Tuesday, February 21, 2012

My first Lost Reich model

Today I've built my first model from the Lost Reich game by Fat Dragon Games. It took me a little over two hours as the model seems simple but there are quite a few spots where it's possible to mess up its assembly.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Little Girls at War

As a reference to the original "Guns and Girls," the theme for my mini campaign usign Chain Reaction Final Version (CRFV) will be "War in the Planet of the Amazons." Somewhere in the universe, a civilization of independent, combative women is torn apart by civil war. As a result, two separate empires rise and years later, they start fighting again for territory and resources.

For miniatures, I'm using Jenny McKenzie's awesome 15mm little girls. She's been making these paper miniatures since 2009 and they are surprisingly detailed and varied. More specifically, I have built some of the Chalactan Frontier Force and Mexeluine National Guard, which are respectively clad in blue and red.

In the campaign, I'm in control of a small group of  Mexeluine soldiers guarding the borders of their empire. This is the beginning of the war and both sides are probing for information, so there are lots of small actions involving infiltration and reconnaissance, not a full-scale invasion. Using the recruiting rules from CRFV, I'm starting with a rep 5 star and four other soldiers. Here they are, from left to right: Aleta (rep 5 star, with assault rifle and machete), Bibiana (rep 4, with SMG), Constanza (rep 4, with grenade and assault rifle), Delfina (rep 4, with shotgun) and Ercilia (rep 4 with assault rifle and bayonet.)

Well, that's it for now. Coming next: the first patrol mission...

Friday, February 17, 2012

A Decade of Chain Reaction

As JF already pointed out, Ed Teixeira has released the "final version" of Chain Reaction 3.0, a free game based on the reaction system used in other Two Hour Wargame products. By the way, it has been reorganized like the more recent books (such as 5150 Star Army) making it easier to learn and to find information in it.

When the announcement was made on the discussion group, I learned that the first version of the game, released in 2002 as "Guns and Girls," was also available for the subscribers of the group. Reading through "Guns and Girls" it was possible to see how the system has evolved in the ten years since its first release. Many of the core ideas were already there, but a lot of streamlining (in a good way) has taken place to make the game more fluid and coherent. At the end of the book there are rules for a "wasteland campaign game," which made me even more eager to see the release of After the Horsemen.

Being in the miniature wargaming hobby for about one year, and playing mostly solo, I have found the Two Hour Wargames titles to be steady companions. For some people, it may take too much control away from the player's hand but for me the result tends to be amusing and unpredictable conflicts. I intend to play and post some games using Chain Reaction (maybe a small campaign) to celebrate its 10 year anniversary.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

A quick play session of Starmada

As I wrote in the previous post, I got to play some Starmada: Admiralty Edition. As the authors state, Starmada is like a big toolbox with a set of core of rules and a lot of options. At this point I'm using only the basic rules that take 24 pages of the main rule book, with the addition of the "Sequential Movement" option (essentially removing the secret plotting of move orders) in order to simplify solo play. I also picked up some ideas found in the Starmada forum: giving a material advantage to my opposition, and using cards to randomly select the next ship to move for each side. I used the sample ship data cards that you can download from the Majestic 12 Games site (check the stuff.zip file.)

In this playtest battle, I used a single Volhard-class cruiser and two Anval-class frigates against a similar opposing force, with the addition of a Swiftsure-class destroyer (a force roughly 1/3 stronger than mine.) The first side to obtain at least 130 victory points wins. Therefore, I decided that I would try to destroy one enemy frigate and one destroyer, while the opposing forces would concentrate on taking down my cruiser. On the first turn, the ships maneuvered around towards the intended targets but no ship was in range for combat.

On the second turn, things became interesting. The two enemy frigates moved into close range of my cruiser, causing some damage. However, both were decimated by the cruiser's missiles and railguns. My two frigates lined up against the enemy destroyer and fired all of their railguns, causing it to blow up. However, since combat is simultaneous, the destroyer managed to hit my cruiser and one of my frigates. Lastly, the enemy cruiser fired a barrage of long range missiles against one of my frigates, nearly destroying it.

The destruction of two frigates and the destroyer gave me 200 points, resulting in a victory at the end of the second game turn. This match made me aware of the importance of shields. Even at close range, shields can avoid a lot of damage as they allow "saving throws" for each hit. Positioning is also very important. For instance, the Anval-class frigates have powerful engines but they should be used to move around and pick targets carefully.

I enjoyed the basic Starmada game. The rules are consistent and easy to grasp. The combat rules do call for a lot of rolls (something that seems scheduled to change in the next edition) and I can see how they might slow down larger battles, especially when a ship chooses to fire at multiple targets. Ship construction seems very solid although, as the authors put it, "the help of a sturdy calculator will be invaluable." One point to be aware of is that a data card is necessary for each ship in play, as there are many stats to be tracked during the game. If you use a tablet or laptop while gaming, a spreadsheet might replace these; otherwise you might need to print these sheets before each game.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Cheap space battle mat

My first project in this vacation was to make a simple hex-gridded board to play the starship battle games that I have bought during the last year. By the way, the board was inspired by a post I saw in another blog but now I just can't find the link to give proper credit. In that case, the author used a series of circles to draw the hexagons. Here, I used two sets of diagonal lines drawn with a ruler and a 60-degree square on a sheet of black cardstock. The dots were painted with a correction fluid pen.

It took me an afternoon (around five hours) to get the mat done, with 29x18 hexagons (about 1" between flats.) The mat is far from perfect but it cost very little to make, and the hexagons look regular enough to play. Besides, printing a poster-sized battle mat like this would cost around US$40 from the print shops I know (yes, print-on-demand services are really expensive around here.)

I'll start my playtests with Starmada: Admiralty Edition as I found out that a new edition is about to be released and it feels bad to think that I haven't even tried the current one. Right now I've read the basic rules and I'm thinking of a way to play solo while keeping the movement orders mechanics.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012


I'm finally on vacation for a few days. I didn't really make any plans as my job has a habit of ruining them (right now I'm still tying some loose ends before I can actually relax.) Anyway, let's see if I can get some gaming / papercraft / painting done.