Wednesday 29 December 2021

LOTR SBG - Mordor Orcs & Trolls

 Here's this week's 24+cool stuff paint list. It was pretty dull and slow - drab colours, yet needing to be individualised as orcs aren't uniform. 

The depressing bit is the 32 orcs I painted are probably only 1/3rd of the base rank and file of Mordor orcs I own....   Way back, between LOTR and the Hobbit movies there was a lull where you could find plastics in job lots for for 50c each, and metals and monsters for ~$5-10. I kinda went wild and now either (a) I face an embarrassing unpainted mountain or (b) I can get rich off eBay - depending how you look at it.

 The trolls are terrifically heavy lumps of metal which I have concerns about on the table (a bit like some of the old top-heavy Warmachine metals).

Quite a few of the job lots had broken models in them. Given most plastic rank and file are $3.50AUD each now I have either repaired them with Perry/PSC bits or they serve otherwise, like this luckless man of Minas Tirith.

The paintjobs are pretty basic. I'm going to reward myself by doing more colourful Galadhrim and maybe the plastic Fellowship I have.  I have buckets of unknown metals and heroes (especially orcs - all orcs look alike to me!) so I'll be spending time in the unofficial collectors guide.

I haven't had much time in my shed due to rellies visiting so I'm quite pleased with my progress given it was snatched moments at my office desk.

I'll probably do another game design post soon - I'm thinking about "mental pressure" - this is not complexity, but rather unrelenting involvement and decision making which even a simple ruleset can exert. I.e. chess is simple but can have relentless mental pressure. Basically, you know those decision points (moments of player agency) I like so much?  I'm beginning to think sometimes you can have too many of them, especially if there are other layers (like magic or campaign rules) which are important to the game.

Monday 20 December 2021

LOTR:SBG - Dwarf & Elf Rangers (plus ....Hoverspeeders)

On holidays I usually set myself a 24+cool weekly painting goal - at least 24 boring-ish minis and then a handful of cooler things like heroes or side tasks. 

I've decided to make more inroads in my huge LOTR:SBG pile, given I am reading LOTR to my 8 year old. On a side note - good gracious Tolkien was a fantastic worldbuilder but would benefit from a good edit. For a man who pretty much pioneered fantasy he never was one to leave an eating scene/scenery description/random song or poem out. As a main character Frodo is bland - the characters are all pretty much just one dimensional 'scenery.' The pacing feels off in places. Tolkien certainly is the godfather of fantasy genre and he certainly knows how to give his work a historical/mythological feel, but a great all-round author? Hmm. It's one of the few times I'd say movies are probably better than the book. Except for the magic green ghosts winning the final battle. 

But I digress. Back on topic:

First, some wood elves. 

I thought my daughter might like to try some LOTR:SBG - in my opinion probably the best, most clean/simple rules GW has produced. (Yeah I know there is a newer rule set - Middle Earth - but locally it's $90AUD - about $65USD - for just the base rulebook. Also, I bet it has been needlessly complicated)

I'm focussing on rangers, uruks, warg riders, wood elves etc - all the earlier stuff from Fellowship. I'll probably do some Mordor, and then finally finish with Rohan then Gondor.

As usual, I go for tabletop quality and speed. At the ripe age of 40 I find it harder to sit still for more than an hour at a time any more....

Now, for my random project. Mantic's supremely affordable 28mm hoverbikes ($15USD or $20AUD for 4) are as cheap as most 15mm stuff so I grabbed some for some Wipeout-style racing. I love the idea of Gaslands but I just find the rules too clunky to enjoy. So this is an excuse to fiddle with my own more streamlined rules. I'm thinking vector/drift mechanics (which I often play with in space games) may be fun. Also, Byzantine chariot-racing style, it will be around small arenas. I'm figuring 4 bikes or 4 teams of 2, depending on how fast playing the rules are. I want a round to last 30min or so max.

My not-McLaren and not-Williams inspired speeder bikes. I have to tidy them up with more detail but they are 90% table-ready. They come with gun/missile/cannon pods which I'm going to magnetize to swap out. I'm also going to allow each team to have 3 "perks" or "changes" to tweak their otherwise similar bikes. I.e. slight 10%-ish boosts to turning, acceleration, straight line speed, armour, handling etc.

Also on my to-do list:
Paint 12 LOTR Galadhrim and 30+ Mordor orcs/Warg riders.

Paint another 2 speeder bikes.

Playtest Intercept Vector arcadey jet rules.

Paint a handful of Mantic space dwarves for Deep Rock Galactic style mining-meets-Space Hulk fun with the kids.

Develop/continue to playtest modern/sci fi horror rules (both more sci-fi homebrew  'Forgotten' and a more Stalker-y dudes with AK47s vs monsters).

We'll see how well I keep to this.. I'm notorious for getting sidetracked. I mean, it's a hobby, for fun. Rigorous schedules are more work.

Monday 8 November 2021

"The Forgotten" - 28mm Sci Fi Horror Alpha Playtest

I kept the weapons, units and gear very vanilla so I could get a feel for the mechanisms. No special weapons, no magic or hacking, no extra rules for demons or AI.

Stats are:
5 AI Enforcers; Move 4/2, Veteran d8, Shoot d8, CQC d8, Phys d8, Defence 6, Will d8. Weapons are 4 rifles RoF2, d10 damage. 24"+ -2 long range, and a heavy gunner RoF 3, d10 damage, 24"+ -2 long range.

7 Cultist Marines; Move 4/4, Veteran d8, Shoot d8, CQC d6, Phys d8, Defence 4, Will d8. Weapons are 5 laser rifles RoF2, d8 damage. 24"+ -1 to long range, and 2 SAWs RoF4, d8 damage, 24"+ -2 to long range. They also have a leader who can Rally them and also adds +1 initiative dice if he is up and about.

Disclaimer: Photography is in a poorly lit shed on my phone, and I promised the wife I'd be 30mins max. So let's see what we can do in this time.

Sides as deployed. 7 Marines, 5 AI Enforcers. 

Marines (with 7 + leader) unsurprisingly win the initiative dice off. Both sides move up, staying in cover.

A Marine sprints across a gap, wins reaction roll and gets past before Enforcers can fire.

A second Marine peeks but is shot down by the Enforcer's SAW gunner. Oops - forgot should have been using d10s to damage; also he should have been only "downed" - not dead. Probably works out fair. His allies in LoS who see him shot all pass their morale checks. Now I should have swapped initiative to the Enforcers here but I forgot. Btw, I shift from using green to blue as my Hold token, as I realise I have not enough greens in my shed box.

Both fail their reaction roll and are "Stressed" - this basically means they can only react to actions directly targeted at them; i.e. instinctive reactions like dodge a shot or fight back in CQC, but they can't snipe someone across the board.  I'll remove the Stress in a 'clean up' phase at the end of the turn.

The Enforcer tries to peek a Marine in the distance; but the Marine wins the reaction roll and the Enforcer is stressed. Luckily the Marine's shots bounce off his Enforcer armour and he passes his morale check to avoid being shaken.

The Marines in the open on the flank are a tempting target; the Enforcer tries to peek but loses the reaction roll and is gunned down, dead, by well aimed shots. At this point initiative should have shifted again - but I forgot.

The Enforcers continue their futile attempt to clear the Marines on their left flank; this Enforcer fires first but misses his shots.

This Enforcer attempts another crossfield shot and again fails his reaction roll and is stressed. Again I forget to change the side with the initiative. 


An Enforcer tries to rush into CQC but a long distance shot hits him. Although his armour deflects it he fails a morale test and is shaken (orange token) and cannot complete his move into contact, remaining stranded in the open.

Now a bit of tactics; one Marine goes on hold to cover his ally who then moves into LoS; now he can join the reaction roll in a 2v1. This was cool. Both sides get 8s but the active player wins ties.

Hit by two shots, the Enforcer is "downed" - writhing around on the ground. The Marine leader then tries to finish him off but narrowly misses both shots which spray chunks out of the concrete next to him.

On the other flank, a Marine pops out to confront the Enforcer previously "Shaken" by a long distance shot. The shaken Enforcer is downgraded to d6 and unsurprisingly loses. The other Enforcer was facing away and cannot join in. I prefer 180 vision arcs in games where possible - as it adds a lot to positioning/tactics without a lot of complexity. 

His partner pops around the other side of the cover to shoot the other Marine who is stressed. He wins the roll but misses hideously from point blank. At this point I stopped as I promised I'd only spend 30min in the shed.  

Observations: Game works out of the box, as expected as the 'beat 4+ with a dice' is pretty common. Quite a bit of action going on.

I forgot to swap the initiative back and forth a few times (when the active side failed a reaction roll with a 3 or less; and when the active player took more casualties in their action), so it was less dynamic and a bit more IGOUGO than it ought - although the reactions provided plenty of action for the non-active player.

Reacting models do get to use their full RoF, but a failed reaction roll means they are stressed - they miss their turn if they haven't acted already, and cannot react further except at actions targeted at them - which limited the reactions a little. I also forgot to use Suppression fire. Reacting models also all passed their Ammo rolls this game which is probably pretty unlikely, mathematically. Had a vaguely Infinity vibe as models often paused and went on Hold to cover an area. There was quite a lot of care in positioning and facing which was good. Cover mattered as intended. I liked how you could Hold with a model and use it to cover an ally. I may expand this into a Hold+Move simultaneous action.

The jump from 4 Defence to 6 Defence was vast; enabling the Enforcers to shrug off quite a few shots. The variety of dice (d6, d8 d10) made it harder to make modifiers consistent but did make it easy to calculate (just grab the dice and throw).  I liked how when a model was downed you had to decide - should I finish him off? - potentially wasting your shots on a model that might die anyway.

I didn't play with stealth or darkness rules (which will be integral to the setting) which would really impact the long-range crossfield shots which happened quite frequently. No gunfight included more than 2 models on each side, despite how I had rules to allow bigger shootouts. The plentiful cover kept the action spread out into chunks and stopped it becoming a shoot-fest, enabling some small 2v1 gang ups and flanking. There was quite a lot of thought put into precisely placing minis out of LoS/angled so they only had to face minimal opponents when they acted.

A lot more to do, but the game works as is, which is nice. I kinda enjoy using my weird dice so I'll stick with them instead of my original d10+stat system.

Sunday 7 November 2021

Mantic 28mms (Deadzone) // "The Forgotten" Sci Fi Horror // Tomorrow's War Squad Level

So these minis are not finished (missing detail, bases need work, etc), but I'd regard them as 'table-ready' to start playtesting my homebrew sci fi horror rules. Basically the core  game will be "Necromunda" level squad skirmish, but with heavy emphasis om morale/stress, darkness/lighting/stealth, plus weapons that jam or run out of ammo at inopportune times.  

Viral mutated monsters controlled by consciousness uploaded via computer chips.

The premise: the Rapture spoken of in the Book of Revelation has come. The holy have ascended to heaven, and the earth has been destroyed in fire. However, Revelation didn’t mention the unbelievers who were in space stations, asteroids, or terraforming colonies….

Twenty years on, darkness and horror stalks the remnants of humanity – who call themselves the “Forgotten”. The Forgotten form factions, warring for valuable resources, usually under the patronage of powerful demons who compete for resources, followers and prestige. The small populations of these colonies and bases do not support large armies. Instead, small special ops teams are aided by their demonic patrons in desperate strike missions and boarding actions. Something along the lines of Doom meets Event Horizon. Chaos Cultists wearing Mass Effect special forces tech. But they are not alone – scientists who try to fight back have created a virus to mutate human DNA so they are impossible to become hosts and thus "immunize" themselves against possession and free themselves from the frailty of human flesh. In the design process, they have created horrific monsters and mindless mutants, and have uploaded their consciousness into computer chips embedded in hybrid life forms. Meanwhile, many station and spaceship AI, unable to deal with the paranormal events, have gone rogue, creating drone and cyborg forces to enforce their own obscure (and sometimes crazed) agendas.

No space elves. No space orcs. Just men, machines and monsters.

I'm working on 3 asymmetrical forces: 

The Possessed (Event Horizon/Prophecy meets Alien/Mass Effect) “Benevolent Evil, Cool Guns”

The Plague (Umbrella Corp meets Altered Carbon) “Resist evil – become a monster”

Rogue AI (If Skynet had the personality and pettiness of Glados) "Great power, weird agendas"

While I'm still working out how my AI forces will work, Mantic has been supplying my needs thanks to their surprisingly cheap and pleasant Deadzone/Warpath sculpts. 

You get a lot on a Deadzone starter box; I still have ~10 unpainted minis from this set. These Plague will serve as the "scientists who mutated themselves" faction.

I was most impressed by the GCPS "Imperial Guard" - they come with a huge pile of spare bits and a wide range of weapons and poses. Probably one of the best value 28mm boxes I own.  In this 20-man unit box, there's enough leftover bits for ~12 or so more models if you had more torsos.

The "Peacekeepers" wouldn't have been painted red if I realised I was also going to buy the fleshy-red Plague; I regret not painting them purple instead (a good cult-y colour); also ffs my GW black wash failed and left chalky white deposits where there was supposed to be dark recesses.

There's quite a lot of toys in each starter and at $40AUD (around ~$30USD) I think they were well priced to sucker me back into my first 28mm purchases in years.

Savage Worlds vs Tomorrow's War?

I've been working away at some sci fi horror rules for a while, which use d10+stat and have both opposed and static rolls. But digging through my old HDD (the one I resurrected this year) I found a rather interesting set of house rules I already made. It seems to be an amalgam of Tomorrow's War's initiative and reactions and Savage World's pulp magic powers. Both actually share the same dice system; each stat is assigned a d6(poor) d8 (average), d10 (great) or d12 (heroic) which has to beat a 4+ (and the opponent, if it is an opposed roll) so they kinda fit neatly together. 

So instead of using the sci fi horror system I've purpose-built for ages... ...I'll probably adapt this instead as it has caught my fancy. What can I say *shrugs* - I have a limited attention span....

Reading these I was inspired to dig out Infinity and Tomorrow's War - to revisit the "reaction" genre I've moved away from (I feel they bog games down to much; an alternate move system allows similar "reactability" at a fraction of the overhead). I want to discuss them in a game design post... but report cards are looming large in my near future...

Friday 22 October 2021

Mantic GCPS Assembled Models (Deadzone/Warpath)

While hunting cheap 28mm sci fi for my homebrew horror rules, I've been really impressed by Mantic's price:content ratio. Their pricing (~$1.50AUD a mini) is excellent and you get a lot of bitz in the box.

The box was for 20 minis, but if I had more legs and torsos, I could make another 10-15 minis with all the extra arms and heads in the box.

Two very different 10-man squads, and a lot of bitz left over, for $32AUD. ($23 USD)

I don't think I repeated a single pose, and I have two very different squads - 10x not-Starship Troopers/Imperial Guard "grunts", and 10x not-Halo/Kasrkin "marines" - thanks to the extra heads, backpacks and weapons. 

While they have plenty of easy-painting chunky detail (i.e. without the fiddliness of Infinity) they are much nicer, better proportioned and posed models than my blocky, potato-head/banana-handed old IG Cadians and Tau. And these are $77AUD for 10 - $7.70ea vs the superior $1.50 Mantics.

New arms+weapons, heads and backpacks have transformed the models enough to be an opposing force or a complementary "special forces" team. I used extra grenades and sidearms to further differentiate from common grunts.  

This box is extremely useful for generic sci fi forces; I'd go so far as to say it is the budget sci fi version of the versatile Perry plastics - I already have plans for the leftover bits (mixed with medieval armoured torsos, swords and legs) to make a crusader faction. 

I found them reasonably easy to put together (each arm+gun set is labelled A, B, C etc) with only very occasionally trimming off bits of flash and they responded well to my el cheapo superglue. This is a better set than the Enforcers and I'd hazard a guess that they are a later release - they are a more polished sculpt. 

Once these lads have been painted up, I should be ready to start seriously testing my homebrew rules in 28mm at "Necromunda" scale as I've moved away from the 15mm fireteam based version.

Sunday 17 October 2021

15mm Shivan Witches (Blue Moon)

 Apart from basing a few more armies (yes, I discovered another half-painted army from Micropanzer) I figure my 15mm phase has run its course.  This is my last "army in an hour" before I switch to more labour-intensive 28mm.

I also found some GZG drones which I'll add to my 'not Terminator' army from Rebel Minis. 


I don't actually have any Dark Eldar so this 40K barge will belong to the Sisterhood. It's more impressive in 15mm anyway.

 Ugh even in daylight my photography is a 2/10 - obviously photography is not a hobby or area of interest at all

Mantic & Deadzone  Anyway, I've finished assembling my Mantic Enforcers. I've also read through Deadzone 2E (even though I intend to make/play my own rules) and have been favourably impressed. It's certainly a quicker, cleaner, more logical game than Kill Team. Rather like Dreadball compared to the bloated, clunky Blood Bowl - I used to love Blood Bowl but man it's a gluggy mess - even nostalgia goggles and the - (for GW) - reasonable pricing can't get me back into it.  Sadly I don't have a square mat to playtest the Deadzone rules, as they seem quite interesting.

Saturday 16 October 2021

15mm Sahadeen Sci Fi Tribesmen (Rebel Minis)

 This is one of the last of my 15mm armies.  I only have some Shivan Witches, and the rest are small 'dozen minis or less' random purchases. After that I am switching to 28mm Mantic*; for my "demon-possessed stormtroopers vs rogue AI vs scientists with pet monsters" homebrew sci fi horror rules.

*I could possibly review the 2nd Ed Deadzone rules, but it may be a waste of time as 3rd Ed is coming...

Why that shade of blue headgear? Well the bloody Privateer Press paints are in these horrible lids that crack around the edges and let air in, so I feel like I have to use them before they inevitably dry up.  Why everyone can't use a sensible squeeze bottle like Vallejo *shrugs*. 

The mecha are also Rebel minis and come with a range of weapon loadouts you can choose (including shields and melee weapons). As usual I choose neutral paint schemes for my mechs as they do double duty in 6mm games. (All my mecha are grey, tan or olive for this reason). They are giant mechs next to old Epic infantry, who barely come up to their knees.

The skimmers are the GZG ones I painted last week; with an eye to using them for this force. Still have some $1 dune buggies from K Mart I could add...

 As usual, I enjoy painting 15mm as you can do an army in an hour or two. The Sahadeen are a little small (I prefer my 15mm on the bulkier side) but they are very useful, versatile sculpts - I could see their hoods and masks being useful as generic cultists, vampire acolytes and even snow troops, and I have accordingly left a dozen or so unpainted for that purpose, later down the track. 

Although I've painted up no fewer than seven 15mm forces in the last fortnight, this is only half my 15mm forces - I also have table-ready GZG UNSC, Khurasan Felids, GZG Prawns, GZG New Israelis*, some mostly-GZG I painted in 2015; and a sister army. Or at least that's what I can see in the cupboard. Who knows what further digging in the shed may reveal? The ability to buy a 40K-size 15mm army for $50-$60 back in 2015 or so was obviously addictive.

*I am due to take all these out and check them for damage/rebase if needed and I can do some daylight photos if anyone is interested. These photos have been pretty poor as I paint and photograph at night - without my kids around to 'help'

Nostalgically, I remember the postage times of yore - GZG was famously fast - once I ordered some minis on Thursday (from UK) and they arrived (at my door in Australia) the next Monday.  Fast cheap postage - something I'll be able to tell my grandkids about - and they'll never believe it.

Thursday 14 October 2021

15mm Sci Fi Salamanders & $1Tanks

As my 15mm collection slowly becomes fully painted, I'm increasingly painting the weirder and smaller factions. These are Khurasan Meso-Nai, xenophobic salamanders in power armour. 

 My daughter had already posed them on blocks; she approves of their eel-like faces; as she likes to chase eels in the clear freshwater creeks near where we live.

The bigger 15mms are actually quite good; these lizards are actually ~20mm. There's quite a bit of variation in 15mm, as much as 25-32mm '28s.'   I feel these and the bigger Blue Moons look quite OK, whereas the puny Rebel synths are simply too small, regardless of sculpt quality.  

The tanks are $1 no-name brand from K-Mart: actually intended to support 6mm mechs as Baneblade-esque megatanks, they still show well how 15mm and 6mm vehicles can do double duty in a range of scales; here acting as small scout tanks in 15mm.

I'm slowly finishing painting; some Shivan witches and Sahadeen desert tribesman are my last main 15mm factions to go. I do like these GZG gun drones as they do squad support duty for a range of armies.

15mm continue to be fun and rewarding to paint; I still think they are the optimal size for platoon+ battles or anything where vehicles are the stars, but you still want infantry to be individually based and look decent. These guys would have taken an hour and a bit from start to finish. 

I'm slowly switching to 28mm Mantic for my homebrew sci fi horror rules; they should paint up soon. My initial assembly observations of my Enforcers box is they are a bit weedy and lacking quality compared to my GW Tau & IG, but in Australia they are 20+ for $35 instead of GW's 10 for $70; so at  $1.60ea compared to $7ea (a quarter of the price) I am inclined to be pretty forgiving.

Wednesday 6 October 2021

15mm Neo-Sov Mecha & Remotes (Khurasan & GZG)

This was begun, but incomplete from my last paint session and took another 30 or so to finish off.  The small wheelie drones are GZG and I think the smaller mechs are Khurasan - they're certainly a John Bear Ross sculpt.

The big "hammer" mech is an old rebased MW clix'; I bought a packet of clix for a few dollars years ago; and wish I bought more - as they are no longer a cheap option on ebay. 

I think the big boi is a Neanderthal 80 tonner. I felt it fit the Neo-Soviet aesthetic with the hammer at least, if not the sickle, and the primitive but brutal CQC weaponry. 

The wheeled FSV drones provide heavy weapons squad support, whether human-directed or autonomously via rudimentary AI, with 23mm and ATGW options. 

15mm continues to go together so fast - I probably need to make a fast-playing game in order to field all these vehicles and bigger toys...  My 6-year-old loves them as he is allowed to zoom them around a bit (due to their much lower cost and greater survivability than 28mm).