Saturday 28 January 2017

Actually, You Are A Statistic

As with most wargames, each model in the game is described by a set of statistics that, between them, show what its abilities are. In the interest of keeping the game simple, there are five statistics, or stats, which all models have.

Initiative: the quickness of a model to react. The main use for initiative is to determine when a model can activate. Models with a higher initiative get to move and fight before those of a low initiative. As such, initiative is very important, simply because it enables you to dispose of your opponent before he can dispose of you.

Move: the distance a model can move per turn. Moving counts as one of the two actions a model can make per turn. Charging is a special sort of moving that allows a model to move twice its normal move distance and attack (more about that soon). There are three basic speeds of movement. Slow models move 3” per move and charge 6”. Normal models move 4” and charge 8”. Fast models move 6” and charge 12”.

Fight: the ability of a model to attack and cause injury to other models. This covers both hand to hand combat and shooting. There are three basic levels of skill in fighting: recruit, elite and hero. The stat covers both hitting and doing meaningful damage. Most models will have the same Fight for close combat and shooting. Certain models, such as dogs and other animals, will have no ranged Fight at all.

Wounds: the amount of damage a model can take before it is considered dead, deactivated or otherwise out of the game. The vast majority of models have one wound, so they are removed from the table if they take any damage.

Destiny: the degree to which the model is favoured by chance, fate or the gods, whether manifested through villainy or moral fibre. Only heroes have this stat. Destiny points are used during the course of the game to allow heroes to reroll their own dice or compel the enemy to reroll theirs, in the hope of turning a miss into a hit or vice versa.

And that's it.

Little House on the Scary Prairie

"The zombie in the hat is mine! See what I did there, pardner?"

Last weekend, my friend James and I played a couple of games of Shadows of Brimstone, a co-operative dungeon-exploring game in which a group of Wild West characters fight monsters from beyond in a mine, which seems to have opened a portal to another dimension. While the characters aren't all cowboys, and they don't literally do battle with Cthulhu, it's cowboys vs Cthulhu.

There are two parallel versions of the game that work together, much like Hordes and Warmachine, but on a much smaller scale. In the one we've been using, the players can choose from a sherrif, a gunslinger, a Mexican bandit and a saloon girl/piano player (in a nice touch, all the character classes can be male or female). You explore the mine, carry out missions, gain experience and improve your character, gaining profile increases and skills.

The balance between complexity and fun is pretty good. The levelling grants you access to a range of amusing skills and there is a real sense of increasing in power. Generally, the balance is well-done, although the final battle of each mission is clearly designed for four players rather than two, and we had to tone it down to make it possible to complete the missions. The missions were reasonably tough, and the second game was pretty exciting.

Shadows of Brimstone is very good, overall. My main criticism is that there are a lot of cards to be dealt to decide what happens next in the game: it's quite appropriate to a Western setting, but it also requires a lot of space. That said, I'm not sure how else you would do it: the cards are definitely preferable to rolling on endless tables. Also, while the cards and design are good, it seems that these big board games either have excellent models or excellent gameplay, and the miniatures in Shadows, while fine, aren't award-winning. I'd recommend getting hold of a few Black Scorpion cowboys to replace them. If you're a morally-compromised president, why not grab them by the posse?

On the left here is a man known only as The Gunslinger, (really Black Scorpion's Pat Garrett figure). Taciturn and deadly, the Gunslinger is feared throughout the West. Grown men have been known to break down when he utters his catchphrase: "I'm a rootin', tootin' son of a gun." On the right is Lorretta Lyne (really, I think, a Copplestone Castings model). Estranged daughter of evil railroad baron (is there another kind?) Bakerloo Lyne, she has returned to claim her inheritance, which probably involves a tablefull of 28mm trains.

I used a GW technical paint called Agrellan Earth for the bases. It cracks somewhat, giving a nice impression of parched ground. I suspect that it will chip easily, but it does look good.

In other news, here's H.P. Lovecraft the bartender, standing next to a Fallout sentry bot made from a Gates of Antares Ghar battlesuit.

Monday 23 January 2017

Let's Write a Wargame!

Wargaming: fun for all the family.

It had to happen, I suppose. Making your own rules is to gaming what building robots out of plasticard is to model kit assembly: kind of impressive, but probably more hassle than its worth - even assuming that anybody will want to use your creation. However, over the last few years, I've become increasingly dissatisfied with 40k and the more complicated board games, such as Zombicide. Most of the big board games I've tried to play have ended up feeling like a stunted wargame rather than anything lighter (with the exceptions of Shadows of Brimstone, which is really good, and Sedition Wars, which is just bewildering).

So I am going to write my own rules, and I'm going to write them here to force myself to see this through. In order to get the most fun out of this project, I'm going to write a statement of intention, just how they do in middle management. Yay!

This game is going to be a fast, simple wargame to be played on a tabletop. Model count will be low. Models will be moved individually and not as units. Rules will be streamlined as much as possible. In particular, I want to avoid the roll to hit/roll to wound/roll for armour structure of Warhammer games.

As many models as possible will have single wounds. I won't do vehicles - at least, not yet.

The aim will be to produce rules that can cover fantasy and science fiction settings, as well as Victorian or WW2 type stories, mainly by giving different names to weapons and enemies. Monsters will be fairly generic, at least to start with. "Heroic" characters will be possible, like Indiana Jones or Luke Skywalker, able to fight large numbers of enemies. Some sort of character development and/or enemy generation table would be nice - but let's not run before we can walk.

Wish me luck.

Tuesday 17 January 2017

My Body Lies, But Still I Rome

Dawn crept between the trees of the Drakwald forest. The weak light caught on the armour of the Infelix Legion, on broken buckles and scratched metal plate. The legion stood silent along the edge of the clearing, mist swirling around their fleshless knees. Under tarnished helmets, hundreds of empty sockets stared across the grassland.

General Publius Enimicus turned from the battle-line and trudged up the hill. Behind the ranks of soldiers, the army's augur was bent over, his hat wobbling as he made strange gestures to determine the will of the gods.

"Flavius, old friend," Publius growled. "Do the gods smile upon us? Is it time for battle?"

Flavius Flavor consulted the sundial that he wore around his bony neck. "Truly, youth! You know what time it is?"

"Yes. It is a time of war, Flavius, a time of strength and honour. We swore an oath to destroy the barbarians of Drakwald. Today we honour that oath. We will not rest while their lord Sigmar lives." He looked up at the grey sky. "Some day, Flavius, we will have our victory. Then I shall return home, to vineyards and warm sun, where my wife Aggripina Colada waits for me."

Publius lurched down to the front rank of his men. He drew his sword.

As one, the Infelix Legion raised their huge, torn shields. Publius heard the clatter of metal and, under it, the deathly rattle of bone. "For Rome," he cried, "and forever!"

Everyone loves undead Romans, assuming that by "everyone" you mean "me". The two main elements - being a Roman and being dead - just seem to go together. I probably watched Jason and the Argonauts too many times when I was young (although that was the Greeks). The models here were put together out of Warlord Games Roman veterans (hence the battered shields), Mantic armoured skeletons and Games Workshop skeleton warriors, and very fiddly they were too.

I've no idea what these are for: there are too few for a Fantasy-battle type legion, and I don't really play any other fantasy games at the moment. As you can see, I painted these models fast and badly in a stylised, atmospheric manner. As much as anything else, they were a pleasant break from the more exact stuff I've been doing of late. Individually, they may not look like much, but as a group, they've got a certain something. And isn't that how the undead work?

Tuesday 10 January 2017

Pointless Scratchbuild Challenge Pt 3

Codsworth's Universal Perambulator allows the gentleman about town to pursue his two main interests at once: conquering other planets and looking at fine china. The main body of the Perambulator is styled around a design classic: the teacup. The operator stands proud on the observation deck as the Perambulator strides forth, with all the majesty of a maharajah on an elephant and the additional Britishness of a man with his legs in a giant cup of tea. 

The Perambulator can be powered by coal, moon-rock, navy rum or urchins. It is equipped with a pair of manipulators: sturdy enough to deal with any problems encountered en route, but short enough to prevent unnecessary discomfort when the machine inevitably malfunctions and turns upon its owner.

And now, with paint! The colour of the main body and the blue lines are meant to suggest a teacup.

I've ordered a textured resin base for this chap, partly to give him some more stability. Overall, I'm really pleased with the result - with the arguable exception of the model base I cut in half to make his feet, he's entirely built out of junk and no model kit parts were involved. That said, he's very delicate, and could have done with some pinning. Of course, that would have required me not just making it all up as I went along...

Sunday 8 January 2017

Pointless Scratchbuild Challenge Pt 2

Work continues on this mighty opus. I've added a bit of detail to the legs and begun work on a body. This was made primarily from the lower half of some kind of transparent plastic jar, with the lid of a baby-food packet stuck to the bottom.

The right way up

The large black disc is a circle of textured plasticard, which will provide a "floor" that goes on top of the body. It will end up as a viewing platform, on which an explorer can stand while the walker is lumbering along under him.

The wrong way up

A while ago, I read an article by a painter - if not actually John Blanche, then someone of that school - who said that when converting miniatures he assembled the model, added the conversions he wanted, and then tried to make it look as little as possible like the original model by covering it in "stuff". I've gone for a similar idea, adding bolts, pipes and inexplicable off-cuts of plasticard to suggest some kind of engine. The bolts were made from those little cylinders that stick out of the tops of sprues. The pipes are headphone cable.

Anyway, attaching the legs to the body results in this:

Which isn't bad, really. It's lacking in stability, but I'll attach it to a base to hold it all together. A few more details and a bit of joint-strengthening and it should be ready for painting.


I put this up on a Facebook group, and friends suggested that the walker looked slightly like a cup. Clearly my subconscious was trying to make a mug of tea instead of a robot. Fair enough. Following on from this, I added some little arms and an exhaust/handle at the back.

Wonderful things, drinking straws!

Friday 6 January 2017

Pointless Scratchbuild Challenge Pt 1

Happy New Year!

Many years ago, there was a person on the internet called Puremon, who made ork robots out of plasticard. Making an ork robot is fairly easy, but Puremon, whoever he/she/they might have been, was a genius when it came to scratch-building. (Puremon also had a blog called Ork Machine Index, which is a great name for an industrial band). It seems impossible to link to their work, but Googling "Puremon Ork" will bring up some examples.

It takes a lot of skill and time to build something really good - much more than I have of either. However, I thought that it would be interesting to try to make a robot purely out of the junk I had knocking around on my desk. So, instead of being a conversion of one model kit, or a new model out of spliced-together kits, it would be something totally new, hopefully incorporating no parts from any existing kits, or as close as I could get to that. Plasticard would be allowed, along with chopped up sprues and whatever else I could find lying around - but no actual model parts.

Well, today, I had a good go at making some legs for this robot/walker thing. It's early days yet, and this is both fiddly and time consuming. But here's where I am. From small things come slightly larger small things, especially when you're working in 28mm scale.

Wish me luck. I've got a long way to go, even on mechanical legs.

Wednesday 4 January 2017

Wolsung Giant Golem - finished at last!

After what seems like a very long time, the Wolsung Golem is finished. Thanks to the suggestions of a chap called Pourspelour on a forum (probably not his real name) I didn't paint the circular things on the model's chest and kneecaps as headlights, but as some sort of oscilloscope-type readouts. I think it goes well with the style of the model and adds some welcome colour to it that isn't red.

I added a Wild West casualty to his base to liven things up. It's not the greatest sculpt in history but it will certainly do the job. You can see just how very big this model is!

Recently, I won an ebay auction for a group of damaged Imperial Guard models. The space pirate below was made out of one of the damaged models, who seemed to be a commando-type person missing one arm and a leg.  It was then just a matter of sticking things to him and going for a generally piratical look. I didn't have a particular end in mind, but the raised hand (from a harlequin) makes him look rather grand, as if addressing his crew of scurvy dogs.

And finally, look what came through the post! A paperback copy of that book I wrote!