Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Revisiting Chronicles of Blood

After playing Dungeons and being satisfied with it, I decided to take a second look at Chronicles of Blood, also from Shane Garvey. Previously, I had dismissed that game due to its use of IGO-UGO turn structure which I thought too simple and flawed. Nowadays, I find it good for solo gaming, especially in large-scale battles, because in this context two of its main flaws are reduced or removed:

a) One of the main problems with IGO-UGO is that one player has to wait while the other moves their forces. When playing solo, this problem is not present, for obvious reasons.

b) The other problem is that one force is able to move and attack without reaction. In my opinion, this does not feel as bad in large-scale battles where things are subject to a good amount of abstraction already. If I can live with units described by rectangular stands, pivoting perfectly around one corner of said rectangles, on a ground scale of hundreds of meters per inch of table space and turns representing several minutes of game time, I think I can narrate IGO-UGO activation.

At the same time, the simplicity of the IGO-UGO turn structure is inviting to solo play as it is easy to add systems like random events and unit activation checks on top of it. So for these reasons I decided to try Chronicles of Blood once more. Since the game recommends a 120cm x 120cm table I am playing at 25% scale, so each regiment is represented by a 1"x0.5" stand. For now I have very simple unit counters, although I have made a couple of nicer prototypes, pictured here with a 28mm figure for comparison.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Two Year Anniversary!

Today this blog completes two years since the first post! To celebrate this I am making a humble prize giveaway: a US$15 gift certificate for WargameVault along with a custom paper miniature design, to the best of my abilities, to the winner's specifications. Some of my previous designs can be found here.

To enter this prize draw, just leave a comment in this post stating that you want to participate, until January 31. The winner will be randomly selected and announced on February 1st.

UPDATE: if you are having trouble with the comments system on Blogger, you can also enter the prize draw by posting in this thread on Cardboard Warriors until that date.

Donald Featherstone's books in ePub format

I was not aware that Donald Featherstone's reprints by the History of Wargaming Project were also available in digital format through Lulu.com. So now I finally have access to Solo Wargaming and Skirmish Wargaming, and just a few days before my vacation!

The downside to this is that the books are in DRM-protected ePub format accessible only through "Adobe Digital Editions." I hope that John Curry and co. switch to a DRM-less format in the future -- it just pains me to think of all the work in recovering these historical books, just to lock them up behind DRM.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Another Platform Command test build

Since I completed the hover truck and I still had some free time, I decided to make a test build of the structures. This picture show the results. They are printed at a scale of 39.4% (to play with cm as inches.)

The platforms are designed to be glued to foamboard but at this scale, a piece of cardboard had just the perfect thickness to be used instead. Therefore, I did not have to make any adaptations to the original pieces.

Here is a final picture with the hover truck for scale comparison.

First Platform Command build

I got the three Platform Command sets from WorldworksGames in their sale at the end of the year. My intention is to build some terrain pieces in reduced scale but since some parts seem a little complex, I decided to start making a hover truck from the Battlegrounds expansion, in regular size. This would allow me to get used to the kinds of folds etc. preferred by the designer.

It took me a couple of hours to carefully cut and build, but here is the result, along with one mini from the Red Sector expansion.

What I love in WorldWorksGames sets is the amount of detail in their texturing. Their instructions for this model were perfect and I even added the rocket launchers based on one of the photos in the manual.

I am tempted to spray a layer of sealant over this and put it on my work desk... it is a pity I do not have room to make many of these in regular size. I can imagine gaming with vehicles and terrain like this.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Friday Night Solo Games

This week was crazy with work and some personal matters. Still, last night I managed to play a couple of solo games I had not tried yet.

The first one was Tabletop Conquest by Brent Newhall, a free solo strategy game where you must try to reach the capital of a foreign kingdom and not run out of troops from the conflicts on the way. Winning will depend on luck somewhat but there is strategy in figuring your odds for each battle, based on the enemy and on the surrounding terrain. Overall, a simple, nice game to spend some free time.

The other game I played was Dungeons by Shane Garvey, author of other solo games such as Chronicles of Arax and Battle Quest. In my opinion, Dungeons is a more elegant, streamlined iteration of the author's efforts in creating a solo adventure/dungeon delving game.

Each game of Dungeons is a random sequence of combat encounters and non-combat events tied together by a quest. The core book has six quests and the first expansion brings another six. To play, you select one of a roster of characters, which are defined in terms of combat stats. The rules are easy to grasp  and the game moves quickly. My first game took me around 10 minutes and ended in defeat against a zombie, after a few unfortunate encounters. It was not as detailed as a paragraph-based game but it did not feel bland or overly generic.


Both of these solo games are played without any preparation, requiring only a few dice and a sheet of paper. I found both to be satisfiying for a quick break or to finish a busy week, as it was the case.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

The Hidden Battles of MR-4/76

Today I had a very good game of 5150 Star Army -- enough to make me start a little new campaign based on it. The plan is to run seven games or win/lose due to campaign morale, whichever comes first.

The Star Army are contesting MR-4/76 an uninhabited world in the fourth ring, which contains valuable mineral deposits. The Hishen have sent a military occupation force to the planet and are defending it. Obviously, this conflict happens hidden from the citizens of Gaea Prime...
My Star Army squad consists of Alec (star, rep 5), Barry, Charles, Doug, Edward (ASL, rep 3), Frank, Gary and Henry. All the grunts are rep 5 and equipped with laser rifles; Alec uses a rapid-fire laser and Edward carries a grenade launcher.

This first mission was a patrol. The objective was to confirm the position of what seemed to be a camouflaged base in aerial recon data. [I got aerial recon for this mission, as well as an investment level of 3 and intel level of 3. These gave me a "good intel" result and thus, I was able to determine the enemy's investment level at the start: 4.]

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Running from the Bugs!

Last year I got a copy of the BUGS! game released by Two Hour Wargames in 2002 (at the time of this writing it is still available for free at WargameDownloads.) I planned to play a game with it back in June but forgot about it until now. So instead of building my 5150 platoons I ran this game as I was more in the mood for a quick battle than making papercraft.

Anyway, BUGS! is a compact and focused game of humans fighting (or running away from) primitive but dangerous aliens -- the types with sharp teeth and claws. The reason to play it nowadays is mostly to gain perspective on the origins and evolution of the Reaction System. The core ideas are already present but yet to be refined. The whole set of rules fits in four pages of text and two pages of tables. The cost of this is that some definitions and clarifications are not included. When playing, I had to make some assumptions about things like front facing arc, group movement, requirements for charging, melee combat etc.

Battle Report

Based on information from the book I ran a simple scenario where a group of mercenaries and civilians must reach a shuttle to escape a facility infested with bug-like aliens. Every turn there's the risk that the aliens will burrow a hole to ambush them. Here is a picture of the setup. The green patches (woods) and gray squares (buildings) are impassable terrain. Some comments about the game system are given in square brackets.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Calling for Reinforcements

Since I have been playing mostly New Beginnings, which use the new In Sight procedure, I played a couple test battles of 5150 Star Army to remember the squad-based mechanics. Only then it dawned on me that I would need more figures to properly use the escalating battles system. I already have the extra platoons, tanks and other items printed, I just have to cut and build everything.

Other than that, the 1cm scale felt adequate, especially for solo play. I can play on a small space and even  leave the board set up as long as I remember to cover everything with a box lid or something to protect from gusts of wind.

Friday, January 4, 2013

A platoon of game tokens

Last evening I was able to prepare some miniatures and markers to finally try some large-scale 5150: Star Army battles. I wanted to do something like this since Okum Arts released the Retro Space line. I even printed some space patrol and aliens in 15mm. However, I'd get stuck thinking, "ok, now I have to make some defensive structures, and bunkers, and vehicles..." and never finished the project.

So this time I went back to the "paper miniatures as game tokens" mentality and built a much simpler set. I made T-frames with Okum Arts minis and recolored sci-fi vehicles from Junior General. I also made some small bunker markers and very simple 3D "defensive modules." Here's the result:

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The New Year Job

How about beginning the new year with a game of 5150: New Beginnings? Bad wordplay aside, here's a quick battle report.

Ken Folstom, from my first game in New Hope City, returns. This time his group includes Marie, a dropout he met shortly after his failed job at the police depot, and Charlie, a lab assistant (LWC) working at a corporation during the day and computer hacker at night. The trio has been performing some small data theft jobs for a while.
Ken's new plan involves breaking into the office of a small corporation to steal a prototype gadget and its production data. This is a bigger move than what he's used but he's counting with inside help: a disgruntled employee who contacted him to propose the job. Supposedly, the office would be lightly guarded during the New Year festivities and, with the information he would provide, the job should be very easy.