Sunday, December 30, 2012

Blog plans for 2013

This blog will complete two years on the next January 22nd. It has been a good outlet for my gaming experiences and a way to connect with fellow hobbyists. As the end of the year approaches, I felt the need to review what I'm doing here.

First, here is a chart of my posts per month during the lifetime of the blog. The year of 2011 was quite regular with the exception of August and December, with an average and a median of 9 posts per month. On the other hand, there was a drop in posts during the second half of 2012. Looking back, this coincides with my renewed interest in digital games (for instance, I pre-purchased Guild Wars 2 in eary June.) I can't say I had less time for hobbies overall but I didn't put as much energy in tabletop games, as it is evident.

Here is another graph showing the whole history of posts over time, with a trend line that emphasizes the decrease in post frequency. If I ignore the last six months, I had an average of about 8 posts per month, which isn't bad, although I should strive for a little more regularity.

In terms of content, besides little personal rants like these, my posts are mostly about papercraft, (solo) battle reports and reviews, with the papercraft posts being the most popular. This makes me happy because one of my goals when I started this blog was to add more examples and ideas about gaming with paper models and miniatures.

I should note that JF's contact (by means of the "liebstar award") was also important for me to re-evaluate this blog and my involvement with the hobby. I think that the six-month break was good but I don't feel I can (nor I should) rely only on digital games for my gaming hobby.


In 2013, I intend to keep posting 4-8 times a month, meaning at least one new post per week. Given my history of posts, this seems like a viable goal. I have many games to try, models to build and a few campaign ideas so the content of the blog will remain focused in those subjects.

Over these two years of solo tabletop gaming I've learned that recording and reporting one's experiences is a significant part of the fun, from which the player can think about, create new scenarios and sometimes even reach conclusions that go beyond the scope of gaming. Although this is rewarding in itself, sharing these things through a gaming blog and discussing them with others make the experience much better. So I would like to thank all the occasional and regular readers and all other gaming bloggers.

Happy 2013 for all of us!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Getting started with Rally Round the King

Besides printing some paper models, I also made a bunch of tokens to start playing Rally Round the King (RRtK.) Nothing fancy like the ones made by Sean or JF but they're functional for me to get started.

Specifically, I made armies for the Barylistan, Stygustan and Zheman, which are modeled after Persian, Egyptian and Assyrian ancients. I used the basic troops and random recruiting rolls -- by the way, I really liked the recruiting tables as they give variation but maintain consistency in each army.

Using the solo system given in the rules and some intuition about formations, my first playtest game started like the following picture. I played the yellow-tinted Barylistans in the bottom against an automated Zheman army at the top.

I didn't finish this first playtest after I noticed some mistakes but I learned a few things:

  1. Despite the advice in the book for not charging fresh infantry with cavalry, for some reason I thought this would work with chariots (which are nearly the same, game-wise.) It didn't and it ruined the Zheman army.
  2. It seems wiser to make less bodies of more units than those small bodies like I made. My body of two skirmisher units on the left was quickly dispatched by archers, for instance. There really is strength in numbers in RRtK.
  3. I also managed to trap cavalry between the enemy and my own infantry, resulting in taking extra hits due to being unable to retire. Really awful.
As with other Two Hour Wargames products, it takes some time to actually wrap your head around everything, and you have to browse the discussion group (or ask questions) to clarify a point or two. However, I feel that after this first test I got most of the basics. I still have to make a few more test runs (to try magic and heroes, for instance) and maybe make a "second generation" of counters before I can have a reasonable battle to report but I'm really liking it.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Back to paper modeling at last!

Today I finally spared some time to print and build paper models and minis. Here's a small "diorama" using Grey Matter Games' Camel, Slick's Minis modern soldiers and a crate from Finger and Toe Models, built in 15mm scale for my work desk:

A view from the opposite angle. I still have to do something with the foamboard base (maybe paint it black? Cover with tape?) to remove that rough look.

For the minis, I used a double sided tape that has a layer of "foam" in it. It is a technique suggested by Parduz at the Cardboard Warriors forum and I like the results: especially at this reduced scale the thick minis feel a little more "three-dimensional."

I also printed a full-size version of the Camel but I still have to finish building it so for now that's it.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Survival Horror

The Survival Horror Tabletop Game by Darkmook Paper Miniatures was released in November and I picked it up today, along with the Nick-Mall Santa free bonus figure.

The rules take up six pages and from a first read the game seems to require a bit of bookkeeping but I'll only be sure after I actually play a few times. Besides the rules and tiles, the game also includes lots of markers and dozens of figures -- zombies and survivors.

In this game players control either human survivors or the zombie horde. The game's description say it is fit for one or more players so this might be my solo print and play project for my vacations. The game is about exploring a variable, tile-based map to reach the objective tile with the proper items that allow you to escape. The game includes two scenarios based on the included tiles.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Liebster Blog Award and my blogroll

I got a Liebster Award, courtesy of JF of the Solo Nexus blog. This is a kind of viral/blogger-to-blogger award meant to promote less known blogs (and well, it's nice to give and get some recognition.)

The Rules:
  • Copy and paste the award to your blog, linking it to the blog who nominated you.
  • Pass the award to your top five blogs with less than 200 followers by leaving a comment on one of their blog posts to notify them that they have won the award and list them on your own blog.
  • Sit back and bask in that warm fuzzy feeling of knowing that you have made someone's day
  • There is no obligation to pass this onto anyone but it is nice if you do.
I thought I'd take the opportunity to pass along the award to some nice blogs that I follow and that, like my own, haven't seen updates in a while. In alphabetical order, they are:

El Rincón de Slorm: lots of good battle reports with an emphasis in games from Two Hour Wargames, USE ME and the Song of Blades engine. 

Miniaturas de Reivaj: I knew Reivaj through the Cardboard Warriors forum. His blog is all about paper miniatures, which he continually improves. He currently sells some sets through RPGNow. It's also very nice that he uses paper miniatures in class activities with his students.

Mono Desire: Mats' blog is about solo gaming, whether board games, strategy games or RPGs, with good battle reports and product reviews. He's also produced a nice set of solo rules for Song of Blades and Heroes.

Solo RPG Gamer: this blog was, appropriately enough, my starting point for solo RPG sessions. Dreamer's discussions about solo storytelling and session reports are all worth reading.

Tactical Miniature Gaming: beautiful battle reports in a variety of games, as well as good posts about paper terrain (10mm scale buildings, for instance.)

As I checked my blogroll, I was surprised to see that 246's Adventures seem to have been deleted. His creative battle reports were one of the main inspirations for me to start my own gaming blog.

Ludum Dare and solo gaming

Solo gaming is often about tweaking and even creating games to fit one's needs and expectations. While most of the time this blog and others focus on tabletop games, there might be something to explore in the digital medium too. Anna Anthropy's "Rise of the Videogame Zinesters" is a manifesto for people to create more digital games that focus on their interests, views, culture: video games as self-expression and art. One of the main arguments for that is the appearance of tools that make digital game creation possible without the need of lots of technical knowledge.

Now consider Ludum Dare, a game creation event that had its tenth anniversary this year. The 25th edition of the event (there are currently 3 editions per year) starts today, and there are two ways to participate. In the "jam," teams create games in 72 hours. In the "competition," individuals must try to complete their creations in 48 hours. It is interesting to note that there are no prizes in the competition other than peer recognition and the experience itself of creating the game. JF has already written about solo gaming and creativity and I'd say the arguments also apply in the case of these digital game creation solo challenges.

It's interesting to see that there is still a divide between tabletop and digital games. Take, for instance, the different meanings and implications of the terms "solo gaming" in tabletop games and "single player" in digital games, although they both refer to the same activity of playing a game by oneself. However, with the increased availability and rise in the capabilities of tablets and smartphones, these views might converge and different possibilities for solo gaming (and gaming in general) might be explored.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Knights of Pen & Paper

In this post I'll leave paper minis and tabletop games to write a little about this recently released game called Knights of Pen & Paper. There are two reasons for this:

- It is a digital game that, in the end, reminds me of solo tabletop gaming;
- It is made by a brazilian game studio and I'm always happy to see new games released here.

In this game the player controls both the game master and the party of players/characters. Dialogue happens both in and out of character. As the GM you build encounters and quests for the party to overcome. If you never had the heart to cause a "total party kill" you might play that in the game. The goal, however, is to create challenging encounters that allow your party to evolve. It is in this sense that the game feels like running a solo RPG session.

Each character is composed by a cliché (e.g. nerd, hipster, small brother -- I only wish there was a rules lawyer) that grants an advantage, and a class (mage, cleric, warrior...) with a set of powers. Battles are played in turns like old console RPGs -- although a lot of menu navigation is replaced by a simpler touch interface.

Besides having fun with the game itself, this made me want to revisit solo "hack'n'slash" RPG setups, like Carsten's Solo D&D delves.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Pirate Raiders in Orc Lands

This weekend I played my first solo game of Firebrand.  It is based on the Song of Blades and Heroes engine with some modifications and additions, such as rules for siege weapons, an expanded magic system and an interesting territory-based campaign system. The game I played was based on the "Barbarian Horde" solo scenario provided in the book.

In my game, a group of pirates lands on an island only to be greeted by a party wild orcs. My force consisted of two musketeers, two halberdiers, a standard bearer and a sergeant. The enemy force was composed by six orc berserkers (I didn't apply any modifiers due to them being orcs instead of humans.)

I simply spread some grass patches counting as light cover around the center of the board, then deployed the forces according to scenario specifications.

The orcs started with the initiative and two of them moved forward. I activated the sergeant, move ahead and gave a group move order for the rest of the company.

On the next activation, the first orc rolled three dice getting only on success, so he moved ahead and the turn was over. I just waited in position, as moving closer to the grass patches wouldn't be advantageous for my shooters. This continued on for the next turns, with the orcs advancing slowly.

Eventually, one of the orcs got in range with two others close behind. I activated one musketeer with three dice, getting three successes. I took an aimed shot and knocked out the closest orc. I activated the other musketeer, again rolling three dice but this time getting only one success. He missed his shot and my turn was over.

The orcs kept advancing. Both musketeers missed their shots, and one of them even fell due to the gun's recoil. The sergeant ordered the two halberdiers to charge the closest orc. They attacked, causing the orc to fall.

The fallen orc activated to get up but rolled a turnover. One halberdier attacked and knocked out the fallen orc. The fallen musketeer stood up, and the other halberdier moved a little to his right, to better protect the rest of the soldeirs.

On the next turn of the orcs, the closest one activated and moved very close to a halberdier, but got a turnover. Once again, the sergeant ordered a charge. The halberdiers attacked the incoming orc and knocked him out. This prompted a morale test for the remaining orcs, scattering them towards the board edges.

The next turns saw the pirates regrouping and moving towards the remaining orcs, while they advanced slowly due to failed activations and turnovers. Eventually another orc was knocked out and considering that the other two orcs were still scattered, I decided that they simply ran away and thus the pirates won.


As expected, Firebrand shares a lot with Song of Blades and Heroes but it also has its own "flavor." Group actions are very effective in this game. I imagine that games with a dozen or so figures per side and multiple group actions must be very interesting tactically. Similarly to what happens in Song of Drums and Shakos, having standard profiles leaning towards quality 4 and combat 2 makes the game very interesting because activations are risky and every attack has a good chance of taking out a soldier. Thus, every advantage (range, positioning, leaders, aimed shots) can make a big difference.

Particularly in the case of this solo scenario, the combination of ranged and melee against the horde of berserkers was a little too efficient as they could be picked one by one. Berserkers in Firebrand can be very powerful as they may make multiple attacks but they cannot take group actions (even if they had some sort of leader, which is not included in the scenario.) To make matters worse, I found while writing this post that my second charge was actually illegal according to the game rules as one of the halberdiers was very close to the orc.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Song of Blades and Heroes Revised Editon

The revised edition of Song of Blades and Heroes (version 5.0) was announced earlier this month but I only picked up the update a few days ago. Page count has jumped from 35 to 66 but that's due to a lot more content included, not increased complexity (yay!) There are some welcome additions like the rules for free noncombat movement (to avoid having some unlucky troops stuck far away from combat) and the optional rule to follow up a recoiling opponent in melee. There are also more examples and rules clarifications, making the game even more accessible to newcomers.

Many of the special rules that were previously found in supplements have been included in the revised edition, along with some new ones (such as Legendary Shot and Rabble.) The text for the Swarm special rule is more detailed (as it had been clarified in FAQs and in Ganesha Games discussion group) and rules like Poison, Tailslap and Undead have been revised. The book also includes the point cost for the special rules, which I believe is a result of the game's mature state (i.e. point costs won't be changing a lot.)

In terms of presentation, the new book uses miniature photographs instead of diagrams. There are also more pictures although some of them are a bit pixellated. I didn't catch many typos during my first read and only one really noticeable mistake in the form of an unreadable table that was meant for randomly selecting a game scenario.

In my opinion, Song of Blades and Heroes is currently the best fantasy skirmish miniatures game, due to its balance between simplicity and support for customization. This revised edition makes it even more worthwhile due to the rules clarifications, examples and added content.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Dungeon Escape

Last night I had some free time so I went looking for some quick game I could play in my library of downloads. There I found "A Dungeon Escape Game" (DEG) by Fuller Flippers which, the authors explain, was the forefather of Quest Cards. Although I couldn't find about the current status of either game, it seems that Quest Cards can still be found in some online stores and this page at BoardGameGeek contains the rules for "A Dungeon Escape Game."

Anyway, DEG is playable by 1-8 people with a deck of playing cards, a couple of dice, and paper to take notes. You choose between four character classes (fighter, wizard, rogue and cleric) and start at the center of a 5x7 grid of cards. Your goal is to reach one of the corners to leave the dungeon, while battling monsters, avoiding traps and finding treasure. Picture, if you will, a rogue at the beginning of the game, deep in the dungeon. Each class has a special ability; rogues have a chance to automatically deactivate traps.

The game is played by turning cards to try and move your character to the corresponding position in the grid. Monster cards must be fought and traps must be disabled (both by rolling dice.) Treasure and healing potions are collected immediately. Here's my rogue facing his demise at the hands of a particularly nasty monster.

Every time your character fails at disarming a trap or in combat, he or she loses one hit point (they start with only six.) Reaching the dungeon exit is not easy, much less if you decide to explore a bit for treasure instead of running straight away. Here's my fighter, on another game, losing his last hit point on a trap, after defeating three tough monsters.

Played solo, I found "A Dungeon Escape Game" to be a nice option for a 10-minute break as it plays quickly and setup time isn't long either. It also got me thinking about other possibilities for dungeon-delving or strategy games (cards as units?) involving just a regular deck of cards and possibly some dice.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Strangers in the Night

So I've finished reading After the Horsemen (ATH), played a few test battles and finally went for the first real game with it. In my opinion the prologue perfectly sets the tone of the game: it's all about the humans who have survived the apocalypse and now rebuild -- or prey on others.

There are a lot of small modifications to the rules to fit this gritty setting. There's a new "recover from duck back" reaction that may send grunts running for their lives. With an optional rule, figures may become out of ammo for the rest of the battle. Items, which seemed plentiful to me in 5150 New Beginnings, become very precious in an ATH campaign as your group needs food, fuel and medical supplies to survive.

In this game I went with a one-shot Wandering encounter. I created a lone wolf star called Tom (rep 5, fitness 5, people 3, savvy 4.) I got a 6 when rolling for the first attribute so I got one extra: friendly and white knight. To those, I added steely eyes. Tom's attributes made me think that his companion should be of the sheep class, so I rolled Shelly (teen female, rep 2, fitness 1, people 2, savvy 0, sure handed.) Tom carries an SMG, knife and a pair of binoculars, while Shelly has a pistol and a knife. Each of them has two units of food and one unit of medical supplies. So here I was with the typical post-apocalyptic duo of tough guy and the young girl he rescued from raiders and is teaching how to survive.

I decided that the place they are passing through has an Encounter Rating of 1 (middle of nowhere,) rolled evening for the part of day (thus reducing visibility,) and rolled for lack of sleep getting no ill effects. For the board, instead of randomly rolling terrain I simply scattered some green patches marking areas of tall grass, bushes and trees that block line of sight and otherwise work like woods in the rules. 

After placing my characters on sector 8, I rolled for the PEFs getting a rep 4 PEF on sector 1, a rep 5 PEF on sector 3 and a rep 3 PEF on sector 5. Here's the setup at the beginning of the game (I'm using small bug miniatures as PEF markers.)

Here's the battle report, with some narrative interpretation (and game commentary in square brackets):

Tom couldn't stop thinking this was a mistake. Crossing the wasteland in the dark, with some farmer girl that had never left her settlement -- until she was taken by raiders, that is. Still, they had to keep moving because the surviving raiders would come hunting for them with the sunrise.

This part of the wasteland had several patches of vegetation. The plan was to move around them, close enough to use them as cover but never stepping inside, to avoid stirring whatever might be in there. As they approached the first patch of tall grass, Tom motioned Shelly to wait. Carefully, he stepped ahead with his submachine gun ready. A large rat scurried across the dry ground and disappeared in a bush. "It's nothing, let's keep moving," he whispered to the teenager.

[On the third turn, Tom moved to a position with sight to and within 12" of a PEF (remember it's evening) but it proved to be nothing but nerves, so the group simply completed their movement.]

They slowly moved between two patches of bushes and tall grass, always pausing to hear any noises and movement around. Evening was turning into night and all was terrifyingly quiet.

[On the next turn they moved towards the center of the map, getting in range of another PEF -- again, nothing but nerves.]

Minutes later, Tom caught a glimpse of metal straight ahead. Pulling the girl to his back, he leveled the SMG and kept walking. A seemingly young man, with a mess of hair and beard, emerged from the darkness, pointing a small gun (maybe a machine pistol?) at them. The three people kept walking until they were only a few yards apart. "We're just passing through," whispered Tom, noticing that the man was looking curiously at Shelly. Long minutes passed but eventually both men lowered their guns and the stranger walked away, into one of the patches of tall grass. Tom kept standing there for some time more, until there was no more noise coming from the grass.

[On the fifth turn Tom's group activated first and moved in range of the third PEF. This time the PEF resolved as a neutral lone wolf. Tom failed on his people challenge, so the NPC became unfriendly. On the next turn, he walked into the nearby woods.]

Tom pulled Shelly's arm, signaling that they should start moving again. As they were about to turn and move away, he heard the sound of the grass leaves giving way to someone passing through, and a metallic "click." The young man had returned and, wild-eyed, raised his weapon to aim at Tom's head.

[Now here's the amazing part: on the following turn the NPC activated first and rolled an action of "move towards nearest player." This would bring him back in sight of my characters -- and an unfriendly NPC becomes an enemy in future meetings... so the lone wolf walked back to the edge of the woods and triggered an In Sight test!]

Tom crouched and fired a burst from his SMG. The young man let out a short scream and fell to his side, while letting a wild burst of machine pistol fire. Nearly at the same time, two pistol shots sounded to his left: Shelly had pulled her gun and fired at the stranger.

[Tom got two successes, enabling him to act first. He fired his SMG getting two hits and taking the lone wolf NPC out of the fight. Shelly also got one hit but that didn't make much difference.]

Tom didn't bother to check if the stranger was alive. The world was a harsh place, and it was good enough that he didn't finish him off or rob his things. Besides, all the sound and flare from gun fire was bad enough, and he didn't know how Shelly would react when she started thinking about the firefight. So he just put an arm around her back and pulled her along, moving quickly into the night.

[After the battle, my group simply had to walk to the edge of the map to complete the encounter, since there were no more PEFs to be resolved.]


There's a lot to like in After the Horsemen. The game moves fast (I love the sector-based movement of PEFs, also featured in 5150 New Beginnings) and keeps you on your toes. A full survival campaign is now on my "game projects" list. For now, I might try a few more games with Tom and Shelly.

Friday, July 6, 2012

After the Horsemen!

After the Horsemen, the post-apocalytic survival game from Two Hour Wargames has just been released. I was really waiting for this since I love post-apoc games, mostly due to fond memories from Fallout.

While the printed book makes its long trip from the US down to here, I'm taking a look at the digital version. With 98 pages, it is not as hefty as 5150: New Beginnings (176 pages) but it's also an immersion game (a mix between RPG and strategy game.) The difference in page count seems to be in part due to the use of a font that takes up more space in 5150:NB and part due to that book's inclusion of alien races and background about New Hope. After the Horsemen, on the other hand, is all about the human survivors.

I'll be leaving on a trip for the next few days so I'll only be able to read the book when I get back. However, a quick glance at the survival-focused campaign system already got me thinking...

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Paper Figures as Game Tokens

As I wrote recently, I have been toying with different types of paper figures for my solo gaming. I came back to this after reading Chris Hahn's text on wargaming and realizing that, if you want to "just play the game" as Ed from Two Hour Wargames puts it, the paper figures are just game tokens.

You might get away with just using flat counters in the case of stand-based units. However, consider what happens when using flat tokens for individual minis. Even in 28mm scale, this means 1" circles or squares where you should fit enough information to represent the unit. For games like Song of Blades and Heroes (SBH) or All Things Zombie, that might be feasible: a flat token with a unit portrait and the few relevant stats, possibly a letter or number to identify similar creatures. Now move down to 15mm gaming. 10-15mm squares with text in it will be hard to read, whereas even a simple paper figure might make it easier to identify.

Now, to be clear, the artistic pursuit of creating paper minis as close to their resin and metal counterparts is very interesting. However, when considering practical factors and the "figure as game token" approach, other alternatives should not be ignored. In the following picture I have placed a few different paper miniature building styles. From left to right we have: two minis cut close to the outlines, and glued to plastic bases; two more cut close to the outlines with octogonal paper bases; three figures in "inverted T" style with textured bases; three in "A-frame" style and two 28mm-scale "inverted T" figures.

There is no discussion that the figures cut close to the outlines look better but in my experience, the others can be built a lot faster, making them ideal, at the very least, for trying new games. Although in that picture all the minis have white backgrounds, light colors could have been used to color-code different armies or unit types, adding information to the game token. Likewise, although these figures have front and back images, one might have symbols or small amounts of text on the back of each figure. Note: I'm not including the "triagonal" format in this discussion because I find it awkward to use in miniature games that require that minis have a defined front facing.

There is another aspect that differentiates paper miniatures meant to be cut close to the outlines from the ones to be used as "inverted T", A-frame etc.: perspective. Normally, the front and back views of the same figure will have different outlines thanks to the effects of perspective (i.e. foreshortening.) A nice example can be seen in this barbarian figure from Arion Games -- just check the hammer he is wielding.

Now, if you want a mini that can be cut along the outlines, you need the front and back to match. The only ways this will happen are:
a) all elements are placed (approximately) at the plane of the image, i.e. nothing jutting out or extending towards the back;
b) your image uses parallel projection, i.e. no distortion due to the distance.

The effect of doing either is that you lose some depth and dynamics from the figure. Comic book authors tend to exaggerate perspective effects because it adds movement to the image. Now, if your paper figures don't have to have matching front and back outlines, there is no such limitation. As a bonus, you can have figures in poses that would be too complicated to cut out otherwise. This also means that publishers who use inverted T, A-frame or triagonal formats and don't exploit different poses and perspective are really missing out on the opportunity.

Although I find A-frames less attractive than inverted Ts, they also have two interesting qualities. First, because the images are placed at angled planes, they are readable even from a steeper angle. Second, they actually enclose a volume, so they don't feel as "flat" as other paper minis. Some people will value these features higher than others, certainly.

To finish this crazy rant, I have two images to illustrate the use of inverted T's and A-frames. First, here's a picture of some insurgents vs. soldiers.

Second, here's "Get to the flying thingy before the bugs overrun us!" -- soon to be actually played out using the old BUGS! rule set from Two Hour Wargames...

Each picture was taken at about 50cm away from the table. What I wanted to highlight with them was the readability of the different figures on the tabletop. While these aren't pretty dioramas, it is possible to distinguish the figures and what's going on.


I've spent a considerable amount of time making paper figures and terrain but recently I'm starting to think about them as game tokens, so their practical use takes precedence over visual impact. Some times you want a gorgeous table, other times you just want to play the game. This doesn't mean I'll stop making more elaborate paper figures; it's just a change in priorites.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Quick update

Well... this is a post just to say that this blog isn't dead. I've just haven't had much free time lately. On the past saturday I got to play a couple of hours on the Guild Wars 2 beta weekend event. The game is looking really good and I look forward to playing the final version.

Other than that, I've been reading 5150: New Beginnings again to resume my "stories of hope" games and toying with some simpler paper miniatures (in A-frame and inverted T formats) to use in large quantities. That includes some 3D rendered figures from Arion Games that I had overlooked in the past. Sure, paper figures cut close to the contours look nicer but it's hard to beat the ease of making these.

As I was writing, I noticed that this is post number 150 in this blog... I wish it had more content than this simple update but hopefully more and better posts will come :)

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Sacre Bleu! Pirate Skirmish

My most recent experimentation with miniature games is Sacre Bleu! from AGEMA. It is defined as "mass skirmish wargame rules for the age of pirates, reason and wayfare." The entire rules are contained in just six pages. The book also includes four scenarios with different objectives. The text is well-written and the few tables are clear.

The main distinguishing feature of Sacre Bleu! is that it is played as a succession of randomly determined phases. A given phase may allow one of the players to move their figures, or to shoot with figures that didn't move in the previous phase, or allow all figures (from all players) to fire simultaneously. Close combat is resolved at the end of every phase as necessary. The game designer explains that this was done to model the chaotic nature of skirmishes. From a solo gamer's standpoint I found this idea very cool; in a way it is a variation of activation rolls that can add even more unpredictability to the game.

Each figure is described by its discipline grade, the weapons it carries and possibly one of a few modifiers. Discipline is used when a "decision check" phase is rolled. Essentially it is a kind of morale roll that can cause a number of figures to move randomly (they panick or decide to try some crazy plan) if failed -- but if they succeed they may gain an extra action too.

Rush for the Treasure

In this scenario, two bands of pirates try to grab the treasure chests from the center of the board. Once a figure is in contact with a chest, it can pull it at half movement rate. The green patches provide soft cover. The bands are almost the same, however the left one (side A) has two peg-legged pirates with pistols while the group on the right (side B) has two guys with polearms. All figures count as bad-disciplined units and the leaders are the figures carrying the pirate flags.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Circle of Death - Campaign Summary

This is a summary with links to each fight in the Circle of Death tournament played with the Red Sun Black Moon rules.

Intro - an overview of the tournament and introduction of the fighters.

Fight 1 - Grend vs. Mambul: a soldier looking for revenge faces the lion man.

Fight 2 - Black Talon vs. Mad Ramos: the assassin and the wanderer.

Fight 3 - Drush vs. Sussimog: a duel of resilience against strength.

Fight 4 - Keris vs. Terokk: champion of the Red Sun and the mysterious stranger.

Semifinal 1 - winner of fight 1 vs. winner of fight 2.

Semifinal 2 - winner of fight 3 vs. winner of fight 4.

The final fight for championship of the Circle of Death!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Circle of Death: Finale

This is the final match in the Circle of Death tournament: Drush vs. Mad Ramos. [I've played Mad Ramos as his rating is lower than Drush's.]

The two warriors meet at the center of the arena. Drush strikes with his axe but Mad Ramos blocks the attack with his shield. He immediately counterstrikes with his sword but Drush parries it with the shaft of the axe.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Circle of Death: Drush vs. Terokk

Terokk spent the night before the match in meditation. Sitting in the grass, with legs folded, he remained still like a statue, or even more like a tree -- for his thick hair moved by the wind sounded like leaves. At dawn, no one noticed a bird landing in front of him, picking up what seemed like a seed he took from a pouch, and flying away.

Drush spent the night as usual, drinking with his toadies until he nearly passed out.
[This time I'm playing Terokk (rating 8) against Drush (rating 9)]

As the fighters entered the arena, Drush paused for a moment, studying Terokk as if confused. He hadn't bothered learning about his opponent and now wondered if he was some kind of orc. "No," he thought to himself, "the smell ain't right."

 Terokk started walking towards the center of the arena, his two handed sword held steadily in front of him. Drush finally moved in a frantic charge, with his axe ready to strike. Terokk tried to step back but the orc moved faster, and with a sweeping motion hit him in the left leg. The blow was so powerful that he was knocked down, blood covering the floor.

Surprisingly, the flow of blood decreased, as Terokk's flesh seemed to be healing at the edges of the wound. He stood up and promptly attacked, and the two large warriors engaged in combat. Sword and axe met with sparks flying around but neither combatant could find an opening...

Terokk attempted a powerful descending strike with his sword, but his wounded leg made him slower. For a moment his guard was open as he maneuvered, and Drush took advantage of this, cleaving him in the stomach. The warrior folded in pain, and dropped to the ground dead. The killing stroke in the center of the arena caused the audience to burst in applause and screams.


Drush tramples over another opponent in the tournament... In this match I had really bad luck with the dice. Even though I burned around half of my bonus dice on the first attack, I couldn't avoid that bleeder wound. Then on the third round I rolled only one success on attack while Drush got five (and that's rolling six dice.) With a two handed axe and high strength his damage rolls are always dangerous so getting a killing stroke after that wasn't unlikely.

Now the final match is defined: Mad Ramos versus Drush. Will the berserker human defeat the raging orc?

Paper Cars

Today I've built my first paper car from the amazing collection at Inkjet, Paper, Scissor, a papercraft blog run by Grendels_Mother64 also of the Cardboard Warriors forum. This model was printed at 50% scale to make it compatible with 15mm minis. Even at this reduced size it was very easy to build and looks great.

My advice when building them: glue one side to the top, then the other side and finally the floor. Now I have to build a few more to use in my modern games. Come to think of it, I now probably have more than enough terrain to play All Things Zombie. 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Circle of Death: Grend vs. Mad Ramos

In this match the two human warriors face each other in the arena. Grend has proven he can stand a long fight and hold a stronger opponent at bay until they are tired. Mad Ramos defeated the elf Black Talon with a mixture of skill and luck. [In this fight I played Mad Ramos, who has a rating of 8, against Grend who has a rating of 9. I've also built some walls to decorate the arena.]

The two warriors move to the center of the arena. With a quick dash, Grend moves to Mad Ramos' right in order to avoid his shield and stabs with his spear. However, Ramos quickly deflects the attack and strikes back in a continuous motion. Grend steps back and lunges again, wounding Mad Ramos in the chest.

Feeling the pain of the wound, Mad Ramos takes a step back and catches some air. Grend advances, trying to hit with another stab but his opponent blocks him. The fight continues and Grend attempts another attack. Before Mad Ramos can react, he makes a quick stab that catches him in the belly. He steps away and catches his breath again, his back against the arena wall.

Trying to regain some strength, Mad Ramos moves along the edge of the arena, keeping out of reach of Grend's attacks. As the audience starts booing, he stands his ground and waits for the attack. Grend moves in and makes a series of quick stabs, holding his spear above the shoulder. Mad Ramos dodges and blocks the spear tip and then, as Grend pulls his arm back, slashes him across the chest, with enough force to push him back.

The two warriors pause for a moment, breathing heavily, then resume the fight. Their weapons meet each other's shields several times and the roar of the spectators is frightening, like thunder announcing a storm. Mad Ramos pushes Grend back once more, and he charges again. The wild swordsman steps to the side, spinning around and hitting Grend in the neck as he passes. The impact decapitates him in a single strike.


Grend's shield was very useful as it blocked a strong attack from Mad Ramos, which otherwise might have caused a bleeder wound. Unfortunately, Ramos would land another strong attack to the head, this time a killing stroke.

One of the tournament finalists has been defined, and now only two matches remain. Mad Ramos succeeded on the recovery roll so he's ready for the winner of the fight between Drush and Terokk.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Last Stand at Kirrinbahr

This is just a quick post to comment on the solo adventure "Last Stand at Kirrinbahr." It is a paragraph-based adventure, along with some maps to help understand the context and a simple action and combat resolution system. I've just finished playing it in about 3 hours and thoroughly enjoyed it. By the end of the game I was really immersed -- a feat in solo games as it's just too easy to step back and analyze the game from the outside.

Two things I liked: your actions have logical consequences (at least for me) and the story does have some twists. Actually, make it three: the action and combat resolution systems work well to keep the game moving.

Two things I didn't like: the PDF could have hyperlinks to aid navigating across paragraphs and maps (I bet many people will play this on a computer or tablet instead of printing the book) and some character options don't seem to matter so much as others (but I didn't explore every possible path in the book.)

It's hard to comment much more without spoiling the game, so I'll stop here. As with most paragraph-based games, the replay value isn't very high although I'll probably try again with different character choices.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Circle of Death: Keris vs. Terokk

Keris had watched the match between Drush and Sussimog. Officially, he had joined the tournament to champion the red sun, in a land where most people ignored the traditions or had sympathy for the dark cults. There was more, however. He learned that the orc who killed his brother in the arena would be there, and maybe he might avenge him.

Terokk the wanderer came from distant lands. At first he spoke in a strange tongue but with time, he learned how to be understood by the locals, although with a disturbing accent. It is known that foreigners sometimes are accepted as gladiators (some say the gods welcome all races, others say they are good to draw people to the arena.) Terokk is always on the move, looking for better opponents and that's the motivation for him to joining the tournament.

Keris entered the arena and looked at his opponent. Although green-skinned, he was no orc: Terokk was taller and built more like a human, except for the hair that looked like plant roots. And that unnerving white mask that looked like bone. [In this battle, Terokk has a rating of 8 so I controlled him, against the rating 10 dwarf fighter.]

Terokk advanced to the center of the arena, holding his sword with both hands at an angle across his chest. Keris moved towards him, and taking advantage of the reach of his halberd, tried a stab but the large humanoid dodged it.

The two fighters started to exchange blows. Terokk tried to avoid Keris' shield with slashes to his right side but the dwarf managed to parry and deflect the attacks. On the other hand, the dwarf also couldn't find an opening for a decisive strike. At one time, Terokk would burst a chain of attacks, only to be blocked by the dwarf's shield. Then Keris would try to hit with alternate stabs and slashes, but the green man kept dodging and deflecting the attacks.

As the fighters grew tired, their movements became slower and less precise. At one point Keris tried to hit with another stab but Terokk spun around and slashed his left leg, causing a serious wound. The dwarf stumbed back, almost losing his balance.

Terokk tried to press on but the dwarf avoided the attacks. Keris focused on the fight, ignoring as much as he could the bleeding wound on his leg. Unfortunately, he grew weak and after parrying one slash from Terokk he left his guard open. The green giant took the opportunity and drove the sword through him, ending the fight.


Despite having a higher rating, this matchup was the worst possible one for the dwarf, as the size difference gave a bonus attack die to Terokk all the time. I think I'm getting the hang of the game, both in terms of being able to play it at a good pace, and in learning some strategy.

This fight completes the first part of the tournament. Now the fights between Grend and Mad Ramos and between Drush and Terokk will define the contenders for the final match.