27 February 2016

StarDust Ground - Short AAR

I got that scenario playtest in this evening with Zig. It ended up being rather enjoyable and I think it's pretty well balanced. No full AAR but I've got a short write up and pics.

Our battlefield. The game was a night-fight so vision distances were very short for the humans. The robots, turret and Python walker have Enhanced Optics giving them twice the spotting range!

The robot attackers.

 More robots.
Red Guard human defenders.

The Python pops up on the left flank and starts causing me headaches.

My fast elements descend on the Red Guard but have a terrible time making an impression.

The transport VTOL arrives to evacuate a squad.

Stampy takes a swing at a Heavy Hoverbot but can't land a solid strike.

In the end, two human squads were evacuated and one was wiped out. A victory for the Red Guard!

Another enjoyable game of SDG. The night rules worked well, although I've got to say that troops camping behind cover in the dark are damn near impossible to shift! Without assaulting, I never would have gotten the one squad that I managed. Zig's dice were really hot and I lost a lot of stands early and often to low-odds shooting. Oh the power of rolling 8s! The robot player ends up with a lot of tough choices in this scenario - choosing between trying to kill infantry (for the win) and shooting the turret, VTOL and Python. We briefly considered adding one more squad to the robot side to shift the balance a bit towards their side, but dismissed it due to Z's better than average dice.

See you at Gnomecon! Be well.

26 February 2016

StarDust Ground - Rules Suggestion

For anyone who has asked, and for those who haven't, I present an official addendum!
Sample Troop Type
Weapons Team
Rating: Regular
Movement: Normal
Weapon: Assault Rifle and Light AT Weapon
Special: Mutli Weapon

New Special Rule:
Multi Weapon
The stand carries more than one weapon and can fire all of them. Each weapon can fire at a different target. All of the weapons use either the First or Second ROF depending on the Action the squad was given.

Bear in mind that this can give one stand a RIDICULOUS amount of firepower if you do something crazy like combine Assault Rifles and an LMG into one stand. I think it is just a feasible to simply create a new weapon type like this:

Fireteam Weapons
Close Range: 12
Long Range: Unlimited
ROF: 2/1
AV: +3
Other: AV can only be used on Flank Shots.


Fireteam Weapons
Close Range: 12
Long Range: Unlimited
ROF: 2/1
AV: nil

Alternative Fire Mode
Close Range: 12
Long Range: 36
ROF: 1/1
AV: +3

The stand with this weapon now has solid firepower and can ambush inattentive armored vehicles if the opportunity presents itself (which is all a LAW should be expected to do). The stand cannot split its fire (which weighs heavily in this rule's favor) but still gives the stand options.

I'm still kicking around ideas for Overwatch and will work something out.

25 February 2016

The Farmy

OK, so I disappeared for over a week, then three posts in a row. Making up for lost time...

I got the painting gear back out this evening and took the opportunity to knock out a loooong-lingering project (first appearance - early last April). I put the finishing touches on my HOTT farm animal army - the Farmy.

The whole shebang

 The Stronghold. First time I've ever had to apply weathering to a pig!

Cluck Cluck...

And the heavy hitters.

So the list in HOTT terms is:

1    Dog        Paladin
2    Ducks        Lurkers or Water Lurkers
2    Sheep        Knights
1    Donkey        Cleric
1    Cow        Behemoth
5    Chickens    Hordes
1    Goat        Blades

Whether or not they're worth a toot in game term is irrelevant. It's all about assembling something off the beaten track of toy-soldiering.

StarDust Ground... the First Review

My gaming buddy James has read through and reviewed my recently published Sci Fi rules. Since I value his input as a high-level gaming geek, I wanted to share his POV and publicly answer his questions. My comments are in red.


The game looks real good and I look forward to playing it. I was going to go with Gruntz, but these rules are more flexible. I also like that it doesn't rely on a point system. That said here are a few things that I think you should look into.

Page 2.
“Infantry are generally equipped with variety of weapons.  Most infantry have just one primary weapon listed in their profile. Rarely, some infantry will have multiple weapons listed-when that is the case the player chooses one to use for the current turn.”

The first part of this is confusing. You first state that infantry have variety of weapons, which is true. You then state that rarely infantry will have multiple weapons, which isn't true. Poor editing on my part.You should also look into better way to handle mixed weapon stands, as this is often the standard. A modern fireteam, which is what your stands seem to represent, has 4 soldiers. Three carry a standard weapon, the fourth member almost always carries a support weapon of some type. There may also be additional weapons such as a rifle mounted grenade launchers or LAWs. For example a current U.S. stand would have 3 rifle men armed with M4 carbines and 1 man armed with an M249 SAW. In addition one of the riflemen have a M203 grenade launcher. During a firefight these men would use every weapon they have available at practically the same time. One of my design goals has been simplicity. I'd prefer that any given stand of infantry only have one ranged attack option. A typical squad in SDG will have two standard stands of "line infantry" and a small stand with a special weapon. This combined with the owning player removing casualties keeps things simple and allows the special weapons to stick around if the player desires. A well-equipped and intact squad usually has solid shooting options.

One way to represent this is to allow units with secondary attacks an extra 1 shot using the secondary’s weapon data.

“When playing with 15mm (or larger) miniatures, most weapons do not have an upper range limited and can indeed fire the full length of the tabletop. For smaller miniatures, a max range is stated.”

The weapons chart doesn’t state the max range, but I’ll get into that later. When using smaller miniatures like 6mm, you can use centimeters in place of inches. I indeed have created a 6mm sample weapons chart and a 6mm QRS with appropriate changes. It has never been playtested and I did not feel comfortable making that public.

Page 4.

Vehicles should also be allowed to use overwatch. It’s a common tactic with both infantry and armor units. I agree, but I personally despise overwatch-fests. I hated it in WH40K 2nd edition and still hate it. In a game with alternating activations, it is a lot less useful than you'd think. It does work VERY well on autonomous turrets though!

Also, if you want to shorten the turn time, you can have the players declare which units are on overwatch at the beginning of the turn, like in Force on Force. This way players only have to worry about the moving units. Interrupting the other guy's turn slows the flow of the game and I'm generally against that.

Page 6.
“Weapons without an AV rating cannot affect vehicles in any way.”

You’re forgetting about soft vehicles with no armor. These vehicles can be penetrated by almost any weapon.  I would say that weapons without an AV suffer a -1 on the vehicle hit effects chart when used against soft vehicles. Soft vehicles weren't part of the scope of work so I made no allowances for them. Look for them in 1.1!

Page 10.
The smoke template should be the same size as the HE template if not larger. I would use the smaller template for lighters weapons, such as grenade/rocket launchers, tank guns, and light mortars. Perhaps two adjoining small templates?

Page 11.
Only specialized observation fliers should be able to call artillery.

There are no rules for bomb attacks. Maybe have aircraft that have bombs be able to place them a line along the flight path, then roll to hit. If the bombs miss roll deviation. Resolve as artillery.

Additional Infantry Special Abilities

Body Armor-Unit is equipped with armor or has a though exoskeleton. Units with body armor get an additional -1 on the IHEC roll. -2 if equipped with power armor or a turtle shell.

Self-Destruct-Unit has suicide bombs or acid blood. Infantry units in CC with the unit suffer a hit if the unit is killed.

Aquatic- Unit is made up of frogmen or aliens that are at home in the water. Stand can move through shallow or deep water at normal speed.

Additional Vehicle Special Abilities

Reactive or Specialized armor-Unit receives a +2 to its armor verses rockets and missiles.

Recovery Vehicle-Recovery vehicle that declares a move and shot order may do one of three things to a friendly vehicle within 2”.  1: It can repair an immobilized vehicle on a roll of 8. 2: It can remove 1d4 pins from a vehicles. 3: It can rig the vehicle to be towed. The recovery vehicle must be the same size or larger than the immobilized vehicle. Once rigged the recovery vehicle can move the immobilized vehicle with it at normal speed. Recovery vehicles can only fix/tow one vehicle at a time.

Amphibious- Unit can move through deep water at half normal speed.

Additional Weapon abilities

Single Shot-Stand can only use the weapon once during the game, unless the unit is carrying more than (Like an aircraft may have 4 bombs giving it 4 attacks)

All of the above are good ideas. The RAW were done for models I have in my collection so I didn't make an exhaustive effort to "cover all the bases." All are worthy of future inclusion.

The Weapons chart
The weapons chart is, frankly, a mess. The weapons should be grouped by type. I placed a more organized one with this email. I also included a modified weapons chart with max ranges listed (Just doubled the ranges) and a few extra weapons. It's alphabetical! What could be better? I'm kidding. I don't think I was clear that the weapons chart is list of samples to go by and in no way intended as the definitive way to do things. The chart was designed 100% as a playtesting and game design tool and it really should have been re-formatted. That said, your re-designed chart looks very nice. In practice I don't use the chart. I've made stat cards for the models I play with. Here's an example:

Future add-ons you should consider
Hostile Enviroments: Low or High gravity, Poisonous atmosphere, vacuum, man eating animals.
Electronic Warfare/Computer Hacking
Combat Drugs
Esper Powers
Advanced artillery: Cluster Bombs, Mines, Precision Munitions
Engineering Rules (especially for 6mm)

Chemical Weapons 
Again, all are worthy of inclusion in a later update. Beyond the initial scope of the project.

Thank you very much for your input. Much of my final work was tidying up rules behavior which to me is the important part. Adding in fun stuff will be easy enough and you've given me tons of things to work on. 

24 February 2016

Something Different

No game posts lately... duh. Last weekend I was very tied up with other (non work) things and this week I've been working on Pinewood Derby cars in the evenings, not your usual wargames stuff. My 8-year old is in Cub Scouts and their Pack PWD is in a couple of weeks. My wife and I also have cars for the "Outlaw" Division so the kids won't all the fun for themselves.

 The Pink Cadillac, the Red Dragon and Super Duck!

My car - the Super Duck. The head is insulation foam. I hollowed it out a bit and filled it with BBs and glue to give it some good weight.

Cameron's car. The design was all him. It was a good bit of work with the bandsaw but we're both happy.

My bride's racer. I think she's going to have at least one Lego minifig along for the ride.

Zig and I are going to try to get in a StarDust Ground Gnomecon scenario playtest this Saturday. We haven't thrown dice in quite a while. I think the Robots will be making an appearance.

15 February 2016

StarDust: Ground

After over a year of screwing around, I've finally gotten StarDust: Ground to a state that I'm happy enough with to make public. I've got a lot of insecurities about spelling and grammar mistakes so please go easy on me.

So, what is it? In short it is a 15mm sci-fi wargame.

Scale: Platoon. Each force will be composed of 3-6 squads and some vehicle squadrons. Ideally, 6-10 units per side for good game flow. More units will slow things down. Expect a solid 2-3 hour battle.

Dice: Primarily d8, although d4s will be handy.

Models: I've based my infantry per Flames of War standards because it is pretty. 40mm square bases will work fine too. Special weapons troops and leaders really should be on smaller or at least visually different bases. Individually based minis will be a pain. Vehicles do not need bases.

Space: It is designed for a 4 X 6 battlefield.

What Else: A tape measure and ruler in inches are pretty much required.You'll want a bunch of tokens to use as pin markers.

What's in it? Rules for ground combat! Specifically it covers movement, shooting the other guys, stabbing the other guys and running away from the other guys. Flying vehicles, transport vehicles, flying transport vehicles! There are three solid sample army lists included - Humans, Dogs and Robots. There is also a sample list for giant space bugs that isn't quite as thorough but offers a great jumping-off point. I've included a sheet of beautifully designed markers that's a breeze to print off on the ol' color laser printer at work. There's also a terrific Quick Reference Sheet that'll keep your games flowing so you can focus on killing the other guy's dudes and tanks.

Available now for a mere $3.99 on lulu.com in PDF format.

Oh wow - what a good post #500.

14 February 2016

AAR - StarDust Ground - Extra Dust Please!

Hi all. My big January/February work projects wrapped up yesterday and I'm not going to know what to do with my weekends now. I did, however, convince my Valentine to playtest one of my Gnomecon StarDust Ground scenarios with me. The primary mechanics to be tested were artillery and weather-reduced visibility. I also needed to see if the scenario was remotely close to being balanced.

Remember this

The setup - a Red Guard platoon and some armor are defending a bridge crossing. The Khan's Battledogs are moving up the road toward the bridge. Intermittent winds keep kicking up enormous dust clouds, playing havoc with visibility.

The Battledogs at their start line.

The first two turns were both featured severely reduced lines of sight due to the dust so my Red Guard were unable to get any early hits on the Khan's troops. Not auspicious, for those of you keeping track at home.

On turn three, the winds died down, exposing plenty of targets for both forces. A Brawler snaps off a shot at one of my Horseman light grav tanks and kills it instantly.

Revenge is noisy, but sadly ineffective as the platoon leader calls in a few rounds on a cluster of Battledogs. The shells actually did get a kill on the Dogs' leader but he was saved by the medic he was with!

Just what I needed - the lull in the weather opens up an opportunity for the Seer which zips overhead, raking my squad in the ruins with automatic cannon fire. Two of my stands are killed! The squad is left with its AT rocket launcher and squad leader.

The Dogs' tank spread out past the bridgehead and get to work on my defenders. My return fire is ineffective. By far the worst part of the mid-part of the battle is three more turns of reduced visibility. I had things to shoot at, but my infantry was blinded for the most part and unable to pick off  any attackers crossing the bridge.

The writing on the wall implies that I need more guns aiming at the bridge so my rear squad with the machinegun take advantage of the dust and the fact that the tanks had just fired, to rush forward. The two Predator walkers leaped over the crevasse with their jump jets - bridges optional!

Small arms fire from the squad I pushed forward and plasma blasts from the AA vehicle begin taking their toll on the Battledogs as pin markers and casualties mount. I'm still having an impossible time with the tanks and simply cannot break their armor. On the right, two Predator walkers begin ripping chunks off one of my Lancers.

And then... the weather cleared. The blasted Seer returned. Mercifully, its attacks were much less effective this time around.

The Horseman OP tank calls in a barrage on the enemy on the bridge. No casualties, but loads of pin markers for the Battledogs.

Red Claw close combat specialists rush the ruins, wiping out what remained of the squad I had there. Buh-bye missile launcher!

Then a Brawler finally finds the sweet spot of one of my Lancers and brews it up.

My immobilized Horseman light grav "turret" is euthanized.

My remaining infantry squad pulls back out of close combat but two stands are gunned down as they fall back. Tragedy!

The Battledogs pursue their quarry and finish them off with gunfire. (Heavily penalized due to the pin markers they're carrying and the fact that the were moving. Fortunate dice roll timing is a thing.)

With that, my Red Guard were done. I had an AA vehicle, and artillery observer light tank and one heavy tank left. The win goes the Khan's Battledogs.

So, what is the takeaway?
1) I need to crank up the lethality of artillery.
2) Weather rolls were fickle and unfortunate for me. My wife's army got to advance almost unscathed while all I could really do was sit and watch. The shots I did have (against the tanks), I wasn't able to capitalize on. Here is a recap of the visibility during the game:

(1) 9"
(2) 8"
(3) Clear
(4) 10"
(5) 14"
(6) 10"
(7) Clear
(8) Clear

So, ONE of the first six turns featured clear lines of sight. In SD:G, most weapons have "full table" range so at the very least I'd planned to get a couple more turns of fire at the enemy before they were across the bridge. I'm chalking the results up to dumb luck. If I reversed the die rolls, I think the Dogs would have been slowed considerably by loads of pin markers.

3) Game balance was fine I think, though I may add a third Lancer heavy tank to the Red Guard. It's a tough call. The Khan's force does not include much in the way of anti-tank weaponry, so adding a third tank for the humans may be a mistake.

The game a a lot of fun, resulted in a couple of situations that bear clearing up in the rules, and was a wonderful break from five straight weekends of work!

10 February 2016

Painted Things

I finished up some Dystopian Wars minis last evening. They've been idling since Christmas...

French Heavy and Medium bombers!

The Mediums

 and the Heavies

Since I had the storage boxes out, I figured I'd set up a group shot of all of my French fliers. It's a pretty group. They desperately need some table time.

04 February 2016

New Toy!

I normally don't get to crazy about X-Wing stuff on my blog. It's a fun game and I enjoy playing it, but it certainly isn't my #1. That said, I got this bad mother in the mail yesterday!

I've had my eye on it for a while and finally plunked down the scratch for it on Sunday. Well, it didn't take long to get it unboxed and on the table. Junior and I played the first campaign mission in the book, except that instead of Rebels, I used Scum as the protagonists.

Junior's deployment. One carrier with four TIEs, coming right up! 

My group. My mission was to collect three satellites with the Firespray (Boba Fett's ship) and exit the map. Junior was simply trying to stop me.

Kath Scarlett destroys a TIE with a rear shot.

A scrum develops!

The Y-Wing's Ion turret accounts for a TIE (that had been just in front of the Firespray.) Having nabbed two of the markers, Junior conceded. His attack dice were miserable and could not damage Kath Scarlett's ship, It was just an exercise in maneuvering for me to grab the final objective and exit the tabletop. 

Thoughts... The carrier is really neat. I like the mechanics, which although they're plenty different from the small ships, are still simple to employ and do not complicate things. That's the beauty of X-Wing - there's s lot going on but there's no need to refer to charts, books, etc.

The carrier itself seems undergunned, but that's OK - it is a carrier after all! I haven't spent any time trying to cheese it up. Damaging or destroying one would take a different set of tactics than I was prepared for with the list I used. I imagine all big ships are similarly difficult to damage and require big doses of firepower to punch shields and ding the hull before the shields are back up a turn later.

02 February 2016

Itty Bitty Dark Elves

I wasn't lying... I really did have six stands of Dark Elf Warriors "nearly done." They're not winning any painting contests, but damn if they aren't functional! They look fine on the tabletop.

I hope I can get them on the tabletop soon.

I found out that indeed I AM going to be running StarDust Ground at Gnomecon on Friday night, March 4th from 6PM until we all fall asleep. I need to work up a scenario or two and repair my tokens. Feh.

Be well!