has 4 in it!  The Shannon manages to take out 1 of these torpedoes, and one simply misses.  2 are potential hits and they strike vulnerable parts of the ship due to their high angle approach.  That is 2 Hits for the End turn.   


The HMS Shannon’s two hits peel her armor down to 6, but there is no further damage.  Repair crews also manage to repair the Malfunction in her starboard batteries.

The HMS Invincible’s fire continues to rage and reduces her armor 1 level.  However, fire crews manage to put it out before it can cause further damage.  The Bow Turret is still inoperable. 

The British manage to remove 6 of 7 Friction points off of the Shannon, reducing her to 1 Friction.

Turn 4:

Both sides roll for Initiative.  The French and British both score 1 success, so French retain the advantage.  They choose to go first again.  


The Algiere immediately succeeds at a Reload command to prepare another Torpedo barrage.  The ship then turns to give chase to the fleeing HMS Shannon. 

 The Invincible continues to speed up and makes for the safety of an oncoming squall and then international waters.  Captain Hargrave has her drop altitude to help gain speed. 

The Fantassin speeds up to stay in the race and continue to harass the fleeing HMS Shannon.  However, her Torpedo Tubes are still empty. 

Finally, Captain Mosley commands his crew to go All Ahead Full, and they poor on as much steam as they can!  They also drop altitude to gain speed, but the speed gains are somewhat off set by Friction as the boilers had been cooled by the earlier altitude changes.

The Saint Louis gains speed to try and stay caught up to pound the Invincible.  However, she stays higher to limit return fire.  The two ships prepare to exchange close range fire.


The Saint Louis readies her Bow and Stern Heavy Battery turrets.  The height difference reduces their Firepower, as does the scale of the target.  However, at close range there is still plenty of dice!  The broadside roars, and the Invincible takes 7 hits, three are deflected by armor, but 4 more sink home.  That leaves her with 1 Friction markers as well. 

HMS Shannon tries to get some payback on the Algiere, and fires her Stern and Starboard weapons.  However, the Starboard weapons fail to fire again!  One shell from the stern turret pings off the French Cruiser’s armor. 

The Algiere returns fire with her fully loaded Air Torpedo spread.  The Shannon is hit hard again.  Point defense and Armor protect her from a few Torpedoes, but 4 hit home into her weakened armor.

The Invincible fires its Starboard light batteries and the stern turrets Heavy Batteries at the Saint Louis as they parallel each other.  The height saves the French ship from the brunt of the shells, but the Light batteries suffer an ammunition shortage, while 2 shells from the 15 inch cannons ping loudly off the Saint Louis’ armored belt. 

The French Destroyer hangs back and calls in the fall of shot to her sister ship using her wireless.    


The British have to determine further damage.  The Invincible loses 4 more Armor Points, making her a sitting duck!  Plus, her Rudder is Jammed by the shell fire.  The HMS Shannon is Crippled from internal damage and loses 4 more armor as well!

Captain Hargrave of the HMS Invincible decides to Strike his Colors after failing a check.  Capt. Mosley refuses, even though his ship is crippled. 

The British roll a 10 to remove Friction, so all friction is removed. 

With that, the British decide to call it a game!


The Invincible and Shannon were escorted by the French flotilla to a French controlled Aeroport in Tangiers.  There they were interned and the crew put under house arrest at a nearby French base.  The accommodations were not 5-star, but they were as good as any French sailor would receive.  

Eventually, the Foreign Office managed to negotiate a release of the two ships back to British authority.  However, it was only after French officials had plenty of time to inspect and document the two ships specifications very closely.  There was also some back room exchanges of money in Switzerland involved.  

Overall, it was an embarrassing start to the Invincible classes career.  Two more hulls had all ready been started in Great Britain, and work did not stop on them.  However, the Admiralty were quick to begin design and production on a replacement class for the Invincible.  

Meanwhile, the French squadron was treated as National heroes in the French press.... for a few days anyway.  The captains were hosted at a State Dinner in Paris.  The Officers were invited to high society events.  The crewmen were bought drinks in North African taverns.  They were convenient props to help unite the people around the glory of the French Republic.  Soon, the French Squadron were back to business as usual patrolling the North African coastline.     

No need to count up the points.  The French convincingly beat the British squadron off the coast of North Africa.  The British took 11 hits to the French 0.  Ouch!  What accounted for such a lopsided Victory?

1.       The British losing their forward turret on the Invincible due to a low percentage shot that they failed to fix in subsequent turns due to poor repair rolls, or needing successes for more pressing issues.  With that turret out of action, there went one of their best hopes for hurting the Saint Louis.  

2. The British got Torpedoed to death!  The D'Iberville is an Air Torpedo cruiser carrier, and it had a Captain with 4 command dice!  Ouch, that means it could easily Re-Load IF the French Admiral had any Commands to give.  The British really did not have a strong counter to this and really could have benefitted from an escort or two instead of another cruiser.  This would have allowed them to use overlapping Point Defense to help defend against the Air Torpedo swarm. 

3. The British did not use their improved speed to get them to where they wanted to be.  The French led with their Heavy, and the British flew straight at it.  Instead, they should have avoided the Saint Louis and targeted the smaller ships.  

Overall, how did the game hang together?  Some of the big changes in the game system were to change how the modifiers work for hitting.  In essence, I stripped out any modifiers that impacted the Target Numbers and replaced them with Modifiers that impacted the number of dice rolled instead.  This worked really well, and was easier to remember.  It also allowed for a greater range of possibilities for the player, but still had an impact.  For example, a low number of dice being rolled tended to cause Ammo rolls.  Ammo Rolls can take a weapon system out of action until repaired.  As a player, you had to decide if the risk was worth the reward.  Frequently, it was not and it was better to get closer. 

I also increased the number of hits needed to get a Friction marker from 1:1 to 3:1 from guns.  This meant long range shooting had less chance of causing Friction than up close work.  Combined with the new Modifiers, it gave the commander's a reason to close in and mix it up!  It also gave a clear role for "Sniper" ships like escorts and cruisers with Air Torpedoes as they can cause Friction at range easier than guns.  Finally, ships were not getting overwhelmed with Friction Markers like when it was 1:1, but it still was a hinderance.  

Finally, some small tweaks like Escorts giving extra Command Dice for initiative, waiting to resolve hits until the End Phase, and Striking the Colors rules all added some more depth to the game.  The old versions had no Morale rules, so the Striking the Colors was a big add that really helps define the "endgame".    

I am not going to break down ship performance yet, since I will need more data.  However, I used a spreadsheet to calculate Operational Values, and it seems to have appropriately costed Battle Cruisers and the D'Iberville compared to other war ships.  That is just on first glance though.  More testing is needed.       

This is Version 4 of the rules, and I think they are well on their way to completion and publication.  However, more Playtesting will be needed.  Excelsior! 

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Monday, December 14, 2020

On The Painting Desk: Ancients from Victrix and More


We are closing in on the end of 2020.  For many reasons it feels a bit like a lost year.  Despite the chaos and sadness in the world, I managed to deplete and refresh my "Pile of Shame" a couple of times.  However, as I go into the end of the year, there were a couple of things I wanted to tidy up before 2021.  

One of my goals for 2020 was to try to paint what I purchased.  This year, I purchased a few things: 

1. Victrix War Elephants

2. Victrix Greek Light Cavalry

3. 4Ground Gangster Terrain

4. Brigade Aeronefs

Let's check in and see where we are at with these projects?  

Victrix Greek Light Cavalry

Once I finished off all my Copplestone Casting gangsters, I ordered some Ancients.  In that batch I got these Cavalry and the War Elephants.  The Republican Romans were on back order, and I had to replace the order much later in the year.  Too late to get them in the painting queue. 

These guys give me a nice unit for Men of Bronze, Heirs of Empire, and Wars of the Republic.  Not much to say about painting them really.  I had just finished painting my 6mm armies, so it was a difficult transition going back to 28mm.  

I have never been a fan of painting cavalry as it feels like a 10 man squad is making me do twice the work thanks to the horses.  Horses scare me to paint, but they have been turning out fine lately.  I still have a ways to go to make them look more "natural" but these are good enough for the tabletop.... at least in my armies anyway! 

Victrix African War Elephants

I was surprised that I was able to get two Elephants out of this kit.  I was only expecting one.  It also came with crew to make Romans, Successor, or Numidian Elephants.  If I had been smart, I would have made the crew swappable..... but I am not a smart person.  

I decided to just base them on washers because..... I had them handy!  Perhaps that is "minimizing" their impact on the table, but I like it.  I was glad I had some leftover transfers from my Macedonian Pikeman to help jazz up the shields on the towers.  

On these models I used a combination of Army Painter mini paints and Apple Barrel Big Box Acrylic paints.  The Elephant skin tones were mostly the cheap acrylic paints, with a nice Army Painter wash.  The base was also just cheap acrylics with cheap moss scattered across it.  

Below is a terrible picture of the War Elephants deployed on the shelf with the Macedonians. 

4ground Gangster Buildings

One of the goals of 2020 was to get some nice terrain to go with my Copplestone Casting Gangsters, so I could take some photos.  I wanted to add some nicer photos to Turf War from my collection so I could post the rules on Wargames Vault.  

Thankfully, 4ground had a line of pre-painted terrain that fit my needs really well.  I ordered some from Noble Knight Games about mid-year.  I orders 5 buildings from the "Chicago Way" line.  They were 3 Shotgun Houses, Oldfield Tires, and Southham's Tobacco Shop.  

These are very nice kits, but maybe even a bit too detailed for what I needed.  Each one took me about 3 hours to put together and that was a bit more than I wanted it to take.  However, there no denying that they look amazing on the table.  

Here is an example of the Shotgun house.

Each model has full access to the interior for taking your fights indoors.  Annoyingly, I kept putting the doors in backwards!  I was also really impressed that Southam's had actual "glass" to put in the windows too.  Each store model also had really great little posters and adverts that really "bling up" the model.  

Aeronef Fleets

I grabbed these up in order to start doing playtesting for V4 of Castles in the Sky.  I sold the work to Osprey, but have since decided on a few updates I wanted to make to it.  Therefore, since V4 is pretty different to the ones I had on the blog in the past, I need to test it further.  

To that end, I purchased the French and British Grand Fleet packs from a distributor.  They are the older sculpts, but will do nicely for what I need.  Below is what the French Fleet started as:

Each "Grand Fleet" probably has more Escort class vessels than I need but I like the look of the rest of the fleets.  The stacks and masts were a bit of a challenge, so I just skipped the masts on most of mine.  This is closed to WWI than Victorian, so I wanted them to look a bit more modern.  

Here is what I have at this point....

This will probably be all the French ships I need for Castles in the Sky playtesting.  I have 1 Battleship, 1 Heavy Cruiser, 2 Cruisers, 2 Light Cruisers, and 5 Destroyers of 2 different classes.  A pretty sizable flotilla.  

That of course led me to the British Fleet I will need to act as the OpFor during my games. 

The Brits have 2 Battlecruisers ( of two different makes), 2 cruisers, 3 light cruisers, and 5 destroyers/escorts of various types.  I still have a Battleship left to paint, but did not need it in the immediate future so left it out of the fleet for now.       

So, I still have enough extra ships to build onto both forces, but they are superfluous to need for the moment.  I also still have some 6mm models for more Light Cavalry, but again I don't need them at the moment so they will stay unpainted until I do need them.  

Final Thoughts
I definitely sprinted in the painting Queue at the end of the year.  I wanted as many painting projects wrapped up as I could before 2021 started.  I wanted a clean slate for the New Year.   

Sadly, my Roman Republicans did not make it to me in time to work on in 2020.  That will be my big goal for 2021.  There goes most of my painting goal for next year!  I will need them by November as I think that is when Wars of the Republic will be released.   

So, that ends me around 130+ models for the year.  A bit shy of last year, but I had a cracking start to 2019 due to traveling.  

Monday, December 7, 2020

Review: Last Days Seasons- Osprey Games


I had previously reviewed Last Days by Ash Barker.  The game is a model vs. model skirmish where two rival survivor bands struggle to survive during the Zombie apocalypse.  The game focuses on warband vs. warband where the zombies function as a complication or friction to achieving the objectives.  

Seasons is the first supplement to Last Days.  It expands on the campaign element found in the Last Days booklet.  This allows players to create a year long campaign where the changing weather and conditions impact your games, campaign, and survival.  

Pre-COVID, Ash had started a campaign on his Guerilla Miniature Games site.  However, COVID made continuing and completing it unfeasible at the time.  

The main reason I picked up this book was two fold: 

1. I love a good campaign system
2. I wanted to see how the rules expanded on the "survival" aspect of the genre
3. I also have a survival horror game in the works, so this is grist for the mill

With that being said, you may want to check out what I said about Last Days before you proceed.  I will be trying to focus on what is new and unique to this book below.  

So, let's shamble into the review.....

Things I Liked
This book gives a definitive end to the campaign.  You are going to play 12 months, 3 games per season of Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter.  When that time is over, the campaign can be over..... or you could decide to make the campaign last years.  Either way, there is a clear END state.  

The campaign adds managing details like food supply, shelter, sickness, clothing, and other basics for survival.  After all, the world as we know it is over and this puts the focus clearly on the SURVIVAL part of survival horror.  It is more than just surviving the Zombies and other groups.  Each character in the group has additional conditions to track for their survival.  They have four simple states, Not Effected, Suffering, Critical, or Dead.  Critical characters are more of a detriment but can be nursed back to health.      

The game adds additional characters to the game.  I always think this is a plus.  It includes adding horses.  This is a good add as they are frequently part of the genre as well.  

Different types of leaders can resolve some of the conditions for hunger, thirsty, cold, etc. differently.  This is a nice touch as it makes that initial choice of leader type so much more relevant. Who suffers from the effects is also dictated by the type of model it is (i.e. selfish, Selfless, or Trained).  

The game adds some catch-up mechanisms in the form of Group-Leveling.  This can provide extra Experience for skills and abilities.  This allows players who can not participate as frequently in the campaign to stay current with other players.  Plus, groups and players can jump in half way through a campaign as well.  

Probably most importantly, these rules add Co-op and Solo play to the game.  This is a genre that seems tailor made for this type of game play.  The main threat of the zombie is by increasing their numbers.  However, they also add different rules to manage the actual character types as well, making the command and control of these models to be more difficult.  Therefore, the friction in the solo/co-op mode is more about managing the personalities of your survivors and less about zombies.  This is a pretty clever way to add "friction" to solo games since the friction in the two-player version WAS the zombies.  

Co-op Play has a three special scenarios to play.  With some creativity, I am sure you could also apply some of the core campaign rules to follow a co-op survivor group through a Seasons campaign too.  A GM might be helpful for a full Seasons Co-op campaign.  

Things I Did Not Like
The game comes with new tracking sheets which is good.  However, I can see how some players will not like the additional Post-game activities that add to the "homework" aspect of running a campaign.  Tracking who is suffering, who is critical, what your leader type is and how it impacts certain things, etc.  All of these additions impact the gameplay by who can and can not participate, or certain mods that could apply; however it does require more work on the players part.  Worse, most of this work is outside of the game itself.  

I personally do not have an issue with it, but could see how some players will be less interested in this type of experience. 

Secondly, I am disappointed these types of rules and details were NOT in the core book.  I know there are space limitations when you publish but I feel like these are "core" rules that should have been in an Osprey Hardcover book.  It would have made the original Last Days a much more comprehensive and complete product.  As much as I like the additional artwork, it was only another 80 page hard cover supplement book.  

I also would have liked if some of the PDF free content such as the Chaos Generator for randomized survivor bands would have found their way into the book as well.  However, I think those came out after this book was being published.  

Meh and Other Uncertainties

The rules added 1 new "Season" related scenario in addition to the scenarios in the core rulebook.  More scenarios is never a bad thing!   The Spring campaign involves flooding, the summer a wildfire, the fall has supply carrying zombies, and the winter scenario involves a blizzard.  

In addition, the game also adds a Weather table as a complication based on the Season.  That means any of the previous scenarios can be used with seasonally appropriate impacts such as wind, rain, heat, and snow.  

There is new seasonal scavenger tables, master skills, equipment, perks and weapons.  Tools like flare pistols, winter weather gear, and water purification tablets all play a role in making sure your survivors can.... ah..... survive?  

There are also new post-game roles that can be performed.  This expands the list from the main campaign and makes it a bit tougher deciding what to do.  Do you mount guard, build, or gather firewood?  More decisions equal more fun!   

Seasons also adds additional details about Leadership Challenges.  This seemed like a big miss with the initial rules since that is a staple of the genre.  Again, your "leader" type drives how this challenge is resolved and dealt with.  I like that this initial choice continues to drive mechanics in the campaign.  

Final Thoughts  
Most of the add-ons here are more for flavor but this does a good job of adding depth and interest into the campaign system.  There are a lot more decisions about how you allocate resources and it adds a lot more "survival" to the survival horror theme.  

One of the flaws in the original game, I felt was how easy the campaign was on the players.  You could generally get what you wanted to a character.  However, Seasons adds more complexity and decision making.  Therefore, the campaign is much more balanced and less player friendly than it previously was.  To me that was a needed change.  

This supplement adds more sauce to your meal.  However, it is mostly campaign related and doe snot really change the normal gameplay.  It is mostly pre and post-game detail.  Some may not appreciate the extra tracking, but I think the added details help add depth, character, and add-on to the Soul of the Game.       

The Solo and Co-op Rules are a huge add in these dark days.  The group leveling rules are also needed in an extended campaign game like this.  

Overall, if you are playing/planning a campaign of Last Days this is a pretty good book to add!