Saturday, August 18, 2018

Early Pony Wars playtest

Bruce has been kicking around putting together a game loosely based on the old Pony Wars game. The players cooperate against the game system to rescue settlers and thwart bandits in the old west. He put on a playtest using paper counters to see how his updated mechanics worked.

Combat and activation was based on a modified "They might be kings" ruleset (basically Dragon Rampant). He modified NPC play by shrinking the original Pony Wars card deck and adding in some addition colour.

Each turn an event card is drawn (e.g., 3 warbands arrive, bison and bison hunter arrives, landslide) with random placement. Then the NPCs on the board all move (die roll). Then the small number of player units (US 7th Cavalry) moves.

The game is won based upon points. Above, we have a unit persuading the minors to come with the cavalry across the board to the safety of the Fort. Below, the same unit is also grabbing the settlers from an isolated farmstead. The rail workers have also arrived (if they compete their work it is big points) but are being assailed by angry locals.

The cards give rise to lots of funny and/or stressful situations. Below, a wagon train has to get across the board but has been jumped by locals and the wagons have been circled. The cavalry is arriving to save them but, in the meantime, the wagon train has taken casualties.

We also had the usual run of wild dice, including this roll by Bruce. (wow, that was super bad).

Here the Major is bringing two groups of settlers into the fort. Entering the fort heals cavalry injuries. Alas, this did not help much due to some spectacularly bad rolls two turns later.

Here we have a wagon train being pursued through a pass only to run into more locals. The wagon train was not ambushed (a risk of using the pass).

A few turns later, a landslide closed this pass. Future movement would require scaling the hills (slow) or going around).

We also had a smoke signals card come up which made a very bad situation somewhat worse.

Overall, we recorded a loss but had a pretty good time doing it. The various mechanics Bruce has put together worked pretty well and by the halfway point, I stopped using the QRS except for novel units that appeared on the board. Bruce has done a nice job of retreading a very 1970s set of rules.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Fort Battleford, Saskatchewan

Earlier this summer, work took me past Fort Battleford, Saskatchewan--one of the old NWMP forts from the Riel Rebellion era. Fort Battleford is located in Battleford, just off Highway 16. The signage is pretty slim so looking at a map ahead of a visit is a good idea.

The site itself is on a wind-swept prairie bluff overlooking the North Saskatchewan River. There is an interpretative centre, a wooden palisade, and five period buildings.

Outside the walls are barracks (that were originally intended as stables). I didn't get inside here because a school class was using the space. You can see some costumed staffers in the picture below. There are also foundations and cellars from various buildings that you can see from the frisbee-golf course but all of the signage is too sun-bleached to read.

The fort itself is pretty good sized for a prairie fort--maybe 700 feet per side? Below is a pano shot of the interior from the main gates.

There are four buildings inside plus foundation outlines of many more. Below you can see the guardhouse (foreground) and the sick horse stable (behind, with pagoda to improve air circulation).

The guard house was interesting, with cells, a small barracks room, and some period pieces (rifles) behind glass. The stable was, well, horsey-smelling.

There are also two residential buildings and some tents.

 The senior officer's building is half tricked out as a residence and half as an office space.

The commander's residence is basically a big farm house with summer kitchen out the back (on the right in the photo below).

The interior was nice and reminded me of my grandmother's house in Perdue.

Most of the inside of the fort is just grass. There is one small cannon on display.

Maybe a two-pounder?

This was a nice stop on a long drive. The cafeteria was not much so you'd want to get food in town or bring your own. I'm not sure I'd go back but it was a pleasant walk and the siting of the fort really illustrates how vast the prairies really are--you can see for 15km or more.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Song of Ice & Fire

We had seven guys out at the club this week which was pretty good given how hot it was outside! Jonathan and Scott played a game of Commands and Colors Napoleonic. George hosted the rest of us in a game of Songs of Fire and Ice (a Game of Thrones miniature game).

Chen and Scott played tea red (Lannister?) while Terry and I played team blue (Stark?).

Basic alternating activation. Combat was reasonably straight forward: roll to hit, roll to save, roll of morale. Casualties by attrition with loss of ranks reducing dice.

The only complexity for new players is the modifiers and special rules: units have special rules, characters add rules, off-board strategy play can add modifiers, cards and objectives can affect play, and so can conditions placed on units. It is a lot of take in at first but therein lies the thematic chrome of the game.

There was a general advance to secure objectives markers to gain victory points. Then team Red's super unit killed our dog. And the rain charged my archers with predictable results.

Terry did some nice maneuvering to try and kill the opposing general but came just short and got rear-ended himself.

Back on my side of the time, flanks were getting turned and I could not roll worth crap.

Then, suddenly, I rolled an amazing 10 hits. But then Craig said them all. And we ran out of time about half way through the six turn game.

Lovely plastic miniatures: as nice as most metals due to multipart construction.

Overall, fun enough to play again. Thanks to Terry for bringing painted terrain and to George for hosting.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Some 32mm mercenaries

Nothing too fancy today as the outdoors draws my attention. These seven guys are from (I think) a bunch of Horrorclix figures I got from Scott. The fellows with the shields originally had green outfits.

A bit of paint and we get a small group of corporate security of special forces troops. Or maybe some scifi-figures? These guys are a bit tall (like headed towards 32mm) when compared to a 28mm Batgirl or a 25mm Buffy.

Not sure what is next: mostly I'm moving small projects off the table to clean up some odds and sods.

Saturday, August 4, 2018

More Boxers

Bruce hosted another playlets of his Boxer game this week. Main change was extending length to 25 turns. The last five turns see no new Boxer units arrive, but existing units continue to operate. And, if the gong in ringing on turn 20 (which causes Chinese units to stack up rather than enter until it stops), the gong stops ringing and the stacked up units also arrive. Predictably, this went badly for us (but is a great mechanical tweak).

I had lot so units besiege the barricade between the Russian and American embassies.

Some bad rolls cause major losses on my side of the board and things were thin. Fortunately, the plucky Russians managed to hold of the hordes of Chinese troops.

We lost three of the five embassies this time but still managed to win the game. In a five player game, there would have been winners and losers. There were also two points where supplies got very tight and that would have caused some interesting interactions between the players.

Overall, I'd say this is pretty much ready to go and could accommodate 7 players (5 European and 2 Chinese). It could also be played within the 2.5 hours we have at the club.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

28mm cultists

I continued painting some 28mm GW cultists for Pulp Alley this week. I managed to get four guys moved off the painting table.

The first two are from the whips-and-chains brigade. Nice motion in these sculpts.

The other two are the BDSM game, complete with blazing hat and mobile gallows.

They will make a nice addition to my cultists--maybe for a Hallowe'en-themed game?

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Boxer rebellion playtest

Bruce has been working on a new Boxer rebellion game, using Dragon Rampant as the basic engine and a NPC system from an old western game to operate the Boxers. The basic scenario is five colonial powers must hold off the hordes of Boxers trying to seize their embassies.

The rest of the details I'll leave off as it might spoil the fun for when Bruce brings this out to the club. Maybe needs one more playtest to make sure the play balance is right but I think it is close.

Lost of new terrain as Bruce has recreated the five besieged embassies. Also new figures for the most part.

We had pretty decent luck with the event cards not causing too many problems for us. I'd say that is unusual and problems should be expected! As it was, we had hordes of Boxers appearing. The Germans held many of them off (random entry).

There is also a supply mechanic that gives players the opportunity to interact with one another. Don't make fun of the German accent or you may find yourself short of ammunition!

We had some repeated bad luck trying to achieve an objective, getting caught twice outside the walls by the Chinese.

This lead to a subsequent shortage of manpower for the defenders.

There was also some damage to the fortifications that started to pile up. Fortunately, the Chinese entry points did not correspond to the damaged portions.

We also had some visitors!

By the end, things were getting a bit touch and go as we were running out of troops and had some late appearances by Boxers that were inconvenient.

Fortunately, we managed to run out the clock before the Boxers could capitalize upon the mounting casualties.

Overall, a pretty fun game and I enjoyed playing against the gaming system.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Tomb of Horus

We had four guys out at the cub on Tuesday, with Terry hosting Chen, Bruce and I in a game of Tomb of Horus. Basically, this is a smash a grab kind of game wit the winner having the most dosh at the end. The excitement comes from the random nature of the falling blocks (which creates a random end point).

Bruce handily won the first game, rushing in, grabbing the highest value treasure and then getting out while I wandered around with no real plan.

Game 2 was better and I ended up with the most treasure. We also saw Chen trapped inside the tomb when a block came down just as he was making his way out.

Overall, a fun game--thanks to Terry for hosting.