July 31, 2012

Back to the Board(gaming)

Haven't been playing much in the way of board games lately.  The biggest reason for that is the guys haven't been showing up as often for Sunday games...often it's just Seb or Will and I, and occasionally the three of us.  I don't think we've had a full complement of five players since we played Risk: Legacy a few months ago.  Edit: I really wish we could play that again, it's such a fun experience. 

I did order a bunch of games a few weeks ago, but they weren't actually for me.  I still have a few games ordered back in March that haven't been played yet, so I'm keeping my cash (ie: spending it on other nerd stuff I don't need) until I get through the backlog.

Last week we actually did play a quick board game called Castle Panic. Will brought it along and had actually read the rules in advance, so we set it up and gave it a shot.  The game mechanics in and of themselves were actually quite simple, but allowed for quick turns while we collaborated trying to save the castle from invading monsters.  Things were starting to look good for us when a giant boulder rolled down from the forest hills and destroyed everything.  We lost.

There isn't a lot of depth to Castle Panic, and I can certainly see if falling prey to dictatorship problems, where one player tells everyone else what to do.  I don't think that's a flaw in the game though, but rather a caution to anyone playing collaborative games.  Apparently there is an expansion for the game too.  I'd be fine playing this again as a quick warm up for a heavier game, or with non-gamers to get them into things.  If the expansion adds some more depth to it, all the better.

On Tuesday I had tried for the second time to organize a demo of a few skirmish games (Dark Age and Hell Dorado) but it was cancelled...again.  So knowing that Sebastien was off work I sent up the nerd signal to see if he wanted to help me finally put Star Trek: Fleet Captains on the table.

After reading through the setup pages of the rule book we were finally ready to play a 10 point game.  Seb was running the Klingon Empire and I was in control of Starfleet.  We bounced around the very helpful one-page cheat sheet I had found over on BGG and got some experience moving our ships around, scanning, exerting influence and exploring regions of space.

Once we started drawing encounters and playing command cards the game started to come together for me. Initially I thought it was just too clunky and mechanic heavy to be fun, but after sleeping on the experience I think future plays of the game will be a lot better.  The trickiest mechanic is understanding that the things one can do on their turn can be done in any order.  This makes planning out the sequence in which you move ships, adjust their power settings and perform their actions has a lot of freedom to it.  It also means that there's a lot of room for over-analyzing your options and taking way to long to do anything.

We didn't get into cloaking our ships or actually battling each other, but I was able to recruit over half of the Enterprise E's crew onto the USS Venture.  It was pretty funny seeing Picard, Data and Worf make the tiny little ship (USS Venture I think) over twice as powerful from its starting stats.

I'm looking forward to trying it again, and I will be putting the upcoming Romulan expansion on my wish list.  There's a lot of flavour in this game, and a lot of fun too I think...with the right players.  Maybe with a third faction on the table (hopefully allowing for games with 2 to 6 players instead of just 2 OR 4) the game will feel a lot more trek-ish.

One final note on the game: the components are not on par with stuff from FFG or Days of Wonder, even though they look great.  We discovered that one of the Klingon ships had a broken off nacelle, and the cards are very thin.  The ship is easily fixed with a little glue, but I'll definitely be sleeving the cards, if I can figure out how to get them back in the box afterwards...
"Ensign, set a new course...and engage."

July 23, 2012

A surprising amount of progress.

Even with the super weather we had over the weekend, I was still able to spend some time nerding it up.  Looking back I actually think it was a fairly productive couple of days.  And of course, I spent more money on stuff.

Saturday morning I took the motorcycle out for a ride around town and stopped at Sentry Box.  I'd been eyeing some models for the past few weeks and finally decided to take the plunge with two starter sets and the rule book.  I even got a discount on the rule book (which is unusual for Sentry Box) because it wasn't properly bound.  All that meant was that some of the glue had given way on the main cover of the book, which I remedied in about 3 minutes with some super glue.

What game did I buy into this time?  Well, you've likely not heard of it, as I certainly hadn't: it's called Hell Dorado. The little I've read of the fluff at the beginning of book is a really ingenious idea that makes for a great game setting.  What would happen if hell was a real, physical place and a gateway to it was found in the 1600s?  The Europeans would try to colonize it of course! Fantastic f-ing concept for a game.
The models are all really great looking and I'm very much looking forward to putting my two starter sets together.  I was actually quite surprised when I opened them to find that there are quick-start rules inside.  I do wish that was detailed on the boxes somewhere, as I may not have bought the rule book.  However I'm not upset that I did, because it's full of some excellent artwork, lots of photos of the miniatures for the game and tons of fluff.  I picked up the two starter boxes based on two criteria: 1) which ones had the coolest looking models and 2) what models were themed along lines I didn't have models for yet?  So I opted for the Immortals, and the Lost.

I also ended up buying a box of terrain pieces (made by Pegasus Hobby). The gothic building set should prove extremely versatile in my gaming world.  It can be used for London or city-streets in Strange Aeons and Empire of the Dead, and still be in-theme for games of Warhammer 40k. I suppose it wouldn't be a stretch to use as a single building in games of Pulp City, Supersystem or Hell Dorado either...  And it really shouldn't be tough to paint at all
I've looked at a lot of their stuff before, and thought this was the first thing that I'd purchased from them but I was actually wrong.  I've had one of their modular platform sets for quite a while...but never done anything with it.
I'll be putting that together and painting it shortly now that I've remembered I have it.  It's actually a pretty cool little modular kit, but I think I'll probably build something similar to what's pictured on the box and just leave it as-is.  It's enough of a pain to put things together with it that I'd rather just build it once and call it done.

After making a brief stop at home to drop off my new toys, I picked up some of my other stuff and some tools and headed over to Trilogy.  I was waiting for the gf to finish work, so I sat and chatted w/ some of the customers and put together two of the starter boxes for Empire of the Dead.  I was able to clean up and base both the Vampires and Werewolves sets and now they're sitting on my priming board.  A lot of people asked what they were because the models are really quite eye-catching.  No pictures of these, because unpainted, based models really aren't that exciting.

Finally I broke out some of the older stuff I have floating around in my terrain box and painted up one of the Warhammer Castle towers.  They've been primed for a few months now, but I haven't done anything with them.  I need to buy some walls and a castle front, but should easily be able to finish painting the towers tonight or sometime this week.  When they're all finished I'll happily post up a shot of them all.

July 20, 2012

A Little Bit of a Bunch of Stuff

A bit of a mish-mash today.

I finally finished up all of the markers I've had on my paint station from last month.  Here are the three that are themed for Strange Aeons / Empire of the Dead.

RIP grave marker from the Horrorclix starter set.

Large grave marker, also from the Horrorclix starter set.

A sarcophagus, also from Horrorclix.  This one was actually part of a zombie figure but the mummy walking out of it was awful and looked like it might have been drinking when it died, so I popped it off and here we go...grave marker.

Note, I really need to start waiting until daytime to take my pictures.  I apologize for how awful all of these look.

These next bits aren't for Strange Aeons but they were getting worked on at the same time. The first Warhammer 40k stuff I actually bought was the 4th edition starter box and I've painted some of the  crashed lander pieces from that set.  I'll post those up later.  There were some non-character models in there that will make good objective markers.

The shield/ force field generator things.

Some fancy looking buoy or engine.

A custom base that I couldn't get a miniature to stand on, so now it's also an objective marker.

And switching gears one more time...I used to play Heroclix, a lot.  It was my first real foray into miniature gaming of any kind.  As time went on I became more and more unhappy with the way the game was going, and when the 'special' powers came out I could only hold on a little while before I had to give up.  I wasn't having fun playing against people who just wanted to win prizes in tournaments.  I wanted to play thematic comic-book battles, not mutants vs. scientists or some other lame 'theme' that you could make with the new keywords.  So my fairly massive Heroclix collection has sat collecting dust.

From time to time I would buy a Fast Forces pack or pick up the odd figure, but I had no desire to play.  But I do love my comic-book heroes and villains.  I've been running a weekly VS System group for years, which anyone who has been to this blog likely knows, but I needed something more.  So I went out and found SuperSystem 3rd Edition.  I showed the rules to some of my friends.  They're interested and want to play...and thus I need figures.

I thought I'd start off with some of my personal favorites: Alpha Flight.  Here's my first effort at repainting and re-basing a Heroclix figure.  For the most part they're well sculpted but sport atrocious paint jobs.  Mine isn't much better and the colours didn't quite turn out how I'd hoped, but I'm happy enough with it to not feel embarrassed to put it on the table.  I've got some stats prepped for him and he's got a few teammates almost ready to join him.  I'll likely put together the entire original line-up over the next little while.

In retrospect I do sort of wish that I'd used the Wendigo figure for him instead, but I think I'll save that as an alternate form for Snowbird...

July 13, 2012

Two Games of Two

I ran out of interesting titles for articles long ago.  Perhaps even that is giving myself too much credit, since it makes the grand assumption that the titles of my previous articles are in any way interesting.  However I did play some games, so that's what I'm here to talk about.

Band rehearsal on Wednesday was cancelled, so I took my ever-growing box of Strange Aeons-related lead, resin and plastic down to Trilogy in hopes of finding someone to play a game with.  Sebastien was kind enough to stick around even though he had worked in the shop all day, so we sat down to create him a Theshold list.  Uncle Mike made some of his hand painted miniatures available for sale at the shop a few weeks back, and Seb had picked up a trio of guys who would serve as his first agents.  I helped him kit them out then we rolled up a scenario, set up a board and were off.
The layout of the board was quite interesting, resulting in a long partially-ruined building running right down the middle. Playing as the Lurkers I ran my lone fishman up the left side of the board and the cult leader and .22-wielding minions up the right.  The agents took cover in the building.  Rather than putting my unarmed cultists in a close combat situation I elected to move the fishman up.
As he rounded the corner the alert agent fired off a shot, but missed and coming face to face with the unnatural horror fell prone to the ground and was quickly cut down.  We did miss rolling for resolve of an agent here, who would have been close enough to require it.  Some more conflict inside the building ensued, resulting in the death of another agent and the fishman.
The Threshold character retreated back through the building, forcing the cultists to pursue him.  As he came around the left (west side of the building) he was caught out in the open by cultist gun fire.  Unable, or choosing not to retreat this resulted in a firefight lasting several rounds.  Another cultist fell and once again we forgot to roll resolve; we only remembered about this rule after the game ended.  Being outgunned resulted in the character eventually being taken out...and ultimately dying on the injury table.

Only a single game played and the list has to disband.  Wow...and ouch.  I felt bad, but at least I didn't roll the result on the injury table.  That would have...wait for it...added insult to injury.  Ba-bum-bump!

For our second game we switched roles, this time with me playing my 18BP Threshold list.  Our scenario roll resulted in Lurker choice, and Sebastien chose "All Dead Things" (I think).  This was a 1-map piece scenario with D3+3 grave markers which the lurkers were to try to desecrate.  Seb set up the table and the markers and I chose a table edge to start out.

Seb's cultists were bolstered by a fishman and a single zombie.  I moved my agents into better positions near several of the grave markers with a good view of the field.  The fishman sprinted off and quickly destroyed one of the grave markers as I foolishly spread my ranks too thin to make use of Loamy's lieutenant ability.  This meant that Arthur was alert for a large part of the game, but also was mostly useless.

As the fishman made his way towards another marker the other Lurkers moved forward on the other side where they had good cover.  My character Carl heroically jumped up to higher ground and started firing into the cultists as they tried to make it past.  James (our brave civilian) took up a position farther back in hopes of stopping anyone should they make it past Carl.

Loamy and Elizabeth were able to gun down the fishman while Arthur looked on with mild interest.  The cultists were able to get past Carl but the leader was slowed down by ricocheting shotgun fire.  James took some shots at the cultists rounding the rocky outcropping and was able to kill one of them.  However due to his mental instability from previous, he crumpled to the ground face up.

Seeing his distress Elizabeth and Loamy started back to help and Carl tracked the cult leader from his high vantage point, ignoring the slow moving zombie following behind.  As the agents gathered together James went down badly, but the cultists were caught in a hail of fire. With no one to command the shambling zombie, it slowly lurched forward as bullets tore it apart, returning the hapless undead corpse back to true death.

Instead of searching for map pieces the scenario allowed to roll for scrolls and ancient tomes.  With four survivors I rolled four dice and had great success: 3 scrolls and an ancient tome!  To represent the ancient tome thematically (and since the model for Arthur is carrying a book) I purchased him a decrease on his resolve stat, and a Holy Book.  My list now weighs in at a substantial 21 points.  I'm hoping that Arthur can survive a game or two so that he can start translating some of those lovely parchments.

On Thursday our VS group was almost a no-show with it being only Scott and I.  We played two games, the first being my Revenge Squad against his Inhumans.  With my board advantage and several copies of "Knowledge is Power" I stopped him from recovering several characters, thus almost entirely stopping from getting a working engine going.  He returned the favour in our second game where he played his Sentinel Robots against my Weapon-X weenie deck.  Flipping a copy of "Total Anarchy" on me meant I could attack and stun his robots, but not maintain any character advantage.  So with a victory each we called it a draw and parted ways friends...at least until next time!

July 11, 2012

More Models for Strange Aeons

Here are a few more pieces that I'll be adding to my growing ranks of figures for Strange Aeons.
One of my favorite figures from the Horrorclix range is Bishop Luzifer.  I've just purchased and finished reading the Shocking Tales books.  There's a profile for an Exorcist special agent in one of them and I think he'll fit the bill nicely.  I don't even think I'll change the name for the model in the game, and I've got an idea for an interesting back story for him.  The bishop himself was easy to paint.  A dark brown wash on the skin followed by a light brown dry brushing.  I added a little bit silver and brown detailing before a grey dry brush pass.  He doesn't look quite as good as I'd hoped, but it certainly passable for a table game.  I had a hell of a difficult time painting the woman on the base and eventually just said "good enough".  I should have followed my initial plan and cut her off so that it was just Luzifer wrestling the ghost, but it's too late for that now.

I also finished touching up the paint on the two HorrorClix wolves that I re-based a few weeks ago.  Not a lot of paint work was done here.  I washed them with Badab Black, gave them a white dry brush to give their fur a little interest, and then put on another coat of black wash along their spine and tails.  A quick red wash over the tongues and a touch of red on the eyes and all done.  These will likely be used as extra familiars for my witch and her razorback monkey.  With the animal rules in Shocking Tales #2 I suppose I could use them as Threshold Agent companions, but I don't really think they'd work for that.  On the other hand, they could easily be added to the Lycaon faction that I'm working on for Empire of the Dead...
And lastly I've got a chained coffin from Uncle Mike's Worldwide.  I have another of these that came with the Crypt of Cthulhu, but I bought them at different times, so I haven't even primed that one yet.  I should have painted them both together to save time.

This might sound funny, but the chained coffin is my favorite Uncle Mike's sculpt so far.  The detail is awesome and I really enjoyed painting this one.  I'd love to see a few variations of this with different chains or smoother details and stuff.  I'm looking forward to painting up the other one.

July 06, 2012

Hey...Wanna Join a Cult?

Since I started playing Strange Aeons I've had a chance to meet some new players, play some fun games, build and paint some great miniatures, meet the game's creators and even beta test some new rules with them.  I've had a lot of fun with Strange Aeons in the past two months, and I don't expect that to abate any time too soon.

Unless you count washing all those blood and entrails-stained robes of the more senior cultists (they are an untidy bunch).

That's right, I've joined a cult.  Wouldn't my folks be proud!

In actuality "The Cult of the Black Goat" isn't a cult at all, so don't go freaking out and think I've turned to the dark side.  Truth be told that bridge was crossed long ago and none of my so-called friends seemed interested in stopping my descent, so here we are.  Want some red kool-aid, there's plenty to go around...

Black Goat membership simply involves signing up with Uncle Mike's Worldwide.  You give them a little cash and in return they provide you a membership card, spiffy black t-shirt and two captured agent models (and I believe one new member-exclusive model each following year).  There's also a quarterly newsletter that you'll be sent via email which contains experimental rules and information about upcoming stuff for the game.

For more info about "The Cult of the Black Goat" take a look on the Strange Aeons website here.

July 03, 2012

Long Weekend Recap

Canada Day this year fell on a Sunday, which meant that I got Monday off in lieu.  In order to make the best of things I added the Friday to it and was able to enjoy a nice four-day weekend.  The weather here was particularly nice as well, which we sort of deserved after the rain-filled monstrosity that was June.

Strange Aeons / VUK

Starting things off on Thursday evening was a quick, as in almost light-speed, game of Uncle Mike's WIP Kulten rules. We played his 60 point ghoul cult against my 23 point Arcanists. Due to the massive point differential I gained some sorely needed resource points to help bolster my ranks.  I was able to add four new cultists to the sad and lonely three that had survived from the last game.  I also gained two favour points, and a dirty trick.

I used the dirty trick to alert the authorities and one of my favour points to modify Mike's roll from a 1 to a 6.  This meant that he could only field three models total, so he chose a ghoul, a ghoul king and a maniac.  I can't remember what the rule was, but the ghoul king had to sit out for the first three turns.  When the game started I moved my guns up first hoping to have a wall of firepower to take down anything that came into range.

The ghoul moved up, but stayed just out of range of my weapons.  I responded by solidifying my firing line.  Mike used an interesting tactic of moving his maniac to base his hiding ghoul, causing the maniac to frenzy into my front line.  Luckily only one of the three cultists I had there lost their cool and ran.  On my third turn I opened fire with the best weapon available and rolled a successful critical hit on the maniac, splattering his remains seven ways from Sunday.  With Mike's forces now down to half, he had to roll resolve for his ghoul...failure struck and the ghoul fled, leaving me with a lucky victory.
I didn't have a chance to do much more than flip through the revised rules, but I thought the balance was fine.  Without some serious luck and all the bonuses my cult had for being so outmatched I'd have had no chance. We were hoping to get in a second game, but I had a tournament of my own to run and we weren't able to play again.

VS System

There were four players in to join us for sealed constructed using Legion of Superheroes.  Sadly no one wanted to play after the second round so our VS games were pretty brief.  I know the weather is really nice and people are away for summer holidays, but if things don't pick up when we get our DFC set later this month, I'm fearful for the survival of the group.  We'll have to wait and see.  It also doesn't help that some of the players don't like playing sealed or draft...but I don't want to see the same constructed decks every week either.

Sedition Wars: Battle of Alabaster

The Kickstarter campaign for this game finally closed on Sunday.  They brought in a ridiculous amount of cash and ended up being the highest funded boardgame on Kickstarter ever.  I will have to wait until October or November to get my stuff, and then March for all the stretch rewards, but it was fun watching the project evolve.  I can't wait to get my hands on all the shiny new toys.

Empire of the Dead

Saturday morning I was able to spend some time sitting in the shade on the deck.  I cleaned up all the molding and flashing lines from the Gothic Horror civilians pack and super-glued them to bases.  In the early afternoon I headed down to Trilogy in hopes of finding someone who would help me try out the starter scenario from WestWind's web site.  Luckily Brandon was around and we were able to smash our way through a pretty fun game.

I played Holmes and Watson against his Jack the Ripper.  He consistently rolled higher than me in the initiative phase for the first SEVEN turns, so I had zero help from the peelers walking around downtown London.  Using my character's Unusual Occurrence to activate during the maintenance phase (essentially getting two activations for the turn) I got Holmes into combat with Jack.  We both took a wound and then Jack vanished into thin air.  Screams from the west pointed Holmes and Watson on the Ripper's trail again and they were able to corner him, only narrowly taking him down with a lucky shot from Watson's pistol.

The only question we had after our game was about the use of the wounded/recovery table so I made sure to read through it after returning home.

Sebastien and I were also able to play through the scenario on Monday, and this time I played Jack.  The rolls for initiative were against me again, but I was able to get a quick start and harvest two victims early on.  With the detectives closing in, the peelers sounded the alarm! Jack was running out of options.  Holmes charged in and was able to wound Jack but in the fog and confusion I was able to use my Unusual occurrence and move Jack out of harm's way at least temporarily.

Hiding in wait behind a large hilly tree, Jack gunned down one of the peelers who came a little too close.  The gunfire drew a crowd, including Holmes and Watson.  Jack used the crowd to try harvesting another victim, but was unsuccessful.  Holmes grappled with Jack valiantly as the wounded civilian escaped, but sadly he fell prey to Jack's cold steel.  Infuriated, Watson called the remaining peelers to his aid and they took revenge upon poor Jack, leaving him to die alone on the freezing London cobblestones.
Overall I quite liked the rules for Empire of the Dead.  I can see campaign being a lot of fun, making your faction grow and change throughout the course of several games.  The use of D10s instead of D6s gives it a little bit different feel too, although there are quite a few similarities to Strange Aeons.  It's probably a little bit heavier rules, but the fluff and setting really shine and I do hope I can get some of my friends to try a few games with me in the near future.