Saturday, June 6, 2015

Paper and metal... in spaaace

I was surprised today by the arrival of an international mail package. I would expect it to be the French napoleonic miniatures that I got from Aleksandar's giveaway, Instead, they were the Full Thrust starter packs from Ground Zero Games. From previous experience (admittedly, a small sample) packages from Europe take from 1 to 3 months to arrive -- this time, it took about 20 days.

I also found out that my scratch-built ships were smaller than the GZG ones, so my frigates, destroyers and light cruisers have been turned into corvettes, frigates and destroyers.

Now I have to try and paint all of these ships to get them to the table. I am also looking for tips on mounting metal ships to the flight stands. I think at least some of them will require a bit of putty, as the hole in some of the ships is larger than the peg on the stands.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Paper starships

Although I have recently ordered two Full Thrust starter kits from Ground Zero Games, I wanted to try my hand at making some paper, or otherwise scratch-built starships. Here are the results. The bases are made of black foamcore, the flight posts are toothpicks painted black. The ships on the left are made of folded paper, printed and colored with pencils. The two on the right are made with thick cardstock and toothpicks, and painted with acrylic paints.

Here are close ups of each set of ships. First the paper ones. I made the greenish one a while ago and posted it at the Cardboard Warriors forum. I made the other ones to try this other style but the result is quite fiddly to fold properly and to glue to the base.

And here are the scratch-built ones. These were cut without any previous planning. Based on the results, I intend to make a few templates so that I can have two squadrons to play. Even after I get the metal ones, I will probably still use them together.

Lastly, here is a shot of some movement and turn templates I made for Full Thrust, inspired by the maneuver tools from the X-Wing miniatures game. This are just a half disk with 30 degree increments and a straight rectangle with 1 and 1/2 inch increments.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

A bunch of other paper minis in 6mm scale

Today I went back to the project of using reduced Armor Grid miniatures, printed at 40% of their original size, as 6mm forces in games such as Strike Legion and 5150 Battalion Commander (previously I built some at 50% scale but 40% makes infantry size correct.)

I used the uncolored versions as I now have access only to a monochrome laser printer. I am still unsure if I will print them in colored paper or try to color them by hand.

Instead of assembling the infantry stands in a cross formation (which is mounted on an hexagonal base in Armor Grid), I simply folded each troop piece and glued them to a 1.5" x 0.5" base. For a command stand, I would use the original formation.

The light mechs were surprisingly easy to build, as I would only cut an approximate contour, while at the original scale I would spend a long time making every little cut precisely.

So this is it, any comments are welcome. I have some plans to run a short sci-fi campaign with some of these miniatures...

Friday, April 24, 2015

Full Thrust (Lite)

Just a quick update: today I finally had my first test game of Full Thrust, using the "lite" version, which uses a simpler movement system and only features lasers and energy torpedoes. I made some very simple starship counters and a turning tool to help maneuvering.

Surprisingly, the game worked pretty well on a 90cm x 60cm table, even measuring ranges in inches. Granted, there were only three ships on each side (two light cruisers and one heavy cruiser.) This made maneuvering very important and combat quite deadly, as the ships were often close and thus able to fire all weapons at top power.

I will leave a "first impressions" to another time, after I have played the full rules. So far, I can see why this game remains popular among those who like space combat games.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

First impressions: Rogue Planet

I picked this up as the "deal of the day" on WargameVault, after reading Brent Spivey's interesting suggestions for solo play in the discussion section of the product page.

Since the book is only 24 pages long, I decided to run some quick tests. I started trying to make a zombies vs. extermination team game. Since there is no way to model units with slower movement (I wanted "classic" slow zombies) they became infected mutants. My two teams were:

4x Infected Mutants (46 points each)
CQ 5 / RAT 2 / DEF 3 / ARM [Group]
Claws & teeth (melee, +1 vs. [Light])

Infected Leader (57 points)
CQ 4 / RAT 5 / DEF 6 / ARM [Light]
Claws & teeth (melee, +1 vs. [Light])
Pulse rifle (+1 vs. [Light])

4x Exterminator (41 points each)
CQ 3 / RAT 5 / DEF 4 / ARM [Light]
Infantry rifle (+1 vs. [Light])

Squad leader (68 points)
CQ 4 / RAT 6 / DEF 5 / ARM [Light]
Infantry rifle (+1 vs. [Light])

In the first test match I left out two groups of mutants and two exterminators, just to learn the rules. The game was over in about 30 minutes, and I just had to consult the quick reference sheet for damage effects and counter-actions.

In the second match, I used the entire forces, the battle lasted about the same. The exterminators won both times, although the first match was very close. Lesson learned: groups are very flexible for maneuvering but you should make them very good at either melee or ranged, because they die quite easily and do not provide energy for the team.

Here is an overview of the main game mechanics:

Turn structure is IGO-UGO, but the opposing player might be able to interrupt any action. The game uses a random number of action points per turn, so not all units may be able to activate. Actions include moving (in a straight line, up to a terrain piece), attacking, charging, and using powers or magic. Counter-moves also require action points.

Movement actions have unlimited range in a straight line, unless you contact a terrain piece or other unit. I cannot help comparing this to Song of Blades and heroes, although in this case, it is a little less fiddly (no movement sticks) and gives the game a more "cinematic" feel. On the other hand, as I mentioned before, I could not see any way to make slow-moving units (although it is possible to make faster ones.)

Task resolution uses a unified mechanic, including melee and ranged attacks. In all cases, just one die roll is needed, thus keeping the game simple and easy to learn. Damage depends on armor type and there is a clever system that allows players to spend "energy" to save some units from defeat.

The rules for leader units and their pawns (sidekicks that grant bonuses or abilities to the leader) are very cool and, like the rest of the game, strike a balance between providing tactical choices and fostering narrative in the game.

My first impression of Rogue Planet is: a fast-playing game with many interesting ideas. The short stat line, simple resolution and no measurement are inviting for some "impromptu" playing -- like statting up a handful of toy soldiers and playing on the dinner table, using napkins and whatnot as terrain pieces.

It does have some limitations in modeling units but does not feel too abstracted. The way movement and shooting work makes it necessary to scatter enough terrain pieces to break long straight corridors across the board, although I do not think the board would have to be as closed as in, say, Infinity. One interesting thing is, for the same reasons, board size is not as important.

Given its features, I think I would use Rogue Planet for narrative-inspired games, maybe a series of 4-5 battles chained together forming a story arc. I am not sure I would use it for longer campaigns.