Friday Grab Bag #14 A Mechanical Symphony

February 2, 2018

I have the History of Gaming book on Lionel Tarr.  This book is filled with all sorts of rules, notes and campaign ideas the Mr. Tarr used throughout his wargame campaign.  I think his early rules, with a few modifications would make for a very solid game.  I have no problem with tanks making an abrupt departure from the table if the dice gods will it.  However, infantry seem to get the short end of the stick.  Caught in the open they would get murdered.  Let me explain.  Each 6 rfilse, 3 sub machine guns or 1 machine gun causes a D6 casualties.  Period.  Now this is modified for cover where the target takes casualties at a quarter rate.  It was noted in an editor’s note in Wargames (Featherstone) that some folks introduced a saving roll per casualty based on unit grade.  Elites saved on a 4+, regulars a 5+ and green on a 6+.  I like the idea but would change it as follows.  Instead of basing it on morale grade, base it on the various cover the unit occupies.  For example, infantry moving in the open save on a 5+ and in cover save on a 4+.  If the unit is stationary or creeping at half speed, you may add 1 to the die roll.

Artillery is similarly deadly.  Saves will tone the artillery down a bit.  I like the idea of open sites, observed fire and map fire, all of which are handled logically well.  In his later rules, he made artillery hit on target with a 4+ for open sites, 5+ for observed and 6+ for map fire.  Anything else is subject to scatter.  A direction die and another D6 would handle the scatter well enough.  Burst templates and possible saves also apply.

Finally, there is a matter of morale.  The infantry company, the standard unit in the game, would be around 10-12 figures.  Any time a unit takes casualties, roll 2D6.  If the total is less than or equal to the remaining figures, the unit is fine.  If the check fails by 1 or 2, the unit is pinned and can’t move.  It fires at half effect.  If it fails by 3-4, the unit retreats to the nearest cover and does not stop until it reaches cover.  It then spends the next turn pinned.  If the check is failed by 5 or more, the unit quits the field.  Armored units can be checked for in a similar fashion but with a single D6.  Each tank in the company (assuming a tank equals a platoon) is worth 2 points.  The die roll must be be less than or equal to the total points.  In all likelihood, the tanks would fire at a penalty on a failed check.

Not much of a grab bag on subjects but certainly on game mechanics.


Sellswords and Spellslingers: First Impressions

January 22, 2018

Sellswords and Spellslingers is a new cooperative game by Ganesha Games.  The idea behind the game is that a player makes several characters with various abilities and go on adventures (scenarios) gaining loot and and experience to become more powerful.  The game can be played cooperatively or solo.  The scenarios are scaled up based on the number of participating players.

Characters start with 3 hit points each.  Lesser monsters do one hit of damage while greater ones can deal out 2 hits.  A player has 60 experience points to spend among his characters.   He might spend 25 on one and 10 on another and so forth until all 60 are used.  He can not spend more than 40 and less than 5 on a character.  There are also disadvantages which will allow you to gain a few extra experience points.  They do incur game penalties, some quite severe.  My hobbits, for example, had “good shot”, “stealth” and “forester.”  This allowed a +1 to hit with throwing weapons, the ability to hide from shooters who were shooting at longer range than 4″ and the ability to move freely through thick vegetation.  I took the “slow move” disadvantage which makes a character move at 3″ per move instead of the 4″ standard move.

The game works on individual activation as there is no traditional game sequence.  A player moves all of his characters once.  In a solo game, you must move everyone before you can move another character a second time.  In a multiplayer cooperative game, play passes to the next player and so forth.  Like in his previous game series, Song of Blades and Heroes, a player will roll 1, 2 or 3 20 sided dice (D20) to gain actions.  The score is 8+ to get one action.  If a die fails, (7-) an event card is drawn.  Most cards drawn govern how the monsters behave.  Usually it will be something like a horde activates or a loner activates and occasionally a monster frenzy card where all monsters go.  So, like SoBaH, there is a risk and reward to how many dice you roll.  On a side note, for each natural 20 you roll, you may take one extra action or reduce the event cards about to be drawn by 1.

Combat, be it missile or melee, is performed the same way.  The player rolls a D20 and tries to meet or exceed the target monster’s Danger Level.  Danger level is the relative strength of an enemy.  If he succeeds, the monster takes damage.  If he fails in melee, the character takes damage.  Missile fire is just a miss.  Similarly, if the monster attacks, the player rolls a die just like he was attacking.  In melee, if he succeeds, the monster takes damage and if he fails the player character takes damage.  When being attacked by missile fire, the player is rolling to dodge for one of his characters.  A success will avoid damage.

Hordes are a special grouping of low level monsters.  Each of these minions still has a DL rating but for each minion in the group, the DL rating goes up by one.  As monsters are slain, the group strength lessens.  So large hordes (I think the max size is 6) can be quite dangerous.  That is where you will want lots of shooters.  They are not affected by group size.  You target hordes member individually with missile fire.

There are activities between scenarios that players can do like repairing armor, creating spells or potions and so forth.

I managed to get a solo game of Sellswords and Spellslingers in this weekend.  While I did get a couple of minor things wrong, I think I have a pretty good handle on how the game works.  I started play with the first scenario which is quite basic in nature.  The object is to get the party of heroes from one side of the map to the other.  It’s only 3 feet.  How hard can that be?

One green Troll. 4 dead Hobbits.

The scenario called for a 3X3 board covered in about 1/3 brush.  I chose to add some other terrain items including a bridge at the other side which needed to be crossed in order to get to Bree.  I used 4 Hobbits.  You know their names!  I did use the monsters in the scenario.  My hobbits had no melee weapons.  In retrospect, I should have had them as fighting barefisted incurs a -4 penalty.  That will result in a lot of damage to the player character in melee.  They did have a bonus to missile weapons and were always armed since you can always find a rock out doors.  I also used stealth which proved useless since none of the enemies had missile weapons.

My plan was simple.  Move as quickly as I can to the other side.  That meant rolling 3 dice for actions every time.  I rolled an inordinate amount of 7s and lower.  Each failure results in an event card being drawn.  So, that means the monsters would potentially move twice.  Frodo made it up the road pretty fair and discovered a short blade in the hollow of a tree (random event).  Alas, the event deck is not always kind.  While one character did spot something valuable the Troll was wearing, that just enticed my to do something stupid like try to defeat the troll!   I got close, scoring 5 hits, 3 with missile shots and 2 with that fancy new blade Frodo found.  The others tried to fight it as well and were dispatched one by one.  Eventually, it ended in defeat for the Hobbits.  I guess Middle Earth was plunged into darkness after all.

I do like the game.  In some ways it is everything Frostgrave should have been.  It leaves the player with the ability to play any sort of characters they want.  The event deck is a very clever idea.  There are reshuffle cards in the deck so that you never run out of cards in a game.  There are also one-off cards that you remove after the first time you draw them.  I suspect the game will lend itself very well to those that wat to design their own scenarios.  Each scenario has sets of instructions so that the more generic “one-off” cards have some different meanings.

On the downside, there is a relative dearth of concrete magic items.  There are opportunities to find scrolls and potions but not so much magic weapons, armor, staves and the like.  There also is no treasure tables.  The treasures are written into the scenarios.  I am hoping the author will expand on this in future supplements.

As I play more, I shall write more about my impressions.  Until next time, may your adventures end better than mine! 😉

Friday Grab Bag the 13th!

January 19, 2018

I’ve seen plenty of blog and forum posts that utilize photobucket or similar photo sharing sites.  These sites have recently started to restrict such sharing to other sites.  Honestly, I’ve always though these sites were poor products at best.  Adding this new restriction makes them less than desirable.  Start a blog.  Your (free) blog will hapilly accept documents such as PDFs and MS Word Doc files as well as most graphical formats.

In the same vein, I often do research into games to see if it is something I’d like to play.  I see plenty of battle reports with wonderful game boards and well painted miniatures.  In general, most tend to lack any sort of detail about the game being played, often there is no mention of even the game title!  Please add some context.  If it is a battle report, give us the game being played!  If it is a review, give us some details about how the game plays…game mechanics and so forth.  A simple “it gives a good game” doesn’t really tell anyone anything.

I received my copy of Sellswords and Spellslingers” by Ganesha Games the other day.  It is designed as a solo or cooperative game and scales up nicely for multiple players.  It is sort of an RPG lite style game similar to Frostgrave but you are not limited to playing just a wizard character.  You may lay any character you can think of and any will be viable options for the game.  Monsters are governed by an event deck.  Like Song of Blades and Heroes, you roll 1, 2 or 3 D20 and get 1 action for each 8+ rolled.  each failure results in 1 event being drawn, always before the character gets to move!   I will have a full report after the weekend.

I’ve finished up my Rolls Royce armored cars.  Now I have 3 to form up the 11th Hussars for Rapid Fire.  I had to scratch build the Bren and ATR.  Normally I have several printed on a single template just in case I messed up.  However, 2 of the 3 brens were used and this practice was a recent development.  So I used the last bren as a guide and glued it to a piece of scrap card.  I cute around the shape so one side was printed and the other white.  Then I simply painted the white side black.  It’s enclosed in the turret so you can’t actually tell.  It also kept me from having to waste a piece of card just to print out a Bren that was only a half inch or so long.

Rolls Royce AC WIP

January 15, 2018

Here are 2 more armored cars for the 11th Hussars in the Western Desert.  I won’t lie.  Everything about these models is a real pain to build.

About 4 hours of work. Add another hour for the basic turret, not shown.

“Tree Murder!”, she wrote.

January 15, 2018

While awaiting the arrival of “Sellswords and Spellslingers” by Ganesha Games, I decided to prepare the cards.  One of the things I did was reduce the event and spell/potion cards by about 1/3.  I kept the monster cards the same size because the artwork is always best appreciated on a larger item.  The smaller text on the reduced cards is not a problem for my 52 year old eyes.

My initial problem was that my printer was not cooperating graphically.  After many test with both card stock and plain paper (card stock is quite expensive these days!) I determined that there were two problems.  First, the heavy 110 paper does not seem to work well with my off-brand ink.  Second, the off brand ink cartridges currently in use were either too low, or were defective.  I say defective because the control panel was reporting plenty of ink yet the resolution was poor.  I had more ink on hand so I replaced the cartridges.  The resolution was back to normal.  Voila!  Alas, many trees lost their lives making these cards.

Cards for Sellswords, front and back.

Andrea, the game designer, promised to upload card backs but I just ended up making my own from the counter sheet also included with the game.  Now all I need is the rule book!  Lulu said it was shipped on Thursday.  It is Martin Luther King weekend in the USA so the post office is not delivering mail.  I am hoping by Wednesday.


Last Friday Grab Bag of 2017

December 30, 2017

Well, it has been a good year in gaming.  I managed two conventions and several games with my son as well as the regular DnD game I attend a couple of times a month.  Painting has been sporadic with equal time being pent between 1/72 scale fantasy and 1/72 scale WW2 as well as a bit of card modeling.  There was even a bit of Portable Wargame being played in between it all.  In all it was a satisfying if not a bit slow year.

An observation for advertisers and gamers.  I have noticed over the years that bloggers, whether they are gamers or game designers, don’t seem to give enough details for the reader.  I will often see a battler report or even a review of a game or period I am interested in.  At the end of the report, I am left puzzled as to what was being played or, in the case of a designer or reviewer, how some of the game mechanics work.  A simple detail like what game you are playing can go a long way to clarifying how and why a battle went one way or another.  When reviewing a game, most people want to know WHY this game is the best game since sliced bread.  Tell us about the game mechnics.  Give us some vital derails like how combat works or something more than “It’s definitely not IGO-UGO.”  Most of these little nits can be answered in a few sentences.  It really isn’t too much to ask!

This year, TMP and I parted ways after 17 years of participation.   I’ve found a new community with The Wargames Website.  Much of the advertisement and content at large leans more toward home grown and indie style games.  I like this a lot.  Many of these games get back to the spirit of wargaming, back in the days when the games were simple and straight forward.   I think this is the last I will speak of TMP.  TWW is hear to stay.

Finally, for a Christmas present , my friend gave me his old 3D printer.  The Da Vinci Jr is not a high end printer and will not print figures all that well.  However, have found it will print buildings and vehicles reasonably well.  A bit of sanding and fill are definitely required.  The smaller scale of the vehicles mean you won’t really want to use filler primer as you might bury the fine detail of the model.  I’ve been using krylon plastic primer alternating sanding and priming to fill in the ridges.  So far, so good.  I’ll post the final models in a week or so.

So this is it ’til next year.  May everyone have a fabulous New Year celebration and may 2018 bring us many fun games and much progress on the old lead pile!

Happy New Year!

3D Quick Update

December 23, 2017

Here is a better picture of the Marmon-Herrington company.

You can see the waves and lines pretty clearly. In person, with aging eyes, it is not so bad. 😉

When you look at the vehicles up close, with glasses, you can see many of the imperfections that 3D printing does.  However, when they are observed from 3+ feet away, the vehicles do look quite nice.  Now, I just need to figure out the Caunter pattern.