Sunday, May 27, 2012

Black Tree Designs sale

Whoah, check this out.  I was talking to my wife about running a big Hail Caesar game next month to celebrate my birthday and realized I need to finish off a few units to have enough for multiple players. I have a pair of half finished Ancient German warbands that I group together when I've played before, and I thought picking a few more barbarians to fill them out would be pretty quick. Checking BTD website I discovered they were having a monster sale. Half price and free shipping with orders of 30 bucks or more. Nice!  I've got a shopping cart full of hairy warriors on their way to me now. Just thought I'd pass it on.

Lord of the Rings Living Card Game

With my wife's work schedule clearing up now that school's wrapping up for Summer, I thought we'd have time for a week-night two player game, but I didn't want to deal with the time investment of a true wargame. I picked up Fantasy Flight's Lord Of The Rings: The Card Gameafter reading a bunch of good reviews and watching the demo on "Watch it Played". We've played a few games, and I've really enjoyed it.

Gimli in a life-or-death struggle.
It's fairly complex initially, and seeing the explanation on Watch it Played was a huge help. Briefly, each player starts with a deck of cards representing three heroes from the Lord of the Rings saga, as well as allies, events and equipment to help them in their adventures. Players can customize their decks using the cards in the initial box set, as well as expansions that area released monthly.

Before play, the players pick a scenario and construct an adversary deck with unique creatures, events, locations and goals. During play, the adversary deck will generate an ever growing threat of creatures, nefarious locations and the treachery of the Enemy. The players need to balance a number of potential actions between reducing the growing threat of the Enemy, questing to complete scenario objectives, and attacking and defending against monsters who have grown bold enough to actually engage the heroes in combat.

There never seems to be enough resources to handle everything, and you can never do quite as much as you'd like each round. This game is tough, but in a good way. Players have challenging decisions to make, and the end game can be a real nail biter.  There's also enough "narrative backbone" to envision what could be going on during play, instead of all the cards and effects being completely abstract.

We jumped on the LotR LCG train fairly late, and I have no idea how many expansions we'll pick up, but for now we're really enjoying it.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Podcasts for Gamers: 12 Byzantine Rulers

There's a handful of game focused podcasts I've found that are fairly good, but most of the great audio I've piped down to my iPhone on my commute have been history focused, rather than game focused. I've found it easy to get a general overview of periods that I don't know very well, and generally find one or more battles or personalities that pique my interest enough to explore further.

"12 Byzantine Rulers" is a history of the Byzantine Empire in podcast format available on iTunes. The podcasts are essentially an audio book of author Lars Brownworth's book about Byzantine history. That's not a period I was interested in, but I was looking for something meaty to listen to during my commute and saw it recommended. It's great stuff, and really fleshes out the dim fringes of my understanding of the Fall of Rome, through the Dark Ages, into the Crusades and setting up the Renaissance. And Belisarius was the MAN! Really looking forward to delving more deeply into this period when I get a chance, and all because of this small podcast series.

Here's a link to the book this podcast is based on:

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Warlord Games Roman and Celtic General

Finished up the basing on my Warlord Games mounted Roman general and Celtic chieftain.  The Celt general will be serving as a leader for my ancient Germans rather than the Gauls, but they're all a bunch of hairy barbarians with snazzy fashion sense so I think he'll be interchangeable between a number of armies.

Warlord Games "Hold the Line!" mounted general

The Warlord Games chieftain didn't appear to have a lot of tell tale Celtic influences, so I thought he'd make a good leader for my ancient Germans. The standard bearer is a Black Tree Designs ancient German I believe. I didn't have any barbarian standards on hand, but I had a bunch of aquila left over from my Wargames Factory Romans. I asked about barbarians using captured Roman standards in battle on TMP and received a bunch of suggestions of additions the hairy horribles would have made to their trophy. I really liked the idea of the Germans adding antlers, pelts, severed heads and other trophies to the standard.  I added a Space Wolf ornament and the antlers clipped from an old plastic Bretonnian knight to the standard to give it a unique barbarian character.

Warlord Games Celtic chieftain and BTD standard bearer

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Historicon 2012 Plans

The PEL for Historicon 2012 was recently released, and rather than doing my usual swing through to glance at tables and pick up a few things from the vendors, I'm planning on going all out this year.  We only live an hour and half from this year's location, but now that my son's a little older we're planning on at least one overnight stay so I can get in as much gaming within 24 hours as possible.  I thought that would be plenty, but looking over the list of upcoming events I may have to make the drive down for a few more games as well!

I wanted to start planning out which games to sign up for via pre-registration, but there's so many that sounded fun I had to be brutal in cutting down my list. First to go were all of the Battletech, Napoleonic and ACW games. I'd love to play, but having played tons of Battletech and not ready to jump into Naps or ACW I decided to concentrate on the periods and rules I'm most excited about: Ancients, medieval, WWII, sci fi and fantasy, Hail Caesar, Black Powder, and SAGA. Even with those restrictions there were multiple games EACH hour I'd like to play, but with each being a multi hour affair I cut down my wishlist to something that's a little more reasonable.


I probably won't be attending Thursday, but it's very tempting. Here's my ideal day:

10 AM
Stirling Bridge (3 hours) - I'd be forced to skip some Lord of the Rings games and a Black Powder game to play the climactic battle from Braveheart.  "The overconfident English have sent a force to deal with the
unruly Scots under their new leader, William Wallace. Crossing a bridge in the face of the enemy can be a risky business"  This is one of the few medieval games being run this year, it'd be a shame to miss it.

2 PM
Cog Wars (intro) (3 hours) - There are a number of quick, 2 hour Lord of the Rings games all day on Thursday, but I'd have to go for the this big 10 player medieval naval action. "Men in armor fighting on ships that sink. Go figure! Be the captain of your own cog. Defend the high seas in a most seaworthy vessel."

6 PM
Battle of Telamon (Romans) (4 hours) - After a quick bite for dinner, it's a meaty ancients game. "Gallic invaders retreat northwards in Etruria, only to be caught between two Roman consular armies. The Gauls make a stand deployed both to their front and rear". This is being run with the Might of Arms rules, which I've looked at but I'm not familiar with. That wraps up the first full day of gaming.


Here we go. Likely my first actual day at the convention, and featuring THE game I want to play at the show.

8 AM
Learn to Play High Noon (1 hour) - I doubt I'll be able to rouse my wife and child to be out the door at 6 in the morning, but I'd love to get a quick demo of new rules, even if they're in a period I don't play.

9 AM
Get Me to the Temple On Time (Bronze Age Chariots. Intro) (4 hours) - "A Hittite prince is on his way to Egypt to marry King Tut’s widow, but danger lurks on all sides. Will he arrive safely, or be ambushed in the desert? Fast-paced Bronze Age action with plenty of chariots!" Awesome! Desert chariot wars? Home rules taught at the table? This sounds great, but that 9 AM start time is going to be a beast to make. I'll likely be playing...

10 AM
Aerodrome WW1 Dogfight (Fast, and fun) (1 hour) - "WW 1 Air Dog Fighting, The Way it Used to Be: Live in FAME or go down in Flames. Earn your Wings! Simple. Intense, and Bloody. FAST, FUN, and Challenging"  Nice! I like the idea of these quick convention games to try out rules and periods I wouldn't normally get a chance to.  It sounds like this is a 6 hour event, but players play in one hour segments. Plenty of time to finish up before my main event...

1 PM
A Dacian a Day Keeps the Romans Away (Hail Caesar) (3 hours) Hail Caesar. Romans. Architects of War terrain. This is the one game I am most looking forward to. The 1 PM slot had FOUR games I don't want to miss though (Fighting for India (Alexander the Great in India), Egypt 1799 (Napoleonic skirmish using Sharpe Practice), South Africa 1876 (Black Powder).

Once the Hail Caesar game wraps up there are number of games that sounded neat (Aliens II - Colony Rescue, Wobbly Eight a WWI naval battle, Magnesia 190 BC), but I'd forgo them to have a chance at one of the three games at 7 PM that sound awesome.

7 PM
Another ridiculous time slot with SEVEN games I'd love to play. I'd have to cut the Crossfire WWII game and the George Washington vs Zombies game from my wishlist, but the final three are really hard to choose between.

Friday Night in Glasgow, 55 AD (Romans, rules taught) (4 hours)
- "Roman Legionnaires are marching back to civilized Briton after pillaging restive Celtic villages in the wild northlands. But the
Celts are anything but subdued by Rome’s show of might—and the surrounding forests and marshes stir with activity. Can the legion keep its Eagle?"

Samurai Command and Colors (3 hours)  Hosted by Richard Borg, the guy who wrote it! "Is it a historical miniatures game with a board or a historical board game with miniatures? The newest game in the Commands & Colors series features elements of both miniature gaming and board gaming. A brief instructional introduction to the unique features of Samurai Battles will be followed by demo games using both the board game and a full – size miniature battle set up."

Dave Arneson Tribute - Super Dungeon Explore (4 hours)
- "Tribute to Dave Arneson, co-founder of D&D, in a game I am sure he would have loved. Join the assault on the Crystal Caverns of Chaos for glory and riches! We will use a modified version of the TSR Battlesystem skirmish rules to keep the pace of the game moving quickly. Players will form teams and attempt to breach the depths and its denizens while trying to prevent other teams from doing the same. The team that successfully retrieves the two ruby eyes from the demon idol will be victorious."

Tons of great games, and that's without the Pig Wars Dark Ages skirmish, "Tarkin Must Die" Star Wars game, Pirates, Romans, aerial dog-fighting and WWII games!


Looks to have a lot of great gaming, but there aren't quite as many games I NEED to play.

8 AM
Learn to Play High Noon (1 hour) and Dystopian Wars Demo Games (1 hour) - I've heard some good rumblings about Dystopian Wars, and I see a lot of games being run this year that use it as the basis for historical scenarios rather than the steampunk naval game it's sold as. 

9 AM
Borderlands 1050 (SAGA) (3 hours) - "Try out the SAGA Dark Ages skirmish rules. Bring your own troops or try out any of the Factions. Several villages sit for the taking and points go for grabbing loot."  I own SAGA, I've heard nothing but rave reviews for it, and I've been eyeing some Norman knights with dreams of putting together a tiny little force just to test the rules out.  I'd love to hop into a demo. But that would mean skipping...

11 AM
American War of Independence - Battle of Petersburg 1781 (Black Powder) (4 hours) - Aargh! A Revolutionary War battle run under the Black Powder rules? That's the other period and rules set I've been jonesing to try!

3 PM
Borderlands 1050 (SAGA) (3 hours) - Nice! Looks like I could join that Black Powder game and squeeze in a game of SAGA directly after! But that leaves little time to eat because at 6 PM we've got...

6 PM
Marcus Flavius Aquila Finding the Eagle (Romans) (4 hours) - "It is 140 A.D. and the centurion Marcus Flavius Aquila is defending a small camp in Britain as the Picts have descended into Northern Britain and are aided by the local Britons. Marcus or his subordinate must defend the camp against a renewed assault. Did we mention forming a tested and a chariot attack? Or about the relief forces? There appears to be several of these Marcus Flavius games being run throughout the show, but I had to bump them in my wishlist until this last possible slot. Hope to get a game in!

Another great day of gaming and still I'd need to skip a number of awesome games of Crossfire, Black Powder and a huge 7 hour, 22 player naval battle! Even if I don't make into a slot in any of these wishlist games, there were tons that sounded great. Hopefully my Summer schedule works out to make a full trip to the convention this year a possibility.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Warlord Games Generals WIP 2

I was hoping to finish these up this weekend, but ran out of time.  The mounted Roman general is done, save for basing.  The Germanic chief (from WG Celtic Chieftains) and his standard bearer (BTD I think) are awaiting their final coat of Army Painter to dry, before dull coating and basing.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Animal Chase

We play a lot of games in my house. My son is three, and I was getting pretty tired of Chutes and Ladders and Cooties.  He loves animals so I put together a quick card game about collecting a herd of animals and leading them back to a zoo to score points. Players need to tempt herbivores out of hiding with berries, and keep predators from eating their herbivores by sating them with salmon. We're still tweaking it, but it's a pretty nice, light game we all enjoy.

Wargames though, are going to have to wait.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Warlord Games Mounted Roman General WIP 1

A quick snap of Warlord Games Roman general (it's the mounted "Hold The Line!" fella with the running dog). The finish on his armor looks way rough in this pic. I don't know if it was the ambient light set up, or if his armor really does look that crummy up close.

There aren't too many photos of this particular model painted up. I cobbled together a paint scheme from a few sources, in particular the grimy bronzed armor I saw used by another painter. (Man, the finish on his armor is so much smoother!)

Armor: I started with a grimy mix of Vallejo green brown mixed with metallic gold, washed with Devlan Mud, highlighted with gold, and with details and trim picked out in silver.

Red Tunic: A mix of the Citadel red foundation paint and Vallejo Carmine Red, washed with Devlan Mud, and highlighted with Carmine Red.

Leather: Vallejo Leather Brown and Game Color Beasty Brown.

Will probably tackle his horse tonight, but I'm dreading it. I've painted hundreds of humans, but only six horses. I stink at horses.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

My Weeping Wallet

I got caught up with several projects in April and stopped checking developments in the world of miniatures for a bit. Catching up and I find there's a ton of great stuff on the way.
  • Hail Caesar Army Lists II.  I have yet to tackle any medieval figures, but I've been eyeing the medieval Scots from Claymore Castings and toying with the idea of picking up some SAGA warbands.  I'll probably pick up the new army lists just to get a broad overview on the full medieval period, even if I won't be gaming it for quite some time.
  • More plastic Romans! Holy crow, some pics from Salute show Warlord prepping some plastic Caesarean Romans and Victrix doing the same for older Republican Romans, both right up my alley. I'm sure I'll be dropping a load of cash for several boxes of each.
  • Cheap cheap plastics from Wargames Factory. WGF have put their Persian infantry up for sale at something like 25 cents a figure, which is insane! I am having a lot of trouble not picking up a few dozen, even though I have no intention of painting a Persian army.
All in all, lots of great news. I'm going to have to redouble my efforts to lighten my lead pile so I'm ready for these new arrivals once they hit the market.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Quantity has a quality of its own

Finally! My second box of Wargames Factory Romans is painted and based. I have a few tips and thoughts I hope to post soon, but I wanted to get a log of my final completion up. I think I'll be tackling something a little quicker next. I have a Roman and German general primed and ready to go. It's been two years since I've painted a single figure, so I'm looking forward to the change of pace from the mass production of figures to "table standard".

Monday, May 7, 2012

Norman Bel Geddes, Wargamer

This story popped up on the internets today about Norman Bel Geddes, an obsessive modeler (among other things) who created miniature games and dioramas, including the 1939 World's Fair "Futurama" exhibit. You can read the entire article (which was sounded so preposterous I was sure it was fake), but what really caught my eye was the gigantic wargames he ran, with dozens of participants over a 24 x 4 foot table playing out a fictional WWI game. 

"The board was twenty-four feet long and four feet wide, its surface a varnished relief map of the coastline of two imaginary countries. It represented twenty thousand square kilometers, approximately the size of the Western Front. There were a dozen layers of land above sea level, each measuring an eighth of an inch vertically; the water had three measured depths. One journalist reported that nine thousand cities and towns, along with every mountain, valley, tunnel, bridge, and river, were delineated with fictitious names. Pins of various colors, sizes, and shapes (twelve thousand to twenty-five thousand of them, depending on whom one talked to) stood in for forty-plus types of military units. Each pin had a different kind of move, and each occupied the approximate amount of space on the map that its equivalent force would occupy in the field or at sea. There were at least four thousand on the board at all times."

It sounds like the participants would play a few turns each night, with campaigns lasting years! I thought that might be the end of the story, with the records, rules and material from those games lost to the ages, but it sounds like some of the records and rules made into the collection of the University of Texas at Austin. I'm not too knowledgable of the "old school" wargames scene, but I've certainly heard of the contributions of H.G. Wells, the Kriegspiel days, and Donald Featherstone, but this permutation of wargaming was completely foreign to me.  I'm hoping more details from these games comes to light... I'd love to read over the rules from what sounds like an impossibly complex and detailed game.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Back with some spring cleaning

Haven't posted in a while, but after a busy few weeks, I've started back into painting as well as clearing out some of my games and miniatures that have been on the back burner for far too long. I had designs on playing some 15mm sci fi games about 10 years ago, and had picked up bits and pieces over time, but had forgotten about the whole project until seeing trade post looking for sci-fi minis in that scale on TMP.

I took a few pics of my lot to post after the jump instead of cluttering up someone else's inbox with them.