Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The Forces of Kas'trum for Space 1889 (and Happy Holidays)

In the swamps between the cities of Crocea and Gorklimsk lies the independent town of Kas'trum. Though out of the thick of the current war against the Earthers, Kas'trum provides an important gateway to the High Martian liftwood groves to the north. The exact details of this town are not yet known, but below is a brief report on the military forces thought to be under her control.

I sat down the other day to look over the new acquisitions as well as my existing troops and come up with some reasonable units. Unfortunately, RAFM packs provide figures in multiples of three while the official Soldier's Companion organizations are in multiples of eight. Eight and three don't factor well so it took a bit of thinking to make it all work. Ratings are all conjectural at this point but more or less follow the book.

Canal Marines
Marines simply because I like the blue scheme I used for the originals. A little light with only 15 in the unit rather than the usual 19, these will be pure shooters with rifle muskets or possibly breech loaders. I am thinking Regular V1S or E1S.

The Stalwarts
My conception of  Oh'ktava'an's experimental shield gunner company. One half company each of gunners and cutters, all troops get the +1 defensive bonus for being armoured. This is a defensive rather than offensive unit. Regular V0 or maybe even E0.

Kas'trum Civic Guard
Basic city infantry with the usual smooth bore shooter/cutter split. Irregular T2 or X2

Kas'trum Fencibles
A mix of armoured (+1 defensive bonus) troops  armed with shield guns and choppers in the front half company and a twelve man over strength cutter company in the rear. Another defensive unit Irregular T0 or X0. I might try splitting morale with the front half company getting V0 and the rear T0  or even G0

Kas'trum Volunteers
A mishmash of civic minded militia. Mixed shooters and cutters in the front half company with all cutters in the rear. These boys are enthusiastic but Irregular G1 or at best T1 armed with a few smooth bore muskets.

Pier Worm Roaster's Guild Social Club and Civil Defence Force "The Red Caps". 
Well known for their marksmanship but better known for their drinking, the Red Caps began as an informal gambling league when the Roaster's Guild started taking bets on who could pick off the most marsh slugs - rapacious predators of the pier worm. Marsh slugs have excellent vision making them a tough prey to tackle. The Red Caps bright head gear and garish clothing show in part their contempt for the eagle eyed slug.  Irregular X3S or V3S. Rifled muskets.
Second Troop, Third squadron Crocean Heavy Dragoons
A Gashant unit on loan from the city of Crocea, the 2/3 Dragoons give Kas'trum some mounted support. Regular V0H

Num'da's Raiders
A Hill Martian light cavalry unit hired by Kas'trum to provide long range scouting. Irregular T2

Kas'trum Scouts
Another half band of Hill Martian mercenaries, the Scouts provide reconnaissance and skirmish capability to the city forces. Irregular T2
Moeris Lacus Trucial Company "The Prince's Own" 
 A dual purpose unit. As loyal sepoys, The platoons can be split up and assigned to red forces to provide a much needed native scouting capability.  As mutineers, they can be used to give Martian forces a much needed boost to their fire power and morale. Regular X2 (I love these sculpts)

The Rest
Left over figures who will serve as overall field commanders, rebel leaders and other roles as required.

This will give me five possibly six companies with some supporting troops as well - note that the two Martian Whitworth guns are not depicted here. Hopefully, they will be able to take on a British platoon, maybe even two.

In any event they give me much to paint over the holiday period.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you all! May your pier worms always be well smoked!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Magic the Gathering Pauper Draft

I last played Magic the Gathering back in the days of Ice Age with just a smattering of Alliances. I traded it all away for Jyhad / V:TES which I considered a more interesting game. Years later, board games are back and with them board game stores. Magic is back in public view and is no longer relegated to tournaments and niche stores.  You can even find cards at the dollar store.
A couple of friends wanted to play. Jamie has never stopped but Marc and I haven't picked up cards in years. So rather than buying pre-built decks of the latest release, we held a pauper draft last night with five packs each from  the dollar/pound store.  To do the draft, each player opens a pack, looks through the cards and selects one then passes the remainder to the right. The select and pass continues until all the cards from that pack have been distributed. Each player then opens another pack and the process repeats until all packs have bee distributed.  Basic land is added in as desired to make a fifty card deck.

For the old timers there were more than a few questions about card abilities but in the end we were able to muddle through. I was gratified to see a Legends reprint Cat warriors in my first pack - I could understand this card at least, and looking at the rest chose that as the basis of a green-black deck.  It was not to be since Marc was to my left and was also collecting green and snagged all the good cards.  I had to revert to a Black/White deck with a focus on graveyard recycling and low coloured mana cost critters and spells.   

The games went well with the usual problems of getting the land balance right. Jamie beat me pretty soundly with some new fangled magicky stuff. Marc and I took classical deck design approaches and had a couple of very close games. Two stand out. The first was where Marc had a heavily buffed up Cyclops ready to pound me to smithereens, and I played Eye Gouge sending it screaming to the graveyard. In another game I was hurting but Marc was down to 3. I attacked with a 1/4 which Mark did not block planning to kill me next turn with his creatures and I used a white border Transmutation to flip it to a 4/1 and killed him.  The old cards are still good cards.

It wasn't about winners and losers though, just a bunch of mates having a good time playing games.  I very much enjoyed playing and thought that I would enjoy getting back into it. Then I remembered that Magic is as addictive as crack and that a lead habit is much less problematic and costly than a card habit.

Top level decks in our area run between $250 and $2,000 to assemble, the "legal" cards change yearly if not more frequently and they're just frigging playing cards.

Back to buying lead I think.

But maybe just one more pauper draft.....

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

More Reinforcements for Mars

A bit of overtime came through from work so it was off to the RAFM site to order up some much needed reinforcements for the forces of mars.  This time around, it was two more legions of Mars and enough Colonial Martian Infantry to bring the existing platoon up to full company strength.

This will give me just under 6 warbands of martian infantry, a troop of heavy canal martian lancers, a troop of hill martian light cavalry, a full warband of high martians in both flying and on foot configuration (or 2 if I don't worry too much about mixing), two Whitworth rifles with Colonial or Martian crew . The colonial company mentioned above can fight either for the Great Red Queen across the ether or switch sides in true Sepoy style and help to throw their oppressive masters off the beloved red planet.  In addition I have a troop or so of Boer War era mounted rifles I plan on doing up as German mercenaries in the service of a Martian prince or as British colonial irregulars.

With all that in place, I might just be able to take on a British rifle company and survive.... maybe if the dice gods are kind just maybe....

Oh'ktava'an will likely be back over the Christmas holidays. While attending to his - uh - ablutions the other day he realized that while shield gunners can press forward against bows and spears, against rifles, they are far better as defensive troops receiving a charge with their scatter guns at close range. He has also received information from Earther sources suggesting that the British ability to use cover is not as good as many Maritian units. Many red units are unable to spot concealed troops until they are well within charge range. 

More to follow and a lot more to paint

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Epic - Mad Padre's PBEM Diplomacy Game is over

There have been two games in my life thus far that I can call truly epic. The first was a double blind umpired game of Squad Leader I played back in my 20's. The second was the Diplomacy game set up and run by Michael - The Mad Padre that wound up this week: Diplomacy Game: Peace Breaks Out, We Have Winners.

That's my last army - withering away in the beer halls of Silesia

When Michael put the call out for interested players, I put my name in and drew Germany. I had played before but not since high school so naturally I went on line and read up on the best strategies to follow for this august and important nation.  Two main points came up: 1) you must ally with Austria or you both will die and 2) you have to talk to other players.  Armed with these words of wisdom, I sent a flurry of messages across the map even to Turkey but most importantly to Austria.  All was well at first, then after a couple turns, Austria went silent. Unfortunately the player had to withdraw. Life happens and I bear him or her no ill will but it left me in a bit of a pickle. I had antagonized Italy while I tried to defend a passive Austria, England was leaning hard on the Low Countries and Turkey was pushing hard for Vienna.

In retrospect, an alliance with Italy would have worked out well in the long run - he turned out to be an honourable player and good neighbour to the end. However, faced with no prospect of winning, I decided to focus on in no particular order 1) surviving and 2) making the game interesting for the rest of the players. So rather than keep the persona of a sober and solemn diplomat, I went with the bat-crap crazy but mostly harmless unfortunate street person down at the bus station that everyone leaves alone.

There were numerous conversations with a predatory Uncle England about the high failure rate of Royal Navy compasses. I may have accidentally on purpose misquoted different messages I received before sending them on to other parties and I thought I found an interpretation of the rules that would have allowed for a 3 or 4 way win with me holding the swing vote.  Most regrettably I was utterly wrong about that last bit.

However, the most epic bit of epicness was the all out charge against the forces of compass sabotaging Bolshevism. Figuring I was dead anyway, I headed east putting more pressure on the Czar than he really deserved. And England and France did nothing... So I kept going and they kept doing nothing. In the end I had to turn back and defend Munich and thus survived far, far longer than I had any right to expect.  In the Fall of 1906 mere moments before the outbreak of peace, my last army fell and the Kaiser went into well deserve exile in Canada.

A wonderful game and a wonderful experience.  Many many thanks to Michael and all the other players.

My one regret is now my inbox is regrettably lacking in content.