Wednesday, 22 June 2022

Lt Tavington's newest recruits for The Silver Bayonet

 Although Archibald Tavington III's men have been tremendously successful through the first seven scenarios of our ten scenario campaign tragedy finally struck in scenario eight.

A couple of the chosen men of the 95th Rifles have given their lives bravely for the cause but it somehow hit harder when Doctor Theopolis was taken from this world in the prime of his life.  Rest in power Doctor, your legacy lives on through your liberal application of questionable period medications and bloodletting.

In the run up to our final two scenarios Lt Tavington has brought in two men from other units to round out his Silver Bayonet force.

First up joining us from the Royal Marines is Trooper Gibbs.

Gibbs adds a character who is steady on his feet but doesn't break the bank budget-wise.

Next is our new Artillerist Sir Simon.

I don't think I'll have a ton of use for an Artillerist in the final two scenarios but I wish I had had one earlier in the campaign as there are a number of swivel guns just laying about on the battlefields of Europe.

I'm actually thinking about doing some slight restructuring, which could lead to dropping another Rifleman and replacing them with another new character type.  Not 100% committed to that yet but between now and Tuesday we'll see what happens.

Thanks for checking in!


Tuesday, 21 June 2022

And now it's time for some Kurita on Kurita violence!

 Our slow march through the 1st Sommerset Strikers campaign continues!

In preparation for the scenario based on Episode 11, Chaos In The Jungle, I needed to paint up 9 new mechs for Draconis Combine forces.  This scenario is a bit of an odd one as it involves 3 players and the forces of Clan Jade Falcon are completely absent.

Force 1 is the 1st Sommerset Strikers.  Which include Franklin Sakamoto in his Hatamoto-Chi.

Force 2 are the Kurita ISF forces commanded by Toshiro Okura.  This is an entire lance made up of Centurions.

Force 3 are the rebels attempting to install a new puppet government on the throne of the Draconis Combine and is an entire lance of Wolfhounds.

The one thing I will say I learned from playing with my Wotan Tamar March Militia force is that if I'm going to play entire lances made up of the same mechs not only do I need to number the fronts (which my opponent can see) but I need corresponding numbers on the backs so I don't have to constantly pick them up during play to figure out which model is which.

All of these models were 3D printed as the Hatamoto-Chi (at time of writing) is not yet available, and once again I need a larger quantity of single models (Centurions and Wolfhounds) than I can readily get through lance packs.

Thanks for checking in!


Saturday, 11 June 2022

How I got here: D&D Part 1

 I've been doing a lot of writing this past week and it got me thinking about different tastes or styles in RPG adventures and how what is popular has changed over the years.  It's not a question of better or worse, it's really just about different.  Personally I really like current generation game rules, but if I'm being honest I still really prefer the style of adventures and game content that were published when I first got into D&D.  It got me thinking about my first year playing D&D and the first few products that shaped my view of how the game is played.

When I first got into D&D I was 11 years old.  I had basically no money of my own and my family was tight enough for money that I couldn't just go out with my parents and get the things I wanted (or knew of for that matter).  I ended up doing what every 11 year old focused on one thing they want does; I asked for nothing but D&D stuff for Christmas.  I don't remember in detail a lot of Christmases from my youth, but I remember Christmas 1983.

My younger sister used to get up CRAZY early on Christmas morning to open presents.  After a couple of years of ridiculously early December 25ths my mom had set down a rule that when we woke up we could open and play with everything in our stockings, but no presents under the tree, and no waking her up before she got up on her own. So on December 25th 1983 at about 3:30am my sister came busting into my room with her stocking (mine was leaned up against my bedroom door) to go through our stockings.  Every year since my mom had started this practice my sister had come into my room, gone through stockings, and then we would fall back asleep after she got bored, this year would be the first time I stayed up.  My stocking was full of fruit, nuts, candies, and toiletries (the usual for us) but tucked in behind my stocking leaned up against my bedroom door was my first ever D&D book; The Fiend Folio.

I was thrilled!  Not only was the artwork AMAZING but a ton of my early gaming was playing through Fighting Fantasy  books Warlock Of Firetop Mountain and Citadel Of Chaos.  Getting a D&D book that was filled with monsters with the same aesthetic and sensibilities excited me more than any other D&D book I could have gotten at the time would have.  My sister fell back asleep and I sat up in my bed reading the Fiend Folio from cover to cover while everyone else in the house slept.

Hours later we all  went downstairs and started opening presents.  My mom obviously knew which way my interests were going as the first two packages I opened were a JRR Tolkien box set and a CS Lewis box set.  That was awesome!  I had 11 books to read that couldn't wait to get into, but the next package properly kicked off and interest that is still going strong 39 years later...

This was unbelievable!  I was overwhelmed that I had both a Player's and a Dungeon Master's book!  I'd never actually seen this box set before, I had only seen the the AD&D hardcovers before.  And in 2022 I can't accurately convey what a big deal it was to have my own dice, at that time I didn't even know where I could get polyhedral dice from!  I remember thinking I couldn't wait to get together with my friends after Christmas to start playing with my new stuff, and that was before I opened the Player's book and realized it had a solo adventure I was going to be able to play through that day.  That old D&D box combined newness and completeness in a way that still informs my view of what a good starter set for a game should be.

My final gaming present from that first Christmas was another showcase of how great gaming content was at the time.  My first issue of Dragon Magazine.

How could one magazine have; an entire city setting, an complete adventure, a piece of fiction, and a TON of background articles, and even ads (seriously ADS!) that had tons of amazing original artwork?

Christmas 1983 was my first deep dive into fantasy role-playing.  Next up I'll cover summer 1985 when my philosophy of adventures and adventure writing started to take shape.


Monday, 2 May 2022

Review - D&D Frameworks Miniatures

 Today I'll be taking a quick look at the new Frameworks line of hard plastic D&D miniatures being produced by WizKids Games.

When I heard that WizKids was going to be producing hard plastic customizable D&D figures I was extremely excited, this was the exact kind of miniatures line I had wanted for years.  I'm going to preface this review by stating two things to make my own perspective clear:

1.  Having a positive personal bias going in, once I received the models I decided to spend some time with the models before reviewing them with the goal of remaining as objective as possible.

2.  I fully understand that on the venn diagram of miniature gamers and role-players aside from the group in the center overlap there are two different sets of wants and needs from a D&D miniature product.

Having said that, let's get to it!

At release there are two basic types of Frameworks boxes; single models (characters and monsters), as well as multi-packs of 'horde' type monsters.  I started off with four single model boxes (intentionally chosen as two sets of two, more on that in a bit), and one multi-pack.  Here's a quick look at the single models:

And then my one multi-pack:

The Good

I will start off by saying the level and sharpness of detail on these figures is outstanding.  Remembering that for as long as WizKids has been making miniatures this is their first pass at hard plastic and the quality is outstanding.  The variety of models available is also great as most basic D&D character arch-types are readily available and suitable for D&D or similar games right out of their boxes.  And I'm really sorry, but as far as positives go, that's pretty much it.

The Bad

The design of the plastic frames themselves is incredibly out of date by modern casting standards, what I mean by that is in the pictures you can clearly see the amount of unused space on the sprues.  This means there could have been significantly more options in each box than we ended up getting.  This issue is further exacerbated by space being taken up on the sprues by repetitive and needless pieces.  The two most egregious example of this are the bases and shields.  Every miniature includes a clear plastic base, but in spite of this on every sprue the second biggest component (after the main body of the figure) is a single flat rock for the miniature to stand on, flat based rocks are a holdover from the days before generic flat bases and you don't need both, it wouldn't matter but given how much real estate on these sprues seems to be at a premium I would rather have another component or accessory than a duplication of basic basing function.  The shields are even more glaring.  The fighter's two shield options are identical except for the groves on the back so they can easily be attached to the figure in two different ways, given that the backs of the shields will be unseen once the models are assembled this is completely unnecessary.  In the case of the Cleric three of the components on the sprue are one shield with two different images to mount on the front, this would be fine if again it wasn't for how much sprue space is given over to what is effectively one option.

The Ugly

Normally this would be my final point but I have to call out what poor value for money these figures are before moving on to ,more subjective points.  A single character box has an MSRP roughly 80%-100% higher (so nearly double) than it's equivalent pack in the softer vinyl.  The material and options theoretically add value to these Frameworks packs, but keep in mind that the packs I'm comparing them to have two figures each, not a single character (in the case of the Kobolds in my market I could have gotten 30 kobolds for this box of 7 costs).  For my next point I'm going back to the start where I mentioned I consciously started with two sets of two characters, two armoured humans, and two unarmoured arcane casters.  The reason I started with 'sets' of figures was to determine whether or not part could be easily swapped from one kit to another reasonably similar kit, for no reason at all the answer to that is; no.  The heads don't have the same attachments, the arms attach at different points in the lengths, and most of the clear plastic accessories attach to a single specific arm or hand.  Due to the models being plastic it would be fairly easy to use a knife or files to modify pieces to get them to fit together, but remember that venn diagram?  I'm going to say 50% of potential hobbyists for these models are really not going to want to do that. 

Overall I am really disappointed by Frameworks.  I had high hopes but the technical execution and some design choices are so poor that almost from the moment I opened these boxes my mind went to all the better options to fill this particular hobby niche.  If you see a single figure that really appeal to then by all means go for it, but if you are looking for a pool of miniature options for your D&D games there are much better choices out there for you.

Thanks for checking in.



Saturday, 23 April 2022

I just got 'funneled' in Stennard

 In case it's not already obvious; I like gaming with miniatures, I mean I REALLY like gaming with miniatures.  One of the odder ways this manifests itself is that even when I'm playing an RPG that doesn't need or require miniatures I paint them anyways.  Case in point, I recently got to play in a Twitch stream run by Nick from Breaker Press Games on Goodman Games official Twitch channel.  Obviously playing remotely and we were not using miniatures but...I've got to be me, so I painted up the three characters I would be playing in our level 0 funnel.

A funnel is the concept in Dungeon Crawl Classics where a player players usually four, but in this case three, 0 level extremely fragile characters some, most, or all of whom won't survive to the conclusion of the adventure and then when it's time to play a traditional level 1 starting character you choose the one you enjoyed the most from the funnel.  These are the three adventurers (not heroes) that I played with through The Precipice Of Corruption with.

I should also point out that every time I play through a funnel I seem to follow two traditions or patterns but I'll get into those in the additional entries below.

First up is Aels Crowgrounder.

Aels is a Forrester and statistically was neither very good at anything, nor exceptionally poor at anything (which for me makes him above average!).  Unbeknownst to the rest of the players Aels was in league with the villains of the adventure and was destined to turn on the group at a key moment.  To this end Aels fulfilled the first of my traditions when playing a funnel; I was playing the scummiest character in the group.

Next we have Ehns Logsplitter.

Ehns was a Woodcutter from the nearby community of Hillwood Camp and was statistically my best character.  She was going to fill a warrior role in the group and had above average physical stats as well as being armed with one of the most damaging weapons 0 level characters had access to.  Ehns fulfilled the second of my traditions in that from start until almost the end she was the character I thought would become my main level 1 character at the conclusion of the adventure.

And finally we come to Vandiss The Blinding Light.

Vandiss is a Legerdemainist who is new to the area and is slightly below average statistically as well as being armed with a mediocre weapon and some starting equipment that really doesn't work well with their stats and bonuses.  Having said that Vandiss turned out to be a great utility character who was excellent at playing a support role.

So how did the funnel go?  Aels betrayed the party at a key moment and not surprisingly met a gruesome (no, seriously GRUESOME) fate that he clearly deserved.  Ehns bucked the spirit of the game by in fact being a heroine!  We played for about 5 hours and through 4 3/4 of those hours Ehns was a tank that absolutely demolished every obstacle in the party's way...but man those last 15 minutes were rough.  Ehns squared off against the adventure's big bad and fell to a single crushing blow.  I have to say it was really impactful, no pun intended, because as soon as she died the entire rest of the group seemed very aware of how much danger they were in.  RIP Ehns, you were too good for this world.  And so we come to Vandiss.  Vandiss spent most of their time on the fringes avoiding direct confrontation and not being particularly brave or cowardly.  In our first of two sessions Vandiss did manage to get off an attack with some flash powder that greatly assisted the melee characters in the group, so overall they had a positive impact on the group as a whole, but they also made the decision in the closing moments of the final battle that there was in fact no place like home and broke for Stennard before the battle's conclusion.

Overall I really enjoyed The Precipice Of Corruption and anyone looking to run a Dungeon Crawl Classic funnel should definitely pick it up at Precipice Of Corruption 

I also really like the figures I painted up to sit on my desk alongside me while we streamed this game and highly recommend this box set from Fireforge Games for anyone looking for 0 level characters for their low level RPGs or specifically Dungeon Crawl Classic funnels.  It's a rare box set that includes both male and female figures as well as a mix of both actual and improvised weapons.

And as always I picked these miniatures up from my Friendly Local Game Store.  Please support both your FLGS and small publishers online!

Thanks for checking in


Sunday, 3 April 2022

Wotan Tamar March Militia

 Continuing through the 1st Sommerset Strikers campaign I'm getting ready for Episode 3: The Taking Of Wotan.

From the Inner Sphere side of the campaign there are two scenarios that use a substantial amount of non Sommerset Striker mechs, this is one of them.  One of the issues from a model collecting point of view is due to the repetition of the animation in the TV series the campaign is based on a player will need 9 Centurions and 8 Wolfhounds by the time the campaign is done.  The current (excellent) boxes of mech models from Catalyst are full lances or stars of mixed mechs, so I would have to buy 17 boxes of mechs (and end up with 51 EXTRA miniatures) to make the ancillary forces I need for the campaign.  To this end I have gotten some 3D prints of the Centurions and Wolfhounds to fill out my mooks.

In episode 3 of the Battletech Animated Series the opening sequence is Nicolai Malthus and his star wiping out the last remnants of the Wotan Tamar March Militia.  In the scenario the Militia is made up of two lances of mechs made up of some substandard quality mechwarriors.

Lt General Ansel Cabrillo's Command Lance

Lt Pam Genaro's Recon Lance

TMM Mauler

TMM Centurion

TMM Wolfhound

I might circle back to these figs later and add more red trim to accent the figures.  I also have to say one thing that confused me (not being familiar with the lore of the time period) is that when I looked up the Tamar March Militia online for colour-scheme their logo was a variation on the Federated Suns logo, but when I looked at their history they are listed as being a Lyran Commonwealth unit.  If anybody wants to fill me in please do.



Friday, 25 February 2022

1st Somerset Strikers - Aerospace Assets

 As of now I'm almost done the 1st Somerset Strikers (as far as the published scenarios go).  I still need to paint the Packrat command vehicle as well as one more mech.  That will do it for the unit itself, and then I'll be moving on to painting an additional Mauler, 4 Wolfhounds and 8 Centurions that make up 2 allied units the Strikers end up being supported by in some of the later scenarios.  So 14 more models and I'm done!

But today's project are the twin Banshee Aerospace fighters that provide the Striker's air support.  These models are 3D prints and I think they both turned out fairly well, although they do have the look of the Colonial Viper from Battlestar Gallactica about them.

I had a slight panic moment as I was prepping for my first 2 games when I realized the Banshee as an illegal design that was never really meant to make it into the game never got a card for Alpha Strike.  It turned out to be a non-issue as at least through the first 2 scenarios the Banshee is basically handled like an off-table asset and doesn't really need to be represented on the tabletop.  Having said that I had put out a call to the Battletech community on Twitter to see if anybody knew where I could find Alpha Strike rules for the Banshee.  It turned out that none existed at all but a really kind member of the community named Scott Boehmer took some time out of his day to produce a card for me.  So this is his work below, not mine.

If you're reading this, thanks again Scott!

I'll be taking a short break from Battletech this weekend to get my Lunar figures finished and then it's time to go nose to the grindstone on a fairly large fantasy scenery project.

Thanks for checking in!