Wednesday, 30 November 2016

On The Paint Table - Rogue Stars

With the upcoming release of Rogue Stars I find myself working on miniatures to prep for that game. While North Star Military Figures has the official figures, I decided to work with what I have.

Like any game that I collect, I like to have two forces for the game. Oddly enough, in my celebration post of six months of Blogging, I posed the question of whether I would ever work with the products from one of the bigger companies. Well, tonight I am.

For one side, I will be using GW Chaos Cultists. These models are quite economical as they come in a 5-pack for $12 Canadian. You won't hear me say this much about the big company, but these figures are a good value for the price.

For an opposing force, I will be using a collection of Reaper and RAFM Miniatures. Now some of these figures, my readers will have already seen in my comparison post between GW and Six Squared Studios Bases. Here, all of my GW figures are on the bases that came with them while all of the Reaper and RAFM Miniatures are on bases by Six Squared Studios.

The Reaper and RAFM models will fill a crew as Merchants while the Cultists will represent Space Pirates. Now lets take a look at these models.

Chaos Cultist vs Reaper Marine
A Chaos Cultist beside a Reaper IMEF Marine

Chaos Cultist vs Reaper Marine
A different Chaos Cultist beside the IMEF Marine. Here the Chaos Cultist model seems didn't quite match up so I added some green stuff to cover the problem. 

Chaos Cultist vs RAFM Mechanic
An RAFM McGrover miniature (from the USX Line) beside a Chaos Cultist.

Alternative Miniatures for Rogue Stars
Another look at McGrover. He is a cool model and will make a great model as a "Space Mechanic."

Alternative Miniatures for Rogue Stars
Sparg the Illyrian Agent by Reaper Miniatures. This guy is clearly going to be one of the wheeler and dealers in the Merchant crew. 

Alternative Miniatures for Rogue Stars
A Merchant Crew gets access to one figure with Military Weapons to help protect them. This will by that guy.

Alternative Miniatures for Rogue Stars
An alien pet by Reaper Miniatures if the points allow. 

Alternative Miniatures for Rogue Stars
A Gray Alien by Reaper Minaitures that would make a great Psionic if points allow. 

Alternative Miniatures for Rogue Stars
A second Gray if points allow. This one will likely not have Psionic powers if I take him. 

Alternative Miniatures for Rogue Stars
This figure is Kristina Erickson by RAFM Miniatures in their Air Ship Pirates line. She will make an excellent Captain for my crew.

Alternative Miniatures for Rogue Stars
This figure is a Pathfinder Miniature by Reaper Miniatures, but she might find a place as a Rogue in my Space Crew.

To be honest, I think I have more figures than points will allow, but there is nothing wrong with building a crew with options.  :)

Also on the paint table are the Highland Infantry that I bought from Crucible Crush.

A set of British Highland Infantry with Special Weapons by Pulp Figures. 

Monday, 28 November 2016

Showcase: British Universal Carrier Mk 1

Now this is a product that I have reviewed before, but I have done some more work to the model since the review. To complete the work, I added the decals. For those that have not applied decals before, I done so by coating the area where I wanted the decal with a Glossy Varnish, applied the decal and then covered it with Matte Varnish. The Glossy Varnish makes the decal much easier to apply and the Matte Varnish eliminates the shine that the Glossy Varnish leaves behind.

Universal Carrier for Bolt Action
Front of a British Universal Carrier Mk1 by Warlord Games. The Decals help complete the look.

Universal Carrier for Bolt Action
All of these Decals came in the British Carrier Section Boxed Set.

Universal Carrier for Bolt Action
Decals on the back of the carrier.

Universal Carrier for Bolt Action
A final side shot of the carrier.
The decals make a huge difference in the appearance of this model and I am happy with how this vehicle turned out. All of the decals on this model came in Warlord Game's British Carrier Section Boxed Set and this vehicle is built as a Mk1 Universal Carrier. The box comes with the parts to make either a Mk1 or Mk2 Universal Carrier. These same parts also come in Warlord's plastic Universal Carrier Model box.

I made one carrier as a Mk1 and the other two as Mk2 carriers to create a way to determine one model from the others. This way, I can identify the Recce Vehicle in the case that I want to field all three carriers at the same time with one in the "Armoured Car" / Recce Vehicle slot.

Until next time, Happy Gaming Everyone!!!

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Review: Bases by 6 Squared Studios

Today, we are going to do a comparison of Six Squared Studios 25mm round bases to GW bases. Right off the top, I will admit wholeheartedly that I am a frugal gamer - so this review is looking through the eyes of a budget conscious gamer.

As a value conscious gamer, the first thing to look at is the prices between the two companies. To make the comparison fair, we will look at the cost of 10 packs. Keep in mind that both companies offer discounts to people that buy bases in larger packs.

Budget Bases for Miniatures
If buying by 10 packs, the GW bases cost $0.60 each while the ones by Six Squared Studios cost $0.19 each.

A 10 pack of round 25mm GW bases costs $6 Canadian. This price is the same no matter if the Slot or Solid bases are chosen. A 10 pack of Six Squared Studios 25mm round bases run $1.99 Canadian. Doing the math, that makes the GW bases $0.60 each while the ones by Six Squared are only $0.19 each. That is 1/3 of the price. But how do they stack up size wise?

Budget Bases for Miniatures
A size comparison of a GW base (on the left) vs a base by 6 Squared (on the Right). The bases by GW are made out of plastic while the ones by 6 Squared are out of MDF.

Size wise, the two companies are virtually the same. The bottom circumference and the height of the bases are the exact same. The GW base does taper in as it goes to the top while the base by Six Squared is straight from top to bottom. For me, that difference is not enough to deter me from using them side by side. Others may not share the same opinion and that is okay. The material used in the GW bases are plastic while the ones by Six Squared are MDF. That is another difference that might make a deter some, but not me.

Budget Bases for Miniatures
Another shot of the two companies bases side by side. One advantage the GW has is that Six Squared Studios do not make slotted bases.
Personally, I use whatever bases I have. I really like the ones by Six Squared Studio's because they are extremely affordable and I find them to be of good quality. I also prefer that the 6 Squared bases are solid all the way through because I glue magnetic sheets on the bottoms for transportation purposes (the GW ones are hollow).

For anyone that has not checked out Six Squared Studios before, check them out. This company is a gold mine for frugal gamers such as myself!

Until next time, Happy Gaming Everyone!!!

Monday, 21 November 2016

Frostgrave: The Well of Dreams and Sorrows Battle Report

Recently, I got a game of Frostgrave in with my friend Dave. For this game, we used just the base rules from the core rule book. The mission that we chose to play was The Well of Dreams and Sorrows. The object of this scenario is to collect treasure, like most of the other missions, but there is a secondary objective to drink from a magical fountain to gain an extra level of experience.

Unfortunately for Dave, this game became a mission of trying to survive the attack of the Killer Giant!!! Will Dave earn the title of Giant Slayer? Read on to find out.

For Dave, this is his second game of Frostgrave and he does not yet own his own Warband. For this game, I lent him my Frostgrave Dwarfs. In an earlier post, I asked my readers which of the Dwarf Wizards Dave should choose for the game. Dave, along with most of those who commented on Facebook, chose to take the Enchanter / Sigilist Character with a large two-handed Warhammer.

Since this was Dave's first game with this Wizard (and I have a level 9 Wizard) I leveled up Dave's Character to level 7 to even out the tables. Dave didn't want to be overwhelmed with plenty of in game spells for this match, so I gave the Wizard mostly out of game spells. Concept wise, this Wizard is a master of buffing up his allies' stats and an entrepreneurial wizard capable of building and selling Magical Items with the best of them. His Wizard also happens to be a Melee Monster starting off with +5 fight (stat line of +4 with a +1 Magical Two-Handed Weapon).

For his Warband, Dave had two Large Constructs (both with Construct Oil), two Thugs (both with Grenade Potions), three Crossbow Men, one Knight, an Apprentice and a Wizard.

Above is a picture of Dave's Warband. For those wondering where the figures are from, the three dwarfs with guns are by RAFM Miniatures, the two thugs (with maces) and the knight (front left) are by Wizards of the Coast's D&D line re-based to square bases and the rest of the models are all by Reaper Miniatures in their Bones Line.

My Wizard is the same Necromancer that I used in my playthrough of The Hunt for the Golem. He carries two weapons and has been spending most of his money re-hiring dead henchmen and buying grimors to the specific spells that he wants to learn. His warband currently consists of two Rangers, one Marksman, two Treasure Hunters, one Templar (with Gloves of Strength) one Small Construct, one Zombie, one Captain (with Boots of Speed), one Apprentice and a Wizard.

Above is my Warband. The two figures in the back row are actually to represent the spell effect of Hideous Form. For those that want to know who manufactures these miniatures, the Hideous Creatures in the back row and the lady with two swords in the middle row are by Reaper Miniatures. The skeleton coming out of the ground (front left) counts as my small construct and is made by Mantic Games. The rest of the figures are all by North Star Military Figures. The plastic models were made with their Cultists Boxed Set.   

For this game, one of my two Treasure Hunters was actually unavailable due to a previous injury.

Below is how we set up the table. The crater in the centre is actually the Well of Dreams and Sorrows. Any Wizard that spends one action to drink from it gets 100 extra experience points. Anyone that falls in dies. A tempting but potentially deadly objective. The other treasures are circled in red.

Above is how the table was set up for this engagement. The crater in the middle is the Well of Dreams and Sorrows. The treasures are circled in red. Dave got to choose the side and went with the right-hand side of the map for deployment.
After deployment, I won initiative and moved my Wizard towards the well. To protect him, I cast Fog, but the spell failed to materialize.

This is the table after my Wizard's first move. My goal was to drink from the fountain as quick as possible and get out. Dave's goal was to get the treasures off his side of the table and go from there.

At this time, I was extremely nervous because Dave had three Crossbowmen lined up directly across from my Wizard and my Fog spell failed to go off. Lucky for me, the Dwarfs chose to pick on one of my Henchmen instead of my Wizard. They failed to cause any real Damage. As our guys picked up treasures, the game took a drastic turn for the worse (for Dave that is). On the left side of the table, a Zombie appeared behind my wizard's group. Meanwhile, a Giant appears in Dave's deployment Zone.

Below is how the table looked at the end of my Wizard's activation. My Wizard successfully casts Control Undead on the Zombie and then moves to the edge of the Well of Dreams and Sorrows. As an observant reader may notice, Giant managed to reach the Dwarf carrying a treasure, but did not have enough actions to initiate a battle. From this point forward, Dave's objective simply became surviving the might of a rampaging Giant.

That Giant is now in base contact with one of Dave's treasure carriers. Meanwhile, my Wizard is at the Fountain and my Templar is guarding him to prevent any enemies from pushing him into the well.

A close up of Dave's new situation. That is his Wizard with two Crossbowmen. One is in contact with the Giant. The Giant is a Reaper Bones model for anyone wondering.

Dave decides to take the Giant head-on. He piles in a large Construct, his Wizard, and two Crossbowmen. The Construct and a Crossbowman is carrying treasure with them. This round, Dave's Wizard slams the Giant with a huge blow from his warhammer. The Giant, however, comes with a lot of hit-points and armour.   

My Wizard now takes a drink from the well and then retreats under the protection of his Templar. I have yet to pick up that treasure in the middle of the table.

Meanwhile, Dave's Thugs pick up the last of the three treasures on this side of the table.

My Ranger there decides to take a shot at the Giant to help out Dave's crew; however, he missed and hit one of Dave's men. His Thug decides he has had enough help from my Warband and charges in on my Ranger.

A Ranger is a fairly good combatant, but my Apprentice is now feeling a little nervous. My guys don't like to engage in combat if they can avoid it. They are all low armour, high speed units.

The Ranger and Thug continue to dance and if I remember right, the Thug eventually takes out my Ranger.

While the Thug dances with my Ranger, the Apprentice retreats towards my wizard. At the same time, my Marksman picks up the treasure by the well and I move my newly acquired Zombie forward.

My Captain (lady with two Swords) continues to move forward and fires a shot into the melee of the Giant and Dave's Figures with a Bow. She calls the Giant as the target, but when you fire into melee, the target is actually determined randomly. She rolls a natural 20 but her randomly determined target is Dave's Earth Construct. Sorry Dave!!!

Dave's Knight does not appreciate this "help" coming from my Captain and charges in, against the odds, for combat. My Captain has a base fight skill of +3 (counting the two weapon bonus) and can get a +3 bonus to the die roll of one attack. She does this and wins the fight. The Knight is still alive so on my turn, the Templar piles in to give another bonus and the two take on the Knight. This Knight will not last the night.  :)
Dave has been taking heavy casualties from the Giant (and his ever so helpful opponent). His Wizard moves back into the fight and together...

His Wizard and Construct take out the Giant!!! That's right, Dave has now earned the title of Giant Slayer!!! The killing blow actually came from his Construct, but his Wizard wouldn't have gained experience for killing that Giant anyhow (one of the few rules in Frostgrave I don't really agree with). To be honest, I think we would have house ruled some experience to Dave if the Wizard killed the Giant. Killing a Giant is no simple task!
At this point, Dave conceded the game. He cleared what was left of his forces and took the two treasures he still possessed off the table with him. He rebuilt his Construct and re-hired band members to replace those that died. Using Embed Enchantment, he was able to come out of the game with a couple of +1 magical weapons on top of the treasures that he found.

My Wizard came away with 4 treasures and managed to gain three levels from the encounter. In the treasures, he found some grimores and a +2 hand-weapon. I gave that weapon to my Captain. She now has a +5 Fight stat and also gained a level.

Overall, this was a very fun game. I felt sorry for Dave in that he encountered such a tough random monster in his first game against me. I tried to help him by shooting arrows at the creature, but because he was engaged in Melee, my arrows aimed at the Giant actually ended up hitting his guys. In the next game, hopefully we will not encounter the Giant again.

Until next time, Happy Gaming Everyone!!!

Saturday, 19 November 2016

Time for Celebrations!!! 6 Incredible Months and Blogging Strong!!!

Today marks 6th months of me Blogging!!! What a great experience it has been. In today's post, I am going to reflect a upon the experience and discuss a little bit about the companies and other bloggers that I have been in touch with since starting this project. I will also write about where I plan to take this blog in the future.

Cultist Sprue with Sci-fi Weapons by North Star Military Figures
I love miniatures of Cultists! In celebration of my 6-Months of Blogging, Nick Eyre of North Star Military Figures sent me this image. Now I know that these have also been seen on Facebook, but it is a great picture and Nick has been absolutely fantastic at answering emails ever since we first communicated.

The figures above are made up from a box of Frostgrave Cultists and a new sprue of Sci-Fi Weapons and Heads. The idea is one can make miniatures for Rogue Stars and other games by combining these two kits. Very cool.

Initially I started this site with the simplest and most humble of intentions. To practice skills that I do not use on a daily bases. My educational background is in Multi-Media Production, IT and AV Technologies, Communications and Writing. While I use elements of my training from Media Production and IT/AV Technologies daily in my career as an Audio Visual Technician, I do not use the Communication and Writing portion of my training as often.

Starting this Blog was (and remains) a way for me to re-engage skills that I feared losing through dormancy. The bonus of this Blog is that I get to practice my Writing and Communication skills while focusing on something for which I have a strong passion.

When I wrote my first post, I envisioned this website focusing on Flames Of War, Bolt Action and Frostgrave (with a few posts here and there about Board-Games). Instead, this site has focused prominently on Bolt Action and Frostgrave, with a wide diversity of other games; however, I believe this diversity helps keep the content of this site varied and of interest to a wider range of readers.

Over the past six months, this website has received over 66,000 page-views. That is astonishing!!! The feedback on Facebook, Twitter and Reddit has also been very positive. This positivity coupled with the sheer number of readers visiting on a regular bases motivates me to create more content. At this time, this site has a total of 112 articles. That is a lot writing for just a six-month stint.  :)

In creating this content, I have been able to engage the companies that I love in ways that I never imagined. In celebration of my 6-months, I reached out to those companies as I wanted to do a small write up about the people that have helped me along the way through shares of my articles or in sending me products.

Supporting the Local Guys...

Early on, I made the decision that I wanted to support local businesses that deal in Miniatures through my Blog. RAFM, Six Squared Studios, Crucible Crush, J&M Miniatures and Forbes Hobbies are all companies that I like to write about because I am a fan and they are local.

As many of my readers will remember, RAFM is a company that I hold close to my heart. These guys got me back into miniatures after a long hiatus with their USX: Modern Day Heroes line and starter box. This company has now been in business for 39 years and has plenty of product lines available. Personally, I like them for the Modern Day Heroes and Cthulhu Lines and I buy a large portion of my Reaper Miniatures through them.

Like X-Com on the Tabletop
RAFM's USX: Modern Day Heroes Starter Box. Image from RAFM's Webstore.

Six Squared Studios is a much newer company than RAFM, but their excellent terrain pieces at super affordable prices really appeals to the frugal gamer in me. So far, I have published two reviews of this company's products (28mm Sandbags and 15mm Bales of Hay) and have three more in the works. This company has been working on expanding its line of tokens and just revealed an awesome looking War Trench System that I would love to get my hands on.

Trench Tiles - Wargaming Terrain
Above is a picture of a 28mm Trench Tile that Six Squared Studios is currently working to release. I can't wait for this product to come out. These tiles are going to look great on the tabletop!!! Image from Six Squared Studio's Facebook Page.

Crucible Crush is another new and emerging company that I have been watching. Well before I ever started this Blog, I enjoyed play-testing their Flint and Feather game at a convention. So far, I have not bought any of their direct products, but I did buy my Pulp Figures British Highland Infantry Rifles for Bolt Action through them. I have also been eyeing their Cthulhu 1928 line for more than a few months (especially the Deep Ones).

Deep Ones and Cthulhu Investigators
Above is a picture of Crucible Crush's Cthulhu 1928 Miniature Line. This image is from Crucible Crush's website, so the "Click the tab above to Order" will not work on this Blog.

Aside from manufacturers, there are also a couple of local stores that I like to support on this Blog.

Logo from J&M Miniatures Website

J&M Miniatures is a company that started by specializing in supplying Historical Figures not readily available in Ontario (Canada). It then expanded to include specialist rule sets not typically seen in Ontario Retail Stores (such as Frostgrave and SAGA). Their best selling lines are by Warlord Games with Bolt Action being their top seller. Because of how well the line sells, their prices for Warlord products are very competitive. I personally look for these guys at any Convention I go to because I like buying from them. They also sell through Mail Order, Stock Room Visits and their Online Store. In most cases, if I play it, these guys sell it! J&M Miniatures has been very generous in sharing my posts with their clientele.

FLGS Cambridge Ontario
Forbes Hobbies Logo taken from their Facebook Page.

The final local company that I planned to promote when I started this site is Forbes Hobbies. Forbes Hobbies is my FLGS of choice and is located in Cambridge, Ontario, Canada. When I can, I buy as much as I can from this store as I like supporting them because they provide me with an awesome gaming space. Anyone that has read my Bolt Action or TANKS Battle Reports will have seen the tables that this club / store has to offer. If you are in the area, be sure to check them out. Below is a list of Battle Reports that I made from Forbes Hobbies.

A Logo and Image from Dungeon Crawler's Facebook Page.
Finally, the first company that requested that I cover their products actually came from a local guy. On my second day of Blogging, Jey Legarie contacted me asking if I would write about his Kickstarter. I already knew Jey through my local board gaming groups, so I decided to take on the project. Jey runs the company Dungeon Crawler and his last Kickstarter project was to fund the Behemoth. From my interactions with Jey, I got a number of interesting articles - but my two favourites are...

Jey tells me that the Behemoths are still in production and the process is slow and steady.

Of course, I also like to promote local Gaming Conventions and have written a lot of After Action Reports and Convention Reports from the events that I attend.

Branching Out Beyond the Local Market...

As I Blogged more, I found that Authors and Companies began to reach out to me.

In-fact, the very first comment on my Blog was by Ganesha Games identifying some unknown figures for me. That was on my third day of Blogging. I couldn't believe it - a game company commenting on my post. Since then, I have reached out to Andrea Sfiligoi of Ganesha Games a few times through email and on Facebook and he has always been incredible. For those interested in Rogue Stars, he is extremely active in the Facebook Fan site answering questions about his soon to be released book by Osprey Publishing.

When I wrote about Frostgrave (also by Osprey Publishing), I found feedback on my site from Joseph A. McCullough! This was such a thrill for me that my young Blog was having the Authors of such excellent books leave comments.

Logo from Osprey Publishing's Website.

Overtime, Osprey would place me on their list of Reviewers. Osprey has been very kind to me and sent me Konflikt '47, Rogue Stars, Dragon Rampant and Chosen Men. As time allows, you will definitely see reviews of Rogue Stars and Dragon Rampant here as I am very excited about those products. Chosen Men also looks like a lot of fun, but I have yet to play a Napoleonic's game.

Osprey Publishing has been an amazing sponsor of this site by sending me products for review, but I still buy a lot of their products. My most recent purchase was actually Forgotten Pacts for Frostgrave. I now have the product and am really looking forward to playing through its first mini-campaign (more about that later).

Outside of Osprey, I have had a number of companies approach me about their products. Most of these companies are actually looking to Kickstart Board Games and so far, I have not followed up with them. That said, a company of interest did approach me.

That company is Hyacinth Games with their product Wreck Age. Now, I have glanced over the PDFs that they sent me and I can tell you that my first impression is positive. It is written in a story format and combines both an RPG and a Miniatures Game into one product. There is a lot of meat to these books to read through and I find myself looking at my Miniatures collection wondering which figures I would use for this game. Perhaps my "Outlander" Gang would fit the bill. If you live in the KW area and want to give this a try, let me know.

A banner from the Wreck-Age Website.
Another company that has been very good to me is North Star Military Figures. This company has not sent me any product (other than what I have purchased), but Nick Eyre has been extremely good at responding to my inquiries, feeding my site images and even giving me a lead on the Nickstarter Levels for Forgotten Pacts before the information was made public. Nick also sent me a couple of upcoming product pictures that I want to share with my readers.

Above is a picture of the Sci-Fi Sprue by North Star Military Figures that can be used with their Cultist and Barbarian Boxed sets to create Space Cultists and Space Barbarians. Because I like Cultists so much, I will go with them.  :)

This is a picture of a painted figure converted from a Frostgrave Cultist miniature by using the Sci-Fi Accessories Sprue. Very cool!

Bloggers and Vloggers...

Having become a Blogger, I now find it more interesting to meet other Bloggers and Vloggers. In celebration of my six months on the web, I would like to give a few shout-outs to some Bloggers and Vloggers with whom I have interacted with lately.

The first goes to Dave of Wargaming Tradecraft. Dave reached out to me on Facebook in response to one of my articles. Dave is a great painter and his work mainly focuses on painting tutorials. He also has a large selection of excellent articles dedicated to helping guide new Bloggers onto the scene.

The next shout-out goes to Thor of Creative Twilight. Creative Twilight has a collective of authors that focus primarily on GW products and painting techniques. Thor has been especially good in chatting to me and others about the challenges of Blogging.

This next Vlogger does not know me, but I like watching his videos and have linked to a couple of them within my own Blog. That person is Atom of Tabletop Minions. Atom mostly talks about GW, but also talks about Painting Tips, Historicals, and a Song of Blades and Heroes.

I have also found myself watching more of Teri Litorco of That Teri Girl and Geek and Sundry since I met her at Council Fires 2016. Currently she is promoting a book about Civilized Tabletop Gaming. She tends to focus on Privateer Press, Malifaux and Strange Aeons.

Finally, a shout-out goes to Ash of Guerrilla Miniature Games. I really like Ash's Youtube channel because he focuses on many games and has no issue diving right into an Indie Game or something Out of Print. My favourite segments of his channel are Widgets and Wonders, A Piece of Ash and Frostgrave, but all of his stuff is worth a watch. It is his videos (combined with how cool the Frostgrave Cultists look) that got me to pull the trigger to buy into Frostgrave. I am actually planning to make a guest appearance on his show to play through a Mini-Campaign of Frostgrave. How cool is that!!!?

The Future...

My current goal is to get more followers on both Facebook and on this Blog Page itself. If you like this site, please subscribe to either or both.

One person I know suggests that I start a Podcast, but I plan to continue with just the Blog for now. I do plan on going on Guerrilla Miniature Games at some point in the near future, so those that want to see and hear what I am like - you will likely get your chance soon enough.

As for the Blog content, I plan to continue to focus on what some of my friends call "the more obscure games out there." I don't think that they are obscure but rather just not of the top three games companies in my area (Games Workshop, Privateer Press and Malifaux). The games that I write about are all excellent and as I have stated many times before, there is so much out there that one does not have to limit themselves to just the big companies. Will those more main-stream companies ever be a part of this site? Maybe. They all make products that interest to me, but I can buy into several other games for the price of one army from the bigger two companies.

Osprey games will continue to be a big part of this site because they publish all of the primary games that I play (Bolt Action and Frostgrave). I have also been loving reading their other games and will continue to write about them. Hopefully, I will have some Rogue Star Battle Reports in the future. I am also planning to look at Wreck Age by Hyacinth Games, but can't give a timeline on when those articles will come out.

One thing that I have been contemplating is whether to review Board Games that DO NOT Contain Minis. Despite the name of the site, I have had several inquiries from various Kickstarters, and recently one established company, about reviewing their non-minis games. I think I will give it some time and see where things go. If I do start reviewing boardgames without miniatures, they will likely be one-off posts from time to time.

As for the frequency of posts on this site, I plan to start keeping a more regular schedule and aim to publish articles on Monday and Wednesday mornings.

Until next time, Happy Gaming Everyone - And thanks for reading!!!!

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Dragon Rampant: Battle Report and First Impressions

Recently, I played a game of Dragon Rampant at a convention and was it ever fun! Waiting for us at the table were 6 armies (Lizard Men, Orcs, Goblins, Ogres, Middle Earth [Lord of the Rings] Orcs, and Wood Elves). Quickly I sat at one of my favourite fantasy armies - the Goblins.

My First Game of Dragon Rampant
This is the Goblin Army that I used for my first Game of Dragon Rampant. Unit wise, there are 2 units of Heavy Foot, 1 unit of Light Archers, 2 Units of Light Riders and 1 unit of Heavy Riders. I had a Hero (or Commander) in the Heavy Riders Unit and a Wizard in one of the two units of Heavy Foot.

The scenario itself was to get to the Human village in the middle of the table and capture the civilians. The two armies of Orcs set up opposite to each other in the middle of the table and had a distinct advantage in capturing the civilians. On the far side of the table, the Lizard Men set up opposite to the Ogres and my Goblins set up opposite to the Wood Elves. Alliance-wise, there are no allies. Whoever captures the most civilians wins.

This is not a specific Mission from Dragon Rampant, but rather a custom scenario designed by our Game Master to get multiple people engaged with the rules at once.

Capture the Civilians
The Gaming table from my side of the table. It is a long way for my guys to get to that village.
At the start, I was a little overwhelmed with the army sheet when I noticed each unit had 10 stats. When the Game Master discussed the stats and what they meant, it didn't click for me right away, but once we got playing, my understanding came very quickly. Of those 10 stats, three of them are actually activation values. These activation values were something that I had not seen before in other game systems.

On a player's turn, the player selects unit to activate and makes an activation roll. If the roll succeeds, the unit does what the player wants. If the roll fails, the player's turn ends. For Activation Stats, there are three different values (Attack, Move and Shoot). The lower the value, the easier it is to take that action. For example, my Light Riders had an attack of 7+, a move of 5+, and a Shoot of 6+. To take the named action, the player needs to roll two dice and get that value or higher. Right away, this adds an interesting dynamic in that there is now strategy on what to activate first and a fear of having to give the turn over to the opponent. Do you do what is easier for your models first? Or do you activate what is most important first (even though it might be a tougher roll)?

For now, I will focus on the narrative game that unfolded before us using Dragon Rampant by Osprey Publishing. This game was hosted at Council Fires 2016. At the end of the article, I will switch back to discussing the rules and my initial thoughts of them.

Above is a picture of how I deployed my Goblin Army on the table. Archers up front, Light Cavalry on each flank and Heavy Cavalry on the middle Right (just behind those trees).

My Neighbour's deployment. Look at how close they are to the first objective versus me. For them, this would be a take and hold game. 

Immediately the Orcs capture their first civilian. My army was not so close to the centre, so I had some movement to do.

I managed to move my Archers and Heavy Foot Units before losing my turn due to an activation roll. Across the table, the Wood Elves decide to advance straight on to battle the Goblin Army (rather than worry about the objectives in the middle of the table).
The Elves' Cavalry takes lead charge towards my Goblin Hordes. 

Meanwhile the Elves' neighbours head straight for the centre to capture villagers. On the right is an ancient altar. The GM alluded that there would be an interesting surprise if a Magic User cast as spell while upon it. This peaked my interest more than the villagers. :) 

Meanwhile, the Middle Earth Orcs assault the settlement. The villagers stand no chance. 

These speedy cavalry units capture the civilians with ease. 

With the Middle Earth Orcs being so pre-occupied with the civilians, the Elves advance on my position without the fear of their neighbour.

To the right (behind the wall) are his Elite Riders and to the left, his Scouts. The intentions of the Elven army are clearly upon the engagement and destruction of my units.

I push my Light Cavalry units to meet his Cavalry and try to bring up my infantry units as much as I can. At this point, I am pretty nervous. I have more numbers than the Elves, but their units are stronger and their Wizard is also much more powerful than my own. 
This was a six-player demo game so there was interesting stuff happening on the other sides of the table. Over on the far side from me, the Lizard Men engage the Orcs with a large Warmount. This was a fierce fight but in the end, the Triceratops disengages to look for an easier target. 

The Orcs were stronger than the lizards expected, but reinforcements are close. Those Orc Riders are in for a bad day.

Back to my side of the table and the Elves' Elite Riders engage one of my two units of Light Cavalry

My Riders use the skirmish rule to throw spears at the Elite Riders before engaging in melee. Meanwhile, I have brought the Spider Riders (also Light Cavalry) into a position to engage the Elite Riders in a Pincer attack. 

My Light Wolf Riders were unable to stand up against the power of the Elven Elite Riders. They retreated, which freed the Elite Riders to turn their attack against the Spider Riders. I am still being overly optimistic at this time, but Elite Riders are much better than Light Cavalry in a direct confrontation. My Spider Riders are in more trouble than I expected.

To the left, my Archers move for a better firing position while my Heavy Infantry with my Wizard advance towards the Altar to see what would happen if a spell is cast from the top.

The Spider Riders use Skirmish to throw spears and try to disengage the Elite Elves. They don't move far enough to evade the incoming Calvary. The battle occurs and I lose two more Spider Riders and my unit falls back.
Back in the middle of the village, the Ogre player sends in a Woolly Mammoth to terrorize and capture the people in the settlement. The Orcs, not wanting to lose their prize, engage.

Having Eliminated my Spider Riders, the Elven Calvary move to charge my Wizard's unit. My Wizard casts Power Bolt (an attack spell) from the altar. Before determining the spell effect, the Game Master had me roll to determine what effect the altar would have on my spells. I rolled really well, so the effect would be a 50% buff to the effectiveness of my spells. Nice!!!

The Wizard kills off a large portion of the enemy unit. My Goblin Archers followed up with some good shooting. The Riders weren't dead yet, but they were mighty close.

To finish them off, I sent in my Heavy Calvary (Squig Riders). 
With the Elven Elite Cavalry cut down to size, I ran my remaining Wolf Riders in to take on what was left of the Elven Force. All that the Elven Wizard had left protecting her was an injured Treeman and a unit of Scouts.

To back up the Wolf Riders, I also rushed up my Squig Riders, a Heavy Foot unit and what was left of my Spider Riders. Victory shall be mine on this side of the table!
Unfortunately, this is where this game timed out.

According to the Game Master, I believe one of the Orc Armies won for captured villagers, but bragging rights were also bestowed upon the Lizard Men on the Left side of the table and Goblins on the right side for max aggression and battlefield domination.

Right off the bat, I can tell my readers that this is a game that would be best enjoyed as an engagement between two armies. There was a fair bit of downtime because there were so many players. That said, the GM did a fantastic job achieving his goal in introducing us to the basic mechanics of the game. We all caught on very quickly and were able to run much of the game on our own within a couple of turns.

Personally, I found the activation system intriguing and enjoyed the simplicity of the game. As stated earlier, each unit gets one activation a turn. When a player decides to activate a unit, they roll two dice and compare the number rolled to the related Activation Value. Back to the example of a Light Rider, those values are 7+ to attack, 5+ to Move, and 6+ to Shoot. This means that certain units have a greater propensity to activate for certain actions. This is an element that I really liked, but it is also a feature that I cursed a turn or two when I was only able to move one or two units. One round, I didn't even manage to activate one unit. That sucked, but I figured that is just my troops having a hard time following commands during the fog of war.

The battle system was fairly easy and enjoyable. It involved rolling target numbers on a certain number of dice. Each target number matched or exceed counted as a hit to the target. Count the number of hits and for each time that number matches the armour value of a unit, it takes a wound. Back to my Light Riders, they have an armour value of 3. For every 3 "hits" that the opponent rolled, one model is removed. Units attack at Full Strength or Half Strength so number crunching is easy as a unit loses models (Wounds).

I found this game so much fun that I found myself wanting my own copy of the rules. Osprey Publishing was more than kind and sent me a copy when I asked about the game.

Until next time, Happy Gaming Everyone!!!
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