Sunday, January 31, 2016

More Kate and Kip

I had so much fun yesterday with the adventures of Kate and Kip that I decided to play another short scenario. Once again, the figures came from OkumArts (available at Wargames Vault / DriveThruRPG).

Kate and Kip discovered a crashed ship on an isolated asteroid. They boarded it to salvage any useful items. In the cargo hold, they ran into a bunch of evil robots.

The robots rushed forward.
3 of the 4 robots are workers, with melee-only attacks. They are rated as 2/2/1 (attack/defend/hits). I gave them a higher defense than the standard mook because of their metal skins.

One engaged Kip and struck a hard blow. Our heroes fired at the advancing robots but missed.

Kate and Kip retreated in the face of the onslaught. Kate blasted one robot but Kip missed.

Kip was able to put some distance between him and his pursuer. He then eliminated it.

Kate engaged in a gunfight with the guard robot (also 2/2/1 but armed with a laser pistol).
The remaining worker robot attacked Kip. He blasted it at point-blank range but the laser shot ricocheted off its metallic skin.
Kip actually scored 2 hits but the robot had a good defense roll and negated both.

Kate retreated behind cover and blasted the guard while Kip finally took out his pursuer.

Another enjoyable game. I really like the virtual board for quick games. I do want to move these skirmishes to a real board. I should print up my Retro Space paper minis.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Sci-Fi Skirmish

I decided to play around some more with the skirmish rules I've been working on. Instead of a virtual board, I wanted to play an actual miniatures game. So I decided to pull out my space marine figures (you can see them in action in this earlier report). But disaster struck; I could not find them. I tore through my storage area but they were gone! I'm not sure what happened to them but I was very disappointed.

Well, the game must go on! I turned to the virtual board. I wanted to do a sci-fi game so I downloaded some paper miniatures that I previously bought from Wargames Vault. I made up some simple terrain and off I went.

Kip and Kate are star salvagers who roam the space lanes looking for wreckage and scrap. One day, they chanced upon a derelict ship. They docked alongside the ship and boarded through its cargo hold.

Room 1
They entered the hold, and found it filled with an assortment of storage crates. But their other find was less pleasant - laser-wielding aliens!

Kip ducked for cover just in time as an alien blast cut through the air behind him! Kate rushed forward behind a crate and shot her laser pistol at one of the aliens. She missed.

The crates acted as cover and allowed an extra defense die.

A cascade of shots rang out through the cargo hold. Kip was struck and wounded. Kate took out one of the aliens.

Note: Kip and Kate are both 3/2/3 characters (attack with 3 dice, defend with 2, and can take 3 hits). The aliens are 2/1/1.

An alien tried to flank Kip's position. At point blank range, they shot at each other but missed. Kate gunned down another alien.

This time Kip took out his opponent. Kate rushed forward and eliminated the final alien.

Kip and Kate are armed with laser pistols with a range of 4 while the alien rifles have a range of 6. Thus she had to move forward to engage it.

Room 2
Kip patched up his wound and the duo moved out of the cargo hold into some twisting corridors.

I decided to make this a series of joined scenarios. After a room is cleared, the characters were allowed to heal 1 wound.

Suddenly, a door opened. An alien armed with a heavy blaster rifle stood in the doorway. Kip rushed forward into cover and blasted it.

In this scenario, the aliens received an extra attack die due to their heavy weapons. They still only got 1 defense die and 1 wound.

Two more aliens appeared, using corners and a barrel as cover. One of the aliens hit Kate. She and Kip returned fire and eliminated the enemy.

Room 3
Kate and Kip made their way to the bridge. They opened a door and entered a small hallway. Another alien (2/1/1) was on guard. Kate blasted him.

Kip opened the door to the bridge. Two more aliens were inside. One was one guard behind a control panel. As soon as the door opened, he fired upon Kip, who took 2 wounds.

Kate blasted the guard.

The other alien was at the command post, experimenting with the ship's computer system. It held a glowing, wand-like device. Kip rushed him and loosed a shot that wounded the alien. Then Kip felt his head swimming. It took a determined effort not to lose control of his thoughts.

I decided that the wand-thingy was a mind control device. A successful hit would turn the character to the alien's side for the next turn. Kip made his saving rolls so was safe. The alien leader was a 3/2/2 figure.

Kip dodged for cover behind the console. Kate rushed forward. She also felt the peculiar sensation in her mind but was otherwise not affected.

Finally, Kate flanked the command chair and gunned down the alien. The bridge was theirs!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Miniatures with My Wife

Lately, I've been experimenting with skirmish rules. I wondered if I could create a game that she would enjoy to play with me. I broached the subject and she expressed some interest. We discussed what would be the perfect game. Some points we came up with:

  1. Uses dice (rolling dice is fun, after all)
  2. Some miniatures (it's prettier)
  3. Easy and quick set-up (primarily my requirement as I tend to set up the games)
  4. Game play between half an hour to an hour
While Mice and Mystics tends to fail on points 3 and 4, I think it is because of special rules and the complexity of the scenarios. If we strip it down to the core rules, I think it will work.

I then asked my wife about what the setting should be. Her answer? Time-traveling, talking cats that wear clothes and hats and go on adventures. She sent me a picture of Victorian-looking cats to illustrate her concept.

Now I have images of a steampunk cat version of Time Tripper but with dogs as the enemies. Actually, it sounds like fun. But where can I get miniatures of steampunk cats?

Random Thoughts and a Skirmish

Although this blog has been silent for a while, I haven't disappeared. Life's been hectic and I haven't had the opportunity to play any wargames.

Family Game Night still occurs. We got a late start last night, so we wanted something we could set up and play quickly. So we pulled out Zombies!!! It got a little cutthroat as I kept playing cards in a vain attempt to thwart my wife's progress. She responded in kind, with much greater effect, as you can see from the picture below.
The board at the end.
Elizabeth (red) makes it to the heliport
I mention this game for reasons other than giving an update. Over the past couple of weeks I've been contemplating the ideal game. One crucial aspect is ease of set-up. We have a bunch of great games (like these) that we don't play often because of long set-up times. Similarly, I haven't been playing miniature wargames because I've been too lazy to set them up. During lazy times, I think a skirmish would be ideal. To that end, I began an experiment a couple of weeks ago.

Since then, I pondered the results and increasingly feel that the basic Mice and Mystics mechanics work very well. It seems that the long set-up and special rules bog it down. Strip the game down to the core and it moves quickly. This morning, I tried another experiment, this time using M&M core rules.

Battle Report
In this adventure, Carstairs and the lovely Jenny Love are exploring Mars. They run afoul of some hostile Martians.

Carstairs attacks with 3 dice and defends with 2. His pistol has a range of 3 spaces.
Jenny attacks with 2 dice and defends with 2. Her lighting gun has a range of 4 spaces and requires a 5+ to save (normal saves are 4+)
The 3 Martians attack with 2 dice (range 6) and defend with 1.

As Carstairs and Jenny march across the wild deserts of Mars, a Martian scout spots them. He steps out behind a large rock and fires, hitting Carstairs.

I assumed the rocks were very large boulders that blocked line of sight. I should have allowed figures to crouch behind them and fire.

As in M&M, the player's characters (in this case Carstairs and Jenny) can take 3 hits. Mooks can only take 1. All figures get a saving roll. Carstairs failed his roll.

Carstairs rushes forward with Jenny right behind him. Both fire and miss. The Martian scout also misses, but he has support coming to his aid!

Carstairs misses but Jenny's lightning gun blasts the scout into oblivion. The remaining Martians get into line of sight and fire. Our heroes are able to dodge the shots. They made their saving rolls.

The Martians fire again. This time, Carstairs is struck and is knocked unconscious.
He took 2 hits and failed to save. However, player characters are not killed outright. If they take 3 hits, they are considered unconscious.

Jenny took a hit but she dodged behind a large boulder and blasted a second Martian.

Then she rushed forward, oblivious of the fusillade of shot that whistled by her very prim coiffure. She leveled her gun and blasted the last enemy.

After the last Martian fell, she rushed back to Carstairs. Gently cradling his head in her lap, she bathed his forehead with water and tended to his wound. He stirred, and weakly spoke.

"Did I get them?"

"Yes dear," she responded, with an ironic smile on her face. "They've been dealt with."

  • M&M rules work. I am going to continue experimenting with them.
  • Other than the fact that I had to make the virtual board on the spot, set-up was easy. Only a handful of figures on the board. That's a plus.
  • My original intention was for skirmishes in my pulp-era imagi-world of Aetheria. However, I found some great Space 1889 paper miniatures online and have been using those. I found them with a this Google image search. I wish I could find some pulp-themed paper miniatures like these.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Thrilling Adventures in Aetheria!

After last week's battle in Aetheria (my 1930ish imaginary world), I had a sudden bit of inspiration. Aetheria could be a fun setting for thrilling pulp adventures! Suddenly my mind was racing with thoughts of quick skirmish games with a handful of miniatures. I was inspired by the possibilities.

But what rules to use? I looked into commercial sets like Pulp Alley but I found them a bit too fiddly for my tastes. I thought about using my dungeon crawl rules, which I have modified for my solo RPG sessions. However, I wanted something faster with less record-keeping. I decided to work on my own rules.

First, I jotted down some ideas to create a series of linked scenarios. To track them, I created this adventure track in PowerPoint.

I don't have all the details worked out, but the "good guys" will roll to see how far they can move along this track every campaign turn. At each point where they stop, they will have a random encounter. The X marks the boss' lair, where they will have to fight a climatic battle to complete the adventure.

I'm playing around with ideas for adjudicating the encounters. The general idea is to give a dice pool depending on the figure's general status (heroes or major villains get 3 dice, sidekicks 2, and mooks 1). I tested it out with a quick scenario (using a virtual board created in PowerPoint. I got the figures from the internet).

For my test, I used a sample scenario from Space 1889. I previously mentioned how this scenario jaded me on the game's rules. Nevertheless, it makes a good test scenario. In this scenario, Carstairs, the British officer and amateur archaeologist, is investigating a Venusian tomb (I know, it's an Egyptian mummy. Just imagine it's Venusian). He is confronted by 3 Venusian grave robbers (not shown but armed with daggers).

Initial Set-up
 I rolled a D6/2 for movement. The Venusians surged forward but failed to reach Carstairs. Our hero decided to retreat strategically re-position himself, using the sarcophagus as cover. He also took a shot at the first mook (rolling 3 dice because he's a hero). He rolled 2 hits. I gave the mook a saving roll, but he failed, and was out of the fight.
One mook down

The remaining grave robbers began to work their way around the sarcophagus. Carstairs moved forward but did not have a decent shot (I ruled that the sarcophagus blocked line of sight. I probably should have allowed a shot with a negative modifier).
The enemy circles

One Venusian reached Carstairs. His attack (with only 1D) missed but Carstairs sliced him in twain.
Slicing down the bad guy

The last Venusian reached Carstairs and sliced at him. Another miss! Carstairs aimed his revolver and downed the mook.
Last one down

Now that this quick scenario is over, what are my thoughts?

  • The scenario was a clear mismatch. It probably should be, especially because the mooks do not have guns.
  • Nevertheless, I may be penalizing the mooks too much. In addition to giving them fewer dice, I also made it harder for them to hit (Carstairs needed a 3+ to hit while the grave robbers needed a 5+). Maybe I should make it a straight 4+.
  • I don't use a movement grid for my solo RPGs but I think it added some tactical thought to the game. The rules worked well enough (I borrowed them from Mice and Mystics) although I did not have movement bonuses like M&M.
  • I need to consider the combat rules. For example, I may just make it 4+ to hit. Also, I need to decide how to work the saving rolls (especially the number of dice per attempt)
  • I did not use activation rolls in this attempt (like Song of Blades and Heroes). I am debating it but right now I lean towards not using them. The random movement gives enough variability as it is.
  • I liked the virtual board, but I ultimately plan on using miniatures.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Happy Birthday!

Today marks this blog's 3rd birthday!

Yes, three years ago today my blog started, with a whimper. There were no pictures and no real content, just a promise that there would be something. Since then, a lot has happened. Oh, not in the way I envisioned back then. I was planning for more campaigns and associated game reports. I did not expect to be so flighty in my gaming. Oh well, it's been a good ride.

One unexpected discovery was that I really enjoy blogging. It's like keeping a journal and can be interesting to go back and see what was going on in the past.

Anyway, I may not post as much as in previous years (I'm thinking once a week this year) but this blog will continue.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Wrapping Up the 12 Games of Christmas

The 12 Games of Christmas have come to a close. Here are the last few games we played:

Boss Monster
Tuesday night we played Boss Monster. Players take the role of the eponymous creature, building a dungeon and luring adventurers to their doom. Bwaa Haa Haa Haaaa!

My dungeon
Anyway, my wife started out hot, killing 4 or 5 adventurers to my 2. But then I started a comeback. On the last turn, she has 9 victory points and I had 8 (we needed 10 vps for victory). We were facing elite adventurers worth 2 points each. I managed to lure a cleric into my dungeon. Using a magic spell I was able to defeat him and garner 10 vps. The adventurers stayed away from my wife's dungeon so she was stuck at 9 vps at the end of the turn. I won!

My winning haul
Space Hulk: Death Angel
My wife was tired Wednesday night so I played a solo game of Death Angel. Set in the 40K universe, players are Space Marines investigating a space hulk. Here is my hand as I enter the penultimate room.

4 of 6 Space Marines still left.
 I lost 2 marines in this room but managed to make it to the last room. I forget what the exact mission was but I just needed to activate the control panel to win. One marine made it there but the survivors were then overwhelmed by genestealers.

Basically, this ended up the same way as every other playing - DEATH. Probably why I don't play it much.

Mice & Mystics
We skipped a game on New Year's Eve (honestly, I fell asleep very early) but we were back in action on Friday with Mice and Mystics.

Our mission was to find and defeat the castle's resident cat.

Oliver says that the cat must win

It's a long scenario so we did not finish yet. We still managed to clear out a couple of rooms. We both controlled 2 characters, but Elizabeth was the star of the adventure.. In one room, we tangled with a spider, a very hard enemy. She rolled for Collin, one of her characters. One 3 dice, she scored 3 hits, and all of them counted double because of a bonus Collin had. So in 1 shot, he sliced and diced the spider into ribbons.
Elizabeth's roll against the spider.
One dead spider.
 Later, she had a similar roll with Lily the archer. Four hits on four dice.
Lily's dead-eye shooting
Oz Fluxx
Last night, we finished with a couple of hands of Oz Fluxx (sorry no pics). I took the first hand but Elizabeth won the second when I accidentally gave her the game. I transferred a creeper card (usually very bad) to her. But she had a card that let her win with it.

By my count, that was the 12th game. Elizabeth is working today and I go back tomorrow so we are likely going back to once a week games. Now Thomasina, our game-loving cat, will really be feeling the post-Christmas blues. :(

Friday, January 1, 2016

Battle of Mount Branson

Battle 3 of the Lucranian Campaign

Despite my recent lethargy, I managed to play a game this morning.

Stymied at White Cloud Pass, Air Marshal Gruber mustered the bulk of his forces for another assault. But this was only a feint. Secretly, he sent another force north. Sneaking through neutral air space, this force struck Nordia Pass. The surprised defenders were forced to flee. A token force put up a desperate defense.

This time I'm using scenario 20 - Fighting Retreat from One Hour Wargames.
The objective is to hold the hill on the southern (Lucranian) side. The wall of clouds across the northern part of the battle field is impassible.

Imperial squadrons - 4 pursuit, 1 attack, and 1 bomber
Lucranian squadrons - 2 pursuit,1 attack, and 1 dirigible

Battle Report
The Lucranian defenders managed to make it through the passes and were headed to Mount Branson. The Imperial squadrons are in hot pursuit.
Turn 2 - The Imperials enter
 The Lucranian pursuit squadrons turned to contest the passes.

But the Imperials scattered the defending squadron on the left flank,

On the right flank, the Lucranians held . . .

As the Imperials raced through the passes, the Lucranian attack squadron and the dirigible squadron rushed to plug the gaps.

But an Imperial pursuit squadron squeezed past on the left flank.

And took control of the airspace over Mount Branson. The Lucranian retreat was compromised.

The Lucranian attack squadron rushed back to the mountain while the dirigible squadron's heavy guns scattered an Imperial squadron (right)

A swarm if Imperial fighters took down the Lucranian attack squadron. Control of the mountain remained in Imperial hands.

Heavily outnumbered, the dirigible squadron tried to escape. Fortunately, its gunnery kept the pursuit squadrons at bay and it was able to make its getaway.

Gruber smiled as he read the reports from the front. His gambit had paid off. The surprise attack had secured the northern passes, opening the way to the Lucranian heartland. It was just a matter of time.

Campaign Note
The Empire now has 2 wins to no losses and a draw, with 2 more games to play. One more victory would ensure the conquest of Lucrania.

Game Analysis
I haven't been happy with the combat mechanics in my first two battles of the campaign. I essentially used the same mechanics as my ground combat games - units get a number of attack dice that they roll to determine hits. It just did not feel like dogfights. For this game, I took a different approach. When a dogfight occurred, I made a maneuver roll for each side, modified by the type of aircraft. The winner of the maneuver roll got to attack the opponent. It just "felt" more like a dogfight. Another benefit was it allowed me to give the attack squadrons higher damage potential while giving pursuit squadrons an advantage in getting shots off in the first place.

 When attacking bombers of dirigibles, attackers first had to roll to see if they could get through the hail of defensive firepower. If they were not driven off, they could make their attack rolls. The Lucranian dirigible squadron survived because it kept driving off attackers.

With the new mechanics, I dispensed with saving rolls. I liked it better but I may increase hits from 3 to 4.

I did not have any mechanic for forced retreats. I think I need to add one.

What's in Store for 2016?

I have been doing a "What's in Store" post for the last couple of years. I realize that it is pretty much an exercise in futility. First of all, I refuse to set goals. Gaming should be fun, not a chore. My philosophy with gaming is "if it's not fun, don't do it." As a result, my gaming efforts tend to be very capricious, which makes predicting it future nigh impossible. Nevertheless, here is my take on where my gaming will go in 2016.

  • Family Game Night - this has become an entrenched tradition in my home. We don't play every weekend but we still manage 2-3 games a month. My wife is starting school on January, so this may decline a bit, but I still expect us to play semi-regularly.
  • 3mm - since I started this blog in 2013, I agonized over my choice of scale. I wanted something that was inexpensive, easy to paint but looked nice once I got units painted. Last year, I discovered Magister Militum's wonderful 3mm horse & musket range and was hooked. I want to do a 3mm medieval project but due to budget constraints that is a low priority. (If you checked the link, Oliver still lives with us).
  • More GADD - last year, I predicted I would be doing a lot more sci-fi gaming. Well, I was wrong on that score. I am not going to bother predicting what my period of choice will be this year.
  • One Hour Wargames - although I am uncertain what period I'll be gaming, one thing is pretty certain - I'll be using OHW. More specifically, I'll be using his Thomas's scenarios and simple campaign structure even though I don't use the rules themselves.
Well, that's about all I'm pretty certain about. As for the details, only time will tell.

Happy New Year!