Sunday, April 27, 2014

On Hiatus

There are a lot of non-gaming stuff going on in my life lately. In particular:

Attended a charity auction for SOS Children's Village - Florida last night

Heading to a conference of the American Society of Training and Development next weekend. I'm still trying to figure out who thought the acronym A - STD was a good idea.

The following weekend I will be at Disney World for the Flower and Garden festival.

This means that I will have little time for gaming or even planning games. Therefore, my posts to this blog will probably tail off during this time frame. Never fear, though. Francesia and all my other little gaming projects will be back.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

A Lull in the Action

This year has been one of frantic wargaming and blogging activity (at least for me). So far, I have posted more every month compared to the same month last year. April, however, is not looking so good, and this weekend is not helping. It doesn't look like I'll get a game in. I still feel like I should post something so let me provide a short status report.
  1. Medieval project - Last week I started working on two paper armies. They are complete but I need to get around to printing and basing them. The next few weekends are going to be very busy for me so I'm not sure when I'll get to play with them.
  2. Grayrock Revolution - I have a scenario in mind for the next battle. I've just been in a real medieval mood so I haven't had the motivation to return to the revolution. Furthermore, it may be a while before I do. I feel bad about it, but one thing I've learned about my hobby is that I have to go with the flow of my fickle wargaming moods. Nevertheless, I do apologize if anyone is waiting for the next chapter.
  3. "1:1 Scale Wargaming" - I've mentioned before my participation in a medieval LARP called Dagorhir. At an event last weekend a friend and I kicked around an idea to start our own order of chivalry. What little free time I've had this week has been occupied by sketching out ideas for our order. This has diverted attention from other wargaming projects.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Paper or Plastic or Metal?

I am in a bit of a quandary with my medieval project. It began last year and it has gone through many fits and starts. I experimented with some 1/72nd scaleplastic figures but they were a bit too big for my table. I then ordered some Irregular 15mm but I never got into the swing of painting them. My latest endeavor has been 10mm Kallistra. I’ve been trying a simplified approach to painting them – spray paint the major color and then add a few details to help them stand out. Still, I am painting at a snail’s pace (exacerbated no doubt due to my dislike about how the infantry is cast in two ranks).

This latest snag has more pondering my project once again. I’d like to get some figures on the table soon, but what is the best way to do this? Some thoughts:

  • Buy some painted figures – I’d have painted figures quicker, but I’m concerned about the cost. Also, will they be based the way I want them?
  • Try another 10mm manufacturer – perhaps one that has figures cast individually. Pendraken seems popular, perhaps I should try them. I also considered trying Historifigs. They have simple, old school miniatures that seem easier to paint (I plan on using them for my horse & musket project when I decide to replace my Risk figures). Unfortunately, they don’t do medieval in their N-gauge scale. I guess I could use Romans and barbarians instead.
  • Try a smaller scale (i.e. 6mm) – I’ve long been interested in Baccus. I am concerned that they may have too much detail, slowing down painting. I owned Heroics Ros before and like their figures, although they are very small.
  • Try paper miniatures – A bit flat, but they are cheap and convenient.

Last night I began an experiment with the last option – paper minis. I went to the Junior General site, downloaded some medieval infantry, and then modified them into the warring factions of Francesia. Here are the results so far:


They actually look pretty nice. I still have a cutting and pasting to do (e.g. I want to make multi-figure stands) but the experiment is further along than my 10mm project.

My biggest beef about paper minis is that they are flat. To address this, I’m considering pasting the paper minis to wooden blocks. I’m just not sure what to do about the tops and sides. I guess I could get some top-down and side views to paste to the blocks, but it seems that I am adding more work to the project. Oh well, I’ll have to experiment. In the interim, I’m planning on just doing the cardboard flats.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Table Top Day Report

Yesterday was International Table Top Day.

Last year I was a heretic, but this year I planned to do it right. The plan was to invite my brother over for dinner and a game of Ticket to Ride. Time permitting, I thought about pulling out Settlers of Catan as well.

Dinner was great. I made a shepherd's pie, which was a big hit. I also made some fried pickles (I think I ate about a million of them).

The game, however, did not go exactly as planned. My wife ended up inviting her father and his cousin in addition to my brother. Now we had 6 people, too many for Ticket to Ride. Thinking quickly, we pulled out Castle Panic.Unfortunately, we did not take any pictures, but suffice it to say that we won. My brother was master slayer by a wide margin. The other players were ready to throw me out of the castle. In one turn while drawing new monsters, I drew the token "Draw 3 more monsters." One of the 3 that I drew was the Goblin King, which draws an additional 4 monsters. All told, I drew 8 monsters that turn!

Anyway, after our victory things went awry. Somehow, the conversation turned to music and before I knew it (I was putting away the game), somebody had started up this game:

A video game? On Table Top Day? The horror!
Well, I'll try to do better next year.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Black Bart escapes!

As promised, here is my game report for the Escape from Castle Grayrock scenario.

Finding himself under siege in Castle Grayrock, the Bluderian Viceroy called a conference of his top commanders to discuss measures. True to his nature, General "Black" Bart Blackwell urged that the garrison should sally forth and drive the rebels from the street. The Viceroy was more cautious, pointing out Blackwell's recent failure. Instead, the conference decided to send a messenger to the main Bluderian army is southern Grayrock. Disgusted by the lethargy of the other commanders, Black Bart offered to provide the messenger. Actually, he planned to do it himself in order to get away from the Viceroy and rejoin his Greenglade comrades with the main army.

Blackwell waited until a dark, moonless night. Clothed in black, he armed himself with a pair of pistols, a sword, and a dagger. He carried a couple of lengths of rope hidden under his black cloak. Deep in the night, he set forth.

A section of Grayrock City.
Black Bart (the green figure because I don't have a black one) is in the Castle (bottom)
 Notes: Pardon the bare bones nature of the board. I was in the process of making a proper castle and city walls, but Tommy demanded a game immediately! Instead, I used a few stone walls from Village in a Bag and a lot of imagination. The red cobblestony areas are the main streets. The gray areas represent built up areas - buildings and narrow alleyways. It is possible to move through the gray areas.

Black Bart dropped a rope from the wall and shimmied down. About halfway, he slipped and fell with a thud to the street below. He rose, but felt a stabbing pain in his ankle.

Limping, he managed to cross the main street and ducked into an alleyway. As he hobbled through the alley, he heard arguing from around the corner. He peaked and saw two local citizens, recently armed and acting as a rebel patrol. Ge decided to avoid an encounter, sneaking by in the dark. Fortunately, their argument was so loud that they did not hear him.

Black Bart sneaks past the citizen patrol.
 Turning a corner of the alley, Blackwell stumbled across a mangy dog. It began to bark at him. He gave it a swift kick and it ran away. Fortunately, no one was alerted.

He then had to cross a major street. Huddling under his dark cloak, he scurried across as quickly as his injured ankle allowed., but he did not go unnoticed. Someone called out to him. "Hey buddy!" Blackwell ignored the call, but the man repeated it. Blackwell turned, his hand reaching from his sword hilt. A ragged man came up to him. "Can ye spare a coin?" As Blackwell hesitated, the beggar stated, "I can see yer tryin' to remain hid. Spare or coin or should I make a row?" Blackwell pulled a coin from his pouch and gave it to the beggar, who smiled and moved on.

Black Bart meets a beggar.
 Blackwell moved back into the alleys. After a little way, he heard another voice saying "Hey Bud." Blackwell turned, whispering "I have a coin I can spare." The man approached out of the dark, with a dagger pointed to Blackwell. "I want ALL yer coin, and anything else on yer person, or else." Blackwell was having none of it. He whipped out his sword and lunged. The thug deftly dodged, Back and forth the two of them went - striking, dodging, and parrying as silently as each could. Neither one wanted to alert the patrols. At one point, Blackwell slipped and fell to his knees. The mugger rushed in, but Blackwell recovered and his parry disarmed his enemy. The thug kicked Blackwell and then jumped on him. Blackwell's sword rattled to the ground. The two men wrestled until Blackwell managed to draw his dagger. Two quick stabs and the fight was over, with the thug's life blood pouring from his veins.
Black Bart after an encounter with a thug.
 Blackwell fled from the scene, eager not to get caught. Fortune was with him and he was able to make it to the wall. His only encounter was with another mangy dog that he drove away with ease. Blackwell then tried to scale the wall, but his injured ankle made it difficult. He slipped and fell to the ground. He heard a crack and his ankle throbbed with greater intensity. Probably broken. He tried again, and through sheer determination, he made it to the top. 

Black Bart on top of the wall.
Tying his other rope to the top of the wall, he dropped the other end down the other side and slid down (falling once again!). He was able to make his way to his secret contact, who provided him with a horse. He rode off into the night! After a long, painful ride, he, and the Viceroy's message, made it to the Bluderian army.

I played this game using my rules-lite RPG rules (as described in my Kevin's Krawl and Space Templar posts).

Each turn, Bart could move 1 square. I then rolled for an encounter in the square. An encounter would occur on the busier streets on a 1-3 but only a 1-2 in the alleys (to make the streets more tempting, I should have allowed faster movement). If an encounter occurred, I rolled on the encounter chart.

1. Dog (Power = 6)
2. Beggar (Power = 6)
3. Drunk (starts a brawl) (Power = 6)
4. Thug (Power = 7)
5. Unruly citizens on patrol (Power = 7)
6. National Guard patrol (Power = 8)

The patrols would consist of 1-3 men. The Power number was what Bart had to roll to successfully attack or defend. For example, in his fight with the thug, Bart needed to roll 7 or better to hit and to avoid being hit. In a fight, Bart could take 3 wounds before succumbing to unconsciousness (and failing his mission).

When an encounter occurred, Bart had 3 options: sneak by it (using the encounter's Power number as the target for success), confront it (not always requiring combat, such as the beggar encounter), or run from it. I would roll the dice and interpret the result (very free-form; I just decided what seemed logical).

Bart also had to roll to climb up or down the walls. Again, I would interpret the die rolls. Also, after each failure I rolled to see if an encounter occurred.

Bart was fairly unlucky in some regards (6 encounters in 10 moves; had trouble climbing walls) but he was fortunate in the nature of the encounters (no National Guard patrols, for example) and in his rolls during confrontations. I thought about adding a second "level" of the game where Bart had to make it from the city to the army, avoiding highwaymen, wolves, and enemy patrols along the way, but I decided to take it easy on him.Throughout the game, I felt a sense of anxiety as I made the rolls so I consider the scenario a success (as it was for Bart as he made it out of the city).

Tommy Demands a Game!

In celebration for International Table Top Day, my wife cleaned the coffee table last night in preparation for game night tonight. This action immediately drew my cat, Thomasina (Tommy for short). She jumped up on one of her favorite spots, the back of the chair.

Tommy in her game night spot
You see, Tommy is a huge gaming fan. Whenever we play a game on the coffee table, she loves to sit on the chair and look over the scene. She is very respectful of the game; she never jumps on the table and never tries to play with the pieces (Cooper, on the other hand . . .). Cleaning the coffee table is usually the signal that a game is about to begin, which is what drew her. It was breaking my heart to see her waiting for the game to begin, especially since we did not do game night last week, so I had to set something up. Although my castle walls were not ready, I decided to play the Escape from Castle Grayrock scenario I discussed previously. I'll post a game report later today.

P.S. Tommy really enjoyed it.