30 December 2014

The End (of 2014)

This has been a good gaming year for me. I covered lots of ground, didn't waste much money, and had a lot of fun in the process. Early in the year, James and I got together for a rather entertaining game of Megablitz which is quite different from the usual games I play. He's been working on some Eastern Front units, so Megablitz may indeed get revisited soon.

I also put my space combat game StarDust through its paces and published it. I haven't put it on the table top recently but I have continued to work on it further, creating new ships, weapons and special equipment. I need to roll the updates into the main book and re-publish as 1.1. The rules are solid and it provides for a very good game.

In April, my son and I attended Gnomecon here in Savannah. We did very well in the X-Wing tournament and later that evening I played in a big nine-player Star Fleet Battles game. That game was one of the most enjoyable I've ever taken part in. I don't know if that magic can be re-created this year, but I'm sure SFB will be on the to-do list at Gnomecon 2015.

I played a great game of AK47 Republic in July, with my wife who normally does not play my games. We both had a good time and probably are due for another shoot-em-up. We played Dystopian Wars not long afterwards and she liked that too.

August was game-heavy. We played a lot of World War One games in honor of the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the war. There was a good deal of Games Workshop Great War and we also played Victory at Sea: Age of Dreadnoughts and some Wings of Glory. Some unusual games and some good times to be sure!

Also in August I put my sci-fi rules 1.0 to the tabletop test. The game worked very well but involved too many types of dice. Although part of me really enjoys d4s - d20s they don't really belong in a quick-moving wargame so I did a massive re-write and settled on d8s for all dice rolls, just like StarDust, in fact I have named it StarDust: Ground. Over Thanksgiving and the few days I was out with vertigo in early December I did a great deal of typing and have many pages of rules done. The system needs more play-testing but it is easily as good as anything you'd pay money for right now.

Throughout the second half of the year we played Star Fleet Battles regularly, at least once a month. We began with the Cadet's Rules but are now using the "Real" rules. For a game I've have for 20+ years and played only sporadically, it has been beyond awesome to get into SFB regularly. It's a complex game but very rich in all aspects - background, tactics, depth. There was some mention on another blog recently about "dessert" games and "meal" games. SFB is a meal game, much like Modern Spearhead. Neither game is "light" by any stretch of the imagination and thus are rather rewarding games to play. Dystopian Wars to me is a fine example of a "dessert" game - it is fun to play, but is more of a dice-rolling contest whose "tactics" rely more upon army-list selection than actual in-game decisions.

James and I got together for some HOTT in October - he'd been putting a dinosaur army together for a while and it gave me a chance to field my Romans for their inaugural battle. We had a good time with it and probably are due for another afternoon of HOTT. James, I know you read this blog - let's make it happen!

I've played a good deal of Dystopian Wars lately, mostly because Ziggy and I have had new toys to test out. We've gotten comfortable with the 2.0 rules which do work a lot better than the previous edition. I think we need to take a break from DW and put some other stuff back on the table - it's been a while since our last MSH outing and CY6:JA needs some love.

So, 2015, what would I like to do in the year ahead? Star Fleet Battles must stay in the rotation. I like having a dedicated SFB day once per month. We must get in at least a couple games of MSH. I need to work on a follow-up scenario to our last battle (The Bay). I want to play test SD:G and complete the writing process. I'm not sure if I want to GM anything at Gnomecon, but I'll do whatever needs to be done to get SFB on the menu. I may try dragging StarDust out again - I got hosed by work in 2014 and wasn't able to demo it. I'll do my best to avoid that this time around!

As far as new games go, the only thing that's eye-catching at the moment is Relic Knights, mostly because of the good looking minis. Saga is tempting but seems to be rather pricey, especially with the special dice, etc. One other potential project is micro- or pico-armor scaled WWII using GHQ's MicroArmor rules, but I've already talked myself out of that about six times in the last year and a half.

If I don't post again this year, have a nice NYE celebration - drink lots, be merry and be safe!

24 December 2014

Dystopian Wars - Singing the Bleus

Z and I got together for a bit of holiday-week shoot-em-up yesterday. He'd just recently picked up a bunch of new British stuff for DW and I'd been wanting to put my French on the tabletop since finishing them up.* We played a 1000 point naval game and as usual forgot to determine mission objectives prior to playing through a full turn or so.

The French (moi)
La Rochelle Heavy Battleship w/ Cloud Generator   215
Magenta Battleship w/ Cloud Generator   175
2 Cherbourg Battlecruisers   220
3 Alma Frigates   90
2 Epaulard Submarines   100
3 Marseillie Light Cruisers   180

The British
Ruler Battleship w/ Guardian Generator   205
Regent Battle Carrier w/ Guardian Generator 160
Lord Hood Battle Cruiser   115
3 Doncaster Bombers  180
4 Bastion Escorts (for carrier and BB)   100
4 Attacker Frigates   120
3 Orion Destroyers   120

Our starting positions. Very sparse terrain this game. My two battle cruisers were in the "Advance" zone whilst the light cruisers and frigates were flanking. As I read this I realize I cheated and had over 40% of my force in the "Strategic" group. 

First shots are from one of my Cherbourgs nails the British Lord Hood with some heat ray goodness.

A single point of damage and three cooked boarding parties thanks to "piercing."

The Lord Hood return fire and dings one of the Cherbourgs while my Magenta sinks a far off frigate with its fore turret.

My subs surface, lob some rounds at the distant carrier and submerge again. The volley was ineffective due to the Guardian Generator on the carrier.

The end of turn 1. Zig's battleship lingered in the back - he should have pushed it forward more. While outclassed by two opposing battleships, it could have absorbed some shots and kicked out some of its own at the front of the formation.

One of my Cherbourgs opens up on the Hood at range 2. It was ugly for the British ship which suffered a Weapons Damage crit in addition to being set aflame and taking lots of damage.

Things spiral out of control quickly for the Brits as my subs hit the carrier with their corrosive mortar rounds, the the Magenta "crosses the T" and causes three further damage including the dreaded Weapons Damage again. That fleur-de-lis marker on the carrier is the corrosion marker... :)

The distant Ruler finally gets a hit on a French ship causing a single point of damage to the Magenta. The Cloud Generators and Retardant Armor caused Ziggy fits all game. Some method of disabling the clouds would have server them well.

It kept getting worse for the Royal Navy as "The Beast" opened up on the carrier with its Heat Lances causing a Sturginium Flare which dropped the harried vessel right in front of the French Heavy Battleship.

The other Cherbourg piles on the hapless Lord Hood, taking its shield generator offline.

And then the Almas appear from my right flank, destroying one Attacker and damaging another!

Insult, meet injury. The corrosion finishes off the carrier during the end phase.

I began turn 3 by pulling the light cruisers in, ambushing the battleship. I hit it for a crit - a Hard Pounding. Not exactly awesome, but good enough. 

Ziggy and the Brits get their first taste of revenge, dropping a solid bombardment on La Rochelle. A crit is scored, another Hard Pounding. 

My Magenta finishes off the Lord Hood.

The submarines take shots at the battleship, not harming it at all. They then attempted a boarding action against one of the Doncs and were terribly ineffective.

The Orion Destroyers appear on my left flank and unleash a hail of gunfire and torpedoes at the already damaged Cherbourg, causing a good deal of damage and reducing its speed by half.

The big battlecruiser got its revenge sinking two of the Orions.

It would have been pointless to tally up the score at this point. Zig had just two frigates, three Doncasters and a wounded battleship left to my Magenta, full-strength Cherbourg, damaged Heavy battleship, three frigates, two subs and three light cruisers. He still hadn't destroyed any of my units. A stunning French win!

I'm not sure what happened there - that went as perfectly as you could ask for, for me and completely miserably for Zig. The dice hated him and loved me. Having the battleship stuck in the back didn't help things - I was able to crush the carrier quickly by broadsiding it with both of my battleships which left him with only one strong unit. His poor Lord Hood got worked over badly by my two battle cruisers - outnumbered and damaged before it even got a chance to move.

I really enjoyed using this fleet. Heat Lances are nasty, Cherbourgs are nasty and Heavy Battleships are really nasty. I was concerned about the lack of SAS, but came out OK - the three extra fighters off the La Rochelle helped a lot. I'm sure Zig is ready for some revenge - he's got a Heavy Battleship of his own which I imagine I'll be facing next time around.

Merry Christmas, Readers! Oh and thank you to Ziggy for my Christmas prezzie:
A French Aerial Force! These will keep me busy for a while.

* Of course they are never "finished." I've got a carrier and frigates on order now.

21 December 2014

December Star Fleet Battles

It's that time of the month... yes, Star Fleet Battles Sunday was today. We had a four-player game today and it was a hoot. I concocted a multi-player every man for himself scenario whereby each player selected his own secret objective and attempted to complete it. We put an 80-point cap on things to keep ships very killable.

I took two of my dead-sexy ISC Fast Patrol Craft (PFs), Maverick and Goose.
Bill took a Federation FFG - an Improved Frigate. Rather vanilla but not a bad ship at all.
David took an LDR Police Carrier with no fighters. Weird choice but a solid ship.
Mike took a Jindarian Frigate. Not entirely sure about the actual designation.

As my mission selection, I was to destroy one opposing ship. Not easy but since I had PFs, some of the missions were off-limits. I didn't have transporters, tractors or shuttles which are pretty necessary for some of the missions.

We played in a thick asteroid field. The clear templates with yellow dots indicate asteroid hexes. It's a good portion of the table that's covered. My two PFs are in the foreground with the other guys' relative positions indicated.

The Feds come around the corner and get headed the right direction.

Evil David. I tried to make him look more Lyran.

Mike's school bus eases forward. He was driving it like it was his dad's new Porsche - VERY CAREFULLY.

For some reason I cut right, up the edge of the map instead of heading to the center as was my original plan. Perhaps I was afraid to get in amongst the bigger ships with my two glass cannons.

Half a turn on. It looks as though I've got a dance partner! Dave's carrier, ESGs ready, gets lined up on my pair of little guys.

Mike has revealed his hand - he's dropping boarding parties on the asteroids to hunt for the relic he's after. I call out Bill - he's making a dash for the opposite corner and no one but nobody is in a position to stop him or even challenge him! Feh.

I send out an ISC greeting party for the cats to work with.

His defense was good, and lost only his #6 shield and a single internal damage point.

A moment later his radius-2 ESG hit Goose. 17 damage reduced by 2 from general reinforcement, then 8 from shields. Seven internals! Gah! Both engines got hit, causing further damage due to the warp booster packs by little ships have. Oh well, at least I'm still in the fight and the weapons didn't get too messed up.

I got in position for two more torpedoes and let 'em rip. The first crushed the shield. I followed them with some phaser-3 fire through the down shield, then the second torpedo impacted causing a great deal of damage. Not bad, although the ridiculous shields on this Commie Cat Carrier are getting old.

Late during turn 2, Bill managed to make good his escape. BOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Grats, Bill for easily completing your mission.

Then I forgot to take pictures for a bit. There was a fair amount of drama as I got in position with both ships behind the nasty wasty LDR carrier and put two more torpedoes out. The first was a Pseudo, which David chewed up with his Gatling Phasers. The second plasma torpedo ripped through his ship - I'd taken out his rear shield with phasers prior to torpedo impact. The damage was close to killing his ship but just a bit shy. 

And then, treachery of treachery. The ignoble Lyran expats hooked to port...

Off the map. Curses! David completed his mission of exiting off the opposite corner, just as Bill had done, but with significantly more damage to his ship. 

Mike's Jindarian Frigate, pick up crew that were recovering the relic from the asteroid. We could have continued the fight since technically he needed to exit the map with the relic, but...

Considering the state of my ships it would have been a forgone conclusion. I had to destroy an enemy vessel and the Jindarian was undamaged. I conceded to Mike and we called it there.

My ships (#2 and 5). Ol' #5 got mauled.

Well that was a lot of fun! I think everyone enjoyed it and the secret objectives made it very interesting. I saw what Bill was up to, but just a bit too late for it to matter. I could have intercepted him if I'd stayed on my original course but that's life. Mike could have challenged but was facing the wrong way, and intent on getting a win for himself.

And the there's Dave. I really thought he was trying to kill my ships and it wasn't until he moved off the map that I realized I'd been had. Hitting multiple shields with my weapons saved him. A good 40+ points of damage that I caused were "wasted" on burning through shields. The pseudo torpedo worked nicely and because he did 38 damage to it, I felt a bit vindicated that I hadn't wasted a real torp on the shot.

Looking forward to the next SFB meet up -it's been a blast so far. I think we're going to do fighters only next time.

A Quick "Recently Painted"

I finished up the first 18 Dystopian Wars French tiny fliers yesterday. In their glory...


Dive Bombers and a Recon token. I shaved off the rear two planes on the Recon marker.

 Fighters, with their optional Ace in the center.

And Torpedo Bombers with their Ace front and center.

I do have three more squadrons (15 token) left. They are a lot of fun to paint up - coming up with color schemes has been a neat break from the usual "everything one way" painting that I do. I did some Japanese fliers recently for the walking aircraft carrier that's still in-progress.





That's it for now. I've got Star Fleet Battles this afternoon. I think we have four players so it should be mighty entertaining.

18 December 2014

A Quick Update

I haven't been up to much gaming activity this week. I keep staring at the painting table but haven't done any painting. It has just been a busy week for other things and painting got pushed down the list a bit. Maybe Saturday morning I'll get some stuff knocked out; the last thing I was working on was French tiny fliers for Dystopian Wars.

I ordered some tanks (PT-76es) and more African irregulars for AK47 Republic. It is always fun stuff to paint and I haven't done any in a while. I also finally managed to get a French Carrier for DW shipped to me after a great deal of screwing around. The place I ordered it from initially, ciphergames.com, was out of stock but took weeks to respond to email inquiries and they have no phone number on record. I spent quite a bit of time trying to get in touch with them to no avail. When they finally did respond with the ol' "that's out of stock and blah blah blah" response I asked that they please cancel the order. Two weeks later, they responded with an "OK, it is canceled." I then placed an order for the same on frpgames.com whose website indicated they only had one in stock. A few days later I got the dreaded "it is back-ordered" email. Since the single-ship blister is out-of-production I figured that was the end of that. A few hours later they emailed back indicating that they'd located it in their other warehouse. Hurrah!

I've got SFB on Sunday this weekend and probably nothing else on Saturday because of other activities interfering. I'm excited about SFB for sure.

14 December 2014

Home-Made Goodness

So, the great bout with vertigo is easing up a bit. I'm here to tell you, don't get it. I was unable to do anything worthwhile for days. I was finally comfortable painting a bit on Friday. I'm doing well now - it only really flares up when I lay my head down or bend over - major head-position changes. That, I can deal with.

So, with a week's worth of creative juices stored up, what did I do today? I made some space ships of course! Our monthly Star Fleet Battles game is next Sunday and having rolled on the "random ship generator" I was dealt a force of two ISC PFs (fast patrol craft) for the game. Now most folks would have proxied something but no, a challenge like this doesn't come around very often so I decided to make some.

Step 1 - hulls. I commandeered some DW packaging and cut out 6 triangular shapes for the ship hulls.

They aren't big at all, but then again, neither are PFs.

Step 2 - add the cylindrical sections. Some carefully cut-up toothpicks worked nicely.

I of course put magnets on the bottoms so they'd marry up with my flight stands.

Step 3 - paint 'em up! I haven't got any other ISC ships yet, so I went with a bright-as-day light orange.The leader has the green stripe, the EW craft has the white stripe.



Not too shabby at all for about 2 hours of work invested. I can't wait to have a go with them next Sunday!

09 December 2014

Arrrrgh!

I woke up Sunday with a sudden bout of vertigo. I've never had it before and hope I never have to suffer through it again. Any head movement causes me to feel as though I am falling. It sucks. I wasn't able to play in the big DW game and have basically been confined to the couch for two days. I'm staying home from work again today - I'd be useless there. Yesterday was a solid improvement over Sunday, but this morning seems a small step back.

On the plus side, I was able to get a lot of typing done yesterday for my sci-fi 15mm game, so a complete rule book isn't far away! My son who stayed home from school sick and I watched about 15 episodes of Clone Wars yesterday. It was awesome.

I downloaded the Firestorm Armada rule book yesterday. Looks pretty good. I'll probably pick up a starter fleet box some time after Christmas. It's no StarDust, but it'll do.

03 December 2014

More Shinies

I got the DW stuff I ordered last week from miniaturemarket.com when they were having their Black Friday sale. Holy cow, this stuff is big...

Exhibit A

That blister pack is at max capacity

Everything that was in it. This sucker is gonna be huge.

Exhibit B
Also included is the Empire of the Blazing Sun "Bunker Complex." It's a Japanese steakhouse with battleship cannons and more rockets than you can shake a stick at.

I also ordered some French tiny fliers - they aren't very interesting to look at at so I'll spare you. I'm looking forward to getting these goodies on the table... not a bad haul for $14 plus shipping!