Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Assault on Space Station A.P.E.

This was the final episode in a long running storyline I've been running for my group using SuperSystem2. One of the Arch Villains faced by our heroes has been Emperor Ape. Over the course of several balanced games (points-wise) the bad guys have solidly trounced the heroes over and over. Some serious grudges have been formed, and brought several non-regulars out of the woodwork for one last try at the Emperor....
When we last left, Emperor Ape had used his insidious Simian Ray to turn the world's human population to apes under his thrall. A few heroes were off world fighting the Intergalactic Crime League and were unaffected. They now converged on Space Station A.P.E. (Advanced Prototype Experimental), recently commandeered by the would-be world conquerer and his Simian Ray.
Our heroes must destroy the Ray, and rescue any survivors of the original crew.
The space station awaits! The players were allowed to pick from a variety of heros and villains (unless they brought their own).
Emperor Ape address the troops.
First aboard were the Guantlet and the Spartan. Both hand-to-hand brawlers. The entrance was a great choke point. They were quickly cut down by the combined might of the reprogrammed station Defense Drones and the villain Killshot. Eggsterminator finished off the heroes with his "mind scrambler". Yes, there were plenty of egg related jokes. "Eggcellent!"
From the side doors, the original crew, transformed by the Simian Ray, and under the control of Emperor Ape, attack. The heroes had to subdue them without killing.
I had to give the heroes a chance to avoid the death trap of the hallway so....
The hero known as the Crimson Cowl, also a mental specialist, brought down Killshot and Eggsterminator and cleared the hallway. Meanwhile the Flea bounced down the passageways, pasted the astroapes and helped Goldar assault Ape.

It was actually Cyclops of the New Olympians, in a long standing grudge match, that finally brought down the proud Ape. Flea was able to hyper move around the station at will.
He found, and shut down the Ray, freeing humanity.
All that was left was the mopping up:
It was a great game, with many heroic and villainous speeches. It ended the way it had to, and sets us up for more adventures.

Lead Addict wanted a pic of Cyclops:

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

How to spend a 4 day weekend.

The picture kinda says it all. We here in the States got Monday off for Memorial Day. I decided to tack Friday onto that and get a mini-holiday of four days. Four days blissfully free of soccer games and practices. My beloved wife worked hard all week so no one would have to do chores all weekend.
This time off allowed me to sit on the back porch, enjoy a cigar and a few pints and really finish Pike and Shotte. Memorial Day is about reflection. So I'll get to it after I cover the long history I have with this period rules.
1644: The grand daddy. Really the precursor to Warhammer in many ways, with all that entials.
DBA/DBR: Too much like chess for me.
Warhammer ECW: Too many figs to play. Hate the Warhammer mechanics. And especially didn't the like the way pike and shot groups were separate entities.
Forlorn Hope: Wow. The turn sequence alone took a page and a half of the QRF. Single fig basing. Next.
Warfare in the Age of Discovery, and twenty others I'm trying to block out....
Then I played "Victory without Quarter" a few times. They are a set of ECW rules available for free. Besides being free, they have also have a few things I like. PIke and Shot units are 3 stands. Three. 60 x 60mm crammed with as many minis as you want. They are treated as one unit. The actual mechanics of battle borrow heavily from Warmaster (so does P&S). The turn sequnce is card driven. Which can be a lot of fun, especially when you throw in special event cards. But don't allow for a lot of tactical decision, as you never know how things will go (which is lot like war, come to think of it). I started basing my troops to this set.
I have professed my love before for Black Powder and Hail Caesar, as both provide the gentlemanly, easy to learn, games my group and I like. Pike and Shotte is essentially, Black Powder with a few tweaks. The parts that make it different only take up a few pages. But, oh how those few pages have lit up the Yahoo and Forum groups.
The "Pike Blocks" and the "Shot blocks" that form the regiments, are treated as separate entities. Yes, this is completely historical when you think about it. Each part acted individually, mutually supporting the other. Between the Spanish, the Dutch and the Swedish, they came up with quite elaborate ways to do this. This doesn't change how I feel about ease of play and the type of games I want to run.
But, then I thought about an earlier review I gave for Black Powder. I explained to someone the mechanics were relatively easy, but I found myself actively managing my troops more than I have any wargame. I was engaged more, balancing decisions, pulling troops back, sending in reserves. Just think how fun it could be to leave the formations of their pike and shot blocks to the players. Let them be Gustavus Adolphus or Wallenstein, changing up formations to maximize fire power versus impact.
That will mean a lot of painting. VWQ gives great games without me having to invest in the huge amounts of figs that P&S will. But, I hear you say, the Black Powder games don't tell you how many/what size your formations need to be. You could just use the VWQ basing and play both. That's an interesting thought.
The whole weekend of reading has left me a lot to think about. Luckily I have a well sticked fridge and humidor.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Brink of Battle and Pike & Shotte

With the great weather lately, I've skipped valuable painting time to sit on the back porch with a cigar and a nice summer beer and read. I thought I'd take a minute to give my views on a couple rule books I'm reading.
Let me start by saying I've written a few rules and published my own. They were a small set, meant for those nights when you just wannna dig out and play. They have a small, but loyal following. I've been working on their first expansion, and it's proving to be a complete pain. Not hard, just can't get into it. I say this because I respect anyone who writes rules then throws them into the aether. Wargamers are a cranky, contentious lot, so you better have a tough skin when you do this. Also, as much as anyone argues about historical wargames it really comes down to what a fellow gamer once said, "what movie do you want to play?"
First, is Brink of Battle. When I first read about a set of skirmish rules that could span ancients to modern, I was highly skeptical. How generic can they be and still be fun? The author, Robert Faust  says, "pick a single year from history, and go". Okay.
I got the pdf, printed all 132 pages, and plunged in. Wow. I kept saying this. Wow. Initially I was put off because the author keeps going into excrutiating detail on every level to make sure you understand. It can be almost like reading a legal document. As much as a pain I found it, I got it. Even a beginner to wargamer could get it. Thus, the 132 pages.
It can really be played from 5 figs to 15 a player. The basic concepts do work for multiple periods. The period specific rules (which the periods are split between ancient, early gunpowder and modern) add the flavor. I was amazed by what was accomplished in a few rolls. Faust says it's not an IGOUGO rules set because each player is involved at every step by counter-rolls and the non-phasing player gets an interrupt, but it really is I activate a guy, then you, then me.
But, as I said before, it is really impressive. I'm ready to get everyone in the group to "pick a period, and play".
Pros: Well thought out. I don't think you'll find something that isn't here. It makes a small investment in miniatures to test out all the myriad periods I like.
Cons: No sample armies. No examples of troops really. You better know your period  and go from there. For some, that's great. Make a group that you think matches your idea of how the period is. As discussed in an earlier post, this ain't for me. Don't have time.
Review: Buy these. The pdf is about the cost of a large pizza. He's working on a mass battle set, which I will buy in a heartbeat.
Pike and Shotte. I have a feeling this one is going to hurt. I preordered this probably two seconds after it was announced. A couple of reasons. Black Powder and Hail Caesar (both by Warlord) were a revelation to me. This is how I always wanted to play a wargame, and with the right group are a ton of fun. I love Fire and Fury. It is my go-to set for ACW. For years I have played with friend at his house. His games are notorious for being huge affairs with tons of beautiful minis. They also never get done. We play all day with no result. We tried the same forces with Black Powder. Two hours later we had fought to a real conclusion. Everyone had a look of shock, "did that just happen?"
Hail Caesar did the same for me when I playtested them with Renaissance era forces. They're not really written for this, but to me the Italian Wars are Ancients with guns.
Second, PIke and Shot is MY period. I can't explain it. Big pointy sticks (paging Dr. Freud!), crude firearms and the death of the knight on the battlefield. It all calls to me like Nappies do to other players. This book was gonna range from from the afore mentioned Renaissance to Early Lace Wars. It would hit all my favorites between.
I waited and waited for the book. I followed the discussions on the Warlord boards and Yahoo Groups. There were things I was not liking.
Talk of Pike and Shot being separate units. I know this is technically how they operated, but at the scale for the tabletop, this seemed odd. In later times, skirmishers operated ahead of the troops that was their parent, but few rule sets model this. The rules I read about handling this seemed cumbersome for being written by the Black Powder guys.
A month went by. I finally figured out they sent to the wrong address (thank you Paypal). After I straightened it out with Warlord, I got the it in a week.
Wargamer porn at its finest. Nice hard bound book. Tons of color pictures and photos. Well written (except the flaw that all the Warlord books have, really hard to track down specific rules).
Used w/o any sort of permission. Don't those formations look like a pain?
After playing a few games of "Victory without Quarter" a really fun quick set of rules for ECW, P&S has its work cut out. I haven't finished reading yet, so I'll give a full report later, but Initially I'm sad. Formations have too many figs or not enough. Renaissance Swiss formations were HUGE, yet they're the same size as musket sleeves. Trying to control separate pike and musket units that are part of the same Battalia, upon reading sounds like a mess. Guess I'll have to try it. Luckily, I have a 4 day weekend coming up.
Pros so far: Beautiful book.
Cons: the rules themselves. I may change my mind but.....

On a side note, the Basement Generals are playtesting Scott Pyle's latest rules for Fantasy, and they are great.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Assault on Space Station APE (pre battle)

I've been running a Supersystem2 super hero campaign infrequently for a little while now. Over the course of the games, our Heroes have failed to stop Emperor Ape and his devious plan to build the Simian Ray. A device that once fired would turn all humans on Earth into mindless apes, under the thrall of the Emperor.
Now, a few heros who were off world at the time, have return to stop him. Secretly docking with his space station, they must battle past his hench-apes and robot defenses, disabled the ray, and save the few astronauts who were one board when the station was captured.
Can they do it? Or is the Earth doomed?
To play the game, Lead Addict has graciously lent me his Dwarven Forge Space Station stuff:

I think it's the first time it'll see action. Stay tuned, True Believers, for the post Thursday wrap up.

Friday, May 18, 2012

The Visitor. A VSF battle

crackle-crackle..."Science Division observed several meteorite impacts this evening in Sector 13. One meteor exhibited an erratic flight path upon entry. Dispatch Assault Zepplin Von Seydlitz to investigate. End transmission"....
With this ominous message, the players were tasked with checking out all the impact craters on the table, and returning with anything significant.
The German players got the speed, while the Anglo-French players got the firepower. Both tried to send most of their forces around the flanks. The Germans marched one unit right down the middle of town, supported by a Nightshade created Land Monitor, while the unicycle Uhlans and velocipede swung wide.
The Anglo-French hugged the flanks, only sending Impervious Suits and a lone tricycle rocket battery up he middle.
The battlefield

French Marines use the Spyder as cover

A British Brute Class Landship steams forward

Unicycle uhlans investigate a crater. Nothing here, sir.

German troops advance through town

The French line

A combined Uhlan-Rokkittruppen assault devastate the British Naval landing troops

The pilot of a Killenkanner finds a strange craft crashed in the field. An even stranger creature emerges. The Killenkanner pilot "hears" inside his head, "Take me to your leader".

The Empress's Lady Hussars greet the Visitor.

Rokkitruppen mop up.

The ladies blast away at some British troops assaulting the Killenkanner.
With evening waning, the Anglo-French called it quits. Their forces were down to a few contraptions and the Tricycle Rocket team who had only moved 6 inches the whole game.
The Germans escaped with the wreckage of the ship and the strange new Visitor form the sky. What secrets would he bring, and could it turn the tide of the war?
Once again, GASLIGHT, with some of our own tweaks, provided a fun game. It has inspired to work on some new troops and some new weapons......

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Best $7.50 I've spent in a while

Like more than a few wargamers, I started in Role Playing Games. D&D specifically back in its hey day. Painting miniatures for the game led to painting armies. We still play D&D, as you can see by my Beyond the Wall blog.
So I still pick up the occasional RPG related work. I read great things about Barbarians of Lemuria. I have a soft spot for the true Sword and Sorcery stuff like Conan, as opposed to the high fantasy of Tolkien. BoL fits into this, but is more than just a great background setting. The illustrations are really nice for what should be a cheapo pdf download. It's a really nice set of rules. Very simple. Very elegant. It emphasizes the story telling and not the mechanics.
At the heart of it is a career mechanic. I've played dozens of RPGs where the entire back of the record sheet is the mammoth list of skills my character has acquired with their numerical value.
BoL just has you pick four previous careers. I was an escaped slave who became street urchin, who became a sailor, who turned to piracy. Done. Now, in the unfolding adventure, if i run into a situation that I think one of these careers would help me, I just let the Game Master know, and he/she decides if it indeed applies. For example, the last little excursion didn't pay off, so I need some cash while in the big city. My previous time spent as a street urchin taught me how to pick pockets. GM concurs. It's that easy.
After a long lunch yesterday with Lead Addict, we discussed what we want and don't want out of wargaming. I was one of those guys who spent many a late night drawing dungeons and building worlds. I don't have that time anymore. Even if I find a set of rules that works for me, I don't have time to stat up entire armies from scratch. Especially since my group can have 6-8 players every week. Not saying you have go the GW route and have the entire thing spoon fed to you and you can't operate outside of cannon, but don't make me work so hard.
In summary, if like RPGs, pick up Barbarians of Lemuria. And I need to focus.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Look what came in the mail

These guys showed up less than a week after ordering them from across the pond. I point this out because I still haven't received my Pike and Shotte book after a month!
Any way, these fine fellows are from Wargames Supply Dump. They're great. Sculpting's nice. No clean up or flash removal needed. They will be joining Emperor Xorg's forces in his insane conquest of the galaxy.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Borogravia, knocked out of the War?

As our readers may recall, Prince Ruprect of Borogravia (boo, hiss), was stopped from invading the Arch Duchy of Volborg several weeks ago. In a final attempt to enter the duchy again, he swung his forces wide, thru the capital of Unkerlant, Koenigstadt, and entered the Marches. Tired from the forced march and abandoned both by his allies and foreign advisors, Ruprect made camp in the holiest of places, the Rock of Saint Osbert.
The flag of St Osbert
Though never a particularly pious nation, Unkerlant does have a soft spot for their patron saint. Osbert was a wayward monk sent to preach to the unholy barbarians located in the secluded valley that would become Unkerlant. Osbert approached the local chieftain, Unkar, and began describing the wonders of Christianity. Unkar promptly had Osbert's head detached from his body. Still, legend says, Osbert kept preaching the gospel. He was set on fire. Still he kept singing the gospels praises.
The chieftain was impressed. He would not convert, but from that point on, his descendants would. St. Osbert would come to embody the fighting spirit of the people of Unkerlant. Battling on despite the odds.
While camping outside this holiest of places, Borogravian scouts brought Ruprect bad news. Franistover was coming. Flush from his resounding victories over Zlobenia, Prince Adalbert had moved swiftly across the north and caught Borogravia unawares. Stuck quite literally, between a rock and a hard place, Prince Ruprect decided to make a stand.
At noon, on a brilliantly beautiful day, the cannonade began. Franistover took a gamble and stacked all of its cavalry on one flank. In a giant cloud of dust that threatened to block out the sun, the horse rumble forward.
Borogravian Horse awaits their foe
From the start, Prince Ruprect had trouble moving his forces forward. The Guard units, under his son Ruprect the Younger, simply would not budge. Had the long march worn them down too much? Were the notoriously stalwart Borogravian troops, now too filled with raw recruits to fill the ranks?
Meanwhile, the Franistoveran horse plowed forward. Borogravian horse was forced to fall back, rather than be overwhelmed. But, this pushed the line back on itself, until Ruprect's battle line resembled a fish hook.
In the center, the Borogarvian artillery was pounding the Franistover lines. Prince Adalbert's Loyal Mountaineers, took the brunt, stoically holding the line despite horrific casualties.
As the bell of St. Osbert's temple struck 3pm, Franistover's gamble paid off. In a matter of minutes the sheer mass of their horse crushed Ruprect's left flank. The Prince himself barely escaped capture as a tide of broken men streamed south.
Adalbert Victorious
The victorious Franistoveran horse pursued long into the night, rooting out Borogravian troops from barns and haystacks.
It looks as though Prince Ruprect, that foreign invader from the south, is well and truly out of the war.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

This and That

I love playing wargames. I love painting miniatures. But sometimes I want to play the wargame before I have the minis. Our Unkerlant campaign has had some stand ins for a while but they were glorified chits. So, over lunches I've been working out something more vertical, that matches what I have painted. Viola!:
 Still not as nice as minis, but they'll stand in for now. I print them out, fold over, fold out the bottoms and glue to bases. Then, I'll put a piece of tape over the hit markers so you can use a dry erase marker. Cav and generals to follow.
I'll be doing the same for PIke and Shotte, as soon as I get the rules. They went to the wrong address, so who knows when I'll get them.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012


Another Thursday with out a game. Why you ask? The Baroness and family and I are going to the Marvel Movie Marathon. Iron Man, followed by Hulk, then Iron Man II, then Thor and Captain America (all in 3D), culminating in a midnight showing of the Avengers. Excelsior!
Until then, I've been waiting impatiently for my Pike and Shotte rulebook. It's been hard to concentrate on painting, thinking about where P&S will lead me. It covers two periods I'm halfway done with (Renaissance & ECW/TYW). I have a feeling the Pike and Shot period will be coming to Unkerlant. Timeline-wise it will fit into the King's Sauerkraut War, also known as the first Unkerlant Civil War.
Until then, I'm helping paint for a club project, Blackpowder Nappies, and pounding away at my own rules.
This guy always reminds me of myself, except I still have some hair left.