Monday, 19 October 2015

Agincourt

Now that is some serious figure painting!

 

 

Read the story behind the diorama here.

 

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Next Up on the Painting Table

Now that SELWG is behind us it's time to start thinking about a new project. Of course there's lots to choose from: Celtic chariots, robotic mummies and all sort of old Citadel lead for Frostgrave.

Whilst putting the SELWG table together I had an idea for a two part scenario that starts with the Vikings disembarking from their ship and attacking the Monastary. My idea was to have a Homeland type scenario with the Monastary defended by a Saxon warrior priest and a motley group of Angry Monks, with a few levy from the local village and perhaps a single point of local militia (warriors).

 

 

I've made the base for this figure using one of the Basius II pads that I received earlier this year through a Kickstarter project.

 

 

If the Vikings win they then have to head back to the longship as per the Revenant scenario. Since there will be casualties I need to balance the game, perhaps with the number of Revenant units determined by how many monks have died, or perhaps giving 'killed' Vikings a % chance of discovering they only suffered a minor injury. We'll see.

I didn't have time to complete the extra figures for Sunday's event but I'm still keen on exploring the idea. Since John Fry is organising another SAGA day in November I also thought it would be fun to turn my existing Anglo Dane warband into something more ecclesiastical. I suspect I'll get thrashed with them, but it should still be fun and I will at least learn how they play against different warbands.

I also have another project In the pipeline that will require additional painting.

We now have four different warbands (including the Revenants), each of which has seven available points. I thought that it would be fun to liven things up a bit by introducing a bit of uncertainty into warbands. A recently published fan made ruleset attempts to do this by randomising which warbands will play (link). These rules work best if players have access to several different warbands (ideally six). Since that is a bit of a tall order, I thought I'd try to adapt the system published in Neil Thomas' excellent One Hour Wargames.

 

 

Using the random warband generator means that a single warband can be used - with varying numbers of hearthguard, warrior and levy units selected by rolling a d6. I've put together provisional lists for my Anglo Danes, Vikings and Norse Gaels but need to paint up a few extra units to make the system work. The Revenants won't really work for this (since they consist of only a single troop type). I'll post more details once we've given it a go. Painting up extra units is something I'm doing anyway, since I intend to use each of the SAGA warbands as the nucleus of a Lion Rampant retinue. Any excuse eh?!

 

Sunday, 11 October 2015

SELWG - The Aftermath

Fantastic time today at Crystal Palace. We managed to run four full games of Get to the Longship. In the end it was two wins to the Revenants and two to the Vikings.

 

 

Sadly no photos of other tables or bags of loot - just too busy! I think it's the first time I've been to an event and not bought anything!! I didn't even eat my sandwiches until I was driving home. Adam from the club bought me a Celtic Cross and gravestones as thanks for the lift - thanks Adam (and big thanks from Kyle for the Greeks)! Thanks also to everyone who stopped by and said nice things about the table, the Viking ship seemed to go down well. Finally, it was great to finally meet Ray Rousell from Don't Throw a One!

Next up is Cavalier in 2016 - see you there.

 

Saturday, 10 October 2015

Dark Clouds Gather...

Somewhere close to the coat of Kent in the 9th Century, monks awaken to a fine day and prepare for their daily chores. In the distance an eerie mist rises above the creek. Suddenly the head of a great serpent appears and harsh cries shatter the morning peace. The terrified monks gather their precious relics and frantically sound the alarm. A small group of poorly equipped warriors scramble to the monk's aid from a nearby village.

But it's too late the Northmen have landed!

 

 

The heathen raiders rush towards the Monastary, brandishing both axe and torch.

 

 

 

The Monastary is set ablaze and it's wealth plundered.

 

 

Defenceless villagers are dragged from their homes and the Northmen start to feast and drink and count their loot...

But as night falls something stirs.

Something long forgotten is woken by the smell of blood and death.

 

 

An ancient being rises from the ground and starts to chant dark curses. The ground stirs and undead hands claw their way to the surface.

 

 

The dead have arisen and they now crave for fresh meat!

The Viking warlord quickly sobers.

 

 

He shouts to his men and they gather into a Shieldwall before the burning Monastary.

 

 

Telling his men to gather their spoils, the warlord looks across the marshes.

 

 

Will they be able to Get to the Longship?

 

Come along and meet us tomorrow at SELWG to find out!

 

 

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Congo

Looks like Studio Tomahawk's new game will be released at next year's Salute (2016 for you lot reading this old blog post ten years in the future...)

 

 

The game will apparently be featured in next month's Wargames Illustrated. Looks interesting...

 

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Five Days to SELWG!

Not long to go now. I've been burning the midnight oil painting the last few items for our SAGA participation game of Back to the Longship.

Almost all of the terrain and scenery is complete (including the river of course). Yesterday I finished the last of the Viking warband so we now have seven full points (including a priest). Today I finished painting the Revenant necromancer. He'll be varnished tomorrow morning before work and static grass/tufts applied in the evening.

On Saturday, I'll be setting everything up and running through a practice game with Kyle. He's played against the Revenants but not yet played them as his own warband. Setting the whole thing up will give me a chance to organise all of the items and (very importantly), pack it all away properly ready for the Sunday morning drive to Crystal Palace.

I'll try to grab a few photos of the setup on Saturday and hopefully will also take a few on Sunday. If you're going to SELWG stop by our table and say hello. You can't miss us. We'll be the one with the burning Monastary ;-)

Oh, there's one last item to finish...

 

 

Not sure what I'm going to do with all that rigging!

 

Saturday, 3 October 2015

Frostgrave - Better with a DM?

We invited one of Kyle's mates over this afternoon for a game of Frostgrave. After our initial game earlier in the week I had a few misgivings. The d20 based combat system and 'grab the treasure & run' scenarios don't quite do it for me. But (and this is important), I really want to like this game. I can see that it has a lot of potential.
So what to do? I decided to try something slightly different. Rather than play a standard game or one of the supplied scenarios I thought it would be fun to put together my own scenario for the two boys to play with me acting as Dungeon Master. This would allow Kyle and his friend to play the game without getting bogged down in the rules (simple though they are) and give me the opportunity to watch them play and see if my concerns are valid.
The short answer is that the kids had a blast, thoroughly enjoyed the game and simply didn't care about the vagaries of rolling a d20. In my role as DM, I was able to add little extras to the game to keep things moving along at a brisk pace and ensure that uncertainties over rules etc didn't get in the way of the boys simply having fun. I was also able to keep certain things hidden from the players to introduce an element of uncertainty.
So, here's what we did...

The Road to Frostgrave
Those adventurers brave enough to face the perilous road to Frostgrave will find treasures a plenty...

Set-up
The game takes place outside of the ruined city, where an ancient trackway crosses an old stone bridge.

At one end of the table is a small village. Various sacks and boxes are stored near the hovels. Outside of the village is a murky pond close to which is an area of boggy ground. A steep sided hill is located near the river on top of the hill is a large upright stone engraved with mysterious symbols. Several woods are located either side of the trackway.


The trackway crosses an old stone bridge before winding its way through marshland and then onwards to Frostgrave.
The rotting corpses of several soldiers and an old man with a long staff lie where they fell along the road. A severed arm still clutches a sword that appears to shine with an eerie blue glow... Only the old man is located on the far side of the river. His outstretched arms seemingly clawing for the edge of the road, whilst next to him is an open chest of treasure.

Special Rules
Players are heading to Frosgrave and to get there they have to cross the river and exit the table (ideally along the road, but it depends how fast they are running)! Players enter from the two table corners on either side of the village.
Of course nothing is as simple as it seems. Old bridges have stories of their own and the one in this game concerns a tortured spirit that haunts the bridge in the form of a wraith.


As soon as the first adventurer sets foot on the bridge, the wraith materialises and attacks! DMs should remember that wraiths are immune to non-magic weapons...
Clever players may realise that an open treasure chest on the far side of a bridge is too good to be true and rightly guess that the bridge may be trapped in some way. They'll enquire about wading across the river and the GM should inform them that since there hasn't been much rain, they can indeed cross the river with a half movement rate. Thinking they have outsmarted the GM the player may test the water with a soldier. As soon as the figure enters the river, the water around his feet will start to boil and a monstrous shape will loom before him...


The river is enchanted and protected by a large construct.
[I painted this old Citadel water elemental sometime around 1988 and this is the first time it's been used in a game!]
Of course pesky kids think they are smarter than wise GMs and as soon as they hear some befuddled old git muttering about low rainfall and wading with only a half movement penalty, they'll know that something is afoot.
[It was at about this point in our game when the two boys started to encourage each other to cross the stream. A smug DM even heard one of them say 'We should be helping each other not fighting"]
There are spells that allow figures to leap (and possibly other convoluted ways that smart ass kids will come up with for getting across the river without using the bridge or getting their feet wet).


A wise DM will have on hand a second large construct, this time in the form of a wind elemental that materialises mid-air and immediately attacks.
[yes this old Citadel figure was also painted in the late 80's]
Hopefully by this time the players will have stopped trying to outsmart the DM and start searching for something that can kill a wraith!
Some players may feel that battling past elementals and killing undead spirits with a pilfered magic sword is quite enough excitement for one day. However, the DM should simply smile and suggest that a thudding noise can be heard in the distance. Nervous players will by now be sufficiently unsettled that their wizards will be legging it over the bridge to escape with their plundered loot. As soon as the first figure crosses the bridge...


[remember Blood Rage? The figures are very nice! And will be even nicer once they are painted!!]
A frost giant appears from a random table edge and rushes towards the lead wizard.
Whether the DM allows the frost giant to reach the wizard depends on how tidy that particular player has kept their bedroom during the week.
[in our game Kyle used a previously summoned demon to engage the giant in melee giving the rest of his warband time to escape. Clever move!]

Treasure and Experience
The DM places 10 numbered tokens face down at suitable locations on the village side of the river.
[in our game the ten tokens were numbered 1 to 6; with several low numbers and only a single 4, 5 & 6 present]
Players are told that locations with tokens can be searched and treasure may be found. Each time a player's figure searches a location with a token, the token is turned over and the player rolls a d20 (or two d10s if you prefer...). The number on the token is added to the roll. A score greater than 20 reveals treasure. The first treasure found is a magic sword (+1 to hit). A score of 16 - 20 reveals a creature that immediately attacks. A score of 15 or less reveals nothing. DMs are advised to secretly roll for encounters before the start of the game. These can then be quickly produced from a covered box without interrupting the flow of the game. Creature encounter levels should be mostly low, with a few higher levels to keep players on their toes.
[I found it very satisfying that in today's game both players started to fear 'the box'!]
If the magic sword has not been found, it is always revealed when the last token is searched.
[To spice things up, GM's can consider revealing a creature alongside the magic sword...]
Whilst players know that tokens could be treasure, the only definite treasure item is the open chest. To get to it players must cross the river...
Experience is awarded as normal. In addition wizards gain the following experience:
15 experience points for their warband finding the magic sword
25 experience points for their warband killing the wraith
10 experience points for escaping with the magic sword.

Friday, 2 October 2015

Frostgrave - First Impressions

The bandwagon has rumbled past Brady HQ and we've jumped onboard! In other words I've recently bought a copy of Frostgrave.

 

 

I was (very) late to Mordheim. It came and went during my 20 year gaming break. The concept sounded intriguing, a skirmish game set in a ruined Warhammer city where bands of adventurers searched and fought for treasure. Kyle and I both put warbands together and a mini campaign was suggested at Friday Night Fire Fight Club. It soon fizzled out... Running campaigns is difficult at the best of times, but with Mordheim... The rules are all over the place. Perhaps it's because I had to download PDF copies (the game lost support from GW long ago), but there seemed to be an awful lot of looking things up... My head hurt after a game. Actually my head hurt during a game. Kyle's Dwarfs got stuffed on their first outing and he quickly lost interest. But I still thought the concept was intriguing. It just needed to be a bit (lot) simpler. Perhaps simpler is the wrong word. Games need to flow.

Hold on, what about Frostgrave? From the game's blurb:

"Frostgrave is a game of Wizards, battling through a ruined frozen city in search of magical artefacts."

The city may be frozen rather than smashed by a meteorite but...

I've read several online reviews and battle reports that are mostly positive. So I ordered a copy of the (nicely produced) hardback book and had a good read. I then gave the book to Kyle and he had a good read. We both concluded that Frostgrave is Mordheim Lite - and the 'Lite' part here is key.

Kyle has just moved on from primary school. His new school was supposed to have an after school Warhammer club. Kyle went along only to find that there was only one other student there... And nobody to run the thing. He wasn't too disappointed (he comes along to Friday Night Fire Fight Club with me after all), but I thought it a shame his new friend was left stranded by the lack of support. Enter Frostgrave.

So what are my initial thoughts?

It's cheap. My copy cost less than a tenner (inc postage). It doesn't require huge numbers of figures (a wizard, an apprentice and up to eight additional soldiers per warband) so there's only a small financial/time investment in buying and painting a warband. The gameplay is fast and combat/shooting simple. No tables to look up, just roll a d20 and compare results (with a few modifiers here and there). Turns are broken into phases (wizard, apprentice, soldier, beasts) with initiative rolls determining who goes first. But play moves quickly from one wizard to the other and then to apprentices etc. The action comes thick and fast so there's not much waiting around. There are plenty of spells for wizards to choose from and these really do influence the outcome of the game.

So, it's a cheap game that doesn't require a huge time investment with plenty of action to entice new players, especially younger players.

Are there any downsides? Yes. Quite a few.

Before reading on, remember I think the game achieves what it set out to do - create a simplified Mordheim like skirmish game aimed at younger players.

But the Frostgrave world is rather shallow. There's none of the lavish background that GW used to lovingly pour into Warhammer (before they blew the whole thing up - but I digress). There are no dwarfs. No elves. Or any races other than men. There are creatures in the bestiary, but they are a bit thin really. The stats for some creatures appear a bit odd to me as well. Zombies have armour 12, the same as greater demons. Really? Zombies are too hard to kill, whilst greater demons (in comparison) are not hard enough. Perhaps future supplements will flesh out the world and introduce other races. But that may introduce additional complexity that I suspect the author prefers to avoid.

There are several scenarios in the book that appear interesting, but they are perhaps a bit specific. Rolling randomly for scenarios means that the same ones are likely to come up. There's only so many times you'll want to look for treasure in the living museum I think. Specific scenarios can be fun but should perhaps be in supplements rather than the core rulebook. Additional scenarios are being published by Osprey (a cheap 3 scenario mini campaign is already available as a digital download).

The combat and shooting mechanism is perhaps too simple. We played 2 quick games tonight to test the rules. Who won or lost a melee seemed pretty random. Individual stats don't really influence scores very much. My Templar was hitting with +2 in melee... Against Kyle's newly summoned greater demon with +4. The demon (surely one of the most dangerous things to be encountered), only has a 10% better chance of winning the combat. Hmm. The spells are interesting but appear poorly balanced. Kyle's chances of casting a summon demon spell were the same as my chance to take control of one of his zombies. In our second game he managed to gain a demon, wolf and zombie without too much difficulty. Once spells are selected, they can't be changed. New spells can be learned during a campaign, but I suspect many games will be won or lost due to the initial spell choices.

We found that the game became very bloody, very fast. And perhaps that's all that matters.

I'll be running a game this weekend for Kyle and his new friend. Playing the game tonight made me realise that prerolling on the random encounters table is useful (to ensure figures are immediately available). If the kids take to the game I'll see about easing them into a short campaign. I can think of a few scenarios that would make good use of my new Battle Systems Fantasy Terrain...