Thursday, February 28, 2013

Cyber Hero - Jay's Paper Mini

Today I finished the layout and test printing and assembly of Jay's miniature. I have sent him the source Gimp and Inkscape files should he want to do any kitbashing. Here is a 300dpi image of the miniature in different formats.

And here is a shot of the test build... my printer is acting up a little, printing some black lines and spots where it should not... Note: the mirrored version was due to a mistake while doing the layout in Inkscape. The PNG above has all versions with a left cyber arm.

The PDF version can be downloaded from this thread on the Cardboard Warriors forum.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Review: Resistance Is Futile

Being a compulsive buyer collector of rulesets, I recently got some new games. Among them was "Resistance Is Futile" by AGEMA. Previously I bought and played their "Sacre Bleu!" rules which I am very fond of as the chaotic play sequence serves very well for solo (although it might be frustrating when playing against an opponent.) This led me to purchasing other games from the company, despite finding very little to no information about them.

"Resistance Is Futile" (RIF for short) is a set of sci-fi skirmish rules for 15mm or 28mm scale. The 32-page book includes a sample setting called "Sigma-14" and the author encourages players to make their own to add meaning and motivation to their games. The setting is actually an entertaining read, with a good amount of humor mixed with different sci-fi conventions. Take for instance this description of one of the factions:

"There are also within the towns and cities what is termed The Resistance which rejects all forms of government and who are effectively anarchists who love conspiracy theories and trust no-one, including themselves most of the time."

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Smugglers in the Dark - part 1

There are several entertaining posts about solo dungeon crawling at Tabletop Diversions and Solo Nexus. While I have played some crawls using Dungeons and Dark Dungeon, with the recent re-release of old Dungeons and Dragons PDFs, I decided to try a little crawl using the Basic Set.

Character creation
The first step was to generate a party. I wanted to have a fighter, a thief and a magic-user. I started rolling the three characters' attributes and then assigned them to a suitable class, with maximized hit points. I then used the Universal NPC emulator (UNE) to create a general description and two motivations for each character. To keep things simple, I discarded one motivation from each, trying to make them consistent with each other. Lastly, I rolled on the Mythic description chart to give them a quirk.

From the results I got, I did not think that any of the characters would be lawful, so I used the Mythic fate chart to answer the question "is the character chaotic?" with a likely chance for each of them -- an "exceptional no" would mean the character actually was lawful. I rolled a 50/50 chance for each character to be male or female and finally, I used this fantasy name generator to pick names for them. These are the resulting characters. UNE and Mythic results are marked in brackets.

Chaotic Human male Magic-user
Few people would be able to guess that Ingont spent the last several years studying in the Academy. The light-haired man dresses like a peasant and seldom talks about magic, carrying his spellbook hidden in a bag. His actions and words are carefully measured to disguise his plotting mind. Currently involved with a secret society, he is tasked with expanding their smuggling routes to the south of the kingdom. [logical herald, maintain contraband, irritatingly nondescript]
HP 3, AC 9, STR 9, INT 17, WIS 12, DEX 11, CON 7, CHA 12
Modifiers: +10% XP
Spellbook: magic missile
Backpack: dagger, waterskin, flask of oil x5, lantern, iron rations x1, 95gp

Chaotic Human female Thief
Swyem is a frail young woman of light and delicate manners. For a few years she has worked for a local trading guild, managing the sale of goods in neighboring villages. Lately, however, she became involved in a smuggling scheme. She is not troubled by exploiting others' weaknesses and needs to serve herself. [habitual drifter, guard deprivation, slowly fancy]
HP 3, AC 7, STR 8, INT 10, WIS 10, DEX 10, CON 7, CHA 11
Modifiers: -1 to hit and damage
Short sword, Leather armor
Backpack: dagger, waterskin, iron rations x1, thieves tools, 4gp

Chaotic Human male Fighter
Eryz thinks that they are out to get him: the village elder, the tax collectors, the king's knights. He only really trusts his half-sister Swyem, who arranges jobs for him to guard or sometimes bully others. Physically, he is not very imposing and may even come out a little clumsy but if you look into his eyes, you can see an eerie fire burning. [fanatic bum, agonize the government, quietly messy]
HP 8, AC 5, STR 11, INT 9, WIS 9, DEX 7, CON 11, CHA 11
Modifiers: -1 to missile fire, +1AC
Sword, Chain mail and shield
Backpack: dagger, waterskin, torches x6, iron rations x1, 50' of rope, 34gp

The story so far...

Ingont, Swyem and Eryz grew up together and used to cause all kinds of trouble in their village. Eventually, Ingont went to study the magical disciplines in the Arcane Academy and Swyem moved to another town, taking Eryz with her. She kept corresponding with Ingont and they started to smuggle magical trinkets in and out of the kingdom.

Ingont paid a visit to Swyem when one of their couriers went missing. She had found out that the courier was poisoned and died in the woods, and a group of kobolds took the magical trinkets to their lair in some ruins. The three characters bought the necessary supplies and are now ready to enter the lair, to recover their "merchandise."

... To be continued.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Cyberpunk figure: final version

Or should I call it "release candidate"? Anyway, my scanner decided to work again, I had been slowly progressing over the week, and tonight I finished the line art for Jay's cyberpunk figure. The next step is to add colors and shading to have it finished...
For now I am thinking of dark brown trenchcoat, black (or dark gray) boots, light gray t-shirt, blue pants and white/yellowish hair, roughly like this:

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Alien Bug Safari

There are many ways to create an "automated" opponent for solo battles. One of them, which is often used for "A.I." in computer games, is based in Finite-state Machines. Dale's post in Solo Battles has an interesting discussion about using FSMs for solo games.

Since last November, when I started again fiddling with behaviors and simulations for my little computer game experiments, I was thinking about trying to use them in solo games but so far I had not done anything about it. Dale's post inspired me to return to the subject and, since I still had some free hours during the Carnaval holiday, I proceeded to make a first test in the form of a simple solo game, presented here.

Alien Safari

After the Bug War of 2200, several planets were left with small colonies of stranded bugs. In some cases they decayed and died off, in others they became part of the ecosystem, turning into predators. Shady travel companies offer illegal "safari" trips to some of these worlds, where the rich and adventurous can have the thrill of their lives hunting these dangerous prey.

Setting up
Terrain: the game is played on a 3'x3' board and the entire board counts as covered in low vegetation. You may place terrain pieces representing woods, lakes and rivers as you see fit.

Your force: you start with three hunters standing in base contact with each other in the middle of one of the board edges. Figures do not have a defined "facing."

Sunday, February 10, 2013

All Things Zombie: Day One

Today I finally played through Day One of the zombie outbreak, after nearly two years since I bought All Things Zombie: Better Dead than Zed (ATZ). I had played single games with these rules before but I had not tried this scenario.

Players are advised not to read the Day One chapter of ATZ until they are ready to play. This was cause for some of my delaying, as I tried to make a variety of terrain pieces (buildings, streets) and miniatures to be ready. Finally I decided to skip preparations and play with very simple paper tokens and pieces of paper for the terrain. An example is shown below, although it is not an actual board used for the scenario.

It worked: although not visually appealing, it allowed me to properly tailor the board for each scenario during Day One. And since you can take a very personal approach to this scenario, it was worth. It is funny to admit but, at one point, I felt relieved with the outcome of one part of the scenario.

Without entering into details to avoid spoiling the fun of anyone who has not played it, I did not survive. At one point I was left Out of the Fight with three zombies nearby and we all know what that means.

In other news, the computer I used to connect my scanner is out of order and I still have to try to set it up on my work netbook. Until I can sort this out, the cyberpunk miniature will have to wait.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013


Here we go for another mission in the MR-4/76 campaign. The squad led by Alec (from the first mission) is sent to check another zone for a possible enemy base. This time, however, there is no aerial recon and intel is bad...

This is the lovely setup that I rolled for this mission -- and yes, there is a PEF in plain sight right in the middle of the board, since that sector has no cover. The barricades count as cover but do not block LOS. The building markers have three doors each.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

A few more sketches

Here is the second batch of sketches... this time leaning a little more towards cyberpunk styles:
I tried to mix some different references from 80s cyberpunk games, sci-fi movies and heavy metal bands.
I might use the character sketch on the top right of the next picture as a starting point for the mini...

Monday, February 4, 2013

Border War

Last weekend I ran a solo playtest of the Border War skirmish rules from Fields of War. Rules-wise, Border War is a game played for seven IGO-UGO turns. On each turn, units may perform one action on their own. They may also perform additional actions as orders from their leader. Other than that, the turn is not structured so you may mix movement and attacks.

Each unit is described by a stat block with attributes like "shooting skill", "power" and "courage." They may also have weapons that modify those attributes and armor that allows for armor saves. There is also a "wound chart" to determine if a hit causes damage. In these aspects the game reminds me of some other game that I would rather not reference. However, in general it seems more streamlined than what little I actually remember of that other game.

Here are the figures I used for this playtest. Border War is about humans from the Dominion trying to take down the settlements that their escaped slaves have built in the Blasted Desert. Not a particularly pretty affair but I suppose war never is, regardless of motives. Anyway, these are PERMES pirates, dwarves and elves printed at about 40% scale. I used the standard stat blocks for Garmarians (some with muskets and knives, others with swords and shields), Dwarves (with axes and shields) and Elves (with short bows and knives) from the Border War rulebook.

Having finished my first read of Featherstone's Solo Wargames, even if it was a little hasty, and given that Border War does not have its own solo system, I decided to incorporate a few ideas into my little battle. First, I split each force in smaller teams and randomized their deployment. In doing so, it was determined that one team with three Garmarian shooters would arrive only at the end of my third turn, and a team of four dwarves would arrive at the end of the enemy's second turn. This is the initial setup for the game.

The first two turns were spent maneuvering for the battle. During the third turn a group of elves attacked the Garmarian shooters to no effect. They attacked in turn, defeating two elves and causing the other two to flee. The human and dwarf warriors also engaged in combat but no one was hurt at this point. Here is a picture at the end of the third turn.

The melee and ranged combats continued during the fourth and fifth turns, while the reserves struggled to reach the battle. Eventually one dwarf and a human shooter were defeated. This is the state of the table after the fifth turn.

By the seventh and last turn, the reserve dwarves had almost entered combat and the human shooters were reaching the range of their muskets. The humans had lost six men for a total point cost of 460 and the slave rebels lost three elves and a dwarf for a point cost of 335. Therefore, the slave rebels won the match.


I found Border War enjoyable. The rules are simple and easy to follow. I had a few doubts but the author has quickly answered them in this post of the Cardboard Warriors forum. If I would have anything to comment is that command range for the leaders seems a little short; often I could not take advantage of the extra orders they were entitled due to this. Still, it might be a matter of positioning my leader in a better way.

The part of the Border Wars rules I did not test was the campaign system, which seems very interesting. It includes experience gain for units, which allows them to improve, as well as an upkeep system that may result in deserters and even mutiny.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

First sketches

Today I made the first sketches and tests for Jay's miniature. I started with some studies straight from Blade Runner.
Many "traditional" 15mm and 28mm use very stylized proportions, around 4.5 to 5.5 heads tall as compared to more "realistic" 6.5-7.5 heads. OneMonk miniatures and, to a lesser extent, Sanity Studios and Darkmook follow this style and I think it makes them look closer to plastic and metal figures and thus, "blend in." I made some studies based on that proportion:
I also did a very quick and dirty coloring of this test pose to see how it would look when printed. This test version has a mirrored back but the final one will have a proper drawing for the back. The following picture should print in the correct size at 300dpi. Note that to assemble the base it is necessary to make one reverse fold in the middle.

Here is an image of the test print I did, along with Grey Matter Games' lizardman to get a sense of proportion. This one is 28mm tall from foot to eye.


These initial studies draw heavily on Blade Runner alone. I am also looking at references from other sci-fi movies from the 80s to get other ideas about clothing, weapons etc.

Jay, please leave a comment or send me an e-mail telling if I am going in the right direction. Note these are just studies so feel free to suggest any changes -- even complete modifications to style, clothing, equipment, pose etc.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Fallen Battlecruiser

This is the second battle in my "Hidden Battles of MR-4/76" campaign. A damaged Hishen battlecruiser crash lands in the wastes of MR-4/76. The Star Army sends an advance squad to capture survivors and obtain enemy data modules. [In this patrol mission, I had an investment level of 3 and bad intel, despite having aerial recon.]

This is the initial setup. Debris from the battlecruiser litter the area [I rolled a very cluttered map. The corkboard hills and paper barricades count as LOS-blocking, impassable terrain.] I decided to deploy my squad as two separate fire teams: team alpha on the left has Ian (rep 5 star), Jack, Kyle and Louis. Team beta has Mark (rep 4 ASL), Nathan, Oswald and Peter. All grunts have a rep of 5.

[I also adopted the following house rule: because of the smoke and dust from the crash landing, visibility is limited to 30" away.]

Things started pretty calm, with fire team alpha advancing and fire team beta holding position. While they checked their surroundings, Jack noticed some movement among the debris: the Hishen had pulled together a makeshift defensive position.

Friday, February 1, 2013

And the winner is...

So here is the result of the prize draw for this blog's anniversary. I used the list randomizer from to get the winner.

First, I collected the names of all entrants. Then, just to make it easier to check if I had not missed anyone, I sorted the list alphabetically. I input the list on the randomizer:

Then it was time to randomize the list order. The first name in the new, random order is winner: