Sunday, April 5, 2020

Battletech: Pesky Bugs

Mercenary mechs escorting a recovery vehicle (Rifleman salvage not shown).

Still stuck inside, my son and I continued our Battletech campaign with a follow up from our last mission. Having head-shot two mechs which were otherwise in decent condition, he wanted to attempt to salvage them.

We decided he would be able to recover the Phoenix Hawk without incident, but the Lyran forces were able to send reinforcements while his transport of the salvaged Rifleman was en route back to the mercenary's dropship.

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Battletech: Back in the Saddle


My son and I haven't played Battletech since pausing our summer campaign a few years ago. Now that we're stuck inside for the foreseeable future and my regular gaming groups are on COVID hiatus, I found I needed to roll some dice and kill some little metal men.

I dusted off the notes from our Battletech campaign, advanced the campaign timeline a few years and the boy and I jumped back into the metal mayhem of the early 31st century.

Monday, March 2, 2020

Scrum Con 2020


Another Scrum Con has wrapped, and I think we're getting the hang of this.

This was our game club's second convention. After our inaugural run we incorporated the feedback from attendees to 2019 and expanded to a larger venue for this year's con. It was again a mix of wargames and rpgs, highlighting classics from the last forty years as well as lesser played gems and home-brewed rules sets. We featured wargames centered on "genre" subjects (fantasy, sci-fi, horror, alternate history) but were happy to host some traditional historic wargames too. On the RPG side we were lucky to host games run by some of the designers who laid the foundations of the hobby: Zeb Cook, Bill Slaviscek and Ed Stark, along with a number of inventive and entertaining RPG game masters. 










Star Schlock

When I wasn't schlepping convention supplies, guarding the flea market or running other con errands I was GMing a session of my sci-fi wargame, Star Schlock.



In this scenario two warring factions, the democracy loving Federation and the rapacious Totalitarian Dominion, have landed on a desert moon on the frontier of space. In their skirmishes they've awakened a third faction, ancient aliens who hate all other life in the universe. Rising from hibernation the aliens have resurrected dead men to do their bidding. The tide of undead horrors have swept across the moon and now the last remaining Federation and Dominion forces must battle for control of the only remaining shuttle craft to escape the encircling space zombie menace.



My six players divided up to take control of the three factions. Star Schlock can take a minute to get the hang of, but by round two my players were starting to grok the rules. 



The Federation and Dominion took an early lead, but the undead horde is an unrelenting tide and slowly pushed the living off the key navigation beacon objectives they needed to win. 



As we worked through the final round the Federation and Dominion had a chance to pull out a victory, but a uh... overlooked rule by the GM (oops) and a whiffed final roll left the moon in control of the aliens and their slavering space ghouls.

Despite a hiccup here and there my players were great sports, a blast to run the game for and gave me plenty of positive feedback after the game.

Poised to Grow

That seemed to be a theme of the convention as a whole. While there were a few bumps in the road for the convention, the feedback we've received from the post con survey seems to be extremely positive. Overall I think the con was a success and I'm looking forward to improving and hosting it again next year with the rest of the Scrum Club. 

If you attended the convention, please check your email for the link to the survey (we take your feedback seriously!)  If you are in the DC metro area (or can get here) next February please make plans to attend Scrum Con 2021. We're growing, learning as we go, but are committed to making a gem of a local con.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Sci-Fi Hangar by Impudent Mortal


I don't like MDF building kits. There are so many minor details that irk me —  the perfect 90 degree accuracy, the little pegs that show through on corner joins, the uniformity of design and identical thickness of every wall and element — each one contributes to breaking the immersion for me. I've held off on assembling any large MDF kits, but after seeing the Impudent Mortal display at Historicon last summer I couldn't resist any longer. I need to fill a table with sci-fi buildings, the Impudent Mortal kits were some of the best I'd seen and scratch-building my own wasn't going to cut it. I figured with a little extra care I could reduce the issues that bug me about MDF kits and still save time by using a pre-manufactured model. Check out my build after the jump.

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

An update on what I've been Up To (spoiler: it's Star Schlock)

Hello friend! It's been a while since I've posted anything to my blog, but I've been so busy on game stuff I haven't had a chance to log an update. I've been prepping to run my sci-fi skirmish game Star Schlock in February at Scrum Con, our club's convention near Washington DC. If you live in the area you should totally come. It's fun!

In preparation I painted up a few more figures for the game.

A mystery gunslinger I picked up at a con and a little Bombshell Miniatures bot I gave a gun.

A great alien leader from Colony 87. It took me a few years to figure out what color he needed to be.

The frog alien's stat card in Star Schlock. Any resemblance to a person living or dead is purely coincidental.

I also ran the game on New Year's eve to try some new units and rules out.

Evil Totalitarian Dominion dronetroopers face off for control of the spaceport against a royal house of the Federated Alliance.

Murdertron goes down in a hail of laser fire as the Royal Astro Guards storm the building.

Kroglogg snipers engaged in a firefight with dastardly dronetroopers.


I've been taking a lot of time translating my notes into an actual draft rulebook for the game. Star Schlock can get a bit complex, so a lot of my time has been simplifying, clarifying and reducing the headache of trying to learn the game from a written document. I collect rule sets to dissect, owning far more than I'll ever have a chance to play. While I like understanding how a game works, I find reading them can often feel like drudgery. I have some ideas for layout and design to make comprehending a new set a bit easier that I've started experimenting with. Will see if it pans out or if this is a design path that leads to a dead end.


I also received my final test prints of the 3D sculpts for my Star Schlock Astro Guards. I discovered a few tiny updates to make and then they'll be sent to the caster.


I'm hoping to run a Kickstarter for these in the spring, but even if I'm only to get a handful of master figures completed for myself I'll be happy. Sculpting and casting my own figures has been a bucket list item for me since I painted my first orc over 30 years ago. If you are interested in either the Star Schlock game or the figures, I've set up a website where you can sign up for updates. Until next time!




Monday, November 18, 2019

"And now you're back, from outer space..." My Star Schlock / Fall In 2019 Convention Report


After months of preparation, (and years of procrastination) I finally ran my game Star Schlock at a convention. Having only played convention games, I wasn't quite sure what to expect when running one, but with advice from my pals Joe Procopio and Walt O'Hara and a spot donated by the HAWKS in their room I felt as prepared as I was going to be before taking the plunge into convention game mastering. 

I've run this scenario many times over the last few months, tweaking both the rules as well as the scenario itself to provide a balanced game that would give players plenty to do. It's essentially a zombie attack, one side playing the ravening hordes of undead and their alien masters, with the good guys trying to hold off the creeps long enough to evacuate innocent civilians and heroes on the last shuttle. In play testing, the horde of shambling dead won consistently, and while the good guys eked out a narrow victory in the final play test before the convention I was by no means sure those balanced results would play out with players who were completely unfamiliar with the rules.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Star Schlock: Final Preparations

Royal Astro Guards of the Federation race to secure a comms objective to send an evacuation signal to the populace before the undead moon zombies arrive.

I ran a final play test for the Star Schlock scenario I'm bringing to Fall In this weekend. The Federation good guys eked out a win, successfully blasting off and escaping the horde of Space Ghouls who overran the mining camp. I've found most players stumble through the first round or so, but have a good grasp with the basics by mid game. I think there are enough standard conventions that experienced wargamers can pick them up quickly enough, but there are some wrinkles that give players additional decision points each turn beyond "should I move and shoot or shoot and move?" I'm looking forward to running some fresh faces through the game to see if this is something people outside my local game groups would be interested in.

I also finalized the promotional prizes I'll be handing out to the winners of each scenario.



Even without knowing anything about the game, if this sort of thing pushes your buttons, Star Schlock might be up your alley. My Friday game is locked up but I believe there's a spot or two available in my Saturday game. Come roll some dice with me, or just stop by to check it out! See you there!