Monday, August 30, 2021

Wargame Design: Creating Character in Wargames


In addition to wargaming, I also play Role-Playing Games (RPGs) and board games.  One of the most interesting aspects of RPGs is how individual characters can interact with the game world to achieve their objectives.  This at a high-level is not much different from war games, and in fact RPGs are a "modern" off shoot of wargaming.  The roots of RPG is in wargaming. 

Of course, in an RPG two mechanically identical characters can end up being completely different characters.  This differentiation is done via the "role" part of Role-Playing Games.  There are a variety of tricks and characterizations decent role-players can bring to a character to make each one feel incredibly different.  However, most RPGs also use mechanics to help shape different roles or archetypes that players can fulfill, such as the bard, barbarian, thief, and wizard archetypes.  

In wargaming, there is very limited "Role-Playing" elements.  However, as designers, you still want to capture the idea that individual models or units are "unique".  Typically, gamers do not want to play a number of faceless, joyless, boring, goons all the time.  No instead they want to play the 14th Uhlans, the Iron Brigade, Astro-dog, the Joy Hill Gang, etc.  Thankfully, as designers there are a few ways to add this level of "character" to your games.  

Here are a few things you need to consider when adding in "character" elements to a wargame:

  1. Genre
  2. Scope
  3. Focus


Some style of games demand more character elements than others.  In certain historical time periods, such as Horse and Musket; the nature or personality of commanders often comes into play mechanically.  I feel this mainly derives from how so many books focusing on the period are using the "Great Man of History" lens to tell the story (which is a side tangent).  Therefore, a dithering commander may slow a pursuit, or a dashing one may allow more aggressive movement.  Typically, it is the character of the commanding officer that matters most to gameplay.  These character traits are often built into the Command and Control mechanics.  You tend to see this less in Ancients, Medieval, and Modern games for a variety of reasons. Certain genres have certain tropes that players like to have followed, and as a designer it never hurts to embrace some of the tropes.  They are tropes for a reason. 


The Scope of the game is a bigger impact.  A smaller, model vs model skirmish can put a lot more emphasis on individuals and how they are different than others around them.  The two main methods to do this are Stat line changes that lend themselves to various ways to play, or special rules.  There are whole games that only use named characters such as Arena Rex, Bot Wars, Mercs, and others.  Personally, I am not a fan as I prefer to make my own characters thanks.  

As the scope increases, these individual emphasis turns into unit vs unit features.  For example, a Scot's Greys Heavy cavalry unit may fight differently than a Old Guard Cuirassier unit.  However, this is typically done via the same method as stat line adjustments or special rules.  However, the "character" is not the individual soldiers but the doctrine and reputation of the unit itself.  Unit vs unit games it would make no sense to make individual model differentiation. 


The last element to consider is the Focus of your game.  What is your game trying to accomplish and highlight?  Your Design Goals will be the key component to review and think about when determining this level of the game.  Some games will have a higher level of "RPG" type character interaction built into the mechanics to achieve their Design Goals.  Any game that includes an "Action" outside of shooting/fighting allows for more character to be used by the player to resolve a situation.  For example, instead of shooting the player may opt to "talk it out", hide from danger, set a trap, etc.  

Not all games need this level of detail depending on what the game wants to focus on.  For example, the infamous Battle of North Africa board game dealt exclusively with logistics, and included the evaporation rate of fuel in different types of containers.  The focus has little to do with units or models and instead is focusing on Logistics.  In this situation, character does not matter as the Focus is not right.  

Another example is an Age of Sail game.  You could add Character two ways.  The ship itself could have defined characteristics unique to each named ship AND you could have named captains with unique traits as captain.  In this example, the focus is right for Character in a wargame. 

How to Create "Character" in a Wargame

Now that we have talked about when it is appropriate to have "Characters" in your wargame, let's talk about how you can go about adding them.  First, let's define what I mean by "character".  In this case, a character is a model/unit who's role or abilities are influenced by a defining characteristic.  

For example, if the soldier is supposed to be "bookish and shy" how does this defining characteristic impact the battlefield?  How do you translate the defining characteristic into abilities or role?  

I have identified a few methods to add "character" to wargames:

  1. Stats
  2. Special Rules/Chrome 
  3. Special Access
  4. RPG Lite
  5. Campaigns

As the name implies, the model or units stats are some how impacted by the defining characteristic of a unit.  For example, the Iron Brigade was a highly motivated unit with a strong battlefield record.  Therefore, on the table top the unit may have improved Morale or Leadership stats to reflect their heightened reputation.  

Special Rules/Chrome

In this case, the Character's defining characteristic is represented by a special rule that other model's do not have access too.  For example, in old Necromunda the leader of a gang could rally nearby units to  re-roll pin tests.  

Special Access

In this case, choosing the unit allows access to different units or structures in your force construction or mission objectives.  Essentially, the character allows you to have special access to something that is normally not allowed or available in the rules. 

RPG Lite

The rules allow access to various actions or activities beyond shooting/fighting.  This allows a player to show a models character on the field by doing something other that just shooting and fighting.  Perhaps talk to a foe, read a book to gain access to knowledge, create something, etc.  For example, in Frostgrave a Wizard can cast a spell instead of shooting/fighting. 


By playing a linked series of games, a model/unit can gain "character" by gaining buffs/de-buffs via action or results of action.  This makes the units have an individual character based on their history with the game/player.  For example, a Survivor in Last Days can earn a skill that improves their ability to perform a certain action, or take an injury that makes them less likely to perform actions.  They have earned a defining characteristic via game play. 


Role-Playing games allow a lot of scope and depth for character as they are the main focus of those types of games.  They often have various mechanical hooks to differentiate between archetypes, but two models with the exact same stats can play totally differently based on the 'Role" aspect of Role-Playing games.  RPGs are an off-shoot of wargames therefore wargames also have a capacity for players to build characters into their games too. However, they will function and integrate into the game differently than in an RPG based game. 

There are some types and styles of games where the integration of "character" is better suited.  At the minimum all wargames can add a story telling component to them, with little of no impact on game play.  However, some genres, scope and focus are better suited for adding "characters" whose abilities and role are influenced by a defining character trait.  A wargame does not need "characters" to be a good wargame.  

Like all game design, characters are a tool that can be used to help build out and meet the design goals of the designer.  It is up to the designer to choose the best tools for the job, and Characters are just another tool.  Use them wisely! 

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Monday, August 23, 2021

Review: Absolute Emperor- Osprey Games

I will start this review with my usual caveat.  I really do not know that much about the Napoleonic Wars.  I have been interested in them, but have kept my distance.  The pageantry, uniforms, combined arms, and of course the big hats have always been of interest but...... the many rulesets, depth of knowledge of the players, and so many models and painting have kept me away.  

To date, I have really only played Blucher with any regularity.  The joy there being I have been playing it with the cards.  I have La SalleChosen Men, Black Powder and a few others but have never quite pulled the trigger on Nappies.  To be honest, making the large units and all the nomenclature has scared me off for the most part.  

It was these factors that made me interested in Absolute Emperor.  I read through the introduction and recognized a kindred design spirit.  He was advocating for "Big Battles with Small Armies" which is an approach I have found near and dear to my heart.  In fact it was one of my main design goals with Men of Bronze, Heirs of Empire and Wars of the Republic In addition, abstraction and units acting as a foot print for larger elements was another theme that matched my style.  Finally, he was a strong advocate for not having to re-base anything!  Basing is the bane of wargaming.  I felt I had found a kindred design spirit!  

This intrigued me enough that I wondered if I had finally found the Napoleonic wargame that would get me to pull the trigger on Nappies and buy some models.  With all that pre-amble out of the way.  Let's get into Absolute Emperor and see what is under the Shako.....

The French army at the bottom is for the Waterloo scenario, that gives you an idea of size of a big game. 

Things I Liked

Well, I always like when a game starts or has some design notes.  This game starts off in the Introduction laying out what to expect in the rules and what NOT to expect as well.  This will make it much easier to judge if the game accomplished what it set out to do.  Plus, I really value this glimpse behind the curtain and into the mind of the designer.  

As I have eluded to, the game is scale and model agnostic.  The rules were written for 28mm, but there is discussion of how to use 2mm to 54mm scales in the rules.  In addition, the game strongly encourages you to avoid re-basing!  Those are strong elements that I like in my wargames.  To be base agnostic, the rules use a standard "frontage" size that allows you to use various basing to meet the needs.  Infantry is 6 inches, and Cavalry is 8 inches, with different scales modifying the frontage up and down.  Therefore, I can probably still make use of my Blucher cards to get a game in.  

The footprint of each unit is supposed to be a Division of troops.  Now, naming conventions in Napoleonic warfare for units is pretty all-over the place, so this is the naming convention this game uses.  These footprints are the main bodies of troops.  The game abstracts skirmishers and battalion batteries into the shooting mechanics.  It assumes the 4 inch space between units in a firefight is full of people fighting and dying in these units.  The exact deployment of brigades and battalions is not relevant to the rules.  This aspect reminds me of Blucher since the focus of the two games is at the same level.    

One aspect of Napoleonic warfare I had not appreciated before was how up close and personal so much of the fighting was.  My games of Blucher and reading these rules have made this much clearer to me.  Musket range is generally equivalent to charge range, which is equivalent to movement ranges.  Sometimes, movement range is further!  Therefore, there could theoretically be a lot of "free" maneuver where enemy firepower does not come into play.  What constricts movement and maneuver appears to be the density of the formations due to command rather than firepower.  Now, with this ruleset and the few others I have dabbled in this "truth" of the period fighting is obvious to me.  

The game abstracts and simplifies limbering and unlimbering a great deal.  It also allows Interspersion freely as long as the unit can completely clear the other. Both steps helps the game avoid so much of the "If This/Than That" of this periods wargames. 

Each Corp Commander has Elan points.  These can be used to give Corp Commands and impact upon gameplay, establish initiative, but more importantly they are also the Victory Points used to decide the winner of a game.  You can lose Elan by using it as a resource, losing Division, etc.  If you defeat an enemy Division, there is also a chance you can overrun them and gain Elan.  If a Corp Commander is ever reduced to 0 Elan, his entire corp retreats.  As Corps are removed from the game and forced to retreat, it can cause an army to collapse very quickly as nearby Corps must make a test to not switch to defensive or retreat orders.      

The first 8 pages are introduction.  Pages 8-33 are the basic game rules.  The last 34-42 is advanced rules.  43- 54 is setting up the game and scenarios.  56-61 is a walk through of a game using Scenario 1.  The last few pages are author's notes and appendix stuff.  I like the format of the book as it allows me, the Nappie Newbie to get my head around the core gameplay rules, then layer in some of the eccentricities of the period, and the walk through at the end helped me put it all together.    

Things I Did Not Like

One interesting choice I noted was that units can change formation in this game.  Considering the "scale" of the game as being divisional, this seemed like an odd. tactical element in a high-level army game.  Different formation also impacted firepower, movement rates, etc.  I am considering this a convention of the genre so that is why the author felt compelled to add it.  Honestly, such details at the army scale should not matter much as the unit officers should handle that level of detail.  The unit is just a footprint.  

The game makes use of single based Corp Commander and Army commander models.  This is to facilitate the Command Radius mechanic so common in Horse and Musket style games.  I prefer a more abstracted commander level and am not a fan of radius.  However, this also seems to be a staple of the genre.  One interesting aspect was that you also placed your order token under the base of the Corp Commander to be revealed in the right phase of the game.   

Meh and Other Uncertainties

These rules include "Conforming".  This means that when a unit charges, they are aligned "face to face" in the battle.  Flank attacks are lined up on the side, and rear attacks on the rear.  In addition, shooting is always straight forward from the edges of the unit.  No firing at an angle.  This may not be to some people's taste, but to me they seem like a good way to "simplify" the battlespace and keep the game orderly.  I point out the conforming aspect of the rules as this approach was surprisingly controversial in Men of Bronze.  For an abstracted game like this, I prefer it; but other opinions vary a lot.   

Combat in this game is attritional in nature.  This fits the period very well.  Each unit can take 8 hits, and at 5 hits it moves down in skill level which impacts its target numbers.  Various hits during combat or shooting may also cause other effects.  Artillery uses a d4, but can be destroyed from a single combat hit.  You may need more d8s and d4s than most gamers have in their collection.  In addition, most modifiers are simple dice add or subtract but a Quick reference Sheet will be useful to recall which apply when.  I did not see one in the book, but have not checked online yet.  

The game has several pages of advanced rules to allow more experience Napoleonic gamers to add things they particularly like such as Horse Artillery, Guards units, and Lancers.  There is also some National traits and historical Commander Elan to quibble over.  There are rules for scaling it down as well so instead of playing at Army level you are playing at Corp or lower levels.  There are rules for smoke, ammo, secret deployment, terrain generation, and other period flavor elements as well.  Finally, there are some rules for list building that I am sure will be controversial.    

There are 6 scenarios.  Three are relatively large, famous battles; Eylau, Wagram, and Waterloo.  Three are smaller engagements designed to help new players escalate their games as they build forces and learn the rules, they are the battle of Bumville 1-3.  There is also a walk through of what playing the game with Scenario 1 might look like. 

The allied army for the Waterloo Scenario.

Final Thoughts 

This is the type of wargame I would design.  It uses a high degree of abstraction to get the right feel of the battles, but with smaller numbers of troops needed.  You are maneuvering footprints and rolling dice pools to get results.  Modifiers are about adding or subtracting dice looking for a target number based on skill level of the unit.  The game adheres to a couple of genre conventions that I would probably have done away with such as formations and Command Radius, but they work within the context of the game and help Nappie Newbies get a feel for the period and battles.  

Since this game follows a design ethos similar to my own, I am pretty excited about it!  Will old grognards of the genre like these rules?  I have no idea!  However, as a Nappie Newbie they really seem to hit the spot.  They are easily digested, seem to give a flavor of the period, and are an easy gateway into the period.  Even the biggest battles look like doable painting projects with each division being about sixteen 28mm models that will help Newbies get into the game, and still be able to have forces for Chosen Men, Rebels and Patriots, La Salle and  Sharpe's Practice and other games as well. 

Of course, I will want to be odd and use 6mm or 10mm to give me that "army" feel and then use them for Blucher or Est Sans Resultant as well.  If I am not too busy with Ancients, I might have a 2022 personal project!  

Monday, August 16, 2021

Match Report: Blood Bowl- Dark Elf vs Ork


Lord Summervale: Welcome to Freebooter Field in the Deep North- Southern Regional Conference.  Today we will be watching the opening games of the season between the Dark Elf Black Guards and the Ork Skulsmash Reeverz here on Cabalvision IV.  As always, I will be joined in the booth by my good friend and great Blood Bowl mind, Mad Johan.  

Mad Johan: Thanks Lord Summervale, always good to be here. 

Lord Summervale: It feels like only yesterday that the season came to a close, and a new one is all ready upon us.  Why, I haven't aged a bit!  Last year, late in the season the Black Guards sailed into the Deep North- Southern Regional Conference in order to play Blood Bowl.  

Mad Johan: It was a big accomplishment as the conference is land locked! 

Lord Summervale: The Black Guard had a promising opening start against the Elf Superiors.  However, the injury to their team captain Mori-Thai the Velvet Crush led to a mediocre season overall.  However, thanks to the favor of Khaine and some time spent in a Cauldron of Blood, she is back and so is her team! 

They have travelled into the dark lands and here to Freebooter Field to take on their first opponent of the season, the Skulsmash Reeverz led by Grimgrod Rotgut.  The Orks have been a veteran team in the conference.  They have a decent record and a dangerous fan base.  Mad Johan, what do you think the keys to the game are going to be?  

Mad Johan: The Ork game is easy.  Smash enough Elves into the turf to send most of them to the dug-out, then walk in for the score.  This is a game the Skulsmash Reeverz have done well against many other teams in the Conference.  I expect to see more of the same style.  

Mori-Thai has to to be a bit more precise.  They need to use the precise application of force to create an opening, and then use their speed to capitalize on it.  That is a weakness in the Ork team.  However, it will be tough to find a weak spot to apply force at.  All these Orks are tough.  

Lord Summervale: Indeed Johan.  You are a great Blood Bowl mind.  The two team captains have gone to the center of the field  for the coin toss.....

.... it looks like the Black Guards have won the toss and elected to receive.  

Mad Johan: A good strategy as that ensures their best players are available for the drive, before the Orks start taking them out. 

Lord Summervale: The pair of Dark Elf runners are in the back field, with Mora-Thai back there  directing her line.  The Dark Elves have gone light up front, and put their Blitzers out wide.  The Orks have their Black Orks up front, ready to try and push through early.  Blitzers are also wide for them and Rotgut in the back field as a safety. 

Boom! The kick is up! 

Mad Johan: The Dark Elves start to move before the ball comes down, they step away from the line and start to make a cage...... they are lucky the Ref did not call that illegal shift!

Lord Summervale: The kick is short, and Raz-al-Slam scoops it up and quickly finds himself approaching the line of scrimmage surrounded in a nice Dark Elf cage, heading to the far side. 

Mad Johan:   Darveck the Flayer rushes the Near Side and blasts Ruk-ruk with a block that was just a blur of movement.  I am not sure what the Dark Elf did, but I am pretty sure an Ork is not designed to bend that way.  Ouch! One of the Ork blitzers is all ready out.  

Lord Summervale: On the far side, the Ork Blitzer Gobsmack and a fellow Lineman seem to be holding up the Dark Elf progress.  However, a mis-timed block by Bowel Burna leaves a big gap in the Ork line, that Raz-Al-Slam darts through with a few blockers.  

Mad Johan: You can see the Black Guards speed now as the Orks try to re-group.

Lord Summervale: The Reeverz close in, but it doesn't look like enough as they drop back.  Rotgut tries to take the runner down, but is stiff armed away.  

Mad Johan: Wow, that was enough as Raz-Al-Slam darts into the end zone.   

Mad Johan: That drive showed off just what the Black Guards are capable of.  They managed to force a hole in the line and easily exploited it for the score.  

Lord Summervale: There is still plenty of time left on the clock, so the teams quickly gather to prepare for the kick-off.   

Val-Drakken the other Black Guard runner kicks it up and it is a high deep kick.  Rotgut is back to receive along with Runthugga.  The Orks are set-up on the line similar to the opening drive.  

Rotgut pulls in the ball and starts towards the line of scrimmage.  He picks up a couple of Line Orks as lead blockers.  Meanwhile, the Black Orks managed to split open a gap in the front line.  However, instead of Rotgut going through the gap, a Dark Elf Blitzer Korounous the Hunter comes barrelling up the center towards the Ork ball carrier! 

Mad Johan: I doubt that was how the play was drawn up.

Lord Summervale: Rotgut's lead blockers were able to handle the threat of the Black Guard Blitzer.  Indeed the Black Orks look like they are making a path to the end zone.

Mad Johan: The clock is ticking Summervale..... 

Lord Summervale: Mori-Thai herself heads into the scrum to show her team how it is done.  

On the Near side, Gutrippa is taken apart in a brutal block by Jaq the Knife, sending the Ork to the dug-out.  

Mad Johan: Did I see the flash of a blade there?  

Lord Summervale: The ref seemed to think it was clean? 

Mad Johan: Oh wow!  In the center, the Black Ork Bad Axe was just taken down by Darvek the Flayer in a blown block!  Ouch! 

Lord Summervale: That closed the alley for the Skulsmash Reeverz.  As the clock winds down, play devolves into a series of pointless pushing and shoving.  The Orks have no path to the endzone, and their drive splutters out at the center line.  

Mad Johan: That was NOT how the Orks wanted to perform in the first half.  They ended up with more people in the dug-out than the Dark Elves?  Unexpected.

Lord Summervale: With that, we are going to send you back to the Cabalvision IV tower for updates around the Olde World.  Here and now, the Black Guard are up 1-0 over the Skulsmash Reeverz, they will start with the ball for the second half, so they have plenty of time to tie it up.  See you back here soon, and remember that today's game is brought to you by Guillotine Razors, a cut above the rest.  


Lord Summervale: Welcome back to the second half of the match between the Dark Elf Black Guard and the Ork Skulsmash Reeverz.  The Black Guard are up by 1, but are getting ready to kick it to the Orks. Johan, any thoughts on what the Skulsmash Reeverz need to do here? 

Mad Johan: Score. 

Lord Summervale: Ah...... okay then!  

The Orks keep Rotgut and Runthugga back.  They stack the line, but their casualties are leaving them a bit ragged up front.  Meanwhile, the Dark Elves are playing back and away.  The Blitzers are in the wings, with the runners back.  Mori-Thai is playing back and has been able to flow to the point of the action all game so far.  

With that, Val-Drakken kicks the ball up to the Orks.  Rotgut easily pulls it in and the Ork drive begins. 

Mad Johan: Looking at the Ork line, I have never seen them so out-numbered! 

Lord Summervale: The Black Guard line bends as the Orks surge forward.  Gobsmacka drives hard and slips behind the line for a potential pass.  However, on the far side, Mora-Thai manages to slip past the Orks and is honing in on Rotgut who has the ball.  

Mad Johan: The wily Veteran manages to stiff arm the Velvet Crush away and maintains control of the ball.  

Lord Summervale: Again, they look to be going up the center as Bad Axe and Big Ammer drive the tip of the wedge into the Black Guard.  

As Rotgut gets to the line of Scrimmage, the Dark Elf runners move up to meet him.  

Mad Johan: In the big push, things went pear shaped for the Orks.  Two more managed to go down to the dug-out thanks to precise hits, or poor footing during their blocks.  You know what I always say Summervale.....

Lord Summervale: It is hard to win a game with half your team in the dug-out! 

Mad Johan: Exactly!

Reeverz Manager in Shock as ANOTHER Ork goes out!

Lord Summervale: Urleith Val-Drakken supported by the Flayer manage to level Rotgut.  The ball pops up, and somehow ends up in the hands of Raz-Al-Slam!  

Mad Johan:  In front of him is an open field, with only stunned and down Orks in front of him.   

Lord Summervale:  Raz-Al-Slam takes off up the field.  No one can touch him and he dashes into the end zone off the turn over.  The Black Guard are now up by two.  

Mad Johan: Dark Elf teams love to put the dagger in.

Lord Summervale: Looking at the clock, I think they just did.  

The two teams quickly gather back for a kick-off. The Orks in the dug-out, stay there.  I guess they are in no mood to play anymore.  

Boom! Val-Drakken puts the ball up again.  Runthugga pulls it in.  

Mad Johan: Looks like the Orks are content to just throw punches and try to make the Dark Elves pay.  

Lord Summervale: The Black Guard are too clever to mix it up, and try to play off.  It is enough to keep the Orks from scoring, but not enough to let the Reeverz get cheap hits.  

After some inconclusive stomping, pushing, shoving, and punching the ref calls the game.  The Ork fans start booing and hissing loudly as the home squad leaves the field.  

Mad Johan: A bit of an ugly and slow end.

Lord Summervale: Final thoughts and MVPs for the game, Johan? 

Mad Johan: The Skulsmash Reever gameplan was used against them!  The Black Guard came to play and they played tough.  Once they had the upperhand, they were merciless and pounded the ball home for the win.  

For MVPs on the Reeverz side, that is a tough call.  No one really stepped up at all.  Gobsmacka tried to be a deep threat, Big Axe and Bad Ammer did a lot of hitting but ultimately let the team down, and Rotgut was in a similar position.  In the end no one executed, so I think today I might as well roll a twelve sided dice for the answer.....

.... <Rolls dice>......

Looks like Spleenrippa is the MVP this game! 

Lord Summervale: Oh my..... 

Mad Johan: Now, on the Black Guard side of the ball we have a few options to talk about.  Darvek the Flayer had some strong hits, forced a turn over, took on the Black Orks, and threatened the Ork drive in the first half.  Raz-Al-Slam managed to score twice so that speaks for itself.  Finally, Jaq the Knife did a great job as a lineman holding the line against some tough opponents and came out on top, even taking an Ork out of the game.  Ultimately though, Raz-Al-Slam won the game for his team, so he has got to be the MVP! 

Lord Summervale: Thanks for the insights on the game.  

With that, I will turn you back over to the Cabalvision IV tower for ongoing Blood Bowl action across the Olde World.  Thanks for tuning in to Cabalvision IV to see the Black Guards defeat the Skulsmash Reeverz in the Deep North- Southern Regional Conference play.  

Until next time, remember Bludweiser; good to the last drop.  Good afternoon everyone. 

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Monday, August 9, 2021

On The Painting Desk: "It's (Not) a GUNDAM!" - Space Mecha

 On my, "Purchase" goals was some mecha from Dream Pod 9's range.  They were upsized mecha from the Jovian Chronicles universe to be used with their With the Lightnings rules.  I had built my own Space Mecha game called; Glittering Void that I wanted to use them with these rules.  

However, instead I found a set of ugly "Not-Gundam" plastic robots on Amazon.  I got 144 for about $14 USD.  These were only 10 cents a model as opposed to $10 a model.  I had plenty of them to chop up and they were cheap, so I had no regrets deciding to cut them into pieces and to start making space mecha out of them.  This would not be my first time using toys in my wargames.    

  This is what I started with.  Each one is about the size of a 28mm model but is made of hard plastic like a Green Army Man.  Still you can cut them with a knife or plastic cutter easily enough, and trim them with an exacto blade. You can see on the side how they can be cut up at the joints pretty easily.  

Looking at my previous battle reports, it was clear I needed some suits for the Earth Alliance and the New Olympians.  After I had those done, I could think about other factions.  I wanted a good selection of weaponry and suits for both sides of the battle.  Later, I could also make some Defense satellites, Fighters, and other craft from Sculpey as well.  I have some experience with scuplting Aeronautica Imperialis aircraft, so that seemed like an easy addition for later. 

I chose the top two designs to be the bulk of my troops.  The "Not Gundam" would be the Earth Alliance Hoplite suits while the "Not Gelgoog" in red next to it would be the bulk of the New Olympian forces.  I also decided to use the "Not Gyan" suit in the lower left corner in blue to be the basis for the Earth Alliance other suit types.  These Earth Alliance suits were intended to be more advanced than the front line Hoplite suits.  

The first thing I did, was cut the models up into various pieces so I could reposition them into more dynamic poses.  These guys would eventually go onto flying stands, so some more "flight" oriented positions seemed like a good way to go.  I was able to clip them behind the knees to bend and reposition their legs, cut them at the shoulder joints to reposition the arms, and do other various cuts and chops to put them in better positions.  I then used Green Stuff from Gale Force 9 to "tack" into place.  

After that, I had to think about weapons load outs.  The Earth Alliance used MAS Rifles which are essentially mass driver cannons, or "space age" slug throwers.  For those I dug in my bitz box and found some old first edition Warhammer 40K bolt guns.  I glued those straight on as the Earth Alliance used rifle type weaponry.  For the New Olympians I had some Eldar Guardian plastic weapons from the original metal/plastic Rogue Trader Guardian box.  I decided to actually mount these into the wrists of the New Olympians to represent their Beam Rifles.  These were suppose to be more hi-tech looking than a MAS Rifle. 

I also had some specialty weapons I wanted to add.  New Olympians had Heavy Beam Rifles that I used Eldar Melta-Guns for and mounted in the wrists as well.  The Earth Alliance had a Rocket Tube, which I used a Ork Plasma Gun for.  I also had an Earth Alliance Spartan mecha with a Combat Shield and Laser Axe, I decided to use a High Elf shield and a Ork Chainsword from 1st edition as well.  Lastly, I wanted some Swarm Missiles/Missile Pods which I just made out of Green Stuff.  

Finally, I wanted the Earth Alliance command suit to look similar but different to the Hoplite suits.  Therefore, I merged the Spartan style body of the "Not Gyan" with the arms of the "Not Gundam".  These gave them a distinct and more advanced looked, without disconnecting them from the Hoplite frontline suits.  

When all was said and done, I had two distinct forces of suits.  I had 9 for the Earth Alliance and 8 for the New Olympians.  This is what they looked like when I was done modelling.   

New Olympians: 

Earth Alliance: 


I now had all the suits I needed modeled up.  The next step was going to paint them all up.  I am interested to see how these paint up as they are not made of the normal plastic that I typically paint.  I also forgot to give them a wash of warm water before I started working on them, and now I have a feeling it is too late.  The wash is suppose to make it easier for paint to stick to the minis, as they maybe covered with industrial solvents and chemicals that impede painting.  What a comforting thought after I have handled them!   

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Monday, August 2, 2021

Battle Report: The Big Score- Turf War


Stitches had been right, Donnie was not taking Bobbie Tarantine's provocation lying down.  It was going to be war.  

Donnie had been in the gambling den's office when Stitches pulled Tony Baloney into the room.  The kid was still all shaken up, but he had enough wits about him to spill the beans to his boss.  Stitches had never seen Donnie turn red in the face like he did that night, and he knew then that Bobbie was going to go big or go home.  

"Stitches, gather up the crew.  It's time we taught those Double Dueces that we are not under their thumbs no more.  We're goin' our own way." 

The next week, Suzie Q got the info the boss had needed.  The Double Dueces had a small shop where they had stashed a safe.  Inside was supposedly a stash of incriminating photos and the like.  Tarantine had used the goods in the safe to blackmail the Commissioner to spring his girl Queenie out of the slammer.  That was the kind of juice that Donnie needed.  He knew getting the goods in the safe would be good for him, and a big loss for Bobbie.  

As a added bonus, Suzie had heard that Queenie herself was there after her stay at the concrete hotel.  Stitches was eager to pay her back for what she did to Big Knuckles and Tony.  However, he was pretty sure he would need to get in line, since big Knuckles had his own ideas.  As an added bonus, Donnie thought taking out Bobbie's main squeeze would add just that extra bit of jazz to make this an extra Big Score.  

That was how you made a big splash in this town! 

The Score

The Upper East Siders had staked a Gambling Den on this scenario, while the Double Deuces staked their new Cheap Hooch turf.  Since the Upper Eastsiders turf was worth double the Double Deuces, they got to choose to run a Big Score instead of a normal one.  In a Big Score, both sides choose a Score, and the Upper East Siders are trying to accomplish both!  This could score them +2 Rep and a Favor in addition to any other winnings!   

Donnie Ricketts and the Upper East Sides choose to play The Hit score, and secretly picked Queenie as the target of their Hit.  Meanwhile, Bobbie Tarantine and the Double Deuces choose the Safe Cracking Score, so the Upper East Siders would need to get into a locked safe and grab the goods inside.  

It's raining and the gangs will clash at dawn.  There are no other complications.  

The Gangs

During a Big Score, the normal gang limits are not in place.  This is the kind of score where everyone gets called to the table!  

The Upper East Siders will be lead by Donnie himself.  The only one not coming is Tony "Baloney" Maloney because Queenie put him in the hospital last week, and he was still recovering.  

Upper East Siders

Donnie Ricketts- Boss- Pistol, Fancy Suit, Pocket Watch

Nanny Nancy Grace- Gun Moll- Shotgun, Lock picks, Cigs

Stitches McAvery- Gangster- Tommy Gun

Ray "Big Knuckles" Smitty- Gangster- Pistol, Brass Knuckles

"Knock-Knock" Lucino- Gangster- Revolver, Billy Club

Billie "Da Babe" Bambino- Hood- Bat, Snubnose

Suzie "Q"- Flapper- Pistol, First-Aid kit

Bobbie and his gang are also bringing everyone to the Big Score.  The Double Deuces will be missing Bobby "2 Hearts" Henrizio as he is recovering from an eye injury suffered last week.  The Double Deuces also have a Rep of 1, so they have a re-roll.    

Double Deuces

Bobbie Taratine- Boss- Pistol, Fancy Suit, Lock Picks

Maria "Queenie" Lambuzzio- Femme Fatale- Tommy Gun

Tony "Spades" Gambio- Gangster- Tommy Gun

Al "9 Clubs" Guizzie- Gangster- Tommy Gun

Rickie "Push" Puzzino- Gangster- Shotgun      

The Set-up

The board is a 3x3 foot board.  In this case, the defender gets to set-up the terrain to fit the Score. The Safe-Cracking Score requires a building or something similar to be placed in the deployment zone of the defender.  In this case, the Double Deuces decide to put the Oldfield Tire Shop as the location of the safe.  The Defender's (The Double Deuces) can place models anywhere within the center of the board OR from their hide-out.  

Queenie and Bobbie go in the tire shop.  Rickie is outside of it by the door.  Meanwhile, Tony and Al are moving along the building edges along the road out front.  

The rest of the board is a scattering of industrial buildings, alleyways, and roads.  The Upper Eastsiders get to spread themselves to any of the other board edges, but can not come within 12 inches of any of the Double Deuces.  This allows them to spread out across town, and move in under cover.  They form a loose net with Donnie, Nancy, and the other gangsters out front, while Tony and Suzie form a back-up.  

Turn 1: 

 The Rain and the Dawn will make visibility pretty short this first turn or two.  

Bambino from the Upper East Siders moves up the alleyway, and tries to activate a second time but fails.  This turns play over to the Double Dueces right away.  

The Dueces manage to take positions covering the approaches.  Queenie comes out to support Spades on the left side, while Push moves up to help Al on the right.  Bobbie stayed in the Tire Shop.  With the Double Deuces all moving, play turned over to the Upper East Siders.  

The rest of the Upper East Siders move up.  Big Knuckles moves up along the far side alleyway.  The rest carefully move up, trying to slice the pie on the angels of approach to reduce their risk.  Suzie Q stays close to Donnie with her First Aid kit.  

Turn 2: 

The sun is starting rise and lighten up the damp morning.  However, the rain keeps visibility short.  

The Upper East Siders maintain the initiative.  Smitty "Big Knuckles" rounds a corner and sees Spades, and tries to shoot him.  However, the Gangster sees him at the last second and ducks, causing Smitty to miss. 

Stitches moves up, and also sees Spades.  He levels his Tommy and opens up.  This time, Spades barely manages to duck back behind the wall for cover.  However, he is out of Combat Pool dice. Bambino moves up and fires his snub nose, but it is not up to the task and misses.   

Tony "Knock-Knock" moves to the edge of his alley and takes cover.  Meanwhile, Nanny tries to get to the other side, but fails a second activation roll and turns play over to the Double Dueces.  

Spades falls back away from Smitty.  Queenie moves up enough to shoot at Knock-Knock.  However, she fails her second activation test to fire and play goes BACK to the Upper East Siders. 

Nanny manages to finish getting into cover.  Meanwhile, Donnie and Suzie Q move up and get ready to go where the most trouble is. 

Now, the rest of the Double Dueces get to act. They move into position to start shooting next turn when the Upper East Siders have to show themselves.  

Turn 2: 

The Upper East Siders win Initiative again.  The rain let's up, and the sun is coming up, so LOS is up to 18 inches. 

Bambino recklessly moves towards Queenie, but fails his second activation roll and is caught out in the open.  Thankfully he still has all his CP! 

Queenie levels her Tommy and opens up on "The Babe" as he approaches.  She scores 1 success more than him, but also uses a Striking Success to try an Pin him in the alley.  The shots only ping close by and fail to injure him, but he is pinned as he hunches down for non-existant cover.  Queenie tries to activate again to keep shooting, but fails.  

Smitty moves up off the edge, and gets Queenie in his sights.  He levels his pistol and opens up.  He gets a striking success and tries to cash it in on a Jam.  However, using the Striking Success means he only ties her results, and misses instead.  

Stitches sees his chance and fires on Queenie who is in Blocking and Obscuring cover thanks to Bambino.  However, she has no CP, so can only resist with Tough.  His shots ricochet wildly off the edge of the building.  Out of combat pool, he rushes forward to try to get to the other side of the alley. 

Donnie starts heading towards the tommy gun noise to support his boys.  However, his second activation roll is failed and play turns over to the Double Dueces.  

Spades levels his Tommy Gun, and is determined to take out Big Knuckles Smitty.  Spades gets two striking success, and converts 1 into double success, and the other into a Pin result.  Smitty fails to dodge and is at 0 CP.  Smitty is down to 0 T and is pinned.  This could be bad for Smitty if Spades can activate again.... which he fails to do.  

Nancy moves up and with a second activation can fire on "Push".  She misses, but Push gets a Striking Success to avoid and Jams her gun.  It can not fire again until she passes a Brawn test.  

Knock-Knock tries to move over to the other alley to support the attack there, leaving Nanny to cover this alley with her jammed shotgun?   Suzie Q also moves to where Donnie is.  

Bobbie Tarantine steps out of the building, and lines up a shot on Smitty.  Bobbie's shot is true and Smitty goes down! First blood to the Double Deuces.  

Turn 3: 

This time the Double Deuces have the initiative!  

Spades goes across the alleyway back to where he started, and gets ready to finish off Smitty.  However, he fails his second activation roll.  The Upper East Siders have a chance! 

Bambino manages to Rally himself from being pinned.  Then, Stitches Fires at Queenie, using 2 dice +1 for the Tommy but she resists with 3 and avoids the shots.  Stitches activates a second time and runs at the women swinging his gun like a club.  The two clash up close, but neither gets the best of it. 

Knock-Knock sees his chance and sprint forward.  He barrels into the fight between Stitches and Queenie with his Bat.  Knock-Knock manages to land a blow and reduce Queenie to 0 Tough. 


Nanny manages to pass a Brawn test with 1 dice, and unjams her shotgun.  However, she fails her second activation and turns play over.  

Push heads back to the building and gets ready to shoot away anyone that gets past Queenie and Spades.  Clubs opens fire on Nanny with his Tommy.  She dodges back from the shooting.  He fails to activate a second time.  This turns play back to the Upper East Siders.

Donnie dodges across the alleyway where all the action is, but fails to activate a second time.  Bobbie goes back into the building for cover.  The only model left to activate is Suzie Q.  

Turn 4:

Double Deuces win initiative again.  

Spades uses his Tommy two activations in a row, but Bambino manages to avoid getting injured in the spray of bullets. He also avoids getting pinned again.  

Push charges in to help Queenie.  He manages to land a punch on Stitches and reduce him 1 Tough.  Queenie doesn't make a difference in the fight, and fails to land a punch.               

Bobbie dashes from the Building, and puts Smitty Out-of-Action for good. 

Clubs fires at Nanny, but she is dug into cover and fails to hit her.  With all the Double Deuces having gone, it is the Upper East Siders turn.  

This time, Knock-Knock's baseball bat puts Queenie out-of-action! 1 Objective complete for the Upper East Siders! 

The Babe charges in on Spades with his bat, and starts swinging.  It is enough to reduce the Double Deuces gangster to 1 Tough 

Donnie starts making his way down the alley way and towards the fight.

Turn 5: 

Double Deuces win initiative again. 

Bobbie moves in to help Spades.  The fight goes no where, even with the Boss helping out.  

Being out-numbers, Push tries to conserve his CP.  He fails to injure Stitches with a quick jab.  Meanwhile, Clubs falls back to the protect the building.  

The scuffle between Bambino and Bobbie and Spades heats up as the Tough reduces Spades to 0 Tough.  Knock-Knock tries to pummel Push with a Knockdown, but fails to hit.  The gangster wards off the bat. However, a cheap shot from Stitches causes him to be wounded.  

Turn 6:

Double Deuces win Initiative again.  However, things are looking tough for them.  

Spades and Bobbie scuffle with the Bambino.  The Boss shows Spades how it is done and reduces Bambino to 0 T and wounds him.  Meanwhile, Push reduces Stitches to 0 T as well.   

Clubs gets back to the doorway of the building.  

This time, Push is knock down and taken Out-of-Action by Knock-Knock and his baseball bat.  Who knew that Baseball Bats were more dangerous than Tommy Guns!  

Stitches sprints to behind the Tire Shop and out of sight. Nanny moves up and tries to fire, but fails her second activation roll.  

Clubs uses his last activation and fires on Knock-Knock, but he ducks into the alleyway and avoids get shot to pieces.  

Turn 7: 

Double Deuces again win initiative despite being down two members.  The Upper East Siders do no have much time to get to the safe before the cops show up! 

This time, with Spades help, Bobbie takes "the Babe" Bambino out of action up close.  

Clubs fires on Knock-Knock again, who stays in cover, but is now pinned. 

Stitches climbs up onto the roof of the Tire shop, and starts making for the doorway in.  

Nanny fires her shotgun at Clubs, but he is safely in the doorway and taking cover.  

Donnie shoots at Bobbie, and reduces him 1 Tough.  He also tries to knock him back with the shooting.  However, the other boss passes his Brawn test and stays standing.  Suzie Q also shoots but misses, the Boss is not pinned. 

Turn 8: Final Turn

This time the Upper East Siders win Initiative.  

Thanks to some encouragement from the Boss, Knock-Knock rallies himself and gets moving.  He dashes forward and swings wildly at Clubs.  The baseball bat hits the door jam, and Clubs is fine.  

However, with Clubs distracted Stitches drops down into the office and makes a play on the safe.  Stitches is not the brightest bulb, but he jimmies the strong box and gets the goods!  Two objectives for the Upper East Siders! 

Seeing Stitches get inside, Donnie and Suzie fall back.  

Nanny takes a long shot at Bobbie and Spades.  Her aim is true, and Spades goes Out of Action when he uses his body to shield the Boss.  

In the fight at the door, Clubs manages to reduce Knock-Knock to 1 Tough.  

Bobbie's return fire at Nanny only forces her to step back into cover.  


The wail of approaching sirens force everyone left standing to scatter to safety.  Tommy guns are tucked into jackets, shotguns are put in flower boxes, and pistols get slung.  The two gangs scatter into the morning.  

Bobbie knew that he had gotten beat.... bad.  That was not something he was used to. It was something he never wanted to get used to.  


The Upper East Siders gain back Tony "baloney" Maloney's Cheap Hooch.  However, their success also earned them a Favor, and +1 Reputation! 


  • Queenie- Hardened
  • Push- Dead
  • Spades- Jailed
  • Smitty- Dead
  • The Babe Bambino- Survives against the odd- +3 XP
  • Stitches- +1 Action
  • Knock-Knock- +1 Tough
  • Double Deuces- 15
  • Upper East Siders- 18
  • Double Deuces- 0
  • Upper east Siders- 2
The Upper East Siders also earned a favor that they can try to call in at a later date.  There will have to be some additional purchases and the like, since the Double Deuces are down 2 gangsters at this point. However, I will save that for before the next game.  

Overall, the Double Deuces took a drubbing.  

Donnie sat back in his chair as he flipped through the black and white photos Stitches had brought him.  He tilted his head to take in the full import of what he was looking at.  This.... this was big.  This was the type of play that had made Bobbie Tarantine a big hitter.  This was what was going to put the Upper East Siders on the map.  

"Boss, there's a slight problem," Stitches was nursing a shiner from where he had taken a punch from a Double Dueces' boy.  

"Not from where I'm sitting Stu.  Everything is looking pretty good." 

"Suzie Q got back from scoping out the scene.  The cops didn't put Smitty in the Patty Wagon..."

"That's good news, now we don't have to try an bail him out and use our leverage," Donnie closed the folder and tossed back onto his desk. 

"Ah boss, they put him in the Meat Wagon.... he's dead," Stitches looked at his feet. 

"Did anyone see who did him?"  

"Bambino says it was Bobbie himself that did the deed."  

Donnie sat back in his chair, "Looks like that's one more thing Bobbie owes us for."

If this sounds like the kind of game you would like to play, you can pick Turf War up at the Blood and Spectacles Wargame Vault page.  

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