Saturday, June 3, 2023

Xenos Rampant Outerspace

Bruce and I were speculating about whether Xenos Rampant could be adapted to starship combat. We had a nasty bout of wildfire smoke 10 days ago (it was an 11+ on a scale of 1-10 and you could see about five blocks). Since I wasn't up to to roll 3d6 against my constitution, I decided to see if I could work out an adaptation.

I have been itching to use some tiny (1:10,000 scale) models from Shapeways. To give you a sense of how small, the d6 has 1cm sides. The Galactica is supposed to be 1.5ish km long and that makes almost three times also long as the Enterprise D.

Anyhow, I pulled out two 50-point fleets. The stats (which I'll post later when they are refined) were based on infantry units. the Galactica was an elite unit with a bunch of upgrades to make it worth 12 points plus the cost of the fights (5 squadrons at 2 points each). These are enormous ships and let me test out fighter rules as well as min-max ships.

Fleet 1 was the Galactica, a ragtag fugitive fleet, plus the (not-pictured) Pegasus as a separate command. I didn't bother with a spacemat since the dining room table was dark wood. So you'll have the pardon the grainy pictures (that pun was for Terry). 

They were pitted against the ST:DS9 era ships. Yes, I know this makes zero sense, but it let me point out a ST:DS9 fleet (I also have Klingon, Dominion and Cardassian fleets) and test a more traditional space navy with big and small ships.

The basic rules adaptations were pretty minimal. There are two classes of ships (capital and fighters).
  • Capital ships shoot in the front 180 degrees. Turning up to 90 degrees costs 2 inches of movement. Armour is -1 from the side or rear (if shot is from behind from base edge). The armour reduction encouraged maneuver. Most capital ships move automatically straight forward but have to dice to shoot or assault (the Battlestar's reversed this). Every unit has the firefight skill.
  • Fighter have no facing, can turn freely during a move and always turn to face an attacker. They can neither shoot nor be shot at (they are basically melee units). Their armour was 1 but they had extra strength points (basically they were rabble). 
  • If fighters fail a courage test (and they will), they fly back towards their carriers. Once they touch the carrier, they automatically rally and regain 1d6 strength points. Launching is just a part of their next move action. They can also voluntarily land and regain strength. This creates a sense of carrier operations without much bookkeeping.
Anyhow, I did two playtests. The first one was a romp for the Colonials, so I rejigged the fighter stats and also developed a better strategy for the Federation. Game 2 playd out like this. 

There were three Federation commands: a heavy group (1 BB and 2 CCs), a cruiser screen (4 CLs), and a flotilla of smaller, fast craft (2 DDs and 2 FGs). The two big units moved to take on the two Battlestars while the flotilla tried to draw off some vipers and then loop around to attack the transports. Below you can see the flotilla at the top streaking past the Galactica and its fighters.

Meanwhile, most of the vipers focusd on attriting the light cruiser screen while Pegasus and Galactica exchanged volleys at range with the larger Federation ships. Below, you can see a less than stellar effort by the Pegasus.

Eventually, the Galactica started to take some serious damaging (having had to turn to protect the fleet). But the continuous cycling of the vipers had run off most of the cruiser screen. 

The flotilla chased the fleet, but the fleet fought them off at short range. The Federation large ships easily brushed aside the viper attacks (although there were some failed courage tests) but the Feds were just no match for the two Battlestars firing.

In the end, a Colonial victory. Some better tactics by the Federation would have likely turned the battle. The Galactica was close to destruction and was a missed opportunity by the Federation. I hope to give this a playtest with Bruce soon. In the meantime, I'll give some thought about how to deal with super large ships and space stations (cube below is to scale).

I'm continually surprised how adaptable these rules are to different genres of sci-fi gaming. I wonder if they would work for superheroes?

Saturday, May 27, 2023

Xenos Rampant Trek

A couple of weeks back, Bruce and I tested out how well Xenos Rampant works as a skirmish game, using a ship Bruce built and some old 25mm ST:TOS figures that I had. It took us two tries to tweak things, but the result was a surprisingly good sci-fi pulp game.

The basic scenario was Nurse Chapel's and Dr. McCoy's shuttle had been captured by the Romulans. Kirk and Spock had to lead an away team to rescue them from the Roman ship and escape using one of two shuttles. There were five beam-in points for the Federation and five units per side. The Feds secretly selected where each unit would arrive and the Romulans set up, attaching Chapel and McCoy to the unit(s) of their choice. Romulans could not set up in the beam-in points.

Above you can see Spock duking it out with some Romulan security forces, which are using Klingon Targs to patrol the corridors. One of the conventions we adopted (reflecting that the play space was small), was that all movement was cut in half (simple and effective, mimicking the peaking around corners dynamic of a boarding action).

Above you  can see Nurse Chapel being guarded by some Romulans in engineering. The other mechanic we played with was how doors worked. In the end, we decided that doors opened and closed automatically as you move through them and would stay open if a figure ended a move action touching the door. This meant that, to charge into combat from room to room, you first needed to have the door opened by a different unit so the charging unit had LOS.

After the game, we chatted about locking doors open. One option is to allow a figure to lock a door open at the cost of half their move. The door can be returned to normal operation by another unit doing the same thing.

For the hero (like Kirk and Spock above), we used the hero stats from Dragon Rampant as the base. Using charge as their automatic action saw them behave very much like they would in the show (heroically punching it out). Generally, heroes would whomp a regular unit, but over time, they started to pick up damage, which degraded their performance. 

Other units (e.g., red shirts) had shoot as their automatic action and they seemed to behave pretty much like they did on the show. They were okay at holding objectives and distracting, but not really the unit you want to rely on to win with!

The activation mechanic gave us some interesting narrative events. Kirk rescues Chapel (above) in the crew quarters but then fails several activations in a row to move her towards the shuttles. What lust... errr... must he have been doing during this time?

The ship's layout allowed for some outflanking (surprise, Spock!), which was good.

In the end, it came down to Kirk and Spock duking it out with the Romulan captain and her last security team, which was pretty spot on for the effect we wanted. At 25 points, the game played pretty fast--like 30 minutes maybe? I was surprised how a rule systems not meant for skirmish worked well enough to give dramatic games with tough decisions.

Saturday, May 20, 2023

Speeder bikes

A few weeks back, I bought some old micromachine speeder bikes to supplement my Rebel forces. There are just slightly smaller than 25mm but look fine on the table. I gave them a quick touch up to the cloaks (camo pattern) and drybrush and wash to pop the details.

I glued each to a piece of florist wire and then glued the wire to a base. In play, you can't see the wire because you are looking from the top down and the wire isn't been light up by photobooth lights!

The wires let you reposition the bikes as you like. I rebased some micromachine Imperial scout troopers I had to the same standard. I see I need to clean up the paint on the side of the bases.

The photo below illustrates how these micromachines are a bit smaller than the 25mm West End Games metals. They are pretty close. 

The WEG figures need a sturdier base (roofing nails, as it happens). Overall, this was an easy way to give myself some additional Rebel options for Xenos Rampant.

Up next: Some buildings and some Crimean foot.

Saturday, May 13, 2023

25mm Rebel reinforcements

One of the challenges of gaming Star Wars in 25mm scale is that, compared to 28mm, there aren't many figure options, especially for the Rebels. I was trolling fleabay and ran across a set of proxies which included mortars and shoulder-fired anti-tank missiles and was intrigued. 

These turned out to be old 20-25mm Star Guard figures, most recently produced by (although I can't tell if they are still in business). The batch made two units of support infantry for Xenos Rampant, which was perfect.

The figures were painted nicely enough so I just adjusted some of the clothing colours to fit in and based them. The figures are slimmer than the West End Games figures (more like the 20mm or 1/72 norms from the 1970s) and the integral bases were also small, so they were a lot shorter than the WEG figures.

In the end, I just doubled the washers to give them a similar height. They look close enough on the table to work as proxies. I'd like to get some of the other figures in this range but, so far, haven't had any response from the manufacturer. 

Up next: Either more Crimean figures or more Star Wars.

Saturday, May 6, 2023

25mm Star Wars Heroes

In our playing around with Xenos Rampant, Bruce and I thought we might try to add in some hero units on the Rebel side (since characters feature so prominently in the Rebel storylines). At first we added in section commanders (basically generic NCOs that increased activation rolls) but that didn't really see all that interesting so Bruce went back to Dragons Rampant and pulled out some hero stats. I went back to my pile and found some suitable hero figures and painted them up.

First up in a generic Force user standing in front of a campfire that was likely from a LotR's box set a zillion years ago. The wash did a nice job of popping his robe folds into view.

I also took a Leia figure (Bespin, I think) and painted it in a forest camo. The camo cloak came out great but is obscured by the trees behind her (sigh).

For Han I pulled out a bunch of mechanical junk for him to take cover behind. This is mostly HO-scale railway siding debris from some boxed town I bought a decade or more back.

Finally, I hauled out a Luke figure and put him up on a bluff. The bluff is a piece of coal I picked up paddle on the river this summer.

You can hardly see them, but I was pretty chuffed at the buckles I painted on the side of his boots. Hs face looked less like Luke and more like the villain in the Karate Kid movies!

I'll report back on their use and stats when we get around to gaming them. I suppose I might also do a Vader (since I have a dozen figures of him).

Saturday, April 29, 2023

Crimean British

Alright, back to working my way through this large 28mm Crimean War project I inherited! Today is the first of a couple of batches of British foot in shakos from Foundry.

I think these guys turned out okay given my modest painting skills and all of the frigging detail on these figures.

There were also three command figures. Since these are old figures (1990s?) and Foundry has swapped out some of the sculpts, I had to guess a bit at what the uniforms should look like. There were also eight figures with slightly different shoulder dealies (epaulets?)

Anyhow, calling them done and moving on to a bunch standing at attention and another batch firing. That brings me close to the end of the foot (just artillery left, I think). Which, in turn, brings my closer to the enormous pile of mounted.

Saturday, April 22, 2023

Some 25mm Rebel reinforcements

In pointing up some Star Wars armies for Xenos Rampant, it became apparent that I was a bit short of support weapons for my Rebel forces. If the battles are set after RotJ (which, I think, is an interesting era), then I expect we'd see some captured Imperial kit plus whatever could be dragged out of storage.

These three tanks are, I think, Trade Federation tanks from the Clone Wars era? They are plastic and metal toys with irritatingly bendy barrels) that I repainted and weathered to look beat up.

These are too small for 25mm, but most of my vehicles are one or two scales "down" from the figures and they match the AT-STs pretty well.

I also made a few laser cannons a la Hoth. These are not as nice as the 3-D prints I see online but they cost basically nothing since I had all this stuff laying around.

Again maybe a step down scale wise, although these towers were not very big in the film, maybe 12 feet tall. I might put them bases to add some interest.

These were made with sculpty, wooden discs, nails, and some washers. Not the best figures in my collection but good enough.

Up next: Crimean war British, I think.