Thursday, May 31, 2012

Space 1889 Soldier's Companion High Martian draft house rules

Basing up some of the RAFM High Martians has presented a few problems.  The landed figures will fit on the standard basing washer but the flying figures aren't really stable. I was thinking about basing the flyers on mounted washers and turned to the Soldier's Companion for guidance. As many others have found, our favourite flying monkeys are barely mentioned in the Soldier's Companion rules. I decided to work up a set of draft house rules. Below are my thoughts and the end results.

The Thought Process

In the Space 1889 rules, High Martians are described as primitive brutes who primarily use hand weapons and Bows. Physically they are shorter than other Martians. Martians overall are limited in strength as player characters. As flyers, we can reasonably expect Hill Martians to be weaker still. And yet these primitive, technologically backward, physically inferior beings maintain an iron grip on the liftwood supply and keep large numbers of slaves under control. How is this possible?

I decided to use the dual basing sizes to drive the process. Each airborne High Martian needs space to manoeuvre just to stay aloft making them cavalry sized yet they can land and fight as foot troops. This sounded a lot to me like a flying variant of mounted infantry. Reading those rules, especially the restrictions on mounted fire further suggested that High Martians are more like Light Horse, capable of firing on the move and charging into combat but not getting the full melee benefit of Light Cavalry. This decision also sets the movement rate to that of irregular cavalry while flying and irregular foot while landed. The average cavalry movement also roughly fits the High Martian move rates in Sky Galleons of Mars

Irregular troops are limited to mass and open order formations. I thought about limiting flyers to open order to represent the extra space needed but we have used a large flying base to compensate for that already - besides who doesn't want to see a mass formation of flying monkeys charging across the board?  That leaves formation changes. By the book, irregulars have to take a full move to make a formation change. That makes sense for troops shaking out into skirmish order from mass formation or vice versa but what about landing? High Martians are supposedly good flyers so let's say they can make a half move and land, or take off and make a half move.

So far so good. What about terrain? For units on foot, it is simple - they move and are blocked as irregular foot. Flyers present another set of problems.  Let's fix combat height at Very Low as used in Cloudships and Gunboats and call this out of the reach of any hand weapon used from the ground but not quite as high as your average multi-storey building, woods or forest - NOE if you will. At Very Low, flyers can move over any terrain without delay but must move around large buildings. They can fly through forests and woods at the normal cavalry rate. Line of site is normal. Let's call Low higher than anything on the board. Barring the standard blocking terrain shadow, flyers at Low can see and be seen by any unit on the board. Guns get dangerous. To change levels, let's call that another half move. For firing or being fired at, units at very low count as being at ground level. Units at low count as 12" further away.

So now to combat. There are a couple of things to take into consideration here. The Soldier's Companion rules don't really address shooting at or by flyers. The 1889 rules give a bonus to the to hit target number making it harder to fire against flyers. I had thought about giving the Hill Martians extra fieldcraft and allow them to use that only when flying.  That works fairly well but instead I decided to stick with a low field craft for use both when landed and flying. The aerial field craft  bonus, the targeting flyers bonus and the open order bonus add up pretty quickly making it tough to hit skirmishing flyers. High Martians in mass lose two of the three bonuses which makes sense - it being easier to hit a fur ball of flying monkeys.

Next is melee. Given their smaller size, High Martians count as a weak adversary. High Martians can charge into melee on foot as any other ground troops. If flying, they can charge into melee as light horse and if their move permits, can land on top of an opposing unit. In this case, High Martians get the bonuses for flying, light horse and defending from higher ground for the first round of combat. For morale purposes this initial attack counts as a rear attack. In subsequent rounds, the High Martians are considered to be brought to ground and fight as normal foot. And that about does it. I haven't tested these yet but will post results when I do.

The short version

High Martians, standard V1,   Kings Guards E1
Weak Adversary
High Martians follow the same rules as Light Horse when airborne and irregular foot when landed. Foot and mounted bases can be used by agreement. At Very Low level, flying High Martians can move over any terrain except high buildings which they must move around  and forests or woods which they can move around or through with the normal mounted movement penalties. Normal range and line of sight rules apply. At Low level, A High Martian unit can see or be seen by any unit on the board subject to the normal blocking terrain shadow rules. They can fly over any terrain on the board without penalty. They count as an additional 12" further away when firing or being fired at. It costs a half cavalry move to change level, land or take off.

Hill Martians on foot fight as any other similarly armed foot unit. Flying High Martians receive their fieldcraft bonus when flying as well as the aerial target bonus when shot at.   They can charge into melee as light horse and if their moves allows, land on top of the defending unit counting as flying and up hill for the first round of melee. For morale purposes, this first round counts as a rear attack against their opponents. For subsequent rounds the High Martians are considered to have been brought to ground and fight as normal foot.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Preserve yourself in pewter! New 25mm VSF figure competition

RAFM of Canada is running a competition to create a new steampunk character for their Space 1889 line.  Full details here. Submit a picture and see yourself immortalized in shiny, shiny metal!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Talisman and Pith Helmets?

One of my all time favourite games is the original 1980`s Talisman. We have all but one of the expansions and it still gets brought out regularly. I just found out that Gary Chalk the artist for this edition is also a traditional war gamer who has created the terrain and units for some rather nice colonial scenarios. He also plays English Civil War and probably other periods.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Steam Fortress Victory - a review

A review of mine on the Steam Fortress Victory RPG is up over at Steampunk Canada.
Steam Fortress Victory Review

Thursday, May 24, 2012

CanGames Day 3 Part Three - DBA and Wrap Up

DBA Tournament
I was really looking forward to this tournament and I was not disappointed.  There were 15 players altogether giving us a solid four games each. The tournament organizer, Tod, did his best to create reasonable match ups.

Game 1 Ancient British vs Macedonians
My first game saw me up against Macedonians. I managed some generally good match ups but the dice did not cooperate and the centre folded. Facing double ranked pike didn't help either. My second game was against Patrician Roman. This went as expected with fate tipping to the other side - but my opponent Ben is a very good player and definitely gave fate a hearty shove.

Game 3 Ancient British vs New Kingdom Egyptian
Game 3 against New Kingdom Egyptians  went a bit better with the foot sloggers on both sides hanging out while the chariots got to it - again I came up short. Game 4 saw me against Ayyubid Egyptians. With three straight losses I was a little rattled, I allowed myself  to be distracted by a kibbitzer and didn't put down enough terrain. I lost yet again.

Some of the other games

Burgundian Ordonnance vs some flashy eastern chariot army

Burgundians again
I have been holding off on this post for a while because frankly I was a little disappointed in my performance. I made a study of the rules, tried for good match ups, developed a set of contingency plans and still placed dead last. Ancient British has a reputation for not being the best tournament army but still I should have been able to pull off one victory. In the end, my scores were something like1:4, 3:4, 3:4, 2:2+General  which frankly isn't that terrible a performance for my first big tournament. My one lasting regret is that I let the kibbitzer distract me in the last game.  My opponent deserved my full attention.

So will I give up on Ancient Brits and get something more tournament effective? No - while a win would have been nice, just playing was the highlight of my weekend. When my boys do come out on top - I will relish it all the more.

Wrap Up
CanGames is a gamer's convention. Apart  from the small vendor's area there is nothing to do but game. This appears to be by design or at least tradition. During my volunteer stint we did regular headcounts including people not at the gaming tables. One of the committee remarked that if people weren't gaming, what else were they doing? I also saw one couple cancel a couple of Sunday games on Saturday afternoon because they had been gaming since Friday opening and were burnt out. I am not sure if the venue is big enough to effectively offer other activities and the formula seems to have worked well for the last couple of decades. It is certainly very well run with no major problems left visible to the attendees. 

Apart from the food situation mentioned earlier, my one complaint was the noise level. It is entirely due to the characteristics of the building and thus unavoidable but still I found it very difficult to hear even across a 2' table.

Would I go again? Without hesitation.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

CanGames Day 3 Part Two - Queenston Heights

On Saturday I decided to sign up for another game to replace the naval game I missed. Since this year is the anniversary of the War of 1812, I decided to go with a re-enactment of the Battle of Queenston heights using the Rockets Red Glare rules. We played in teams generally by committee until enough reinforcements arrived that we could each take a command. I stood on the wrong side of the table and was assigned to the American side.

Board setup

If you see some similarity between this setup and the Dr. Who game posted earlier, it is because they were run by the same person and I believe on the same terrain using the same troops. The objective is to control the town and the gun emplacement on the high ground.

The invasion goes in

The Americans have superior numbers but have to land them in waves under the muzzle of a rather nasty gun in the redoubt on the first elevation. Our beach area was roughly from the base of the high ground elevation to the movement stick in the village. There was a gun on the hill and a rifle and a musket unit in the village.  We decided that the gun was the biggest problem so went for that first.

The Assault goes in!
The first wave consisted of a unit of regulars and a unit of  Militia. We landed our regulars first and while we were able to shoot up the gun a fair bit, we were pushed back. The militia then went in and retreated in short order. While the regulars stood and took it and were chewed up for their efforts, the militia ran away preserving most of their strength.

Let's try the town instead.

We had been under harassing fire from Sharpe's younger brother and the Militia were proving decidedly ineffectual against the gun. We switched targets to the town. Above you can see the remnants of our regulars resting on the landing beach as the reasonably intact militia tries to clear the buildings.

Reinforcements for all!
This shot is from much later in the game. Both sides have received reinforcements including an American unit right next to the gun emplacement as part of a special deployment roll. Of course they took one look into that big black muzzle and hightailed into the wheat field upper left. Here they were able to occupy British reinforcements for the rest of the game. We have more troops in the town and are close to clearing it out.

At the whistle, we were a couple of turns short of the scenario limit but had got all our troops landed including a cannon. the town was cleared but not occupied but the British still held the high ground with fresh troops. So not exactly a success for the American side but better than the historical outcome.

The rules were not the ones the GM wanted to use initially and none of us was familiar with them. After reading them again there were many things we were doing wrong but since that was happening on both sides, it cancelled out.  An enjoyable recreation of a famous Canadian battle.

Next section

CanGames Day 3 Part One the other games

Again there were a great number of participation games running on Sunday. I did a quick tour of the tables before I got stuck into my games. First up is a trio of Warhammer Fantasy shots. This game has a soft spot in my heart because I played a fair bit of second edition. I have yet to get sucked into the current cult.There was a tournament on bringing out a number of interesting armies.

Warhammer Fantasy

Warhammer fantasy

Warhammer Fantasy

 I was also able to grab a shot of the Phaser Lock game. Many nice looking ship models but none of my favourite, the classic Trek destroyer.

Phaser Lock
Next up Queenston Heights - 1812

Next Section

Sunday, May 20, 2012

CanGames Days 1 and 2

Day one for me - the Friday was something of a non-event as all I did was go and pick up my package. I did take a shot of the outside of the venue. Being a bit too clever, to save batteries, I used the viewfinder on the camera instead of the display screen and didn't notice the camera strap across the image.

CanGames is held in a down town curling club, with the main playing space on what is normally the ice surface - about 20x50 meters. This gives a large unobstructed playing area but also means there is no sound absorption so it can get very noisy. There are about 37 tables in the main area for the most part each hosting one game. For larger tournaments, tables can be combined or multiple sets of tables used. There is a small dealers area in the back and board game and RPG  areas in the off-ice club section of the venue. A big plus is that the site is licensed - beer at the gaming table! (I only saw a very small number of people partaking though.)

Day 2, Saturday began with a walk around the dealers area. It was small with the majority of the space taken up by a local comic book/game store. There were some interesting things on offer but the prices could be wildly variable. For example a copy of Panzer Blitz was on sale for $15 at one booth and for $45 at the booth next door.  I nearly came away with some 20mm WWII Japanese but forced myself to be good and stuck to my plan to buy some more 15mm Ancient Brits. The convention price wasn't  any better than retail but I saved shipping. The bring and buy had some good deals and also some very "hopeful" prices. From one bring and buy, I picked up a 1/72 kit for VSF conversion and might grab a couple of 1/32 kits today for the same purpose.

My brief shopping trip over, I went to do my stint behind the awards desk.  I will not go into detail on the next five hours I spent filling out certificates, assembling trophies and filling in stats. The end of my shift does highlight one interesting event.  The food. The curling club provides on-site food services as well as the bar mentioned earlier. They also strictly enforced a no outside food policy. I can't really disagree with this as it allows them to pull in some extra money and provide a service to the convention goers as well. All well and good if the average war gamer had the same spending habits as a curling club member. A very basic hamburger with French fries was $11 and a hot dog with fries was $7.50. In the neighbourhood are a couple of pizza places and some of the best Vietnamese and Chinese food east of British Columbia. For contrast a bowl of Pho (Vietnamese noodle soup) big enough to feed any war gamer for day or a small village for a week can be had for about $6. The uptake on the curling club offerings was minimal. Towards the end of the day, the prices had been dropped twice down to a much more reasonable $3.50 for a burger and $1.50 per hot dog with fries extra. Being especially cheap, I left the venue and supped on my home made lasagne in a serene curbside environment.

I chose to do the right thing and asked about the photo policy - no faces in frame without permission. As a result, I wound up shooting many tables with terrain but no players. This is a tiny small sample of the participation games that ran on Saturday.

Heavy Gear

28mm Sci-Fi Rules unknown
Another 28mm Sci-Fi - rules unknown

Fields of Glory

Computer moderated WWII
The gentleman in shot is Gordon one of my room mates from my early days. He is a very skilled gamer and used to run battalion+ level Squad Leader games on a ping-pong table set up in the middle of our apartment. Unfortunately in this game, the first of his tanks on the bridge was shot up leaving the rest of his armour trapped on the wrong side of the river.

Dr. Who 1812

Dr. Who 1812
This game was run by one of our club members Brian H. I would have participated but it was in the same time slot as my first game ever of Saga. I don't have all the details but The Dr. was on scene to thwart an invasion of my fair land by the forces of eeeevil and some Americans.

Saga - Normans vs Scots
This was the main event of the day for me. My first game of Saga! After hearing and reading all the hype from the other side of the pond, I was a bit concerned, but it did not disappoint. The historical scenario saw Norman and English forces descending on Scotland to lift the siege of a castle (Yes, I forgot the battle name - call me old). There were four war band per side with a young gentleman and lady  splitting one of the Norman commands.

My valiant troops - about turn 4.
I was on the Scots side. I had two units of hearth guard, a unit of levy and a warlord. My levy were mauled turn one but managed to stick around for the rest of the game. In return, I wiped out a unit of mounted warriors only to see more horse come around my flank. I moved my hearth guard out to inflict another mauling leaving my warlord unsupported. Unbeknownst to me they were mounted hearth guard who using some fancy Norman trickery galloped around my spear men and smacked into my warlord.  In the shot above, the banner is that of the Norman warlord and the greasy smear on the grass to the right of it is the remains of my mine.

I made more than a few errors including putting saga dice on abilities I couldn't use but on the whole I think I did fairly well taking out a good chunk of the Norman mounted on my wing and still having a strong force on the board at game end. A great experience I intend to repeat as often as possible.  In the end the two youngsters did the best decimating the Scots forces on their flank. A great performance that bodes well for the future of war gaming. The young man gallantly gave the trophy to his co-warlord.

That's it for Day 2. Today - Day 3 is 1812 and DBA!

Friday, May 18, 2012

A slight interjection Space 1889 Yahoo Group

A new Yahoo group has just been started for the RAFM Space 1889 line of miniatures. If you are a fan of big skirmish, drop in and join the rest of us.

CanGames Day 0

Operating since 1977, Cangames is one of the longest running conventions in Canada and I suspect North America. For the first time in 30 years (you do the math - it has been a while), I simultaneously  have the time and money and interest to be able to attend. Unlike the British and European conventions I have heard so much about, Cangames is almost purely comprised of  participation games with a small vendor area at the back of the hall. It is spread over two and a half days and runs from 2 p.m. Friday afternoon with the last games ending at 11 p.m. on Sunday evening.

The schedule features approximately 180 games with the possibility of a few more being added to open tables. Each day is further broken down into five time slots to allow players to plan out their gaming weekend. Players have four options to play a specific game. For the nominal charge of $2.50, players can reserve a slot when they pre-register on-line, through a participating game store or via post. At the door, players can purchase game tokens at the registration desk for $3.00 then use a token to sign up for a slot on the game sheet at the tournament desk. The third option is to wait until 30 minutes before game start when the sign up sheets are placed out in the sign up area for free to all sign up.  I am told that the press of gamers to get at these sheets resembles gladiatorial combat. Each sheet has a cut off for number of players but extras can sign up as alternates. Finally, each game master has a small orange traffic cone they can place on their table to indicate they have slots open to walk by traffic.

After perusing  the schedule, I settled on three games. The first was the Sunday DBA tournament - my first outside of a small club event, the second was the Saturday evening Saga game  - I am excited because I have heard so many good things about this system and the third was a 1/2400 coastal forces game on Saturday day because I like the period. With a lot of extra time to spend and not a lot of spare cash to drop in the dealer's room, I thought I might as well volunteer and see the event from the other side. Each volunteer shift is 5 hours long and can be used to count toward the weekend's admission fees or toward the mandatory volunteer hours (yes that is an oxymoron) high school students have to perform to graduate. I will be assembling trophies, printing certificates and handing these out to the lucky winners. Unfortunately due to an oversight on my part or a last minute schedule change, my shift conflicts with the coastal game. Slightly annoying, but not the end of the world.

Last night was spent setting up tables and taking the needed of training (No WHS warnings about the glue guns though). For some reason the amount of lifting done seemed to be proportional to the age of the people doing it with the young 'uns standing around waiting for direction while the grey beards got stuck in. I have nothing on tonight other than picking up my badge on the way home from work.   I will post updates and pictures as the event progresses.

Next section

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Magnesia in DBMM

The Soldados Viejos blog has post on an amazing game of DBMM they played a while back. I love DBA but 12 elements doesn't compare to the beautiful ranks on ranks of figures on this table. 


Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Show you mine

Bob Cordery over at Wargaming Miscellany has put out a show me your desktop challenge. Kris Kemp of Not Quite Mechanised has put up his.   So, here is mine:

Lest you think I am some sort of minimalist highly organised person, here is a shot of my Chrome browser bar with no less than 23 pinned tabs: