Wednesday, September 21, 2016

15mm Skirmish Napoleonics Ready at Last!

Just a quick-hitter of an update here, posting some eye-candy of my 15mm Napoleonics as their basing was finished and they underwent Dullcoting in anticipation of getting into action this summer in games of Songs of Drums and Shakos.  I have one band of French in great coats for the winter, and two bands for all other seasons, ditto for the Russians, though one of the "summer" forces is a unit of Jagers.  For the British I have line/light troops and of course the 95th Rifles.

Amongst the cavalry are French hussars and dragoons, Scots Greys, and lots of cossacks.  More to paint, but I've had for a while now enough to game, and this weekend I'm off to KEGSCon in southwestern Ontario to run a half dozen SDS scenarios.  The layout for the first scenario, "Stop Shooting Those Cannons At Me" is the bottom pic.  I should have pictures from the event next week, plus more on the set-ups.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Playtesting new Galleys & Galleons material

I've volunteered to help playtest a new supplement - "Fayre Winds & Foul Tides" - for Ganesha Games' excellent Galleys & Galleons ruleset for games of pirate ships and other age of sail (and age of oars) battles.  The supplement is intended to add more fantasy elements to the game, running from our now "traditional" fantasy of orks, elves, dwarves, magic-users and the undread, to more ways to portray ghost ships and sea monsters, to "lacepunk" contraptions (e.g. steam-powered ornithopters).  There are also new "terrain" types (not sure what naval terrain is supposed to be called!) and a ton of ship profiles, including additional ancient and Asian ships (e.g. turtle ships).

So while I can't give away the meat and mechanics of the supplement, I can say it gives you options for all the standard fantasy tropes and then some, so steam-powered ironclads and brutal (literally - there's a trait called Brutal) taskmasters and more.  For me, I'm particularly interested in (and testing) the rules for advanced ghost ships, sea monsters, and magic-users (specifically voodoo kings, maybe necromancers).  So ghost ships can now be Spectral and hard to hit, and your voodoo ships can have a Mindbender to take over the opposition's crews; on the other hand, you can now have Inquisitors (or your local name for them) and Blessed Ordnance to counter those traits.

Sea monsters get the option of having an Alpha creature, sort of like a monster hero and leader.  Some of the new terrain includes icebergs, fog, seaweed banks, maelstorms (whirlpools), and the big S, Scylla, herself. 

So here are some pics from my initial playtests, I won't get into too much detail other than to set the scenarios and give the results.

First up was a massive Ghostly Galleon (called here the Ghost) with a Mindbender on board up against three pirate brigantines (called brigs henceforth for brevity's sake) and an Exaggerated Pirate - who has a fearsome reputation that can cow not only merchants but all ships, but is also under pressure to live up to that rep by his (potentially Mutinous) crew.  This is one of the ship types pre-created in the game.  The Ghost (top left) had to run the blockade the pirates had thrown up across the sea.
The Ghost herself:
Yellowbeard's jacht:
Shortly after the pivotal action of the fight, before the Ghost was able to slip through the blockade and off the board - a gust of wind had blown one of the brigs into the side of the Ghost, and the brig took all the damage.  On her turn, the brig decided to Swashbuckle (grapple and board in one action, a pirate thing) and were promptly routed, surrendering the ship. 
The Mindbender didn't get much chance to do anything in this battle, one failed attempt at a spell, so I set the Ghost up against a Spanish ghost hunter, the Argonauta, with Blessed Ordnance and an Inquisitor aboard, negating part of the Ghost's powers (the ghost had a pyromancer aboard this time).  Icebergs were also on the table (you can see some in background below), but didn't play a role.  I'm saying the battle was in the South Atlantic.

The battle, however, was brief.  The Argonauta was able to close quickly under favourable winds and a calm sea, but after her initial attack, the Ghost was able to get in a full broadside at close range.  This is what it looked like:
And this:
The broadside delivered two damage dice and a critical hit to the Argonauta.  The critical hit roll was a 12, so up blew the Argonauta.  The next day I remembered I needed to check for the Ghost, but she was ok.

I wanted to change things up for my next test, so the Ghost and Argonauta went away, and back out came Yellowbeard and three Pirate "pinnances" (call 'em sloops this time).  On the map was an island (top) with Scylla there to attack any wayward ships, and three banks of seaweed.  The smaller one in the middle also hid vicious mer-creatures that would attempt to board any ship crossing into the bank.
The pirates were a'hunting great sea beasts - two giant sharks (Sea Monsters from the core rules), one of which was an Alpha shark.  The sharks had great mobility and turning ability, and attempted to sucker the ships in to where the ships were be burdened by trying to avoid the seaweek.
The plan mostly worked, the top two ships below did an end run to the right, but one ship wasn't too careful and did get attacked by Scylla, taking a die of damage.
Just after Scylla's attack:
The fight was a long one, maybe 20 turns, but it ended fairly quickly.  The pirates didn't help themselves with rolls like this on short-range full broadsides...
The Alpha shark did a Jaws re-creation on Yellowbeard, ramming the rear of his ship and damaging him, prompting Yellowbeard to grapple the Alpha and attempting to board the great beast.  Despite using their Derring-Do advantage, the Alpha ate most of the crew in the first round of fighting, and the rest of the crew on the next, leaving an empty ship floating around the sea.  The other three pirate ships lasted longer but the end, when it came, was quick.  The three red markers show where the ships went down from ram attacks by the Alpha (helped by some earlier damage by Shark 2).  Two ships were sunk on the second last turn, as the Alpha rammed, turned, and rammed in a flurry of actions.  The final ship was taken down on the last turn, after one final ram by the Alpha.
I plan to get some more gaming in this week, testing out the magic-users further with some other terrain types thrown in.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Reaper CAV-mass

Ok, so this post isn't about dinosaur scale issues like I promised in the last post, in part because I've done some research and I think I can resolve the issues (actually, I don't have any issues as it turns out), so now I need to do a highly scientific fact-checked post on the sizes of dinosaurs and my models.

The other reason is that it was Christmas in March yesterday when my Reaper CAV Kickstarter package arrived yesterday!

Over 90 stompy 10mm mecha, aircraft and tanks, plus bases, all in one box of joy.  Here's the mass of mecha and tanks unloaded on a spare bed:
And here's all the bases for them - the mecha come with small integral bases that slip into the slightly bigger hex bases:
I got every ID'ed and counted last night, and I had my entire order, it sounds like one tank type was in short supply and is being sent later to some backers, but I had mine (ducks!).  Interestingly, while my add-ons and stretch figures were in the grey Bones plastic that is the production material, my core set of mecha are in the original run white Bones.  The models seemed flash and mold-line free from my initial inspection, so other than some droopy gun barrels that need to be given the hot water-cold water treatment, they should be good to go.

My planned project for these will use Ganesha Games' Samurai Robots Battle Royale, with Mech Attack being my backup rules if I want something crunchier - I'm using them for my faux-Battletech project with 6mm BT stuff.

My setting is a post-apocalyptic Earth, that fell apart with a whimper as oil and water resources disappeared, and North America collapsed in part to Chinese invaders, in part to warlordism (my invented word of the day), but still retains some remnant nation-states calling themselves the USA and Canada.  Mexico is also a player, and the United States of South America, Japan, India (why? because), and the UK will also show up, as allied mecha.

More on this later, right now I'm rolling around with my toys!

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

8th Wonder of the World, 1st Wonder of my Games Room

So I like Gamera - a lot.  I like Godzilla - a lot - and I consider the first Godzilla movie to be a classic. But my first and truest monster love will always be King Kong, and after some searching and a lucky find on eBay, not only did I get one for my 3" kaiju collection but he fits even better than I'd hoped.

Some researched showed me Konami had made a series of 3" 1933 retrospective figures as part of the 2005 King Kong release, and one of those was Kong on Skull Island, with a couple of hand options, either holding Ann Darrow or holding a big branch, mounted on a base with the dead tree he puts Ann in while he fights off the T-Rex.

The size fits my monster collection - although in the original movie Kong was at most supposed to be about 24' high, not the 150' he needs to be to fit in with Big G - but nothing else (other than the flying monsters) I have is based, and a 15mm Ann Darrow in hand wouldn't fit in with my 3mm infantry and tanks! So I was going to go with the branch-holding hand and hope for the best with regards the base.

I found a seller on eBay in China who had four of these left for sale, and I placed an order, and in a super-quick 10 days from China to Canada my Kong arrived Monday:
Here he is, looking as awesome as awesome can be (the figures are intentionally painted in glorious Black & White), and able to stand without a base!  And the Ann Darrow hand turned out to just hold her by his grip (not a peg and slot like I'd feared) so I'm able to use that instead of the one with the branch. Perfect!

Here he is with his favourite movie prop:
 And facing off against his main challenger for King of the World:
 King of the Monsters vs. King of the Beasts!
On the same day I went looking for another St. Peter's Basilica 3D puzzle (for reasons discussed in my last post) in a local dollar store, and found a bunch of nicely sized dinosaurs.  Here's KK vs. a T-Rex, they match nicely at the 1933 movie scale!
More on the dinosaurs in my next post, you can see them off to the side or in the background of some of these pictures.  While they will work, there are some scaling compatibility issues with them that I'll need to sort out.  I have some bigger Safari ones for 28mm, and I was hoping these new ones will work for 15mm - they will, but not necessarily with each other!

For the Mighty Monster rules I wanted to beef up the "Giant Gorilla" listed at the back, as that rating was 180 points less than Godzilla, making it nearly impossible for Kong to face off against Big G and at a disadvantage against many of the other monsters I've statted up. Fortunately the ratings how-to in the book had some other suggestions specific to a giant gorilla and I'd just watched the 1933 movie again recently, so here's how I have him now:

Name: King Kong, 8th Wonder of the World  
Point Value: 375

Head: Q = 3   C = 2  Fangs, Intimidation
Body: Q = 3   C = 4
Arms: Q = 3   C = 4
Legs : Q = 3   C = 3

Other Special Rules:
1.  Massive
2.  Bellowing
3.  Grappler
4.  Charge
5.  Berserker
6.  Very Tough

Monday, February 22, 2016

First We Take Manhattan

I previewed one piece of this in last week's post, so today I have some more of my Manhattan Island project for giant monster gaming with Mighty Monsters and 3" gashapon figures.  I've picked most of these up in the last few months, the Manhattan-specific stuff from eBay and the other landmarks at a dollar store in the toy section.

When you think of monsters in New York, the Empire State Building is of course #1, so that was my first goal, and a 3D puzzle from China solved that.  From the same source I also got a Chrysler Building 3D puzzle, but now face the slight problem that the Chrysler Building is taller than the ESB! So I'm going to have to make sure I separate the two a bit when I put Manhattan Island together, making sure the ESB is more front-stage.

I didn't want to involve the World Trade Centre buildings with any gaming, so I'm going with a pre-1970 New York, leaving the next landmark in my mind as the Statue of Liberty.  There was another Chinese seller with a perfectly scaled (for 1/600) fake brass statuette on eBay, the entire thing being about 6" high (the real Statue and base is about 300').  Both the ESB and Chrysler Building are somewhere around 1/2000 or 1/2400, but still way taller than my paper city buildings from Germy and cut-down 6mm files.

With that pre-amble, here they are, with Gamera helping by providing a reference size:
The view from the ground:
Some individual shots of the 3D puzzles:

I discovered a bit of an issue with the ESB when I pulled it out for this photo shoot - some of the paper is peeling away from the foam on the base and it's developed a bit of a warp, but some Aileen's Tacky Glue solved the former, and some coffee stir sticks glued under the base solved the latter.  The base for both is about 1-2mm in the air because tabs are projecting through, but most of my buildings are going onto tiles that will be the sidewalks, so I'll fill in the resulting gap when I get the buildings glued to the tiles.

As I mentioned above, the Statue of Liberty is a fake-brass thingy, so I had to paint it up, coating it first with white gesso.  I'm also going to have to build a proper fort-like base for it, around the lowest (and unpainted in the photos above) level, so the arched doors open onto the roof of that base.  But that's for another day (I haven't really thought that through yet).

But here are some pics of the SoL as a work-in-progress:
On the top is the original statuette, out of the box, and below is after the gesso and gesso+brown paint was added.

Close up of the final product (barring the base):

A couple of other 3D puzzles I picked up in early January in a dollar store are a near-1/600 scale Notre Dame cathedral and a 1/1000 or so St. Peter's Basilica.  They don't work right beside each other, and Notre Dame doesn't work right beside the ESB and Chrysler Buildings, but with several blocks of other buildings between them, I think they'll do ok.  Most of the buildings from Germy helpfully lack real scale benchmarks, so if you look at Notre Dame and then scan over to the ESB, you will hopefully sort of ignore the difference.

I figure Notre Dame will fill in for one of the big NY cathedrals, St. Patrick's or St. John the Unfinished (which would actually be off-map - see below), the height is right for one and the footprint for the other. St. Peter's could do double duty as a fancy European state building, university campus, or palace.  You can build it without the keyhole-shaped forecourt too, which will make it an alternate church too by disguising its origins somewhat.  It was a pain to put together (lots of swearing) but looks ok for what it is now.

To wrap up the pictorial portion of this entry, here's a WIP shot of the tiles that will base my monster city buildings.  These are test subjects, of a few tile types and how they take cheaper Bob Ross grey gesso (I save the Liquidtex grey gesso - impossible to find here now - for figures).  I found the cheap dollar store tiles actually seem to be best. They aren't super solid support for the buildings (they're a bit bendy) but to date THEY DON'T WARP!  The thicker stuff (a couple pieces pictured here) warps a little and is really thick; I have some mid-thickness stuff from Home Depot that cost more than the dollar store stuff and it warps.  I have some pending 3mm rice paddy shapes in this Home Depot stuff cut out that have been under about 100lbs of pressure for a couple of years and they still want to warp whenever I let them come out for air (and I haven't painted or based them at all, just cut them out!).

Anyway, the cheapest stuff seems to work.  These are 4" square bases, except for the unpainted 4x8" piece of the thickest stuff.

More to come on these, I still have lots of buildings to cut out and build yet (and more to print).  Most tiles will be 4x4, some will be 4x3, others 4x5 or 6, and yet others will be custom sizes for the type of city block I'm building.  Central Park will probably be 8x8", representing only a portion of the park at the edge of my Manhattan.

Which leads me to what I'm trying to do with Manhattan map - it's going to be a fairly (fairly = highly) stylized representation of the island and part of the river, probably a total of about 7.5' long by 3' wide.  I may make it a bit wider or longer by showing more river, but at its thickest the island will be 3' wide.  So at one end I'll have 18" (maybe 36") of open water, representing the SW approach to the island, with the Statue of Liberty Island at one edge, and Governors and Ellis Islands making appearances.

Then there will be a 18x36" strip of water (representing the Hudson River to the west of the island) and an 18x36" strip of city - the financial district more or less, up to Chelsea.  Lower east side won't be mapped, the Brooklyn Bridge will be partially on the table (using a generic bridge from Shapeways that I'm working on).

Then there'll be a 36x36" section of city, Chelsea to say 1/3 of Central Park - call East 72nd Street the edge of the set-up.

So I hope that'll give me some water for approaching monsters to use before they get to the city, and lots of colour for the eventual fight in the city.  It all looks beautiful in my head.

I also have a 25" (!) Tokyo Tower 3D puzzle to put together, and in the mail is a double feature CN Tower + Skydome (aka Rogers Centre), so my kaiju are going to be able to threaten Tokyo (of course) and Toronto as well as Manhattan and assorted generic cities.

But I ain't building Berlin.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Giant Monster Dance

This past weekend was a long weekend here in Ontario, and through some minor scheduling miracles, the entire clan was able to gather at my mother's - three brothers, two sisters-in-law, and three nephews, two of whom had had their first birthdays in the last couple of weeks. So it was a good family weekend, and as an added bonus, on Sunday my 5yo nephew and I got in a couple of games of Mighty Monsters by Ganesha Games.

Theo's keen on giant monster movies, aided by uh, one of his uncles. So much so that when I arrived Saturday morning, I learned he'd been bet that he couldn't go the entire day without saying "Godzilla".  He lost about five minutes after my arrival, and got served dessert last that dinner.  He loves to look at my 3" gashapon collection and was interested in playing a game, although I don't think he really understood at the beginning what I meant by "game", versus say bashing toys together to see who wins.

However, I started by going over four basic rules we would follow for any games we play with my "toys":
  1. Clean hands.
  2. Be gentle with the "toys".
  3. Follow the rules of the game.
  4. Be a good sport (he's thrown the occasional temper tantrum during games of Double Trouble).
He thought those were good rules, so we set up my black vinyl matting that I'm going to use as the streets for my monster cities.  One interesting thing I learned was that I'd somehow assumed these were 18" by 36", so using two would give me a 36x36" footprint.  Instead these are about 45" long, so I'll either roll with that or chop these down to 36", or do both (I have four in black, four in gray).  I need 36" whenever they're going to be lined up with my 36" square blue felt mats for water.

I then set up what cardboard buildings I had ready, which isn't yet enough to fill the mat - they also haven't been based on gray tile to form blocks.  We filled in the mat with overturned baskets, Duplo blocks, and other toys.  I also had my unpainted Monopoly buildings with me, so Theo built the suburbs with them.

From there we picked monsters and went at it.  Theo of course went with Big G, and I took classic Gigan.  This was my first time with the rules, but things went pretty smoothly - there were a few errors, but nothing that affected the result, and I think Theo got the most breaks. He generally was able to play along, he was doing his own adding and making his own choices.  I gave him the proper set of Godzilla ratings, rather than a simplified version as suggested by the rules, and it wasn't a problem.  

Anyway, so here's a shot of Gigan and Godzilla finally facing off, after taking a few pot shots at each other as they danced towards the middle of the city:
(as always, clicking on the photo brings up a larger version)

Godzilla lay a pretty good beating on Gigan - Theo was rolling well, plus Godzilla is a 450pt beast vs. Gigan's 395.  I finally realized playing the long distance game with Godzilla wasn't going to work, so I closed and tried to go for a grapple to bring my belly saw into play:

I finally got the grapple on, but my free hack at Godzilla with the belly saw failed, and when I tried to activate my head (with two yellow and one red dice), I rolled a one on a yellow and failed on the red, leading to two critical rolls.  Whereupon I rolled a Knockdown, and then a Knockdown, which becomes a Knockout.  So game over for Gigan!  

I'm not entirely sure if you're supposed to only roll once even if your dice roll says twice, so maybe I would have survived another turn, but I was pretty much at the mercy of Godzilla at that point.

Theo then found the Final Wars version of Gigan in my collection, and for game two he went with the original version of Gigan from that movie (the one with the blades for hands, not the chainsaws), and I took modern Gamera.  Both were 450 point monsters, so in theory a fair fight.  

Gigan tried to get a bit cute though, and Gamera was able to track him down and get in hits with both his fiery breath and his plasma chest burst (which I later decided should be a one-shot weapon).  The game was running late and we were supposed to watch a Gamera movie later in the afternoon, so we called it a day on the gaming front with a victory for the great turtle.  Theo's attention was also starting to wander - I suspect he wasn't keen on being on the losing end.    

We went on to watch Gamera - Attack of Legion, his first Gamera movie, and he loved it even though he couldn't keep up with the subtitles.  He asked later to play more Mighty Monsters the next time we're together, and from my list of potential games, also some fantasy (he's painting some Reaper Bones goblins and ogres), using Songs of Blades and Heroes.  He was intrigued that it used similar rules to Mighty Monsters, though when he asked what the difference was, for some reason I missed the obvious - that you don't have to roll for each body party.  

Next I hope to post some photos of other scenery I'm working on for Mighty Monsters, including some useful 3D puzzles and other trinkets from eBay.  Here's a teaser...

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

6mm Plancenoit AAR

So hopefully this isn't my annual blog post, as things have tended to be lately - still have lots of photos of projects and games backlogged, and stuff going on, but not much here.  In an effort to address that a bit, here's an AAR from last Sunday's game at Glenn's, a 6mm rendition of Plancenoit, with Glenn and Ron S. as the dastardly French, and myself, Dick, and Martin as heroic and manly Prussians.

The AAR was written by Glenn, I've added some commentary and boasting in bold italics. My few photos are from the end of the game, when the issue was no longer in doubt and I wasn't going to jinx anything.  They're after the report, with suitably Prussian captions.

On to the AAR:

Lobau's (dastardly French) plan was simple hold Plancenoit and refuse his left flank outside of the village so it could not be enveloped by the Prussian cavalry that was noted to be facing that flank.

Bulow's (heroic and manly Prussian) plan was also simple. He would attack on both flanks and slowly put pressure on the center.  (Actually we planned to hit hard on the right and centre, my job on the left was not to lose the game by going crazily into the town.  I just wanted to pin down the Guard and set myself up for an eventually multi-pronged attack on the strongpoints, to take away their mutual support for each other.  As it turned out, our attack in the centre was slowed by terrain and bulky units, and I was able to engage the town in time, using firepower to knock out one Guard unit near the end of the game and being ready to hit some others if we hadn't need to use our initiative/tempo on the right flank where Martin could win the game for us.)

The commander of the 1st Prussian Cavalry Brig. Schwerin (this was Martin) promptly put both of his regiments in motion. Their orders were to circle around to the rear of the French line and take out the gun line set up on the hill behind the village. As they were moving they noticed that the French left flank was pulling back.

In view of the changing situation Eicke commanding the 6th Hussars and Beier commanding the 1st West Prussian Uhlans decided to disregard their orders and try and stop the French from withdrawing. Sabers were drawn, lancers were lowered and in they went.

Jeanin (this was Ron S.) commander of the 20th Div. had been keeping a careful eye on the Prussian cavalry as he slowly withdrew his brigades on the French left. He soon noticed that the battalions exposed to the cavalry charges formed into squares.

The French were almost laughing as the Prussians were repulsed again and again. However, as this was being played out Losthin (also Martin) managed to push his 15th. Brig. forward. Now the French were caught in a vice with infantry to their front and cavalry on their left flank and rear.

It was now a struggle to the death which took Tromelin (Ron S.) as he valiantly tried to get the 107th Ligne to hold it's ground. Miraculously the entire Div. held up until the very end when the pressure from the Prussians was above and beyond what any courageous body of men could ever endure. The collapse was complete, the Div. was lost, with only a few stragglers managing to follow Jeanin on the road back to France.

Elsewhere on the battlefield the fighting had been sparse as the French Guard were in very strong defensive positions and the Prussians were only able to make minimal gains. The one exception was the loss of the 2nd Neumark Landwhre under Braunschweig. They tried to advance in the centre and found themselves overwhelmed by the firepower from Simmer's 19th Div. (Dick always tries to advance forces in the centre and they always get shot up, it's his thing!)

The game was ended at 4:00pm with the following standings:

Prussians (Chris, Martin, Dick):   11TP, 19AC, loss of 4 bases

French (Ron S., Glenn): 10TP, 12AC, loss of 8 bases

The Prussians leading in all three categories were awarded the victory.

Of special note the commanders recorded in their respective armies dispatches for honorable mention were Bony & Tromelin (Ron S.) for their valiant defense of the French left flank. Eicke & Beier (Martin) for taking the initiative with the Prussian cavalry in attacking the French left relentlessly, that lead to the destruction of the French 20th Div.

Next game planned for Sunday Jan. 31 Plancenoit revisited (everybody trying it from the other side and new guys slotted in).

This was my flank at the end of the game, that's Glenn's hand-wringing in the background.  My troops have position in and around the town, most of the actual buildings are held by the French, except in the very middle where I've just captured one block of Plancenoit.  On the left, I have two forces ready to go after some hurting French units (including one battery).  Most of the town and area behind it was set up by the French to be mutually supporting, so you had to go after the supports at the same time as the main forces, which was a slow set-up but if the game had gone on I think I was ready.

An overview of the Prussian centre and right (more on the right below).  The French here are down to holding the town blocks on the middle left and the hill at the back left-centre.  Sort of in the upper centre is where Dick's brigade got blowed up. Those fields and hedges slowed Dick's troops down.

Sky shot of the Prussian right.  That plowed field with the sheep is where the French were when they all ran away home on the last turn, after Martin was finally able to take them in a squeeze play.  Lambchops for all!

 Another view of the Prussian right, showing a bit more of the backing forces and the centre. 

For proper historical posterity, another shot of my flank and the town envelopment.  We left the church alone for the most part, though it took some pot shots at anyone getting too close.

No AAR is complete without a shot of the French dead pile...

Even better than one shot of the French dead pile is two shots of it!