Sunday, March 12, 2017

A Quick Update

I seem to be settling into a miniatures lull, so I have no pretty pictures to share. Still, I have a couple of things to report:

Another Six by Six Game
Last night, my wife and I pulled out DC Rivals (our first game since the new year). I struggled early on, not getting the cards to buy good stuff while Elizabeth was stockpiling. Soon, she had the first confrontation under her belt. But then I roared back, and managed to win 2 confrontations. One more and I'd have the victory. Soon after, Elizabeth pulled even. As the draw pile dwindled, I realized that neither of us would get that final confrontation so I concentrated on buying good cards. The game ended and we tallied up our points: I won 40-38. Whew, what a close game!

This is the only game of the 6 x 6 challenge I haven't played. This is because I don't have the figures for it. Well that changed yesterday when my order of Irregular Miniatures arrived. I'll have to get painting so I can start on this part of the challenge.

Four Against Darkness
I finally got my characters to 3rd level so they are finally ready to take on the Three Rings module. I've been excited to play this module because it takes the 4AD system into a wilderness adventure. Before I set them loose I gave them reinforcement - a NPC. I created a ranger character using the new character classes in the fan-made supplement, Uncanny Against Darkness. Then, they were off into the woods, hunting down a band of orc reavers that stole 3 rings.

As I read through the adventure I had some misgivings. There is no map; instead the player just rolls up an encounter and plays it. I feared that this would make the encounters feel incredibly random and would remove any illusion of player control over the character's progress through the adventure.

 An illusion of control is one thing that original 4AD did so well. When you come to a fork in a corridor it doesn't really matter if you go left or right. What you encounter will be determined randomly. Nevertheless, by giving the player a decision point, the game gives the illusion that the player has control. If the characters go left, run into a dragon, and get wiped out, one can easily think "I should have gone right." In reality it doesn't matter - a dragon would have come up either way. Yet the illusion makes the game better.

Sadly, as I feared, that illusion of control is largely missing from Three Rings. There are occasional opportunities to steer the characters toward the goal, but encounters feel so random. And because it is so random, I didn't feel like I was making progress to the goal. Unlike standard 4AD, I can't fill up the map, forcing an encounter with the boss. Instead, it's roll, roll, roll and hope to find a reaver.

Still, I think this module is worthwhile. There are a lot of interesting encounters, such as the giant that drops random items to the cabin in the woods, etc. Because of the fun encounters, I don't want to give up on the module. I plan on tweaking it a bit, turning it into a hex crawl (actually 3 hex crawls, one for each rng). I'll map out a 4 x 3 hex area, giving 12 possible encounters. If I come to the last hex and haven't found a ring then I'll automatically have a boss encounter. I think this will mitigate against the sense of randomness.

In other 4AD news, I went to the Ganesha Games website so I could get the URL for Three Rings. I noticed that they have a new supplement, Fiendish Foes, which adds more monsters to the system. What an excellent idea! As I have been making my own adventures for the system, I found a need for more monsters. Glad to see it become a reality, and hope they do more similar supplements (perhaps having themes, like my Greek myth themed adventure)

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

The Most Ferocious Monster in Four Against Darkness

Sunday morning I tried to play a session of Four Against Darkness,

Here was the final monster:

Onyx decided that my charts looked like a comfy bed,

Game over man, GAME OVER!*

*RIP Bill Paxton

Sunday, March 5, 2017

February Recap

No game this week, and due to a crashed computer my month-end update is a little late.

Six by Six Challenge
February was another productive month, with 5 games completed (2 Four Against Darkness adventures, 2 fantasy battles, and a game of Ticket to Ride). The full list can be found here.

I am averaging 6 games a month, which puts me on a pace to complete the challenge halfway through the year. I suspect, however, that my productivity will peter out over the months.

Boxed Portable Gaming
I have been really enjoying the boxed portable games. In addition to my fantasy campaign, I have also put together a boxed version of Four Against Darkness. Last weekend I picked up some index cards. Now I plan to put character and monster stats on the cards, which should make reference and adventure set-up even easier.

I also ordered more boxes - one for sci-fi, one for horse and musket, and a spare.

New Project
I'm expecting delivery of some more Irregular 2mm figures for colonial era battles. This will allow me to start on my Lumbago campaign for the 6x6 challenge. I am planning one change to this project. Instead of using my own rules, I want to give Bob Cordery's The Portable Wargame rules a try.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

More Portable Adventures

Last week I showed a couple of pictures of my boxed, portable adventure set for Four Against Darkness games. I made a couple of modifications and ran through another module this morning. Here is the latest set:

The right side of the box contains the tactical board, where I run through combats (I expanded on 4AD by putting battles on a grid. I roll for movement on the grid but combat works the same). This time, I am using a couple of meeples for my heroes. I actually like the look and may use them for the time being.

On the left are some papers.

I printed out a page with the characters sheets. One page can actually fit 4 characters but I only have Khamen and Candorra filled out.

Finally, I created an adventure sheet. It includes simplified/streamlined versions of the encounter tables. Rather than use the full 4AD tables, I prefer to customize the encounters for the specific module. I start by choosing a main boss. I then choose vermin, minions, events, etc. that go with the main boss. For example, in today's session, I choose a vampire as the main boss. I then decided what other encounters would make sense in a vampire's spooky castle. I then fill in the encounter table on my sheet.

There is also a grid on the sheet so that I can map out the dungeon. It is smaller than the size recommended in 4AD but I prefer a shorter dungeon anyway. Sometimes I use the 4AD random room generation but other times I don't bother. Since today's adventure was set in a castle, I just used regular sized rooms and randomly rolled for doors.

Here is a closer look at the map. I jot notes about the encounters on the map and in the margins of the sheet.

One enhancement I have in mind is to create a sheet with the adventure's monsters' stats. I was still using a computer to reference the stats. Nevertheless, I was pleased with today's session and I like the progress I am making.

By the way, I finished another 4AD session toward my 6 by 6 Challenge. I still need to do the write-up (which will be on Tales of the Templars). I'll update this post with the link when the account is ready.

EDIT: As promised, here is the account of the adventure.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

And Another 6 x 6 Game

And another 6 x 6 game complete. This time it is our first game of the year for Ticket to Ride (my late entry to the 6 x 6 list of games).

It is a very close game. We were running neck-and-neck all game. Elizabeth (the brown trains) ended up with some long routes with high point values. I (with my red trains) completed more routes but with less points.

However, I gained an additional 25 bonus points (for most routes and longest path). I ended up winning by 10 points.

A Portable Adventure

Although I am very satisfied with the Four Against Darkness rules, I have been less pleased with my set-up for it. For the most part, I've been running and recording adventures on my computer. For example, here is an illustration of an encounter in a previous adventure.

Khamen and Candorra take on the evil priests
Sometimes there is just no substitute for physical components. Therefore, I want to create a boxed portable RPG. Today, I ran a 4AD scenario with an experimental box.

I created a battle board using the same technique as my portable wargame boards, but with gray paper. For today's experiment, I used tokens (hearts = heroes) instead of miniatures. I recorded the game info in my Hobbit notebook.

The page on the left has character notes while the right has a rough map and notes about the adventure.

Obviously it's very rough right now but I'll work it out. I was debating about getting miniatures but I am actually leaning toward creating counters using the paper flats I've downloaded (such as the ones in the encounter above). In today's adventure, I also needed to refer to tables on my computer. In the future, I'll print them out and keep them in the box.

By the way, I recorded the first part of the adventure on Tales of the Templars. The second part will be forthcoming. Together they form a complete game for the 6 x 6 challenge.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Raid on Presteria

While Presterian warriors prevented the main Swartherian army from crossing the pass into the kingdom, scattered bands of raiders were able to sneak in.

One sizable force tried to press deeper into Presteria, with only a band of native bowmen to stop them.

Two bands of barbarian riders swept past the bows, unimpeded by the meager volleys sent their way.

But reinforcements arrived, blocking the road that led deeper into the kingdom.

A company of royal infantry advanced against the raiders.

But were cut down to a man. The road appears open!

One troop of raiders raced down the road. Some native warriors moved to block the path of any other raiders. Meanwhile, more Presterian reinforcements arrived just as Swartherian barbarians overran the bowmen on the hill.

The reinforcements raced to the rescue while the native warriors held the road.

A wild, swirling melee broke out.

Raiders defeated some of the reinforcements. The native warriors faced attacks from the front and flank.

But they held, and even destroyed a band of raiders.

Now reinforced, the native warriors engaged the last band of riders. The barbarians on the hill destroyed another band of defenders.

The last of the horse was eliminated. Seeing that they were outnumbered, the barbarians decided to withdraw.

Once again, the defenders of Presteria emerged victorious!

Game Notes:
  • Taking the day off for my birthday (which actually was yesterday) so I decided to squeeze in a game.
  • This is another One Hour Wargame scenario - #25 (Infiltration)
    • The raiders need to get 2 units off the board from the road exit at the bottom of the board.
    • The Swartherian raiders consisted on 3 units of cavalry and 1 of archers. The Presterians had 4 native warriors, 1 infantry, and 1 archer unit.
    • I was worried about this scenario because of the force composition. With its preponderance of cavalry, I thought that the Swartherians would be able to ride around the defenders. Early on, it seemed like that would happen. Good activation rolls (and a little gambling with 3 dice) enabled the reinforcement infantry to get into the fray in time. In addition, the native warriors holding the road made excellent defense rolls!
  • The Presterians are now leading the campaign 2-0
  • And another 6 x 6 challenge game (medieval fantasy) is complete!
On another note, my fantasy boxed portable wargame is pretty much complete. Here is the box, now with a cover page!

And here is the open box. On the back of the cover page I printed a rules quick reference sheet. My 2mm troops are in little tins (I glued magnets to the bases so they won't rattle around)

One final note - today marked the debut of my latest casualty markers. I had some spare auxiliary infantry. I glued them lying down on a thin base. I painted the base brown (mud) and the figures white. Then I added some scattered red (blood). They fit into the squares and stand out from the "live" troops. I'm quite happy with the way they came out and plan to make more.