Sunday, January 25, 2009

SkeletonKey Games

I really enjoy wargaming as both a pastime and a hobby but recently I've been trying to find ways to reduce the preparation aspect of my games. I enjoy spending hours creating army lists, weeks painting armies and building terrain but I'm finding it harder to justify the time. Latley I find myself playing skirmish games using my Star Wars miniatures play mats simply because they quick'n'easy and look great with my miniatures.

So I finally gave in and bought these (click for a bigger image)

SkeletonKey Games sell a range of pdf gaming tiles that are of a quality that I've rarely seen on the Internet. They have quite a range of sets for both outdoor and dungeon/caves and many of the sets have tiles that blend from one to another, so it's quite possible to have a seamless map that goes from a forest to a dungeon, on to a cave network and then to flooded ice caves. The tiles vary from 6"x6" up to 6"x9" and they have the 1" grid which is has become the defacto standard for almost all games these days. I would have liked to have the outdoor ones without a grid for my skirmish games, but having one does mean I can use them for Star Wars Miniatures and D&D also, so I'm not too fussed.

The price for these sets is usually around $12 for 25+ tiles but I was lucky enough to get them while they were one sale for 50%.

They print up great on my Brother MFC 440 inkjet and look fantastic once they've been laminated. You can create a nice little dungeon for a quick skirmish game using just 5-6 tiles.

Same goes for the outdoor tiles.

I've got maybe 30 of these sitting in a shoebox just waiting for whenever I get the urge to play a game. I don't think they will ever replace the desire to play on a real table with modelled terrain but right now they serve their purpose which is to give me more time to paint the miniatures and actually play the games. I can see these being a part of my RPG and Skirmish games for many years to come.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

For Those About to Rock...

I'm so glad I decided against setting myself a painting schedule as I'd be so far behind right now. It's not entirely my fault though, well yeah ok it is but I do have an excuse albeit a poor one: you see I bought this

I just can't stop playing it. Guitar Hero II and III were (and still are) awesome games but they are nothing compared to this. Playing the drums is something you just have to experience to believe. It almost feels like the real thing. And the song list just fits this 80's metal head perfectly... I mean every single track from this album:

Need I say more? ...I didn't think so.

Song of Blades and Heroes

For a while now I've been listening to a podcast by Neil Shuck called Meeples and Miniatures in which he discusses, among other things wargames and boardgames. I had epsiode 22 on as background noise while I was painting my BB Orcs when a reveiw of a miniatures game called Song of Blades and Heroes caught my attention. More specifically it was a few of the key features that interested me:
- No book keeping.
- All measurements/ranges are a fixed short, medium or long.
- You only needed 5-10 minis per player.
- Solo playability.
- Campaign system.
- You can create your own creatures/races.

Although the one mechanic that really sold me was the activation system. Basically everything in the game has an action cost: walk is 1 action, sprint is 2 actions, attack in hand to hand is 1 action and so on. When it is your turn you pick a miniature and decide to roll between 1-3 activation dice, the number of successful rolls determines the number of actions (between 0 and 3) that miniature may take this turn. Once that miniature has finished it's actions you may pick another miniature and roll it's activation dice. Cool you say well why don't you just roll 3 activation dice every turn? Well the interesting part is that if a miniature ever rolls 2 or more unsuccessful rolls then you get to make complete the successful actions but then your turn ends and your opponent now has their turn.

I love this concept, in fact it's a core mechanic to a lot of the other games I enjoy such as the turnover rule in BloodBowl and the command rolls in Warmaster. It's a mechanic that takes a simple game and adds an incredible amount of depth and strategy.

The rules for creating warbands are simple enough and you are allowed to use models from any race. They've got all the races you'd expect in a fantasy game covered, there's something like 180+ creatures in the core book and more in the expansions. Also there is quite an active yahoo group that has the rules for creating your own creatures if you're not happy with what's already in the books.

The price is also good at $5US ($7.68AU) for the core book and $8US ($12.28AU) for the expansion books. I picked up the core book and the first expansion Song of Gold and Darkness which adds a heap of rules for dungeon crawls.

So thankyou to Neil Shuck for once again introducing me to a great game. Now I'm off to dig up all my old D&D minis, and my Mordheim warbands, and my WFB minis...

Friday, January 23, 2009

BloodBowl: Moortown Flinggers vs Hawk Eaters Photos

I was able to get my hands on some photos of the BloodBowl game played on Saturday night (thanks Gus and Brendan). What you're seeing here is the result of an Blitz! result on the kick-off table. Remember to click on the images for a larger version.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Impact Treemen

Finished painting the Impact Treemen for my Halfling team. It took a lot more work than I first imagined, there is lot of detail in these guys that isn't really apparent until you start painting them. The colours look a little flat here, I'd like to blame the camera/lighting/something but I just don't have the skills to take those spiffy photos you see on all the other sites. It is something I'm working on.

So here they are (left to right) Gildamesh Bloomberry and Gumpwise Talltree. Remember to click on the images to see a bigger version.

One thing that really annoyed me is that the miniatures were hollow. They came with a back piece and a front piece but were hollow down to the hips. Since you look down on the miniatures for the most part of a game it just looked silly. So greenstuff (actually I use Milliput and it's white but you get the idea) to the rescue. I'm pretty happy with the woodgrain sculpting on the inside, I actually forgot to do it and only remembered the morning after putting these guys together. Thankfully the greenstuff hadn't hardened completley so I was able to put some lines in with a scalpel and a pin.

I still need to finish painting the bases off and add some static grass. The Halfling team is pretty much complete now. I just have this guy to paint up as my team coach. He's a Reaper mini (03261: Bergo Ironbelly, Halfling Pirate) and the detail on this miniature is just amazing considering his size.

I'm still looking for an apothecary model so if you know of any good ones leave a comment and I'll have a look, thanks.

Monday, January 19, 2009

BloodBowl: Moortown Flinggers vs Hawk Eaters

I managed to make the trip down to Guildford on Saturday to play in the opening round of BloodBowl for the 2009 season. After the usual meet and greets it was settled that I would line up against Brad and his Orc team the Hawk Eaters. It was a spur of the moment decision to come to this session so I didn't have my Orc team ready. I also left my camera at home so I'll try to get some of the shots taken by the other guys and add them later.

Brad has a couple teams which are more of the "hitty" persausion and being an experienced coach also made him a more dangerous opponent. I needed a team that could either match him in strength or have the agility to run around his team.

I played neither. I played Halflings and for a couple of reasons.
  1. They were in my case and they were painted. My new years resolution is not to play with minis unless they're painted and I intend to stick to it.
  2. Halflings are a weak team but everyone underestimates them. You can use this to your advantage and if the dice gods are watching and they're in your favour...
  3. The only way a team gets better in BloodBowl is to play BloodBowl.
  4. I wanted to use my new Treemen minis.
The difference between the two teams (TR173 - TR111) allowed me a nice 620,000gp as inducements. My choices were simple enough:
  • Star Player: Deeproot Strongbranch (250k). Three treemen on the field just made the line of scrimmage get that little more interesting.
  • Halfling Master Chef (100k). Taking your opponents Re-Rolls is always a great way equalise things somewhat.
  • Wandering Apothecary (100k). Umm we're playing Orcs, we're really going to need him. In fact I almost got two of them.
  • I bought three Special Play Cards. Dirty Trick (50k): Gromskull's Exploding Runes, Speacial Play (50k): Going the Extra Mile and Misc Mayhem (50k) Fanatic Invasion.
The Game
The weather was fine and the Orc fans were there in fine voice giving their team the +1 FAME bonus. The coin was tossed and won by the Orcs who opted to receive.

The First Half
The Master Chef was in fine form taking 2 re-rolls from the Orcs but they managed to increase their two back up to three by winning the Cheering Fans kick off event.

The Halfling kick off was short and poorly aimed resulting in the ball going out of bounds. The ball came back into play in the hands of Black Orc #1, this was not good. They're slower than a Halfling but I'd need four of my guys to have a chance of taking him down. I needed my line of scrimmage to hold up this turn, alas it wasn't to be. Block after block from the Orcs resulted in Halflings getting knocked down or stunned. I started my turn with maybe three Halflings within running distance of the Black Orc. Two of them made their way to the Orc before the third failed his dodge roll and subsequent re-roll, faceplanting himself into the turf. It was a sign of things to come. The Black orc continued his slow lumber to the end zone while the remaining Orcs continued to pull apart my line of scrimmage.
My turn three started with only one real option: to use the "Going the Extra Mile" card and hope that the 4 successive Go For It rolls would come off, I only had to roll 2+, 2+, 3+ and 4+ right? Then a two dice Block his way? It was that or let the brute (the Orc, not Brad) get an easy touchdown. In pure Halfling fashion I failed the 3+ roll (and re-roll) with 1's. Wooo Halflings rule.... sigh.

Touchdown to the Hawk Eaters. Fast forward to my turn 6. I have the ball and the Hawk Eaters have deployed in a strong defending formation, read that as: 3 chumps on the line and everyone else in front of the End Zone. I'm almost flattered, but very worried. I need to equalise or the game will get away from me. I could throw a Halfling with the ball and then try to run it in but that's too risky when I still have time to run it in. While the Treemen deal with the Orcs on the line my most experienced player Neddy Crimpwit tucks the ball under his little arm and runs towards the rest of the Orcs. The plan is to use his Leap skill to bypass the wall of green, angry Orcs. Next turn I need to use one Go For It roll (2+) to start the leap, then it's a simple 4+ for the land. I fail the Go For It roll... twice. Neddy lands in the end zone face down and stunned. The Orcs start to move in one Neddy and things don't look good for the little guy. Within miniutes a bruised and battered Neddy Crumpwit is laying on a stretcher in the dugout awaiting his turn with the apothecary. The wandering apothecary manages to reduce a smashed ankle(or hip, can't recall which exactly) to a badly hurt (miss rest of game).

End of the half with the Hawk Eaters up 1-0 on the scoreboard.

The Second Half
The Flinggers came back from the half time break looking fresh, detemined and well fed. There was a glint in their eyes and a spring in their step. Things could only get better... right? I mean we've been through the worst of it... right?!? One look at the Orc lineup gave a simple answer: no. Turn two of the second half saw two events unfold. Firstly the Hawk Eaters were in scoring distance again and it didn't look like the Halflings were going to pull a draw from this one, let aone a win. Secondly the Halfings decided to try something a little unusual and brought the fight to the Orcs. Well it was more of a slapping really, with little hands. Imagine a 3 year old in a full tantrum and you're getting close, now multiply that by every player left standing on the field. Ok yes... stop laughing, please. The treemen continued to knock over (but not injure) the greenskins when Deeproot Strongbranch got his angry on and hit Orc Blitzer Jughead with enough force to plant him 2 feet into the soil (casualty roll 62 - Dead). The Orc apothecary tried his best but alas rolled a 63 - Dead(erer).

It seemed like the tide was changing in favour of the Halflings. What actually happended was we made the Orcs angry. Yeah I was suprised too. The details of the next 4-5 turns are kind of fuzzy. There was a lot of yellin' and screamin'. Have you ever seen 9 halflings all trying to climb and hide in the same treeman. It was so funny that it was sad, or is that the other way around? Anyway what we do know about what happened is that the Orcs scored again. Chundwise Windblossom walked off the flield with a broken neck (-1AG) which was only discovered when he complained that wearing his Carmen Miranda fruit hat made his head hurt and his legs go all wobbly.

The Result
At the final whistle the Orcs run out clear winners 3-0 on the scoreboard and won the casualty count 4-1.

The Moortown Flinggers
31 - Foggwick Shakebelly got the MVP and skilled up (rolled 10: +1MA/AV or skill).
7 - Chundwise Windblossom will miss his next game while nursing his broken neck. I would retire him but he's 2SPP away from skilling up.
78 - Samin Finefettle managed a completion but will also miss next game with a broken jaw. The poor guy cried himself to sleep... although I think it had more to do with the fact he couldn't have any of the post match pie.

The Hawk Eaters
1 - Black Orc Gort Morn had 1 casualty and 1 TD.
2 - Black Orc Orrrgh Stonehead caused 1 casualty.
3 - Blitzer Fourngit had 1 TD.
4 - Blitzer Kilboy had a completion.
5 - Thrower Throo'it recieved the MVP.
6 - Line Orc Duurgh had a casualty.
15 - Blitzer Jughead also got a TD but later died of massive bark poisoning.
Trogg the Troll caused a casualty.

Wrap Up
A great game that was a lot closer than the final score line shows. Yeah yeah I know everyone says that but I felt there were moments where the game could have turned my way but for a few crappy rolls. I think my tactics were sound and I wouldn't change much next time around. Maybe fouling a little more, I have the reserves to deal with a player (or three) being sent off. Also I could have done with the third apothecary and got less cards, lesson learnt there, poor little Windblossom. No point dwelling on it, now where did he leave that hat: Let's do the Copacabana... It's tropical people go to your feet and make you feel latin...

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Impact Order

The last of my Christmas purchases finally arrived today, an order from Impact! Miniatures.

First up is some treemen for my Halfling team The Moortown Flinggers. Up until now I've been using two Heroclix Swamp Thing miniatures. The fit between the two halves insn't all that great but it's nothing a bit of greenstuff can't fix. Also in the order is a Goblin referee, my little green guys will take all the help they can get. Remember to click on the images to see a bigger version.

Next up are some tokens to help with game play. I've got a couple big guys that are huge, my Reaper treeman is over 80mm high, and I don't like laying them down on the table. The weather tokens should help those games where I remember we're playing in a blizzard only after I've set up a long pass play... it happend twice in the same game. And pictured last are some 2.5mm base magnets to stop the ruddy ball from falling off the base all the time. I'm also thinking of using them for my Warhammer armies to allow weapon swaps.
The tokens are a little on the small side, well compared to what I expected anyway. But they are pretty distinct and should easily fit into my BB dice/token box. Here's a shot of them next to a lineorc for size comparison.

The text on the tokens are etched into the surface so you can use a crayon to "fill in" the text. Takes me back to the days of the Dungeons and Dragon basic sets, the first two boxes came with etched dice and a crayon.
And a shot of all the tokens completed. The yellow didn't come out at bright as I'd hoped but it will do.

Now I'm off to put the treemen together.


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Russian Napoleonics

While cleaning up some space in my cupboard I found a few packs of 6mm Russian Napoleonic that I've had hanging around for almost 15 years now.

And here's the rules I bought at the same time, I think I've played them maybe 3 times.

About a year ago I set myself some ground rules for all games and miniatures that I had. The first rule was that I had to have a complete game. That meant I had all the rules and at least two full armies. The second rule was they all had to be based, prepped and painted. The only exception to that rule is my DBA army, but that was given to me so it's exempt... for now.

So if I'm to keep these I need to get another army, it shouldn't be too hard to source some French. I'd like to use the rules I have, simply because I already have them but wargame rules can come a long way in 15 years. I would really like to get some rules based on the GW Warmaster system.

I think some research is in order.


No more room in Hell

I love Zombies, can't get enough of them. I'll watch any Zombie movie no matter how bad it is, yes Zombie Strippers I'm looking at you. So it goes to reason that I would love Zombie games. Well I've been looking for quite a while and there are some excellent Zombie board games out there but Zombie miniature games was pretty slim pickings. Until I found All Things Zombie from Two Hour Wargames (THW). In fact this was the game that introduced me to the THW stable of games.

I won't launch into a review of the game right now but I will say this: it is an excellent skirmish level game with a great campaign system and has very good solo and same-side play.

I'm still looking for Zombie miniatures, there are a lot of great ones out there at a price. And since most of them are made overseas postage is a real killer. WW2 skirmishing has kind of put this project on hold for the moment but a couple months ago I got a link to World Works Games, more specifically a 28mm cardstock shopping mall. After retrieving my jaw from the floor I purchased the pdf and started printing. Click on the images for bigger versions.

A few hours later I had these:

Closer shots (click on the images for bigger versions):

Some shots with miniatures for scale (click on the images for bigger versions):

I've still got a fair bit of work to do on this but I'm aiming for running a game or three mid year.


Flames of What?!

All kidding aside, I want to play Flames of War. Really I do but right now I'm completely hooked on this game by Two Hour Wargames (THW).

The reaction system which makes up the core of this game is simply amazing. I can see this being my game of choice for quite some time to come. Best of all is the game has solo play and it works incredibly well. The game itself focuses mainly on the late war period but it wouldn't be that hard to plug in your own army lists and play. On the topic of army lists, Nuts! has gone down a fairly simplistic approach to both unit and weapon stats but I can tell you it works. The game is fast and fairly straight forward to play.

The only thing that bothered me initially is that the rulebook isn't laid out as well as it could have been. This seems to have been addressed in the newer rules that have come out of THW, besides there is a Yahoo group that supports the game that has to be seen to be believed. Questions are answered fast and usually by the game designers too.

I can see myself playing Flames of War... it's an inevitable evolutionary part of being a wargamer right? But right now I'm happy playing skirmish games and Nuts! is about the best there is.


Ahhh Nuts!

You know what its like: you have a carefully planned schedule and you're making great progress when... what? you don't? Nah neither do I.

The day that I actually finish something, actually two somethings, the BloodBowl Imps and my display base for my BloodBowl Goblins, the one thing that could derail my entire painting shcedule happens: my order of 28mm WW2 minis from Black Tree Miniatures arrives.

Actually it happended something like this:

My wife and I were discussing the state of the kitchen table since I took over with my paints and other tools when she asks "So how long is all that stuff going to be there for?"
I respond with "oh not long... unless my WW2 stuff turns up which in that case it could be another week or two". I pretend not to notice the raised eyebrow and look of dissatisfaction on here face when a knock at the door saves me. "I'll get it" I say running down the hallway. It's Australia Post with these:

A Black Tree Miniature 28mm British platoon with a pack of Flamethrower infantry.

Old Glory 25mm German SS. Already based and undercoated, I just love eBay.

Old Glory 25mm US 101st Airborne Pathfinders (mohawk guys) with some US Paras and HMG. From the same eBay deal as above.

"I'm in trouble now" I think to myself.


I should be painting... I know. And I was... when these guys turned up in the mail a couple days ago.

I did resist the temptation to start painting these guys. I was getting a little tired of painting Orcs but what was I going to achieve by switching over to Goblins? A different shade of green?

Well it appears it was enough... for a while. I got as far as undercoating and base coats of flesh when, I don't know why, but I started to paint these guys.

They're Impact Imps and I've had them for quite a while now. I really can't use them for BloadBowl quote yet as I don't have any Ogres to go with them. I had originally bought them to use as Goblins but I didn't really read the description on the website very well. I was both shocked an amused when the envelope they were shipped in turned up. I think a photo can explain it better than I can.

Ok so upon finishing the Imps you think I'd go back to the Goblins, or maybe even what I should be painting: the Orcs.

No of course not... I headed out into the shed with my powertools and some MDF and ended up with this:

Which when painted and flocked looks something like this:

I'm getting things done... but I need to stay more focused. Which may be difficult as two boxes of WW2 minis arrived the other day.

Blood Bowl Orcs

A while ago I scored a great deal on a complete Blood Bowl Orc team, that is one of every positional player you could have on any possible roster.

Anyway I started painting these guys around July 07 but since I already had a painted plastic team AND I switched to Halflings mid season they kind of fell to the wayside. 2008 was the season I played a Wood Elves team (The Wyld Stallions) who finished in 1st place and also continued on with my Halfling team (The Moortown Flinggers) who never actually lost a game. Granted we drew a game and we won one by forfeit... but we did win one match on on their own.

Anyway 2009 is the return of my Orc team The Bad Moon Boombers. They've finished 11th and 3rd in their last two seasons so this year they're trying for 1st.

Having three weeks off over the school holidays has given me the time to get these bad boys painted up.

Here's a shot of the team with the minis in various stages of development:
And a couple shots of the near complete Black Orcs:

One of the complete Blitzers:

One of the Line-Orcs:

I really should be painting these guys now rather than Blogging about them, hopefully more pics soon.


A New Blog

I've started blogs a few times before in an attempt to document and motivate. Usually the results are the same: a short burst of activity followed by a long period of nothing. And usually this leaves me with a project almost finished. I can think of at least 4 Blood Bowl teams in this state right now.

I've been playing Blood Bowl pretty much exclusivley for the last few years but more recently I've started playing a few other games: Warmaster, Nuts!, All Things Zombie and I've got miniatures for DBA, Mordheim, Warhammer Fantasy, AT-43 and Blitzkreig Commander. Needless to say I have a few more projects on the go at the moment and if I'm to have any chance of getting them finished then I need to get organised.

So... I probably should get started then.