Sunday, January 20, 2019

WATCHING PAINT DRY

     Not really. I've been doing quite a lot of stuff, actually. Played some Squad Leader, Mayhem, a little Platoon Leader, 5150 Star Army, probably some other things I can't remember. Oh, I've been doing a little painting, too.
     Some of these things are new and some have been lingering for a while. Let's have a look...
     First up: Reaper's Obsidian Mausoleum. This is a very cool model, perfect for any 28mm+ tabletop fantasy game. This could be part of a cemetery or just your typical odd mausoleum you stumble upon out in the middle of nowhere. It happens...




     Once your characters have entered the building, you can remove it from its base to find a nice gaming checkerboard inside. Enough room for a little battle.


     Here's our intrepid wizard muttering some arcane incantation or other. For those well-versed in the language of Mordor, the Circle of Doom reads "See You Next Wednesday." It helps if you have a goat skull on your head. Just sayin'...

     Also on the painting block this month was the remainder of my PacFed infantry platoon from Brigade Models. 15mm, if you hadn't guessed.


     I'm color-coding my troopers based on their function. Grey is for grunts. Orange are heavy weapons (here a Squad Automatic Weapon and a bazooka-looking thing). White is for leaders. It makes for an interesting bunch on the table.
     I also finished a Brigades Models building.


     With a little radar dealy on top.


     Last but not least, I began work on my Polish Skirmish Pack for By Fire and Sword from Wargamer. I was a tad concerned at first, as I thought the figures were a little oddly-proportioned or something. I can't quite put my finger on it, but they were just generally less than expected.
     It all depends on how they paint up, though, doesn't it? These paint up just fine and I'm excited about this project again.
     Exhibit 1: My first Polish Pancerni figure.



     A very interesting description of the Pancerni can be found in the By Fire and Sword rulebook, a coffee-table-book-sized tome that I simply love for all its artwork, stories and historical info. Turns out, the Pancerni are an evolution of your basic Cossack-style cavalry. Who knew?
     This will be my project for the foreseeable future.
     By the way, if you ever feel like reading a good book, check out the novel this game is based on, With Fire and Sword by Nobel Prize-winner Henryk Sienkiewicz. (Yes, THAT Henryk Sienkiewicz!) It has made "Dave's Essential Reading" list, and that's no mean feat. You can get it for Kindle on Amazon for $0.
     Until next time, my Cossacky friends, don't take any wooden nickels!

Monday, December 31, 2018

2019 PREVIEW

     Whenever I look into my crystal ball, I get messages like "Try Again Later" or "Outlook Not So Clear," things like that. But I don't need a Magic Eight-Ball to predict my gaming future for the coming year.
     Yeah, right! Who am I kidding? I'll probably change my mind as soon as I'm done writing this, no matter how clear the outlook seems right now.
     So, instead of "2019 Preview," let's call this my "December 31, 2018 around 5 pm wish list." That way when I change my plans at 6, I'm covered. (Of course, anyone reading this in Australia already knows what 2019 holds in store. What's the stock market going to do tomorrow? Also, I'm long on Soy Beans...)

OUT WITH THE OLD

     Okay, even this is not guaranteed. But I'm pretty sure what I WON'T be doing in 2019. 
     I started this hobby in 2015 (roughly no score and 4 years ago), and I'm just now starting to figure it out. I'm starting to understand how most of the rules work, the importance of basing, doing things right from the gitgo, and the types of games I like and don't. 
     So 2019 represents a new beginning for me. 
     I think. 
     Probably.
     Whatever. Let's get started.

1. 6mm WSS

     My first-ever minis project. Based per Polemos. I had a sort of charming naive faith in Baccus and their rules. They make the figures, thought I, so the game they produce to support them must be first rate. 
     Um...NOT.


     Just look at em, though! Man, if I could find a good game that would support 60x30 one-unit=one-base figures, I'd be all over this. The closest I found was GA PA. But...no. Alas! I can't tell you how much money I spent trying to make this work. I'm finally cutting bait. 

2. Land of the Free

     Part awesome, part not so much. Ultimately disappointing. Units basically stand off at 120 yards popping off with muskets until one side breaks. 

3. Too Few to Fight, Too Many to Die

     I so much want this to be good. I mean, SO MUCH! <Sniff> I can't talk about it...

4. 6mm WWII

     The figures are way cool. But I would have to invest in an overpriced rule book. You know, something that's NOT 30 years old. I'm just not prepared to do that right now -- even if it were possible. 


IN WITH THE NEW

     Hey, who let Negative Nelly in here? This is New Year's Eve, man! Lighten up, Francis! (Geez, how many 30-50 year-old references are you going to make, old man?)
     Well, here I am on the brink of a new year. Minutes have passed since I last compiled my wish list...AND IT STILL STANDS!
     Actually, some of this stuff has been on my list for a couple years. For one reason or another I never pulled the trigger. Well, this is MY YEAR! (Plus, I'm going to exercise...And eat less...And walk right past the Little Debbie display at Walmart...Oh, what a glorious year this will be!)
     Here's my definitely-without-fail-must-play-nay-WILL-play list (in a very particular order known only to me):

1. By Fire and Sword

     OMG, the rulebook has BUY-ME written all over it! This dang thing had been giving me that "come hither" look since I first got into this hobby -- and I finally succumbed last January. I am just now getting around to buying the figures. 

     History, army lists, generic scenarios, beautiful artwork and photography...you'll find the works in this thing. It even has fiction -- and well-written fiction, too. It's like the Warhammer 40K of the historical wargaming world.
     A few choice pages follow: 




     My Polish Skirmish pack just arrived today. So I'm $110 in the hole on this thing so far, with probably $50-60 more to go before I can play it. You can bet I'll be giving it a thorough workout. 


     Above is the skirmish pack, all neatly boxed. Also arriving free was the "Player's Edition" of the rules. Nice to have the rules in a book that doesn't weight a hundred pounds! Small type, though. 
     Has any company ever made a better first impression (besides Games Workshop)? I think not. (Oh, and these guys also have a US distributor, so my stuff shipped from Missouri, not Warsaw.)

2. Platoon Leader

     I've gushed about this on my Plasmablast blog (why I have several blogs, I'll never know!). Very complex, very hard sci-fi. It's like a minis Squad Leader. Seriously! And I mean Advanced Squad Leader, not regular! Everything you need is included, no further purchase required. Oooh..yeah..I like that...

     And next, a few choice pages:


     Well, okay, one little peek inside. Good enough for the likes 'o you! 
     I currently have a game prepared, except I'm still painting the attackers. The defenders are all set up, though. 


     Defenders are dug in on a level 2 hill. It looks to me that the attackers will get slaughtered. I foresee lots of smoke grenades in use here... (P.S. The small trees in the center of the table offer no line of sight hindrance to the units on the hill. Farewell and adieu to you, fair Spanish Ladies...Farewell and adieu to you ladies of Spain...)


     Aliens in the woods! I can't tell you the number of times I've heard that cry. 

3. L'Art de La Guerre

     I've been playing this some and the verdict is still out, but I'm determined to give it the ol' college try. (Okay, maybe the ol' junior college try. The ol' trade school try? Would you believe the ol' high school shop class try? [Egad, another 50 year-old reference. Somebody call a medic!])


     Paperback. Beautiful book. A little pricey. 50 bucks. I'm in so far for $150. I'm going to keep going.

     A boxful of Greeks and some sci-fi fellers. They seem to get along fine in the cramped quarters, even with the lid closed. Persians or Carthaginians next. You better believe they'll go in a separate box, though!

4. Strike Legion

     From the makers of Platoon Leader. I've wanted to do this for a while. 6mm large scale sci-fi battles with lots of armor. Now that Scalecreep carries Brigade Models, I don't see how I can avoid this. 
     I own the rules, a digital download from Wargame Vault. Stock up on ink. 

5. Spanish Fury: Pistolado II

     Maybe my most anticipated game. Renaissance battles, which, as you know, means lots and lots of figures. I already have a boatload of unpainted Essex arquebusiers, so I pretty much have to do this. Plus the game covers the French Wars of Religion specifically, exactly what I'm looking for (believe it or not). The rules are free. Download them and have a look. It even comes with historical scenarios. Obviously a labor of love. I can't wait to get started.

6. Honours of War

     Maybe I'm biting off more than I can chew, but I couldn't resist this. The plan is to play small-scale SYW engagements in 6 or 15mm. I'll have to wait and see when the book arrives. I really like the look of 6mm. 15 is costly and time-consuming. I really want to use it to play Hulsen's attack on Krechor village at the beginning of the Battle of Kolin. A humble enough ambition, I think. 


     So that's it, my list of dos and don'ts for 2019. Thanks for looking in, and, as always, don't take any wooden nickels!

Saturday, December 29, 2018

MY RETURN TO FANTASY

      The last month of 2018 has been, shall we say, Mayhem around here. At least in gaming terms. I've gotten a lot done, both painting and playing.
     On the painting front, I finally completed my L'Art de la Guerre Greeks. I now have an entire Ready-Made army from Essex under my belt. If I continue on with the project, the Persians are next. Or I may just go Greek-on-Greek for a while.
     I also finished a bunch of 15mm sci-fi figures and 18mm FIW soldiers for Land of the Free.
     I've been playing a lot, too. So much that I'm going to break my coverage down into several posts. The first, which I'm writing now, will cover my experience with the mass fantasy battle game Mayhem; the second will cover the small unit sci-fi game Platoon Leader.
     Mayhem is first up. This is one of my favorite games. I should say, rather, that it has the potential to be one of my favorites. It's a cheap download from Wargame Vault, but, unsurprisingly, it lacks development. Let's have a look at the action.


1. The Battlefield. The river is fordable. The capture of three objective areas is the goal. One is on the hill, one in the woods and one in the middle of the river between those two tufts of tall grass.


2. The Players. First up: Lt. Hardy Barrenwood, leader of the Dankwood Halflings on a patrol mission.


2a: Burrow Bowguard. Skirmisher.

2b: The Wolfenrode, Fast Wolfriders armed with repeating crossbows. The Dankwood's tip of the spear in any engagement.

2c: Men of the Bowbound. Longbowmen extraordinaire.

3a: The opposition. Satyr archers of the Blood Faun clan.

3b: Half-horse archers. Light cavalry with more than your usual punch in melee.

3c: Leader of the Blood Faun Clan of the Grimdark Wood, General Batterhorn Hoofheart. Hiss...

4: The Wolfenrode advance on the river crossing.

5: As does a unit of the Half-Horse. Blood Faun skirmishers take up positions in the tall grass.

6: The view from the Wolfenrode.

7: My own homemade QRS. The track on top keeps track of Command Points. The game makes you work hard to play, but I considered it worth it.

8: A spare Halfling leader doubles as a Halfling Command Point marker.

9: The Bowbound advance into the river while the Wolfenrode split up. They want to use their speed to flank the baddies. On the other side, the Satyrs advance.

10: The action gets hot. A Wolfenrode unit is charged by the Half-Horse, who is in turn fired upon and disrupted by the Bowbound. The Wolfenrode stands little chance in the melee.

11: Now the Bowbound get a dose of the Half-Horse, too.

12: But what's this? The Bowbounds roll a 1 on a 20-sider, a critical hit. The first Half-Horse unit falls. Oh, fickle finger of fate!

13: To add to the series of unfortunate events (for the Denziens of Grimdark), the Wolfenrode forces the Half-Horse to flee.

14: The Wolfenrode advances, and is disrupted by archery in its flank.

15: How about a little repeating crossbow fire in your flank, Horseman?

16: Poor movement dice prevent the Half-Horse from getting to the objective. The Satyr skirmishers take some damage as well.

17: Scratch one skirmisher! Here come the Wolfenrode again!

18: They fire across the river. Dow! Dow! Dow!

19: The casualty tally. 2 x Half-Horse and 1 x Satyr skirmisher vs. 2 x Wolfenrode and a Bowbound. the Halflings take the worst of it, but the battle is over the possession of objectives. Only the Halflings made it onto the river crossing. Lieutenant Hardy Barrenwood raises three cheers for the Dankwood Halflings! Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah!

     What do I think of Mayhem? I love it....and sort of hate it at the same time.

     PROS: Very cool command and control system. You'll never have enough Command Points to do everything you want to do. Very colorful, lots of character, lots of innovative rules. I like the dice-offs, with different dice sizes squaring off against each other (3d6 vs 2d8, etc) based on various modifiers. If you're willing to put in the work, this can be one of the best games out there.

     CONS: And that's just the problem. IF you're willing to put in the work. You have to create the units, assign their abilities, weapons and armor. You have to supply the campaign context (essential in a fantasy game). And you have little to go on. There are no examples of unit stats so you have some idea of what works...and what don't. You're on your own, every game a playtest. To me, this is a fatal flaw. I DON'T want to work that hard.
     On the gameplay front, archery is way too underpowered, with short bows and long bows rolling D20s. Even against a weakling D12 defense unit (the worst --  and low roll wins), you have to roll a 5 or less to do any damage. Hardly worth the expenditure of a command point. House rule: introduce the missing D16, or force the defender to make a hazard roll instead of taking the default (a 6 in the case of a D12). The game probably wasn't thoroughly tested. You'll have to do it instead. I don't want to house rule, not even for 8 bucks.

     Next time, muchachos! Don't take any wooden nickels.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

HAMMERTIME!

WARHAMMER, THAT IS...

     I've never been into Warhammer. I've always been aware of it, in a vague kind of way. My first real exposure was in 2013 or so when I bought a "Space Hulk" computer game on Steam. I loved it, more for the "lore" than the gameplay.
     I'm not sure you can really call it "lore," though, as it amounted to little more than random canned comments from the Space Marines: "For the emperor!" they would cry with excruciating sincerity. At times, they would invoke the gods of their technology. I found it intriguing, this mixture of hard science fiction and primitive superstition, all finely balanced right on the sweet edge between the horrifying and the absurd.
     Well, this month, I have succumbed. Further resistance was futile. For me, it is indeed Hammertime. And high time, too.
     Except for a few practice rounds, I have yet to actually play the game much. I find the Death Guard especially intriguing as they epitomize the horrifying absurdity of the Warhammer universe.

Lord of the Flies: a Plague Marine. 32mm of pure awesomeness.

A Primarus Inceptor sergeant, armed with dual Assault Bolters and propelled by Heavy Jump Packs.
Captain Acheron, armed with a Boltstorm Gauntlet and Power Sword. He'll need whatever he can get when he faces Gulgoth the Afflictor. 
Intercessors and Hellblasters. For the Emperor!
The maggoty foe: Poxwalkers! 
Another. The Poxwalkers have a kind of "The Thing" motif going for them. They seem to be always in the act of becoming something else, sprouting horns and tentacles all over the place. Spilling guts only adds to their charm.
Ladies and gentlemen....The Plague Marines!

Not just any old Bloat Drone...A Fetid Bloat Drone! You can smell his oozing putrescence from here!
Chaos Cultists. Born to suck bolter fire.
Gulgoth the Afflictor. I love GW. Maybe the only non-PC form of entertainment left in the world.
He doesn't care who he steps on to get to the top!

Playing the game. From the "No Know Fear" starter set.
Bloat Drone on the prowl. I played both sides poorly. This is a surprisingly tough game. 
Awaiting the tender mercies of my brush -- 10 Skitarii Rangers. 

    I'll go into this further in another post. We'll take a look at the 8th Edition rulebook and some of the wonders contained therein.
     Until then: Don't take any wooden nickels!