Saturday, June 24, 2023

Some new buildings for Gotham

Back in April, Bruce and I took in the spring model railway swap meet. bruce tree to talk me into buying a garden train but I declined, since there was no sleeper car and tat is where I would be living if I brought home a garden train. Anyhoo...

It was a much bigger swap meet than past years (maybe twice the number of tables) and I bought few new HO-scale buildings to add to my Gotham layout. I think I paid $15.

The best find was this building, which could be a bank or office buildings or swanky apartment complex. I drybrushed and washed it and clipped off the sidewalk. The result was very good for minimal effort.

It had an interesting roof (always a plus since we look down on models so much).

I added a small graffiti decal to the back. I'm not entirely sold on the royal blue trim but it would have been to much of a pain in the ass to paint it out.

A building that needed a lot more work was this one. The price was right thought (maybe $5?). Problems included a busted roof, no glass in the windows and no window frame on the back.

I peele the decal off and primed it black This I added a bunch of paint and a wash. I was able to fix one of the windows. 

The door and the other window I ended up covering with corrugated plastic card and some graffiti.

There wasn't much I could do about the back. I added in some glass but there was no way I was making that many window frames by hand. I boarded up the main floor windows like it was abandoned.

For $5, this was an interesting project and adds a seedier building to my layout. 

Saturday, June 17, 2023

Crimean British Foot

I finished what I think is the last of the British foot from Foundry for the Crimea. There were two poses left: shooting and standing at attention.

These are nice enough figures--there were just a lot of them ad they had some fiddly bits.

I think this takes me to the dozens and dozens of mounted horse and the cannons. I might start with the horse and then, when my eyes begin bleeding, switch to the cannon for a bit.

Saturday, June 10, 2023

Fine-tuning Fleet-level Starship Combat using Xenos Rampant

I hauled my tiny starships over to Bruce's place last week and we gave the adaptation of Xenos Rampant to fleet-level action (i.e., the player is an admiral commanding multiple ships) two good playlists. We made a couple of adjustments between tests and the result seems to give a good game. Scenario was convoy escort: Galactica versus Star Fleet. The ships are 1/10,000ish scale from the National Cheese Emporium on Shapeways.

We retained two types of units: capital ships and fighters. Capital ships:
  • always have movement as their automatic action
  • move straight forward; a turn of up to 90 degrees costs 2" of movement
  • act like vehicles, meaning they can try to shoot after moving at a -1 to their activation roll 
  • have a forward shooting arc of 180 degrees (we ignore arcs during assault)
  • have -1 to armour when shoot at from behind their front edge.
This seems to approximate momentum in movement (and reduces dice rolling around movement) while giving players tough choices about the sequence of actions you decide to take (do you move everyone or do you automatic move one ship and then risk a shooting attempt?).

By contrast, fighters:
  • have no facing, can turn freely during a move, and always turn to face an attacker
  • can neither shoot nor be shot at 
  • fly back towards their carriers when they fail a courage test and, once they touch a carrier, automatically rally during the next rally phase
  • that touch a carrier (because of a failed courage test or voluntarily) also regain 1d6 strength points
  • can launch as a part of move action simply by moving away from the carrier.  
This seems to approximate carrier operations with fighter being brittle, close-in combat units that can re-arm by returning to base. We also had asteroid fields and planets to block LOS. You can move through an asteroid field at no additional cost but take a 10d6 attack.

Our playtest pitted two battlestars, six transports, and 10 viper squadrons against two battleships, two cruisers, two light cruisers, a destroyer and two frigates. This worked out to 50ish points per side. If you wanted to split this up into two commands for each side (each of which must fail for a player to lose initiative), you could.

Our experience was that the battlestars were very tough ships but one had to be careful with the viper wings and think about whether to re-arm or attack very carefully. The battlestars were also vulnerable to being flanked and were a pain to get turned around and back in the fight if they failed a courage test. Not allowing fighters to shoot seems to mimic the role of fighters in BSG and Star Wars: get in close and try to get lucky while taking significant casualties.

The Federation fleet was also tricky to handle. The destroyer and frigate flotillas were very fast (faster than the fighters) but also brittle, so they were useful to threaten and pin down other ships more so than in combat. The larger federation ships were slow and the cruisers got beat-up quickly. But, with careful maneuvering, even the light cruiser could really put a pasting on an enemy ship.

Overall, this felt like a very fleet-level action (you were commanding multiple ships rather than fiddling with energy allocation on one ship). I have out the ship stats below. But, before turning to that, Bruce also showed off his own 1/6000-sca;e WW2 fleets that we've been using with Nimitz. The counters that the ships sit in are about two inches long. The models can we swapped into other counters as needed.

These are the SSDs we used for the Federation and Colonial Fleets. If you want these as Word files, I can email them to you.

Since the rules basically seem to work, I will point up a Klingon and Cylon fleet. Bruce also had a good idea for handling space stations so maybe we'll try that next.

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?