Wednesday 23 November 2016

Are you not entertained!?

Well that happened sooner than expected! What a wonderful surprise, to come home after a head-melter of a day's work to find a wee package waiting for me from DriveThru Cards.  Upon opening it, I was delighted to see my proof deck of cards for Blood, Sweat and Cheers. Above you can see the whole pack laid out excitedly - if amateurishly - on the table.

In the centre is the six-card arena so that players can get stuck straight into the game without having to call in the set designers from Ridley Scot's Gladiator. Below that are two cards abstracting the mood or favour of the crowd into a linear tracking system. To either side are reference cards so players do not have to refer to the two-page rule sheet once a bout has commenced. The rainbow selection at the top right of the photo are the gladiator cards, each outlining attributes and two special actions unique to each gladiator type. To the right is the play deck of 40 cards (showing three example cards) which are dealt to the players to represent the options available to their gladiator each turn. All up, a total of 60 cards.

Above you can see gladiator models placed in the two adjacent starting zones ready to begin a bout. On the left are a murmillo and thraex in 28mm, while on the right are a retiarius and a secutor in 15mm. Gladiators usually move one zone at a time and need to be in the same zone as an opponent to perform most attack types. 

We still have a couple of things to sort out with DriveThru cards, but Blood, Sweat and Cheers looks set to be published by Ganesha Games very early in the new year.

Saturday 19 November 2016

Horizon Wars - a near run thing.

We played a massive 30 presence game of Horizon Wars this week. Technically it was one 30P vs two allied 15P forces. I need to stress that, because my 30P of European Empire troops lost. Barely. I blame the extra free CHQ unit they had. No other reason. None at all. :)

It was a really fun, three turn game actually, very closely fought. We had three objective markers with blind victory points, one worth I, one worth II and one worth IV points. My heavy infantry battle group was very aggressive and held all three objective for much of the game. They took a real mauling for their trouble too. Some late enemy parra-drops managed to size control of one objective at literally the last minute, and it turned out to be the one worth IV points. So... defeat from the jaws of victory once more!

Thursday 17 November 2016

Macedonian invasion of Egypt - a fresh OGAM foe

A good gaming pal, terrain builder extraordinaire and all round enjoyable foe has recently had a bit of a health scare (a 'shot across the bows' as he puts it) and is off work for a little while. Helping to fill his day, as well as get myself away from the home office, I gave him a visit this week, and got in a quick game of Of Gods and Mortals while I was there.

We opted for a 1000 point game - 100 points larger than the recommended game size. Both of us packed out our forces with mortal units, each using only two legends and our gods. This really changed the dynamic of the game a bit making it more of a 'conventional' game if you like, placing more emphasis on units and less on rampaging rogue heroes.

I had a vaguely modeled notion to field Macedonians, patronised by Athena (with her daddy's lightning, but without the aegis). As legends I had Herakles and a harpy, supported by 8x Macedonian hypaspists, 6x undead hoplites, 4x Satyr archers, 4x Centaur archers and 4x Dryads.

Against me were ranged the Egyptian forces of Set. A chariot mounted pharaoh and a Great Mummy, backed up by 8x Sherden guardsmen, 8x axemen, 8x light infantrymen and 5x slaves.

Here you see the starting line up. And it was much more of a line up than usual for an OGAM game. My Macedonians are spread in a line along the left of the center line, Satyrs sitting in the rough terrain and the Dryads skulking invoking at the back.

In the opening turn, the Egyptian pharoah raored something in his barbarous tongue and pointed menacingly at the Satyrs. He rolled two dice to activate and failed both. Athena reacted by advancing forward and then, seizing the initiative, used her lightning to good effect. The pharoah exploded in a bolt of dazzling blue light leaving only a pair of smoking sandals in his chariot.

With that cracking start, the Macedonian forces started to advance. So did the Egyptians, but Athena's boys (and girls) had the advantage of speed, and far more firepower, slowly peppering the Egyptians, trying to reduce their ability to invoke Set to great deeds. Unfortunately, Set was able to bring down a plague on my hypaspists, greatly reducing their ability to activate and fight. Not cool Set. Not cool.

As the battle lines closed, Herakles ran to plug an emerging hole in the line between the Satyrs and the hypaspists (Athena had left it to help the heroic undead warriors destroy the Sherdan guardsmen). Seeing an opportunity to take revenge for the fallen pharaoh, Set dashed in.

Here you see a wider view of the table as the opposed lines come closer. In the unfocused middle distance, Set and Herakles duel. Set won the first bout, knocking Herakles to the ground but not killing him. As the contest continued, Set tried to finish the fallen hero, only to receive a hammering blow to the ankle and being forced to retire. Unfortunately, the Macedonian luck was not to last and in the next round Set hopped back into the melee and finished Herakles before he could fully recover.

Away off to the Macedonian right, my centaurs had been slowly picking off the large unit of Egyptian light infantry until the Egyptians eventually had enough and charged forward. The fighting was fairly inconclusive with multiple tied melees, but as mortal units loose a figure each time their is a tied melee, the small Centaur unit suffered much more than the large unit of Egyptians.

Back in the centre, Athena and Set went head-to-head, each supported by mortal adherents. Here though, Chance was against me, the dice failed, and Athena was banished. She was brought back, only to be defeated again by Set and his minions.

By this stage, the two armies had fought each other ragged. The Macedonians had suffered the worst of the melees and were reduced to only two units capable of summoning Athena back to the table - the hypaspists and the Dryads. However, neither unit were effective combat troops at this stage - the hypaspists because of the plague, the Dryads because... Dryads.

The (very enjoyable) day was drawing to a close, I had to go and perform daddy duties, and it was clear that Set's Egyptians were in a better position than my Macedonians with three units capable of summoning/invoking, the Great Average Mummy and Set all still in play. The Egyptian axemen were still combat effective, while the light infantry and slaves were still effective on account of their numbers. The Macedonians conceded the day and Athena went off to examine her war record (two losses out of two battles) and have a long hard think about what shed'd done.

Tuesday 15 November 2016

Blood Sweat and Cheers - coming to an arena near you early 2017.

Blood Sweat and Cheers has made it into it's final version and a proof copy of the deck has been ordered. However, due to how long it will take for the proofs to reach me, there is no point holding out for a release before the end of the year. Presuming there are no problems with the proofs, I would expect the game to be available from the start of 2017.

Above is a shot from one of the playtesters in Australia. This was taken with a penultimate version of the rules which micro-managed movement. In the final version, the area is divided into 12 zones with movement abstracted by zone. It makes for a much more fluid game and removes unnecessary beardiness from the game.

The deck will include six cards which will fit together to form an arena straight out of the pack, so all you'll really need to invest in before your first game is some gladiators. Of course, there is nothing to stop you modelling an arena (I have done so myself), but zones would have to be superimposed in some form.

Friday 11 November 2016

Flytrap Factory prehistoric fun

My small order from Flytrap Factory arrived yesterday having sat in HM's Customs for far too long. I have to say that I am absolutely delighted with them. I bought one pack of five prehistoric hunters (one-piece white metal castings) and three mammoths (resin with white metal tusks). Despite being very busy with work, I immediately stuck them on magnetised bases awaiting an undercoat (of which I am temporarily out).

As you can see, all sculpts are unique and conform to a fun, exaggerated style. The chap on the right of the lower picture there comes with a full length spear but I 'amended' it ahead of converting his spear into a flaming torch. These first release cavemen are about 20mm to the tops of their heavy-browed heads.

The mammoth pack also comes with three unique sculpts and two different tusk shapes so there is potential for a fair bit of variation in your herd. They come to about 40mm to the top of the hump.

Now, I love these chaps, and they are destined to be used for Ganesha Games' Song of Blades and Heroes and for Wessex Games' Tusk mammoth hunting game. However, it is understandable that for some people, 20mm cavies and creatures might not be their preferred scale. Realising this, Flytrap Factory have developed a whole expansion of the range bringing the scale up to 28mm. Within the new scheme, the original hunters become pygmies, and the mammoths become mammoth calves.

The company is only a small outfit and they have launched a Kickstarter to help produce the new parts of the range. If you havn't already seen it, I would really encourage you to have a look at the campaign. There are 12 days left and and they need another $1,500 to make the project a success.

Part of the Kickstarter will be a set of rules to go with the range called Caveman verse Wild: The Big Chill. These look like a really fun approach to the trials and tribulations of survival for Ice Age hunters. From what I gather, the hunters are actively run by players co-cooperatively or competitively, while creatures and environmental dangers are controlled by an AI system.

The aim of the game seems to be to feed your tribe by hunting prey. However, whenever hunters come within a trigger distance of a terrain piece they roll against their 'wit' to see whether they get ambushed by deadly predators. Furthermore, there are AI controlled squirrel-rats which act as 'portents'. Should a squirrel-rat come withing trigger range of a hunter, all manner of cataclysms and calamities can be unleashed from volcanoes and floods to meteor strikes. It really does look like a great deal of fun. So go ahead, check out the Kickstarter, support it. Think of it as a charitable donation. It is a Kiwi company after all and (spoken as an Australian) they need as much help to be noticed as possible... ;)

Saturday 5 November 2016

Fayre Winds and Foul Tides sets sail!

Fayre Winds & Foul Tides is an expansion for Galleys & Galleons. Whether you have a panache for lacepulp, a fetish for High Fantasy, or just want to explore new historical periods, FWFT provides everything you need the bravely sail beyond the Seven Seas.

New special rules - FWFT introduces 51 new special rules to further customise your fleets, including traitorous captains, mutinous crews, indirect fire and ironclads.

New terrain - The seas just got more dangerous with a range of new terrain features including icebergs, volcanoes and assorted native islanders. 

Advanced rules for flyers - Take the fight to the skies with advanced flying rules and new types of flyers, from da Vinci inspired ornithopters and lace-pulp airships, to dragons, gryphons and flying carpets.

Magic - The tides of magic cause additional waves on the tabletop with new rules for shipborne sorcerers and magical creatures. Seven schools of magic give a range of unique spells and other magical abilities with which to destroy your foes (and confound your friends). 
G&G is currently available from Ganesha in pdf format.

Friday 4 November 2016

Albion - completing the triad

Well that is me super excited! Far and away my favourite retelling of the Arthurian saga is Patrick McCormack's Albion trilogy: The Last Companion (1997), The White Phantom (2000) and The Lame Dancer (2008). Set ten years after the death of Arthur at the battle of Camlann, the stories follow one last survivor who has since become a hermit, as well as a cadre of characters from the next generation as they struggle to negotiate the feuding tribes and kingdoms that have re-emerged after the fall of Arthur.

Through a combination of dream/nightmare sequences, memories, and stories told throughout, the story of Arthur's rise and rule is artfully told so in essence you get two different but connected stories told throughout. For me this is all first class inspiration for Arthurian wargaming and well worth tracking down if you haven't already tried them.

I first read The Last Companion when it was initially released although I didn't realise there were sequels until many years later. The problem is that the rights to the third novel are owned by Constable & Robinson who never published it. In 2007, a chap by the name of Howard Wiseman got in contact with McCormack and received permission to release it on the internet.

I found out about this last year and downloaded the pdf. However, I soon discovered (had reaffirmed) that I don't like reading books on electronic devices. Furthermore, a child who shall remain nameless dropped our tablet and I then lost the file anyway. Well, sick of sitting around not reading The Lame Dancer, the other day I re-downloaded the file and sent it off to be printed and bound in A5, finally securing a hard copy of the much longed for and anticipated final volume.

Well, now for the record, here are three different online sources if you are looking to complete the series (I'd urge you to track down the first two novels first).

Patrick McCormack's own site.
Seemingly a different version of the above.
Griffith University site.

Thursday 3 November 2016

Faustus Furius - out and about

In recent weeks, Faustus Furius has been demo'd at at least two major games conventions, Strategicon in Los Angeles (September), and Lucca Comics and Games (October). My thanks to Tom and Massimo for making the effort to show off the game to the poor unsuspecting public.

Below are a couple of pictures of Tom's setup at Strategicon ...

... and some of Massimo's arena mat from Lucca.

Also worth checking out are ongoing Faustus Furius projects at Down Among the Lead Men,  Wilson's Wargaming, and Castle by Moonlight.