Thursday, January 31, 2013

Golden Oldies

These are some robots from the first edition days of Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader.  I bought them to use with my Imperial Army, but they never actually appeared on the table.  For some reason I thought they would look good painted in metallic gold.
I remember the rules for robots back in the early days of 40K were kind of convoluted--you had to assign programs to each figure, and they could function only according to their software.  Anyone else have these models (and actually use them), or even remember what they're called?

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Adding to my HotT army

 I'm trying to figure out how I want to base the remaining miniatures for my Sons of Muspel army for Hordes of the Things.  In front you see a whole bunch of Hordes elements.  Most of the figs are various Heroclix minis, except for the two on the far right--those are from the Handful of Heroes toy line--and the front left base, which has a couple of Horrorclix minis; I may use this as a Lurker (think smoldering embers flaring up into flames) element instead.

At the very back on the right you have some more Heroclix based as Behemoths.  The middle left is a pair of Dreamblade minis that will serve as blades.  Finally, back left has two aerials.  They can both serve as Fliers, or the angel figure would work as an Aerial Hero.

I like the way these guys look en masse.  Now I just need to get my wife to paint the bases, and the Sons of Muspel will march!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Life imitating art or art imitating life?

OK, first, go read this post about how a massive, 2,800+ spaceship battle erupted in the EVE sci fi massive multiplayer online game.  Or, if you don't feel like clicking, note that the game requires hundreds of hours of time to obtain the in-game resources to build starships.  The bigger the ship, the more time it takes to acquire.  Translate that into dollars, and the vessels get expensive--thousands of bucks.  So players have a huge personal investment in their ships.  
Image from
Recently, one guild planned an attack against a certain territory.  But a misplaced mouse click meant that a single capital ship jumped in without backup.  The defenders pounced, and the interloper called for help.  Instead of retreating, the attackers doubled down, slowly sending reinforcements, and the defenders called more and more allies into the fight.  In the end, there were dozens of ships, worth thousands of dollars in real-world money, that were destroyed.

Look, my little summary can't do this story justice.  You need to read it for yourself to revel in the coolness of this incident--an epic space battle that started because of a big mistake.

But I got a kick out of something else I noticed in another article on the epic EVE space battle.  Notice this little snippet about the battle:
So, in the initial stages, the CFC had local superiority and was able to down one PL Nyx while three others warped out in low armor and even one at eighty seven percent structure.
I read the last part of that sentence (emphasis mine) and immediately translated it into Star Navy terms:  Three ships took a lot of damage to their hulls and fled.  In other words, they received enough damage to lower their Rep, causing them to break off the fight.  The last ship, though, had 87% structure.  He must have just got hit by one gun, and then passed 0d6 on the Received Damage test.  Or did he not pass the Friend Destroyed or Higher Class Friend Breaks Off test.

Anyway, I thought it was interesting that the reactions of online players with a great deal invested in their in-game starships mirrored the rules of 5150: Star Navy.  Or is that the other way around?

Monday, January 28, 2013

Reviews of Star Navy

Thrilling as it is to see a starship combat game I helped write hit the market, it's even more exciting to learn that people are reading it, discussing it, and even playing it.  Here are some mentions of 5150: Star Navy in the wargaming blogosphere and on message boards:
If you come across any more mentions of Star Navy, let me know in the comments.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Sunday Starships: It's hard out here for a pirate

Continuing my 5150: Star Navy campaign.  After the first piracy attempt didn't go so well, the captain of the pirate ravager Dlobok steers a course for the next possible target, which turns out to be a false alarm--nothing but empty space (passed 0d6 on the PEF Resolution table).  There's a single scanner contact remaining until another PEF appears on the map.
Heading to the closest blip, the Dlobok resolves the contact--it's a lone Zhuh-Zhuh tanker, the Roxxon Tlepes, easy pickings!  OK, not exactly easy: the ships start out some 48" apart, and the pirate ship's guns can't get through the merchant's shields, so the ravager will have to get within missile range to force the tanker to surrender.
The merchant ship immediately turns and runs, broadcasting a distress signal as the pirate vessel closes the gap.  For two turns, the tanker screams for help with no response.  Not until the third turn does System Control vector in a patrol, which arrives on the board on turn 4--just as the pirate gets into missile range of the tanker.
It's a Zhuh-Zhuh Navy gunboat leading a pair of missileboats!  The heavily armed lead ship opens fire on the pirate craft.  Incredibly, all three of the gunboat's volleys miss the ravager.  Although it has a shot at the tanker, the Dlobok decides to call it a day and breaks off the fight before the Zhuh-Zhuh ships can get close enough to launch their own missiles.  The Pirate easily withstands the stress of accelerating away from the battle (passes its After the Battle test).
Moving on to the last PEF on the campaign map, the pirate ship's navigator manages to jump it in close enough to surprise the target (successes on the Long Range Scan table started me within 24" of the merchants).  This time the contact is a pair of smaller merchant vessels--two Class 3 Runners--just the type of ship to carry some low-volume, high-value contraband!  In fact, it's the Violeta and the Goldie, converted racing yachts owned by the Dirok twins.
I figure that since there's a good chance the Runners are carrying contraband, they're not going to want the authorities sniffing around their ships, so they won't call for help.  Instead, they figure that since they outnumber the Dlobok, they can fight their way past it.
The pirate quickly closes to within missile range, firing on the Violeta since the captain knows the purple ship is piloted by the more capable twin (I rolled a Rep 4 and a Rep 3 for these ships, and decided to try to damage the higher Rep vessel first).  The Dlobok's missile slams into the hull of the runner, stunning its crew (the ship got a -1 to Rep on the Received Damage table).
The merchants then loose their own missiles as they speed toward their assailant.  One projectile the bridge of the pirate ship, but the crew is not fazed (got Continue the Fight on the Bridge Hit table), while the other missile does nothing more than take out a bulkhead (damage to hull with Continue the Fight result).  The Dlobok replies in kind, targeting the Violeta's thrusters with another missile (engine hit, -1 to Thrust result).
The two merchants then split in opposite directions as they speed past, hoping to target the pirate from both sides.  But the ravager is able to get the purple ship in its missile arc, hitting its engines again.  With its thrust reduced even more, the Violeta heaves to and allows the pirate ship to board (result on the Engine Hit test: -1 to Thrust and Surrender).  Instead of turning back to fight, I figure the other Dirok twin will high-tail it out of there.
The crew of the Dlobok is well-disciplined, taking the valuables but not harming the Violeta's crew.  "We're here to take the honey, not kill the hive," the captain reminds the pirates.  "Let the worker bees go, and they'll have more for us some day."  (results of the Terms of Surrender table indicate the merchant crew is left alive and in control of their ship).  Rolling on the Cargo table, I hit the jackpot!  One cargo bay filled with rarities, and two bays full of contraband!  Although it's not a big enough score to attract another ship and crew into service, it's a start.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

From the Minis I Need to Finish Painting Dept.

These are some orcs from Reaper's Warlords line.  I picked them up a few years back on clearance for 10 cents on the dollar.  They're meant to become part of a new bad-guy mercenary army for Hordes of the Things,  Auroch's Archers. 

Unfortunately, I've only got seven of these orc minis painted to this level of completion.  Another dozen Reaper goblins are primed dark gray, and that's it.  I'm gonna fit them two to a base for stands of Shooters and Spears, and a single large orc archer (Auroch himself) as a Hero element.  The goblins will be either Warband or Blades, and I have a half-orc fighter that will make another Hero stand. 

Once I get around to finishing all of them, of course.  What's in your Department of Incomplete Minis?

Friday, January 25, 2013

5150: Star Navy available now!

Hooray!  5150: Star Navy, the spaceship combat game I helped write is finally for sale.  Go to the Two Hour Wargames site to look for it (and to check out all the other great games THW sells), or go directly to the Star Navy product page to buy it, in either the print or the electronic version.
My thanks again to Ed the THW Guy, who asked me to participate in this project last year.  I had a great time brainstorming, playtesting, writing and editing Star Navy with Ed.  OK, the editing part wasn't exactly pleasant, but I'm very pleased with the end product.

If you end up playing a starship battle using these rules, let me know how it goes.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Star Navy on sale Friday

Good news, starship gamers!  5150: Star Navy, the space combat rules from Two Hour Wargames, goes on sale tomorrow (Jan. 25).  Ed the THW Guy asked me to collaborate on this game last spring.  Now, after months of writing, playtesting and revising, it's ready for release.

From Ed's announcement on the THW blog:
5150: Star Navy can be played solo, same side with everyone against the game, and of course head-to-head against your friends. Playable with any ship models, in any scale, this easy to learn yet tough to master game, is perfect for the casual or battle hardened space gamer. 
We went through a lot of playtesting and rewriting to come up with some starship combat rules that make us happy, and I'm very proud that Ed let me work with him on this product.  Now it's your game.  Get your copy tomorrow!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

T minus 10 and counting ...

In case you were wondering why my blogging has fallen off this month, I've been sick.  I've also been working with Ed the THW Guy on 5150: Star Navy, a starship combat ruleset for Two Hour Wargames.  We've been giving the rules a thorough edit before Ed sends it to the printer.  All the heavy lifting has been done, so expect to see this book go on sale (PDF as well as hardcopy) pretty soon.  Meanwhile, enjoy the title page, with the illustration by Paul Kime.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Star Navy solo play example

I decided to play a quick solo game of 5150: Star Navy, using the campaign rules for Pirates.  I decided to make it challenging, so I took a Class 3 ship (the smallest available).  Rolling on the table in the Pirate fleet list resulted in a Marauder with a Rep of 4.  This ship class has two Shield units, but only one Guns system.  To make up for the lack of long-range weaponry, it sports a Missile Launcher system as well.

Christening my new vessel the Dlobok, I begin my life of piracy in a system in the Third Ring.  My ship starts near the planet, and I randomly generate 3 PEFs (possible enemy forces) fairly nearby.  Rolling for activation, I move first, to investigate the closest PEF.  Rolling on the Contact table, I learn there's something there.  After a couple more rolls, I discover my prey is a lone Gaea Prime Merchant--a Class 4 Tanker to be specific.  Probably won't have much valuable cargo, but it's my first mission, so I'm ready to go!
After determining ship placement, I find the two craft start the battle facing each other from six feet across the table.  Since I don't feel like getting out the star mat and minis for a one-on-one battle, I decide to handwave the many turns it would take my pirate ship to catch the fleeing merchant with half the thrust of my own vessel.  I don't bother with resolving guns at this point, because the Marauder doesn't have enough firepower to punch through the Tanker's shields.  Once it gets into missile range, however, the pirate can do some damage. 

Finally, the pursuer closes in on the slower merchant ship and launches a volley from its missile system.  Surprisingly, the clumsy Tanker manages to lumber out of the way, dodging the missile (a targeted ship must roll less than its Thrust rating on two dice to avoid a missile; I rolled snake eyes for this civilian ship, easily under its Thrust of 2).  Right about now, I realize I forgot to check to see if the Merchant was able to call for help.  Some more rolling, and the Help Is On The Way table tells me a Class 4 Cruiser is coming to investigate!

My captain immediately decides discretion is the better part of valor, and breaks off the fight.  Although there's a chance that combat maneuvers might cause damage a ship that was untouched during the battle, that doesn't happen to the Dlobok, and its crew lives to fight another day.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

From the vault

In the spirit of Oldhammer, I thought I'd trot out some venerable figures of mine that I bought some twenty-mumble years ago--back when Games Workshop was fresh on the shores of the USA and everything Citadel was new and wonderful.
These are a couple of Blood Bowl ogres, but since at the time I didn't play Blood Bowl but was building a large Imperial Army for 40K, I decided to convert these for use as a squad of Ogryn, which were part of the Army list at the time (this was in the days before Codexes (Codeci?).
I never fielded these on the game table; hell, I never even finished painting them--but I am happy with how the boltguns look in their hands, with the Ogryn holding those weapons like pistols.  I'm not sure: should I ebay these guys, or figure out how to use them in my current gaming?  What would you do?

Monday, January 14, 2013

The two towers

I won these towers as prizes at separate Hordes of the Things tournaments.  They're Mage Knight Castle Keeps, and one of them by itself would make a nice stronghold for any "good guy" fantasy army for HotT or the pair of them would work as terrain for Song of Blades and Heroes (they might also work for Mage Knight, but I've never played that game). 

I should bust these toys out of the packaging and actually use them in a game some time.  Anyone else keep stuff sealed up when you should be using it for your games?

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Sunday Starships: Star Navy playtest

As I mentioned last week, I got in a game of 5150: Star Navy with my brother.  I'm going over the manuscript right now, but I need a break.  So as promised, here are some details of that Star Navy playtest.
My brother decided to take a four-ship squadron of the simian Zhuh-Zhuh from the 5150 universe.  Rolling on the tables we had at the time, he ended up with three heavy cruisers and a destroyer.  He named them the Kong, Clyde, Heston, and Curious George.
I elected to take a money-grubbing Free Company as his opponents.  Using the campaign rules, he rolled for the number of ships opposing, which was two more than his squadron.  I rolled a battleship (the Big Bank), two heavy cruisers (Branch Bank and Depository), a light cruiser (ATM), and two frigates (Teller and Cashier) as the enemy squadron.
The Free Company activated first, and my heavy cruisers swiftly taking out his destroyer as he tried to get between my forces to the other side of the board.  The Zhuh-Zhuh retaliated by scragging one of my frigates.  My battleship took out one of his heavy cruisers with additional fire damaging his other two before he elected to depart the battlefield. 
Rolling on the after the battle table, one of his ships was repaired and ready to go, but the other was out of commission for three months.  The whole thing probably took about 45 minutes to an hour, including preparing the ship rosters.  I hope this gives you an idea of the style of play for Star Navy.  It's a game that plays quick and has a pretty cool campaign system. 

Now, back to editing!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

My wife's newest miniature

As she slowly grows more interested in the miniatures side of our hobby, my wife looks at the various fantasy figures when she accompanies met to the game store, to see if anything catches her fancy.  On a recent trip, she found a mini that intrigued her enough to want to start a new D&D character.  I of course agreed to buy it for her!
The miniature, which I've based and primed, is the Indian Shaman (Female) from Reaper's Savage Worlds line.  She'll make a cool-looking druid as well, and that's the type of adventurer my wife plans to make.  Best of all, she even decided to paint this figure herself, instead of having me do it.  For a nerd like me, it's great that my spouse wants to take part in my pastime.  Can't wait to see how it turns out.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Sunday Starships: Star Navy fighter ops

I got in a game of 5150: Star Navy this weekend with my brother. 

He took a squadron of four Zhuh-Zhuh starships against a mercenary fleet of a half-dozen Free Company vessels. 

We resolved the battle in about a half-hour, and he easily grasped the rules. 

After that, I gave him a quick demo of the fighter rules, which I particularly like. 

While attack craft tend to slow down starship combat games, I think the way it works in Star Navy keeps the game from bogging down while still giving the commanders tactical options. 

I'm feeling bad right now, so I'll try to post some more pics and a detailed batrep later this week.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Rats! Triple rats!

I picked up these Reaper prepainted mins on a whim when I was at a game store.  Three giant rats to the pack, for about five bucks.  Because every D&D gamer needs some rodents of unusual size in his miniatures stash.
Here's a scale comparison pic, with a skelton crewmember from a Skull Chucker Catapult by Citadel.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Almost there ...

I guess I won't be talking out of school if I tell you that 5150: Star Navy is coming along nicely.  In case you're not familiar with it, Star Navy is one of the upcoming spaceship combat games from Two Hour Wargames (along with 5150: Fringe Space and 5150: Fighter Command), and I've had a hand in writing the rules.  As you might guess from the title, this game is set in the same universe as 5150: Star Army and 5150: New BeginningsStar Navy will feature ships and fleets from some of the same factions found in SA and NB.

The publisher, Ed the Two Hour Wargames Guy, recently said on the THW mailing list that we can expect the game to go on sale sometime this month.  Reading over the Star Navy manuscript again recently, I'm very happy with how the game plays.  And it has a campaign system in the style of Ed's other rules, so it's not just for set-em-up-and-knock-em-down-type battles.  I hope to get in a game or two this weekend.  I'll let you know how it goes.  Until then, stay on target!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Pondering the Deck of Many Things

Have you noticed how that Dungeons & Dragons magic item the Deck of Many Things is based on the Tarot, but the cards don't match exactly?  The Greater Arcana of the Tarot contains 22 unique cards; the rest of that set is the Lesser Arcana of numbered and face-card wands, cups, swords, and pentacles that evolved into the conventional 52-playing card deck of clubs, hearts, spades, and diamonds.

The item described in the Dungeon Master's Guide contains either 13 or 22 cards, same as the Greater Arcana.  Some cards have the same designation--Moon, Sun, Star, Fool--but other cards are listed in the Deck, but not the Tarot, or vice versa.  So why did the names of the cards in the D&D item get changed? What's wrong with cards with D&D-sounding names like the Magician, the High Priestess, or the Chariot? 

If I ever put one of these in a game, I'll probably keep the same effects, but change some of the cards to match the Tarot, such as substituting the Tarot's Death card for the Skull of the Deck, the Hanged Man for the Fool, the Devil for Flames, and so on.

Game-wise, this is a powerful item that can really help a character out, but there are some pretty serious risks.  Have you ever used or encountered a Deck of Many Things in your D&D games?  If so, how did it work out?

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year!

Here's to 2013!  May it outperform 2012 in all conceivable metrics!

(Image of interacting galaxies Arp 273 from NASA/Hubble via Astronomy magazine's wall calendar.)