Friday, 22 September 2017

Frostgrave: Ghost Archipelago Nickstarter - The Crews

One of the first questions that many people seem to have about Frostgrave: Ghost Archipelago is whether the game is compatible with the original Frostgrave. The short answer is yes, but the power level between Ghost Archipelago Crews and the Original Frostgrave Warbands will not be on par. The two games have not been play tested together and even though they share the same core rules, my feeling (after browsing both books) is that warbands in the original Frostgrave will be more powerful than those in Ghost Archipelago.

The cover of the Frostgrave: Ghost Archipelago Crew Box. Image used with permission from North Star Military Figures. 
Osprey Publishing sent me an advanced copy of the rulebook, and, shortly after it arrived, I jumped ahead to read the options for crew composition. Today, I am going to look at the crews players can expect to take in Ghost Archipelago.

First off, in terms of crew (warband) members, the games are not equal. In the original Frostgrave, you can hire whomever you want whenever you want. If you want a warband with 8 knights, you can do that.

In Ghost Archipelago, that is not the case. There is a statistical equivalent to a knight (who counts as a specialist), but you are limited to hiring just 4 specialists in your crew at once.

While the crew (warband) limit of 8 is the same in both games, Ghost Archipelago introduces the concept of the Standard Crewman. Because the crew limit is set to 8 (and you are limited to 4 specialists), you will have to employ at least 4 Standard Crewmen in Ghost Archipelago.

The stats of a Standard Crewman are basically the equivalent to a Thug from the original game with the added bonus that you can choose his or her weapon. The weapon may be a Hand Weapon, a Two Handed Weapon, a Staff, or a Hand Weapon and Shield.

Notice that ranged weapons and armour are not part of the kit that a Standard Crewmember may select. To get those items, you need to hire a specialist or put the items on your Heritor. For me, this means that many of my higher level Frostgrave Warbands would not be allowed in this version of the game as I hired too many 'specialist' type characters. Depending how you look at it, this limiting of forces could be either a positive or a negative. From my perspective, it adds an additional balancing mechanism between low and high level characters that I like.

Another advantage of adding Standard Crewman to the game is that it allows a mechanism to always allow 8 members in a crew. In the original game, if you had a few warband members die and could not afford to replace them, you had to play the next game without them and hope that you make enough gold on that next mission to hire whom you need to replace. This problem gave a big benefit to other warbands that kept their characters alive. In Ghost Archipelago, you never have to worry about that problem.

Standard Crewmen are always present. If one dies or is taken out of action, there is another crew member on your ship willing to take his or her place. Likewise, if a Specialist dies (or is taken out of action for a battle), a standard crew member is more than happy to take their place until you are able to go back to port to hire another specialist (or when your specialist is healed). A nice little game balancing feature if you ask me.  :)

Painted plastic Crewmen from North Star's Nickstarter page. Image used with permission from North Star Military Figures.
For specialists, most of the warband member options from the original game are present with new names, plus there are some new options like the Pearl Diver (who is amphibious) and Hunter (who receives a fight bonus vs Animals).

Using the optional rules in the first issue of Spellcaster magazine players can add specialists even more specialist options. The specialists that magazine brings to the game are armed with muskets, blunderbusses and pistols. While these black powder weapons are not a part of the official Ghost Archipelago setting, I fully intend to use them for my games.

Osprey Games and North Star Military Figures has been absolutely awesome in creating figures for their Frostgrave games. The above pictures are of the new plastic crew boxed set that comes out through North Star's current Nickstarter. I have a box of these guys on order for myself.

I also like to proxy in miniatures from other companies into my Frostgrave games. When I received the French Bundle for Blood & Plunder from Firelock games, I fully intended to make the figures pull double duty as a crew in Frostgrave: Ghost Archipelago. Unfortunately, due to the prevalence of fire arms, the French boxed set would not be usable as a basic crew in Ghost Archipelago. There are too many figures armed with guns. Likewise, many of the Frostgrave Warbands that I run in the original game would run into the same problem.

That said, the figures from the Blood & Plunder Spanish starter set would be acceptable as a Ghost Archipelago crew (preferably, but not necessarily, using the optional rules for black powder weapons). I also found that the figures that I bought for Flint and Feather and the figures that come with the Conan Board Game both would work well as proxy crews for Ghost Archipelago. All of the plastic kits from the original Frostgrave game would also work well for the new game as long as you build the right quantity of standard crewmen.

Outside of my above selections, there is no shortage of what brands of miniatures one could use as a crew in Ghost Archipelago.

Overall, I am very excited about this game and am really looking forward to it coming out. The Nickstarter has also been hinting about the next three plastic boxed sets that we can expect for this game. So cool!!! The snake-men are the figures that I am most excited about outside of the generic crew box.

I hope everyone enjoyed this quick article.

Until next time, Happy Gaming Everyone!!!

If you wish to help support Must Contain Minis, we have a sales affiliate relationship with DriveThruRPG and the Wargame Vault. If you make a purchase from either of those sites after using one of the links on this site, a portion of the sales goes towards supporting Must Contain Minis. 

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Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Showcase: Unicorn by WizKids (Pathfinder Battles)

This week, I painted up a Unicorn.

Showcase of a painted unicorn for WizKids Pathfinder Battles Game
A Unicorn by WizKids from their Pathfinder Battles Deep Cuts series. I painted it up to give away as a gift.

This Unicorn is by WizKids from their Pathfidner Battles Deep Cuts line. In a previous article, I reviewed the materials, scale and price of unpainted miniatures by WizKids. This model is the exact same price as the Dungeons and Dragons miniatures and the packaging is just as appealing.

Pathfinder Unicorn Miniature Packaging
The Packaging for the Pathfinder Battles Unicorn. 

Pathfinder Unicorn Miniature Packaging - Rear
A great looking package. Very nice for a $5 miniature. 

The model comes pre-primed with Vallejo paints. I really like that they used Vallejo because Vallejo is the brand of paints that I usually use. Now let's get on with painting the miniature.

Right away, I base painted the model with the goal to replicate the work on the back of the package.

I figured that this was going to be a very easy job. To make the miniature match the back of the packaging, all I have to do is paint the mini white with a gold horn, perhaps differentiate the horse mane with some grey and paint the hoofs. A very simple painting scheme. Above is how I base-coated the mini. 

However, the person receiving the gift asked that I paint the Unicorn's mane in a Rainbow type pattern.


So... I went back and painted the Unicorn as requested. When I finished the base colours, above is how it looked. 

I then applied a watered down wash over the miniature. I always get nervous when I was a wash as I used to use washes straight and undiluted. The result of that were dark miniatures that required a lot of dry-brushing to finish. Using a diluted mix means that you don't have to dry-brush as much afterwards.  

So far, this unicorn was looking very good. It painted up well and the details accepted the wash very nicely.

I often consider stopping my miniature painting at the wash step, but instead I almost always go back and highlight the model.

Below is a picture of the miniature after I finished its highlighting.

Painting up a Dungeons and Dragons / Pathfinder Unicorn Miniature
The Unicorn after receiving its highlights. 

It looks pretty good, but the dry-brushing reduced the crispness of the miniature's eyes. Normally I don't paint eyes and instead rely on the wash to shade the eyes area and leave it at that. Because this miniature was going to someone as a gift, I did the eyes right.

Below are pictures of the completed model.

Pathfinder RPG Unicorn Minaiture
Looks great to me. I think the person receiving this as a gift will be very happy.

Looking the Unicorn in the face
Up close, the model doesn't look as awesome, but it still looks nice. That is due to my paint job and not the miniature itself. 

A Unicorn by WizKids
Building and basing miniatures are my favourite parts of the hobby outside of gaming and hanging out with friends. How do you like the base on this miniature?

A Unicorn Miniature for RPGs such as Path Finder and Dungeons and Dragons. Miniature by WizKids.
An excellent model if I do say so myself. My paint job looks fantastic from this distance!

Unicorn Miniature by WizKids
Just showing one more image of the Unicorn. It is on a slightly different angle than the first picture. Check out the base. I love using those flowers with my miniatures. 

I used my new mini painting station for the first time on this project as well as my wet pallet. I really enjoyed using this paint station and the wet pallet is great as it makes paints last longer and thins out cheaper craft store paints (making them better to use on miniatures).

Mini Painting Station (for miniatures) and wet pallet
Just showing off my new mini painting station (I like it a lot) and the wet pallet that I used to paint the Unicorn. 

While painting the Unicorn, I used whatever paints I had on hand. The yellow and white paints are actually craft store paints because I don't often paint in those colours. Craft Store paints tend to need more coats than miniatures paints. Many people say don't use them, but I got some nice results from them. My advice is avoid them if you can, but it is not the end of the world if you need to use them. It just takes a little longer to paint the mini and maybe the result would be nicer if you used the proper paint. The other paints I used are all either Vallejo or GW.

I hope that everyone enjoyed this showcase of a WizKids Unicorn.

Until next time, Happy Gaming Everyone!!!

Feel like checking out some RPGs or new Wargames? Must Contain Minis has an affiliate sales relationship with DriveThruRPG and the Wargame Vault. If you make a purchase from either of those sites after using one of the links on this site, a portion of the sales goes to supporting this website. 

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Monday, 18 September 2017

Review of Conan (The Board Game by Monolith)

Quite a while ago, Asmodee sent Must Contain Minis a retail copy of Conan for review purposes. I would like to start off this article by thanking them for sending this product. It is excellent.

Review of Conan the Board Game by Monolith Games - Retail copy by Asmodee
Review of Conan by Monolith
This review will be short as it is not my first post about Conan. My initial thoughts of the game and pictures of the components are featured in my unboxing article. We also have Battle Reports for the first two scenarios in the game (In the Clutches of the Picts and Hunting the Tigress). The miniatures in the game paint up well and we have some showcase articles showing the work of myself (Jacob) and of Ullr's Table. I will admit that Ullr's Table paints much better than I. That said, Conan is a great game that my friends and I have decided to paint. I will post more showcases as we complete the work.

Regular readers may also recognize some of the miniatures from the unboxing article in my Frostgrave Battle Reports. The models are nice enough that I figured that I might as well make them pull double duty.

Mechanics wise, Conan is very smooth. The whole game centers around the use and distribution of energy crystals (gems). In many ways, it is a resource management game as the gems determine what you can do and how many actions you can take.

Below is a shot of the character cards in the base game. The six big icons adjacent to the character pictures determine what die the character rolls naturally (without upgrades) and how many gems a character can put into an action. When the gems reach the red number (on the left of the icon), you can't put any more gems into that action for the turn.

Players are allowed to move around the table on their turn and take their actions as they wish. This means that Conan can move up two spaces, have Shevatas throw some knives at an enemy in the way, and then Conan can go again and move and attack another opponent. The players decide how they want to act and the entire group gets to keep going until they spend all of the gems that they wish for the turn. This is very nice as it keeps all of the players engaged in what the others are doing. Perhaps they want to check a chest but first want to wait for one of the other players to clear the way. They can do that. There is a lot of flexibility to a turn in this game.

Conan Character Cards - Retail box
Character Cards from the Retail copy of Conan.
Conan energy management
This card is from the Kickstarter copy of the game (not the retail box). All 11 of the energy crystals (gems) start in the green box. Then, depending on the scenario, a certain amount goes into the red to represent fatigue before the mission starts.

The red gem marks how many gems I get to move back at the start of the turn. The amount changes depending on whether I choose to be active (can move and attack) or defensive (can only defend). You get more gems back if you defend.

When you take damage, you move gems over to the dark box. Those gems do not regenerate and when all of your gems are there, your character is dead. 

Conan energy management
In the picture above, I used a gem to move extra spaces and five crystals for one powerful attack. When I place the gems in the attack box (icon), I can choose to either do one attack with each crystal or to take an extra die per gem on a single attack.

Above, those five gems could have represented five attacks (each with one yellow die and one re-roll-able red die). Instead, I used it as one power attack (with one yellow die and five re-roll-able red dice).

You can also spend a gem to re-roll a die. It means you can pay energy to get the outcome that you want, but it might not be advantageous considering that in active mode - Pallantides regenerates just two gems a turn. 
This movement of gems to make your character act is an excellent mechanic. Don't like a roll, you can even spend a gem for a re-roll. If you do this too many times, you won't have the energy you want for the next turn.

At the start of the turn, you have to decide whether to go active or defensive. Defensive gives you more energy back, but it limits your actions. For Pallantides to completely restore his energy, it would take just over two turns on defensive or just over five turns on aggressive. This means that management of your gems is critical in turn limited games.

Likewise, the Overlord also works with gems as energy and spends his turn spending that energy. Like the players, at the start of each turn, a certain amount of energy regenerates. If he (or she) spends too much at once, then they will be unable to regain all of their energy on the next turn. In the image below, the Overlord's energy tray is on the left.

Conan the Board Game Review by Monolith - Retail copy
Above we have a picture of the Conan Board Game in play. On the left is the Overlord's tray while around the table is each player's character card. The management of energy gems is essential to both the players and the overlord in this game.
Using gems, the Overlord can choose which enemy groups to activate, can modify rolls, defend and move enemies further. He can also sometimes spawn more enemies. The overlord does not get as many action options as the players, but the Overlord has many more minis to run.

Overall, this is a fantastic game. It has beautiful miniatures, great mechanics and enjoyable scenarios. For anyone interested in a game like this, I highly recommend it.

That said, I have a criticism that has to be voiced. The fact that Monolith / Asmodee decided to print a half-naked woman on the cover of the heroes' book means that I am severely limited in where I can take this game out to play. Where I live, people may take offence if I leave the book laying out on a table at a public venue. This is too bad as I tend to enjoy playing games at conventions, stores and community centres.

Monolith has fixed this issue with their printing of the second version of the rulebook. That rulebook is available online for free from Monolith's website. Thank you for that Monolith!!! Unfortunately, the second version of the rules is not currently in the standard retail box. I wish that I had a physical copy of the new rules to go with my retail copy of the game.

Other than the above complaint, I am really happy with Conan by Monolith. Thanks goes out again to Asmodee for sending me this fantastic product.

Until next time, Happy Gaming Everyone!!!


Quick access to Conan Board Game Articles...
Discloser: Asmodee provided Must Contain Minis with a Review Copy of Conan the Board Game by Monolith.

Saturday, 16 September 2017

Gaming with Paper Terrain

Before obtaining higher end terrain, Must Contain Minis used paper terrain for gaming. There is no shame in that! Paper terrain can look really good and is extremely affordable. Take a look at this model's eye view of a wargame table full of paper buildings. It looks absolutely great!

Wargaming with Paper Terrain - Bolt Action
An early picture of a Bolt Action game that predates the Must Contain Minis Website. All of the buildings on this table are made of paper and look great even at the model's eye level. 
Using Paper terrain in Bolt Action
Here we have a tank beside a cool barn and coach house made out of paper. 
As one can see, the buildings look great up close and alongside the 28mm Bolt Action Miniatures. And at a distance, it is a good looking table.

Wargaming with Paper Buildings / terrain
A Bolt Action table using paper buildings. Looks pretty good to me. 

Playing Bolt Action with Paper terrain / buildings
Another shot of the table from a different angle. 
Having played games with Paper Terrain, I can say with confidence that building and playing with paper terrain is a great way to make a great looking wargame table on a budget.

One of the best parts of paper models is that once you buy the model, you can print it off as many times as you want. In the picture above, we actually have two coach houses but with different coloured brickwork so they look like different buildings. The kit actually comes with different "skins" so you can make the model in multiple ways.

The pictures above, pre-date Must Contain Minis, but recently I played a game at Broadsword 3 where the table featured paper terrain. It may be paper, but the table still turned heads by admiring people.

Playing Blood & Plunder on a table with paper buildings / terrain
All of these buildings are made out of paper (card stock). This table certainly looks good enough for an enjoyable miniatures game. 

Personally, I have built models by Dave Graffam Models, World Works Games, and Fat Dragon Games. All of the models were fairly fun to put together and looked good on the table. Depending on what you buy, some of the kits even have interior kits for the models.

If you are new to paper terrain or interested in my recommendations, below is a short list of some recommended companies and their specialties.

Dave Graffam Models - Dave Graffam Models has many excellent buildings suitable for Historical settings such as World War 2 and Colonial times. These same models may very work for fantasy based games. The company also has a science fiction line. Some of the buildings have accessible details but many do not.

Fat Dragon Games - Fat Dragon Games have an excellent selection of Fantasy buildings as well as collections for Sci-Fi, Modern Gaming and the Wild West. They also have a line of models for 3D printers and will run a Kickstarter for one such project starting this September 19 (2017).

World Works Games - World Works Games has absolutely awesome Fantasy and Sci-Fi terrain, but their website has had issues of late. It is still up, but the user login has not worked properly for a while. That is why there is no link from this site to theirs at this time. If you are interested in them, I would recommend that you follow their Facebook Page and hold off buying until they fix their webstore issues.

Black Scrolls Games - Black Scrolls Games is a company that I have not yet worked with, but their map tiles have caught my eye. I think these tiles might be good for skirmish and role playing games alike.

Until next time, Happy Gaming Everyone!!!

Disclosure - This article contains Sales Affiliate links to DriveThruRPG.

If you wish to help support Must Contain Minis, we have a sales affiliate relationship with DriveThruRPG and the Wargame Vault. If you make a purchase from either of those sites after using one of the links on this site, a portion of the sales goes towards supporting Must Contain Minis. 

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Friday, 15 September 2017

Bolt Action at Broadsword 4

A short while ago, at Broadsword 4, Dave Lamers and Randall Carder ran a demo game of Bolt Action. In this game, players assumed one of the nations (French, American, British or German) in a non-historical four-way free-for-all. This Battle Report focuses on the highlights of the game. Below is a picture of the board in action.


Bolt Action Battle Report / AAR
Bolt Action at Broadsword 4. Picture taken by Randall Carder and edited by Jacob Stauttener.

All of the images in this Battle Report are from Randall Carder and edited by Jacob Stauttener. One of the participants asked that his name not be released, so I went a little wild and greyed out identifying features of the players in all the photographs to respect their wishes.

Below are the forces they could choose. How cool is it to see Early French on the table? This is the first time that I ever saw these miniatures in my local area.


French Bolt Action Army
French

The French brought two 10 man squads, a light howitzer, an armoured car, a light tank and a lieutenant. All of their figures are rated as Regulars.


American Bolt Action Army
Americans
The Americans brought 2 eight man squads, a lieutenant and a Sherman tank. Their entire force is rated as Veteran.

550 Point British Bolt Action Army
British

The British brought 2 ten man squads, a PIAT team, a Forward Observer, a Cromwell and a lieutenant. All of the figures are rated Regular except the lieutenant. He is a Veteran.


550 Point German Bolt Action Army
Germans
The Germans brought a highly elite force with 2 seven man squads, a Panzer IV and a lieutenant.

All of these forces came out to be about 550 points each.

If I were the German player, I would have been pretty nervous about having three Allied armies on the table. Fortunately for that player, this was a free-for-all mission.

The middle of the table would remain mostly untouched. The players instead decided to go head to head focusing on player elimination around the edges of the board.

Bolt Action Miniature Objective
A lonely destroyed tank that would remain mostly untouched in the middle of the board. Instead, the players would fight around the edges of the board. That blown up tank was placed there mostly for decoration anyhow.  :)

Bolt Action AAR
The Americans quickly secure a field while their Tank holds the road. By the way, zoom in on that tank. "Fury" is printed right down the side of the barrel. How Cool!

Bolt Action French Army AAR / Battle Report
The French advanced towards the Germans. The German Panzer IV took out the French P15 Armoured Car from long range on its very first shot of the game!

Bolt Action AAR
A great shot showing the position of the French. Notice that the small French R35 tank veers away from the Panzer IV (having seen his armoured car brother go up in flames) and decides test its odds against the American Sherman instead.

Bolt Action Battle Report
The British troops advance on the German forces.

Battle Report
But their Forward Observer decides to call in a bombardment on the American forces. 

Bolt Action AAR
The French decide to continue redirecting their attacks away from the German army to the American army instead.
Bolt Action AAR / Battle Report
It is at this point were we are at the introductory image of this article 
Bolt Action AAR / Battle Report
The Artillery strike comes in and severely pins down the American Paratroopers. Look at that two to three pins on everything. Ouch!!!
American vs French Tanks
The French R35 takes on the Sherman and manages to stun its crew. 

AAR Bolt Action
The Cromwell takes aim on the Panzer IV. 

And takes the tank out of the game. 

Tank Battle between an R35 and a Sherman
The French continue to press their attack against the Americans. The R35 manages to jam the turret on the Sherman with a lucky hit. 

Bolt Action AAR / Battle Report
Here we have Dave Lamers, the primary game master for the session, clarifying instructions from one of the players. I would like to draw my readers' attention to the front-middle of the table. The French have committed pretty much everything to taking on the American army at this point. You can see their infantry charging across the field here along with their R35 tank.  

Bolt Action on a Cigar Box Battle Mat
A look at the table from the British player's perspective. Notice how little infantry the American player has left (to our near-left). The Germans are also taking a beating. 
AAR Bolt Action Battle Report
Yep... That's all the Americans have left for infantry. They also happen to have 8 pins on them. Not good at all. They are taking a pounding from both the French and English!

Bolt Action - R35 vs Sherman
The little R35 tank continues its assault on the American Sherman. 

R35 vs Sherman - Bolt Action Battle Report
And the R35 brought friends!!!

This is where the game ended. I think that it is really interesting that the elite (veteran) forces are the ones that took a beating in this game. On the local tournament scene, most players take veterans for their durability. 

Special thanks goes out to Dave Lamers for running the table and to Randall for helping Dave and for taking this report's pictures. 

Until next time, Happy Gaming Everyone!!!


Written by Jacob Stauttener
Photos and Point Form Highlights by Randall Carder
Photos edited by Jacob Stauttener
Fact Checked and Hosted by Dave Lamers

If you wish to help support Must Contain Minis, we have a sales affiliate relationship with DriveThruRPG and the Wargame Vault. If you make a purchase from either of those sites after using one of the links on this site, a portion of the sales goes towards supporting Must Contain Minis. 

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