Tuesday, October 2, 2012

FallCon 2012

This last weekend I went to FallCon in Calgary for the first time.  This is a major yearly gaming convention in Western Canada, with a lot of people in attendance.  Several other gamers from Edmonton went at around the same time, for example Mark and Terry.  Don Ray and others from the Calgary Camp Followers organized several DBA-related events that I attended, and I took quite a few photos.

A great venue for the convention.

When I arrived on Friday night, the first event at FallCon that I attended was the "Friday Knights" DBA tournament, a Medieval-themed series of games.  I used my Komnenan Byzantine army.

Before the tournament started, I happened to finish a fortune cookie that hopefully foretold how well I would do.

The first game, I played against Don's Anglo-Normans.  This was an interesting game where the bad terrain in the middle of the board was bad for both of our armies, and my archers on the left flank faced off against his archers on his right flank.  Things ground back and forth for quite a while before some lucky rolls allowed me to narrowly win.

Here, you can see my archers on the left, having eliminated his archers, trying to contend with some dismounted knights.

The second game, I played against an army with quite a few spear elements.  However, I don't quite remember which one it was.  The spears on my left fared badly against my knights, and I think I won a comfortable victory there.

The third game, I played against a colourful Medieval French army.  I refused my right flank and engaged his right, hoping to take out his artillery.

However, his artillery was tougher than expected, and killed one of my light horse attacking it, even with a closed door!  Eventually though, I got rid of it, and destroyed enough of his knights to eke out a win.  The funny thing though, is that the overall winner of the tournament turned out to be Mark, who used an army that didn't even have any knights! :)

After a fun Friday night, on Saturday morning I hosted a 3 vs. 3 HoTT game.  Since this was HoTT, any thing could go unit-wise, and we sure had quite a variety of them.

Mark, Terry, and I all had our fantasy armies from the current EDBAG campaign, but the Calgarians in the game had a combination of Arabic, colonial British, and Indian units, which they based on 60mm wide temporary bases.  We coached them through the game as I think all of them are new to the rules.

My side in the game lost when the center (with fire-breathing camel behemoths!) broke and Terry's army was able to break through.  A fun time was had by all.

On Saturday afternoon, we had the "Pirates of the Aegean" DBA tournament, and on Saturday night, I participated in a game of "Werewolf", a great social game.  However, I didn't take any pictures for those events, which is too bad, since I won "Pirates of the Aegean".

Sunday morning was the time for the Alberta Open DBA tournament, and I entered it with my West Frankish/Norman army.

The first game was against Mark's Norse-Irish.  He used the terrain to his advantage and managed to block my knight-heavy army, who are afraid to charge into bad going.  He managed to win by killing a couple of my units and hold out until the time limit ended the game.

The second game went better for me.  I played Dennis' Seleukid army, which despite being a fairly good anti-knight army, lost enough units to give me a narrow victory.

The third game, I fought against Marco's Christian Nubian army, which also had home-court advantage in a terrain setup with dunes and rough going.  However, my archers managed to defeat enough of his psiloi and warband in rough going to win.

This was a great convention, and everyone had a great time.  I look forward to going again next year!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Space Combat

I usually don't post anything about non-miniature games here, but this is something I really want to spread around.  There is a computer game called "TorchShips" in development, and they are looking for backing on KickStarter.  This is a hard SF space combat game that takes into account Newtonian motion and other realistic scientific concepts.  Since most of the math is handled by the computer, it should actually be quite fun.  Anyhow, if anyone's interested, you should check out the video and consider backing it:


Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Squadron Strike Game at MayDay

This last Saturday I hosted a Squadron Strike game at MayDay, our local gaming convention.  This was an interesting experience for me since I'd never hosted a game this complex before, and I had no idea how the players would adapt.  It all turned out quite well though, and we all had a lot of fun.

Initially, only two players signed up for the game, so I assumed this was final and emailed them links to the simple AVT/Squadron Strike introduction flyers on Ad Astra Games' website.  They actually read and understood most of it and went to the game prepared.  However, right before the game the organizers of the convention sent a couple of extra players my way.  When I started explaining the rules, one of the new players, a nice guy I knew from my 40k days, basically ran away. :(  To be fair, he wasn't feeling well and couldn't absorb all the information, and don't worry, he did have fun at another table.  His son, the other new player, was fine with it all and stayed.  So I ended up with three players for my scenario.

The scenario was set in the far off future year of 1985, where a North American Space Command (humans) squadron on patrol made contact with a hostile alien race.  The humans had relatively hard SF ships, with two small corvettes based on the Manned Orbital Laboratory design, and a larger Orion drive ship.  The aliens had bioships, two smaller corvette-sized vessels and a larger cruiser-sized vessel.  The human corvettes each had a beam weapon doing moderate damage up to 15 hexes, with a spherical all-around firing arc.  The alien corvettes each had two forward facing short-ranged beam weapons that did around the same amount of damage, but at a shorter range of 9 hexes max.  The bigger ships were more heavily armed, with the human Orion ship having two forward facing beam weapons of the same type found on the corvettes, a lighter weapon for point-defense, and a heavy beam doing a lot of damage shooting out of the rear arc.  (It was meant to simulate a bomb-pumped laser)  The alien ship had a very long range missile launcher with a spherical arc, and two forward beam weapons like the corvettes.  All ships used mode 2 movement, i.e. fully Newtonian.

The two alien corvettes.
The two human corvettes.
The two bigger ships, the human Orion ship on top, and the alien cruiser on the bottom.
At the start of the scenario, only the two pairs of corvettes were on the board, approaching each other from two perpendicular edges.  You can see all the playing aids scattered around the table.
The human players understood mode 2 movement quite well early on, and they slid their corvettes side-ways to meet the aliens, placing their armoured fronts toward the enemy ships.

For the first couple of turns, the players mostly learned about marking ship orientation and horizontal/vertical thrust on the AVID diagrams representing the ships.

As the ships got closer together, they also got to learn about targeting and firing.

The human ships took advantage of their longer range to concentrate fire on one of the alien corvettes, and it was destroyed pretty quickly.  However, it and its wingman managed to do some damage to one of the human corvettes too.

As per the scenario, the side that lost the first ship had its larger ship arrive on board as reinforcements.  The alien player decided to let the ship cruise slowly and use its long-range missiles.

Here he was figuring out the range for placing missile markers.

The two human ships now concentrated on the one remaining alien corvette.

However, the alien destroyed the damaged human corvette with a close-range shot.

The human corvette was quick to avenge.  This was turning out to be quite a bloody game.

The larger human ship now arrived too.  The human player controlling this ship decided to go for a novel approach - he let the ship fly in backwards, with its heavily armoured rear plate (and bomb-pumped laser) facing the direction of travel.

In the mean time, the remaining corvette kept on shooting down alien missiles, so the cruiser closed in and destroyed it with short-ranged beam weapons.  Up until this point, the players had been flying as if they were in a 2D environment, but they gradually started experimenting with rolling and pivoting the ships, as well as changing their altitude.  Here the alien cruiser actually shot the human corvette from above.

The two big ships now faced each other.  The human player decided to use his front weapons after all, and turned around.  However, his shots were mostly ineffective.

He finally decided to switch back to the rear weapon, and managed to do some damage, including structural damage, to the alien cruiser.

At this point though, we were running out of time, and decided to end the game.  It was a minor victory for the humans, since the remaining alien ship had taken more damage.

In the end, the players all liked the game, and they all ended up with a decent grasp of the mechanics.  The only thing I noticed, as mentioned before, was that when they were unfamiliar with the movement rules, they tended to keep to the 2D plane.  I think it was still too early for them to use 3D maneuvers to their advantage, and what little 3D stuff they did only happened at the end.

I was pleasantly surprised that all the (remaining) players were able to learn the rules well enough.  Of course, it helped that at least one of the players had played Starfleet Battles before, and couldn't be intimidated by complex rules. :)

Squadron Strike is not a quick Tuesday night game, but it looks to be a good ruleset for a Saturday all day game.

Sunday, May 6, 2012


On Saturday, I went to MayDay, the local annual gaming convention organized by some fellow members of the EWG gaming club.  This year had an excellent turn out and was held in a larger venue than last year.  There were many interesting games hosted by volunteers, as well as larger tournaments for Warhammer 40k and DBA.  I hosted a Squadron Strike game, (detailed description to follow in a later post) which went quite well, and also participated in the DBA and Saga tournaments.

The initial position of the Squadron Strike game.  This was the first time I hosted a game this complex, but the players did quite well.
A couple of big ships dueling it out in Squadron Strike.

My first game in the DBA tournament, with my Normans versus Aztecs. (quite an ahistorical matchup!)  I managed to win while losing a couple of units.
My second DBA game, with Normans versus Egyptians.  I suffered the dreaded 6 to 1 roll several times, losing two knight units and my general, and lost the game.
You'd think the third game would go better, but this time I played a very experienced opponent (hi Dave!) who used some inspired maneuvering to kill my general.  So I ended up winning one out of three in the tournament.
The Saga tournament later on went better for me, since it was a new game and all of us were more or less newbies.  Things were on more of an even footing.  The first game I played my Anglo-Danes against Will's Vikings, who were a bit more fantastical than historical.  We had a lot of fun though, and the game ended when Will charged his warlord into my warlord.  Unfortunately for him, a warlord alone always gets killed by a warlord surrounded by underlings.
The second Saga game was against Terry and his recently painted Welsh.  He managed to use terrain and his abilities quite well, and did quite some damage to my Huscarls.  However, I managed to charge my warlord and a bunch of underlings into his warlord, killing him and winning the game.  I'm seeing a pattern here...
I also took some pictures of the other games going on at the same time.  Most of the games were quite nice looking indeed.  Here is a game of parking lot Warhammer 40k.
An English Civil War game run by Dave, with historically accurate banners and everything.  Nice stuff!
Here's one of Bob's games, something based on Battlelore or Command and Colours.

Overall, this was a great event, and my only regret was that I couldn't play more of the games.  The whole "can't be in two places at once" thing was my downfall... Well, until next year.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Alien Ships

I've painted a few alien bioships for the planned Mayday game, as opponents for the other spacecraft I've shown here before.  These are kitbashed from Warhammer 40k Tyranid bits.  I originally wanted to play Battlefleet Gothic with them, but since that game died, they were kept around until now.
First up are a couple of small ships, the equivalents to the corvettes from before.  These are Warhammer 40k Tyranid weapons converted into ships.
This is a cruiser-sized bioship, roughly based on the Battlefleet Gothic Tyranid Razorfiend cruiser, but made from plastic bits.
Here's a size comparison between the cruiser and the Orion frigate from past posts.  The Squadron Strike game will be fairly small, with three ships per side.  The humans will have the Orion and the two corvettes, and the aliens will have the cruiser and the two smaller ships from above.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

3D Stands

I'm planning on running a game of Squadron Strike for Mayday this year, so I've made some 3D flight stands for spacecraft.  Squadron Strike is a board game that allows you to play spaceship combat in 3D with ships from pretty much any universe you want.  There's a ship builder system in the game that lets you design ships with various characteristics.  To convert this to 3D, I'm using a hex map from Hotz and some 3D flight stands.
I'm using a cheap telescoping mirror as the bulk of the stand.  When the mirror and the clip are removed, the rod itself is a great telescoping tube with a rotatable, bendable top.
After putting some washers on the bottom and a rare earth magnet on top, the mirror is now a telescoping stand.  I made several of these.
Because of the magnets on top, I can put any spaceship miniatures with matching magnets on the bottom onto these stands.  Here, you can see the Orion frigate I painted a long time ago in various positions - tilted down 30 degrees, completely vertical, and upside down.
I'm also planning on making some smaller stands for missile and fighter markers.  I'll start with these smaller dollar-store magnetic pickup tools.  Coming soon...

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Saga Warband!

I recently got into the excellent Dark Ages skirmish game SAGA, which uses individually based 28 mm miniatures.  After playing with a Saxon (well, Anglo-Dane) warband at a game, I decided to make one of my own.  It's been a while since I painted things at this scale, so I had a bit of adjustment to do.

All of the following miniatures are from the Wargames Factory Armoured and Unarmoured Saxons boxes.  These are serviceable miniatures, even though they have a bit of a bad reputation.  The annoying thing is that none of their necks fit properly onto their bodies, and a bit of slicing was needed.  The good thing is that being plastic, they are easily convertible.

I converted this Anglo-Dane figure into a warlord by giving him a cape and changing his pose to hold his shield on the ground.  Hopefully he looks leadery enough.

The huscarls and the warlord are the ones with conversions.  I decided to give the huscarls two-handed axes, so I put their shields onto their backs.  This also required putting in shield straps, which the box didn't have, and changing some of their arm poses through cutting and gluing hands.  This way I created the pose where they hold the two-handed axes horizontally in front of their bodies.

 Close-up of a huscarl with a horn.

These are built straight out of the box, with no conversions.  They are supposed to be wealthy, well-equipped warriors, either lower-ranking thanes or wealthier ceorls.

These unarmoured warriors are also built with no conversions.  They are the grunts of the Saxon/Anglo-Dane army.  

As you can see from the close-up, overall these miniatures aren't bad and have enough detail to serve as good wargame pieces.

Considering how much I've been veering away from 1/72s, I probably should change the name of this blog to something more general...