Friday, January 31, 2014

January 2014 Updates

This is one of those updates where I just lump everything together: role-playing, wargaming, zine-ing, etc.
    A scene from a favorite song on Adventure Time
    It has nothing to do with this post.
  • Of late, I've been working on issue #2 of 6 Iron Spikes & a Small Hammer as often as possible. I'm deep in editing and revising - I seriously feel that I have to step up my game to accompany the amazing artwork I received.
  • The majority of my hobby time not spend on the zine has been spent on finishing a mere six Swedish infantry for the Great Northern War by 11:59 PM tonight. Clearly, there's no consequence if I don't, it's just something I want to do. As it is, I've had to revise my original painting plan, and allot 3 months for every 2 months of GNW painting goals.
  • Inking in of the Ever Expanding Dungeon map continues. It's tedious, not difficult. Once done, I'll scan it and post it with each session summary and indicate where the action is taking place.
  • I've tentatively scheduled the first game of an ongoing open table dungeon crawl campaign for my local meetup group for later in February. The dungeon is not one of my own design, but I still have prep work to do.
  • Finally, the budget tally:
January Budget: $15.00
YTD Budget: $15.00
January Actual:  $37.35
    • BMC Iwo-Jima 32 Piece Set 
    • Britain's Kublewagen
YTD Actual: $37.35

So, as you can see, not a great start on the budget .On the other hand, if I don't buy anything in February (not counting any birthday funds I might receive), I'll be back on pace in March.

It looks like I have 28 really long days coming up!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Paint Table Saturday (just a day late)

So there's this community on over on G+ where people share what's on their painting table on Saturdays. 

I painted last night but then forgot to take a picture, so without further ado, here's what's on my painting table:

Most of my painting time last night was spent on the officer's sash - so frustrating! But he's done now.

I also slopped yellow paint on the Swedes in the background, and today I took a brief moment to touch up the three left-most of those figures - mostly adding the black lining for the yellow. They "just" need their coats, pistols, pikes, ammo pouch, straps, belts, and hat lace.

You may have noticed the primer flaking on the Russians. Don't even get me started on that.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Rising Sun: Operation Watchtower: The Goettge Patrol

Last night, I played the first scenario from Britton Publishers' "Rising Sun: Operation Watchtower", The Goettge Patrol.

***** Historical Background *****

The historical action took place on August 12, 1942. A small patrol consisting of Lt. Col. Frank Goettge, some 24 marines and a surgeon set out to land west of Matanikau where, according to a Japanese prisoner, there were soldiers in dire straights and willing to surrender. Originally intended as a combat patrol, Goettge had changed the mission to a humanitarian one - and this change caused excessive delay; the patrol did not depart until night had fallen.

Things went to Hell, thereafter. 

The Marines landed at the wrong spot. Their amtrac which had gotten stuck on a sandbar, had, according to some sources, alerted the Japanese to their presence.
When Goettge and 2 marines made a reconnaissance patrol down a path into the jungle, they encountered Japanese soldiers, Goettge was shot and killed. 

The two Marines managed to escape back to the beach to join the main body of the patrol which would spend the rest of the moonless night being picked off one by one by the Japanese.
Three men survived - two who had tried to reach the American lines to bring reinforcements (it was too late to save the patrol), and one who retreated into ocean to swim (4 miles!) back to the American lines, when he was the last man left.

***** The Set Up *****

The Britton Publishers scenario begins with the 2 squads of marines and a platoon HQ on the beach and a company of Japanese in the jungle making their way towards the marine position. The Japanese have 4 turns to eliminate the marines.

One key point, 4 turns is in terms of Britton's MicroMelee game for company level actions, which allows units 1-6 actions per "phase." Having no idea what this means, I decided on a 12 turn limit for David Newport's Tactical Combat WWII rules, which are my preferred company-level rules.

Tactical Combat, like, from what I have gathered, MicroMelee, uses 1 base per squad. However, it seems to me that, if you have the figures for it, you could play this 1:1 with Nuts! or Disposable Heroes or any other 1:1 set of rules. 

Britton provides a handy map of the table, which I duplicated to the best of my ability - although I reduced the table size to 3' x approximately 2' 33"  (the water is craft foam sheets that are 9" x 12").

I deployed my Marines in the center of the beach near the water's edge per the historical situation and then placed the Japanese by platoon, using a d6 1-2 = left, 3-4 = center, 5-6 = right. I placed the mortar squad with the company HQ in the same way.

Rather surprisingly, I ended up with the Japanese in a line from end to end - which almost never happens when I distribute forces by die roll.

MicroMelee has some sort of quality rating for each squad, so I translated that into Tactical Combat WWII terms.

The rifle squads range from TQR2-4 in MicroMelee, so, I interpreted that as Green to Elite in Tactical Combat WWII and then rolled a d6: 1-2 Green, 3-4 Average, 5-6 = Elite.

  • Platoon A (right): 1st Squad: Elite, 2nd Squad: Average, 3rd Squad: Average
  • Platoon B (center): 1st Squad : Green, 2nd Squad: Elite, 3rd Squad: Average
  • Platoon C (left): 1st Squad: Average, 2nd Squad Elite, 3rd Squad: Green
  • The mortar squad is Green.

The USMC squads are both Average.

The marines would start with fox holes dug, which would give them soft cover and force a +1 on the Japanese attack rolls  (in Tactical Combat WWII, the higher the number the worse the result when attacking).

Because the scenario is set at night, I decided that long range fire was at +2, normal to long range was at +1, and within one move was at +/- 0.

The marines couldn't see into the jungle and thus I wouldn't allow them to fire at the Japanese until the Japanese had moved onto the beach (if they did).

To control the Japanese, I set up the following:
  • If they are out of range or no line of site, move up to range/LOS.
  • At t long range, roll 1d6:
    • 1-2 Fire
    • 3-4 Light Mortars fire, all others advance 1 move
    • 5-6 Advance 1 move
  • In normal range but more than 1 move, roll 1d6:
    • 1-2 Fire
    • 3-4 Light Mortars fire, all others advance 1 move
    • 5-6 Advance if Marines in cover, else Fire
  • Within 1 move, roll 1d6:
    • 1-2 Fire
    • 3-4 Advance to close combat if enemy is paralyzed or suppressed, otherwise Fire
    • 5-6 Advance to close combat
Although historically the Japanese didn't swarm the beach until the marines had been, to their knowledge, completely eliminated, that seemed really boring from a wargame perspective, hence why there's so much movement on those tables. 

Also, before the game started, I had decided that the Marines would sit tight and try to use their limited cover to increase their chance of survival, so I did not include an option where the Japanese would hold their action in order to use Opportunity Fire (only squads that do not activate/attempt activation can fire during their opponent's Movement phase).

The Japanese were the attackers, and so they would go first each turn. 

***** The Game *****

Turns 1 and 2 were simply advances made by the Japanese. The first move got them to the edge of cover, the 2nd allowed them to break out onto the beach. Marine rifle fire from the squad on the right managed to suppress a Japanese squad (B1, right most squad, center platoon).

Turn 3 saw more rifle fire exchanges.

In Turn 4 the first Japanese squads charged in for close combat. The marines made a strong showing and beat back the attacker with minor injury. Turn 5, they continued the close assaults, supported by fire from some of the squads.

Unable to hold out against the continued onslaught, by the end of Turn 5, the USMC squad on the left is driven back into the shallows of the water.

Still, they fought on despite having 2 hits (3 eliminates the stand), and in Turn 6, they took out the 1st Japanese squad.

The Marine squad on the right, which started the turn in perfect health was completely destroyed by the close assaults.

On into Turn 7, the Marine squad defended against attack after attack - eliminating THREE Japanese squads before finally succumbing to the superior numbers.

***** Thoughts on the Battle *****

I made it past the half-way point, and took out 4 Japanese rifle squads and 1 Japanese platoon HQ, so I don't feel too badly about my performance here.

If I were to play this again, with the same distribution of Japanese platoons evenly across the table, I would hold my Marines until the Japanese had committed, and then sweep out to one or the other side, to flank them. 

The idea would be to buy time by distancing my squads from the bulk of the Japanese force and limit the number of enemy squads that could engage them. Continued motion, rather than staying in any one spot, might increase the chance of survival.

Close combat, with the fox hole defensive advantage, slight as it was, may have extended the life of the Marines. That advantage would be lost if I used the fight-move-fight method above. But, the right Marine squad had two hits and won 3 rounds of close combat in turn 7 before being eliminated, so I'm not convinced that cover advantage meant all that much.

I lucked out that the Japanese mortar stand was useless - I rolled 9s and 10s every time it attacked.

Had it struck home it would have been disastrous for the Marines. 

Before I remembered it was night, I had planned to use it to lay down smoke, to give the advancing infantry some cover, but that was of no advantage at night and even if it had been day, it would only provided limited cover as it was just one single mortar stand. A handful of stands might make a big difference however in a daylight battle.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Heroes Wanted!

With the recent and untimely demise of Manchiever (Mu: 1) in my Ever Expanding Dungeon campaign (solo Labyrinth Lord), the party has an opening.

In fact, I'd like to have at least two new PCs join the party the next time they return to town - it's getting dangerous in there, and the original party had 5 characters and two henchmen.

By now, the nearby villages all know of the party's exploits - having defended the region not once, but twice, from White Eyes, the Evil Wizard, and ended a ghoul feeding frenzy. Not to mention, a local boy, Perceval, rose from lowly porter to the party's leader and was the longest surviving member, before being cut down cruelly by a trap on a mere pittance of silver.

Unfortunately, the nearby villages also know of the horrendous loss suffered inside the dungeon.

Further south,  tales of the exploration has reached The City but so far few have been anxious to answer the siren's call of adventure and death defying. Probably because no one has really been terribly successful at the latter.

I could roll one up , and I have and will, but both Bluebear Jeff and Fitz-Badger have a character in my game already and I feel a little more protective of these characters than the ones I roll up, since they are created by people I enjoy conversing with. The possibility of telling them about the death of their character isn't something I enjoy. 

Indeed, I've had to do this twice for Jeff already!

And so, I'd like to extend the invitation to anyone so interested.

You create the character: roll them up (I'm using Labyrinth Lord, but any similar system works fine, race-as-class), give them a name, a brief background (don't spend too much time on it, they'll probably die) preferably with some kind of motivation for a life of adventure and exploration, equip them per the rules of your choice, etc. and then turn the character over to me in the comments below.

Going forward I control the character in the game, but it gives you someone to root for.

So, if you're interested, just roll up a PC, and post them below (or on my G+). 

Don't worry if someone else posts ahead of you - the rate of attrition in this campaign is astounding. Fortunately, i'm using the party average for starting level, and currently, it's solidly at 2nd level, so maybe they'll survive a few sessions!

Monday, January 13, 2014

The Ever Expanding Dungeon: Session 26

[It's been several months in game time since the party last entered the Ever Expanding Dungeon, although their most recent adventure was, in game time, a week or so ago]

As a light snow fell over the village and forests, Sister Linkat (C:4), Sylana (C:2) and Manchiever (Mu:1) planned their next assault on the dungeon over cups of hot mulled wine.

As they reviewed the difficulties one more time, given their inability to find anyone else to join them, the door to the Zealous Dagger opened and a stout bearded fellow traipsed in from the cold, the double-bitted blade of a battle axe, peeked from behind his shoulders.

It took all of a few moments before the party invited the newcomer, Gutzom (D: 2), a dwarf of the Unconquered Cliffs, to join the merry, if greatly reduced, band of dungeon delvers.

Even less surprising, he accepted their offer.

Perhaps, thought Sister Linkat, they'd be able to press on a bit further this time around.

However, given the staunch resistance they encountered on their last effort, she posed a different plan: continue exploring the section of the dungeon the party had entered when Perceval was killed. This would necessitate going into the entrance the original (and entirely deceased) party used when the dungeon was first re-discovered by the villagers.

No torch was needed as the party already knew the first level to be lit by glowing orbs created by a magic user that at one time at least, lived on the third level of the dungeon. And so, weapons at the ready, they descended into the dungeon.

[ Is there anything in here? By anything, I mean an encounter. (CHAOS 5, Because this room historically has had something in it, I set the chance to Likely, 05, exceptional yes) I take this to mean that someone has prepared this room against invasion now and rolled on the AEC traps table and got " pit, locks shut.:

I rolled 1d6 for each party member as they crossed the pit - on a 1, that PC would fall in. ]

As the party descended into the room, Manchiever triggered a pit trap at the bottom of the stairs and fell [Depth 10’ 80%, 20% is 20’, 66, 10’, he takes 4 HP damage and is killed]

The party stood there, slack-jawed.

Gutzom quickly checked the stone work to see if he could find any means to undo the pit's cover. Sister Linkat and Sylana took up posts covering the 4 doors to the room. Unfortunately, Gutzom was unable to find any such means, and Manchiever was sealed in his tomb.

Sister Linkat had a moment of doubt, but realized that she signed on for this until the bitter end, no matter the cost.

And then things continued to get unpleasant - listening at the door to the room to the West (which provides access to a flight of stairs up to the next level)- they heard a faint hissing sound. As they debated the possible source, eight skeletons, armed with swords, entered from the North door.

[I rolled to see if the party was surprised and rolled a 4. Phew! At least something positive.

I declared the party actions prior to initiative:
Sylana and Linkat will both attempt to turn
Gutzom will close and attack the lead skeleton

Rolled Initiative Round 1
Party: 3 Skeletons: 5]

The skeletons approached and fanned out, 2 skeletons attacked each member of the party, while two more stayed back in reserve.

S1: 20, Hits Sylana wpn (lng sword 80% short 20%, long)  3 hp damage
S2: 4
S3: 15, hits Linkat, lng sword, 3 hp
S4: 9
S5: 15, hits Gutzom, short sword, 1 hp
S6: 4 ]

Although the skeletons had delivered a few knicks and cuts, the party was armed both with steel and the grace of the Hedonistic Lumberjack.

Gutzom promptly destroyed one of the skeletons before the divine presence of the Lumberjack forced the remaining skeletons to cower and retreat the way the came.

[Gutzom attacks 19, hits, and destroys one
Linkat will try to turn firstt: 5 hd are turned
Sylana turns: 4 hd are turned ]

Before returning their attention to the door to the West, Gutzom spiked all of the other doors shut, and then they battered their way West.

[ this is Room 3 on my map. 
Is there anything in here that was making the hissing? Chaos 5, 50/50, 95, exceptional no
I treat this as meaning the room is devoid of anything - even furnishings.]

To Sister Linkat's eyes, something odd had gone on in this particular room; it appeared to have been sanitized . Even the warning [skull and spinal column] on door to stairs up had been stripped away. It was eerily clean.

Still, not wishing to waste any time they forced open the door up and made their way into the stair well.

[Is there anything in the stair well? Chaos: 5, Unlikely , 11, Yes, Random event Activity Magic.
I decided this would be Magic Missile trap - 1d6 1=1 missile, 2-4 = 3 missiles 6 = 5 and rolled a 4.]

A sudden burst of light from the top of the steps caught the party off guard, and three magic-missiles blasted towards them, each one struck in turn.

[Sylana, now having taken the Sylana cast a Cure Light Wounds on herself while the others took up a post.

The party would enter room 34 on my map next, a room which in the past contained evidence of being the lair of a carrion crawler.

So, I rolled on my Is the Monster Here table and got No, but Warning and got Literal Sign.]

As they burst into the next room, the saw a large graffiti scrawled upon the opposite wall. Gutzom quickly noted it to be in goblin and offered the translation "Don't Chill Here, The Scrubber Will Eat You." Well familiar with goblin colloquialisms, Gutzom explained that chill meant to relax.

Using the secret door a previous incarnation of the party had mapped, they traversed into the adjacent room, and circumvented an otherwise longish route.

Finally, they would be able to continue where the valiant Perceval, favorite son of the villagers, had last led the party.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

And The Budget Comes Tumbling Down! (Yes, Already)


Well, while reading around to see who offered what with regards 1/32 WW2, I came upon a picture of a W. Britain's Kubelwagen. I really liked how toy-ish it looked. And then, by chance, while browsing ebay (a terrible pastime when you're on a budget) on a pricing research mission for kubelwagn 1/35 models, i found one under $30.

I bid and won.

And so, 8 days into January, I borrowed against my future budget!


Our Hero with the Recently Acquired Britain's Kubelwagen
Unfortunately for me, I also discovered that Britain makes/made a Wehrmacht panzerfaust team. From what I've found previously, this combination is a rare thing in 1/32 (CTS's 10-year old excepted) - Waffen-SS are easy to find with anti-tank but Wehrmacht, not so much.

That 2-figure set runs about $30.

When you throw into the mix the Soviet maxims from Irregular Miniatures that are on my list, my budget is blown out through June or July!

So, this is going to be a lot more difficult than I thought - thankfully, my birthday is next month and I am sure to get some money for gaming things. If not, I may need to reevaluate the amount of money I budgeted per month!

Friday, January 10, 2014

BMC Japanese and USMC: Brief Review

Picture from Amazon
I received my BMC Iwo Jima set the other day. The figures are quite nice, and at under $10 for 26 figures (12 USMC, 14 Japanese, and not counting the flag raising diorama), it's a very good deal.

Unlike BMC's rather comical "D-Day" figures, the sculpts are nicely proportioned and well detailed - I have no problem putting them up against TSSD's offerings (which is high praise indeed!).

They are also a little taller than Airfix or Matchbox, and might even be a smidge taller than TSSD, although they fit very well with all of those. And, frankly, I'd rather have them a little tall, than looking like skinny 10-year old kids (CTS, I'm looking at you!)

The marines were all unique poses, but the Japanese had a few duplicates - not a complaint, just informational. A few of the marines have BARs, one has a flame thrower and one has a bazooka. The Japanese have what look like Type 89 light mortars and what I'm guessing are Type 99 MGs.

The diorama is nice, although the flag is a molded blank space with a sticker applied. I'm planning to try to replace it with something better.

In the meantime, I'm doing my best not to rush out and buy 2 more packs (at $8.88 as of 1/10/14 they're a steal!) since 1) I already have the Pacific theater well under way in 1/72 and 2)I've already spent my budget for January, February and part of March!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Character-As-Party with USR: An Example

For the idea behind this post, see this earlier post.

I decided to take an approach I hadn't thought of before - or rather I had, but not quite exactly the same way. After thinking it over, I decided that I would stick with Option 1 and set up a standard USR character. The specialisms would be the classes - giving me some flexibility but, at present, limiting me to 3 members of the party.

Of course, I went with the iconic 3: the fighter, the magic user and the cleric.

The Party's Name: The Three Manzannas
Action: d10, Wits: d8, Ego: d6
HP: 13
Specialisms aka "Characters":
Flub the Fighter (Action + 2)
Melotron the Magic-User (Wits + 2)
Cadillac the Cleric (Ego + 2)

The "characters" are all 1st level.

For spells, I used a variation of my Moldvay-Era Classes for USR: spell casters can cast 1 spell per "+" of their specialism equal to or less than their current level. For spell choice, I'd rely on the well known 1st level spells.

I used the 5-Room Dungeon Model for encounters to make things easy.


Rumors of a lost treasure in the Caves of the Decayed King have long been part of the village history, although none had been brave enough to actually seek it. That changed when a mysterious party of strangers arrived in town with the sole purpose of finding that treasure and liberating it. Known only asThe Three Manzanas, the party, with a hastily scrawled map acquired from an old peasant woman 3 villages over, set out for one of the many caves dotting the mountains of the region.

Room 1: Guardian
The party descended down a 50' slope winding down into the cool blackness which was broken only by their torch light. At the base of the slope, a large fungus garden,nourished by moisture visible on the cavern walls hid a Shrieker. Exposed to the torch light, it let loose its piercing cry.

[I came up with the following for the Shrieker(A:d3 W: d10, E: d2, Specialism: Sound Alarm (W + 2), HP: 2 due to poor die rolling!) Why Wits? Because it seemed to me to make more sense than Action, which implies some kind of physical movement and attack/defense. ]

Flub charged towards the offending mushroom and smote it with his sword! [d10  + 2 vs d3, actual results : 3 to 1 for 2 HP damage!] Satisfied the threat had been neutralized, the party quickly scanned the room.

[Does anything arrive as a result of the screeching? I figure it's only Medium difficulty 4+, and I roll the Wits die, and get a 3, nothing shows up.

Is there anything of value in the room? 1 = yes and, 2-3= yes, but, 4-5 = no, but, 6 = no and. I roll a 4 and decide that means that although there is no treasure, there are two passage ways leading away from the room.]

Other than two passages leading away from the chamber and a heaping pile of mushrooms, they found nothing of interest and rather than waste more time, they decided to take the right-most passage.

Room 2: Role-playing /Trick/ Trap

[Does the party notice the trap? I decide it's Medium difficulty - I probably shouldn't have - and roll Wits and get a 7. So they see it.

Can they disarm it?I don't have a thief, and decide that means it would be very hard to do. I roll a 4. No they don't, in fact they trigger it.]

Peering beyond their torchlight into the darkness of the cavern, they saw several severed skeletons scattered about the floor. Recognizing the possibility of a trap, they opted to check for the mechanism to disable it. Unfortunately, instead, they triggered it.

[I then decided to determine the trap's Action die value, scaling it to the party level:
1= A: d10, 2-5 = A: d6, 6 = A: d4 and again I roll a 4.

The trap "attacked" with a 6, but the party rolled a 7 using their Action die and avoided any damage]

The massive scythe blade swept down from the ceiling , with a creak and a moan, just missing Flub.

"A close call there gents. We best be more careful."

[That's just a narrative license, nothing I did singled out a "character". The stilted dialog is intentional, I swear!

Any treasure here? No, but there is an interesting old statue.]

A seven-armed mantis headed snake, with long twisting ram-like horns, loomed at the edge of the torch light as the party made their way into the room. Panic was checked by the fact that it was made of stone.

Like the good adventurers they are, they searched it for any levers or secret panels that might lead to untold riches.

[I decided that this is a Wits check, and it's Hard to do. I rolled an 8 with the d8, so if there is one, they'll find it.

Is there any? 50/50, No.

I decided now was a logical time for a wandering monster check. I rolled a 1: yes, and. I interpreted this to mean not only does something show up, but there is more than one of that something: I roll a 1d3+1 and get 2 things.]

As the party poked and prodded the strange looking sculpture, they were almost too distracted to notice that something was setting upon them. Fortunately, Cadillac caught their motion into the torch's edge and heard the mandibles and claws clicking. Rapidly descending on the party with their chitinous legs and spiked tail protruding from a massive brain-like body were two Brain Scorpions.

[I rolled to see what their highest die would be 1= d12, 2-4 = d10, 6 = d8 and got 3, a d10. Keep in mind the stats apply to the group-as-a-whole. That is, it's another use of Character as Party.

A: d10, W: d8, E: d6
specialisms: Quick (A+2), Psionic Blast (W+2), 
Poison Tail (A + 2, requires Hard save vs Action or die (remove a specialism) ) 

Roll 1d6 for type of Attack that round: 1-2 = Psionic Blast, 3-4: Pincers, 5-6 Poison Tail. This does not mean they are coordinating, it just helps with the narrative.]

Cadillac shouted to get the others' attention and then they sprang into action [they won the initiative 16 to 9].

Melotron quickly called forth his Magic Missile  [as per B/X it auto-hits, but for Wits damage. 1d8 and i rolled a 1. This is the Character-as-Party's action for the round] but it was rather ineffective. Flub charged to the fore while Cadillac moved up in support.

The brain scorpions lunged with claws snapping but failed to penetrate the party's defense.

[Round 2, the party lost initiative 16 to 9, i rolled their attack type and got pincers again, and then rolled to hit: a 10. The party rolled their Action die for defense - i didn't use any bonuses for armor figuring that Melotron's lack of armor undoes any gain Cadillac's or Flub's armor would give: 3. 

That's. 7 HP of damage! 

I quickly ruled that if the total amount of damage dealt is higher than the number of sides on any of the dice, it's possible that "character" is killed, i.e. lose that specialism. Although it's higher than Cadillac's d6, he's behind Flub at this point and so I decided the attack hit Flub alone]

Cadillac quickly stepped up and cast his Cure Light Wounds on Flub.

[Ego + 2, for 6 points healed. Again, that's the party's action for the turn - the Character-as-Party healed itself.

The next round the brain scorpions took 4 HP of damage, and then in round 4, they dished out 2 points with a Psionic Blast which does Wits + 2 vs. the opponent's Wits die.  I rolled the d8 for the scorpions and got 1, for a total of 3. I rolled the party's Wits die to defend and also rolled a 1.

In round 5, the party landed 3 more HP of damage and I decided to test morale since that's over half the brain scorpions' starting HP. 

I figured that also meant one of them is probably dead or near death and set morale to Hard. With an Ego of a d6, they can't possibly succeed and the brain scorpions scuttled away, injured. 

This prey just isn't worth it!]

The battle over, Cadillac cast his remaining Cure Light Wounds spell [Again, Ego + 2, and I rolled a 1. Fabulous. Thankfully, it's only 1 shy of the maximum. ]

The party realized the truth of the saying that discretion is the better part of valor, and with only 1 spell remaining for Melotron and none for Cadillac, they made their way back to town to rest and regroup.

[Per USR conventions, the Character-As-Party gets 1 XP for the session. It takes 5 to advance a level. At that point I can add a new Specialism, i.e. a "character", or increase one of the existing specialisms' "plus" value, i.e. one of the "characters" goes up a level.]

CTS Germans: A Mixed Bag

Today, I received a pack of CTS German Infantry (their older style, purchased with Christmas money), and while I wasn't entirely disappointed, I wasn't thrilled either.

Although they are labeled as 1/32. in truth, given the proportions and short stature of several, I'd guess they run from 1/38 or 1/40 like their vehicles, up to 1/32 depending on the figure. That's right, they aren't even internally consistent.

Of the 12, I would only deem 7 compatible with Airfix (I won't even put them near TSSD). Still, some of the poses are nice and the tripod mounted MG-42 will be very handy.

Here's an Airfix German (left) compared to a similar pose in the CTS set:

The pictures aren't terribly good, but they do illustrate the differences in the figures: as I already knew, the CTS figures are slim in comparison, but they are also, in a few cases, tall (if that guy stood up to his full height he'd be a bit taller than the Airfix soldier - his pose makes him shorter).

I wouldn't want to mix them together unnecessarily, but I think i could get away with it, especially once they're painted.

Monday, January 6, 2014

The Ugliest B-word of All: Budgets

I went quite a bit overboard last year, and so this year I'm keeping a strict gaming budget: $15/mo (out of pocket, gift money doesn't count since it's usually earmarked for gaming stuff anyway)- that's minis, rule books, modules, and other sundry hobby items (does not include zines or my Lone Warrior renewal).

That's still a sizable sum for most of the world, although for wargamers and role-players on the whole, it's probably a pittance for many. My motivation isn't really about saving, so much as spending it on other things but that motivation is quite strong and I see sticking to the budget as being a near sure thing. Still, budgets aren't known for their high CON scores.

And that's really the whole point here: to publicly track spending on gaming so that I hold myself accountable to my peers (or my betters as the case may be). It also has the advantage of helping me remember just what the heck I purchased the past year.

So here we go!

January Budget: $15.00
YTD Budget: $15.00
January Actual:  $9.25
  • BMC Iwo-Jima 32 Piece Set 
YTD Actual: $9.25

Thursday, January 2, 2014

One of Those Best of 2013 Posts

I did this last year, and thought it might be fun to do it again this year. To make this less of an exercise in navel gazing, I've linked to a lot of the things mentioned, including some freebies :

Best Set of Rules Acquired (and Played):  Tactical Combat WWII Rules This is probably my favorite rule set of 2013 - it's free and it fills a needed spot in my WW2 rules - something for company level engagements. Runner up: Gunstorm! Another great free ruleset, ostensibly for sci-fi but I've used the NPC AI  for troop movement in some WWII games and it's worked quite well.

Best Previously Acquired Rules that Got Use in 2013: Disposable Heroes. I wasn't sold on these at first. But, in the end, they won me over and I will probably play more in 2014.

Best Rule Purchase with an Eye Toward the Future: Pat Condray's Wargaming the Age of Marlborough Something about this thin little rule book excites me about gaming the period.

Best Non-Rules Book Purchase:  Never Unprepared : The Complete Game Master's Guide to Session Prep

 Best Free Non-Rules Download: Gamemastering by Brian Jamison. I got a lot from this freebie and have referred back to it many times. I've used the character background process with my players a few times and the results have been well worth it.

Favorite Gaming Accessory Purchase: B4: The Lost City 

Purchase That I'm No Longer 100% Sure I Should Have Made: Reaper Bones II. I did drop out of the Vampire pledge level, but as I was locking in my final selection, I ended up getting paints and only a handful of minis. The paints will be more useful.

Favorite social game session (run) : The Dungeon of Akban The first social game I've ever run for people who weren't already in my close friend group.

Favorite social game session (played) : DCC at DragonCon

Favorite miniatures gaming session : Tied: Russian Tank Escort with Disposable Heroes/Coffin for Seven Brothers and Playing Gunstorm SciFi Skirmish and a Review

Last Game of 2013: 19th C. Italians vs Ethiopians

On, well I don't know what night it was but it was before 2014, I managed to squeeze in a little game using some counters and a piece of scrap paper which I marked with a grid.

The idea was to bring some counters along on my Winter Holiday to visit my parents so that I could game in the evening when time allowed. Compared to miniatures, a baggie of counters takes up almost no space for a fairly varied force. In this case, counters are top-down Ethiopians and Italians, available from The Junior General.

The counters were mounted to the sticky side of a self-stick linoleum tile and then cut apart (not recommended. Craft foam is way easier to cut and results in an equally nice counter)

The rules were the well loved Portable Wargame, or that was the plan. As it turned out I conflated Memoir of Battle with the Portable Wargame, and ended up with something in between. The major error was that I allowed artillery to fire and move in the same turn. Ditto for the infantry.

Here is the setup:

 The Ethiopians and the Italians both want control of the hill in the middle of the field (the white scrap paper). They have 8 turns to do it. (That was somewhat arbitrary on my part). 

I used the tactical engine from Solo DBA for DBA Version 2.2 guide to handle the stance of both generals, and the tactical stance each turn for each side. I simply selected from the menu of likely options provided in that document.

Why not play one side as I usually do? Because, I'm Italian-American and have a bias for the Italians but I deplore the idea of colonialism, and as such, want the Ethiopians to win, per the historical result.

Two armies lay opposite and ready

Turn 1 - Artillery fire had no effect and both sides advanced towards the hill.

Turn 2 - The Italians manage to score a hit on Ethiopian cavalry but they absorb the blow, falling back temporarily. Both sides take a defensive stance and attempt to maneuver their units out of range of the other side's artillery.
End of Turn 2
 Turn 3 - The Ethiopian artillery strikes home, eliminating the leftmost Italian infantry unit but the Italians seize the initiative. The officer in charge orders the artillery up and center for better target selection. Meanwhile, the Ethiopians attempt to repair their line.

Turn 4 - Ethiopian artillery targets the Italian battery but over shoots, destroying the infantry unit behind the battery instead - a negative turned into a positive. The Italians manage to land shells among the Ethiopian battery forcing it to fall back. Here my mistake in letting artillery fire and then move is visible - essentially the artillery lost no ground as a result of the push back.

End Turn 4
Turn 5 - The artillery for both sides is ineffective, but the Italian machine gun opens up and destroys a unit of Ethiopian cavalry. The Ethiopians take a defensive stance and their leader orders them to take the terrain objective.

Turn 6 - The artillery shells again find their mark. This time, the Ethiopians targeted the Italian battery again and forced them to fall back. The Italians fired on the Ethiopian commander and fell short, the shells crashing among and destroying a unit of Ethiopian cavalry.

The Italians won the initiative 2 to 1, but still took on a defensive stance. In this case, a safe attack was made by the Italians on the 3rd dismounted cavalry unit, and they too were destroyed. 

Facing growing losses, the Ethiopian commander had the troops fall back off the hill and out of immediate danger.

Turn 7 - The artillery fails to strike home for either side, and both sides take a defensive posture as the casualties mount.

End Turn 7
Turn 8 - Although the Ethiopians successfully targeted and destroyed an Italian Askari unit, the Italians destroyed a unit of Ethiopian spear.

The Italian commander gets the jump on the Ethiopians (initiative rolls of 6 vs 1). He takes a defensive stance as he has the hill in his posession and simply needs to hold out.

Down with 50 % casualties, the Ethiopian commander faces a tough decision - attempt to knock the Italians back or retreat to fight another day?

Do they keep fighting? 1 yes and they will fight until the end, 2-3 Yes but check again next turn (not that there will be one), 4-5 No but they fall back in good order, 6 they rout from the field abandoning their artillery

I rolled a 5.

The commander opted to lead his troops off the field in good order to fight the Imperialists another day.  

End Turn 8
Despite my errors in rule following, it was a fun little battle; almost until the end, I had no idea which side was going to come out on top. 

The counters worked perfectly well for scratching the gaming itch and I hope to break out some WWII counters that I made (using the craft foam backing) sooner rather than later.