Tuesday, May 20, 2014
|(The village of Biswail Swp Tyno)|
Due to my work schedule, I wasn't be able to attend the whole event, but one of the two games I managed to participate in was the SAGA Tournament, hosted by Sven Lugar.
Normally, I'm not a tournament competitor, but this year I was motivated to sign up, because of my recent Dark Ages figure purchase nearly a month ago.
I read the rules--twice--along with two of the supplements, Northern Fury and The Raven's Shadow. That was the extent of my "battlefield prep."
The weekend prior to the convention, I found the time to organize a six-point warband, with an additional point Sven allowed us for tactical flexibility.
Dan's former collection consists primarily of Welsh, who according to the SAGA rules are very adept at guerrilla-style warfare. Since this would be my first time ever playing the game, I felt the hit & run tactics employed by the Welsh would be just my mug of mead.
After I mustered my warband, the writer in me took over, and decided my miniature minions needed a place somewhere in Welsh countryside to call home.
And so...With the help of the University of Wales translator, Biswail Swp Tyno--Dung Heap Dale--was founded.
This hamlet is based on the Orc Village model I unearthed from my collection, seen in the lead image, was made by Games Workshop way-back-when (a poetic expression of saying it's been out of print for years). This terrain piece hasn't seen the light of day in any game session--ever--for two decades, at least. I felt it was high time it made it's debuted appearance...
...Before I go on though...I know translating a language is more than inserting a foreign word for a native one. Using the university's translator, I selected individual words that struck my fancy, and spliced them together in a manner that seemed to roll off my non-Welsh tongue the best. I'm sure I butchered the language, so my apologies in advance to anyone of Welsh descent, or currently living in Wales who happens stumble across this blog...
...And now to continue...This unworthy a collection of hovels was desperately in-need of an equally unworthy nobleman/warlord, or uchelwr, to lead it and it's not-so-valiant defenders. While scrolling through Behind the Name's site, I came across "Culhwch," who was quite a hero of Welsh mythology.
I certainly wouldn't be so presumptuous to think my wargame warlord would arise to become the stuff of legends. But what stood out to me the most, was that the meaning of his name has something to do with pigs.
This was too good to pass up...And lo!...My main miniature was thereby christened Culhwch.
How the legendary Culhwch earned his name may be lost in the mists of time, but there are a few facts we can extrapolate. For instance, it's well known even in this day of air fresheners, handi-wipes, and hand sanitizers, that pigs exude a stench industrial-strength solvents can't smother. Coming from a place known as Dung Heap Dale then, I think it's safe to assume this noble's ignoble title, y Drewllyd--the Foul, or Evil Smelling--will cling to him, like stink on...well...dung.
The result of all this
Uchelwr Culhwch y Drewllyd am Biswail Swp Tyno
|(Culhwch with his bannerman and herald)|
When exactly "Stinky C" ruled Biswail is uncertain. Back in the Dark Ages, the only folks concerned with actual dates were monks who busied themselves scribbling texts in Latin. So we could find Culhwch repelling, (which may not always be the same as fighting), all sorts of interlopers and despoilers of the fresher Welsh pasturelands. But despite the uncertainty of the year--and the ability to attract swarms of flies--"Stinky C" managed to managed to attract competent fighters to his begrimed banner.
First and foremost, are his teulu, or bodyguards, often referred to as hearthguards during this era. For the Welsh, these guys were often a warlord's kinsmen.
Now according to the these rules, the Welsh were primarily armed with javelins, or throwing spears.
This includes the warlord and his hearthguard. The figures I have representing Cuhlwch and his kin, were previously used in Warhammer Ancient Battles (WAB) games, that employ a different set of game mechanics. I can't help but think these guys look more like Alexander the Great's sarissa-wielding Macedonians, then the nimble insurgents of the Welsh hinterlands.
Well as long as it's okay with any would-be opponents, I'll just say these guys are carrying very-very long javelins...
...But whether or not the hearthguard's spears measure up, the next group down the food chain are the priodaur or freemen.
|(Culhwch's Cylchres Tarians)|
The first group, seen above, are the Cychres Tarians, or the "Round Shields." I know it's not very imaginative, but the name does sound cool in Welsh.
|(Culhwch's Petrual Tarians)|
I did this so my simple mind could keep track of who's who in the heat of medieval mayhem.
Both units consist of eight warriors and cost a point each. Massed together, they almost look formidable:
|(The combined Priodaurs)|
Lurking at the bottom of Biswail's food chain reside the bonnedig, or peasantry.
|(The Biswail Bonnedigs armed with bows)|
This brings Culhwch's force to a total of six points, which is what a typical SAGA tournament force costs.
With the additional point Sven allowed us, (for a total of 7), I mustered another group of spearmen (which again, will be considered javelins for game purposes) :
|(Bonnedigs or Priodaurs?)|
Now these guys aren't carrying shields. So in the spirit of tactical flexibility for any SAGA games, I'm leaving it open as to whether they're freemen or peasants. The above picture shows 12 men ready for action--or more likely--ready to hurl their javelins before running away. If I ever feel I need quality over quality, then this shield-less unit will consist of only eight men. (In SAGA, one point will buy you 4 x hearth guards, 8 x warriors, or 12 x levies).
No matter what step on the social ladder these lads occupy, they're known as the Dim Tarians, the "No Shields."
By now, you're probably wondering whether a man such as Culhwch y Drewllyd and his band of medieval misfits could have ever existed.
Allow me to put any such debate to rest.
Feast your eyes upon the recently discovered
As to how well this warband do during the Enfilade! SAGA Tournament:
That, dear readers, is a saga for another day...
Monday, May 19, 2014
As any member of the Northwest Historical Miniature Gaming Society (NHMGS) will tell you, "t'is that time of year."
That is, time for our annual Enfilade! Miniature Game Convention.
Pre-registration ended a couple weeks ago, but you should be able to sign-up at the door . (Yeah, I need to improve on the timeliness of my public service announcements).
This year's theme is:
What's not obscure though, is information you'll need to find, and stay, at the Red Lion Inn, Olympia, WA.
If you don't have time enough to game, there's the ever-popular Bring & Buy, along with vendors from all over the region selling their wares.
If you can't make Enfilade! at all this year, be sure to check out the NHMGS website for other conventions, game days, and other happenings scheduled during any given year.
And schedule time off for next year's Memorial Day Weekend!
Sunday, May 18, 2014
Based on today's entertainment news, the new Godzilla movie stomped on all competitors. My wife and I though, were too busy and too tired to go and see it. Instead, we plugged-in my DVD of the made-for-American-audiences original, Godzilla, King of the Monsters!
I have a copy of THE original Gojira, which neither of us have seen yet, but we didn't feel like "reading a movie."
I was a pre-teen when I first saw Godzilla on a late night monster movie show. I've seen it a few times since, along with a slew of Kaiju films, but I haven't seen the 1956 film in a few decades at least.
While it's hard to knock a classic, it's obvious the scenes with Steve Martin (Raymond Burr not the famous comedian) were spliced into the movie.
The main characters have their backs turned to the audience, or their faces are obscured when they're supposedly interacting with Steve Martin.
As to the special effects, well, Godzilla would be the first of many Toho Pictures featuring a man in a rubber suit.
Which is still better than a several SyFy Channel movies.
Godzilla, King of the Monsters garners 6.7 out of 10 stars on IMDb.
A definite oldy-but-a-goodie.
Friday, May 16, 2014
I guess my gaming buddies and I are currently on a sci-fi kick lately. My last post was a recap of Twilight Imperium. Today, I'll tackle Federation Commander--Klingon Border.
Okay, this game has been out for nearly a decade, but none of us have been able "boldly go" into this latest variant of Star Fleet Battles (SFB) until now. Of the five of us that gathered this past weekend, (Dan, Dale, Dallas, Daniel--The D4s?--and I), three of us grew up playing SFB back-in-the-day when it started as a pocket edition for about $5.
Now all of us like SFB, and still reminisce about our games-of-yore, which included self-made campaigns involving planetary economies and fleet actions that took entire weekends to play out.
But--many of us didn't like the complex space amoeba SFB morphed into--something that would absorb all of one's free time to merely studying the rules just to keep up with the latest changes/editions/addendums/errata/new ships/bizarre new races/etc.
While SFB certainly deserves it's induction into the Academy of Adventure Gaming, Art & Design Hall of Fame, I think the only people who play continue to play SFB only play SFB and very few--if any--other games.
For the rest of us weary souls, Federation Commander (FC) has been a welcome oasis in the Desert of Rules Complexity. I could go on & on about the differences between SFB and FC, but instead, just think of it as a leaner & cleaner version of SFB.
Gone are the rules that added to SFB's ever-growing complexity. Although many of us actually liked SOME of the rules that were jettisoned from the Rules Revision Airlock. I for one liked transporter bombs, legendary crews and officers, along with the fast attack boats (horrendously termed as "pseudo-fighters"). But, desperate means calls for desperate measures and all that.
And speaking of discarding unwanted baggage, when FC hit the game store shelves, many of us jettisoned our SFB collection, albeit with mixed feelings. Rest assured though, it's not like we ceremoniously burned our old SFB collection in a funeral pyre. Instead, we found them good homes via E-bay, used game outlets, or pawned them off on friends.
Now, enough of the Memory Alpha research and on to our game at hand, starting with the set-up...
I set up the board the night prior along with all the counters I thought we'd need. FC provides two sets of counters: The traditional color-coded 1/2-inch and the ship-paint scheme 1-inch counters. I was intending to play using the 1 inch counters, until Dale surprised us with his collection of what can be basically described as prototype miniatures. (The current standards are the Starline 2400 Series, the Starline 2425 Series and the Starline 2500 Series).
I have a small painted collection, which I bought from Dan a couple years back. However, I really liked Dale's collection since the figures fit so well on to the 1-inch hexes. Sadly, these miniatures didn't make it that far past the "prototype" stage and are of limited variety, consisting primarily of cruisers.
This being the case though, we decided on a cruiser vs cruiser duel, pitting two Federation heavy cruisers (CAs) captained by Dallas and I, against two Klingon D-7 Battlecruisers (BCs) initially ruled by Dan and Dale. Daniel arrived later, "staged a coup" on Dan's ship, so Dan became the game's Rules Guru.
Here's the ensuing action that followed (comments on the rules are in blue):
The heavy cruisers Quernado and Prado Verde, (named after two tiny towns in Texas; population 261 and 213, respectively), were on patrol in a contested volume of space somewhere "out in the black."
(Cue Klingon "Battle Music").
The IKVs (Imperial Klingon Vessels) Blood and Gore, raced across the border.
All vessels immediately launched drones (another SFB term I hate and prefer to simply call them missiles).
These, along with the powerful plasma torpedoes employed by the Romulans and Gorns, are classified as seeking weapons. That is, they're represented by counters and home-in on their targets. These weapons can be annoying at best, diverting much-needed phaser power towards defensive fire, but deadly at worst once they impact.
But before these seeking weapons either impacted, or were destroyed by defensive fire; the Quernado and Blood exchanged phaser and heavy weapons fire, disruptors for the Klingons and photon torpedoes from the Federation.
I have mixed-feelings about photon torpedoes, which unlike the plasma ones, are considered direct-fire weapons. Which means, once they're fired there's nothing the target ship can do to stop it from impacting. Provided of course--they actually hit. Plus, unlike Klingon disruptors, photon torpedoes take two turns to load, arm and fire.
The Quernado got the worst of it in the initial volley, which destroyed the #1 (forward) shield. "Fortunately," when the drones struck, one was taken out by defensive fire, while the survivor impacted against the #6 (left-forward) shield.
Another nice thing about FC, is the Ship System Displays (SSDs) are pre-laminated and color-coded, as seen here:
Some ships are more maneuverable than others, based on their turn mode. A turn mode number is the amount of hexes (considered to be 10,000 kilometers wide) vessels have to move forward, before it can turn. The faster any ship goes, the harder it is to turn. To keep track of when and where a ship previously turned, "turn point" counters are utilized.
Here the Klingon and Federation cruisers exchanged some medium-range volleys.
Ships can also "slip." That is, do something of a forward-side sashay, which provides some additional tactical maneuverability. A ship has to move forward one hex before it can slip again, so "slip point" counters are used.
Remember what I said about some ships being more maneuverable than others? Well, the Federation CAs are some of the most well-rounded ships in the game, designed for a "...five year mission, to explore strange new worlds, seek out new civilizations..." etc, so on and so forth. Unfortunately, this makes them less maneuverable than their Klingon counterparts, designed only to subjugate and conquer.
So the Blood and Gore got behind us...
...and closed fast.
Most games of SFB/FC often devolve into a point-blank, do-or-die furball. Our game was no exception.
In this case, it was the Quernado and the Blood traded blows with overloaded heavy weapons (increasing the firepower up to twice the normal yield). Meanwhile, the Prado Verde and the Gore exchanged a shot or three.
At the end of the mutual salvo, the Quernado looked like this...
...while the Blood was also hemorrhaging fuel and oxygen, along with anything--or anyone--that wasn't bolted down.
The Prado Verde exchanged more shots with the Gore..
...and slipped past both Klingon cruisers, because at this point everyone fired-off their weapons.
Damage control parties on every ship were now gainfully employed. So it was a race to see who could repair weapons and power systems first. As the Blood closed-in on the Quernado...
...the Gore and Prado Verde once again traded some side-shots.
Eventually though, the Gore got behind the Prado Verde and launched two drones (not seen in this picture).
At 10,000 kilometers, the Blood's damage control parties repaired enough weapons...
...to blast the Quernado to atoms.
Prior to the "furball moment," both Federation cruisers were forced to make high-energy turns (HETs) in order to obtain better firing positions.
An HET allows a vessel to turn in any direction, and according to the FC rules, all ships are allowed to make one HET with no consequences. After this freebie though, any time a ship makes a subsequent HET, it has a 50% chance of suffering a breakdown.
With two drones bearing down on the Prado Verde's #4 (rear) non-existent-due-to-battle-damage shield, the Federation cruiser was forced to make another HET, otherwise it couldn't outmaneuver the drones.
Unfortunately, the Prado Verde pressed it's luck too far and suffered the dreaded breakdown. On the "plus side," the drones impacted the fully operational #6 shield. By this time, both ships suffered heavy damage.
Well, since V'Ger wasn't on hand to handle the Klingons, the Federation certainly lost this encounter. How badly depends on whether you ask a Klingon or Federation player.
The Prado Verde was either:
a. Finished off by the Gore, or
b. Managed to disengage.
Since I'm writing this--yes--Federation biased battle report, I'm going with "b." the more "happier ending."
But for you Klingon aficionados out there: Here's a fine selection of celebratory music for you to do your victory dance to.
Final thoughts on Federation Commander game-play:
Both "SFB Old Spacers" and "Cadets" among us really enjoyed Federation Commander.
If you've played SFB for any length of time, you'll immediately understand the combat mechanics of FC, which is nearly, if not outright, identical to SFB.
When I initially read the movement mechanics section, I had some trouble comprehending the changes, until we actually started playing. Basically, movement went from a 32-impulse simultaneous movement mechanic, to an 8-impulse one, with each impulse containing 4-"sub-pulses." I know this sounds confusing just reading it, but trust me, once you play a turn or three, it will (should?/maybe?) make sense to you.
You might find other aspects of FC's rules that require a hands-on game session to understand.
What us old spacers also liked about FC was the streamlined power allocation and book keeping. There's no longer any need to write orders to allocate power to the shields, sensors, scanners, life support, food synthesizers...okay I'm exaggerating about the food synthesizers. But as any SFB player can attest to, SFB required a lot of book keeping that one felt they might as well toss in a point of power to keep the crew fed. And keep in mind--this is just for one ship.
Now in FC, all this stuff--minus the food synthesizers--is "factored in." That is, it comes from the nebulous "somewhere" in the engineering section.
This makes for more responsive and streamlined decision making.
All of us look forward to playing again.
Even us Federation players.
Thursday, May 15, 2014
Here's another History of Godzilla video. This one includes the various Godzilla comics.
I've watched a bunch of Godzilla movies, including the 1998 version (and liked it), but I've never read any of the Godzilla comics.
It looks like I've got some catching up to do.
Earlier this year, I watched the Starlit Citadel review of Twilight Imperium; a game I played once, so long ago, I forgot nearly everything about it. But as Fate would have it , few weeks ago, my friend Joe wanted to play TI3 (as the 3rd Edition of the game is referred to as). Together with my daughter's boyfriend Dallas, we managed to play, more or less to completion, this epic space conquest game.
The entire game report, Twilight Triumvirate, in comic format, can be read here, or under the Studio Pages in the top left tab of this blog.
This game of cosmic conquest can be played by 3-6 (eight with the Shattered Empires expansion) and is of moderate complexity. While each individual rule is simple in and of itself, the complexity level rises because the rules taken as a whole, force players to balance and coordinate layers of economic, diplomatic, political, technological and military power to achieve their objectives. Not to mention all the cards, status counters and plastic playing pieces (a.k.a. "fiddly bits") to keep track of.
The geomorphic (astromorphic?) map, along with random selection of races and card-draw, guarantees players won't be playing the same game twice. The process of constructing the interstellar terrain is quite extensive, normally involving all the players. Since time was of the essence, Dallas and I assembled the three-player galaxy the night prior to our session and randomly selected which races would be the card-carrying members of our galactic triumvirate.
|(Our Three-Player Galaxy)|
When Joe arrived, we randomly determined who would represent each race. Joe got the Sardakk N'Orr (warrior bugs), Dallas the Mentak Coalition (space pirates) and I ended up with the Yin Brotherhood (clones).
Rule mechanic-wise game went fairly well, considering Joe and I have only played it once before, while this was Dallas' first exposure to the game.
The two major items we misplayed were the Action Phase and the production portion of the Activation Sequence.
Normally, in the Action Phase a player can do one of the following--
--conduct a Strategic Action
--conduct a Tactical Action
--conduct a Transfer Action
--or he can Pass
In our game we played a Strategic Action followed by a Tactical Action each turn. Basically, we did two actions per phase instead of one. I felt that something wasn't right and the turns had an odd feel to it. But since we were in the thick of playing the action, I didn't realize what we did wrong until several days later--and with the help of some tutorials available on YouTube.
As far as producing new units, we simply built whatever we could afford at the moment. We somehow forgot we needed to use an activation counter (which depicted the level of command & control one is capable of exerting) to do so. As a result, our collective industrial capacity was higher than normal.
As the Yin Brotherhood player, I realized I overlooked some aspects of this race after re-reading material for this blog post and game report--
--The Yin are fanatics and could use their destroyers to make kamikaze attacks against specific ships in an enemy fleet.
--They can also swap a planet's Resource Rating (economic power) and it's Influence Rating (political power) for one round.
Next time we play, and if I end up with the Yin again, hopefully I'll remember all this.
On the plus side, we felt the game was much more interesting using the Distant Suns Option. Under this rule, Distant Suns counters are placed inverted on each planet. Each one represented a hidden benefit or danger to any player landing ground units on unexplored/unclaimed planets. In on-line forums, some players feel this option slows the game down. This may indeed be true. But I think otherwise the opening phases of the game would merely be a long series of "expand-build-expand-build" actions, with a dash of political/economic backstabbing, until players' forces come in contact with each other.
Overall, TI3 does well at immersing players in a star-spanning saga of political intrigue, financial finagling, diplomatic double-dealing and cosmic conquest.
Wednesday, May 14, 2014
My previous Nerdlist video post glossed over the history of Godzilla movies.
Now in this short, Kyle Hill discusses if a creature such as Godzilla could even exist.
Nerds everywhere (even here) are excited about the new Godzilla movie which opens in a couple days (May 16th 2014).
Nerdlist has been running a "Godzilla Week" for the past several days. The attached video gives a brief history of the Godzilla movies.
I remember the first time I saw Godzilla. It was on a late night monster movie program. I can't say I've watched every Godzilla film, but I've watched a slew of them. Including a bunch of other "kaiju movies" as they're now called.
And unlike a lot of other Godzilla fans, I even like the 1998 version.
|(Movie poster for the 1998 Godzilla)|
Sunday, May 11, 2014
Monday, May 5, 2014
Normally, I'm not prone to impulse buying. However, when my friend Dan, one of the many talented miniature painters I know, offered to sell his Dark Ages collection at a "garage sale price," it was:
Damn the budget and full speed ahead!
I haven't had the time to do a full-stage photo session, but I promise I'll do so as soon as possible. In the meantime, here's an overview of my new acquisition:
Dan's collection primarily consists of Welsh and Norman troops with a smattering of Norsemen, and maybe some Irish. Here's a semi-close up of Welsh and Normans...
...while this container houses more Welshman, along with some Norsemen:
About a year ago, I bought a small Welsh warband Dan was selling, which is now re-united with the rest of their comrades-in-arms:
In addition to being a top-notch painter, Dan added magnetic strips to the bottom of each figure. This way miniatures stay-put inside the metal storage containers.
The biggest surprise, came when I opened an oblong box from Merrimack Miniatures (No Old Glory Miniatures), which contained this beautifully painted longship:
Dan didn't tell me he was including this in the deal! I could have been knocked over by a raven's feather.
It even comes with a "cleared deck" or "rowing deck" option:
And these were just the painted figures. I've got a bunch of unpainted miniatures, which to be honest, I don't have the time or talent to paint at the moment. Although I'm definitely hanging on to the unpainted longship crew, and two-figure special of Brian Boru (mounted and on foot).
|(Image from: Lightning Strike Comics)|
While some of my friends still play Warhammer Ancient Battles (WAB), and Dan threw in a few supplement books, others have moved on to the new skirmish-level game, Saga.
"Skirmish gaming" means one figure represents one individual, rather than scores, or even hundreds of men, common in larger scale (big battle) miniature games. So you don't need umpteen figures to fight a battle.
Saga also has a unique command & control system, which uses battleboards to determine what actions a would-be warlord can make, depending on the roll of his specialized Saga Dice. Here are the Anglo-Danish and Viking battleboards and dice, which are two of the four factions included in the main rulebook:
The other two factions are the Normans and Welsh:
Northern Fury was the first Saga Supplement produced, which added the Scots, Bretons, Anglo-Saxons and Jomsvikings to the mix:
The Raven's Shadow came next and added the Irish, Franks, Norse Gaels and Strathclydes:
Additional Saga products currently are: Varjazi and Basileus, along with a full line of miniatures from Gripping Beast. Apparently, there's been a delay in their latest supplement, The Crescent & the Cross (crusading skirmishes).
Purchasing Dan's collection at this point in time proved to be quite fortuitous. It's less than two weeks away from our annual Enfilade convention.
So I decided to throw caution to the winds in true Viking fashion, and signed up for the Saga Tournament hosted by Sven Lugar.
Due to my work schedule, I'll have enough time to read the core rulebook before plunging into battle. Regardless of what fate awaits my tabletop warband, the outcome will be worth either a grand & glorious YouTube movie--complete with dramatic music--or more than likely, an ingloriously short blogpost with as few incriminating photos as possible...
|(Image: Olaf Tryggvason's Last Stand by Angus McBride)|
In addition to the Gripping Beast website, additional Saga information can be plundered at: