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Monday, December 18, 2017

Mini Monday: Beware! An analysis of a Game Project

Recently I posted a link to a new army box soon to be released.
There were the usual remarks 'So Tempting!' 'What a deal!', but there was also a
'I'd have to get more than an occassional game to get my investment back' comment. So today I have decided to do a little investment anaylsis. Now before I start let me warn you that you should never ever let your spouse see this if she questions your hobby budget both in time and finance. Also let me point out that the following  has nothing to do with whether I buy into a project or not. If I can afford it and it's shiny enough, it's mine!

So item to be considered, Warlord Games soon to be released Pike and Shotte Samurai Army box.

$120 for 124 figs (cavalry counts as 2), a metal mounted General and decals, trust me you want those decals! Less than a $1 a fig, certainly a good price. I've personally assembled and painted the Warlord, ie old Wargames Factory figs, and though a bit tedious at first glance they come out fairly nice. So pricewise the Army Box is sweet.

Now Assembly time,  now of course this is relative to your style and speed. If you have to clip every bit off the sprue and sand down every flash it will take you longer. Also as you get familiar with the models you will get faster as well. I suggest test assembly of 5 ashigaru, 2 samurai and 2 cavalry to get the feel first, then go on and do 10 or more at a time.
My estimate is about 5 min per fig. 5 x 124 figs, 620 min or about 10 hours. Have I ever mentioned that I love plastic figs but simply hate putting them together.
10 Hours Assembly

Painting time. Certainly varies by the painter. For instance,I taught my wife how to paint minis years ago and now she paints better figs but in twice the time that I do, roughly.
Thus this is nothing but shear guesswork on my part.
First up you have the Ashigaru, which you can paint in a uniform scheme thus saving you much time. Let's say 20 minutes each, 20 x 80, 1600 minutes or about 26 hours.
I suggest playing any movie by Kurasawa in the background for motivation.
26 Hours Ashigaru

Next up we have the samurai on foot. 20 figures. Gotta give these bad ass boys  some extra love, shall I say 40 minutes each. So 20 x 40, 800 minutes or about 13 hours. (roughly I say roughly)
13 Hours Samurai on foot

Now we get to the Mounted Samurai, certainly your most stunning unit or so you should plan. The horses really won't take as long as the samurai themselves so let's just say an hour a fig.
12 Hours Mounted Samurai

Last up is the Samurai General, Well you  gotta look the part so let's say 2 hours.
2 Hours General

Doing the math, we're looking at some
53 Hours Total

Whew that was a lot of math! 53 hours, does seem like a lot. That would be about 25 movies or prime time TV watching or 12 football games or 6 novels. But if you  break that down with 3 hours during the week and 4 hours on the weekend, 7-8 weeks or about two months to get the whole force on the table. Not so bad.

Now figure 4 hours for a Pike and shotte game, so about 13 games to get your hourly investing back out of it.

But and it's a big But, This all assumes that the only pleasure comes from actually playing the game. That there is no joy in planning or painting your army, that you are just a gamer and not a hobbyist. But I doubt that because, a true gamer only type would be playing boardgames, cardgames or just video games. Only a gamer hobbyist spends $125 on a Samurai army, because the thrill starts when you open that box.

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.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Davion vs Kurita Alpha Strike Action

So Wednesday so another of our growing Alpha Strike games. Another 72 mechs, 9 lances per side, 1500 points per side. Roughly some 3030 action with Davion/Steiner striking into Kurita territory. I oopsed and bought a few 3050 mechs. I put it down to ComStar helping Kurita out.
Objectives: 2 points to whichever side inflicts the most point loss, 1 point per held urban template.
Pretty brutal 3 hours of gameplay, open areas were death!
Kurita inflicted some 450 points of damage winning two points, but Davion/Steiner kept their focus on the objectives coming out with 2 points. So a draw in round one. Next game in two weeks roughly.
Hey Mom!

Turn Two

More Kurita


Let's move out Boys!


Monday, October 30, 2017

Mini Monday: Pairs or Parties

The Indian Ocean Pirate Party
So do you prefer playing in pairs or with parties?
'Pairs' being your more common 1 on 1 game seen at most stores and competitions while 'parties' being those games with 3+ players involved quite common at conventions.

The more usual 1 on 1 Flames of War game.
 Now, I have a pretty good reputation for running big games with 4+ players.
4 to 6 players being the norm, but a few times I've had as many as 11 at the table.
And I also like 1 on 1 games, especially during the week when time is short.
But which do I prefer? Parties of course! Why?

The Big Westerm Party
Well let's go over the advantages and disadvantages of party games.

More of your friends get to join in the fun! Instead of 3 tables with 2 players each you have one big table with 6 players. That's right everyone is involved and hanging out together. This really matters when you only have limited gaming weekends.

Big party wargames usually mean a lot of figures and what is more heartwarming to a wargamer than seeing a huge table filled with painted figures and terrain. Best of all, you didn't have to paint it all!

Team play, that's right, in a party game you're not on your own you have a team! Which means trying to come up with a plan. The reason to play big games!
Heh heh. Yeah, this is where you get to see what real generals have to put up with.
Not every one views those commands in the same light.

Pre-game "Okay, Tim, I want you to hit his right flank." "Okay"
2 hours later "Hey Tim, we really need you on that flank buddy.' ' I'm getting there, just had this pesky unit of skirmishers messing up my formations'.
3 hours later, "Tim! What are you doing? They're crushing us! We need you to roll up that flank." "Yeah , yeah, just trying to get all my units in the perfect postion.'
After game, "Tim, man what were you doing, we lost the game." "Well you should have waited for me. Tactically my maneuvers were sound."

Trust me, you will have years of stories to tell about games that went wrong but oh in so fun a way. Case in point, a coversation I once had with a most jovial but earnest player.

"Alright Big Guy, I want you to go forward and contact the enemy but just hold."
"Got it, Charge"
"No,no. Just advance , stay close to his front, let him charge you. You'll get your shieldwall bonus. Okay?"
"Right, got it, advance and then Charge."
"No,no,no, don't charge! Just advance!"
"Advance, Charge"
"Aaargh! Fine Charge!" I turn to James, my Reserve Commander. "Change of plans, just follow in behind the Big Guy here and clean up the mess."

Rule of thumb in big party games, know your players, even more important then knowing the force they are running.

Disadvantages or things to look out for in party games.

"They done shooting over there yet?'

One, not all rules can handle the game in a timely fashion and might need to be tweaked.
You don't want your players getting bored and roaming off.
example: rules that call for each side to alternate moving a single unit. This can really take up a lot of time with everyone sitting around while one player makes a decision. Best to allow everyone on the same side to move a unit in their force, then alternate.

Down time when all the action seems to be on one side of the table and everyone else is waiting. Good time to chat, though a good scenario can alleviate some of the down time.
So take a little extra time picking the game objectives.

Everyone should be pretty familiar with the rules or at least have rules that are easy to pick up. Once more, not all systems are equal in the task.

Planning the date so everyone can make it. The more players the harder the planning.
But I think it's well worth the extra effort!

Monday, October 23, 2017

Mini Monday: What 'Scale' to Wargame

Some of my various projects
So in what 'scale' do you prefer to wargame? For those new to wargaming, miniature ranges can come in all sorts of scales. 6mm/10mm/15mm/18mm/20mm/25mm/28mm/32mm/40mm/54mm, and trust me I left a lot out.
Now the term scale is a bit misleading but we'll go with it for now, ?mm is 'usually' used to represent the height of a figure from foot to the eyes.

Usually roleplayers deal with 25mm-32mm figs, though there are fantasy characters out there in other scales. Wargamers usually deal with 6mm to 28mm.

This was the topic of a chat I had with a friend yesterday afternoon at the local game store. He was starting to consider the smaller scales of 6mm and 10mm for a wargame project. I chuckled, because I had the same projects in 28mm.  Now this is quite common, heck gamers often have the same period in different scales. But it sucks when you  move to a new state with your 28mm Napoleonics and find that the local clubs are all using 15mm for Napoleonics!
Nope! Not going to happen!

The truth is that there are no 'rights or wrongs' in picking a scale. It really depends on what you prefer.
Some very general guidelines:
25mm -32mm- You love to paint beautiful detailed figures. You're using a small amount of figures and really want the 'character' of the figure to show. Also a wealth of options when it comes to ranges and choices of style out there.

Clearly Greeks

20mm- a wonderful scale which combines some of the best qualities of 15mm and the larger scales. But not a lot of ranges out there.

20mm Spanish Civil War

15mm- A scale to consider especially for huge armies or lots of vehicles. Plenty of detail but less to paint and usually easier on the pocket book. Plenty of different ranges and manufacters to chose from.

15mm Team Yankee

10mm- Interesting scale that combines the cheapness of 6mm with the detail of 15mm. Lot more ranges coming out in this scale.

Romans vs Britons

6mm-  A lot less detail and you can usually paint these guys pretty quick. But what you lose in detail you make up on mass. Perfect scale for the poor college student with dreams of conquest!

Kurt's 6mm World War 1 game

Now another element to choosing a scale is terrain. The smaller the scale the more 'epic' your 6x4ft table can look. ex. A WWI trench game in 28mm may only have a few lines of trenches on the defenders side. But a trench game in 6mm could have the attackers starting point , defenders trenches and the field and town beyond the trench.

Kurt is the master of 6mm and fills the table

Now often the big glossy rulebooks will often have lots of 28mm pictures. This is usually because the 28mm figs are more striking and often inspiring. But don't go thinking that this is the only scale for the rules. It is very rare that you can't use another scale for a set of  rules.

A final word on choosing your scale. If you are really into the project and want to build opposing sides then choose whatever feels right for your dreams and pocketbook. But if you only want to build one side then ask around and see if anyone else is playing or interested in the same period. Then work it out or go with that scale so that you will have a a sparring partner.

Friday, October 20, 2017

72 Mech Alpha Strike Game

So last night Kurita and Comstar took on the mercenary forces of Wolf's Dragoons and the Kellhounds. 72 mechs in all! It was a good old capture the city fight with every city section being worth a point and the water purification plant worth 2.  Comstar and the Dragoons grimly laid into each other,  fighting for the two city areas on the far right. Meanwhile the Kellhound force of 16 veteran/elite mechs were trying to hold the water plant and the main city against and angry wave of 24 Kurita mechs. Red flame plumes were everywhere.
We also used our experimental 'special action' cards in the game, allowing for things like artillery, aero strikes, ambushes, 2nd surprise moves etc. Cards were pulled in secret and only one card could be used per turn. The cards proved very fun and kept everyone on their toes for the next unexpected surprise.
In the end, after 3 hours of play and some 24 mechs out of action,  the Mercs pulled a tactical victory holding 2 city sections to Comsatr/Kuritas 0. Note many fighting pics I'm afraid we always get caught up in the action and forget.
Most of the terrain is new as were all the Kurita mechs, I've been busy this past week.

Comstar advancing

Kurita Sword of Light viewing Water plant target

Kellhound Red/black forces

Kurita vs the Mercs in the main city area