Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Building Mouse Guard gaming aids.

Well with me getting into the Mouse Guard RPG, I been building some gaming aids for the game. I started with a dice box. The goal of the project was to have a fun surface to roll dice in and to be able to set some mouse guard artwork on the table to inspire my players. When I play an RPG I always look at the GM screen to help me imagine the world that the game is about. So I used the excuse of the dice tray to add 8 photos from the game. I think it turn out really well in the end.

My next big project was to make a random event deck, the focus of this deck is to add a element of randomness to my games. There is large areas that separate the different mouse towns and cities and anything can happen when traveling from town to town. The deck is to help me out when I am unsure of what to add when I cant think of anything from the top of me head.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Mouse Guard

Well at the gamer's grudge sale, this last Saturday, I made enough money to buy this at my local game store. My friend Tyler got me into the world of mouse guard through the RPG and soon after I got into the comics.

I also really enjoyed the Redwall series of books and this just fit right into that world.
But since Tyler joined the navy I have been itching to get back into this world but this time as the GM. I had one major issue, none of my local friends had the book, or the boxset, and it is really getting hard to find. Some places it is over 150.00$ for the boxset. I was lucky that my local store had it for 70.00$ or I would not have been able to afford to buy the boxset and Its kinda a must have for the game. The box set has the rules, Gaming aid cards, some themed dice (really nice ones) a GM screen, some mouse tokens and maps that are used in the comic (see below) and it had an expansion book that is only in the boxset. The rulebook on its own is about a 40-50.00$ book so its not too much more for a lot of cool game aids. The cards that come with it are hard plastic, they include weapon cards, status cards and combat cards. The weapon cards are nice because it allows players to not have to write down all the stats and just use the reference card.

Its an interesting gaming world to work with and it hit three major things I like in an RPG,

-1st Basic game rules so that they don't get in the way of the game,
-2nd Simple character creation that does not really lend itself to min maxing or power gaming (I am sure it can be done but its not that big a deal when done)
-3rd it has a stetting I really enjoy.

The setting is in a mid evil time period where the word is a bit different then the one we know. Mice are the focus of the game, you as a mouse guard maintain and protect the mouse towns and cites hidden in the lands, you do this by maintaining roads, protecting convoys and much much more. The interesting thing about the setting is that it has no magic and you as a character are not at the top of the food chain, in fact you one of the best source of food out there for the other animals. This sets up some epic fights agaist all odds, how does a mouse take down a snow owl? or a fox or even a bear! There is even other mice that are trying to take over power. It can seem odd at first, you a mouse, but it really opens up a cool world to play around with RPG wise and gives players new challenges as even something simple as rain could destroy whole towns since the scale of rain drops is massive. The small steam witch to us would be really small could flood in the rain and a whole town could be in danger when the stream becomes a real river size to us.

 The game itself has a simple pass fail aproch to making tests, you have dice that have about 50% chance of failing or passing tests. The snakes are fails and the swords and axes are passes. If you spend some of your fate points the axes gain you extra dice for a roll for each axe rolled, even if the new roll is another axe you get more dice. It can get to some epic results.

The game also lends it self to a back and forth type of story telling, if you as a player pass your tests you get to describe what happens to you, but if you fail then the GM will tell you what fates have in store for your little mouse.

Conflict settling be it augments or battle, gets solved with use of 4 actions. Each player involved choose to ether  attack, maneuver, faint or defend. These are chosen in secrete and are reviled at the same time, effecting rolls and the goal values that they have to pass to succeed.

All in all I really like the game and its set up. I was really lucky to find a copy at my local store for its retail price and I am glad Darin the owner of Imperial outpost games is such a good store owner and cares about his player base enough not to inflate his prices when things become rare.  Stay tuned if you are interested in mouse guard, I may end up posting some of the missions I write for the game if I can get a group going down here.  As for now I need to get through the rule book and get working on my first mission, I already got some really cool ideas for this one. 

It's not what you fight, but what you fight for! - Kenzie


Sunday, November 11, 2012

The tale of 3 lists.

So I am working on building my 1600 point list for Shifting Sands. I am juggling three lists at the moment. Each list has something I really like about it but there core is the same. I am going for the 7th armored Infantry company. 

Confident trained is not everyone's favorite spot to be in the game, but I like the challenge that trained troops offer, making me think more on how I will approach attacking and defending at the same time invading my more tactical side of my brain.

So here is my three lists followed by the basic tactics and mindsets behind them. I don't put too much into tactics right away when building lists. I instead focus more on balance and being able to do basic things. Any true tactician will tell you a balanced and flexible unit will secure victory more readily then a unit that is too precise for the randomness of the enemy lists and tactics. 

But enough about that now to the lists!    

List 1
Company HQ
HQ 35
   +1 bazooka

Combat platoons
Full Armored Rifle platoon 225
Full Armored Rifle platoon 225
2/3 Armored Anti-tank platoon 95
    +2 Bazookas

Weapons platoons
½ Armored HMG platoon 80
     +1 Bazooka
Full Assault Gun Platoon 105
-3 M8 Scot platoon

Support Platoon
Full Corps Tank Destroyer Platoon 315
-4 Hellcats
Field Artillery Battery 215
-4 155mm Guns with transports
Armored Field Artillery Battery 300
-6 Priests  

Total 1595

So this list is more about being flexible then the other two. I like the AT guns as a combat platoon, allowing me to attach the HMG and Bazooka to them if I don't have reserves. The Anti-tank platoon with the attachments becomes a real interesting pinning platoon or something to hold objectives. when Attacking I plan to set it up on a hill to pin my opponent as I advance. This list has more platoons then the others and more varied options making it a bit more flexible. Being flexible limits my platoons to being all trained, and I only have 2 Combat Rifle platoons, the workhorse of the list. Anther plus to the list one is that it has 3 artillery platoons giving me more pinning options. 

Now for my 2nd list,

List 2

Company HQ
HQ 20

Combat platoon
Full Armored Rifle platoon 225
Full Armored Rifle platoon 225
Full Armored Rifle platoon 225
2/3 Armored Anti-tank platoon 80
    +1 Bazookas

Support Platoon
Full Corps Tank Destroyer Platoon 315
-4 Hellcats
Field Artillery Battery 210
-4 155mm Guns
Armored Field Artillery Battery 300
-6 Priests

Total 1600

 This list embraces the more true nature of the list, by taking 3 full platoons of armored rifles. The list loses the M8 Scotts, a couple of bazookas, transports and the HMGs for the extra rifle platoon that has most of those things. The biggest loss is the M8s with there low firepower, they would be nice to target gun teams and soften targets up with direct fire or drop a bombardment if i really need to pin something. But this list does have 3 infantry platoons that strengthens its core and thus adding stability to the army. 

Now to list 3,

List 3 

Company HQ
HQ 20

Combat Platoons
Full Armored Rifle platoon 225
Full Armored Rifle platoon 225
2/3 Armored anti-tank platoon 80
+ 1 Bazooka

Weapons platoon
½ Armored Machine gun platoon 65

Support Platoon
Full Corps Tank Destroyer Platoon 315
-4 Hellcats
Veteran Field Artillery Battery 280
-4 155mm Guns with transports
Veteran Armored Field Artillery Battery 390
-6 Priests 

Total 1600

The 3rd list is interesting since it highlights the artillery by making it veteran. So they will hit harder then before, making them more effective but then limiting my other options. Anyone who has played me knows that my ability to use artillery well is one of the things that makes me a tough player to deal with and I admit it does play a key roll  in the lists I play. So making my artillery Veteran does add allot on its own, but is it worth taking if it limits some of the other things I do in my list? Though a Veteran devastating bombardment at AT 5 Firepower 3+ that could use "Time on Target." Is something to fear.

So in all three lists there is the core of troops, Hellcats for anti tank work, and a large bit of artillery, enough to do the Devastating bombardment. Picking what list to take is kinda hard since all these lists look good on paper to me. It is going to take allot of play testing (Nate I hope you are up for the challenge.)

So in summery

List one
-More Flexible
-Has 8 platoons so will be better suited in games with reserves
-Has 3 artillery platoons

List two
- Solid core with 3 full strength infantry platoons
- with larger platoons will be able to hold more ground defensively and be able to suffer more losses on the attack.

List three
-More focused on the Artillery, making it allot more effective
-Veteran artillery makes it more certain to pin key platoons making my assaults less risky.

What lists should I bring? Well I would love feedback or even your 7th armored infantry list that you would bring and why. I will be posting some play test results as soon as i have them but for now there are the lists I am thinking about.


Thursday, November 8, 2012

4 games in 2 days.

~So I am putting off the doctor who Card game review for a bit, It's player size is a min of 3 and a max of 4 players so its a hard game to get the right sized group to play. As soon as I play it I will review and post it so stay tuned in for that~

4 games 2 days. 

My friend Nate and I have played 4 games of flames of war over the last 2 days, swapping around our lists and playing around with our new open fire models.  We took a small brake from flames of war and played some of the other games for a bit, but once we got the new open fire boxset we started playing again. As soon as we started playing we started remembering how much we love this game.

(Photo Right, Nate, my opponent, commanding his Germans from his favorite medium tank, a Stug G!)

For our 4 games I was playing British. I just got two box-sets worth of the new British plastic models from the open fire box set. So In our games I was itching to play around with the British Sherman tanks in my lists. I started off with the guards tank list from hell's highway, went to Canadians in turning tide. I then tried the Reluctant Veterans variant from the same book. For the last list I settled on the Irish Guard Infantry from hell's highway.

Nate Wanted to play around with his German parts of the open fire box sets, like me he liked the tanks he got from the set and was playing around with adding Stug G tanks to his lists. He swapped between the Nuts book and grey wolf liking the German lists that were originally frond in Stalin's onslaught. During our games we learned the tank escort rules are awesome. In the last game he settled on an infantry list to get the right mix of platoons. Though I do not remember everything in his lists he always tried to have a good mix of tanks, troops and artillery.

We had a lot fun playing the games the first day we got in 3 games and we played with the winter rules form the nuts book, we randomized what rules we would use. Nate thought up rolling a D3 for the amount of rules we use, then we rolled that many D6s to see what rules form the list we ended up using.

One of the most epic moments in our last game on day one, was when all but one of Nate's stugs slipped on the Ice, on my turn I bailed 3 of them and had my ranged on marker for the next few turns. The HQ tank (the one on the left) got away. The rest suffered 2 turns of re-ranging in British artillery, mike target style attacks because of the massive amount of green counter's that attacked his tanks.

Now to my lists! So after Playing 4 games here is my revised British lists, AKA what I would run on a normal basis for fun (I don't really build tournament lists to win anymore because I have all the models I really want, so prizes don't entice me. In fact for the past 3 years I have been seeing tournaments more as a place where i can get 3-5 games in of flames of war in a row. And that is all I need to get me there.) Anyways back to the two British lists that I am liking, first off from Hell's Highway, A Irish Guards infantry list.

Company HQ
HQ 40

Combat platoons

Guards Rifle platoon 185
 (Full Rifle platoon)
Guards Rifle platoon 185
 (Full Rifle platoon)Guards Rifle platoon 145
 (2/3 Rifle platoon)

Weapons platoons
Guards Carrier patrol  100
 (1 Carrier patrol)
Guards mortar platoon 155
 (Full, 3" heavy mortar platoon, 4 tubes.)
Guards Anti tank platoon 155
 (Full, 4 6 pdr Guns)

Brigade Support platoons
Guards Armored platoon 390 (2 Sherman V and 2 Firefly VC tanks)
Guards Armored platoon 390 (2 Sherman V and 2 Firefly VC tanks)

This army is light on the artillery for my liking, but I wanted to try something new, most notably the tanks. I really like how this list worked out. I will have to play test this list out more but its a strong contender list with everything being Guards and Confident Vets.

The game that I played this list in went well for me. It was brake through, and the game swung my way after I was able to blunt the spear head attack of Nate's army and consolidated in enough time to welcome his flanking attack. The tanks make the list a lot less static and gave me a lot of table control that I would not normally have in my lists while at the same time not going to overboard on the amount of armor I bring.

The 2nd list I like panders to my Artillery needs. I was trying to find a normal confident trained British Rifle platoon in turning tide and was disappointed (for a moment) to find that I was not able to use my 25pdrs and my 5.5 together in a normal British rifle lists. So I went for the next best thing to a "Real British list" and took Canadians (or as a true British player will call it "Brand X")

And so the "Lorried" Canadian list.

Company HQ
HQ 25

Combat platoons

Rifle platoon 150
 (Full Rifle platoon)
Rifle platoon 150
 (Full Rifle platoon)Rifle platoon 150
 (Full Rifle platoon)

Weapons platoons
Carrier patrol  175
 (2 Carrier patrols with extra MGS on 2 and 2 that have a PIAT)
Anti tank platoon 110
 (2/3, 4 6 pdr Guns)

Divisional Support platoons
Armored platoon 290 (3 Sherman V and 1 Firefly VC tanks)
Field Battery Royal Artillery 260
 (With 8 25pdr guns)
Corps Medium Battery Royal Artillery 415 
 (With 8 5.5 Guns)
AOP plane 25

This list is an interesting list, with only 8 starting platoons the reserves become tricky meaning that I would only really start with 2 rifle platoons and all my artillery but on the attack this list invokes night time rules to get up close. This list relies heavily on mike target to clear the objectives while my main force is on it's way to them. Once deployed fully this list spans out to 11 platoons making me only take company moral when 6 of them are destroyed and that is a lot of work.  The two Eight guns batteries are really nice and really earn there points. This list has it all, and it is really balanced  I really like balanced lists like this but not all the armies in flames can do this at this scale. 

So after 4 games I am impressed with the British Sherman platoons, with the fireflies you can do a lot of damage on the heaver models and still have some Sherman V in there to cheapen the platoon point costs and add some support and fodder to keep your fireflies alive. 

-Andrew Haught 

Friday, November 2, 2012

New in plastic 2 Malifaux edition

First off I am sorry this blog is coming out so late, Wyrd forgot my order and I only just got my gencon order a few days ago, but it is nice that I am able to review these right after the flames of war models came out.

This blog will be about the models themselves, followed by my grades of grade-y-ness. First off this box set had no assembly instructions and the spure was all mixed up. I found it vary confusing at first, but I was able to piece the set together. Each of the pieces had a unique way of fitting together, so that you would be hard pressed to mess things up too much by guessing what goes to what. I would say that lack of instructions is a big fail, but I am not sure all there sets are like this. In fact I bought the Lazarus model and it had a nice detailed instruction sheet. I am thinking that due to the speed that they wanted to get these things out that the sheet was overlooked. 

   When building this box set's models don't go through and cut everything out. Pick a model like the totem or Ototo and one by one find the pieces that go to it and slowly cut the pieces out as needed. This slow construction helped me pinpoint what goes with what leaving me with some final bits that I was able to find a home for.   

The detail on these models are really nice, I really like the In action poses and the over all look of the new models. I also like where the broke the models up and how they glue to themselves.

 One of the issues for me for these models and its not really a major issue is how they glue to the bases. None of the models have the base insert like there metal counterparts to glue into the base to secure the model,  In fact Musaki and one of the Torakage only have one foot on the base, Musaki can be glued to the magic foot thing but the Torakage only has the one contact point. I ended up gluing the Torakage to a rock so that both of its feet were touching the base.

 It does scare me that weak contact points is a common trend in some of the newer malifaux models. The models look sweet but they are highly breakable. Some metal models have these same issues too like the new Bette nor and the Freecorps Liberian. There must be a balance between sweet looking models and stable more practicable models.

The next issue with the models is that they don't always fit the bases they come with, this I know is a more personal issue but the totem and one of the Torakage (as shown above) don't actually fit on the bases given. For the totem making it a bit smaller like 25-50% smaller would have been cool, in fact it would be more fox sized then large wolf for me. 

The totem itself is a scale thing for me, yes bigger models are sometimes cooler but step back and think about how much cooler (and Cough-cuter-Cough) it would have looked if it was half the size it is. The Torakage could have been a easy fix if they just made his stance a bit less wide, in both cases i fixed the issue with some cork board rocks that i had go over the edge. 

I just can't get over how much cooler the totem would have looked if it was allot smaller and less the size of a huge wolf. There may be fluff talking about how it was a huge fox but man it would have been cooler if it were the correct fox size.  

All in all though the good things about these models out way its bad qualities.

The detail is stunning and the movement of the models are great. There are some worries I have about some of the chains and the  hard plastic braking but the result of these plastics is far beyond any fantasy miniatures plastics I have ever seen.

So now lets get down to the grades

Price: B (all malifaux models are reasonably priced and lets hope it stays that way unlike GW models)
Detail  A
Construction B- (only for this box set, since it does not come with much needed instructions)
Construction on Lazarus A+
Innovation A+

So the over all grade is an "A". Great start for malifaux plastics. Lets hope there next go at plastics has more instructions, the models fit better on there bases and have stronger contact points. If they have all those things then they will easily score an A+ on there next review from me.

Tune in next time as we go into the time vortex on "Whispers form the last war"!


Thursday, November 1, 2012

New in plastic! Part 1

Two games that I play this year have taken there first steps into plastic models. Malifaux and Flames of war. Those who know me know I'm not a fan of plastic, but both games are improving the format. Though it is still early days for both, both games are changing my mindset on plastics for the better. In this first part I am going to go over the Allied half of the flames of war 2 player boxset and grade them using my new grading grades of grades.  Soon I will have part two up where I will go over the models i got from malifaux.

The new 2 player open fire boxset is massive (note the picture above shows 2 boxsets laid out not one) . My friend Nate and I got 2 boxes and split them up so that I got the Allies and he took the Germans. So I am going to focus on the Allies models for this review since those are the ones I have worked with so far.

The first thing that I noticed when picking up this boxset was the price, its a steal at 70.00 for what you get, each box has the following models,

For the Axis
 3 stugG, 2 platoons of German infantry, and a unit of 2 pak 40s

For the Allied
6 Sherman tanks, 2 Firefly Sherman tanks, and 1 platoon of US airborne.

The allied tanks alone in official flames of war models is worth well over 70.00. Buying the 8 Allied tanks themselves, at normal flames of war tank prices of 12.50 each will cost you 100.00 in total so money is really saved when buying this boxset.

On top of the models you get a set of dice for each side, carbord cut out tokens, a full rulebook, a nice set of carboard terrain, a small army book that covers the basic rules, both army lists and the free for all mission.

Now for the models themselves, I ended up getting two sets of the allied side of the boxset. I ended up with 16 tanks and 2 platoons of infantry.  While building the infantry I fell in love with the level of detail they have. The models are really nice to look at. It is clearly an improvement on there metal counterparts.

One of the new things that is fantastic about these new plastics are the slotted bases that the models fit in perfectly. I do believe that even the newer metal models from now on will have these new slotted bases and they will make basing soo much easier.

Now for the tanks, They are not as easy to put together as there resin and metal counterparts, there are gaps that need to be greenstuffed so keep that in mind when building them.

The detail level on the tanks are nice, I really like the way they look in the end. For there cost, the little bit of extra work that you put into greenstuffing and cleaning the models is way worth it.

Now for something that I really didn't like at first until i played around with it. The turrets don't plug into the tank as normal but use magnets. After playing around with it I really like the magnets. The turrets move around just fine and don't fall off due to the magnets, so it works really well and adds more to the value of the models in my mind. The only downside to the tanks is a lack of decals for the models, but those are easy enough just to go out and buy and at these prices I don't really mind doing so.

Gaming wise the box has most of what you need to play, all you need to add is a measuring tape and one of the flames of war artillery templates (for the US mortar teams).  The box has so many things in it that it feels like a board game, save the 2 things I listed above you could buy this and play it like a board game just using just the models in the box. For me the allied models are perfect to run the Irish guards tank company in "Hell,s highway" book, so I will be adding some more models to the boxset as I go along. I shall have some painting blogs on this army down the line as well so keep an eye open for that.

So the final thoughts of on the flames of war models is that its for there cost they are a massive steal. I give flames of war's first attempt at full plastic models an A+.
So for grades
Price: A+
Detail  A+
Construction B+
Innovation A

For those getting the boxset and those who are new to flames of war check out this really helpful page for building the open fire models and for those learning the game there are some great intro videos. http://www.flamesofwar.com/hobby.aspx?art_id=3413

Next Time on "Whispers from the last war"! I think i hear ... Lightning?