October 27, 2017
I went to the local Hobby Shop, determined to pay a lot for a can of GW primer. I was resigned to pay upwards of $15 for it but was stunned to find that the cost had risen to $19 for a 10 oz can! At some point you have to say, “Enough is enough!” A friend suggested Krylon Brite Touch automotive primer. It will work on many surfaces including metal and plastic. The cost is about $3.50 and can be obtained from any auto parts store or even places like Walmart. I got mine at Advance Auto Parts. It comes in Black and Gray. I don’t know if their is a white primer but I prime very few things in white these days anyway. I used them on a bunch of 1/72 scale plastic Orcs. Seems to have worked well.
I am not a natural writer. It’s difficult for me to get things letter perfect as many gamers demand writers do. I’ve been writing for the Wargamers Notes Quarterly. It is a fine, free, electronic magazine. I’ve been writing a series on Wargame Design. The first two articles came out well though the first did have a few typos in it. I’ve been using the time honored method of outlining everything as I was taught in school. Then I would simply add detail to the outline. Voilà! An article! It works like a charm for even someone like me.
After finishing up a recent cooperative game with my son in Frostgrave, I’ve noticed a couple of limitations of the game for this style of play. Some of the spells are irrelevant when facing a programmed opponent. The monster side does not have spell casters normally so any spells that limit a character’s casting ability becomes irrelevant. When playing a themed game where the journey is more important that finding loot, money also becomes less important. We designed a band of “Fellowship” characters so there was no need to actually purchase a warband. The Wizard is a starting Wizard so there will be some expenditures along the way for spells and potions and such. A good side affect of this sort of cooperative game is that one need not worry about one side becoming over-powered.
The fall weather is finally here on the East Coast USA. That means dry weather and more figure prep. I need to get a bunch prepped up to carry me through the winter.
October 26, 2017
And now for the exciting conclusion.
To sumarize, we fought a variety of monsters. The goblins and orcs came in fast and furious on the form of wargs and small bands of goblins. There was even an Nazgul that we had to dispatch. Fortunately, Gandalf temporarily enchanted the party members’ weapons. Unfortunately, the rear guard was overhwelmed as we rolled something like 13 Orcs over the course of the last turn which kept us from moving several of the main characters off board.
The day started well enough with the Fellowship defeating the odd monster including a Nazgul..
We decided it wise to move the hobbits off board with 2 treasures. Boromir and Aragorn held the bridge in case of attack. This proved fatal.
The rear guard on the road included Gandalf, Legolas and Gimli. They couldn’t catch a break and the Orcs overwhelmed them from all sides.
In the end, Aragorn joined the fight while Boromir eventually moved over the bridge. Legolas fell. Then Gandalf as he retreated over the bridge. Then Gimli. Finally, it was Boromir who was swarmed by five goblinoids. In the after match, Gandalf lost some fingers, Legolas was hurt badly enough that he would spend the next adventure on the sidelines but Gimli recovered quickly. Aragorn, however, died of his wounds.
With that last death, we decided to start again. We will tone down the goblins to 1-2 and Orcs we will leave at 1 per spawn. I think we could have made it through that adventure unscathed if we did not walk straight through the treasure area but rather skirted it with our characters.
October 25, 2017
My son and I started a cooperative game tonight. I think this may just do the trick. We setup a fairly wooded board with a ruin and a hobbit hole. There is also a river which, ultimately, needs to be crossed to end the game. There are 6 treasure locations which, incidentally, are also spawn points. As per the solo rules, a monster spawns every turn. Our wandering monster table is 1-5 Goblin (Thug) 6-10 Orc Warrior (Infantry) 11-15 Warg with Rider (Infantry that moves 10″) 16-19 Nazgul on foot (Wraith) 20 mounted Nazgul (Wraith with a 10″ move).
The 4 hobbits are based on the thug with only a +1 fight and a +2 shoot. They are unarmed except they can throw rocks out to 12″. Gandalf is a Wizard but you knew that, right? Boromir is a barbarian with a 1 handed weapon and a shield (11 armor instead of 10). Legolas is a tracker with a +3 shoot since he is supposed to be a crack shot. Gimli is a templar. Aragorn is a treasure hunter. I suggested to my son that Aragorn have a bow but he nixed that idea. Aragorn behaves like an apprentice without spells. That is he can activate up to 3 figures within 3″ as well as move himself during the apprentice phase. I setup the board and my son setup the figures. I was originally going with everyone starting at the hobbit hole but he setup Aragorn, Gimli, Legolas and Boromir on the opposite side of the board. They have to meet up and escape over the bridge.
This scenario is something of a test game to see how powerful we need to make the encounters. We both agreed so far that the encounters have been easy, probably because of the piecemeal attacks.
We’ve played 5-6 turns so far on a 4X4 board.
A general overview of the board. Our first creature was a Warg with rider.
Gandalf uses blinding light to blind the warg and the hobbits make short work of him with rocks.
Aragorn and company hear the fighting in the distance and make haste. They are attacked by a warg with rider. That is the second one encountered.
Bilbo and Sam sneak along the flank to grab a treasure. I warned Jack that this might end badly…
You shall not pass! Two of the hobbits hide in the trees, an in game rules add. We also decided that if a Nazgul is within 10″ of Frodo, the Nazgul will go after him no matter who is the closest character.
So far, 4 wargs with riders and 1 Nazgul have appeared. The Nazgul is wandering in the hills and that suits us fine. 3 of the Wargs have been killed and another appeared on the last turn of the night.
To be continued….
October 23, 2017
Here are a few photos from my work over the past few months. They were some quick shots so the photo quality is not so great.
A few Orcs from Dark Alliance set 3. This mix is one of each figure from a single spru.
My first Union Cavalry. I have 18 bases in all. This represents 1 Union Brigade.
Some dismounted Union cavalry.
A Confederate firing line of dismounted cavalry. ACW figures by Good Ground and by Old North State. The latter is out of print.
October 20, 2017
After finally scoring some suitable models for Nazgul, I still am looking for a Smeagol figure. I suppose a 15mm something would do. My son thought a toad looking figure would work. At that point he’d only seen the Rankin and Bass hobbit and Return of the King. As well, a goblin figure would work nicely. Whatever I decide on, the figure should be hobbit sized or perhaps slightly larger, should be relatively unarmed and should have minimal, raggedy clothing.
I need to make some more terrain bits. Mostly card models of ruins will do, but maybe some dungeon models too. I have EZ Dungeons and the Halls of the Mountain King from Fat Dragon. Both work well for LotR but are also can be used for just about any fantasy or even pulp setting.
I’ve found a few old GW Fellowship of the Ring scenarios online. These will be ideal for Frostgrave or any other low level skirmish game for that matter as they are solid “chase” scenarios. One thing I am looking for is scenarios that follow the path from the book, The Hobbit. I think that a Smaug scenario would probably not be terribly interesting. In the halls, the scenario would play out with literally just 2 figures: a dragon and a hobbit. Sounds kind of dull. The spider encounter would probably be pretty fun. Maybe Bilbo has to kill a certain number of spiders before he can free his companions. My son and I played out the Troll encounter. A battle report was in a previous post. I’m not sure what to do about the Elf encounter either. It involves the Dwarves and Bilbo escaping the Wood Elf stronghold. I suppose I can change it up a bit and make it a little more high adventure.
I think the end-game will be the Battle of Five Armies. From the book if you please! This would be a scenario where the enemy keeps coming until certain events happen and ultimately ends when the Eagles arrive. I think Dragon Rampant will make an excellent set to play the battle out with.
I’m planning on doing a little show and tell session. I only need to get some time to actually take some pictures. I finished up all my ACW cavalry and also have a slew of Orcs that I just finished painting. Hopefully this weekend. Until then…
October 13, 2017
I played my first game of Astounding Tales by Howard Whitehouse this weekend. It is a simple set of rules for pulp adventuring. Most of the game is open ended with some traditional mechanics to resolve combat, movement and so forth. It is a game where, if you have a plausible idea, no matter how far fetched, the game master should devise a way to resolve its success or failure. The game is on Wargame Vault and can be had for only $5. I’ve not purchased yet because I have no clear plan to start yet another genre.
I don’t like cleaning up flash from soft plastic miniatures. For those that don’t know, flash is the mold lines and “ears” that are sometimes covering the edges of the figure where the mold comes together. Filing and sanding can’t be done as that shreds soft plastic. A method I am keen to try is scraping down the flash and mold lines with a hot pin. You simply put a sewing pin in a make shift handle like a wine cork. You then can heat the pin for a few seconds in a tea light candle and then gently go over the seems of the figure. It apparently works like a charm..
Complexity means very different things to different people. Field of Glory was billed as an approachable game for beginners and experts alike. I still own the rules and have never brought myself to playing them simply because they are too complex. People tell me that Flames of War is a simple game. If it is so simple then why in the world do you need 280+ pages to explain them? I think many people look at the dice (usually D6) and think “It uses simple mechanics and D6s so it is a pretty simple game.” Well, a collection of simple parts can make a very complex system. A computer is a collection of parts that can count from 0 to 1. A computer is very complex as there are many of these parts arranged in such a way that they can perform very complex tasks. Anymore, when someone tells me about a simple game, I immediately ask how many pages there are of actual rules? That usually speaks volumes.
Supplements and codices also baffle me. If you have a book with the unit data already there, why do you need supplements? It seems this is a way for companies to sell copy. DBA, while somewhat expensive, has always been a single source book. There is no need for any supplements. The game has all the armies you need in the book. Warhammer, Flames of War, Field of Glory all have army books. True, you only need the supplement or two that cover the era you are most interested. Most gamers end up buying them all anyway. Once upon a time, part of the fun of our hobby was in the research. We seem to have fallen to having someone do all the work for us and then we pay them for their hard work. I suppose it is a quick and easy way to go but I think many miss out on an opportunity to learn something about history, not just war.
October 12, 2017
I was looking through a PDF copy of MWAN 101 which includes a great article by John Stafford on gaming with 6th graders. There is an introductory piece which includes a brief description of how he devised the game and a battle report describing how the game went. At the end of the article is the rules used for this game. It is based mostly on the On to Richmond rules from back in the early 80s. The game uses a pair of 6 sided dice for all mechanics. The rules fit on about 3 pages really. From what I gathered from both the article and the rules sheets, the game is scaled at about 700 men per stand and each unit is about 1 division. Confederate divisions are quite large compared to their Union counterparts. If running this, I would arbitrarily make confederate divisions 2 roughly equal units which together total the entire strength of that division. The other thing I would add is a penalty for under strength units at -1 per stand less than 6. I would also allow a second shot with a unit that has more than 6 stands at the appropriate penalty. Thus, an 8 stand unit would get 1 shot at full strength and a second shot with a 2 strength (ie -4) to the die roll. This is a brilliantly simple set of rules and is well worth the price of the magazine. I am looking forward to giving these rules a try with my son.