Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Black Ops - Get that data card!

Continued from previous post.

So, Orks came from the north. In the first turn they caught guards unaware. Close quarter combat (CQC) specialists sneaked behind one the unaware guards using the forest to the east, and killed him silently.
Ork leader approached the target building in order to get the data card.
Hell broke loose at the beginning of the second turn. Remaining guards spotted intruders and started shouting, which was enough for Space Marine leader (Ace) to wake up and rise an alarm.
Hearing the alarm, Space Marines reinforcement force arrived through the east road. They quickly cleared east part of the table from any Greenskins they could find.
But Orks were doing good at the west. They prepared an ambush for Space Marine commander, and as soon as he emerged from the building he was taken down by the rain of bullets.

Ork leader found the data he needed and ordered retreat.

Turn 3 found remaining Orks trying to move out to their table edge, and Space Marines trying to close for a kill. At the end, Ork leader, Heavy support and one grunt managed to escape, while remaining grunts got killed in firefight.
Orks took heavy casualties but they were still victorious, as Ork Ace managed to return home with the data.

At the end, I really liked the game. Through the first turn I was afraid that the game will be boring and that I will easily accomplish my mission,  but as the guards become aware of my troops everything become really interesting. At the end, I was victorious, but it was close game, and there was possibility for tide to turn at the end.
What is the most important thing, enemy AI worked great, enemies responded reasonably to my actions, making Black Ops perfect solo experience.

What I missed is some kind of QRC with all tables at one location, but this is something to be more blamed on Osprey required book format, than on the author.
Still, searching for the right table through the book makes play slower, and making private QRS sheet for the next game is something I will have to do.
UPDATE - I was informed that there is existing QRS on Osprey site - here is the link.

Finally, since this is my last post this year, let me wish all of you all the best in 2016.
See you next year.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Black Ops - part 1

Just a short update this time.

I am ready to play my first game of Black Ops from Osprey.
I  will be sending my Orks (fanatics profiles from the book) on espionage mission to steel some data from Human base. All of this will happen on the Compound table, with data being stored in the central building (gun store).

Human forces are mix of conscript profiles (representing Imperial guard) and special operation profiles (Space marines Ace and Heavy). Humans will be run on programmed opponent rules from the book.
Programmed opponent in Black Ops bases itself on two tables - one for unaware opponents going on their everyday business and one for enemies in action, which should give realistic behavior for the enemy forces. Sounds good, and how it plays I will check during the weekend.

Important thing to know is that Black Ops is a card activation game, that uses standard deck of playing cards to determine initiative.
Well, just to keep in the spirit of the game I want to play, I made my own custom deck - somehow it seems nicer to me.
I plan to play this game during the weekend, so stay tuned to see how it went.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Age of Sigmar

Another business trip, this time to Warsaw, Poland.
Again, I booked the hotel to be just across the street from a gaming location - this time it was Games Workshop shop. Since there are no GW shops in south-east Europe, and my gaming group is leaning towards 9th edge, I wanted to use the opportunity and finally try first hand to play Age of Sigmar against someone with experience in the field.

So, I dropped by the shop and arranged an introductory game. 
I brought with me some Skaven models, 5 war scrolls, 23 figures total.
My opponent (by chance named Aleksander - the same as me) took 4 war scrolls of Khorne, 27 figures total.
My opponent played in the spirit on Khorne - all forces forward.
Rats turned to be harder nuts than I expected. They managed to withstand first attack, after which moment my Plague priest (leading from behind as any good rat should) followed by rattling gun encircled enemy and brought devastation to Blood God forces.

Rats were victorious. The game lasted about one hour.

My opinion? You can kill me but I liked the game. Actually, I think that any game after which you can spend additional 15 minutes with opponent discussing about what strategy each side could take is a good game. And that is exactly what we did.

Age of Sigmar is not a brain cracking serious game, but I spent really fun hour of playing, and I will gladly do it again - so next time I come close to any GW shop I will definitely try to organize a play. 20 models is something I can always bring with me on a trip.

So once again thanks to the GW Warsaw team for the great time.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Red Worms, Blue Worms

Last week, I was on a business trip to Plovdiv Bulgaria. By the luck of the chance, my hotel was just across the street from recently opened gaming club called Level Up. So I dropped by after work to say hi.
As the evening was early, I suggested a game of Microscope RPG. 4 players participated, including myself. We decided to play a history of life on the planet, from first to last living cell. As important part of the pallet, we decided that there will be no intelligent beings, so no artificially created cataclysms. Life has to die on the planet due to natural causes.

At the beginning of history, cells started multiplying until one cell give birth to two genetically strange offspring - one red and one blue. Children of those cells will later become red and blue worms. Somebody mentioned that Red Worms dominated first period of existence. Someone else decided that Blue Worms live in the water.

There were other creatures, like  Slugs, Jellyfishes and Birds. We had important scene where we asked question how did the Birds become extincted.  During the scene we discovered that Red Worms live in lava, and that same lava is a food source for Birds. As the planet got colder, there was no more lava pools on the surface, and water filled empty spaces. Birds had no food and they died off.
Also, Red Worms had nowhere to live, so Red Worms dominated period ended and Blue Worms dominated period began.

But the similar thing that happen with lava now happened with water. Lack of water on the surface forced Blue Worms to become smaller and smaller, and at the end they were living as parasites inside the Jellyfishes, whose belly was the last remaining wet environment on the planet surface. Unfortunately, the symbioses was not perfect, Blue Worms were eating Jellyfishes from the inside, parasites soon killed their hosts and they killed themselves the same way, ending the life on the planet.

Players struggled with rolleplaying in scenes due to the strange nature of possible characters, so most of the the scenes ended up being dictated, but all in all it was a fun game and it went well considering that 3 players were completely new to Microscope.

Later in the evening we also played some Takenoko and a shot of Betrayal at the House on the Hill (great game, one I am going to purchase to run for my home group at Jatacenje convention in January).

Great time all in all. Level Up is a must if you go to Bulgaria.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Traveling set

Due to the popular request, I am presenting here my traveling wargaming set.

If you are like me, and you spend better part of the week in hotels on business trips, out of home, you would like to take your hobby with you. Here is the way I am doing that.

The first thing every wargamer/RPG player needs are dice. So, even when I fly short distances within Europe with just hand luggage, the dice sets goes with me. My do not leave home without set includes all Rory's story cubes, some Fudge dice for FATE, at lest 3 complete sets of polyhedral dice with several additional D20 for D&D or OSR, and lots of additional D6 for everything else.

With most of the books stored as PDFs in my PC, this is enough for a several evenings of solo RPG plays.

But if I travel by car, or if I carry a big suitcase due to the need of packing a suit, I like to brig along also some wargaming stuff. Only, in this case it is important to accept going small and to accept compromises.

First thing needed for a good game is a table. My traveling table is 1"x1". If you use inches into centimeters approach, it can double as 2"x2" table, and that is enough for most skirmishes.

My tables are made from wood veneer or thick cardboard. Upper surface is first covered with magnetic foil (I use the self adhesive one, to glue it easily on complete board)
Over the magnetic foil I glued self adhesive paper with grass pattern printed on it. If you look at the photo you can see lines where A4 sheets meet each other.
Good idea is to glue magnetic foil on both surfaces of the board, and then to cover one with grass pattern as shown above, and second with stars pattern for space ship fights, if you like that kind of things.

For the small board, you will need small figures. I use 10mm figures for fantasy, 6mm for Napoleonic wars or SF. Fantasy is the best solution for traveling, since these games can be played with little or no terrain. For firearms period it is usually good to have crowded table with lots of cover, but when you are on the road you do not want to carry too much terrain with you, no matter how small it is.
So, when I travel I usually carry with me what is shown on the upper photo - big warbands of humans, dwarfs and orcs (Copplestone castings 10mm), giant rats swarm led by two ratmen (all GW, small parts from Skaven sprues), some dungeon monsters from different manufacturers, selected 10mm terrain and some space ships for SF space combat. Important part of the set are counters visible on bottom right.
All models are individually based. As base for small models I use 3mm washers (7mm outer diameter), glued to the bottom of the figure's original base. Washers catch to the magnetic surface of the board, and in this way i know that I will not accidentally ruin my setting.
Bigger models are based on appropriate bigger washers.
Terrain peaces are either commercially available paper models scaled to 6/10mm, or custom made by me. Terrain peaces also need to be able to attach to magnetic foil. Best trick I found for that is to use old (or for this purpose especially purchased) metal measuring tape - it is cheap material, catches to magnet and can be easily cut. Just glue part of it to the bottom of your terrain as shown below, and you are ready to go.
The last thing is to pack the miniatures. I was never the one to worry if they will get damaged or not - small miniatures I use are robust and do not break easily, and if some paint goes of I can easily fix it. Therefore, I just put all the models into plastic box left after some small electric device, and then drop it into the suitcase. If you want to take better care of your miniatures while traveling, you will have to think of something yourself.
You will also need something to measure distances, and that is it.

So, if we ever happen to be in the same hotel somewhere in Europe, you may count on it that I have my gaming set with me.
Meet me in the hotel lobby, I am always happy to throw a game or two.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Advanced SoBH action

One of my favorite skirmish games - Song of Blades and Heroes is now available in two flavors - as normal and advanced game.
Advanced game was funded through kickstarter, and, among other things, it features lots of new traits, magic system developed to higher detail, and a very neat reaction system that allows your models to step in with the quick action during the opponent turn.
As kickstarter backer, I received the playtest version of the game few days ago, so I decided to do a little solo trial.
I played a small game, where two 100 points warbands (troll, orc archer and giant rat against human leader, human archer and a dwarf) were pitched in a limited space of a dungeon room.
As usually, I am on a business trip and I have limited resources, so for this test I used grid instead of sticks, counting one square as short, two as medium and 3 as long distance. Figures are 10mm scale.

The beginning of the game favored dungeon monsters, as orc archer made a gruesome kill on human shooter.
But high Quality of attackers showed itself here, they got over the gruesome kill, ganged on troll and sent him out of action.
Then orc archer missed his shot, rat recoiled from a dwarf and looters were able to gang on remaining orc again. Orc went prone, and then rolled turn-over, so heroes used lethal attack to finish the game (animals automatically escape once last non-animal model is killed).
The game was fun, and the new traits really give color to characters.

Of course, when playing, my main concern was how will the new rules influence possibility for solo games.
To my surprise, it seems that advanced version will be easier to transfer into solo game than the original one. The goal for the future is to define the way NPCs will use reaction based on their role  in the warband (shooter will probably move away from the melee, etc) and this will make them more automated, more realistic, and therefore a bigger challenge for the player.
I am looking forward to delving deeper into this rules.