Saturday, March 30, 2024

Hawkins Ford

Bruce popped over for a game this week. I was keen to get my War of 1812 plastics out for a spin so I dusted off Rebels and Patriots (part of the Osprey Rampant series). It looks like we'd last played these rules in 2019 with the Battles of Pork Rind and Baby Duck Ridge. I decided to play Hawkins Ford, which is a bit of a cheesie race scenario as the British defend a key river crossing against a superior American force.

The Americans had three line units, two half-sized skirmishers, a light cannon, some dragoons, and a leader. They started in the top left (by the white dice) and needs to capture Hawkins Ford (mid-board on the right. 

The British had two units of militia dug into hard cover by the ford plus two units of line and one of Indian allies that started bottom left (by the red dice). The river was impassable except to the Indians and the dismounted dragoons. Points-wise, this was 3-2 for the Americans.

Bruce advanced the Americans up the road, swinging his line units towards the river's edge and his cavalry and skirmishers to the other flank. This was the reverse of the approach I'd taken in my playtest but didn't seem make a big difference in the end.

The British managed to advance their line units towards the ford to reinforce it but kept crapping out on command rolls for everyone else. Based on our 2019 experiences, we amended the rules such that a failed unit activation caused initiative to switch (more in keeping with the rest of the Rampant series). The game was to end when turns plus 1d6 =16.

The Americans formed up into close order to assault. I missed getting a picture of the dragoons approaching and getting absolutely murdered by a lucky British fire. Meanwhile, command blunders stymied the British. Eventually, I got the Indians moving towards the flanks of the formed up Americans.

A nasty fire-fire and set of charges sea-sawed at the ford. Bruce had terrible combat rolls. Meanwhile, the Indians plowed into the rear of the American advance, with devastating effect.

One unit of American line was routed by the Indians while a second was damaged by fire and forced to retreat. This was enough for Bruce to call off the attack. A couple of thoughts. First, having initiative switching on failed command rolls made the game more interesting (because the sequence of activations now was a more consequential decision) but still not super interesting.

Second, having played Xenos Rampant, really what the game needs is to bolt-on the newer Xenos mechanics to create more differentiated units and more interesting choices and caused units to fight more like they did historically. So I think that's what I'm going to work on next. It should be a pretty easy adaptation. That also streamlines the kind of clunky morale tracking, I think.

Saturday, March 23, 2024

Hussar Lancers

 Just a quick update today with these six Russian Hussar Lancers from Foundry's 28mm Crimea range.

There were just six of the guys and three were a command unit. Happy to be done them. Just a few Dragoons left to go!

Up next: Some of the Dragoons, I think. Maybe also some terrain. Thinking about taking break from posting for the summer to concentrate on kayaking and gardening. We'll see what happens.

Saturday, March 16, 2024

Mixed bag of painting

I finished a random assortment of things today. When I was using my Mageknight dungeon tiles recently, I realized I had no stairs. I had two idea to deal with this. The first was to take some of the "trap" tiles that had a centre cut out and use them to make spiral stair cases. This is one with the centre piece pulled out, a wedge of the piece cut as a step and the rest of descending steps painted in. This looks better in person than in this picture. I did two of these.

I also did the reverse to build stairs going up, basically taking centre pieces and cutting them to give the impression of stairs. Not playable in any way but a reasonable enough representation. The other approach is straight stairs that sit on tiles. I'll start these this week. 

I got this random sci-fi guy in a job lot. I had no idea what to do with him. His gun looked suitably impractical that he could stand in a Mr. Freeze in my super hero games.

Craig also kindly mailed me a couple of Heroclix figures over the holiday. On the left is Ra's alh Ghul' daughter (but will do as a generic gunslinger). On the right is the Ventriloquist from the campy 1960s/70s Bat comics but who could be a very dark villain if you wanted.

Up next: Some Russian Crimean Hussar Lancers are almost done.

Saturday, March 9, 2024

Fistful of Lead Batman, Game 4 Finale

Alright, a few weeks late but here is the last instalment off my initial foray into adapting Fistful of Lead for low-powered supers. In addition to bringing this mini-campaign to a thematically appropriate conclusion, I wanted to do something indoors, using the Mageknight dungeon terrain I've been collecting. And I wanted to see if it was possible to break Fistful of Lead using a min-max strategy. Consequently, I give you the Joker's Lair.

Highlights include the main doorway at the bottom right. At the bottom left is a secret alternate doorway (requiring a task roll to be found). Middle left is the Clown Gun (tm) which takes five turns to activate (with a successful task roll each time). The baddies are sleeping and distributed throughout the lair, so must cope with closed doors and distance. To even it up, the goodies must chance activating a trap any time they move in a hallway (five traps total).

The Joker starts in his study. Note in the background the secret exit he has, with a suitcase by the door. The Riddler (who is good at tasks) starts beside the Clown Gun.

Penguin and Harlequin were injured last time and were not available. Poison Ivy and a gang boss also died last time (!) so I had to fill out Joker's roster with five groups of street punks (three one-wound melee characters in each gang). Having 15 low-level thugs let me test out whether I could break the system by flooding the zone with bodies (spoiler: not really). They were mostly sacked out in their bedrooms while Catwoman was in the dining hall getting some milk.

Team Bats was without Batman (again...) because of some wounds so I added in a second group of rookie cops with night sticks. I assigned Robin and Batgirl and one set of rookies to the secret door while everyone else assaulted the main door. 

On Turn 1, Batgirl couldn't find the door but eventually Robin did and the rookies ran in. Meanwhile, Joker moves out of his office and next to the Clown Gun. There were  bunch of secret passages, access to which could be obtained by Team Bats on a task roll.

Meanwhile, at the front door, some rookies forced the door, providing a meatshield for the heroes. A hidden Tommy Gunner was behind the wall and felled two. Neither Green Arrow nor Black Canary could seem to hit him and Green Arrow repeatedly had to reload due to atrocious shooting rolls (he was a huge disappointment in this game after a great showing previously). The rest of the team burst past this antechamber and into the hallway, triggering traps and winding up in a first fight with the first group of punks, who were pulling the midnight shift in the armoury.

Catwoman and the rest of the punks bolted into action at the sound of shots but faced long corridors and closed doors that slowed their progress. I tried to keep the lair small but still allow for multiple pathways. In the end, that wasn't really all that successful as the location of the Clown Gun pretty much drew everyone to the main room. If Commissioner Gordon had not been rescued last time, he would have been caged and offered a diversion for the players.

Turn two saw Robin kick in the door to the Clown Gun room and batarang Riddler (who had successfully activated the gun a second time). His status was a question mark. (Apologies of the pun, Terry reads my blog and I wanted to throw him a bone.)

The rookies followed Robin into the room and rushed the Joker, hoping the three-to-one odds would help them. It did not, although they did drive him away from the Clown Gun. Batgirl hurried to catch up.

Over at the main entrance, Back Canary and Green Arrow could just not get it together and were jammed up for another turn. The detective and remaining rookie braved more traps and waded through the rest of the first punks. A beat cop rushed ahead to pop the door and himself got popped by a gangster. The remaining thugs were still running towards the sound of battle (so many doors). Black Lightening threw a bolt through the open door, disrupting a group of punks.

Turn 3 saw Batgirl finally show up and hit Joker with a batarang. Joker used one of his traits to assign the wound to Riddler. This was a questionable play since, with only two wounds, the Riddler expired.  Again, apologies for the pun. Another rookie fell victim to the Joker.

The main hallway was full of traps, which took their toll. The beat cop and the rookie managed to get to the main room and hold the door against an approaching group of punks. Black Lightening got KOed. But Black Canary's sonic scream helped even up the losses.

On Turn 4, a gang of thugs turned up to help Joker. Catwoman also appeared, hoping to activate the Clown Gun. Batgirl managed to run out of batarangs and the last of the rookies was KOed.

There was quite  a lot of mayhem in the main hallway, but lBack Canary managed to throw a sonic scream over some downed coppers and force a pathway into the main room. The Tommy Gunner abandoned his position and rushed to cut her off.

Turn 5 saw Catwoman complete a task roll and move the Clown Gun one more step towards activation. Thugs attacked Batgirl and Robin and were repulsed. Robin then KOed the Joker with a very lucky batarang so Batgirl rush a thug and then Catwoman and knocked her down. This was the turning point of the game.

The hallway fight spilled into the main room. The Tommy Gunner stepped around the corner to hose down Black Canary at short range but forgot his drum was empty. Robin dashed to help Black canary but somehow lost a melee and went down wounded.

Turn 6 saw Batgirl continue to kicked Catwoman on the ground.  But the rest of the baddies failed recovery rolls and the turn was simply a mop-up operation for Team Bats.

Team Bats picked up 5 reputation points giving them a total of 22 for the campaign and a clear win. Team Joker got 2 points for a total of 16. Things could easily have gone the other way if the Clown Gun had been successfully activated. To conclude this, in case I decide to pick it up again, some terrible end--of-game rolls meant Team Bats got Black Lightening back but Robin died from his wounds. The Joker was also wounded and will need to select a permanent negative trait. Catwoman was also wounded.

The Mageknight terrain as functional enough: a bit finicky to assemble and probably not ideal for a club game. I would think that some floor tiles made from extruded styrofoam (with a black cloth to create negative space) and some stand-alone doors would be more functional, durable, and much cheaper. That said, I was happy to have gotten this stuff on the table finally.

Saturday, March 2, 2024

More colonials

A long time ago, I bought some metal Cylons. And then I successfully supplemented them with some plastic 3-D prints. I also had some metal Colonial warriors and bridge crew. To fill out their numbers, I bought some 3-D prints on Etsy.

Overall, these were pretty good for digital sculpts (the hair is a bit lame). There are 10 poses with bit of variety. They painted up well enough and could easily be used as new recruits or generic grunts.

They give me quit a mess of Colonials and I should be able to run games using skirmish or gang-level rules (I'll probably try these with a Fistful of Lead, but Xenos Rampant is also possible).

The one issue is that the prints are way short on identical bases. They are about 28mm from foot to top of head. The metals are probably 32mm to top of head. That doesn't sound like much, but it is about a 12% difference in height and volume which, as you can see below, is noticeable. Maybe a washer on the bottom of the base would help?

I'm not a scale purist by any stretch. This is, however, a recurring issue with Etsy prints of Big Mr. Tong files (even when advertised as 28m foot to eye). I think the solution is to look for vendors offering 32mm prints. Although, at this point, I'm not sure I really need any more figures.