Saturday, August 5, 2017

Cat City in Carcassonne

Tonight my wife and I played a quick game of Carcassonne.

I started out quickly, completing a bunch of small cities. Meanwhile, my wife was working on a large, meandering metropolis. As a result, I built up a nice 30 point lead. Elizabeth was at the point of conceding, feeling that she could never complete the city.

Well, she managed to finish it. My 30 point lead turned into a 6 point deficit.

She called it Cat City because she said it looked like a cat.
Elizabeth's "Cat City" (circled)
We then were in a neck-to-neck race for the rest of the game. However, I had one more farmer than her and racked up 12 points from him to pull out the victory.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

July Update

Six by Six
Thanks to the long Independence Day weekend, I got a good start to the month, so I was able to get in 5 games! I have now completed 27 games (average of 3.75 a month).

Here is a list of the games played during the month:
I suspect that my pace is going to slacken because I am so close and won't feel pressure to play. I doubt that I will finish DC Rivals (my wife lost interest in the game) but expect to finish the others.

The Generic Army Project
For my initial Slipstream ground battles, I used 2mm and 3mm ancient figures. I noticed that I could not tell what they were. At normal game ranges their weapons are nigh on invisible;  I can only see their formation and primary colors (shields are even hard to see). This led to a revelation. the actual figure is not discernible therefore a figure can stand in for any period. In other words, I only really need 2 generic armies to cover all of history and beyond.

To this end, I started working on 2 generic armies (red vs. white although I am tempted to add a third blue army). Each army will consist of 4 units each of heavy infantry, light infantry, and cavalry supplemented with some elite infantry, artillery, and perhaps some war machines (tanks or whatever).

In the past, I've tried to distinguish unit types based on strip type or supplemental colors (e.g. shield color). This doesn't always work at the micro-scales, For the generic project I plan to differentiate based on formation, perhaps supplemented by flag colors.

I started this project but stalled because of . . .

A New LARP Kingdom
I am a devoted LARPer (live action roleplayer) but often find myself dissatisfied with the state of LARPing. It's not so much the local group as it is dealing with national organizations that dictate rules to the local groups. I would prefer local autonomy so that my realm (local group) can develop its own customs, especially with regards to knighthoods. Well, I recently discovered a cure for my frustrations. The High Fantasy Society, a national organization based in Texas, actually allows each local group to rule itself. I am in the process of creating a chapter of the HFS in South Florida; this involves a lot of organization in its own right (writing bylaws, creating a rank structure, developing heraldry, scheduling practices, recruiting, etc.)

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Spandau in Space

One of the nice things about science fiction gaming is that you can easily encapsulate ideas from other periods. For example, I've always enjoyed the "dogfights in space" approach of Star Wars, Battlestar Galactica, et. al where space fighters duke it out in a futuristic version of World War II air combat. Although it is admittedly unrealistic, it is great fun!

Anyway, I ginned up some crude rocket ships for my Slipstream project. I had a little time this morning so I decided to have a go at a dogfight. What rules did I use? Spandau and Lewis!

Three war rockets (red) of the evil queen Anathraxa are looking for renegade Theophilians (background for my campaign is on Tales of the Templars). They discover two Theophilian rockets.

Game Note: The Queen's rockets use the stats for the Fokker EIII while the Theophilians use DH-2s. The lead Theophilian is a veteran pilot while all others are experienced.

Battle is joined. Red Two takes a long range shot and hits, inflicting minor damage.

The Theophilians catch a Royal rocket in a crossfire. Critical hit! It explodes.

Blue One gets another rocket in his sights. He misses (throughout the game, Blue One rolled horribly for shooting).

Here is an initiative tracker that I whipped up. Crude but effective.

Blue One has another shot, and blows it again.

Blue Two gets into the action, inflicting heavy damage on one of the enemy rockets.

FINALLY, Blue One hits, finishing off the damaged enemy rocket.

The remaining Queen's rocket tries to escape. The Theophilians pursue.

Blue Two takes it out.

Virtue has triumphed over the forces of evil.

Game Evaluation
Despite re-skinning the pieces from World War I planes to rocket ships, the game worked. I also enjoy air combat games because they are so easy to set up.

Six by Six - Game 3-5 complete!

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

More Ticket to Ride

Last night my wife and I wanted to play something patriotic to celebrate Independence Day, but we don't really have anything appropriate. So we played Ticket to Ride with the US map.

First we had to survive a Cat-zilla attack.

Here is the final board. My wife (the brown trains) completed 9 routes for 83 bonus points. She also got an extra 15 points for completing the most routes. Needless to say, she handily defeated me.

6 by 6 Challenge - 6.4 complete!

Monday, July 3, 2017

Massacre at the Foaming Flood

With the long weekend, I am able to fit in another game! I decided to do a one-off battle in Anarendor (my fantasy campaign world).

The Royal Army of Anarendor has received word that a large horde of orcs has disgorged from the mountains. A defensive force consisting of 2 companies of Royal Infantry, a company of Rangers, and a band of local levies stands ready at the river called the Foaming Flood. Both crossings are guarded. With more troops in reserve, the men of Anarendor are confident.

On the right, the accurate archery of the Rangers cuts down one band of orcs.

Orcs try to cross the river, with support from goblin archers on the far bank.

The Royal Infantry cuts down the orcs, but more appear. (My rules have a horde provision - any horde unit has a chance to respawn and re-enter the battle).

 The Royal Infantry wipes out another band trying to cross but disaster strikes. The goblin archers destroy the levy. In the south (lower right), two orc warbands and a troop of cavalry surprise and overrun the reserves,

The newly arrived invaders race toward the river.

The remaining Royal Infantry fend off attacks. Those pesky goblin archers now wipe out the Rangers!

After a long, hard-fought battle, the Royal Infantry destroys the enemy cavalry. Alas, on the other flank, the infantry succumbs to a flank attack.

The orcs set the village aflame, then attack the remaining infantry.

The combined attacks are too much. The Royal Infantry falls!

Game Notes

  • The scenario was taken from One Hour Wargames. It is scenario 19 - Blow from the Rear. The attackers (orcs) must remove all resistance within 6" (I used 1 space) of the river while the defenders must hold on.
  • This is game 6 of the Anarendor portion of the 6 by 6 challenge. Achievement unlocked!

Saturday, July 1, 2017

June Update

It was looking to be another lull month - I had only completed one game (a Spandau and Lewis scenario) and was not motivated to play anything. However, I had a burst last week when I started experimenting with FU rules in the Slipstream universe. I completed 2 games in a day. However, I lost a game because I dropped my Zirconia campaign. Thus, I only netted 2 games, below the pace I need to complete the challenge.

I did not complete any of the board games on the list. I am behind schedule for DC Rivals (2 games in 6 months). I suspect that I won't finish it. I am OK with Ticket to Ride (3 games).

I have a long weekend coming up so I hope to crank out a couple of games.

Kaptain Kobold's Six by Six page is up-to-date for my challenge.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Slipstream Six by Six

Over this past weekend I began the Slipstream campaign I've been discussing over the past month. I have completed scenarios 1 and 2. Here are links to the battle reports (which are on my Tales of the Templars blog):

The Scenarios
I'm not using any formal scenarios (i.e. these are not One Hour Wargame Scenarios). Instead, I came up with the context - Queen Anathraxa wants the Sunstone from the Theophilians. So how would she get it? Sneak attack, of course! Bam, I had my scenario. I then just plopped some figures and terrain down and went at it. The second scenario just built off the first and I already have another in mind for the third. In a way, it's sort of like a Mythic session; each scene just flows naturally from the prior one.

The Board
I played the scenarios using my boxed portable wargame set-up. 

The board is 8 by 8 inches, divided into 1 inch squares. Because I don't have any figures specifically representing the combatants, I improvised using my 3mm Magister Miliitum ancients that I painted up for my fantasy Anarendor campaign. Orcs stood in for primals, the Iron Legion served as Handmaidens, and Anarendor infantry became Theophilians. It worked for me!

The Rules
As I mentioned, I plan to use a modified version of FU (Freeform Universal) RPG rules. I really like its action results system. Essentially you ask a yes-no question and then roll a D6 to find the answer. Here are the possible results:
  • 6 = Yes, and
  • 5 = Yes
  • 4 = Yes, but
  • 3 = No, but
  • 2 = No
  • 1 = No, and
This system is very flexible (not surprisingly since it was designed for freeform roleplaying). A character can try anything and the system can handle it.

The system handles better or worse odds by adding dice for each advantage or disadvantage. If you have an advantage, for example, you would roll 2 dice and use the higher. A disadvantage would involve 2 dice, taking the lower roll.

The "and" and "but" results also add interesting twists. For example, a "Yes, but" result means that you succeed, but something unexpected (and undesirable) happens. Perhaps your blast takes out the charging primal but the pistol's energy charge ran out.

I did not have any formal rules on using the results matrix but in general I would roll when combat occurred. a "Yes but" meant that the enemy was defeated but they retreated in good order. A "Yes and" meant that the enemy was defeated and wiped out. On a simple "Yes" I would reroll to determine if they enemy was eliminated.

Advantages / disadvantages depended on terrain (for example, the Templars are defending a building in the second scenario so they got a bonus dice when defending). Also, in FU, characters can have descriptors, which give bonus dice in applicable situations. For example, if a character has a descriptor of Strong then he would get a bonus for lifting heavy objects. This concept can be applied to a wargame, with units getting descriptors. I did not give formal descriptors, but the visitors were weak in combat while the Templars and Handmaidens (due to their training as warriors) had advantages.

Note that I rolled against the matrix in the following situations:
  • To activate a unit
  • To make an attack
  • To save against an attack
Overall, the rules worked, albeit a bit vaguely. I did not apply rules consistently throughout. For example, early on I eliminated a unit when its attacker rolled a "Yes." Later, I began to roll saves if an attack succeeded. Nevertheless, the games were quick (~ half an hour each), involved plenty of decisions, had plenty of suspense, created good stories, and ultimately were fun.

I plan to codify the rules a bit (e.g. define what "and" or "but" means in certain situations) so expect more experiments.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

A Six by Six Announcement

Hi, my name's Kevin, and I have GADD (Gamer's Attention Deficit Disorder).

Over the years that I've been writing this blog, I have found myself flitting from one period to the next and one rules set to the next. For example, I originally set up this blog to record campaigns in my fictional 18th century continent of Francesia. I quickly branched out to medieval, fantasy, sci-fi, air combat (my previous craze), etc. I call this tendency GADD, and I am having a bout of it now.

My current craze is for pulp sci-fi in the Slipstream universe.

I've been toying with some ideas and have been keen on playing some games in this setting. I already have scenarios in mind and even wrote an introduction to one that I plan to play this weekend.

One thing I've learned since starting this blog is that I have to go with the flow, gaming-wise. As a result, I've decided to embrace my GADD and jump into Slipstream, which leads to the following 6 by 6 announcement:

  • Effective immediately, I am dropping my Zirconia campaign from my 6 by 6 list.
  • In its place will be Slipstream battles and skirmishes using modified FU (Freeform Universal) rules
I have already made the change on my 6 by 6 tracker. I am aware that I will be losing a game (the Battle of Vesta). Also, I will play out some rocketship battles, but I will use a modified version of Spandau and Lewis (and will record those battles under S&L rather than Slipstream)

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Thinking Instead of Playing

I mentioned last week that I am experiencing some GADD (gamer's attention deficit disorder) and want to play some Slipstream. I just don't have figures. While I shrugged off my GADD last week and played a Spandau and Lewis scenario, this week I ended up contemplating game design ( I also spent some time preparing for this month's LARP scenario, but that's another topic).

Anyway, here are some ideas that popped into my head, some of them admittedly crazy.

Very Quick Play
While I already tend to play short games (usually 30 - 45 minutes), sometimes I want something even quicker - say 15 minutes.

Very Quick Set-Up
My experiments with a boxed game (below) have provided a quick set-up.

There are also other steps I can take to expedite set-up (e.g. fewer units and simpler terrain)

Sometimes it's frustrating when I have an itch to play a game set in a genre but I don't have minis. Instead, I don't play. I'm thinking of putting together a set with generic tokens that can stand in when I don't have actual miniatures.

Universal Rules System
I want one box that can handle nearly any genre (a tall order, I know). It seems to me that a set of light, universal rules, perhaps along the line of a matrix game or narrative RPG, would work. To this end, I ended up downloading the Freeform Universal (FU, pronounced foo) RPG and have been reading through it.

I have some game ideas running through my head; we'll see where they take me.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Pip's Big Day

Over the past couple of weeks my enthusiasm for my pulp air project has been waning. As a result, I have not played a scenario in a few weeks. There are a few reasons:

  • Real life (esp. Buster) keeps taking time from gaming.
  • I want to run a zeppelin scenario but I'm not happy with my zeppelin marker.
  • GADD has struck again and now I am interested in sci fi in the Slipstream setting

Over the past week I have been pondering how to do Slipstream. I'd like to build some retro rockets for space battles (using Spandau and Lewis!). I'd also like to get some character minis for skirmish/RPG combats; I just cannot find small scale figures (10mm or less) with the aesthetic I want.

Temporarily stymied in my Slipstream project, I decided to run a Dirk Daring scenario.

Our hero, Dirk Daring, in his red-white-and-blue Peregrine fighter, is on patrol with his wingman Pip Paddington (in a Goshawk fighter). They small an EIF Condor bomber being escorted by two Raptor fighters (top right)

Tally ho! They race to intercept. One Raptor engages Pip but Dirk roars past to take on the Condor. Dirk hits the bomber but takes damage in return!

Dirk gets on the bomber's tail and blazes away. He takes more damage, though. Pip cannot quite turn on the bomber's tail but he gets a shot at a Raptor.

Dirk and Pip are hot on the bomber's tail. One Raptor pursues Dirk - more damage!

Our heroes continue to focus on the bomber. Pip blazes away and the bomber goes down in flames! The Raptor continues to pursue Dirk. Bullets rip through his plane, which begins to smoke and smolder.
[Please pardon the lousy photos from here on out]

"I'm about to go down!" Dirk radios Pip. "Let's get out of here."
But as he says this, the Raptor turns on Pip. Dirk valiantly races to his aid.

But Pip manages a nifty Immelman and sets his erstwhile pursuer ablaze.

The other Raptor had got lost in the clouds. leaving Dirk and Pip free to head back home.

With 2 kills, Pip had a big day!

6 by 6 Challenge -  3.4 complete

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Slipping into the Stream

With Slipstream, a pulp sci-fi setting for the Savage Worlds RPG.

Even though I don't play Savage Worlds, I have had my eye on this game for some time. I really love the setting - it is akin to 1930s sci-fi serials like Flash Gordon. The setting is unabashedly pulpy, with rocketships and rayguns; lionmen, birdmen, robotmen, and other exotic alien races; dashing heroes and an evil queen threatening the universe. What's not to love?

I recently discovered that Drive Thru RPG has the PDF version on sale for $9.99. I took advantage and finally have a copy. It does not disappoint; I like Slipstream so much that I consider it an exception to the "your world sucks" rule and would run it pretty much as is.

But here is my quandary - how am I going to play this? I don't use Savage Worlds so I would need to convert it to another system. I would like to use Four Against Darkness but that will require some effort. Slipstream also features 10 adventures as part of Pinnacle's plot-point setting. However, the ones I read appear to be very linear. I do not know how they would lend themselves to solo adventuring.

I noticed one interesting line in the book: "Rocketships use the rules for aircraft . . ." So now I have visions of rocketship dogfights using the Spandau and Lewis rules.

Anyway, stay tuned as I dabble with this setting!

Thursday, June 1, 2017

May 2017 Update

Six by Six Challenge
This has been a good month for the challenge. Spurred by my aviation kick, I have completed 3 sessions of Spandau and Lewis.
In addition, I completed a session of Ticket to Ride. Furthermore, I  discovered that I missed a game in my April update. I actually completed my second game of Ticket to Ride in early April.

This puts me at 20 games completed. I am past the halfway point and am averaging 4 games a month!

Family Game Night
Due to the situation with Buster our cat, we have not played many long board games. One weekend, we did bring out Mice & Mystics and we played Ticket to Ride last weekend, but for the most part it's been quick card games like Fluxx or Love Letter. I really should have made Fluxx a 6 by 6 game!

Other Games
I have been fairly active with the gaming, even if it is not 6 by 6.

One night our game-loving cat Thomasina was hoping for a game but Elizabeth was upstairs taking care of Buster. To satisfy Tom, I pulled out Four Against Darkness and played the next part of the Three Rings module,

One morning I was off work. I did not feel like setting up a miniature game, so I played a virtual skirmish with my sci-fi secret agents, Kate and Kip, which has spurred adventures.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Making America Great Again . . .

By bringing in a LOT of coal.

At least that's what happened with tonight's session of Ticket to Ride, 10th anniversary edition. Mu wife chose the black coal trains and then proceeded to blanket the USA.

She scored more points for routes, more bonus points, and she got the bonus for longest route. The picture above shows the glaring disparity in the score (approximately a 40 point difference).

And here is the resident miner, obviously covered in soot :), as he watches the trains expand the coal empire.
Actually Onyx our black cat

Six by Six Challenge 6-3 complete

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Dirk's Patrol

After his run-in with the squadron's CO, Dirk stomps off in a huff. His plane is in for repairs so he borrows one of the squadron's Goshawk fighters and sets off by himself.

For my next experiment with Spandau and Lewis I want to see what happens when an ace faces a superior plane with an inferior pilot. In the first encounter a Goshawk (aka a Nieuport 11) faces a Raptor (aka an Albatross). I messed up a bit though. Both planes have an agility of B so I bumped one to an A. Unfortunately, I bumped up the Goshawk by mistake, giving Dirk an extra advantage.

Encounter 1
Dirk, in a blue and yellow Goshawk, spots a crimson EIF (Empire of the Iron Fist) Raptor fighter.

Note that I have some new toys. The Goshawk is actually an American P-26 while the Raptor is portrayed by a Russian I-16. Both came from the O8 range stocked by PicoArmor.

The enemies approach and trade long-range shots. Dirk scores a hit!

Game Note: In S&L forward firing guns have a 45 degree arc of fire.

They circle, looking for an opening.

Dirk takes advantage of a mistake by the inexperienced Raptor pilot. Dirk swoops in on the enemy's flank, his machine guns chattering away. Bullets rip into the Raptor's fuselage.

Now damaged, the Raptor tries to escape. Dirk gets on its tail, but his shots miss!

With its superior speed, the Raptor begins to pull away.

Game Note: In this turn, the Raptor won initiative. Dirk had to slow down to prevent zooming past and letting the Raptor get on his tail. The Raptor took advantage by throttling to full speed.

Seconds later, the Raptor ducks into a cloud bank (i.e. makes it off the board) and escapes.

Encounter 2
Dirk continues his patrol. He spots another lone Raptor, this one heading back home.

The Raptor also spots Dirk. They rush at one another, trading head-on shots. Each takes minor damage.

The inexperienced Raptor pilot has difficulty turning his craft.

Dirk takes advantage and is able to line up a shot. The Raptor takes more damage.

He heads for the clouds. Dirk pursues.

Hoping to shake off the pursuit, the Raptor makes a 90 degree turn in the cloud. Dirk is not fooled, and pounces on him when he flies out of the cloud, Dirk's bullets rip into the Raptor.

Panicking now, the Raptor makes a beeline for home. Dirk stays on his tail and shoots him down.

Dirk continues his patrol but finds no more enemies. As the light fades he turns back home, pleased with his successes.

Final Thoughts
  • In addition to new planes, I also tried some Litko clear acrylic bases. I am very pleased with them. It is nice not having to paint bases. I may have to try them with some of my land forces. For my planes, I used the 3mm thick bases (I wanted to lift the planes off the board a little bit) but I would likely try the thinner 1.5mm ones for my 2-3mm ground forces.
  • These encounters (especially the last) really highlight the importance of pilot experience. The Raptor was faster (speed 6 vs 5) and more maneuverable (agility A vs. B) and had greater firepower (2 machines guns vs. 1). But Dirk's ace status trumped all that. Dirk usually won initiative, making it easier for him to get in a good position,
  • 6 x 6 Challenge: For the challenge, I am counting the 2 encounters as 1 game. I was going to run a third encounter but ran out of time. Still, I think this was sufficient to count as a game.
  • Next up: Dirk will tackle a zeppelin! I whipped up a stylized marker, I intend to scratch build a proper zeppelin but haven't had the time to get the materials. In the interim, I'll be using this marker make from a craft stick. I haven't figured out all the rules yet, but I may borrow some ideas from Junior General.