Saturday, August 30, 2014

Just paint

This guest post on Painting Matters: In Defense of Hobby Standards over at the Chicago Skirmish Wargames blog has generated a lot of discussion (as well as a fair amount of butthurt).  In it, the author argues that playing with painted miniatures is a hobby standard that gamers should embrace. Sure, not everyone has time to slap paint on their figures, but I agree that fielding an army that isn't  bare metal should be a part of the wargaming experience.

Just the other day, I was at my local game store and there was some kind of Warmachine/Hordes game day or tournament event.  I'm not really into that system, but it does have some cool-looking models.  However, at the store, it looked like half the players didn't have their forces painted.  Which was a shame, because there were also some nicely painted armies on the tables.

Now, I will never refuse to play an opponent who has unpainted minis--it's hard enough to find someone to game with as it is!  But still, most of the folks I play with have painted miniatures, and usually enough for both sides in a battle.  In fact, I can only recall once (at a Hordes of the Things tournament) where someone didn't have a painted army.  While I thought it was a shame that someone couldn't field a completed army, especially for a game like HotT that encourages creativity, I kept my opinion to myself.

So this post isn't to tell you that you're wrong for not playing with painted figures, but instead to encourage you to field a painted force.  For skirmish games it's simple: just get some cheap prepainted minis from the secondary market and you're good to go.  No need to retouch, but rebasing those Clix minis will make a world of difference.  And it works for other games as well.  That's how I built one of my HotT armies.

I'm not a great painter (tabletop is my standard), but with my spaceships I found a quick way to get them on the table: prime black, and then drybrush with various shades to bring out the model's details.

With larger units that you have to paint, it takes a little more time.  But a basecoat followed by other colors to pick out different parts of the figures will get you enough detail to withstand scrutiny at arm's length.  And remember, an ink wash followed by a quick drybrush is your friend.

Or, if you have more money than time, send those castings off and pay someone else to paint them.

However you end up doing it, if you work a little bit at a time to coat those unadorned bits of metal and plastic, you'll end up with a sense of accomplishment and a nice looking army.  So just paint!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Four-way Ogre game

On Tuesday night I ran a game of Ogre Designer's Edition for the Lone Star Historical Miniatures group at Dragon's Lair.  The playing area consisted of two full maps and two half-maps.  (I see now I had enough room on the tables to use all four maps in their entirety.  Maybe next time.)
Each player had an Ogre Mark III, four GEVs, two heavy tanks, one superheavy--and three cruise missile crawlers (a.k.a. nukes).  The nukes got used early and often, and made the game more interesting from the outset with their unlimited range and wide destructive radius.
The players quickly relearned the old NATO doctrine that it's a good idea NOT to concentrate your forces when your enemy has strategic nuclear weapons.  They also learned that GEVs are vulnerable to the blast shockwave from outside the range of their own weapons.
The overlays that came with Ogre DE provided some nice special effects to depict the aftermath of the nuclear blasts.  Craters soon dotted the map, and many a town and forest hex were reduced to rubble, slowing down the smaller units.  And one player detonated a nuke at the end of a bridge he would need to cross.  Since craters are impossible to everything, even Ogres, his units were trapped on the other side of the river.
This game wasn't just a four-way slugfest, however--the idea was to reach the destroyed Ogre (from the Nightfall counter set) in the middle of the map and park an armor unit for two turns or an Ogre for one turn in an adjacent hex to download the dead cybertank's computer core.  So in addition to lobbing nukes at each other, the four players were racing to complete the mission.
In the end, all sides were able to reach the destroyed Ogre and download the information.  So the game became a race to see who would make it off the board first.  This had everybody shooting at the other Ogres to try and slow them down.
By this point, I had taken over for a player who had to leave.  His red Ogre had reach the objective first, so its treads became a favorite target for the other three gamers.
The Ogre was soon worn down to a move of 2, and then 1, meaning the other Ogres would all beat me off the board.  I did get a small measure of revenge by destroying a bridge while a superheavy and a heavy were on it.
An enjoyable evening of gaming, especially for the two gamers who had never played Ogre before.  I hope to run a game again next month.  I even have an idea for a scenario using all four of the big maps.  It involves a Mark VI ...

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Song of Drums and Shakos

Tuesday night at Dragon's Lair, the local group was playing Song of Drums and Shakos Large Battles, a Napoleonics game using the Song of Blades and Heroes game engine.  The rules include activation rolls and contested combat rolls, but with SDS you add more dice to your roll instead of modifying a single die roll.  Also, every failed activation roll gives your opponent a chance to react with one of his units.
Careful readers will note that the miniatures are American Civil War troops, which we used to proxy the French and the British.  It didn't detract from my enjoyment of the game, but I kept hearing the Battle Hymn of the Republic whenever I looked at the table.
It was a fun game, with the rules slightly different than SoBaH, but still easy for a player of that game to pick up.  Since I was just using reference sheets, I can't tell you much more about the actual rules, but the game does play fast like all Ganesha Games offerings.
I'm not that familiar with the Napoleonic era, so I couldn't tell you how historically accurate the rules are, but Joe, who's more of a historical guy than I am, seemed satisfied with its verisimilitude.  And most important, we all enjoyed playing it.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Ogre Nightfall counters assembled.

I put together all the 3-D counters that come with the Ogre: Nightfall set.  It took forever to get here, but I have to say the game's designs look pretty cool all in black.
However, I think my favorite unit is the destroyed Ogre in the front center in the photo above.  I'm already envisioning a game scenario using that unit as an objective.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Test-flying the Rebel transport

I had a chance to play the X-Wing miniatures game last weekend, too.  I got out my Rebel transport, and we tried one of the scenarios from the rules for that ship.  The freighter was supposed to hold out for eight turns, while the Imperials' goal was to destroy it.  I took my Alphabet Soup squadron (A-wing, B-wing, X-wing, Y-wing) to escort the massive ship.
My opponents, Mike and Ted, took a pair of interceptors and a TIE advanced and a trio of TIE fighters, respectively.
What started out promising for me soon turned nasty.  The first turn, my A-wing fired proton torpedoes (with a target lock) at the TIE advanced, but failed to take it out.  My X-wing missed against one of the interceptors.
The next turn, the Empire was in range, and they quickly stripped the lumbering space whale of its shields.  By the third turn, the transport was a rapidly expanding cloud of debris.
Fun game, but I need to learn how to use the transport properly.  Hell, I still need to learn how to use all my other ships properly.  Maybe next time ...

Monday, August 11, 2014

Blitzkrieg Commander game

Joe hosted a World War II scenario last weekend, a clash between Soviets and Germans in Ukraine in January 1943, after the USSR's victory at Stalingrad.  The rules were a heavily modified version of Blitzkrieg Commander.
I played the Russians, while Grant and Scott took the Germans.  Their goal was to push the Soviet Army back from a town it had recaptured on the Don River.  As the Russian player, my goal was to hold them off.
I had some early victories with daring placement of some of my tanks--taking out his armor at a 2 for 1 exchange rate (quantity has a quality all its own).  The German armor did do some damage to some other armor I left vulnerable.
But my big break came with some lucky dice rolls that landed me a couple of battalions of T-34s on the fifth turn.  They helped me hold off (and eventually destroy the Germans' Tiger, and I kept the Nazis from getting close to the town for quite some time.
As the game progressed, the Germans were closing in on the town, but I was still holding them off, despite heavy casualties from off-board artillery.  We lost track of turns, so I conceded the game when I had to leave, but I think it was pretty close to a draw.  Fun game, and it's nice to be pushing lead once more.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Again, my wife is awesome

Got home from work Friday, and my wife surprised me with some X-Wing miniatures.  It's a thank-you gift for having to put up with a longer commute.  These are three of the Wave 4 ships, including the Rebel E-Wing and Z-95 Headhunter, along with a TIE Defender.  I look forward to gaming with these--if only I could have a real one to fly over all the freeway congestion!  Did I mention that my wife is awesome?

Friday, August 8, 2014

World War II action

I've been away from the gaming table for quite some time, but now that I'm moved I have more time for play.  Case in point, at Dragons Lair in San Antonio last Tuesday, the Lone Star Historical Miniatures folks had a game going. 
I stopped by for awhile to watch the game, which is 15mm scale.  They were using one of the member's home-brewed rules for World War II battles. It uses both eight-sided and six-sided dice, and moves pretty quickly.
I also got some good tips on making smoke markers (polyfill with a penny for the base + spray paint).  Now to get to working on my own gaming stuff.