Monday, April 30, 2012

AD&D Combat Computer Wheel

By popular demand, here's the AD&D Combat Computer that I found with all my old gaming stuff.  This item was cut out of a Dragon magazine (issue #74 I believe).
The idea was to line up the arrow with the target's AC (the inner ring of numbers) and then compare your character level (colored bars) to the outer ring of numbers to find your target number on a d20.  It even included all the weapon/armor class adjustments if you needed them.
As you can see, I fastened mine with a metal brad that's actually not too rusted after all these years.  I doubt I actually used this device in play.  Did anyone else have one of these?  If so, did you use it?

Starfleets by Superior: old flier

Digging around the old Trapper Keeper notebook that I stash a lot of old gaming material inside, I dug out this old Alnavco advertising flier from the inside front pocket (along with an AD&D combat computer wheel and a Thieves' Cant phrasebook taken from old issues of Dragon magazine, a map traced from an Arduin book, and a bunch of old Scratch'n'Sniff stickers).

I like the graphic design on the front of this circular: three emblematic fighter icons in staggered formation at the top, and just three words: Starfleets by Superior in a shadowed font at the bottom.  Very clean and elegant.  

When you open this publication up, it unfolds onto photographs of all five factions in the Starfleet Wars line, images that spurred me to get these ships and start this blog.  The text here really sells the setting background and notes "the designs of each fleet have been influenced by the physical characteristics of the beings who conceived and built them...designs based on military, scientific and fantasy considerations."  There's also an image of the SfW rulebook with information about the game.
Flip the page over and you see the additions to the line, including the super galactic dreadnought models and a space station.  This side also has blurbs for the MAATAC ground combat game and the company's short-lived periodical, Wargamers Forum.  There's also a section about the Stardate: 3000 line of ship models, suitable for various games, with a parenthetical note that these minis "can also be used with Superior StarFleets."
The postmark on the envelope the flier came in was dated July 9, 1980.  Finding this catalog was a blast from the past, taking me back to the days loooooong before the internet, when if you lived in a small West Texas town with no gaming store, you actually had to send off for a catalog like this and order products through the mail.
Interestingly, Alnavco is still in business, and they have (almost) the same mailing address--except now they're at PO Box 10 instead of 9.  Although they're out of the starship business, Alnavco still sells historical warship miniatures, so go check out their merchandise--no need to send off for a catalog!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Sunday Starships: Kill Radius

I think everyone who plays wargames also has the urge, deep down, to be a game designer.  I'm no different, and I started working on a set of rules for the kind of starship combat game I'd like to play: simple, fast, and a minimum of recordkeeping.

I came up with Kill Radius: Quick and Dirty Starship Combat to scratch that itch.  The game is short, but not as short as I intended.  I originally wanted to keep the rules to two letter-sized pages (or one front and back), but it grew to almost four pages.

You can use any starship miniatures in your collection, but you do need a hex mat.  Recordkeeping is fairly simple--you can fit a whole fleet on one sheet of paper.  Ship design and combat is abstract, but I thought that was a good tradeoff in return for ease of play.  Kill Radius still needs some work, but when I playtested it last year, we had 30 ships on the table, from destroyers to dreadnoughts, and we played five turns in about three hours. I've revised it since then to make it play a little faster.

It keeps the vector movement system that most people I game with have said they enjoy.  I like the way maneuvering works in Kill Radius--you have to think where you want to be not just one turn, but several turns ahead.  In last year's playtest, we started out on opposite ends of the table's long axis, closed within a couple of turns, then drifted past one another, exchanging fire all the while.  Of course, then we both had several ships drift out of range (and even off the board), so we ended the game.

I have posted a preliminary version the rules on the Kill Radius web page, so take a look and tell me what you think.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

I had a chance to play another game of Red Sand Black Moon--this time a four-player free-for-all.  I took a human soldier, my opponents were a beastman, a snakeman, and a Black Moon orc.  Ed had figured out a rating system for gladiators, and my human and the serpent man were rated 8, while the orc was a 9 and the beastman 11 (the higher the rating, the better the gladiator; but if you beat someone with a lower rating, you don't gain experience).
The serpent man took a blade to the belly at the start of the combat; then the beastman sliced up the orc (cutting him more than a dozen times).  The beastman and the human then engaged each other, with the human getting a couple of thrusts with her trident into the beastman's chest to win the game.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Dragon on the ceiling

This fearsome beast appeared above us in our kitchen near the hallway one evening.  However, there was no fire-breathing, princess-taking or other carnage involved with this little drake.  In fact, he's quite the tame dragon.  He and his friends sometimes come inside for a visit, and we gently help them find their way outdoors again.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Silent Fury launched

Image from the Silent Fury website.
Last month I mentioned a new spaceship game in development.  Silent Fury is a vector-movement game in which crew plays a vital role, both for damage control and in boarding actions.    The creators have released a prototype version of the game:
One of the scenarios is a solo game, another is meant for cooperative play.  I hope to try these out sometime soon.  Go check it out for yourself, and let me know what you think.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Steve Jackson doesn't need my help

Image from Steve Jackson Games.
The OGRE Designer's Edition Kickstarter campaign had more than $205,000 in pledges as of late Tuesday evening. 

Not only is that amount 10 times what Steve Jackson Games needed to fund this project, but it's also enough for SJG to put some nice extras into the game--both the Kickstarter version and the regular retail version--things like bigger dice, extra maps and counters, and so on, as well as some more scenarios on the company's website.  It looks like the fundraising for this game will set some kind of record.

So it looks like there's plenty of support in the gaming community right now for this venerable sci-fi tank wargame.

With that in mind, I've made my decision on where I will obtain my copy of the designer's edition.  I'd asked this question earlier, and comments were overwhelmingly in favor of supporting Steve Jackson via Kickstarter (not to mention the extras you get by doing so).  However, I'm gonna buy it from Dragon's Lair.  After all, the local gaming store as tables for anyone to use--and it doesn't have to be a game you bought at that store. 

I've spent many Saturdays at the San Antonio Lair playing Hordes of the Things or Galactic Knights--two games you won't find on the store shelves.  And they let Lone Star Historical Miniatures meet there and play games every Tuesday night.  They also will order items for you, and let you know when the store gets the merchandise.

I want to support Steve Jackson and OGRE--and I am, by purchasing the sixth edition of the game once it comes out.  But I also want to support my friendly local game store--so I'm buying it retail from them, even though the Kickstarter version comes out earlier and with more stuff.  I'm content with this decision, because I want to be able to play OGRE (or any other wargame) at the game store as well as at someone's house.  But do you plan on buying the new version of OGRE?  If so, are you gonna go Kickstarter, FLGS, or both?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Hippie ship

This is the Sathar frigate with the paint job that I was unsure about.  Yeah, it looks like a Grateful Dead t-shirt, but I kinda like it.
After seeking advice here and on The Miniatures Page, I decided to go ahead and keep this color scheme.
I did try to blend the colors a little better, and I used a brown ink wash to bring out details.
After some time, I think this paint job has grown on me.  With this color scheme, the ship can serve as an alien scout craft or a trillionaire's luxury yacht.
Still one more Sathar (a light cruiser) to go, then I'll have all my Sathar ships completed.  But don't worry; after that, I've still got plenty of metal to paint.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Some closeups of my Sathar frigate, painted in the tiger stripes of the Capellan Raiders from the old Terran Trade Authority books.
The inspiration for this game from another spaceship gamer (see here)--but looking once more at his photo, I think I may have to repaint mine!
It took about three coats of yellow paint for this job to work, because for I had spray primed this ship gray, then for some reason brushed it a darker gray.
Once I painted it, I gave the ship a gray wash, then drybrushed in the same color to provide a little definition for the edges.
Not the world's best paint job, but it looks good at arm's length on the table.  I'll have to see how it looks next to the starbomber I painted the same way.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Sunday Starships: Painted Sathar models

I finished some of my Sathar ships from the Star Frontiers miniatures game Knight Hawks, a light cruiser and two frigates. 
I was having trouble figuring out how to paint these.  In the end, I decided to keep the tye-dye look on the first Sathar frigate.  Looking to earlier paint jobs I'd done, I was inspired to decorate the other frigate in the livery of the Capellan Raiders.
For the light cruiser, with its bulbous, industrial look, I concluded that ships like this would be a mainstay of the Vogon Construction Fleet.
I painted this entire vessel with a bright orange.  That made it look too ... orange, but a brownish ink wash took some of the orangeness away, as well as bringing out details on the ship.
I then drybrushed with a yellow ochre color, to give the ship a little more depth and convey a worn appearance.  I'm happy with how this ship came out.  It will make a nice target for pirates when it's not constructing hyperspace bypasses.
I still have one more Sathar light cruiser to finish painting.  I'm out of time, so I'll post more photos of the two completed frigates later on.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Two dollar Warhammer

I haven't played Warhammer Fantasy Battle in probably 20 years (the version I played was with a big orange hardback rulebook, probably the third edition of the game), so when I spotted this rulebook in the clearance section at Half-Price Books for $2, I decided to grab it. 

I'm not sure I'll actually play this wargame, but I like reading different rulesets, as the different perspective helps give me ideas for streamlining or modifying other games, as well as inspiring me in writing my own rules.

The copyright on this volume is dated 1996, so it looks like this is the fifth edition of the WFB rules.  Judging from some of the examples of rules that mention Bretonnians and Lizardmen, this book was probably meant to go with the boxed set like the one I purchased for a song back in January.

I know there's a lot of hate these days for Warhammer's publisher, Games Workshop, but reading through the rulebook so far, the game certainly strikes me as playable, even though the rules could use a little simplifying.  Not only that, but the rulebook states that the rules can't cover every situation, and sometimes the players will have to come up with a solution to continue play.  There's even a note at the end regarding house rules.  As the author points out, the spirit of the game is more important than winning--something applicable to every wargame, not just Warhammer.

All you wargamers out there, did you every play Warhammer (fantasy or 40K)?  If so, what edition, and do you still play this game?

Friday, April 13, 2012

Dungeon crawl: THW style

Got together this week with Ed the Two Hour Wargames Guy and helped him playtest a rough version of a dungeon crawl game that he's working on. 
It's still in the early stages and uses a deck of regular playing cards to determine the dungeon layout and your group encounters.
We used the free Swordplay rules, with that game's In Sight test, for combat.  We had three battles between a trio of adventures and five or six goblins; the first group included a leader.
 The battles were quick and deadly.  I enjoyed putting the rules through their paces and offering suggestions regarding the game.  We sure did seem to encounter a lot of goblins, though :)
All the figures are from Reaper Miniatures, and Ed tells me they're painted by Combatpainter, who lives on the border.  The "dungeon" is actually 4"x4" floor tiles.
After that, we had time to play out a three-round smoker bout using the Friday Night Fights rules.  This game is similar to the gladiator rules in that you need to know when to conserve your bonus dice and when to spend them--but unlike Red Sand Blue Sky, you don't get a chance to get more bonus dice during play. 
I ended up KOing my opponent at the very end of the last round after he ran out of bonus dice.
The "ring" is a printout from the game.  I forgot to ask where the minis came from.  My thanks to Ed for once again hosting the gamenight.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Kickstarting OGRE 6e

Photo from Steve Jackson Games.
By now you've probably heard the news: Steve Jackson Games is using Kickstarter to get its long-delayed sixth edition of OGRE into production.  In the first day or so, the project has already tripled its funding goal of $20,000, meaning that in addition to ensuring publication of the game, the extra money will provide for added features (inside and outside the game box, depending on the stretch goals that are reached) for OGRE fans.

By the way, the weight of this box is now up to 14 pounds, and it's so big it dwarfs anything else on your game shelf.  Even though this game is expensive, you do get a lot for your money.

As a fan and player with lots of miniatures for this game, I'm happy to see it finally reach the market.  Evidently, so are a lot of other folks, who are pledging enough for one, two or even three copies of this game, which will retail for $100 (for details on what was going in the box prior to Kickstarter, go here).

Which brings me to my dilemma: Do I pledge the cash to the Kickstarter project and get all the extras promised to people who pledge to fund the project?  Or do I act local, and support my game store by purchasing the sixth edition of OGRE through them?

I can't afford to buy two copies (and I'm not sure I'd want to), so I have to decide.  So taking a page from Kickstarter, I'm gonna crowdsource my decision: Assuming you were willing to drop a Benjamin on this game, would you do it through Kickstarter or instead pick it up at the store that lets you game there?  What should I do?  Less than a month to make up my mind ...

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Megadungeon: The Edmund Fish-Barrel

Good news, everyone!  I've decided to expand on my starship as megadungeon idea and start working on the project myself.  I will base the adventuring site on one of the various Starfleet Wars ship models.  But which one?  First, I looked at my measurements of the models.  Remember, these designs are approximately 1/9600 scale, meaning each millimeter on the model represents 9.6 meters, or more than 30 yards.  I don't want to try anything too ambitious, so I'm staying away from the monstrous super galactic dreadnoughts (which  are more than a mile long!). 
Instead, I find a casting of the Aquarian Piranha-class destroyer, which at 40mm comes out to about 384 meters in length.  The scale width of 20mm means the ship is about 192 meters across.  Big, but not overwhelming.  So background: After a great battle between the Terrans and the Aquarians, this starship crashed into a remote part of the game world, where it now beckons to treasure-seeking adventurers.  Call it the wreck of the Edmund Fish-Barrel.  Add in the multiple decks, and you've got quite a volume of starship to explore, as the cross-section shows.
To help me with the map, I took an extreme closeup of the model and printed it to graph paper.  That way, I know where everything goes and can even draw parts of the map over the image of the starship.  Another nice coincidence, the scale on this map works out to about 10 yards per square.
I have the outline and the cross-section of this ship/dungeon; now I just need to fill in the details on the map and stock it with monsters and treasure.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

More progress on Sathar ships

My thanks to everyone who provided input on my paint scheme for my Sathar destroyer.  I took some of the suggestions and touched the ship up a little.  I also washed it with an approximately 1:1 ink-water mix.  I think it looks better now with that bit of detailing.  It still has some work to go, but I think I will keep the paint job on this one. 
I also made some progress on the larger Sathar ship, which I will end up using as some kind of industrial vessel in my games.
I have another one of these ships, which I think I'll paint in the orange-yellow color of the Vogon Construction Fleet.  Back to the painting table!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Looting Quasqueton (more nonstandard treasure items)

I finally dug up my copy of In Search of the Unknown, so I'm able to supplement my list of nonstandard treasure items for Holmes basic D&D.  Here are all the nonstandard treasure items from module B1, by loose category (all values are in gold pieces):

cloak, pewter-studded (aged)                 15
Decorative Items
goblet, engraved crystal                     15
mirror, silver                               90
mug, pewter                                   5
painting, large                             300
pitcher, pewter                              15
plaque, walnut w/engraved silver piece       25
statue, onyx                                200
statue, white marble (life-size woman)     5000
statuette, bronze w/silver & copper         115
tapestry, 3' x 4' (damaged)                  40
tapestry, 6' x 8'                           100
Functional  Items
bed baseboard, carved rosewood              100
bed headboard, carved rosewood w/gold leaf  500
bed sideboard, carved rosewood              100
book, Zelligar's diary                       50
comb, silver-plated                           5
rod, gold, small                             30
bracelet, silver                              8
medallion, golden                            20
medallion, silver on chain                   50
ring, gold                                   10
Have fun storming the castle! :)

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Sunday Starships: Entomalian carrier & fighters

My latest accomplishment: painting an Entomalian Hive-class galactic attack carrier and its accompanying Mosquito starfighters that Da Baron brought to me in their original box.
Although now sold separately, back in the day, each GAC in the Starfleet Wars line came packaged with 10 fighters.
These models have a lot of great detailing on the undercarriage; unfortunately you usually don't get to see these features during play.
The view from a starfighter coming in for a landing:
And a look back from an attack craft after launch:
This brings my Entomalian forces up to three carriers and 45 fighters.  This has inspired me to create some sort of scenario using my bug fleet.
I still need to paint the two cruisers and starbomber.  Once they're done, Operation Bug Tussle can commence!