Thursday 2 November 2023

Project Progress and Random Rules Round Up #1

 I have been cleaning out my shed and have made an excel table for myself about all existing minis and past/current/future projects.

1) Do I have minis for it? (if not, what is the 'buy in')

2) If (1) then have I painted enough minis to play? Do I need terrain? (pizza time!)

3) Do I have a set of rules I'm willing to play (esp with kids)?

Basically 'where am I at?' with every mini box in my shed, and roughly pricing out unfinished/future projects.

For example, I am eyeing off BFG & Mordhiem again. I lack the minis, but I have plenty of terrain, game mats, and even the old rules.

I have piles of weird west minis and terrain, but lack rules. My psychic dinosaur knights have minis, dinos but also lacks rules. This is my 'homebrew tinkering' space. Weird War II I has painted minis, terrain AND decent rules so it is good to go. Ditto Battletech although the rules are not so great. Etc etc.

Some projects I've identified that I may never finish. I've got lots of nice Perry Greeks but I'm not that interested in the era (nor painting that much white/skintone!) My 1:2400 Napoelonic ships are too hard to tell apart. My WW1 1:300 tanks are too tiny to be cool. With it now being OOP, I don't really want to keep collecting/painting my half-assembled Imperialis Aeronautica.

Anyway, in search of 'better' rules I've been digging through my cupboard. Sometimes rules which weren't 'good at the time' suddenly appeal later on. Perhaps they were competing with other games, or my tastes may have changed. I'm not going to playtest them all again, but I am going to grab out random ones that catch my fancy and briefly discuss them.  

Cruel Seas (Coastal Warfare, Warlord Games)

In Print? Yes
Hit or Miss? Miss

(-) I love coastal warfare and the minis are good (no regrets there) bu the rules are a mess. It's just clunky and uninspired, with dozens of hitpoints, many modifiers, gluggy and varied resolution methods. It just feels randomly slapped together. The rulebook itself is not that easy to use either. There's nothing really on detection which is a big deal as 90% of coastal actions took place at night and it kinda key to the whole tactics.

(+) I like the 'wake' where the length of the wake behind the boat denotes speed.

(~) Shell splashes and spray around a boat gives a BONUS to fire - you'd think it would obscure the target. It's so weirdly implemented I'm not sure what the point is.

I'd use literally any other coastal rules I could find before this. I find this set of rules a really weird choiuce by Warlord. I love the idea of it but I can't see it being commercially viable. Faster, better rules and a series of real-life scenarios might have sold me more.


Blood Red Skies (WW2 Dogfight, Warlord Games)

In Print? Yes

Hit or Miss? Miss

(+) This is kinda the abstract game I am looking for in aerial combat; the game is simple, plays fast and abtracts the minutiae of air combat with "advantage" abstracting height and energy. Three stats (agility, speed, firepower) and a couple of special traits for each plane keep it simple, and you can play handfuls of planes each quite quickly. I think there is probably a decent game hidden in there, and it eschews rivet counting for pew-pewing. It attempts something no other aerial game does.

(~) The game relies on a hand of cards to give it any depth; it's just pretzels (without even beer) otherwise. The abstraction may be too jarring for some.

(-) There is no detection mechanics.  I'm not sure what the game is trying to be - a CCG? The pricing is baffling. Planes are $50AUD for 6 cheap plastic things (similar price to a beautifully sculpted 10-man Necromunda warband) or $30 for a single ace. Insane when you can get 1:300 metal minis in similar size for $2-3 each. Everything is cheap, plasticy and cardboardy. It's like a super simple, cut-budget X-Wing where they are actually selling you 'cards' for ridiculous prices. Heck even the cards are small and cheap looking.

In addition, the 'rulebook' in the starter box is three pamphlets which does a terrible job of explaining the game. It's like buying a takeaway pizza where you just get the base, and having some cheap cheese slices tossed on top of the box without explanation. But you suspect - if you bought enough extra ingredients - the pizza might be a good snack with a movie. 


The answer to "how many minis can Dad paint in an hour and a bit" - basically only basecoated Star Wars for my wee lad, who was supposed to paint them himself.... He's happy with them though...

Dracula's America (Weird West Skirmish, Osprey)

In Print: Yes
Hit or Miss? Meh...

(+) You can activate 1 OR 2 models each activation (interesting). The campaign system is quite thorough and I think it would lend itself to be a good club campaign game. Shoving people off things is fun. It does what is says on the box.

(~) It reminds me of a simpler, blander knock-off version of Savage Worlds/Deadlands. Very limited reaction mechanic.

(-) It adds playing card activation 'just because Deadlands'. There is only a single stat which comes in only 3 levels (d6, d8, d10 - which are more tied to if a model is a hero or mook than anything else) so it relies on special rules to differentiate a fledgling vampire from a wild hog.

There's nothing really wrong with these rules - they were just a bit bland. Like volleyball - I would join in a game if asked but wouldn't be advocating it to my friends.



Gladiator (Gladiator skirmish, Warhammer Historical)

In Print: No

Hit or Miss: Not sure. I can't recall my last playtest. 

(+) It's a ME:SBG spin off with extra rules on top, such as kneeling, throwing nets and even cinematic hit locations and special hero moves. There are weird and wonderful weapons, chariots and even elephants and wild animals like crocodiles and lions! It's quite RPG ish - a list of gladiator names, a slave market and deep campaign options for running your own ludus. There's even chariot racing and naval battle rules.

(~) I've never got into this merely due to gladiator models (to the extent the game requires) being pretty much restricted to Foundry or Eureka's boobiators back in the day. If someone did a plastic box set nowdays I'd probably dust this off. 

(-) While I like the rules themselves, I feel the ME:SBG sweet spot is ~30 models not ~4-5. While it will work fine, I'd probably go with a different system.


  1. The Crusader Metal 28mm Gladiators are Ace! Plus, the Jugular range is good, but larger size.

    However, getting the models for this game is not worth it for the rules themselves. They are very basic, especially for a model vs Model combat.

    Now, if you had other, better Gladiator rules that would be a different story.

  2. Me llama la atención el de weird west. No sabría decidirme, no conozco la mayoría de los juegos.
    Siempre está la opción de adaptar reglas y refreír algo...

    1. There's certainly nothing wrong with Dracula's America. Go for it! (There's plenty of wild west models and I also mix in Malifaux)

      It's kinda a modification a RPG called "Savage Worlds" which is often used as a wargame, which I DO recommend. It can do steampunk, fantasy etc as well.


    2. He leído alguna reseña sobre Savage Worlds en este blog, así como en Blood and Espectacles. Me llamó mucho la atención.
      Yo estoy ahora dibujando personajes para un juego de escaramuzas que está creando un amigo y estoy también con un refrito del Wargame Mayhem.
      Es bueno lo de tener momentos de introspección y pensar "dónde me voy a meter?" (Aunque no se me ocurrió la hoja de excel, maldición). Mucha suerte y un saludo.
      Gran blog, sólo lamento haberlo descubierto tarde.

    3. If you're interested in "Why do certain mechanics get used?"
      "Why do we use these rules" I've got a list of posts where I've looked through different mechanics.

      Hope this helps!


  3. I fear what this project will do in exposing my own weaknesses and pile of shame, err I mean potential. For example, I too have all my old BFG rules, magazines, expansions and terrain...but no ships!

    BTW I have rediscovered my love for Gladiators with a great set of locally made rules called Blood on the Sands. Check out my blog for some recent games and email if you want me to hook you up. And yes Foundry and Crusader minis are the best of the 28mm offerings!

    1. Blood on the Sands is very good BUT I am never a fan of games that require Hex Mats to play them. I see it as a barrier for entry. Another "Thing" I have to buy in order to play. Other people love them as it streamlines facings, movement, etc.