Friday, March 27, 2020

The State of Things

I was hoping that working from home would give me more time to paint and most importantly work on new books. With the cancelling of SALUTE and with it, my trip to London to release Bigger Battles, I no longer am tied to a deadline. Combine this with a very efficient work from home system and it's a recipe for not getting as much done as I want.
Everyone seems to be taking this quarantine time to get a backlog of painting done. No so with me. Work has not slowed down a bit.
Today I'm taking a half day off to start writing sample army lists for Bigger Battles to help people jump in and play. This is a pretty big task to pair down every period in history as well as SciFi and Fantasy. It could be a separate book in itself.
I still have edits, photos and a last bit of art to do. I'm still shooting for an April release, but it will most likely be end of April.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Star Wars Bigger Battles: The Battle of Corona Prime

We had a rare chance to play on a Saturday. I had originally set up the game for some out of town guests, but when one of them texted me he had woke up with a fever, I said "stay the F home"!
We still had an 8 player game on me 8' x 6' table. We actually had to play with some unpainted vehicles (GASP!) to cover enough troops for everyone. The first couple of turns all but 3 cards were used a turn.
The situation: There has been a rebel uprising on the backwater planet of Corona Prime, an important refinery world for the Empire. An Imperial Navy party has been cut off and surrounded by Rebels. They await reinforcements.
"Hold out, boys! Help is our the way!"
Don't worry, they're coming...
 AT-STs moving up from the east. They would soon earn the name AT-ShiTs.
 The Rebels have commandeered a armored crawler. It would move relatively unscathed during the fight. The Rebels used it as mobile cover, broadsiding the Imps from the windows.
 General Organa's 3 squads. This also included the Hero Han Solo. His Veteran status would turn the tide on the Rebel left.
 The Sons of Steel mercenaries enter on the Rebel side. Armored. A tough nut to crack.
 The Princess leads the way!
 The Lord of the Sith. A Hero to the Empire. Dangerous on his own, but not invulnerable.
 A break, as commanders plot their next move.
 Cassian leads Rogue Squad.
 A Mandalorian chooses to join the Rebels.

 Local Loyalists hold the Empire left flank.
 Hordes of Rebels move through the streets.

 Stormtroopers huddle around a tank for cover. All great tie the crew loses heart after accumulating some Shock.
 "Let's grab this cargo transport as mobile cover!"
 "Forward troops! And grab me this couch for my quarters after the battle."
 The impact crater after an Orbital Bombardment from the Empire. Eight Rebel troops used to be standing there.
We played with a Joker in the deck. Each triggered an Event. The first being a sand storm to block line of sight. The next lifted it. The third allowed the Imperial players to place a 5" template anywhere on the table. Any miniature under the template had to roll on the Wound chart. Eight mins. A 6,7,7,8,9,9,10, and 10 rolled: 12 casualties!
 Don't worry, the child was safe.
 Luke dukes it out with a Wounded Imperial Inquisitor. Luke made quick work of her, capturing the landing platform. (The actual combat took place on a moving Airspeeder.)

 Rebel forces gradually drive the Empire back. A Joker played and a Rebel strafing run help.
Bounty Hunters make one last push to drive the Rebels back. Them manage to blow up the Rebel crawler killing all inside. (They failed their escape roll).
Glad we braved the threat of infection for one last game for awhile. It was also helpful as a few questions came up that need clarification. And once again the use of Heroes and Commanders at the just the right time can turn the tide. The opposite can be true. Darth Vader attacked alone against dug in, undamaged group of Rebels. He took out  few but was put Out of Action in return.
Hopefully still on track for mid-April release, but Salute now looks out of the question with flights now being restricted, and actual convention in doubt.

Friday, March 6, 2020

Fistful of Lead Bigger Battles: Night of Rivets and Steam...

...and sometimes no steam.
About 6 weeks out from the release of Fistful of Lead: Bigger Battles (yes, that's the newest title). It's all about last minute playtesting. This time getting fresh eyes on some newer aspects like Vehicles, Heroes and Commanders. The last two we tried out a couple of weeks ago with an ACW game between me and my son, but I wanted some of my gaming group who have a more critical eye to take a gander.

This time, each of the 4 players had a 4 units or 10 miniatures, a small vehicle or mechanical suit, a larger vehicle, a Hero and a Commander. Three objectives on the board. Each turn holding one earned a point. After 8 turns, count up the victory points.
The Allies got the jump and moved the Spider Tank (L'Arachne?) astride the bridge holding one objective. There it would sit most of the game pouring fire into the German-Nightshade troops.
Meanwhile, Prof. Nightshade's (most infamous inventor of his age) patented X-11 Land Monitor wouldn't start. I sat in the corner 90% of the game taking long range pot shots at the Allies.
 When your cantankerous tanks won't start, send in the unicycle lancers!
 The Luftmarines, fresh off the boat from Venus, move into position aided by an armored steam tractor and the commander, Baron Von Bummtikkler himself.
 The lancers moved into the town but were stopped cold by the Spider Tank and some pesky Americans. Meanwhile, the Spider's little sister fired rockets and rounds into the Land Monitor and Nightshade's clockwork soldiers. Being "soulless" they ignored any Shock and trudged forward unfazed by the broken remains of their brothers.

 The lancers charge into combat! With 2 Shock, they only fight with 6 of their 8 members. But, being "brawlers" they reroll any misses in Close Combat. They manage to kill 2 Americans and add a Shock marker to them.
Unfortunately, the Americans have George Armstrong Custer (hero of Little Bighorn. He brought steam tanks this time) attached to them. Attached Heroes and Commanders give the units they're attached to any traits they themselves have. In this case the d12s of a Veteran, plus the 3 dice Custer has. Miraculously, the Americans didn't kill any lancers, but did deliver enough Shocks to give the lancers more than they had troops. This triggers a Regroup.
 "Yeah! Best keep running!"
 Clockwork soldiers march steadily on. Only the Naval troops stand in their way.
and here's what they rolled....
Any time you roll more 1s than hits in Bigger Battles, something bad happens. In the case of Close Combat, troops get a Shock and fall back. The Sailors fall back under the bayonets of the Clankers.
By turn 6, it was clear the Allies had this one. I had trouble getting my vehicles started and moving, despite having an 80% chance of doing so. The British right wing was almost wiped out by a German squad led by their Bloodthirsty Hero.
A great game. Once again, the correct use of Heroes and Commanders can turn the tide if used at the right moment, but they can be vulnerable too. Two were lost when the units they were attached to ran off or took casualties. Said one of my play testers, "Man, some people are going to hate the Heroes, but I love them". And he was the one getting beaten.
It all felt very cinematic. And that's what I want. Plenty of good rules out there to play large scale skirmish out there, but they don't make me laugh quite as much.