Friday, December 8, 2017

November Recap

Wow, this post is a few days late but good news, I got a few games in for the month of November!  Thanksgiving presented a bit of a wrinkle with family commitments and just adding to the general chaos of my life but I still managed.  So, what did I do?

Well, I discovered a member of the local gang had bought into the new L5R and was excited to play.  We managed to meet up twice, learn the game and play.  The first was just a beginner game with the suggested Crane and Lion decks.  The second time we came with our own constructed decks where I proceeded to see my Unicorn clan get smeared all over the table by a Dragon deck.  Note the big tournament reporting so far has shown Unicorn is vastly under represented, hinting at an overall weakness in the current meta - so maybe it wasn't my "fault" although I am sure I contributed to it to some degree.  I do have to say, I am very impressed with what FFG has done with the game.  Many of the glaring issues (IMO) from the old system have been addressed with this version but it seems maintain a lot of the feel (not necessarily all of it though).  Now just have to try to build out from the two of us and maybe find a different clan to play for awhile.

Beyond that, I played a game of Pulp Alley with Mike from the Mini Mayhem blog.  He has a very nice scenario set up for the game, of course beautiful miniatures to use, and now even has beautiful terrain to go with it.  As my first game of Pulp Alley, it was a positive experience of the game and I liked some of the things it was trying to accomplish via the complications(?) deck.  Now Mike just needs to whip up the next scenario in the story arc!

I also tried out Shadespire with one of the locals (the same guy as L5R).  That was pretty interesting but left me feeling a little unsatisfied.  I'm not sure as to why, but given how quick and smoothly it plays I would be willing to try it again.  Not sure I would ever buy in though.

Other than that, I continued to hack away at my latest project.  That did seem to suffer a bit during the month as at one point I had only managed 1 hour of painting during a 2 week span.  Not good considering other projects seem to be pilling up (Company of Iron, Aristeria, and the neglected remaining Tail Fether minis).

The big question is will I manage to get anything done in the month of December.  If Thanksgiving causes such chaos, I can't even describe what Christmas does to my hobby time.  At least it is getting cold, which tempts everyone in the family to hunker down inside. 


Friday, November 24, 2017

Rules Review - Daisho


The last of my "planned" reviews of Samurai Skirmish games is Daisho.  That is at least till Saga 2nd edition, with a Samurai expansion comes out (if it comes out, I believe I spotted a samurai miniature in their teaser video).  Daisho rounds out the available skirmish sized games that I know of for the Samurai genre.

It is a ruleset authored by The Ministry of Gentlemanly Warfare who also authored In Her Majesty's Name (IHMN) published by Osprey.  In addition to that they have a dark ages ruleset called Blood Eagle and an expansion to IHMN called Gothic.

It should be mentioned one of the highlights of reading these rules is Section 1.6, The Golden Rules.  An excerpt:
  • "Rules are for the obedience of fools and the guidance of sensei."  Which goes on to state, if there is a rule that you and your opponent dislike, then change it if all players agree.
And covers things like respecting your opponent, conduct, etc.  I guess it should be expected from guys that call themselves "The Ministry of Gentlemanly Warfare."  

Scale of Game:
The rules for Daisho recommend 200-250 points as a good starting level to get to the know the game, after which you and your opponents can agree on a point level for future games.  Note, I said opponents as the game accommodates 2+ players.  Referencing a couple of example warband lists in the rules, the Ronin list weighs in at 240 points with 6 figures and the Clan Patrol list is 300 points with 8 figures.  Both lists contain multiple samurai.  Unfortunately, the rules do not provide an expected game length for playing at various point levels.

Standard Rules:
Before really jumping into the standard rules/mechanics of the game, like it's sister game In Her Magesty's Name, Daisho offers 3 levels of play:
  • Basic - This levels lacks Ki, Magical Powers and weapon qualities and is meant more for the historical players.
  • Heroic - This moves the game slightly beyond "historic" but not into magical/fantastical realms.
  • Legendary - Everything.
I will note up front that the game does not allow for (unless you and your opponent agree to change it) pre-measuring.

Daisho uses what I am going to called a "Phased Alternating Activation" system, by that I mean the turn is broken into multiple phases which are completed by all players before moving on to the next phase.  The highest initiative roll (d10 + highest leadership in their warband) goes first at the beginning of each phase, then the next player goes and so on.  These phases include:  Initiative, Movement, Shooting and Fighting.

Attacks are resolved based on the model's corresponding stat (Shooting or Fighting) + the weapon modifier +/- other modifiers (cover, etc) + d10 vs the target's armor rating.  Achieving/exceed the target's armor rating is a hit.  In both cases of shooting and fighting, a model can split its stat into multiple attacks albeit against different targets.  Ie, if a model has a 4 Shooting it could shoot once at Target A only using 2 Shooting and a second time at Target B using the remaining 2 Shooting (all other modifiers still apply).  Also included are rules for combined attacks, allowing weak models to group up to fight difficult targets.  Fighting includes an option to try to disarm your opponent.

When a model is hit with a successful attack, it must immediately make a Karma roll which is modified by weapon used in the attack.  If the roll is less than the model's Karma stat it is out of the game (unless it receives medical attention) and if the roll is equal to the model's Karma stat it is knocked down.  And if the model is taken out of the game, the attacking model immediately gains 1 Ki which is used to activate Ki powers.

You gain honour (using "their" British spelling) points throughout the game, totaled at the end to determine the victor.  Hounour points are gained based on Objectives defined by the scenario, the social caste of models killed, reputation, survivors/prisoners, beast/magical creatures and anything else specified by the scenario.

Any rules beyond what has been mentioned are fairly typical/straight forward.  There is a noticeable absence of a morale mechanic but maybe the intent is that is abstracted into the Karma roll.

Other Things:
Daisho provides full capability to build your warband how you want to.  This includes armor and weapon point costs, as well as a robust selection of skills/ki powers, and magical powers.  These combined with the base point costs of the model's stats determine its total point cost.

The game also provides a system/framework for campaigns.  Campaign systems can often be pretty tricky to pull off and often can be abused, with no real way to evaluate them until playing through them (sometimes multiple times).  That being said, what is offered here in Daisho looks really good and is fairly flexible.

Scenarios:
The game provides a nice, diverse set of scenarios for games which include search and recover (with 2 setup options), rescue/capture, vengeance, breakthrough, assassination, outpost defense, plus about 10 more.  This already adds a lot variety to individual games but you can augment that further by adding a "complication" to the scenario.  This includes things such as sacred grounds, fog/mist, civilians on the battlefield, twilight, plus many many more!

And going a step further the rules suggest typical landscapes across Nippon that would be suitable for your battles.  This is not something I would really consider "necessary" but it is a real nice touch that I am not sure I have seen any other game do.  Of course, it does cause me a bit of anxiety in thinking "I gotta build all this!"  Note, I'm not saying you "have" to build this to play Daisho.  I'm just saying "I HAVE TO BUILD ALL THIS" (in a good way... sort of... mostly...).

Concerns:
Honestly, I don't have any major concerns about the game, only a couple of minor ones.  The first of which is availability:  I held off on reviewing Daisho for quite some time because I did not want to shell out the money for a hard copy of the rules, at the prices and shipping I was able to find.  But I finally found a e-copy of the rules at a very affordable price here.  And at less than 100 pages, it would not be terribly expensive to get this printed off/bound nicely at Staples, esp since the e-book is very printer friendly and can easily be done in black & white.

I guess that kind of brings up a second "concern."  There are no illustrations/pictures in the rules depicting gameplay examples.  There are detailed written examples throughout the rules however and because of this I never found a situation/rule complicated enough to warrant a visual illustration.

There is also some minor record keeping with whether or not a model has moved/ran.  And the "phased alternating activation" could make record keeping a little more difficult.  Honestly though, the game is potentially such low model count that I'm not sure these things need to be explicitly tracked and there is likely a slick way to do it.

Conclusions:
I find my feelings toward Daisho a bit odd, it is based heavily on the IHMN ruleset by the same authors.  I actually read those rules this summer to get a feel for what Daisho would be like, since it was easily available from Osprey via Amazon.  The reading of IHMN caused me to hold off on acquiring Daisho until now because I was not impressed with it.  Maybe I am in just a good mood now or maybe my taste have changed since then (there have been a number of wargaming concepts that I am, maybe, shifting my views on) but I really like these rules.  They offer everything I think I was looking for.  Of course, I can't really say that until I have played a few games but this looks like a very solid contender.

I will eventually get Daisho added to my list of games of this genre on the Samurai Skirmish page.  It is definitely worth trying out and is now the top of my list.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Rules/Game Review - Aristeia!



I just received my copy of Aristeia! and thought I would post up my initial thoughts.  As I wrote the title of this post, I found my self conflicted about just labeling it a "Rules" review.  I want to say I feel it is more of a "Game" review but what does that mean?  Why the distinction?  Is it the old "it's played on a board, so it's not a miniature game" mentality?  Is it because it is self contained?  Is it because it is more "structured" than a regular miniatures game?  I'm not completely sure.  Maybe it is because I plan, at least as I am currently typing, to talk more than just the rules (specifically to comment on the components and miniatures).  Yeah, that must be it.

Enough rambling, back on topic.  For any not aware, Aristeia is a new game from Corvus Belli set in their Infinity universe.  Aristeia is new sport sweeping through the Human Sphere, an arena combat blood sport.  I have been a big fan of Infinity's fluff and miniatures since the very beginning but the rules have never been to my liking.  With the release of Aristeia I hoped to find a way to enjoy the Infinity universe and miniatures without dealing with the rules of Infinity.  Ideally Areisteia also checks some of my other favorite boxes:  arena/gladiatorial combat and/or "blood sport."

Scale/List Building:
Scale of the game and list building are about as simple as you can get:  any 4 characters per side, although the rules do offer that you can (if the players want) draft characters from a pool before the start of the game.  After selecting your characters, you assemble your Tactics deck out of a set of 10 fixed standard cards and 2 selected character specific cards (out of 4 possible cards, currently) for each character on your team, giving you a total deck of 18 cards to draw from.

Rules:
The game begins by determining which player is the underdog, accomplished by adding up total initiative values among your characters.  The player with the lower number is declared the underdog for Round 1 and will get to determine how tied initiative values or simultaneous effects are resolved.  After Round 1 the under dog designation belongs to the player with the lowest number of Victory Points.  Once characters are deployed, each player secretly places each of their characters in the initiative track positions, which are numbered 1-4.  Then starting at position 1 on the initiative track, each player reveals their character and compare its initiative value (the higher value getting to decide if they or their opponent will go first).  The active character then gets a number of actions equal to their action value, which can then be spent moving, attacking and using character skills.  Then the un-activated character in the 1 initiative position activates.  This process proceeds through position 4, after which the game proceeds to the objective phase and then the recovery phase,

The core resolution mechanic of the game uses the character card to specify the number and types of dice to roll for each skill/action.  These are d6 dice of different colors and with special symbols, ala X-Wing, Armada and many other games that have recently come on the market.  Two type of rolls exist in the game.  The first being an unopposed roll or simple roll, usually a character skill check like using a medkit.  The second is an opposed roll, usually for combat, where both players roll, cancel results, and compare totals.  Additionally, special triggers (called switches) can occur based on the results.  It should be noted that this resolution mechanic also allows the defender to potentially injure the attacker, as well as both characters being injured.  Reducing an enemy to zero wounds provides the attacker with a frag counter (used to resolved tied victory points) and also allows them to draw a card.

If a character is reduced to zero wounds, it is moved to the infirmary and if that character has not activated yet, it basically looses it's activation that turn.  During the recovery phase, all characters in the infirmary are moved to the bench and receive a -2 action token.  At the beginning of the next round benched characters can move onto the field when activated but they will enter play again albeit a slightly reduced capacity with less action points.

Objectives are scored at the end of each round and totaled at the end of Round 5 to determine the winner.  You also draw a tactics card at the end of each round and an additional card if you scored any VPs that round.  The rest of the game and mechanics are fairly typical and straight forward.

Scenarios:
There are 4 basic scenarios provided, with a promise of more to come, with each scenario providing different objectives for scoring points.  I think the inclusion of only 4 scenarios is a bit light, hopefully the community/Corvus Belli will be quick to develope/release new ones.

Components:
I found the components of the game to be of very good quality.  Nice thick playing board, punch out tokens, nice quality cards and excellent box control.  The one, possible, exception to this is the plastic miniatures.  The detail in the miniatures is a little suspect but I wont really know till I start to paint them.  They are certainly decent quality "board" game miniatures but honestly, I had slightly higher hopes with this coming from Corvus Belli.  In fact, I was really excited to see what Corvus Belli would do with plastics.

Additionally, while the miniatures come assembled, they are cast as multi-part models and assembled in the factory.  The "quality" of this assembly process is likely to vary greatly but several of my minis have significant gaps that will have to be filled before painting.  And maybe that was not the assembly, maybe that is the miniature itself but either way it is a slight disappointment.  The miniatures are also pre-attached to bases which is not a big deal except they are completely blank bases.  That just seems like they missed an opportunity to put them on some nice flight deck type bases that Infinity miniatures typically shine on.  And it is going to make it a pain in my ass to re-base these miniatures.  Also, why are these not the typical 25mm sized bases found in Infinity, not that it matters game play wise, just wondering.

The entire plastic miniature thing also raises another question, did I make the right choice?  Should I have bought the collectors edition which game with a metal set of miniatures (in addition to the plastic ones)?  I assumed the future expansions would be in plastic, so I opted for just the regular version with plastic minis for "consistency" and to satisfy a bit of OCD-ness.  As it happens, during writing this up, I found confirmation that the expansions will be plastic.

I can also understand that hitting the right price point for the game is one of the most important things a company can do.  That being said, a simultaneously release of plastic obstacles/terrain (rather than the 2d punch outs in the core box) would have been very appropriate in my opinion without raising the box price with their inclusion.  Or at least an announcement that it was in the pipe.

Standouts:
There are a couple of very clear standouts in this game to me.  The first is the getting started booklet is fantastic.  I really appreciate the industry trend in this direction but I believe Corvus Belli really nailed it.  It does the typical good job of introducing the concepts in a clear, logical order and provides examples at every turn.  It also provides a suggested build for your first game, again somewhat typical.  It then walks you through a complete example first round with these builds, which is a lot less typical.  Maybe this is not "necessary" but I appreciated it.  I will also note the booklet sized rules reference, weighing in at only 28 half-sized pages, has a table of contents, an index, and a quick reference sheet.  Very nicely done.

Note, these are the metal miniatures from the collector's box.
A second standout is the character design.  I really love the design of this first batch of characters.  They are all different and unique, reflecting an individual personality.  They all seem to have different abilities/skills and purposes.  I can't help but be reminded of the Overwatch video game.

Concerns:
As a very odd coincidence, this game arrived at my doorstep just a day after a local gamer had shown me how to play GW's Shadespire.  I say odd, because I find the two games strangely similar.  I don't really view this as a problem or concern, it is just that the recent exposure to Shadespire made a couple of things jump out at me when reading through the rules for Aristeia.

The first of which is that I really missed the "dynamic/unknown" objectives of Shadespire and thus found Aristeia a little static in in that respect,.  Maybe this will be resolved with new scenarios in the future.  The second is with its deck building element:  Will it follow the same buy-to-play model (where you have buy an expansion you don't want just to get access to certain cards:  X-Wing, Armada, Test of Honour) that Shadespire does?  And lastly, will the game itself be fun?  Because while I found nothing mechanically wrong with Shadespire, I'm not sure it was fun.

The price point for this game also seems little off at ~$70 RSP.  Since you are buying a full game, comparing price per model to a box of space marines (for instance) is not fair but there is some argument that one can compare the price per model to other "full" games like Shadespire, Necromunda, Mice & Mystics, Tail Feathers, so on and so on.  So at ~$8.75/model, it is pretty high without having the plastic quality of some of the other offerings (Games Workshop).  And compared to Zombicide Black Plague (which has great quality, IMO)  it is sinful.  Furthermore, comparing the cost to Operation Ice Storm/Red Veil for Infinity (which are full 2-player starter boxes) is more disheartening (pretty much the same costs per figure).  The expansion boxes better come in at less than $15 each (with 4 figures) if this plastic quality continues and I highly doubt they will be that cheap, which does not bode well for the game.

Conclusion:
I am very interested in trying this game out and I really really hope it is fun, but I think the price point is off.  It seems to be a nice, tight ruleset and should allow quick games to unfold while still providing nice depth of tactics.  That being said, if Corvus Belli does not provide a constant and consistent stream of support for this game (Organized Play, new releases, new scenarios), I think it wont stand out among the crowded crowd (here is a great video demonstrating Corvus Belli's planned support for the game - it looks like full commitment).  You also should not expect, even though it is Corvus Belli, the plastic miniatures to be insanely good (they are decent board game quality in my opinion, although mine have some unfortunate gaps).

I would love to see this game expanded to multi-player.  Mechanically, nothing is jumping out at me right now as a reason you couldn't do it.  Except the board and deployment zones maybe, but that would be an excellent reason to explore (and sell) different shapes and designs of boards...  Just saying...

Lastly, I had decided a while back to not spend so much time reviewing rules that are freely available, you should and can just go read them for yourself after all.  But I did not know these rules are available for free until I had wrote this up.  You can find them here.


Tuesday, November 7, 2017

October Recap

Well, it was not a very productive month for managing to get games played.  The family vacation to Disney world caused me to miss the first game day of October, while the threat of having to play Frostgrave kept me from going to the second one.  Now the local group is all spun up for Ghost Archipelago, so this trend will likely continue.  I need to set down and really digest the rules for GA and try to give it a fair shake.  And stay away from 4+ person games of it...

While things were light on that front, I did manage to get a few random games of misc stuff in with my daughter so that was good.  I also painted up 3 test models for my K47 British Infantry and was fairly happy with how they turned out and the time invested.  I then I jumped in on batch painting another 12.  Ugh...  Anyway, I will post something up for the test models soon(ish).

October was also a very expensive hobby month.  I pre-ordered several things, including the Fallout miniatures game!  Along with also buying into FFG's new version of Legend of the Five Rings.  Unfortunately, I have not really gotten to try it out.  I played one turn with my wife (we both used to play L5R back in the day) before she opted to go to bed.  Not because of anything game related, because we have a 1 year old...  I also backed my first kickstarter of the year.  Yep, that is right I made it all the way to October before surrendering to the newest expansion of Relicblade.  I have backed the other Relicblade kickstarters at just the rules level (the same for this recent one) and while I have never played it, I do like what the guy is doing and his lovely art.  I had no problem continuing to throw a few bucks his way.

November will see the opening of an all new game store in Huntsville:  Lucky Dice Cafe (actually, it has already had its soft opening).  It is on my side of town and is a fairly short drive.  Hopefully it will turn out to be a good store and allow me to find some game time during the week and/or the weekends, opposite the regular game days.  We will see.

The end of the year is fast approaching.  Lots of projects to wrap up and trying to satisfy some hobby goals. 


Saturday, October 21, 2017

Rules Review - Bushi no Yume




Knocking another Samurai skirmish ruleset off my list with a review of Bushi no Yume.  I initially read the rules a while back but have really struggled with how to write a review for Bushi no Yume.  See, I am pretty ignorant when it comes to a particular ruleset that is fairly well known in the world of miniature agnostic skirmish games:  Ganesha Games' Song of Blade and Heroes (SBH) but what little I do know seems consistent with what is presented in Bushi no Yume.  Which caused me to ponder "how" to write a review (full review, delta review, cop out review).

Ultimately, the author took the time and effort to put Bushi no Yume together so I figured I should at least treat it as a stand alone game in reviewing it.  As such, I will make no other mention of SBH except to say that you do not need it, or be familiar with it, in order to play Bushi no Yume.  You can find lots of helpful information regarding Bushi no Yume here.

Scale of Game and List Building:
The rules state that a standard game should be around 5-10 characters, costing 60 koku (points) total,  with games of this size being playable within one hour on a 3x3 ft table at 28mm scale (there are conversions for distance for multiple scales).  Increasing the game size to 10-20 figures, costing 100-120 koku (points), should be playable within 2 hours.

List building/force composition for a 60 point game, limits that only 45 points can be spent characters which are classified as personalities with no other restrictions.  I believe that beyond that, your force can be completely personalized including building characters from scratch if you desire.

Standard Rules:
There are a few core concepts for Bushi no Yume that are important to understand as they are a departure from most skirmish game systems.  The first is the characteristics of each model has essentially been reduced down to two stats:
  • Bujutsu (fight) - How well the character can fight.
  • Kyu Grade (quality) - Roll up of all non-fighting characteristics
In addition to this characters have a Buki (primary weapon) that affects their Bujutsu and possibly Nouroku which capture abilities/special powers of the character.

The second key concept is the activation system.  At the beginning of the game, players roll to see who has initiative, with whoever winning the role retaining initiative every turn.  After the first turn, this test turns into a Karma Card Roll (more on what this means later).  The player with initiative will then select a model to activate, choose the number of actions (between 1-3) they wish to perform, and then perform an Activation Roll.  This is a test against the models Kyu Grade, rolling a number of dice equal to the number of actions declared.  For every success, you get one action.  If you only have 1 failure you may activate another character afterwards.  2 or 3 failures passes play to your opponent (either immediately or after your action depending on if there is any successes).  There is a fairly standard list of actions that accompany this system, some of which costing more than just one action.

While most characters have standardized movement values, there are a couple of major departures in the movement system.  Firstly, the distance moved is measured from the front of the base to the rear of the base such that larger based models will have slightly more movement.  The second difference is that while you do not have to move the full distance, you do have to move in a straight line such that if you want to negotiate around an object/corner you must use multiple moves to do so.

Combat resolution is accomplished in an opposed roll manner.  In the case of ranged combat, the attack can end up missing, forcing the target to cover, or possibly wounding, or outright killing the target.  For close combat, the combatants may end up disengaged, the loser forced backwards with possible followup from the winner, or the loser possibly wounded or outright killed (note, armor is factored in before determining the result).  If a character is possibly wounded, it performs a wound test at the beginning of that player's next turn with results ranging from flesh wound to dead.  Typical rules and modifiers apply to combat.

That being said, there are some additional fidelity to combat that are not often found in miniature games.  There is an hierarchy of weapons, from best to worst, which give combatants with better weapons than their opponent a bonus.  Long reach weapons also accounted for.  Additionally, the type of damage a weapon inflicts (impact vs cutting/piercing) affects the target number for the wound test.

Scenarios:
The rules give several scenarios to offer something more than just kill the other guy.  That being said, killing the other guy most of the time seems to be the sure path to victory.  There is a simplified campaign system also included, as well as an advancement system.

Other Things:
There are some additional rules, not mentioned above, that are covered in Bushi no Yume.  This includes a morale system, karma cards, Ki, mythical creatures, and even a magic system!  The karma cards, which replace the initiative roll at the start of each turn after the first, add a bit of unknown to the game by adding positive modifiers, actions, or events when played (one lets a character slice up arrows with their katana if fired at).

Ki is kind of interesting in that each character starts play with 1 Ki and at any time to modify one of their dice rolls +/- 1.  And every time a character rolls a natural 6 in combat, than recieve an additional point of Ki.

Magic seems fairly abstracted, much like it is in Kings of War but glad to see its inclusion, as well as the inclusion of mythical creatures.

Concerns:
I am inclined to have several concerns regarding the Bushi no Yume rules but I also feel that should not express them without having tried the game, which I have not.  Probably my biggest concern regarding Bushi no Yume can be rolled up into "acceptability":  Will I (as well as those I try to convince to play) find the rules acceptable.  This stems from the fact that there are several concepts, that are a foundation to the game, that are pretty major departures from standard miniature wargames.

Outside of the major departures, there is one additional concern though and that is how the rules are written.  I do not mean to imply they are badly written, quiet the contrary they are well written.  It is the fact that to introduce "flavor" it over uses (in my opinion) Japanese naming conventions.  See above in this review, I used Koku and other terms.  It shows a great love and care for the genre for the author to do this but it also makes it hard at times to digest the rules.  And as I game that I may try to introduce other people to, it is a factor I would have to consider.

I also feel the additional fidelity of combat captured by the hierarchy of weapons and some other particular modifiers may add to much "work" to the game.

The last thing that gives me a slight pause is the opposed combat roll system.  I am a big fan of this approach for combat resolution but I have always been concerned that it favors range combat over close combat.  That is because range combat usually represents zero risk to the attacker, while close combat has a significant (at least by comparison) risk.  Most systems tend to address this imbalance by limiting the amount of range combat units/models you can use, but this restriction seems missing in Bushi no Yume.  Then again, maybe it should be left up to players to build their lists accordingly.

Conclusions:
If I am correct that Bushi no Yume is very similar to SBH (I know, I said I wouldn't reference it again) then I can see why SBH appears to be very polarizing in the gaming community.  I'm interested to try it out so that I can "give it a fair shake" but honestly I am afraid I wont like it.  And if I do, I am afraid it would be a hard sell to other people.

That being said, it is one of the few games in this genre that I think could give me a bit of that Akira Kurosawa movie feel that I want:  Through it's wound system and activation system.  And it is the first that I have reviewed to introduce fantastical elements into the game, other than Ki in the Torii rules.

Adding this to the list of games of this genre:  Samurai Skirmish as it is at least worth considering and/or trying out.


Friday, September 29, 2017

September Recap

Wow, the month of September has blown by and now I am staring at the family vacation to Disney World (staring tomorrow!).  Anyway, as (maybe) seen in my last blog post I finally finished up the mousling foot soldiers for Tail Feathers.  It is very nice to have them off my desk.  I followed that up by getting the birds cleaned up and primed, but nothing more since I realized that I really have no idea what birds look like (at least in enough detail to know how to paint them).  Luckily my wife reminded me she had an artist photo reference book for birds, so hopefully that will clue me in and I can knock them out after vacation.  Along with cleaning and priming those models, I have also done the same for several other things but they have been all over the place.  I have not been very focused.

Additionally, I dreamed up two other builds for games I don't play.  *sigh*  Out of all that stuff though, only one of them would require any purchases but I've been trying to behave until the Fallout Miniatures game pre-order goes live because that is going to hurt my wallet.

Anyway, one of the many scattered started projects included my British Infantry for K47.  I pulled 3 of them out of the batch of primed models to do test paint schemes on.  I think they are coming along fairly well and hopefully I can wrap them up when I am back from vacation.

About the only other thing I have to report for the month is that I got in a game of Frostgrave.  Definitely not my first choice, but it was the pretty much the only choice for the one game day I could attend.  Attending and playing it only reinforced my desire to not play the game.  I rather have stayed home and painted, not that my family would have let me.. 

Anyway, part of the reason for disinterest in Frostgrave was the situation:  It ended up being 4 teams of 2 players each.  So 8 people.  It was slowwwwww which was also compounded by 3 new players (new players are a welcome addition to the group, don't get me wrong).  It also didn't help that I was between 2 high level warbands with basically a starter warband.  So not really a fault of the game but that game also confirmed something I thought I did not like about the game:  I just find that it to be non-interactive.  Everyone just telekinesis treasure around, places practically permanent walls of fog and mud pools, cast beauty, etc...

Not that I think it is a bad game mechanically.  It's actually fairly decent in that regard, albeit a bit bland.  I think the problem really is certain spells and how each wizard has access (at varying difficulties) to take pretty much every one of those problematic spells.  So it just becomes a game of denials.  The repercussions of this have been that my enthusiasm for Ghost Archipelago has waned.  It is going to have traction around here though, so I will at least pick up the rules and give them a read through to see if I detect some the same issues.

Well, that is all for September.  Next stop, Disney World.  Wish me luck.  Wish my family more luck.  ;)

Monday, September 11, 2017

Tail Feathers - Mousling Foot Soliders

Well it has been a long time coming, but I finally finished another batch of Tail Feather figures.  The delays really had nothing to do with the figures themselves or the paint job, instead it was really about my focus or lack thereof.  I've gotten distracted several times when I was supposed to be working on these but I finally buckled down and knocked these guys out.  Now onto the birds and the riders.  Hopefully I find those a bit more interesting.





Not completely happy with them but I really do not want to spend any more time on them.  This batch of figures really gave me fits along the way.  For the light fur color, my initial color choice was completely off base from what I wanted.  On the green cloaks, I achieved a really nice blending from shadow to highlight with the airbrush but for some reason when I had to correct some issues using a brush I could never get a good color match.  This required me to apply several washes over the entire cloak to tone down the gradients but destroying a lot of the highlight work in the process.  Also for the life of me I just could not get a decent highlight onto the red cloaks or the bows.  I don't know.  Of course, I gave up kind of easily.  lol

Just gotta do the basing.  I have a good backlog of basing to do on some "almost" finished figures, so I think one upcoming weekend I am finally going to sit down and knock them all out.

Anyway, for my reference here are the paints I used.  All paints are Reaper Master Series unless otherwise specified.

Basecoat:

  • Fur:
    • Vallejo Panzer Aces Light Rubber
    • Yellowed Bone
  • Cloak:
    • Templar Blue
    • Olive Green
    • Clotted Red
  • Amor/Arrow Head:  AP Gunmetal
  • Flesh:  Aged Bone + Carnage Red
  • Tunic/Shirt:  Terran Khaki
  • Leather:  Earth Brown
  • Bow/Arrow Shafts:  Rich Leather
  • Bow Straps/Feathers:  Aged Bone
Highlights:

  • Fur:
    • Vallejo Panzer Aces Light Rubber + Polished Bone
    • Creamy Ivory
  • Cloak:
    • Ashen Blue
    • Pale Olive
    • Carnage REd
  • Armor/Arrow Head:  AP Shinning Silver
  • Tunic/Shirt:  Khaki Highlight
  • Leather:  Leather Brown
  • Bow/Arrow Shafts:  Polished Leather
  • Bow Straps/Feathers:  Polished Bone
Shading:
  • Fur:  1 pass of AP Strong Tone
  • Cloak:
    • Breonne Blue
    • Muddy Olive
    • Bloodstain Red
  • Rest:  1 pass of AP Strong Tone, 2nd pass over select areas/spots


Friday, September 8, 2017

August Recap

I managed to get a few things done for the month of August.  As seen a couple of post back, I got my first models for Konflikt 47 finished up, which has allowed me to turn my attention back to Tail Feathers.  Well, at least in theory.  I just not very enthusiastic about painting those figures, so it has been really hard to double down and just knock them out.  Although, I did make a dent in what was left of the Mousling foot soldiers last week:  they are almost done.  Maybe I will find the birds more interesting and they wont drag out so long.  We'll see...  My daughter also sloshed some paint onto some miniatures with me one day, for about an hour, so that was fun.

I also read through the rules for Bushi No Yume, another samurai skirmish game, last month.  I haven't posted up a review of it yet, since I'm still trying to figure out how to approach the review (I know, that sounds weird.  You'll maybe understand my dilemma once I post it up).

Actual gaming wise, I missed the first regular meetup because my wife and daughter went out of town for the eclipse, leaving me with the baby.  For the second meetup, I got in a game of Mike's home brew game called Mini Mayhem.  I am not really recalling getting any board games in with my daughter or otherwise, so all in all a pretty slow month.

The annual Huntsville Plastic Model Society's show was also this past month and I swung by.  It was a quick walk through the area but some pretty neat stuff.  You can find some pictures in the last blog post.  The "news" out of Gencon also failed to generate much excitement for me.  Well, except for Star Wars Legion but that was about it.

August also ended with my missing another NOVA Open.  The family decision was made to go to Disney World (god help me) in October, which meant time/money/vacation wise, the NOVA Open was out of the question.  It looked like it was going to be pretty good show and it would have been great seeing old friends.  Hopefully I will get to see some of them at Adepticon and/or I can finally make it back to the NOVA Open in 2018.

Anyway, a few days late and time to move on to September.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Hunstville Plastic Modeler's Society, 2017


This weekend was once again the annual show for the Huntsville Plastic Modeler's Society, so I swung by to check it out.  The number of entries seemed down this year.  I grabbed a few photos of some pieces I thought were pretty nice or that interested me, and breezed through the vendor area rather quickly.  You can find more information regarding the HPMS here.



Check out the lighting!

Ok, time to get over the Star War fixation.

Lighting was pretty bad in this area.



Again, the photos are not really representative of all the categories or number of entries.  These are merely the ones I wanted to capture.  There were a lot of car model and modern fighter jets that just did not cry out to me.  And yes, Star Wars and WWII planes cry out to me pretty loudly.

All in all, like last year, a fun diversion for a hour on a Saturday.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Konflikt 47 - British Automated Infantry (MMG)

Well, here is another side project I have been working on:

The other 2 are painted, just not shown.  And look, I think
I finally got a decent photo!
I still have a few things left to finish up, along with the basing but I think these guys are mostly done.  For a fairly uninteresting model, I felt like these turned out pretty well and I am happy with them.  Of course they were not terribly difficult, just some quick airbrush work got 80% of the model done and then it was just painting a few details and some washes.

I'm not sure the white dot on the red lenses is appropriate, given how much that area is shadowed by the helmet, but I like how it draws my eye to that area and also helps bring the red out, so I think it's going to stay.  I also think the dials and the star (both white on the torso) need to be hit with a wash to make them look slightly dirty.  I haven't really decided though.  I'm also considering some slight battle damage/chipping and maybe bit more work on the lens.  We'll see.

The real downside though is putting these guys together.  Both legs are separate from the torso, so that creates a nightmare to getting a good solid bond while simultaneously trying to get a decent pose out of them.  But that nightmare turned out to be trivial when compare to attaching both arms to the torso AND the machine gun!  I have another squad of 5 of these guys that I am really not looking forward to.  That batch I may do some rust weathering on.

Anyway, that gets my Konflikt army started off.  Now I gotta jump back on Tail Feathers for my daughter.  She's getting a little tired of my "distractions."  Of which there are a few more distractions on my hobby desk right now too.

If I ever need to come back to it, here are the paints I used:

  • Main Body:  RMS Muddy Olive (S), RMS Olive Green (B), Mix of RMS Olive Green and RMS Pale Olive 2:1 (H1), RMS Olive Green and RMS Pale Olive 1:1 (Highlight2)
  • Vessels:  RMS Cloudy Grey (B), RMS Cloudy Grey and RMS Misty Grey 2:1 (H1), RMS Cloudy Grey and RMS Misty Grey 1:1 (H2)
  • Gun:
    • Black Portion:  Vallejo Panzer Aces Dark Rubber (B), Vallejo Panzer Aces Dark and Light Rubber 1:1 (H1), Vallejo Pazner Aces Light Rubber (H2)
    • Brown Portion*:  RMS Uniform Brown (S), RMS Green Ochre (B), RMS Faded Khaki (H)
  • Piping:  Terran Khaki (B)
  • Bullets:  AP Greedy Gold and AP Gun Metal
  • Lenses:  RMS Bloodstain Red (B), RMS Clotted Red (H)
I used washes to take care of most the shading:
  • Gun:
    • Black Portion:  AP Dark Tone (selectively in recessed areas)
    • Brown Portion:  AP Strong Wash
    • Body/elsewhere:  AP Strong Wash
      • First application all over but trying to avoid pooling in raised areas (which was only somewhat successful)
      • Second application in select areas such as recessed or shadowed areas.
*Note to self, the brown portion of the gun using Green Ochre as a base was a nightmare to highlight up to Faded Khaki.  It just seemed like whatever I did it still ended up just looking like the base color and I eventually gave up.  

Sunday, August 6, 2017

July Recap

A fairly light July for me but I did get one miniature game last month with the local group.  It was another game of 2v2 Konflikt 47 and was a lot of fun.  The game hinged on a single event though, an event that went it our favor (12 inch heavy bombardment from off board) that knocked at least 3 units out I believe.  Game wise, the only other thing I managed to fit in was a few games of Milles Bornes with my daughter on our family beach vacation.

Painting wise, I finished the base colors on 3 of the Mousling Foot Soliders for Tail Feathers.  But I've been putting off the detail work until I get the other 3 Mouslings done.  And I have been putting off working on those 3 Mouslings to work on some other things.  lol.  One of which was finishing up my Space Battleship Yamato model from the Bandai Mecha Collection.  There was no gaming purpose to it, just a fun little distraction.

Other than, not much new to report on yet.  I did unfortunately have to cancel my trip back to the DC area for the NOVA Open.  We decided to pull our family vacation to Disney World forward to October, which means I'm in a pretty serious crunch vacation wise and financially to be ready for that trip, so going to the NOVA Open had to be sacrificed.

None the less, I am looking forward to August.  I should be able to kick out a couple more projects, get a few games in and behold all the beautiful stuff and news out of Gencon.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Distracted - Space Battleship Yamato

Since finishing up the Ratling Foot Troops for Tail Feathers, I've indulged myself with a slight distraction (actually 2 but this is the only one I will share right now).  It's been a very on and off again project.  It started a couple of months ago when I randomly stumbled upon a beautiful Space Battleship Yamato scale model build and had to resist the urge of my base instincts, which were "I must own and build this!"  Come on, look at it:

Sadly, not my model.
How can one resist that?  It was actually easy for me, mostly, because of the size of the models.  I really do not need something that big, let alone making my first foray into scale modelling with something as big as most of these kits.  That is until I stumbled across Bandai's Mecha Collection.  Oh dear...

A nice little model of the Yamato, only 5 inches long?  And only
$10?  I must own you.
The kit was really not that hard to put together or to clean up.  Actually, I would say outside of having more steps and pieces, it was about as easy as most multi-part 30mm (ish) models I typically mess around with.  Despite a total of 29 pieces, I think this still managed to come in with a lower part count that Robotech Tactics model!  Ok, not really but it was still a worthy insult.  The instructions, due to the limited space, require a bit of staring at but I love the efficient use of materials to provide them:

You have to admit, that is efficient!
My intent was always to paint it, but you can settle for not
painting it.  If so inclined.
I decided to keep certain pieces unassembled for the painting process.  Yes, even though it's colored plastic already I planned on painting to try to unlock all of it's glory.  Or at least as much of it as I could.

*sigh* I really hate assembling models after I've painted them.
*holding breath*
Unfortunately, keeping the upper and lower hull in separate pieces is not an option.  That meant after my base coating, I needed to mask off the lower hull to paint the upper hull (I fully realize I should have done it the other way around.  At least now I do.  lol.  I think).  This resulted in heartbreak when the masking tape pulled off a big chunk of paint and I spent the next hour repairing it.  Then another hour+ trying to airbrush the rest of the upper hull using an old CCG card to mask/protect the lower hull.  Miniature assembly and painting would be so much easier if we humans had a third arm.  Anyway, here is a picture at that point after a gloss coat:


For the next phase, and the reason for the gloss coat, I planned on doing a pin wash for the panel lines.  Since this was a first for me, it required some sagely advice from my buddy John over at 40k Hobby Blog.  Although I did not heed his advice to use enamels instead of oils (because I did not feel like ordering and waiting for enamels to arrive), I tackled this step with a bit of confidence.  That was till I started putting those first few pin washes on:  Watching all my hard/careful work get messy, praying that it will come off like they say its supposed to, praying that you got a good gloss coat on, etc:

Ok, I got a little to messy with the pin wash.
After the pin wash was cleaned up, I began the final assembly.  Here is where it stands right now:

Hmm, I think I've done pretty well..  A couple of warts though.
There are some issues with it at this point.  Most noticeably the super structure and the bow are not a consistent color to the hull.  I can live with the super structure being a different shade as it very well could be constructed of slightly different materials and/or painted slightly differently.  The bow, not so much.  Additionally, not shown by the photo, is the fact that there is a very bad "step" at the hull and bow attachment.  I think, after I have set this aside for a bit, I will attempt to smooth that step away with some green stuff.  Then I will have to repaint the bow, which gives me a chance to correct the inconsistent colors.  Outside of that, the only other thing I want to do is paint some of the windows green.  Like I said though, I'm going to set this aside for a bit because even with it's warts, I'm really happy with it.

It was a really fun little projected and a nice diversion.  Overall, I happy with the quality vs time I spent on the model, for once.  Of course, that is mainly due to being able to use the airbrush almost exclusively.  It was also a nice exercise for improving my airbrush skills and also served as my first foray with pin washes.  Much like the chipping I did with my vehicular combat car, I will approach this task next time with much more confidence.

Down the road, I will have a second go of this model.  I ended up damaging the superstructure on my first build of this.  I tried to roll with it but eventually conceded to ordering a second kit just for the superstructure (the kit only costs $10).  So what is one to do with a second kit, with a damaged superstructure?  A battle damaged Yamato!  Eventually...  I might even have a few more models from this collection.  Maybe.

Lastly, I found the transformation process extremely rewarding:

Vanilla:
Not a bad little model straight out of the box, but a
little toy-ish to me.
To:
It may not be "great" but I'm pretty proud of this.
For my future reference, colors used:

Greys:  RMS Stormy Grey (Shade), RMS Cloudy Grey (Base), RMS Misty Grey (Highlight)
Reds:  RMS Bloodstain Red (Shade), RMS Clotted Red (Base), RMS Carnage Red (Highlight)
Brown (Decking):  RMS Leather Brown
Pin Wash:  Burnt Umber oil, with a little Black oil mixed in

Now, back to some Tail Feather models before my daughter finds out I have not been working on them.  Shhh.


Sunday, July 9, 2017

Rules Review - Ronin



Ronin was another Samurai skirmish ruleset that I wanted to review.  It's a ruleset from Osprey Publishing that came out a couple of years ago.  Despite picking this rulebook up literally days after it was available, I had never sat down and actually read the rules.

Scale of Game & List Building:
The rulebook states that Ronin is intended for 4-20 miniatures per side and suggesting that 100 points should equate to < 10 figures and about an hour of game time.  So it sounds in line with my taste.

The force composition rules are not as simple to summarize though.  The first thing to understand that each potential member of your force can have a Rank of 0 through 5.

  • Rank 0:  Basically a peasant that has picked up arms
  • Rank 1/2:  Basic troop
  • Rank 3/4:  Elite troop
  • Rank 5:  Best of the best
Depending on the faction you choose to play, you will get various composition requirements based on the ranks above.  For instance, one faction may say that you can only have one Rank 3 troop, per every Rank 1 troops your force has.  Additionally, many forces dictate that no more than 50% of your force may be armed with missile weapons and no more than 25% of force can have a teppo (flintlock rifles).

Given the typical composition rules, it would seem to me that no matter the point total you and your opponent agree upon, you will probably tend toward the higher end of model counts.  Still, 20 figures is within my preference level.


Standard Rules:
Ronin is basically an alternating activation system, although this occurs at the phase level.  There are 5 phases to each turn:  Priority, Move, Combat, Action, End.  The Priority phase simple determines who can go first for each of the Move, Combat and Action phases and is handled with a simple d6 roll off.  As far as I recall, nothing else factors into this roll off (it would have been nice to see some modifiers/something that added a little more depth than just a random roll).  Morale is also handled during this phase.  The End phase is simply a maintenance/clean up phase, so timing is simultaneous.

The Move phase is actually exactly how it sounds, although there is one exception.  Movement is standard for all troops:  6 inch standard move, 9 inch run with modifiers for certain conditions.  The interesting part of the Move phase is that it is an "opportunity" to shoot.  I say opportunity, because you can also shoot range weapons in the Action phase.  Even if you shot during the Move phase.  Yes, you can shoot twice per turn (this is potentially ok though, as I will eventually discuss) unless it is a weapon that requires reloading (teppo).  Shooting during the Move phase is considered a hurried shot and suffers a penalty.

The Combat and Action phases are also exactly what they sound like.  Combat resolves all the melee combats and the Action phase is where actions are performed, including standard shooting.

In each the Move, Combat and Action phases the player with priority determines who goes first.  After the first players action, it alternates to the other player and so on until all models have acted or passed.

Since shooting can first occur during the Move phase, let's discuss how that is resolved.  Shooting is simply a 2d6+characteristic+/-modifiers against a target number of 6.  If successful, the damage is equal to the difference.

Combat, is actually resolved a little differently and is little shocking at first.  The Ranks of the models involved determines each sides combat pool.  This combat pool is secretly divided between Offense and Defense.  Initiative is determined for each model involved in the melee with a d6+modifier roll and the highest initiative get an opportunity to to attack.  If the model does attack, it removes a Offense token for his sides pool.  It's then a 2d6+modifiers roll against the targets 1d6+modifier roll.  This is where I was scratching my head a bit, since that seems a bit "unfair."  Well, the reason is each side actually gets a chance to "enhance" their roll by removing another appropriate token from their pool and if you are paying attention, the defender has not spent any tokens yet.  So if the target has no defense tokens, or chooses not to use them, then I guess the philosophy is that it's not trying very hard to defend itself and therefore should be easier to hit.  Interesting.

Note though, I said each side can "enhance" their attack.  If the attacker does enhance its offense for that attack they get an additional die, bringing it up to 3d6, but can only keep the best 2 results so its not quite as huge of an advantage as a straight 3d6.  Like shooting, if successful the damage is determined by the difference.  Then you move to the model with the next highest initiative and basically wrap and repeat until no offense tokens remain.

Damage is also kind of interesting, as models do not have a number of wounds.  Which seems really weird given I have just been talking about damage being the difference between 2 numbers.  This is because damage equates to a level of wounds, and wounds stack up to higher level wounds:

  • Damage 1:  Stunned
  • Damage 2/3:  Light
  • Damage 4/5:  Grievous
  • Damage 6:  Critical (killed/out of action)
While stuns do not "stack" in the sense of a cumlative effect, you do track each stun because during the end phase a variable amount of them are removed.  A light wound on top of a light wound is upgraded to grevious.  A model with a grevious wound that suffers any wound (even stun it appears) is upgraded to critical. Note my wording in these, it appears intentional that if a model has a light wound and then suffers a grevious wound then it only has a grevious wound.  Appears is the key word though.  Wounds also impart modifiers on several things (movement, combat modifiers, etc).

Beyond that, the rules allow for basic special rules (kinda like key words), mounted models, special attacks (disarm or subdue), and weapon specific modifiers and special rules.


Other Things:
The rulebook is fairly well laid out although there are a couple of minor issues, IMO.  The first is my (and a lot of other gamers) typical gripe in that there is no index.  Yes, it kind of does not need one since it is fairly short the Table of Contents does manage fairly well.  Still, when will people learn that "we" want indexes.  The second is the rules could be better broken into clearly distinct sections.  Things just seems to roll from one topic into another without much notice, making it slightly confusing (or making me just an easily confused old man).

There are a lot of different factions to choose from that can be very distinct just from the composition rules alone.  There is a suggestion for a campaign advancement system but nothing strictly laid out.  There are also advance rules for adding in another tactical layer via fatigue and a resilience stat, which seem kind of odd to me to have these as an advance rule as the game overall seems simple enough to tolerate this additional layer.

The scenarios seem a bit of an after thought.  VPs for a scenario are primarily driven by the Rank of the models killed.  But each player also randomly determines a secondary objective for the game, worth 5 VP.  Which is certainly enough to swing the game, it just does not seem like enough to back off the typical kill everything you can approach.

Some Issues:
I really not seeing any major/obvious issues with the rules.  In fact, I am pretty interesting to see how the entire combat pool thing works out for melee.  I may not like it though, its a little tough to say.  I am also still a little concerned that archers can shoot twice in one turn and damage is determined against a static number (that is slight below the mean for 2d6 rolls).  I believe that most factions limiting the number of range weapons to 50% is an attempt to offset this.  I also think that it maybe balances that melee guys can technically attack multiple times in a turn if they have a high combat pool and allocate it to offense.

I think the rules are really crying out for an expansion.  I would love to see better scenarios that really drive the encounter, rather than after thoughts.  A better advancement system would be great to, as would be a nice narrative campaign system wrapping around all of it.  Top of that expansion book with some options to add more fantastical elements to the game.  That being said, the game has been out for a couple of years now and we have not seen any additional support so I would not hold my breath.

Conclusions:
I think if you are interested in Samurai skirmish games, I think Ronin is worth trying out.  Given its one of the Osprey wargaming books, it is pretty cheap (I think I paid $14?).  I'm interested to see how the combat pool mechanic works out.  That being said, I am not particularly excited to try it and I can't really figure out why.  The only thing I can think of is;  If I threw down pirate models and changed the names of weapons and armor, then there would be nothing "samurai-ish" left to make it feel like I was playing with the wrong models.  What would make a game, any, feel "samurai-ish"?  I don't know.

Anyway, with this being my third review for samurai skirmish rules, you would think I had a bunch of models painted up waiting to go.  Wrong.  LOL.

Adding this to the list of games of this genre:  Samurai Skirmish

Friday, July 7, 2017

June Recap

So the month of June was pretty good hobby wise.  Due to an influx of TV shows hitting Netflix, I actually got a lot hobby time in.  The amount of hobby time also seemed to stem from juggling 3 projects at the same time.  Odd that would work better for me, but if I was burned out on one, I could just switch to one of the others.  I should be ready to share all 3 of these projects in July.  But here is progress on Tail Feathers:

New phone with better camera soon, I hope.
I also got back in the habit of going to the local game days that occur every two weeks.  The first one was a bust:  I brought Star Wars Armada stuff to demo for a friend of one of the local regulars but the guy did not show.  But at least it got me out of the house.  The second one, I participated in a 2v2 game of Konflikt 47, playing a borrowed Russian list.  It was a pretty fun game and I have since gotten in a second game.  I might post up some thoughts on the game/rules.

I continued to get a few board games in June too.  After a few more plays of Tsuro, my daughter has learned another level to playing:  "Stay away from daddy's piece."  lol  We also tried out a new game (for us) called Doodle Quest.  I was not actually interested in Doodle Quest for myself, but it is a game that could improve her hand-eye development a lot, or at least it would seem to me to have that potential, so I picked it up for her.

Other than that, I'm headed to the beach on "vacation" next week.  Anyway, hopefully it will give me a chance to post up my thoughts so far on Konflikt 47 and I've got a couple more rulesets I want to read through.

Oh yeah, one last thing.  There was a kickstarter that almost broke me out of my anti-kickstarter shell:  John Wick launched a kickstarter for a board game called War of the Cross.  Set in the world of 7th Sea, I was really interested in this one but the kickstarter kinda fell flat.  It has since been pulled and hopefully will return stronger and better.

I also made this:


I keep all my paints in a drawer, so I thought this would be pretty helpful when try to color match or determining color schemes.  It was partly motivated by my vacation next week too:  I've got a couple of color schemes I want to think through and thought this would be helpful in figuring them out.  I have tried something like this out before, just with a simple journal, but did not like it because it was hard to add things where I wanted them and also it would (sometimes) not allow me to compare things side by side (unless I wanted to rip one of the sheets out).  I can also hold these pieces right next to a painted sample for a better look.  At the very least it was a good diversion one night when I didn't feel like doing "real" hobbying.

Anyway, hopefully some more updates/etc coming soon.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Tail Feathers - Ratling Foot Troops

So, just a quick (hopefully) update on some painted models.  I finished my first batch of Tail Feather models:  6 ratling foot troops.  I'm not really excited about how they turned out, although I am not that displeased either:  I was just trying to get something decent ready for the table.  I still have to figure out what I am going to do for the basing but I think it is probably just going to be a standard flocking.


Anyway, in case I need to refer back to it in the future (doubtful):

Basecoat:
  • Pants:  
    • RMS Templar Blue (2 figs)
    • Vallejo Dark Rubber (2 figs)
    • Vallejo Light Rubber (2 figs)
  • Fur:  
    • RMS Aged Bone (for white rats)
    • RMS Dark Skin (for brown rats)
  • Skin/Flesh:  
    • RMS Aged Bone + RMS Carnage Red (for white rats)
    • RMS Tanned Skin (for brown rats)
  • Backpack:  RMS Uniform Brown*
  • Armor:  Dave Taylor's Polished Steel Recipe*
  • Leather:  RMS Earth Brown
  • Crossbow:  RMS Rich Leather
  • Eyes/Arrow Feather:  RMS Carnage Red
  • Teeth/Claws:  RMS Faded Khaki
  • Arrow Shaft:  RMS Earth Brown
  • Bones:  RMS Aged Bone
Highlights:
  • Pants:  None
  • Fur:  Worked up to
    • RMS Polished Bone (for white rats)
    • RMS Dark Skin + RMS Aged Bone* (for brown rats)
  • Skin/Flesh:  None
  • Backpack:  Several washes of RMS Green Ochre*
  • Armor:  Dave Taylor's Polished Steel Recipe
  • Leather:  Worked up to RMS Leather Brown
  • Crossbow:  RMS Polished Brown
  • Eyes/Arrow Feather:  None
  • Teeth/Claws:  None
  • Arrow Shaft:  None
  • Bones:  RMS Polished Bone
Shading:
  • All:  Thinned AP Strong Tone Wash, several controlled applications
It was a conscious decision to skip a lot of highlighting in certain areas and a bit of a test to see how that would turn out.  The lower parts of the body and small details, for what I was trying to achieve (passable tabletop), just did not seem worth the time investment.  Similarly, I also wanted to see how the AP Strong Tone wash would turn out and if I would be happy with "cutting that corner."  I think the results are "ok."  I do wish they had turned out a little better and I am still not happy with how long it took to get them done.  I of course will try again on the next batch (Tail Feather mousling foot troops).  My daughter though is very happy with how they turned out and the purpose of painting these up are to play with her, so I guess that is a big win!

Overall I think, as usual, I did not get enough contrast in the models and failed to push my highlights and shadows far enough.  I do think in a couple of areas I pushed further than I have in the past, so maybe there is hope for me in that regard.  lol

Anyway, I need to jump on the next batch.  Well, after a short (I hope) distraction.

*Notes:
  • Backpack:  The RMS Uniform Brown I used for the backpack totally failed me.  For some reason when the paint dried it was severally cracked.  Since I figured it was the paint going bad, I had to step "over" to using RMS Green Ochre, applying several thinned applications to "hide" the cracking.  This caused an overall color shift that left me a little unsatisfied but not unhappy enough to do anything about it.
  • Armor:  Dave Taylor's Polished Steel recipe was a bit of a mistake, I actually intended for a darker, grittier looking armor but for some reason used this recipe instead of his Dark Iron recipe.  I tried a few extra applications of AP Strong Tone to "shift" it in that direction but ultimately just decided to roll with it as you see.
  • Fur (brown rats);  RMS Dark Highlight produced no perceivable gradient shift from the RMS Dark Skin basecoat, so I tried adding in RMS Aged Bone.  It didn't really seem to work out all that great (or I did not push the contrast far enough).  A suggestion was to use a more "flesh" color than the aged bone, so I will try that next time I am in this situation.  
  • Varnishing:  The picture above is un-varnished.  Since it was taken, I have hit the models with a gloss coat to prepare for the basing and maybe just a bit of weathering.  This has really washed out any highlighting/shading on the them.  I know when I apply the dull coat they should "come back" but I'm holding my breath until then.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

May Recap

Well, May was a month of some wins and losses on the hobby front.  I guess starting with the losses, I did not manage to make it to either of the local game days for the month.  I also missed CMON Expo, again.  And I have not made it nearly as far as I had hoped on the miniatures for the Tail Feather's game:  I had hoped (LOL) to have the whole thing done in May.  Part of the problem has been:


And yes, for those of you paying attention, that also means I now have a PS4.  And no, I did not get a PS4 just to play this game.  I got a PS4 just so I could play the new Tekken game that comes out at the end of the week!  Horizon Zero Dawn was just a pleasant, very pleasant, bonus.  Anyway, I've managed to curtail my playing back down to a decent level but I did lose a couple of weeks before I regained some focus.

For wins, while I still have not managed to get in a single board game at my work's regular Wednesday lunch-board game hour, I did show my daughter how to play Tsuro.  She liked it a lot and caught on very quickly.  We knocked out a few games of that one Saturday and then the next day took it over to my parents house for a few more plays.

And while I did not get the entire Tail Feathers game painted, I did get the first batch (6 ratlings on foot) done!  Not entirely pleased with how they turned out but I am calling them done so I can move on (the figures are not the greatest anyways and I missed a lot of mold lines, so why invest to much time into them).  I did get distracted after wrapping those minis up though, it is just a quick detour (I hope).  Anyway, I will post something up soon about those 2 things.

That's about it.  Looking forward to June, I want to make sure that detour is taken care of quickly and then jump back on the next batch of Tail Feathers.  Also looking to make the next couple of local game days.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Rules Review - Torii



Continuing to tilt at windmills, specifically for a Samurai skirmish game, I just revisited the Torii rules by Zenit Miniatures.  I had flipped through the rules a while back and I did not recall anything that was explicitly a show stopper, at least for me, so I thought it was worth going back and reviewing a little further and capturing my thoughts.  The rules are available for free and can be found here or from the main page of the Zenit website.

Although not the purpose of this review, I should point out that Zenit also offers a Samurai oriented mass battle ruleset called Kensei.  They also offer an wonderful range of Samurai models, in fact their range is the one I want to use for whatever ruleset I converge on (if I ever get around to it).  Unless something better comes along before then.  Anyway...

Scale of Game & List Building:
The rules advertise it is a game of 8-12 models per side, consisting of 3 categories of troops you can use to build your force, with the following restrictions:
  • Hero:  Must include at least 1.  No more than 2 are allowed and they must be different.
  • Elites:  Up to 4 may be included into your warband
  • Warriors:  No restriction
  • No more than 12 models total
  • Only less than half of the warband can be equipped with ranged weapons
You have 100 points to build your warband as above.  You can also spend points to equip them with mounts or range weapons or you can purchase Offerings for the Gods (rerolls).

While each category of troop shares the same stat line, the "force lists" expand this vanilla approach by offering different choices of Warriors (for instance) with different skills depending on the Clan they represent.  There are also common troop choices available to ever clan.  I really like this approach in theory and it appears to alleviate my first impression that the game would be very bland due to so much parity via the statline.

Standard Rules:
Torii is what I would call a "I go, You go" with reaction system.  Typically not my favorite form of activation systems but at least it has a reaction component.  In this system, the active player starts issuing and resolving orders to their models, where an order represents one or more actions (coming back to this in a second).  If more than one action is permitted (more on that later), it can not be a duplicate of a previous action that miniature has taken during it's activation, nor can you have more than 1 combat action per activation.  Any model that has received an order (either the active player or the reactive player) is considered activated and can not be re-activated that turn.  The active player then continues to activate their other miniatures and once they have finished all of their activations, the second player then proceeds to activate their remaining eligible models.

What is a bit interesting in all this is that the number of actions a model may have is variable and not determined until the command roll is made at the beginning of a model's activation.  A command roll is simply a 1d6 + initiative roll.  On a 4+,the model gets 2 activations, otherwise it just gets 1.  This seems kind of interesting but may end up being a bit of a love it/hate it type mechanic, at least for some.  Lastly, on a command roll of a 6+ the model activates it's "Ki" (some skills may only be used if this has occurred).

Back to actions.  There are a fairly typical set of actions available to the active player and a limited set for the reactive player.  It is worth noting though that some actions to require 2 action points, hence the command roll could really hamper your plans.

Torii is a d6 based system and most rolls utilize the appropriate stat, rolling that number of d6s with a 4+ being considered a success.  Close combat is resolved by each miniature rolling the appropriate number of dice (with modifiers) and counting successes (multiple of the same rolls, that are a successes, cause a crush bonus to be applied during damage resolution if that miniature wins the combat).  The miniature with the higher number of success is the winner and causes a number of impacts equal to the difference.  To resolve the damage, you roll a 1d6 + the difference from the previous step + modifiers (like crush):  on 1-4 the target is stunned, 5 or 6 is a wound.  It is clearly stated that stunned tokens are removed at the beginning of the turn but I'm not sure of the affect otherwise (can't be activated?).  It would also seem, although not clear, that 2 stunned convert into a wound.

Range combat works in a fairly similar way.  Except Line of Sight affects the target number for success:  4+ for clear LOS, 5+ for partially blocked LOS.  There are also modifiers to the number of dice you roll based on class of range weapon (ie, short range weapons like shurikens) and the range band it is firing at.  Outside of that, if the target reacted with an opportunity shot it is basically the same as close combat.  If not, then the difference in impacts is equal to the number of successes the attacker rolled.  If successful, then the damage is resolved.  Given the disparity in the number of impacts you can generate (versus Close Combat), it would seem that unopposed range combat could be very deadly.

In all cases, if a miniature is wounded it then must perform a Honor Test or it will attempt to flee the combat.  I would have liked to see some modifiers to this test, for instance if a warrior is within X of a Hero, it gets Y modifier to it's Honor Test.  Maybe it is buried in the skills.

Outside what I've already mentioned, the rest of the rules from there on seem pretty standard.

Missions:
There are 6 missions provided, each with a primary and secondary objectives and scoring.  A common primary mission is randomly determined and shared by both players.  Typically it offers 3 scoring elements of 1, 2 and 3 for a possible total of 6+ points.  Each player also receives a random and independent mission to score for their secondary objective, worth 2 points.  I am a big fan of this type of mission/objective approach.  My only concern is the disparity between primary scoring and secondary scoring would seem to make going for a secondary a very poor decision.  I would have to play through them multiple times to really tell though.

Other Things:
The rule book is fairly well laid out and would seem to flow well but I actually found myself searching around it a lot.  Something in the flow is just slightly off but I can figure out what.  That being said, from cover to cover it is only about 16 pages, if you exclude the skill list/definition and the force list, so it does not take long to find whatever you may need to look up.  There is no table of contents or index for the rules, but given how short the rules are I do not think this is a big issue.

It should also be noted, as written, that Torii does not allow pre-measuring prior to issuing orders, which is not a big issue for me but for some it may be.  Of course, you are likely to never to play this game in a tournament, so why don't you and your opponent just agree to play the way you want.  ;)

The rules also specifically call out that models should be mounted on square bases but honestly there is no mechanic that would seem to drive this.  I personally would consider this optional, just like the pre-measuring issue.

Weapons are handled fairly generically.  Close combat weapons are all considered similar.  Long combat weapons are just slightly different.  Range weapons are all fairly similar, only grouped into range categories.  Perhaps all that is for the best or perhaps it makes it a little to vanilla.

I should also mention the rules are in metric.  As a one time player and fan of Confrontation, this is really not an issue to me but I remember some people, at the time, were very adamant about their hatred of the metric system and unwilling to consider playing a game in metric.

As in Test of Honour, Torii appears to lack any fantastical elements.  Unless you consider the Ki triggering/allowing skills to take affect.  So this is a bit of a downside to me personally.  But in the case of Torii, I find this very odd (which I will come back to later).

Some Issues:
There are some slight issues with the rules, as presented.  I do not think there are any major holes in the rules, all the content seems to be there.  It is just I felt like I had to flip around a lot to find things.  For instance, as I stated above the close combat mentions "Crush", I figured that would be explained in the rules for resolving damage.  But it is not.  You find it in the skill section.  Which is fine, I understand this approach but they could have written "crush skill" or something that would have clued me in.  Also, I think the rules are simple enough to get away without having any diagrams or examples but I would I have still liked to have seen some.

As I mentioned when I covered range combat, it does seem on paper that range combat could be very deadly.  It is definitely good that the list building rules limit the amount of range weapons your force can be composed with.  But I still worry that it could be a little to deadly for my tastes.

The only other major issue I see is I am not sure of the support for this game.  I think it is great they are leveraging off of Kensei and the range of models they have for Torii.  But, why doesn't Torii have Clan profiles for all the great undead and Oni/monster models they released via crowd funding for Kensei?  And why are there no fantastical elements to the game rules to support this?  That hole leads me to have concerns about future support/intentions from Zenit for Torii.

Conclusions:
Torii may end up being a bit vanilla.  Maybe the simplified/unified statline utilizing skills approach will backfire, maybe it's a perfect solution.  But, since the rules are free and there is nothing that necessarily ties you to using Zenit's range of miniatures (therefore to me it seems fairly miniature agnostic), I think the game is worth trying out if you are interested in a Samurai skirmish game.  If it does not work out for you, you can always carry your miniatures over to another system (I suspect most rulesets for this genre that you will find are going to be miniature agnostic) and give it a try.

Update:
Right after I hit publish on this post, I found out Zenit has launched its Kickstarter for a second edition of Kensei (their mass battle Samurai rules).  Since I have not really looked into Kensei, I do not really have an opinion about it.  That being said, the Kickstarter does offer a lot of their miniatures and even a printed version of the Torii rules.  You can find the Kickstarter here.

Adding this to the list of games of this genre:  Samurai Skirmish