Monday, 16 December 2019

In Space... no one can hear you gretz.

"The Horror! The Horror!"
      A real treat at the Hamilton Road Games Group last Saturday. Kevin moderated a session of the spaceship battle game, "Sunder the Stars." It's a relatively simple game, quite playable and easy to learn... a great combination in my opinion. Bear and I squared off for the first game. Bear played a Klingon flotilla of four ships. They all had names but I sound like I'm clearing my throat to pronounce them.
The small tan cubes indicate order in initiative and the red ones hits on that ship.
    I brought "The Black Fleet" our of suspended animation to use. It was a way to field a fleet on the absolute cheap. All of the hulls are Styrofoam balls from the dollar store, painted and mounted on toothpicks and a slab of foamcore. It makes for a great look.

Destroyers, cruisers, a scout ship, and a Dreadnought

The mighty Planet-class Dreadnought "Remulack"

The fleets on approach.

Two destroyers, DD-220 & DD-221
fast, nasty, and not long lasting - The Tin Cans

The Tribal-class cruiser "Nervii"
It carried some serious weaponry - missile racks and beam-weapon batteries.
Her sister ship "Ashanti" was in the battle line as well.
     I fielded a Dreadnought, two cruisers, four destroyers, and a scout ship (which was originally commissioned as a dry wall plug.) I discovered I had mistakenly taken more ships than I pointed for, two extra destroyers. Ever the gentleman, Bear forgave me the oversight after a series of humorous accusations. I ended up beating the Klingon flotilla but not without some losses.
    There are four basic weapons systems in the game - batteries, missile racks, drones, and fusion weapons. Distance (we used a hex based table), defense values, point defense, and number of weapons on the attacking ship make the difference. Missiles can be shot down by point defense and point defense for a few ships close together can be combined. Fusion weapons can be countered by point defense, but if they hit, they do continued damage for as many more turns as you have levels of fusion weapons. Drones are precision launchers that can be countered by point defense, but only of the ship attacked. No ramming allowed; I requested it and was told "Uh-uh."
    In the end, I won the battle. We should've made up some backstory permitting me to take a system and all it's resources, but we were too busy fightin' for that stuff.

   The second round saw Derek and I duking it out with the Black Fleet of the Styrofoamians facing the United Federation of Planets - 6 ships against 7 of mine. This time I was more careful with the point values so we were even.

Derek's Federation - "Star Fleet's Finest"

Very nice commercially available models of many sizes, some with "click bases"
The Enterprise "D" was a dreadnought.

Some smaller Star Fleet ships

The deployment
The Black Fleet responds with the Scout Ship "Cujo" in the lead.
    It was not a game that was at all one-sided. Derek can be a tough contender. He used his fusion weapons to great effect, burning out a destroyer over three turns. My fusion weapons did nothing, always being stopped by the Star Fleet point defense. Combining point defense values is a great reason to cluster your ships. I didn't do that and I made it out by the skin of my teeth. I lost 3 of 4 destroyers and the scout ship (which I expected to lose.) Both cruisers were damaged, but the dreadnought finished off the last Star Fleet ships once it got up to the where the battle was. Yes, I won the second game as well - an all-time record for me.

A frontal view of the dreadnought "Remulack"
It is NOT from France.
The hull looks a bit rough up close, but at arm's length the ships look fine.
    Although the rule system might not be as detailed as some might like, If you enjoy sci-fi ship gaming, I'd recommend you look into Sunder the Stars.
    Why did I choose to use Styrofoam balls for my ships? Cost and availability were certainly factors as were the lightness of the finished product. But there was another consideration.

With this and other H. Beam Piper stories as inspiration, how could I not choose the sphere?

Once again, they look so cool!

And since it is Canada...

Monday, 9 December 2019

Early Christmas Celebration at the Hamilton Road Games Group

   Usually the Hamilton Road Games Group holds a Christmas season party later in the month, lest the Advent Avenger get word of it. This year, one of our number, Martin had to return to his family home early because of a family wedding. So we held the gathering early. The games were traditional (for the group) and the seasonal treats were well done - hot chocolate, cookies of all types, and some slices of panatone, a delicious Italian Christmas cake.
   The morning was given to snacking, kibitzing, and finally playing "Wing of Glory", our WWI airplane game. Three of us took German planes and three took Allied planes. The Sopwith Camel was replaced by Snoopy and his dog house, a requirement of tradition at the games group. The game is a product of Italian gamers and we find it fun to play and easy to learn. We played this until we took a lunch break.

The Red Baron makes his appearance with the Flying Circus.

Snoopy, our hero, puts down a full spread of MG fire on the German plane.

It was a swirling dogfight befitting the heroes involved!

For Canadian flavour, Billy Bishop goes to war!
My plane, piloted by Lt. Fritz Höhn, was shot down right at the end of our play.
   The afternoon was filled with the Pulp-ish Rescue Santa game. I used a variation on Nordic Weasel's 5-Core games, taking bits and pieces from their WWII and 20th Century skirmish games, the Pulp adventure rules, and the fantasy rules. All use the same very workable mechanics and made the game go fast and fun.

Here's the teams, each with a leader and 4 troops, plus a few fun figures:

  • Nia with the Shadow and a squad of town police with riot guns
  • Derek with the Phantom, his dog, Devil, and the Jungle Patrol - rifles and one LMG, joined as well by none other than Captain Spaulding ("the African Explorer? Hurray!")
  • Bear with Captain America and Fury's Rangers - Tommy guns
  • Matt with the Marshal and his posse - revolvers, Winchester repeaters, and one sniper rifle
  • Martin with the Banana Republican Guard* - one Magic User, and 4 assault rifles
*The Banana Republican Guard were the brainchild of Martin's fevered imagination and his 3D printer. In this case, a picture is worth 10,000 words.

Such a-peeling figures!

Martin is working on his doctoral dissertation...
and it's warping his mind... obviously.
    Santa and his elves were being held hostage in the workshop by the Krampus and the Grintch where were being assisted by... MARTIANS! Martian soldiers, Martian tripods, and allied Lizardmen were holding the North Pole. They threatened to hang Santa, those lousy, nasty grumps! The teams listed above went north to free St. Nick. (Three other teams were available but were not chosen - the RCMP, the US Rocket Corps, and a team of gorilla/guerrilla fighters from the Planet of the Apes.) My daughter, Katie helped me dream up the scenario and outline the teams and she brought more than a few new ideas to plague the other players.

Nia, Derek, and Bear wait their turn.
That's the biggest Martian tripod in from of Derek.
It had two "Scrooch" Cannons, which froze the entire team for one turn
The workshop, the statue of Buddy Cthulu, and the Martian gallows.
The Martian troopers (left) are re-purposed Tau. The Lizardmen are just beyond the Gallows.
The Krampus and the Grinch are just behind the workshop.
All the Martin weapons were "Scrooch" weapons, which immobilized but didn't kill.

Declared by Kevin to be "The most terrifying thing I've ever seen",
the Martian spaceship prepares to take off.
Here you can see Santa on the gallows.

The red cube at the foot of the gallows stairs is an "encounter." Something unknown lurks there.
In this case, it was Marley's Ghost. Whoever encountered him had to roll against fear.
"Buddy Cthulu" was a 3D printed thing, but it was just terrain or window dressing.

Captain America and the Rangers push through the standing stones.
The gnome tank is a lawn ornament.

Martin ran off the gallows on his 3D printer, figuring I could use it in the game.
Martin's team of fruit-fly-attractors fought against the one small tripod and later in hand-to-hand with the lizardmen, although they encountered both the Candy Cane Forest and the jugs of spiked egg-nog. They then were both drunk and sugared-up, or "marinated" as Martin put it. They suffered the most casualties, but took down a tripod and used their assault rifles well against the lizards. Bear's Cap and rangers found Santa's sleigh which took off in a random direction, but they were able to jump off before it crashed and hurt them. They used a fallen tripod for cover as they advanced. The rangers and the Jungle Patrol took down another tripod. Nia's Shadow/police group faced the Martian Soldiers and took them out, using their riot guns and the Shadow's Eerie Laugh. ("The weed of crime bears bitter fruit!") They also encountered a gaggle of coffee-ed up elves, who tried to give them the jitters, but ended up following the City's Finest. Derek with the Phantom and the Jungle Patrol were frozen once but pushed on, even though the Mis-fit Toys tried to keep them where they were. Matt's Cowpokes met three Wise Guys - Caspar, Melchior, and Vinnie the Nose - who tried to make them "an offer they couldn't refuse." After some negotiations, they gave the Marshal a cryptic note.

Katie and I sat at opposite ends of the table to ride herd on the craziness.
     Matt took the note and approached another encounter marker where they were faced with Tim the Enchanter who asked them "Questions three!"
  • What... is your Quest?
  • What... colour is Rudolph's nose when he has a cold?
  • What... caused St. Nicholas, now known as Santa Clause, to punch out Arius at the Council of Nicaea in 325AD?
He couldn't answer them all correctly the first time and he had to fall back. His sharpshooter with a sniper rifle did do great damage to the medium sized tripod. Matt soon realized that the scrap of paper given to him by the "Three Wise Guys" held the answers!
  • To find and free Santa
  • Rudolph's nose is ALWAYS red!
  • Arius' heresy regarding the divinity of Christ ("Pow! Right in the kisser, heretic!" Look it up!) 
Derek's Jungle Patrol moved in on the gallows. Matt's cowpokes took down the Grinch. Marley's Ghost frightened the Patrol, but Devil, the Phantom's Dog, was uneffected! He rescued Santa and they freed the elves and Dominic the Italian Christmas Donkey in the workshop. We all ended up with bellies full of panatone and chocolate-chip cookies and were awarded points for what was done.

·         Free Santa and elves – 20 points  (Derek)
·         Take down a walker – 10 points   (Derek, Matt, Bear, Martin)
·         Recover sleigh with no mishap – 10 points  (Bear)
·         Recover Jack Skellington’s hidden bag o’ toys – 10 points  (Nia - I forgot about this one. "Don't look in! It's scary!)
·         Feed the captured egg nog to the Grinch – 10 points  (“Self-loathing at 3 o’clock; I’m booked!”) [The Grinch took a bullet - actually two - before this could happen]
·         Correctly Answering Tim the Enchanter’s three questions – 25 points   (Matt)

Well, we didn't really keep score, but it was fun.

The Jungle Patrol approaches the gallows and Marley's Ghost appears!

Shortly before that, the Jungle Patrol escaped the Mis-fit Toys, who stood aside
while the Patrol - and Captain Spaulding - faced a single Martian trooper

The Banana Republican Guard mix it with the Lizardmen.
The bartender is the symbol of being drunk with the spiked egg nog.

The Shadow, the cops, and the coffee-ed-up elves follow to support the Phantom.

Cap and the rangers take cover behind a fallen tripod.

Devil frees Santa! And there was much rejoicing!
The Phantom began life as a Pulp Figures "Zombie of the Stratosphere."
A little judicious painting and added pistol holsters made the difference.

Santa is free! Christmas is saved... again!
There will probably be other blog posting on the way, but take this as our Holiday Greetings 
from the Hamilton Road Games Group for however you celebrate the end of the year holidays! 
Peace be yours!


Sunday, 17 November 2019

Double dose of Kings of War

From previous blog entries, you may know that I'm a fan of Mantic Games' Kings of War. I've found it to be playable and enjoyable. Rumour Control reports that Mantic is eating GW's lunch, hence the return of Warhammer Fantasy Battles under some pseudonym with the old 20mm square bases. Of course, that's a rumour; I don't know about such things.

My daughter, Katie, challenged me to a game on my birthday and we played with the 10mm Warmaster collection the family has. (Yes, I'm quite ancient now, having turned 65 a week before I write this.) Katie's Elves met my Kings of Men army on the kitchen table while dinner was cooking. It was a solid win for the Elves and we both enjoyed ourselves. (I took these photos.)

Elves deploying.

Spearelves flanked by a hero on their left and a unit of battle cats on their right.

30 Years War serving as howitzer-type siege artillery for the Kings of Men.
I have a fairly large 30YW collection for a historical Warmaster or KoW variant.

A regiment of human knights

A small unit of sergeants fight with an Elvish forest-y group.
The beads show status - wavering, disorganized.
The small dice show casualties - here eight.

A unit of human knights face a dragon-breath weapon.
Katie and I decided that using a dragon figure would serve.

The Elvin Mage -- who began life as a 10mm female nude painted as Wonder Woman!
She worked out quite well.

Human pikes from the 30YW or ECW collection.
Pendrakon and Old Glory figs.

The wider view of the other pike unit.

Elven knights

My giant attacked the Elven chariot unit
and got slapped around seriously.
My daughter's all-time favourite figure - Elven hero on dragon!
Yesterday (Saturday), my friend Mark came down from Brantford with his friend Chase to play KoW at the Hamilton Road Games Group in London. Mark has three very young boys and can't get down to London to play very often, so we set up this games day to accommodate him and ourselves. As it was, Mark brought his dwarves, my son, Robb, brought his dwarves, Chase brought his goblins, and Bear and I each brought our Kings of Men armies. Matt assisted Bear since he wanted to play and learn the rules, but had no army of his own. Kevin did the play-by-play and colour commentary.

Robb and Chase played on one table and the dwarves beat the goblins in a tough match. No photographic evidence was forthcoming but... trust me; I was there.

Bear and I got a late start and we too had a tough match. I usually go with my pikes while Bear uses larger cavalry units and infantry with less long, pointy things. He beat me but it was not altogether easy. (Chase and I took the photos. He's responsible for the good ones!)

Chase's photo of the left flank of my army.
Arquibusiers, pikes, bowmen, and more pikes...

The right flank and centre in another of Chase's photos.
I've already lost a regiment of knights to Bear's "horde" of knights.
(It was twice the size of my regiments of knights.)

Bear's giants - the Titian on the left, "Junior" in the middle, and a "normal" 25mm fig on the right.
Our good friend, Ralph painted the big guy for Bear.
[I killed him early with bows and howitzers. Heheheheh.] 

Knights vs. Knights with Scouts hitting Bear's flank.
The Food Guard of Galloglaich are coming up in support.
(Citadel/Foundry, Old Glory, Grenadier, and GW figures)

A horde of pikes with the standard bearer behind.
The colour bearer also carried "The Boomstick" which tossed lightening bolts.
(All GW figures)

My heavy pike block - from Old Glory's "Italian Wars" range

A rather Gaelic arquebus unit - old, old Citadel/Foundry figures

"Junior" advances toward the ruined house supported by a berserker unit.

A swirling cavalry melee - I came up on the short end of the stick... again.

"Junior" battles my wizard, Dermot the Inevitable, in the ruined house's kitchen.
Dermot was demoted to "dead" in the melee.
"Junior" seems all too happy to disassemble Dermot.
Meanwhile on the other end of the double table, Robb and Mark fought a dwarvish Civil War, one I'm sure the bards will sing of for... maybe a week or two. Lots of beards, steel behemoths, ogres, and swearing in Kudzul. Robb conceded the game but every dwarf will remember it; grudges run deep in the Stone Folk!

Mark (r) and Robb face off.

One of Robb's steel behemoths, looking suspiciously like a Leman Russ tank,
attempts to make headway against Mark's brock riders.
Robb prefers his dwarves on foot or in AFVs. 
Bulwarkers and a view of Mark's battle line.
No, that's not a Churchhill tank in the line; you are mistaken.
Trust me... I was there.  (Well, maybe it was a Churchhill, but it looks Dwarven!)

The fight on the hill heats up more.
That's a battle mastiff unit just beyond the brock riders.
I do enjoy the game and I'll get better at it. It allows me to use figures that I hadn't touched for years... and they're all painted!

In more mundane things...

Pangur Ban with her favourite T-Rex toy

My loot from at day-before-birthday trip to Meeple Mart in Toronto!

"The Breakfast Club" has arrived to steal my breakfast... every morning.
All for now. I'll soon be moving to a more part-time ministry so there *might* be more time for blogging. See you down the road!