30 January 2017

Just an Update

I haven't done much gamey stuff in the last week or so. Last weekend my 9-year old and I went camping, but Sunday I made some significant progress on the racetrack for my Gnomecon game - Rubber and Lead.

That's 2 48" X 24" sheets of MDF. I've learned that a regularly-shaped track (oval, rectangle) is easily abused by wily drivers. The odd shape of this track should encourage a bit more "driving" for a car that gets way out in the lead. We shall see. The green area way covered with carpenter's glue and beach sand, then two coats of spray paint. It'll scrape a knuckle if you're not careful!

I hope to have a good playtest session this weekend with four drivers. The game has been rock solid so far, but I'm going to add in nitrous oxidefor a couple of the less well-armed cars to give them a "boost."

I also made some fun nitrous counters...

They're essentially decoupages on 15 x 40mm 3mm plywood bases. Hooray ModPodge!

I also got some goodies in the mail today for my 15mm Robot Army
They're robotic hover tanks. I think they'll also be troop transports for the little hover bots for that extra scoop of annoyance.

Be well and have a good week!

27 January 2017

StarDust - Revised Edition Now Available

I've worked hard over the last few weeks to get StarDust, my space combat game, updated and tweaked. I put the wraps on it last evening. Ta da! So, StarDust 1.1 is now officially available for purchase and download on lulu.com. Since I can't really tell by looking, can any of my readers who purchased it previously verify that the revision is indeed a freebie? If it isn't, email me at startdustgame (at) outlook.com and I'll send a copy to you.

The update isn't night and day different. I did remove the scenarios because I was unhappy with the graphics. I'll probably re-do them later. There are a handful of new weapons and special equipment items. I fleshed out a new fleet and tidied up a few loose ends.

If you haven't played StarDust, I'd recommend it to anyone looking for a fun space combat game. It's not designed as a competitive, balanced game system like you may be used to with GW, Spartan, Battlefront or most other publishers. You can use whatever miniatures you own, set up a scenario and commence blasting away! You will need a handful (as many as 10 perhaps) d8 dice. One of these days I'll commission Chessex or someone to make custom eight-siders with the StarDust cross on the "8" face and sell them for a ridiculous markup!

22 January 2017

StarDust - Play Testing the New

Zig and I had a playtest session of StarDust last evening. For those of you not in the know, StarDust is a space ship wargame of my own creation. I self-published it about two and a half years ago and it continues to get attention from me from time to time - adding rules, weapons and even new fleets. Thusfar, the published 1.0 rules haven't been officially updated but I have a lot of systems and a couple of minor rules tweaks in the 1.1 book that just need testing before they're ready for prime-time. Among them are:
      Ion Stream Weapon - works much like a "flamethrower" in space with a template. Those tight formations make juicy targets!
      Inertia Dampener - because sometimes making the other guy stop moving is a lot of fun.
      Minefields, Sweepers and Minelayers - why not, particularly if the system for managing them is easy to deal with?
      Shield Tenders - walls in space!

I've also been working on an entirely new fleet that was playtested this session as well as making the ship data cards more visually appealing. The old cards, while very functional, were ugly to say the least.

Most of the pictures I took came out blurry, so there won't be a very detailed AAR, but here's a recap of the exercise...

The setup. I was driving the new, white fleet while Zig commanded his old standbys, the red. One of the changes I made was the fleet identities - I paired each StarDust "race" with one from StarDust: Ground, to give the two games a bit of an additional link. Of course, the fleets and armies of my creation are simply templates to use as reference as you design your own fleets or armies based on your own collection. With respect to my collections, the red fleet corresponds to the Khans Dog Soldiers in SDG, while the white fleet is that of the Mechans robot army in SDG.

So for this scenario (lifted from a FOW scenario), the table was quartered. I chose a table quarter and the objective (a space station) was set in the opposite quarter. The winner would be whomever has control of the objective after 6 turns. Ziggy had to split his force in the other two quarters and got four minefields to deploy. He completely whiffed on "camping the objective" and chose to meet my fleet in the middle of the table, as you can see from the deployment picture above.

After a couple of turns, I decided the group to my right (upper right side of the picture) was to become a sacrificial unit and pushed left hard with everything I could.

A rare not-blurry picture. A Khans Heavy Cruiser gets up close and personal with my carrier (which in the interest of game balance was without fighters / attack craft). If memory serves, my carrier took 38 points of damage from that volley. She only had 50 damage boxes to start with!

But as you can see by the following picture, the combined firepower of the carrier and my flagship just ahead of it was too much for the cruiser.

I had a couple quicker units work the edges and make flank runs to the objective. Ziggy's decision to fight in the middle, combined with the difficulty of turning a fleet around (an inherent design choice by yours truly) meant I was in a good position to nab the station while the Reds could only chase me.

By the end of turn 6, Zig had managed a couple more major kills - my battleship and a cruiser, but he was in no position to prevent me capturing the station. 

I'm reasonably sure that's the first time I've won a game of StarDust. Granted, I was using an experimental, and as it turns out slightly overpowered fleet, but I'm keeping it. It was a really good playtest session - we decided on a significant rule change mid-game and I discovered that I apparently went gun-crazy when designing the white fleet.

For anyone curious, the rule change has to do with defensive fire against torpedoes. Previously, one could only fire at incoming torpedoes with unfired Particle Cannons. This rule required a bit in the way of mental gymnastics to remember which were unfired.

The new rule is that only Small Particle Cannons can fire at torpedoes, but they may always fire defensively, even if they also fired offensively. This slight change was a nice little shot of WD40 to the proceedings.

The completed 1.1 rules should be ready some time in 2017. Hahaha. Vaporware. BTW, it'll be a free update to anyone who already bought StarDust.

19 January 2017

Something Different

I was recently asked to GM a Star Fleet Battles game at Rapier in Jacksonville on February 11th. This morphed out of the Space Cadets' recent inability to get together for our regular games. I already had a scenario put together, so at least there wasn't much left for me to do... or so I thought. Mike's adamant about playing with minis rather than counters. I couldn't care less, but whatever... This of course meant I'd have to scratch-build some Klingon PFs (small gunboats). In two short evenings I churned out these little guys:

 A bit of plasticard and rod.

Three-quarter inch discs, glued to pennies for weight. Nails for stands.

A quick trip under the paint brush, and boom! Job's done. Mike gets them after the Rapier game... I don't need 'em.

16 January 2017

Tragedy at Sea - Victory at Sea Gone Wrong

Saturday, I got a chance to play Victory at Sea: Age of Dreadnoughts with David. He'd never played and it had been ages since I played last. Fortunately, it's a simple enough system that the lack of experience didn't affect the game much.

I put the scenario together - a Blockade out of the MRB. The two WWI fleets I own are Black Sea rivals Turkey and Russia. David chose the Russians and would be the blockading force. My small Turkish flotilla would try to run past him.

My group - two cruisers and four destroyers.

The scenario features a semi-random deployment for the defender. I thought I may be able to run up the right edge and avoid much of the Russian fleet.

Some terrific early marksmanship by the Russian destroyers sends two of my destroyers, old French Durandal-class things, to a watery grave. Bah!

Full steam ahead was the order of the day. One of my destroyers lays smoke, screening the two cruisers.

Of course, one of the two destroyers in the lead takes a hit and was crippled. Those Russian destroyers were HOT!

Impending doom. The rest of the Russian forces waste no time cutting me off.

The Pantelimon easily sinks a destroyer. Grr. I was hoping to hit it with a torpedo or two.

My Midilli-class cruiser and a destroyer trade torpedo hits and sink each other. Actually, the entire destroyer flotilla unloaded an absolute SCHOOL of torps and got a couple hits. I only had two and got lucky.

A few minutes later, the Pantelimon levels its guns at the Medjidieh, my other cruiser, and sinks it in no time. My cruiser had manged to sink another Russian destroyer (to the right of the frame) just prior.

The Tri Svyatitelia crushes the last of my destroyers. All gone.

As one-sided as it was, it was still enjoyable. Honestly, I don't mind being on the short end in a scenario like this. it makes every kill sweeter. Challenges of this magnitude are few and far between in tabletop gaming, which tend to be "balanced" affairs. As it turns out, I screwed up setting up the scenario and those battleships the Russians had were over-powered. It hardly mattered, the four destroyers on the right side game me enough trouble! It's poor form to blame the dice, but my dice were wretched.

I think David enjoyed the game and I'm looking forward to another game of Victory at Sea. Maybe next time I'll sink more than two row boats! Oh, and those Russian torpedo destroyers are absolute beasts having 9, 10, 12 torps each! Who cares if they're single-shot; that wall of doom is going to just crush whatever is unfortunate enough to get near it.

10 January 2017

Polish Naval Infantry - Complete

I managed to crank these guys out in near record time. Kind of sad really... I do enjoy painting them.

The kit and kaboodle. An infantry battalion, T-55 battalion, recon "battalion" and two regimental AA batteries.

Infantry stands.



Just another angle.

The infantry carriers have magnets on their undersides to they can be easily removed from the steel bases I use. I did the same with my USMC's Amtracks.

08 January 2017

Saturday Activity

I've been hard at work on my recent pick-ups, some 6mm Polish Marines. The first batch of vehicles is done, though not based.

That's 15 OT62s (disguised as BTR0s) and 7 T-55s. I did a bit of a blue and white splash on the sides, primarily as a bit of color. See this PT-76 for a full explanation:

The troop carriers have magnets underneath so they can be easily removed from the metal bases I use if I want to use them as pure infantry.

And to wrap up the evening, Wifey and I played a series of MLB Showdown. We drafted new teams and although I was very happy with what I'd put together, I still managed to lose two of the three games. The finals were 4-3 Loss (Vinny Castilla homer in the bottom of the 9th), 4-3 Loss again (Vinny Castilla homered again in the bottom of the 9th, this time to tie it! She won in the 10th inning), and finally 8-7 Win (I jumped out to an early 4-0 lead, she scored 7 in the 3rd inning, then I clawed my way back to take the lead in the 8th and hung on for the win). See scorecard below.

03 January 2017

2017 6x6 Update

I'm going to submit a change to my 6X6 list. I started looking at what I played in 2016 and it just seems like I got in a rut. It's not that it wasn't fun, but I have a LOT of minis that have sat idle for over a year now. That just won't do.

My revised 6 x 6 list

1) X-Wing
2) Dystopian Wars
3) My own rulesets, including StarDust, StarDust: Ground and Rubber and Lead.
4) Star Fleet Battles
5) Games that I own rules and minis for but did not play in 2016 such as:
Victory at Sea
Modern Spearhead
AK47 Republic
6mm Sci-Fi
6) MLB Showdown

02 January 2017

New Year's Day Check Your 6: Jet Age

I had some gaming buddies over on Sunday afternoon for a bit of Check Your 6: Jet Age. We hadn't played in a while and it's always enjoyable. I had a few scenarios selected and we ended up on MiG Surprise from the MRB. It's from the Bush War in the late 1980s. Ziggy won the roll-off and selected the +2 Pilot Skill SAAF Mirage. David rolled next best and took the other Mirage. James and I both drove Cuban (Angolan) MiG-23s, call signs Taco Bell (James) and Salsa Verde (myself). We were flying cover for a flight of four helicopters and the vile SAAF were trying to intercept.

The Cuban planes and helos begin the game hidden, we represented them all with three counters each.

And of course David rolls scenario special rule "10" which reveals the the MiGs immediately. Feh.

After a few turns of jockeying for position, David lines up a shot on a helicopter and guns it down. I had reversed my facing and although I got a good tone with an AA-8, it malfunctioned and dropped harmlessly off the rail. CURSES!

A moment later and I nearly caught Ziggy en flagrante. One blasted hex.

War criminal David continues to rack up easy helo kills. James took a shot at the Mirage but failed to connect.

And the hat-trick...

But before there's time to celebrate, Taco Bell nails the F.1 with an Aphid, damaging the engine. A second missile destroys the aircraft moments later. Woo hoo!

A twisty turny develops in the middle of the tabletop and eventually Zig gets his guns aimed at my plane, killing it.

Followed a few moments later James' MiG getting whacked.

Ziggy remains undefeated and bloodthirsty in CY6:JA - it is "his game" for sure. James and I did well, I think. Our biggest difficulty was the pilot skill and plane agility difference between Zig's plane and ours - he was getting an effective +4 die roll advantage on us with every otherwise equal shot - for instance if two planes are head-on and took gun shots at each other, he'd get a +2 to his roll (better skill and better agility) while we'd get a -2 (worse skill and worse agility). It seems like the modifiers should only go one direction. Oh well, spilled milk. Either way, it was a darned fun way to start off the gaming year - I'll have to make sure it gets on the table more often.