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Monday, December 11, 2017

Mini Monday: The New Year Itch

Now I know that it is a little early to talk about the New Year, but with all the sales going on it's time to bring up the Itch, the New Year's Itch to be specific. Throughout the year we are constantly fighting off or indulging in urges to start  a new project. But the New Year's Itch is by far the worse. Companies seem to be bringing out new releases or posting great sales daily. Plus a new year is just around the corner and you want something 'fresh' to play. Some people make resolutions, gamers take on projects!

So what will your new project be? RPG, Skirmish force or an army? What historical period or genre are you feeling for the new year? Considering a new convention game to host?
Of course it doesn't always have to be a new period or genre; some of us long-time gamers start running out of new options after a while. You could be looking at finally building a nice town for your Wild West games, or perhaps restaring a project in a different scale. (Yes some of us have the same period in as many as 5 scale) Or perhaps a new force for your Bolt Action or 40K games. Tired of Marines, tempted by the new bugs?

There is just soooooo much out there!

So welcome to my little New Years Itch Madness, in which Sabrina, tries to figure out which way I'm leaning so as to get me the 'perfect gift'. It's quite a trying time for her considering that I'm changing my mind almost daily!

But here are some possible projects I'm taking under consideration:
Necromunda, yea GW's newest revamp is  a thought, probably just my excuse to build more terrain.

Gangs of Rome, Warlord Games new venture coming in 2018, Allen is already hinting pretty loudly.

Back of Beyond, Madness in Russia in the wake of WWI , everyone seems to be involved, Chinese Warlords, Whites, Reds, Japanese, Czechs on trains etc and Copplestone has some great castings. Been thinking about this one for years. Did I mention Armored Trains!
Launching Konflict 47 in the Pacific, another of Warlord Games newest releases. Japanese in powered armor!
Of course I've just finished off another of Joe Abercrombies books and now I got the urge for some low magic fantasy with hard hitting heros in a Kurasawa style action. (By the way I highly recommend Abercrombie's fantasy novels if you like Kurasawa films) So I've been looking  at some of the skirmish fantasy rules and Gripping Beasts Viking box.
But the Kurasawa theme has sparked a look at Test of Honour and Samurai battles.

And of course the New Flames of War release. Late War armies and cards has me looking at some British armor.

Much goodness out there and still weeks to decide! So what's your new project to scratch the New Years Itch?

Monday, December 4, 2017

Mini Monday: Chess or Chaos, How do you like your Wargaming?

So how do you like your Wargaming? Stelios, of Word of Stelios once touched upon this subject. Do you prefer it to lean towards Chess, with each unit having set abilities and you in total command. No random surprises just clear tactics. Or do you prefer a bit of Chaos with movement being random and having to roll dice to see if your units carry out your orders. Of course, most rules are a blend of both, since just the addition of dice moves us from Chess towards Chaos.

After years of running your army as you see fit, many newer rule systems have dropped a wrench in the general's plans. Lion Rampant and all it's variants have you dicing to see if your units will take any action that turn. Black Powder does the same but also has random movement distances. The lack of total command can be a bit of an irritation for many players, especially if you see yourself as falling under the cloud of 'bad luck' more often then not.

Now, those that have gamed with me know that I am certainly enchanted with Chaos. I love uncertainty on the tabletop. How many shots will I get with my cannon before the enemy reaches my line? Will my peasant horde have the nerve to charge those knights when I give the signal? Can I trust my wizard to mumble the spell correctly every time? Aye, I like the general to constantly stay on his toes adjusting plan as the battle proceeds.

Even now I am typing up 'mission cards' for our Alpha Strike games to add more flavor and shake up the boring old slug match. You can draw a card that has you lose victory points for taking too many casualties, I call it the 'replacements are limited' card. Another has you lose points if your force doesn't advance to at least the center of the table,  you may be cautious but your superior is not and he/she is watching! Of course your opponent won't know about these orders till the end of the game. The intent is to give one the feel that this battle is not in a vacuum, but part of a larger scheme.

I'm hoping to play Italians in Flames of War next year, seems you have to roll their initial morale rating as well. Elites or Green troups? More to worry about!

Monday, November 27, 2017

Mini Monday: The Big Table

Mini Monday: The Big Table

When Discover Games was being set up, Eli and I were asked if we would like a permanent big table. "Oh Yeah!" was our reply, "A 5x16 foot table would be great!" As things turned out that 5x16 foot table soon became a 5x20 and finaly before the store opened it was increased to a 5x24! Think about it guys and gals, 5 feet x 24 feet of continous table to run a Big Big Big Game! So in the year since the store has opened we've run many games on the big table, with the biggest being 5 x 16 feet.

16foot Fantasy Siege

Well this past week Eli put on a Tankgiving game at Discover games. A 15mm Flames of War WWII game with over 300 tanks and terrain that stretched 20 feet! Eleven gamers took part. So a big shout out to Eli!

Start of game, many reserves to enter later
End of game. Soviet win
Now Eli spent at least 5 hours setting up the game and probably another 5 organizing the forces and preparing lists for each one. He has also been collecting forces, table sheets and terrain for years. So as we can see it took no small effort to put on this 20 foot show. But then Eli is, as Stelios once put it, a Master Gamer.

But now as the New Year approaches, thought turns to finally conquering the Big Table. What extravaganza will finally reach the goal of 24 feet?
Yes, Eli and I, as Troy likes to put it  suffer from the go big or go home disease, and no amout of skirmish games will ever cure it.
Mind you it takes a lot of terrain to cover that much space. And mind you I'm always talking about nice terrain and painted minis. No WOW factor in hodge podge terrain and unpainted minis.
Well here are some potential games under serious consideration, from most likely to still in the daydream stage.

Operation Market Garden FOW 15mm, really just a matter of when everyone can make it.
(Remember, one of the biggest obstacles to big group games is finding a perfect date that everyone can make, especially the players with the key forces)

Martian Empires: 15mm Colonial Battle for Mars, just a question of when everyone can make it. Terrain is ready.

Operation Kharkov, Konflict 47/DUST game in 28mm where the Germans must break out a besieged force. Over 30 Mechs and tanks.
(Urban parts being finished up)

The Thirty Years War, 28mm using Pikeman's Lament, with Pike and Shotte games hitting a bi monthly phase next year it should not be much of an effort by late summer to put on a huge game. More terrain, yes Glen more terrain, is still being planned. 

Battle of the Saragossa Sea, 28mm Pirate game, various factions will battle on sea and land to capture the great treasure. (Ships and Islands under construction)

1917-18 The Western Front, 15mm WW1 with Flames of War in 15mm, Kurt has something in mind, and he's talking big! So I'll leave this spot for him because if anyone can build that much terrain it'll be Kurt Braunsroth.

Quest for the Holy City, Lion Rampant 28mm, Crusaders fight along the coastline capturing towns as they seek out the Holy City itself. Played down the 24ft side.
(Terrain and figures still under construction)

Monday, November 20, 2017

Mini Monday: A Thanks to the Hobby for all it Gives

Mini Monday: A Thanks to the Hobby for all it Gives

Yep, we are about to roll into Thankgiving, a special time to bond with family,
get in some super shopping deals and or fight off those eager shoppers (if you happen to work in retail) and if possible get in some gaming.

I would like to take this time to Thank the Hobby and all those involved for all you give.

The Manufacturers: A shout out to all the miniature companies out there! Thank you for all your wonderful figure lines. Rarely a week goes by that I don't get a buzz from some new miniatures being released. You find time to produce those extra Napoleonic French infantry that we so sorely want or some new fantasy craze that we never imagined. Take my Money!

The Rules Writers: What would we do without you? You cast your magical tweaks and suddenly your new rules inspire me to dig out some old figures that have been gathering dust for years and enjoy them once more. And no matter how many grumble about how you didn't cover ever unlikely historical incident, you persevere on and create even more rules! Take my Money!

The Hobby Stores: A big Thanks to all the retail stores out there for giving us a place a meet and play. Thanks for putting up with all our demands for you to stock the most niche figures and provide us with the most insane discounts. Thanks for organizing events and then cleaning up our mess. Thanks for keeping ridiculous hours just so we can get our stuff before anyone else does. Take my Money!

And a Special Thanks to all my Gaming Compadres: You join me in a celebration of the hobby every time we throw dice. You allow me to relax and get away from the stresses of life. And you inspire me with projects so that others can Take my Money!

Monday, November 13, 2017

Mini Monday: Assembly and Basing, is it a Chore?

Ottomans based for Blucher 3inx3in base

Today we delve into some of the grimmer aspects of the hobby,
assembling and basing models.
For some gamers these can be a major pain and for others a joy.

Old Wargames Factory Skeleton Sprue
Assembling, unless you were dealing with vehicles, used to be pretty painless.
You bought your metal figures, cut off some flash, smoothed down a seem line and you were done.
With the advent of the plastic rank and file things go a bit more fiddly. Now you had to decide which arm, weapon, head, extra gear you wanted to use and hope they all line up. Awesome! We have more choices and poses or was it Uurgh! Too many bits to cut and glue?
I literally have spent more time assembling certain units then I did to paint them.

For plastic vehicles it almost seemed the opposite happened. Instead of being designed with modlers in mind, who might take joy in gluing each and every track section, the various companies started to design with the gamer in mind. Suddenly one piece track and hull sections! Thank the Gods!

Now personally I find plastics to be a goldmine for those that like to do a lot of converting, because cutting and converting lead miniatures was often torture.

And now basing.
Step 1: how to base. If it's a skirmish game then proceed to step 2. But if you hope to use the figs in a skirmish game and also for a larger scale battle game, then you have some choices to make. Base multiple figs per base for ease of moving some 200 figs or try and come up with some sabot basing to move the big units or simply allow your opponents to groan as you move 200 individualy based figs. Decisions decisions.

Imagine moving all these figs individually?

Step 2: decorating the base.Some just still just paint their bases green and leave it at that. Others buy super detailed resin bases for their figs. An easy out is to just 'grass' the fig.
But, do you go with themed winter or desert basing? How will that look when you play on the more common green field tables???? Can you live with it?

Now personally I enjoy basing the figs. Because it's the final step in the process and really adds a little something to the finished product. I've even stayed up all night rebasing some 300 15mm Ottomans from Empire basing to Age of reason basing, had to scrap balsa wood off the bottom of the figs. But it was worth it for everything to look nice in the next days battle.

So how do you stand on assembly and basing? Is it a joy or a chore?

Monday, November 6, 2017

Alpha Strike Blog

I have set up a seperate Alpha Strike Blog for those interested

Mini Monday: Campaigns! We all love them but...

Mini Monday: Campaigns! We all love them but...

They seem to be a rare event that only pops up
here and there and rarely here. Usually you find yourself
reading about a great campaign that was played in someones
garage 20 years ago or is currently going on in some town a 2000 miles away.

So why are campaigns so rare when everyone and I mean everyone wants to be in one?
Plenty of gamers but so few Gamemasters?

First let me define 'Campaign' as I see it. A game where your force/character engages in decisions
that lead to  events/battles. The results of these events/battles effect your force/character in positve or negative terms
that will be carried to the next event/battle and the next until the goal is achieved or lost.
In other words, I have a reason  to fight and not lose all my troops!
Sometimes the Campaign can be a simple dungeon crawl that takes months to finish, a military advance that seeks to achieve limited results or
a world wide conquest game. (my favorite)

So back to the question? Why are they as rare as hen's teeth?
Because they take time and effort, and a martyr/gullible fool/risk taker to  willing to run it. I mean no disrepect to those that have/are/or will run
a campaign in the future, in fact I hold you guys in the highest esteem! You're willing to take on the burden
of working on the mechanics, organizing and updating this massive undertaking.
I've tried and failed on many occasions.

Now not all Campaigns are a massive undertaking. You could just be running a tally campaign, Evil plays Good, most wins gains victory.
Or a 2-4 hour RPG, reading everything from the free PDF. I appreciate your time and effort but it is not a 'Campaign' to boast about years from now.
I want a game where my Regiment of the Gouged Eye grows from a band of stragglers to the most feared unit in the Fabled Lands!

Okay so back to the hero who stands up and offers to run the campaign.
What are the hurdles you must face in your great endeavor:
Hmmm, here are a few.
1:Zoom effect: just how much planning shall you require? Will we be tracking supplies or how many arrows my force has? Will the map, if there is a map, have
routes that must be traveled with caution, mountains of dragon menace, warp gates for extra travel etc?

2:Narrative vs detail, shall you spend time weaving a story that presents the players with decisions that lead to the next event, or will you concentrate on map/tabletop manuevers/ Or shall you do both! How much paperwork will you be doing?

3:Organizing the games, who, what, where, and how long shall we wait for who to hook up with who so that we can move on? Main reason campaigns fizzle out.

4:Forces: shall you supply all the troops/characters for the campaign or allow the players to bring in theirs, or both?

5;Appeasing the wishes of  your participants, How far shall you wander off the path to accomodate various players who wish to add even more detail to your game.
example "but can I take a week to train all my warriors in various birdcalls so that we can better coordinate while battling in  the Black Forest'
example "yes I know that you've banned WMD from our Groin's Wounds lists but it's nukes that give my Post Apoc Pengiuns an advantge over those Imperial Walrus."
example "are you sure none of my merry band speak Klingonese? I just need one so that he can infiltrate the enemy'
example "but I've redesigned my Groin's Wounds army list to reflect that my homeland embraces certain aspects of Ctuhulu worship so I should be immuned to fear"

6 Should/Could/Would, you'll hear this alot after the campaign begins, Most of it will be from gamers who never have or will ever put effort into running a campaign, but some of it may be a nugget of truth that could 'save' your campaign.

So Hurrah to all the would be Campaign GameMasters! We appreciate you even if too many of us make you wonder if you've made the right decision.
And be  Passionate about your campaign, otherwise it will end pretty quickly.

A special hats off to Kurt Braunsroth, who is one of the few that can actually pull off a good campaign, consistently. And Steven,  who though a pretty young gamer has managed a fun AK-47 Game, Estalian Narrative campaign and about to embark on a 40K campaign.