Saturday 29 October 2011

RTS PC Games meet 15mm Sci Fi : OP4S Beta

A wargame combining the best bits of wargames and PC RTS games like Starcraft 2... in 15mm too?

Someone should have thought of this long ago...

Brent Spivey (author of the Origins nominated Havoc fantasy skirmish rules) is beta testing OP4S.  For $5 you get the final full pdf version when it releases plus 50% off any print copies.

The Game Concept
Units pay for actions with a resource called Command Action Points (CAPs).  However, units can "Overdrive" or make extra activations for an escalating cost...  I.e. the 2nd action would cost double, the third would cost triple, etc.

The dice rolls favour the buckets of dice approach with opposed rolls which has been popular lately, with 1-3 a fail and 4-6 a success,with defensive successes used to cancel out attacking successes.

OPS4's RTS soul has a lot in common with games like Supreme Commander
The game scales to 2mm, 6mm and 10mm for bigger battles

A Game not a Simulation
Units have ratings for Attack, Defence, CQ Combat, Resilience (Toughness), and attack and movement ranges.  They also have specialties and traits that give them unique roles. 

Though there are rules for overwatch and suppression fire, the game makes no pretense at hard sci fi and realism.  It has more spiritual links with Starcraft, Supreme Commander or C&C Red Alert than it does with games like "Tomorrow's War."  Along with ambushes and airborne units, there are RTS-esque features like Propoganda Towers, and armies can have Command Doctrines.  

It has a RTS mode where you must build a base and capture objectives which give you resources for movement (CAPs) and building units (Credits).  You can upgrade your tech levels, and the aim is to destroy the enemy base...

Defending bases, gathering resources, capturing buildings... sound familiar?

Something new?
I was expecting "Havoc in Space" but Mr Spivey has impressed me by not using the same game engine as his other games but branching out in a new direction for a different era.   Many rules designers get an original, interesting concept (2HW, Ganesha for example) and then repeat it ad nauseum with only slight cosmetic changes for different eras and genres. Even from OP4S's competitors little is new - Tomorrow's War is simply a modern ruleset with a few laser guns and robots bolted on, and Gruntz copies Warmachine mechanisms so thoroughly I'm surprised Privateer Press isn't concerned.  This makes OP4S a surprising and welcome breath of fresh air. The "Overdrive" mechanism has many applications and offers many interesting choices.  Move one unit repeatedly or many units once?  Or a combination?  You have to weigh the risk vs reward with each action you spend.

My GZG UNSC will be re-tasked for a new game...

Use what you have...
There will be profiles for minis from GZG, Combat Wombat, Rebel Minis, Micropanzer, and Old Crow among others.  Basing can be individual or grouped.  15mm lovers, rejoice!

Verdict: This is only beta, but already looks like a worthy contender alongside Gruntz and Tomorrow's War - fulfilling a different niche and giving more use to that 15mm sci fi goodness!

Havoc: by Voodoo Ink Productions (Fantasy Skirmish)

This is the next on my list after Warrior Heroes from 2HW.  

I must say I prefer a shiny rulebook to a pdf but I was hesitant to splash the cash on an obscure rulebook, even one which had garnered an Origins nomination. 

It's hard to get excited about a pdf of any sort, to be honest.  This one was 250 pages (!) which means I am unmotivated to print it out.  It is black & white.  However, the explanations ARE good, and repeated in different ways.  However, it would benefit from polishing and could be condensed significantly. As a hard copy rulebook it should not exceed 100-120 pages for the content inside.

Army Types
Units are classified by role i.e. spearmen, heavy cavalry, crossbowmen, archers. 
They also have a set number of Melee Die (MAD) and Ranged Attack Die (RAT) and Damage (DMG) and Armour (ARM). These show how many dice the miniature can roll and function similar to stats in WFB or 40K.  There are only 20 or so types of unit.  This prevents cheesy army lists like in 40k, or surprising your enemy with a new rule like in Warmachine or Malifaux, but is a big disappointment to someone who loves the 'build it yourself' variety inherent in games like Song of Blades & Heroes.

I like any excuse to post pictures of Rackham metals
Gaining "Momentum"
Basically, another word for the 'initiative'. Sometimes it is good to have, and sometimes it isn't. The plyaer with the momentum acts first and resolves attacks first, but also allocates dice first as well.

Since multiple models can only engage on one side of a melee; ie. you could have 2 models attacking 1, but not 2 attacking 2...  this conveys an advantage...
Move-Shoot-Melee  Phases I & II
Player with the momentum activates models in groups of up to 6 (if they are in base contact).  Models perform an action as individuals (such as movement, shooting, casting a spell). The opposing player then makes an activation an so on until one player has activated all models.  If you still have heaps of models left to move after your opponent has moved all of his - tough cookies - you get only 2 more activations.  This allows you to put pressure on your opponent by your choices and manner of activation.

The player with initiative declares how many Melee Dice he will attack with, and the other player allocates defensive dice.   Players total all their attack or defence dice and keep the best 3, comparing them to each other. If the attacker defeats the defender, he then does the same for his Damage vs the defenders Armour - if he defeats him again, the defender is destroyed.  If the defender is not destroyed, then combat continues until the attacker uses all his melee dice.  So if you had 3 melee dice, you could attack with 3 in one mighty attack, or do 3 single dice attacks...

The Swing
If models are still engaged in melee at the end of a phase, the non-momentum player gets a free 3" move for all models that are engaged. This allows him to change the 2 v 1 outnumbering matchups or escape. 

"Cut Scenes"
When initiative (or Momentum) is tied, time slows... it is the moment for heroic actions!  It is simply a phase where each player can take only 2 activations. Given you can choose your best 3 dice - you can actually try to force a cut scene...

The Named
These are heroes that can wreak extra havoc in "Cut Scenes" - they can ignore bad terrain, pass through zones of control, and move up vertical surfacesor over obstacles without impediment and challenge enemy heroes to a duel - real swashbuckling stuff!

Players can use Havoc tokens to modify die rolls and make additional actions.  In cut-scenes heroes can spend lots of tokens for Matrix-style stunts and fights.

There isn't much choice here - a dozen or so pre-made heroes.  The lack of ability to customise your heroes with traits is a bit of a problem for me as I like to mix and match random minis for custom warbands.

For a feel of the gameplay, I found an excellent AAR on this blog

Did I mention Rackham also use to make goblin ninjas?  Ok, I got sidetracked again...

Verdict:  The most original, innovative ruleset I've seen in ages - and I'm probably only rarely going to to play.  They are clever, fresh, and emphasize skill, timing and clever tactics over cheap cheesy gamesmanship. It would be great for human-centric fantasy like LOTR and refighting medieval/ancient skirmishes but the limited troop types and inability to create custom characters tends to limit it when it comes to creating the random warbands I have come to enjoy with Song of Blades.  If it had more rules for customising troops or some sort of 'build system' it would jump to the top of my list.  I think the game is ripe for expansion - a samurai mod, for example, would be excellent.

All in all, worth a look for $10, and if you are willing to cope with a relatively staid army selection, it may well be the best fantasy skirmish out at the moment...

EDIT: I just checked and there is a 15mm sci fi version coming out soon....  which I will DEFINITELY be testing out! I think a western mod is coming out as well...

Friday 28 October 2011

Warrior Heroes: Armies & Adventures by 2HW

I have a large collection of OOP Confrontation 3 metals. As the original Confrontation rules are a bit involved for a casual game, I have been looking for something to supplement "Song of Blades and Heroes" and I am checking out this game and Voodoo Ink's "Havok" which got an Origins nomination not long ago.

Practical Binding
The ring-bound layout is perfect for gaming and can be easily left open on the table without damage.  Sadly, this is about the only thing I like about the layout of the rules.

TL:DR or "Wall of Text" Syndrome
Pages are in 'wall of text' format in 2 columns. I find them a chore to read.  2HW is not a big company, but it I doubt it is any smaller than the guys who put out the amazing "Song of Our Ancestors" - the rulebooks are priced similarly but poles apart in production values and 'readability.'

Off in their Own World
Like THW's 5150, WH:AA has own setting.  That is fine, but since the game is supposed to be for any minis, their naming conventions add needless confusion.  Force alignments of "full sun"  "twilight" or full moon" are simply good, neutral and evil respectively, so why not simply say so?

Using "benchmark" terms such as those used by D&D and Warhammer would have helped.

I mostly am hunting fantasy rulesets to allow myself to use Confrontation Minis. Now OOP, they are very interesting sculpts who were ahead of their time.  The studio paintjobs - like this one - were awesome.
Make your own Army
SoBH's best feature is the ability to customise your own warband.  WH:AA  has a few stats - Weapon, Reputation, Armour, Movement, Hardiness.  There are only a very few skills to chose from, so despite having a much better, more detailed 'stat line' than SoBH they effectively have less variety between troop types.  I was definitely hoping for more skills and variety here. A little disappointed.
The Gamplay
2HW usually revolves around a few charts.  The "Reputation" of the character is the defining stat. You test against this stat with a pair of d6.  I.e. if you are a powerful Rep 5 character then you roll a 5 or less to succeed.  If you are a weaker Rep 3 character you would need to roll a 3 or less to succeed or "pass".
You roll 2 dice and compare your results to the relevant chart.  Two successes gives a good result, one success means a modest result, and two fails are usually bad.

The defensive and active characters 'react' to each others actions by rolling reactions, until one character is unable to continue.
1. An active character moves around a corner
2. A reactive character sees him and rolls a reaction test.  Perhaps the reacting character passes the test and fires
3. The active  character rolls a test to see how he reacts to being fired at. He passes and gets ot shoot back etc.
4.  Perhaps the reactive player is hit and falls down. Since he cannot react again, the reaction sequence is over.

A new character is moved and a new sequence of reactions is played out if applicable. 

To recap: individual units are moved one at a time Warmachine style, and they can trigger reactive actions by the non-moving player.  Reactions and reaction tests continue back-and-forth between units until one unit  is unable to react.  The another unit is chosen to move, and the process is repeated.

The process is a lot simpler than it appears in the rulebook.  It is interesting as it takes some control from the player and places emphasis on the quality of the troops, who do not always react the way you would like them to.   2HW has free demo games which give you the feel for their system, a move which impressed me a lot.
The game Malifaux itself has a ridiculous and offputting amount of special rules, but their terrain boards are perfect for fantasy.  I review them here
Combat & Magic
Combat is quite interesting and whilst not, I feel, as cinematic and 'fun' as SoBH the unpredicability and reaction charts add interest.

Magic is much more interesting and comprehensive than SoBH, with a wide range of spells (40 or so).  It would be quite easy to create your own and add them into the list.  I was quite impressed with this section.

Scenarios and Campaigns
This is the always very comprehensive in 2HW games.  The ability to play solo or co-op is very handy. Although it can at times feel like a bunch of house rules thrown together at 5 minutes notice, the depth and comprehensiveness in their campaign rules are hard to beat and give a real RPG feel to your games.   The toolbox is very comprehensive and can be as simple and complex as you like. There are a lot of good ideas here that could be applied to other games and genres.  I also like the fact they allow you to calculate a figure's points, unlike many other scenario-based games where they say "Points values are the antichrist - we insist you be scenario-loving individualists just like us!"

In fact, I would suggest this is the best reason to buy this rulebook instead of just playing the free CR.3 Swordplay demo.

 An overpowered, nigh-unkillable hero typical of GW. Yours for only $61!  Citadel Finecast - so much better than metal..
I like the way they treat heroes or "Stars" as they call them. Unlike WFB's impossible-to-kill warriors with improbably high stats, heroes are more defined by their ability to chose their reactions rather than 'react' at the whim of the dice.  If killed, they can even return next game, having cheated death miraculously, albeit with reduced stats. 

If you can wade through the rulebook, a decent skirmish game with a very comprehensive campaign and scenario building toolset.  In fact, they fulfil their boast of meshing RPG with skirmish game rather well.

Wednesday 26 October 2011

Trafalgar & 1:4800 Sailing Ships

Another Warhammer Ancients 50% ruleset.  Interestingly, although the book is shiny and very nice to look at, the cover broke off the book while I was reading it in bed.  A bit weak, considering the handling and usage most rulebooks receive.

 My rulebook fell apart on the first read through.  Maybe that's why they're selling them so cheap - or is that just my cynicism talking...

Ignoring the 90 pages of fluff, charts, illustrations and historical info, there are about 30 pages of rules and they seem modelled after Battlefleet Gothic (which is not a bad thing as, like any discontinued GW line, they are quite good).

I suspect they would make a Napoleanic nerd froth at the mouth, but they  have a simple enough movement system, and I like the idea where the ship upwind has the initiative -a simple but realistic idea.  Ships can reach, run and beat into the wind at varying speeds. They can raise and lower sails which I suspect may be a bit irritating to track in practice. Ships use command checks (i.e. pass a target number on 2d6) similar to Battleflet Gothic/Warmaster to perform moves like tacking.

Gunfire is simple (buckets of dice hitting on 4+ on d6 with a few modifiers) using different coloured dice for light and heavy cannons and carronades.  Ships can fire at any point in their move which is good as it avoids ships teleporting past enemies unscathed. 

There are rules for boarding, shore batteries, mortars, collisions, ship's boats, fireships and other age-of-sail quirks. 

My only complaint is record keeping. Naval and spaceship games are cursed by always incorporating millions of hit boxes and Trafalgar is no exception.  It does have a clear, intuitive layout but there is no way you would refight Trafalgar without a lot of friends, and a complete weekend to spare. 

Verdict: I have yet to play it through properly, and it probably doesn't count the rivets as much as historical gamers might like, but the game system has a sound base in BFG so far as playability is concerned.

1:4800 Ships? Really?
Basically I am a cheapskate and was attracted by the $20-for-a-fleet idea. 

I have test-painted a ship or two but as my camera is not handy I will rather lazily link you to the excellent SteelonSand blog, as my paintjob is rather similar.  The model is rather blocky and I found I needed to rely on drybrushing a bit vaguely to kind of suggest detail, which worked a bit better than it sounds. 

The "Forged in Battle" 1:3000 scale looks a little better with $50 for the entire British Trafalgar fleet

1:2400 has improved detail but the rigging is a little weird. You can't ignore it like 1:4800 and the cast-on rigging is a little bulky. There is a comparison shot here of Hallmark, TD and Old Glory.  Individual ships for Tumbling dice are around $3 each which is still affordable. 

1:1200. These are for the serious modeller. And the seriously rich. Langton is the acknowledge boutique line and come in at about $70 for a squadron of 4 ships, which would set you back $1000+ to play Trafalgar 1:1.  
 Although not as detailed as Langton or GHQ, Skytrex are less than half the price and at $6 each seem the best price/detail ratio of any 1:2400 or 1:1200 ship. I am considering a "test order" of a dozen ships or so if the 1:4800 games are a success.

Now I'm off to listen to my Pirates of the Carribean soundtrack again...

Monday 24 October 2011

Legends of the Old West

I recently bought a bunch of Warhammer Historical rules during their 50% off sale.   I like the LoTR system that underpins the "Legends" rules and find the move sequence infinitely preferable to the usual IGOUGO format.

Back from school camp, I hastily painted an outlaw and lawmen band, whilst watching "Tombstone" "Open Range" and "Justified" for inspiration. Val Kilmer was awesome in Tombstone - possibly his best ever role. I also really like Justified - all though not "old west" per se there is enough gunplay and quickdraws to rate a mention. Timothy Olyphant carries the show, like he did in Deadwood (possibly the best ever Western).

The LoToW rules seem simple, and whilst not possessing the tactical naunces of, say, Force on Force the game was quick and smooth with plenty of fun moments.  I picked the "High Noon" scenario and grabbed out my unpainted Sarissa terrain and some undercoated Renedra barrels.  Rather uninspiring to look at, but after a week on camp with a horde of 10 year olds I wanted to "get my gaming on" again. 

The outlaws stare down the main street

The outlaws charged up main street whilst the marshalls tried to flank them to either side.  The marshalls drew first blood, sniping an outlaw hero from the length of the street as he hugged the cover of the building.

The outlaws are about to be flanked!

The other outlaw hero and the desperado leader shot a marshall attempting to flank them, but the marshalls go into a building to take them in a crossfire.  The next few turns were hectic, with improbably misses, heroes fanning six guns into hordes of enemies and heroic actions from the respective leaders.  Another outlaw hero was gunned down and they fled off the main street away from the marshalls who were taking cover in a building.  The marshalls pursued.

The marshalls fire from cover. The lift off Sarissa Precision roofs are shown to good advantage.

Cornered, the outlaws got the drop and initiated a last ditch charge.  The marshall leader was hit a second time by a shotgun blast aimed at a deputy in front of him, but the other lawman hero battered his opponent in close combat to force a "Head for the Hills" test.  The desperado leader who had fought heroically until then, failed the first Pluck Test of the game and the banditos made a run for it.

 The desperado chief fails his morale test and the bandit gang flees

On the campaign tables, the desperado hero gained "Deadeye shot" as, coincidentally, did his heroic sidekick who recovered from his battering by the marshalls, albeit with a chest wound that would prove troublesome.

The chief marshall  "Survived against the Odds" and gained "Trick Shooter" as did the rifleman henchman who scored the games first kill.  The deputy with 2 kills gained "Trigger Happy".  The marshalls sustained the only death of the game with the shotgun henchman later succombing to his wounds.

EDIT: I just realised that I rolled on the Skills table before the attributes table - this will need to be re-rolled which will give more random-ness in skill ranges.  

All in all:
A simple system, easy to play, and for players of GW LoTR games, there are no surprises here - it is practically Middle Earth with six guns. 

Not incredibly tactical, but full of exciting incidents and deeds of derring-do and supported by a robust campaign system.

Very enjoyable.  The quality rulebook is well worth the price, and definitely a steal at 50% off.

Also worth looking into are: The Rules with No Name (free but, I feel, aimed more at 1-player-1 model convention games) and Six Gun Sound (arriving in the mail soon - when it comes I will run an identical scenario to this one and compare the two systems)

Friday 14 October 2011

The Resin Alternative - Superior Skirmish Terrain on the Cheap

Terrain can make or break a game, and for those of us not blessed with unlimited scratch-building time, cost is a big factor. 

I spent a bit of time researching terrain last month, and one that caught my eye was Sarissa Precision - a company makes terrain from laser-cut 2mm mdf.  Mdf is the fibreboard common in hardware stores - an engineered wood product made from compressed wood fibres - it is used a bit like plywood. A lot of people use them for gaming surfaces... but...

A building made from thin wood, glorified particle board? Can it be any good, you ask?

The answer: Very, very, good.   And pretty darn cheap, too. 

The first thing I noticed was the precision and detail. My wife (generally indifferent to my 'toy' collection) was fascinated by the intricate detail laser-cut into the surface.  The pieces fit perfectly together and display a level of detail easily equal to any resin terrain.  The mdf is lighter than resin and considerably thinner, with a superior strength-to weight ratio.  Unlike resin, there are no rough edges. The terrain is perfect out of the box.

Although naturally a little 'boxy', the building detail is very good, even unpainted 

The second thing I noticed was the wood smell.  So unusual when handling minis, the wooden feel felt so 'right' for a western board.  In fact, I am unsure if I will paint my western houses, or instead play around with oils and stains to emphasize the 'natural' feel.  If I do decide to paint, the raised laser etching will lend itself well to drybrushing and I am considering using the 'distressed wood' look - there are a few tutorials about

The kits fit so prefectly they require no gluing and simply clip together. Furthermore, the lift-off roofs are perfect for skirmish gaming. Usually something you 'pay extra' for, they are part and parcel of the mdf approach. 

Although they work from a uniform template (small, medium and large buildings) there is good variety in the building fronts with 4-5 designs in each category.  A few extra dollars bought me some sloped roof conversion kits, which gives the 'roofline' some variety as well and made buildings a bit more obviously different. 

The company, Sarissa, impressed me a lot. I had excellent communication with them (and free delivery for all orders over 30 pounds/approx $50).  They also listen to customers.  For example, my Black Scorpion gunslingers are 'heroic' (32mm-ish) and dwarf many other 28mm lines like Foundry etc.  However, in response to customer feedback, Sarissa recently released a 'heroic 28mm' building series with resized windows and doors etc. As a result, I have the option of buildings perfectly scaled for the size of my miniatures. Very nice!

 Some of the buildings with unpainted Black Scorpion minis to show scale

They are diligently adding to their range and they have a railway station,  livery stables, a church, and a saloon straight out of Deadwood.  I bought a 'box set' of more boring modular buildings but the specialty stuff has some really nice interior detail.

Many buildings like this adobe jail have significant interior detail.

I felt the buildings were priced very attractively and I feel they give excellent 'bang for the buck' - $100 for enough buildings to make a western cowtown is quite appealing.  Hovels are the only resin buildings I found as comparetively cheap and they lack the lift off roof feature essential to skirmish gaming.

In resin, Hovels are compeititvely priced, but I feel Sarissa's lift-off roofs and interior detail wins out

Storage. Despite the space advantages of storing the the terrain flat (the buildings pictured fit in a box the size of two hardback A4 rulebooks)  I will probably be keeping my buildings assembled for 2 reasons.  

Assembly time.  This utube example shows someone from Sarissa assembling a building in 22sec.  For the rest of us mortals, it is a bit slower and more fiddly. However, unlike Terraclips, you actually could take a dozen  buildings to a mate's place and easily assemble them in 15-20 minutes before a game.

My main reason not to disassemble/store the buildings flat is the apparent fragility of the joins.  The tabs that slot the buildings together are quite thin. I am scared I will break off the tabs with repeated assembly/disassembly.  Some of the porch posts are painfully thin and I would prefer them to be in metal instead as I can see the matchstick-like pieces of wood breaking rather easily.

I noticed the two-story building tended to have the top story fall apart when removing it the top floor to get at models on the ground floor inside.  I ended up glueing the top story together with PVA to prevent this - but permanently lost the ability to store it flat. Annoying.

 Here is an example of the very thin porch posts, and the offending 'top floor'. 
Overall - I think these buildings are great value for money. I was very impressed by the quality and detail of possible with the laser-cut mdf. The lift-off roofs are perfect for skirmish gaming.  Sarissa has a growing European and WW2 line (28mm AND in 15mm) and I will be definitely checking out the European townhouses, which will have a wide range of uses for more modern scenarios.
 These also come in 15mm scales and there are designs for WW2 gaming

Saturday 8 October 2011

Terraclips - Fantasy Skirmish Terrain Solved!

I have finally got my long-delayed Terraclips.  Designed in collaboration by Wyrd (makers of Malifaux) and Worldworx games (well known for their pdf construction kits) these rules were supposed to be released in August 2010.  However they were re-worked as they were found to be 'of insufficient quality'.  Which speaks well of the companies involved - they sacrificed the quick buck in pursuit of a higher standard.  There has been further delays as demand has outstripped supply.

Worth the wait?           Definitely

Storage room (or lack thereof) is the curse of most terrain. The pieces came in a single box (pictured at the back of the photo below) about the size of a rulebook.  Terrain storage issues are now a thing of the past.  The terrain for a Mailfaux board takes up less space than the rulebook!

The card terrain, although not etched or to the super-high standard of the latest Space Hulk, is excellent quality.  The pieces fit firmly together and there is a 'solid' feeling absent in many card constructions.
My wife snatched the boxes off me and immediately started to assemble a "Sewers" board.  There is a real LEGO-like element in construction. 

The pieces are double-sided with different designs on each, allowing for a wealth of build options.  The art is quality and has a pleasing 3D effect. Note the bridge crossing the sewer towards the far end of the board.

There are plenty of pieces in a single box.  This "Sewers" kit provided enough terrain for a complete skirmish board approx 3 x 3ft. 

You get plenty of "bang" for your buck.  I was surprised at the large quantity content that was in the box.  You can easily build the terrain shown on the box art with a single set and have leftovers.

The terrain is also very versatile. I am planning on using it for fantasy (Song of Blades, Mordhiem, LOTR), pulp/horror (Strange Aeons), Victorian Sci fi, and medieval games.

Although I am overwhelmingly in favour of this terrain, I do have a few concerns.

The connecting 'clips' are sold separately.  This is claimed as a 'feature' to save you money, as you can buy only the clips you need and save $$$. In practice, I found I used 3 sets of clips for only 2 sets of terrain. There are 40 of each clip type in each box. After building the terrain, I found the "I" clips and "L" clips were all used up but I had truckloads of "T" clips left over. So the proportion of the clips per box (for me at least) was wrong. I will end up buying more, not less, clips. This is really annoying.

Affordability. I really feel the lack of connectors hurts the 'value'. A terrain box is $50 and a box of clips is $20.  I dislike the fact that I could have another awesome terrain board for the cost of two boxes of stupid plastic clips. $50 for a full featured skirmish table is a bargain - $70 is less so.  However given the man-hours to scatch-build something similar it is reasonable. For gamers like me who prefer to spend time painting minis to constructing buildings, it is a godsend. 

Upper stories will struggle to support your typical 40x40mm base heavy metal models (like Confrontation Wolfen or Warjacks) unless very well supported. It is still card terrain, after all.

While the wall connectors are surprisingly unobtrusive, the ones connecting the floor tiles stick out quite prominently.  I notice there are none featuring on the front of the box - I presume the box cover photo has them superglued together.

There is a 1" grid sneakily hidden into the flooring design if you look for it - which could be a good or bad thing, depending on how you look at it.  For me, it is so unobtrusive it isn't an issue and may prove handy for RPG players.

I did not like the "Streets" set as well as the "Sewers" set as it seemed to have less build options, and I feel perhaps you need a second box set to get the most out of it.

Setup time is rather long. It is easy to store, but not fast to construct.  You definitely won't be able to take it over to your mates house and setup a table in 15 minutes for a quick game - my wife (a LEGO/Meccano veteran) took a few hours to build 2 tables.  Obviously with practice it could be done faster, but setup/packup time is quite significant.  Verdict: Easy to store - but not as portable as you might think.  

On the upside, it is rather fun to set up and you could definitely talk your kids into putting it together for you!

Overall verdict:
I am in love with this terrain and am buying multiple sets.  Not that I need to - there is enough in each individual box for a very complex skirmish  table - but simple because I want to build a huge 8 x 8 mega-table cityscape with multiple levels - and with Terraclips, it is now possible.

Thursday 6 October 2011

The First Rule of Terrain 3: FASA Hangar 18

Since my new rule is that 25% of all wargame budget must be spent on terrain - in order that I actually play with my lead mountains - I decided to pick an area in which I have been actively painting minis this week. 

I decided to get some sci-fi ish terrain for my jet 1/600 games.  I wanted something that could work as 1950s jets (i.e. Nazis in space) through to the current day.  So a pulp-y + sci-fi vibe would be good.

I remembered seeing some pulpy stuff on Hangar 18 FASA.

The Sky-Kings lines has some very cool looking Weird War 2 planes

This is like a B17s beefy, supercool big brother

I couldn't resists a flying aircraft carrier that might work with my 1/600 biplanes (another incomplete project)
I thought this might work for VSF as well...

...oh, terrain - yes, that was what I was after!

Of course I needed an airfield, and some targets - a radar station, factories and weapons dumps, and a V2 launcher. 

I suspect this radar station has been based on a shameless Heroclix-ripoff base

The models look like they will fit comfortably inside my 1.5" hex-ruled Hotzmat - they are very close to the exact hex side according to helpful measurements on the website.

Nothing like stopping the launch of a doomsday missile to make a scenario interesting...

Cost was about $3 per hex; so a 3-hex large terrain piece was around $9.  I'm looking forward to getting these - they should add flavour to both WW2-era jets and more modern/sci fi scenarios. 

Skirmish campaigns: Cowboys, Sailing Ships & Pirates - half price!

$20 Delivered
The Warhammer historical section is having a halfprice sale.  This is fantastic value as the rulebooks (now $15 each) are also only $5 shipping worldwide.   Even at full price at $30 they are very good quality productions  - my Legends of the Old West is one of the best-presented and well laid out rulebooks I own, with great quality, illustrations and lots of 'wow factor'.

For those unfamiliar with Warhammer Historical, they offer historical versions of GWs Lord of the Rings  and 40k rules.  These rules are far better rulesets than the originals and have excellent campaign systems a la Mordhiem. 

Their Legends of the High Seas pirate skirmish rules include ship combat and I have ordered this and a copy of their Trafalgar naval rules which should integrate well. Although often derided by Age of Sail 'purists' Trafalgar is apparently much simpler than the often 'beardy' overcomplicated age of sail rules. It is similar to the excellent Battlefleet Gothic rules (IMO up there with Space Hulk, Epic and Bloodbowl as one of GWs few decent games) so I am looking forward to my ruleset.  I will compare it to my Cutlass! rules when I get my Black Scorpion pirates painted up.

I own Legends of the Old West (cowboys) and have just ordered the "Blood on the Plains" and "Showdown" supplements. 

Potted Review
If you are familiar with GW's LOTR skirmish you know the basic mechanics.  They use a modified IGOUGO sequence, where Side A moves, then Side B moves, then Side A fires, then Side B fires.  It's still simple, but mitigates many flaws of the IGOUGO system. 

Heroes can interrupt and move and fire out of sequence at they use up their 'Might' points.  Heroes can also activate and affect friendlies within a certain radius of themselves.  Heroes can also use 'Fate' points to cheat death, using it to roll to save wounds.  Heroes have usually varying amounts of Might or Fate (usually 1-3) and managing this resource is very important.  Unlike 40k, they seldom possess monster stat lines; they simply use their Will and Fate to influence the battle and pull off heroic feats rather than being an unstoppable monster that can kill entire squads single-handed.

Campaign Rules OK
These are not the most complex rules and they lack a 'reaction' or 'overwatch' system that I prefer in skirmish games, but the rules are slicker, smoother and more 'tactical' than 40k.  The star of the show is the campaign rules.  You can start your own band of gunslingers, lawmen, bandits or indians and have them progress from a humble cowpoke to, well, a "Legend of the West." 

More than simply what you get in the box
In addition, there are numerous free Legends supplements covering different eras - for example I have downloaded the free Legends of the Rising Sun samurai mod to use with my Perry samurai warbands. 

In short - great value for what you get - well worth snagging a copy.

PS: They also do WW1 and WW2 books and a set of "gladiator" rules that look interesting....