21 July 2019

Star Fleet Battles AAR - Free For All!

Because who doesn't like an eight-player, every-man-for-himself battle?

The Space Cadets+  met at the Bunswick, Georgia Pizza Hut on Saturday afternoon for yet another installment of Star Fleet Battles. This was our largest meetup by far, with eight players. David Siu proposed a 120-point bring-your-own ship game the last time we met which I think was in May. After a great deal of searching through SSDs, I settled on a Federation Tug (the McGraw) with a Light Battle Pod. With fast drones in all three G-Racks, it was an even 120. Other ships included a Romulan Destroyer, Three Klingons, Two Tholian players and a Gorn HDD. Mike actually fielded two lighter Tholian ships that combined for 120. It's worth noting that we were restricted to the seven races in the basic rules - no C-module races!

So here's the layout. Ignore the colors on the edges - that was for when I thought we'd only have six players. There was a marker in the center of each asteroid cluster with a number on the underside. Once all the markers were placed, we drew a card from a deck - it was "3." We had to get ships or shuttles into that space to search for the McGuffin number 3. Whichever player could grab the McGuffin and get off the map with it would be the winner. We have played similar scenarios before at Gnomecon, but never with full-sized ships.

Player start positions were randomly determined and play began.

 Here were are getting our acts together.

Mike's pic from the other direction now featuring David S and yours truly.

Turn 1 was pretty uneventful besides David S and Mark trading long-range disruptor fire and launching drones back and forth at eachother on their way into the asteroids. There may have been other weapons fire elsewhere on the table but I was primarily focused on my corner and trying to negotiate with Mark who was my most immediate threat. That's his F6B in 3419 heading my way. This picture was from the end of the turn.
A wider view. The green circle to the right shows David D's shuttle finding the device right away! The game's focus shifts quickly.

We got our energy plots figured out. Section C was about to get busy as hell as five ships converged upon it. I slow-rolled it at speed 12 - enough to physically get to the asteroid blob in question and retain turn mode 3. The Tug is amazingly powerful but steers like a train.  Mike also eased up a bit, preferring to watch the battle rather than being a first-round contestant.

Shit gets real. Stacks of four Plasma-Ds...drones, pseudo plasma. Meanwhile, The McGraw stays in chillax mode, tractoring a godforsaken speed-8 drone that David had launched at me back on turn 1. I tried dragging it through asteroid hexes but of course rolled ones and couldn't kill it the easy way. The shuttle with the objective on it remains in the relative safety of the asteroids, skillfully avoiding damage - it was an advanced shuttle, speed 8, and had to roll for asteroid damage each time it moved.

End of turn 2. Ziggy's shuttles dispatched David's ball-carrier and picked up the McGuffin. My Tug was in PRIME DAMN POSITION! IT'S HAPPENING! OH MY GOD OH MY GOD! All I have to do is pop that shuttle, grab the football and run... only two ships in my way - David D's D5 and Mike's Tholian Destroyer. Oh, and I had to survive a dive into the asteroids to pick up the objective.

I set the speed to 24 so I'd be sure to be off the table by mid-turn. It was also a relatively safe speed to go asteroid-dancing. I launched two drones at Mike on impulse 1, smacked Ziggy's shuttle and dove in. Rolled a 1. No asteroid damage. Dropped the #5, transported the gizmo aboard.

And then the unimaginable happens. Mike and David - my only two potential speed bumps START FIGHTING EACH OTHER! I fully expected them to gang up on me, but hey, never interrupt your enemy when he's making a mistake, right? Mike gutted the D5 which was already pretty hosed.

An impulse or two later, I laced into Mike's ship with two photons and a handful of phaser-1s. Moments later, the two drones hit the same non-existant #3 side. Mike's ship was now "combat ineffective."

The rest of the players enjoyed shooting the hell out of each other as the McGraw skulked its way off the battlefield.

My travel path as near as I can remember.

I got lucky as all get out. That's all I can say. Right place, right time, no doubt about it. My plan was to end up near the objective at the end of turn 2; I didn't think it'd end up in my lap, let alone with everyone else distracted! Regardless of the outcome, it was a fantastic afternoon and everyone had a gret time. It was awesome to have eight players for a "proper" game of SFB. That's tough enough for a game con these days. This was just a nothin' special Saturday afternoon in south Georgia.

Looking forward to the next meet-up!

18 July 2019

Finally Malifaux

Malifaux 3rd edition was released a couple of weeks ago and after a review of the rule book, I was able to convince my bride to give it a try. Actually, it didn't take a lot of convincing; she's a fan of the creepy and weird so the Malifaux aesthetic is right in her wheelhouse.

Being a "first game," I kept things very small - three identical minis per side - all shlubs, no leaders or characters with loads of special abilities.

We played on a 2' x 2' board I recently made. A little scenery and we were good to go! I had three Guild Witchling Stalkers and my wife used three spirits known as "Sorrows."

The Sorrows were rather frustrating once they got close - they sap nearby enemies of their life energy and regain health when they do it. Case in point - that poor Stalker surrounded by three purple ghosts is HOSED. 

But revenge isn't far off... my Stalkers burst into flame when they die. The Sorrows were whittled down almost as quickly as my heroic ghost busters.

But in the end, fortune smiled upon the creepy and my last Stalker fell. The spook slunk back off to the crypt.

I enjoyed it. More importantly, so did Wifey. There will certainly be more Malifaux in our future. We have been watching Supernatural for the last few years and the "monster hunter" situation of the game was quite reminiscent of Sam and Dean duking it out with some nasties in our show. I liked the card mechanics, as much as I am a fan of dice. Card hand management is a big deal, even in a game this small - in a more normal-sized game I imagine it becomes paramount.

07 July 2019

A Rough Outing: Batman AAR

Mark and I got in a game of BMG this afternoon. Fate conspired against us a couple of months ago, so this was the makeup game. I put together two groups and a scenario that seemed like it would work.

Our bad guys - members of the Suicide Squad and a couple thugs were after a maguffin in the Acme Pharmaceuticals warehouse in the docks district. Carrie Kelly, Commissioner Gordon and a couple of SWAT team members dropped in, acting on a hot tip.

The objective is inside the building - it's circled towards the upper right. My law and order guys are at the near edge of the tabletop. Apologies for the crude near wall of the warehouse. I think I made a couple of more finished wall but couldn't find them when it mattered.

The two groups close in. Killer Croc heads towards my group while the rest of the baddies head toward the target building. Slipknot is by far the quickest - you can see him at the front of the SUV.

Gordon calls in a helicopter's searchlight on the group across the way, allowing the SWAT guy with the rifle to take some shots. Unfortunately, I was unable to score some early hits. Croc gets closer.

Slipknot is into the building in no time, Carrie Kelly hot on his heels!

Gordon and SWAT officer Dave tangle with KC. They manage to knock him down, but he's a real tough customer for a couple of guys with no close-combat specialties!

Of course, dice rolls like this don't do me any favors. They're literally laughing at me!

A real brawl breaks out in the parking lot! Slipknot of course has done a fine job of slinking away with the loot while Captain Boomerang and the Grin Twins mix it up with Robin and a SWAT officer.

The things got real nasty. There was a bit of a figure drop disaster and Carrie Kelly was split in twain. Turns out, KC actually did take her out of the game, so there's your battle-damage picture of the week! My heroes captured Boomerang and both of the Grin Twins. Croc and Slipknot escaped with the loot. Curses!

Well, this leaves the semi-narrative in an interesting place. Ravager, Boomerang and the Grin Twin are all in police custody. Sounds like a break-in / break-out is in order.

The other obvious scenario that needs to happen is a result of the success the bads have had recently. The last three games - this one and these [here] and [here] have seen them successfully pull of a string of heists. Presumably they've got what they needed to move onto the next phase of the plot. Perhaps Batman or Batwoman needs to perform a bit of pugilistic investigation to see what they've got planned?

Thanks for the game Mark, it was a blast! No hard feelings about Carrie - it happens. :)

06 July 2019

Shacks and Kayaking

Along with the 1/72 Germans I painted a week or so ago, I picked up and completed these gorgeous Russian farmhouses, courtesy of Pegasus models. The kits went together very easily and are quite robust. They were easy to paint and should look great on the game table. I'm tempted to pick up more but since storage is already an issue, perhaps it's best if I hold off.

I hope all my fellow American readers had a fine 4th - mine was great. Heck, the third was great too! My sister rolled into town and recruited my wife and I to join her on a geocaching expedition on Little Tybee Island. My sister Angela is big into geocaching and has visited thousands all over the world. I never join her so when she asked I figured "what the heck?"

It should be said that neither my wife nor I have ever kayaked before. We've both captained canoes on a river in Tennessee about five years ago, but that's not the same as a kayak + currents + motorboat wakes. Sis on the other hand is a pro. Caroline and I chose the tandem boat, or as Angela describes it, "The Divorcer."

Roughly 20 yards out, we capsized. The crowd on the shore got quite a show. My wife panicked momentarily  then swam back to shore. A swimmer who was knowledgeable in things kayak helped me flip the boat over and coached me a bit. I re-boarded with some help from Angela. We set back out, wetter and wiser. The channel crossing was a lot less dramatic the second time although I was attacked by a horsefly which was turned out to be a very stressful situation because I could freely swat at it without tipping the boat. Before long, we made it to our target, an exposed spit of sand. It was about an hour before low tide and there was a lot of temporary beach.

We hiked what felt like miles across the tidal sludge, sand and fast-running water. It was closer to 1/3 of a mile in reality. Angela located the cache and quickly realized she'd left her camera on the boat. She wandered back to get it which Caroline and I goofed around looking for shells and other crippus and crappus.

With no sign of Angela after about 20 minutes, we decided to head back, assuming she'd been eaten by a shark or alligator. Over the course of that 45 minutes, the area we'd been walked through had changed considerably so there was a little guesswork involved but we found the boats no problem.The float back to the other side of the channel was uneventful except for having to ride out the wake from a passing motorboat.

There's a map of our travels, starting in the upper right. The red circle indicates where the SS Banana went down. The yellow circle indicates the location of the cache.

Our boats pulled up on the sandbar.

My bride and I hiking back to the boats. We're a long way off.

There we are!

We three.

We had a terrific time and once we got the boats back to the rental place, we had dinner at the restaurant right next door. That was probably the best half-day of work ever. Be well! I'm on vacation next week - we're off to the Carolinas to goof off and get a change of scenery.

30 June 2019

X-Wing Returns

I gifted Ziggy a X-Wing 2.0 starter box for his birthday a couple of weeks ago. He had not yet taken the plunge and it was my little act of encouragement to push him over the edge. To accompany it, he picked up the Rebel conversion kit. Last evening we put our kit on the table and gave it a go. Instead of the typical points-buy method, we went with the quick play option of selection up to eight threat levels of ships from a list of pre-fabbed options. Here's an example:

So for the Rebels, you could take a Luke Skywalker X-Wing with the upgrades shown and that counts as a TL3 choice.

I rolled with the First Order. I just got the TIE Silencer (Kylo's ship) a couple weeks ago and really wanted to give it a go. He was joined by a Special Forces TIE and a regular TIE/fo with an excellent pilot - "Midnight."

Ziggy remained true to form and used three X-Wings - Luke, Wedge and a schlub.

I made some terrible decisions early in the match that resulted in Kylo and the SF TIE to suffer considerable damage. This had the undesirable result of making me fly defensively.

Before long, Midnight was the lone representative of Law and Order left and although he fought valiantly, his luck couldn't hold out forever.

He's a bad dude and I'll have to remember to lean on him in the future.

I also made the common mistake of spreading the damage around entirely too much. I caused a total of seven damage, enough to kill an X-Wing for sure, but it was allocated amongst all of the X-Wings, not concentrated on one like it should have been. Oh well, we had a great time and Ziggy's quite happy with second edition. It really does address the crowd complaints of first edition, adds a few nice mechanics and by keeping the points system 100% virtual, Fantasy Flight has the ability to adjust / balance ships and upgrades on the fly. As irritated as I was when they released it, I have to admit that it's a significant improvement on what was already a great game.

29 June 2019

Paintery - Ze Germans

I had the urge to add to my 1/72 WW2 collection in the past couple of weeks so I placed an order for a few model kits. I picked up a Flak 36 "88," a 75mm light infantry gun (le IG18) and an 8-rad armored car.

Post assembly. I wised-up and magnetized the 88 and its turntable to both ease storage requirements and make it more model-rific on the game table. The 234 was a standard model kit from Roden. Being a model kit and not meant for gaming meant that it had loads of detail and fiddly bits. It was a fun build but the wheels and cow-catcher on the front were a bit challenging. The kit was actually the version with the big antenna over the vehicle, but it was so fiddly I decided against it.

The 88 and IG are both Zvezda models and were super easy builds.

The lot all dolled-up.

Always a favorite on the game table. My crewed weapons all have matching base-trim colors to make them easy to identify.

Bloody dangerous! I liked the kill-ring decal that was included.

The balkenkreuz decals were two-parters, separate white and black crosses. I used the white ones and to avoid extra frustration, simply painted the black crosses over them.

23 June 2019

Saturday Evening Infinity

Z and I pulled the Infinity stuff out again last evening. The last time we played Ziggy started using the Fireteams rules. They were certainly effective and useful, so this time the force I put together was set up to take advantage of them. I used my Ariadna Frenchies and had little trouble putting 15 troopers in a 300 point force. Ziggy of course used his Pan Oceania Knights. He's got some Japanese guys he's been working on but they're not quite ready for prime time.

We played a scenario out of the MRB - The Armory. It features an 8" x 8" building in the center of the battlefield with four closed doors, one in each side. When any of the doors are opened, all open at the same time. The objective is to have the largest contingent in the armory at the end of each turn and at the end of the game.

Out setup. The armory in the center looks a bit disheveled. I have a Loup Garou fireteam and some Briscards off to the right, a large Metros fireteam in the middle with a medic assisting. The left was a bit weak with a Briscard sniper and trooper holding it down.

The armory was considered to have solid walls, with only the doors providing any gaps. 

Early into the proceedings, my sniper pops a couple of shots at a knight. It was kind of a gimme. Although it was a nice way to get things started, no damage was done.

My right flank troopers, three Loup Garou with a Briscard medic and rocketeer.

The PanO hacker opened the armory door and was greeted by a hail of gunfire! The Metro machine-gunner sprayed shots wildly, clipping the hacker and the emergency services medic finished her off with a remarkable shotgun blast! (critical hit)

For their next activation, the Metros continued to lean on their machinegun who gunned down another of the knights - the only one visible through the narrow gap.

The downward spiral showed no signs of letting up for Ziggy's knights. His Crusader Bretheren dropped in from above with his jump pack, but a stiff south-western breeze pushed his landing spot well past what would have been advisable. Instead of landing in a relatively safe spot to ambush my big fireteam with his flamethrower, he dropped in right in front of them! He was gunned down and coup-de-gras'ed in short order. My Frenchies still have a lot of hate and anger towards that sumnabitch.

This is how turn 1 ended. I had snuck a single Metro into the armory, giving me a victory point. I also had two Para Commandos infiltrate deep on the left (circled in white). Taking out three knights in the first turn was huge for me and I had 'em on their heels now.

The Father-Knight takes control of the situation and bursts in on my trooper in the armory and takes her out with little trouble. Blast!

But in terrain like this, you've got to watch out! My Commando with the machinegun managed to find a suitable spot to take shots at the Knight's leader and gunned him down with some excellent long-range shooting! He's a real Frederick Zoller at that range.

We played a few more activations. I lost one more trooper while Z lost two more to my Loup Garou viral rifles who got very brave after the Father-Knight had been sorted out. Between the loss of the Lieutenant  and heavy casualties, the writing was on the wall and we called the game. Finally, a victory over the Knights!

Using fireteams really changed things for the Ariadna army. I was able to get a lot done and had a bazillion order markers to do it. It helped a lot that Zig's dice were atrocious and for a change his armor wasn't up to the task. Regardless, it was good evening of gaming and fine morale booster.

Looking forward to the next as always! Be well and good gaming.