Thursday, December 29, 2016

Summoners Journal #2 - The Penguin Knight Event

I can not describe my feelings properly on the Penguin Knight event. "I love it", "I hate it", "It was enjoyable". These emotions doesn't quite fit my feelings on it. "Boring" is a lot closer but still not quite there. I think the best way to show my feelings on the event is to explain how the event works. And before I can get into that I need to explain a few more details about Summoners War mechanics.

I mention in episode 1 that monsters come in grades from 1-star to 5-star and all monsters can be evolved into 6-star monsters. What I didn't go into was how much effort it takes to evolve monsters above 3-star. Evolving a monster has two requirements. First the monster needs to be at max level. A monsters max level will depend on its grade. 1-star monsters max level is 15, 2-star monsters is 20 while 6-star monsters is 40. In essence each grade above 1-star adds 5 to its maximum level. Not only do higher grade monsters have a higher level cap, they also have a different experience table. 1-star monsters require 460 xp to go from level 1 to 2 while 6-star monsters require 1150 xp to do the same. Needless to say the higher a monster's grade, the harder it is to level them up to the cap. The other requirement to evolve monsters is that you need other monsters to sacrifice. The monsters being sacrifice needs to be the same grade as the monster you are trying to evolve (though their level doesn't matter). You also need a number of monsters equal to their star grade. That means to evolve a 3-star monster, first it needs to be at level 25 and you need three other monsters that are also 3-star. To evolve a 5-star monster you need five other 5-star monsters! This is a daunting task. The game does help with this pain staking process by giving out Rainbowmons as possible rewards. Rainbowmons are monsters that can never be used in combat but come at max level for its grade so you can immediately evolve it. That makes them extremely valuable.

With that understanding of how evolving and Rainbowmons work, this is what the event is. Every time you evolve a non Rainbowmon monster into a 4-star, 5-star or 6-star monster, you get a free Rainbowmon. There is a limit on how many Rainbowmons you can earn and of course the event is only a limited duration. So to take advantage of this event you need to evolve as many monsters as possible during this 2 week long event. That means leveling up a large number of monsters as quickly as possible. For me that meant playing the game in a mechanical way to manufacture monsters. The story missions is the best way to level up monsters if you have a single monster strong enough to solo it on the hardest difficulty (all monsters fighting on the team earn the same amount of xp). I probably played a set of maps at least 500 times during one week of this event. Spending most my time playing the same map over and over again is so boring but at the same time the reward is so good that I can not NOT play it.

It was kinda hard to make an equivalent example to miniature gaming. But I think I came up with something with a similar vibe. Imagine if someone near you was running an escalation league that used house rules you were not a fan of and require over half your army be newly assembled (and you have to prove it). However the host is giving out really good door prizes. In addition to door prizes every week you show up with two new units that you put together and painted that week, you get a free box set of your choice. I think most hobbyist (if you can afford the initial investment) would endure playing with bad house rules multiple weeks if it nets you 10 free boxes of miniatures.

And that's basically how I feel about the event. I can't say its a bad event because its giving away really valuable rewards. but at the same time its making me play in a way that makes me hate the game. I played the game a lot less these last 2 weeks following the event. I needed some time off. That said, I have made sizeable improvements because of the event. My account level which was 43 before the event is now max at 50. After playing for over 5 months I never had 6-star monsters until this event. I was close to getting my first 6-star before the event but I needed a small boost from early in the event to finally evolve my water knight into a 6-star. She gain a cool aura and was my strong point for leveling everyone else up.

By the end of the event she reach max level 40 from leveling other monsters. It took nearly the rest of the event to get enough monsters to evolve my second 6-star monster, my dark fairy. I almost considered myself done with this achievement, but the event still have a couple hours left and there were a few more Rainbowmon that I could still earn. So I continued grinding nonstop those last few hours until I got every last reward from the event and I evolve two of my mid tier monsters from 4-star to 5-star.

One of the last rewards I earn from the event is a Light & Dark Scroll. This scrolls is fairly rare and quite valuable. I will go into why this is the case in another episode. Scrolls summon a random monster and up to this point I haven't used the scroll I earn from the event. So I will end this piece by using said scroll now as I'm typing this, write down what monster I got and sign off. Ready ... and I got a Light Bearman. Well I will talk more about this next time. Until then, have fun and thanks for reading.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Thoughts on Battlefront's Christmas Video

Battlefront release a Christmas video on their front page this week. It was a nice brief video where they wish their fans Merry Christmas, reflecting on the past and giving a preview of the upcoming year. It is their plans for next year that I mostly want to talk about. Though I do want to touch upon the Pacific release which was one of the first things mention in the video. I discuss in our podcast how excited I was about the Pacific release leading up to it. Sadly it came out around the time I was getting out of Flames of War. But now I'm getting back into it, I still don't have a interest in it. My excitment for the Pacific comes from me being highly interested in the Pacific naval battles such as Midway. I was hoping Flames of War would expand into naval combat but instead we got more ground combat. And since Battlefront has shot down adapting Team Yankee's aircraft friendly rules to use in mid war because they don't want air power to have a strong presence, my disappointment is complete. I guess Battlefront doesn't want me buy 12 Japanese Zeros. On second thought I don't want me buying 12 Zeroes either. Maybe this is a good thing.

In any case lets move into the new stuff. On the Team Yankee front the big news for me is the book Red Thunder and Stripes. This book expands on the Americans and Soviets, giving both sides new lists and toys to use. In my opinion this was sorely needed. When Team Yankee came out this time last year I thought the US and Soviet lists were a good first start but they both needed more options. I was hoping for new lists and toys within six months of its release. The Soviets did get a new list in that time though I felt the US needed it more. I understand why Soviets got a new list considering the next two nations for Team Yankee were both NATO. I really felt the lack of options in US when the West Germans came out. I know nothing about the British release so I can't say how it compares to the US and West Germans. I knew we were getting new stuff for Soviets. When I came back into the hobby I immediately notice new releases for Soviets in the store which meant a new list had to be on its way. Getting confirmation that the US was also getting new stuff was a relief.

Something I notice near the end of the Team Yankee section was that there going to be new choices for the Warsaw Pact and American forces. Now I'm sure he just misspoke and meant Soviets instead of Warsaw or he uses Soviets and Warsaw interchangeably. But giving that the East Germans will be out next month, upping the number of Warsaw nations in the game up to two, he could have meant that there is a Warsaw list that combines Soviets and East Germans in the new book. Battlefront has made mix nation list before. There are a few mid war lists that combines Germany with the Italians. On second thought, unless the Red Thunder book comes out closer to the end of the Summer, it would be a little too soon to release a mix nation list right after one of those nations got its own release. So I will chalk this up to being a mistake.

The last Team Yankee bit of news was that at the end of year Battlefront wants to release Team Yankee: Vietnam. It will be a stand alone game with all the list in the book. Besides updating the game with TY rule set, it seems they will be adding new stuff to it that wasn't in Flames of War: Vietnam. What I want to know is despite it being its own stand alone game, is it possible to play a game with a nation from Team Yankee:Vietnam against a Team Yankee nation. I know it probably wouldn't be a fair fight due to the difference in technology but if both games are compatible with each other then players would have more options to play with.

The conversation then moved to mid war and Flames of War 4th edition. I stuck my toe in mid war and I enjoyed the experience. Getting plastic Italians is a pleasure to hear. It is also nice personally that if Tracy ever comes back to wanting to play mid war, our forces will be the second release (Americans and Italians) which means it should be out in a more opportune time for us. The fact that mid war is getting is own book is new to me. But then again that would make sense since they are trying to kept Early and Late War as close to third edition as possible while Mid War will look a lot more like Team Yankee. The biggest piece of news for me was that I can get a physical 4th Early/Late War book by exchange my own 3rd edition mini book. This makes me extremely happy because I much prefer physical books and that my mini book started to fall apart as soon as I got it home. The last bit of Flames of War news was they are planning to do organize play. I'm really interested in seeing how that plays out. Great things to look forward to.

These were the highlights for me. I think I pick a good time to hop back into the hobby. Thanks for reading and have a Happy Holiday and Merry Christmas.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Winter Update

It is a little embarrassing to think I was about to start this article with almost the exact same language I used before during this time of year. So instead I will be more direct. I've come to the realization that I need to be a lot more active here and I plan on doing just that in the new year. In many ways the beginning of new year with be a new start for me. In one major way this will be the case is that I will be moving in January. This will affect the blog in two ways. First, even though I plan on being more active next year, a lot of those plans have to wait until after I move. My models are being boxed up and I don't want to order new stuff until I'm at my new address. Second, I'm going to make sure in my new home I will have a place dedicated to working on models and recording video. In the long run this should be good news for the blog. Many of my current projects will be also getting a fresh start in one way or another in the new year. Here is a summary of those projects as well as my status with other games I've mention recently.

Team Yankee/Flames of War - I lost my motivation to keep up with Team Yankee when I had no one to play with. Along with the feeling that my Americans were cursed, I didn't see a purpose to follow a game I had no way of playing. Tracy drop everything gaming related to work on a personal project. He also sold or attempt to sell all his terrain that we used to play with. But he still has his Soviets and mentions how much he miss playing. And I have to admit I do too. Especially since the game has move so far since I've been active. I quit when West Germans were coming out and now we have Britain, East Germans on the horizon and new toys for Soviets. As if this wasn't enough to get me excite, Battlefront announce 4th edition of Flames of War. I always enjoy Flames of War and partially the reason I gave it up was because of Tracy's dislike of how complex the rules were. With 4th edition, it seems Flames of War is getting the stream line treatment Tracy always talked about. With all this excitement, I've decided that in the new year I will work on both Team Yankee and Flames of War stuff so if and when Tracy is able to play again I will have my own painted force to use. Also on a side note I'm planning on doing some traveling by train. If this experience isn't a complete nightmare it will open the door for me to travel around the country to attend wargaming events. As Team Yankee and Flames of War are the games I'm most interested in going to events for, I need to put in the effort to have forces ready if the opportunity presents itself.

I'm taking a fresh start with my Team Yankee force. It seems something always goes wrong when I work on my Americans. So I'm going to start a West German and a Soviet force. I'm going with West German because they seem similar but better than American in most ways. I know Americans have their advantages but I think West German just fit me better. I'm also going to work on a Soviet force because I thought up a silly idea for a list I want to play with. When I realize I could make a list with 20 T-72s and still have almost a fifth of the points available to purchase other things, I wanted to see this in action. I have no idea how I want to spend those points yet but since it will be a while before I will have my 20 tanks, it is a problem I can save for later. I do have another reason for starting my Soviet list. When Tracy becomes available to play again, there are a lot of scenarios I think would be fun to play. The thing is, many of these scenarios require way more T-72s than what Tracy owns. If and when we start making videos and battle reports again, I really want to try to limit the amount of proxying that is require. I don't have the means to grab these armies quickly. What I can say is that when I purchase something new, I will assemble and it paint it as quickly as I can. My first Team Yankee purchases of the year will be 1 Leopard 2 tank and 2 T-72 tanks. The irony here is that I won't be able to finish these tanks until I buy more stuff because I will lack decals since I'm buying just the sprues. At the very least I can get them to the point where I'm done painting them.

On the Flames of War front I'm also going to start fresh with new models. I have a handful of Flames of War stuff that is currently unfinished but I've decided to sideline them for now. The first thing I needed to decided on to restart my Flames of War force was which list to focus on. While it is in my nature to randomly pick up units, Flames of War lists are so varied that I could buy 10 different late war units and there could be a list that has none of those units as options. The Bridge at Remagen book has lists that I enjoyed playing with but instead I went with my last Flames of War purchase, Berlin. There is a lot I can say about the Berlin list but I will saved it for another time. For now I will say my Berlin list is going to start with the Kleinpanzer Wanze. Ever since I first saw a picture of it I wanted the model of this vehicle. With its six Panzerschreck rocket launcher tubes, I so want to see the Wanze in action on the game table. My only regrets about them is that 1. they are only in the Berlin book (to my knowledge) and 2. I can only ever take one unit of them. Once I finish painting an unit of Wanze, I will consider where to go next.

Battletech - My Battletech status is more than a little embarrassing. My friend and myself came up with a scenario to play. We picked sides and crafted special rules to fit our scenario. The only thing we need to do was to fill out our roster. I never finish making my roster and we both stop talking about Battletech. Since then I have forgotten a lot of what we develop for the campaign and my friend has pick up a new Battletech book that covers some of the stuff our campaign is about. Last time I check we both were still interested in playing. We need to get together to review the rules and discuss if we want to change anything with rules from the new book. In the meantime I will post a summary of the scenario we are planning on playing. After we rehammer out the rules, I will post those rules on its own page. I wasn't going to give Battletech its own page but the campaign we design turned out quite a bit more complex than I thought it was going to be. We won't be able to start playing until after I move. I also want to pick up a couple of mechs based on my roster before we start as well. I'm looking at March to be about the soonest we can start our own personal war.

Relic Knights - Relic Knights continues to be the game I'm most excited about that I've never played. The two games of Hordes I played this year reminded me of Relic Knights in many ways. After playing a few more Hordes games I will do an article comparing the two systems. My plans is to do two Relic Knights videos, one in March and the second in May. At this point all my Relic Knights models will be fully painted and I will be looking for games to play. If I do get to play a few games then I will do a third video around July talking about my experience playing the game. That is as far as I can plan out because I still don't know if I will like the game. Everything I've read about Relic Knights tells me it should be something I will really enjoy but sometimes games have deal breaking quirks that you only learn about playing the game yourself. If I do end up not liking the game, I am playing two other games that uses similar bases in which I could use the models for instead.

Frostgrave/Civil War - Both of these went nowhere this summer. I never saw the Civil War group for the rest of the summer. Afterward the summer I stop going to my local store so I had no opportunity to see either of these groups anymore. At this point I have no interest in trying Civil War because I already have so many other things I'm working on at the moment. I would still try Frostgrave as I could use models I already own for that. Still I would put it as a very low priority and its highly unlikely for me to play it before this summer.

Warhammer - I am drawing a blank on where to go with regards to Warhammer. I'm torn between 8th which both my friend and myself enjoys more, and Age of Sigmar which is what I expect to play if I travel around the country. My Holy Moon plans are on hold until I finish a lot of models and terrain. It also doesn't help that there is a lot of armies I want to build. I want an 8th edition Bretonnian army, a goblin army that can be played in either 8th or Age of Sigmar or a "poison" army that also can either be played in 8th or AoS. Until I can decide what to focus on first I think I should probably just work on terrain since I don't have any of my own. My local gaming store has plenty of terrain to use but it would be nice to have my own colorful terrain plus it is something I will need for my Holy Moon project.

Hordes - My second Hordes games didn't go well. We started playing way too late so not only were we rushing, we didn't get to finish. This lead to an unenjoyable experience. That said, I got two things out of the game. One, I learn the game is really picky on facing. This is something I may have an issue with. I need to play more games to know if its something I can deal with or that facing will be such an annoyance for me that its a deal breaker. The other thing I learn is that I can't play with proxies, at least not in the way I was thinking of doing. I had hope I could used my friends Trollblood models to proxy in for my Circle Orboros force. The problem is that it was so confusing trying to keep everything straight (I never had this problem before except playing with the Berlin list in Flames of War). Added to the fact that I was still learning the game and learning what my own force could do made everything a mess.

My friend has picked up a second army which will making learning the game much easier for me. I won't be able to get a feel for my own Circle Orboros force but learning how the game works with a different army will still be helpful. When my friend brought the second army, it included two Circle models which he didn't want so he gave them to me. My initial modelling plans caught a snag. My cockatrice is much too big to be used with Hordes (at least for what I was planning to used it on). Turns out that the Tyranid Hormagaunts are the perfect size to kitbash to make Circle warbeasts. They may be a little small but they should work ... if I could find my remaining sprues! This was a mystery that drove me crazy. I check all my bit boxes and the remaining Tyranid sprues were nowhere to be seen. The box allows you to make 12 Tyranids and I only used 2 bodies for my Forsaken conversions. I suppose I can check again after I move and will have all my hobby stuff in one location. In the event that they never show up, I will have to go back to the drawing board for conversion ideas. I will be buying one thing for Hordes with Christmas money. What, I'm not sure yet. I need to look over the faction deck again to decide what will go with the two monsters my friend gifted me. I might wait until I've played a third game of Hordes before deciding what to get.

Mobile Games - To start I no longer play DC Legends (that was quick). Days after my mobile games post DC had an update that made the game functionally unplayable for me. The required a new client to be download and installed. The new client is such a resource hog that I would had to deleted everything else on my device to update it. While I'm reasonably sure I wouldn't have lost my progress, I enjoy Summoners War way too much to risk it for DC. I also have a Warhammer: Age of Sigmar app on my tablet. When I downloaded the app it didn't include the any war scrolls unless I click on an individual profile. Not something I want to deleted and reinstall every time DC Legends wants to update, which could be as often as once a week. I enjoyed DC Legends but its not a game good enough to endure that kind of headache. I have since started playing a new mobile game though I don't want to say which until I'm sure I'm staying with it. On one side I'm not sure how I could tie it into my blog here, while on the other it does reminds me of Blood Bowl.

Summoners War is something I am still playing (maybe a little too much). I have already posted the first episode of my Summoners War series and I am currently working on future episodes. As I am working on the direction I want to take the series, I am beginning to think maybe not every episode will be link to miniature gaming. I will try my best to link my SW stories to miniature gaming but the narrative may go in a direction where is little or no parallel. In this case I think it would be best for me to not to force an unnatural comparison. My thoughts on Summoners Journal is constantly evolving. The one thing I'm certain about it is that it will be a staple here for a while, especially during my moving.

Shieldmaiden Knights - Shieldmaiden Knights is a project I am still working on. Making them into a Warhammer army is attempting if it wasn't for the fact Games Workshop has so few female models. So for now it will be a side project for when I see interesting female minis. The last time I was in a gaming store, another Reaper's Bone miniature caught my eye. It was a female giant (I don't know if its suppose to be a cloud or storm giant). It look really cool in the package and since its a Bone miniature it's cheap. The next time I am in the store I will be picking up two. I still haven't came up with a history for the Shieldmaidens yet. I will start working on it once the Knights first 3 minis are fully painted.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Warhammer and Charity

The Warhammer Youtubers had a special "Topic of the Week" this week. Vince and Tom have set up a page where people can donate to UNICEF. UNICEF is a charity that helps poor children around the world. I first heard about UNICEF from a TV show host whom has a partnership with them to build desks in schools too poor to have their own. For the past 4 or 5 years I always hear about them during the Christmas season, so UNICEF is something I would support. I am not in a position to be able to give myself so I figure the next best thing is to promote a charity I believe in. And if the thought of giving isn't enough of an incentive to donate, Vince and Tom have sweeten the deal by offering a raffle. From what I understand anyone who donates any amount will be put into a raffle for Games Workshop products they are giving away. To hear more about it from Vince himself, you can watch the video here:

If you want to go directly to their donation page, it is here:

If you are willing and able, please donate. If you are unable to donate then please share this story. Lastly, if you do donate or if this story moves you then please leave a comment below. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all!

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Summoners Journal #1 - My Playstyle

I figure for my first episode of my series combining Summoners War with miniature gaming, I should start by explaining more of how the game works and then go into my own personal play style which is remarkably similar to how I collect miniatures. The monsters come in 5 types: Wind, Water, Fire, Light and Dark. Monsters have versions of them in most if not all of these categories. And while visibly they will look the same, some monster varies greatly depending on its type. For example I have a Water and Dark Fairy. Their base stats are similar (not identical) and their first ability is mostly the same. However their other abilities are completely different. The Water Fairy has a heal and a damaging sleep attack while the Dark Fairy has an arrow attack that could stun and a damaging curse attack that lowers the victim's critical hit rate. A monster's overall power is measurable by its grade. The grades go from 1-star to 6-stars. Higher the grade, more powerful the monster. Monsters have a base or starting grade between 1 to 5 but all of them can be evolved into 6-stars. The game has a turn based combat system. When its a monsters turn to act, they have to used one of their abilities. The first ability can always be used but if the monster has more than one ability then those addition skills will go on a cool down after being used. There is still a lot more to understand about Summoners War but I will leave that for future episodes. For now that should be enough of a primer to get a general idea about play styles.

I've seen some videos done by content creators about what is the most efficient way to play Summoners War. From my own experience I think they are correct. They suggest starting with a goal. There are several dungeons in the game that each require wildly different strategies to complete. Pick one of these that dungeons you want to reach the end first and then build a team to accomplish that. You will probably need to look up what type of abilities you will need such as a healer or a monster with a multi hit basic attack. When you come across a new monster with one of these abilities that you are currently missing, you will either add it to your team or replace a current member of your team if the new monster can perform that role better. For the most part this team of monsters is the only ones you will be using until you can quickly clear the final stage of your goal dungeon. Even if you decide to branch out to play the other dungeons or the story mode areas, you should still only use these monsters. The reason this style is the most efficient way to play is because it takes a lot of effort to strengthen your monsters. By focusing on a small number of monsters at once you can reach their full potential as fast as possible. Clearing out the final stage in the special dungeons (they are called Cairos Dungeons) gives you the most resources you can earn from one place. Once you are able to clear the final stage quickly, you will have the resources needed to transition into anything else you want to do in the game.

Needless to say, this is not how I play the game. Instead I pick monsters that I like the look of, have interesting abilities and/or will fill a void in my lineup. I don't have a set team or even teams. I have a cast of over 20+ monsters that I consider to be my active force. When I attempt to do a mission I choose who from my active force I want to use. In theory since I can tailor what I'm using to take advantage of enemies weaknesses I am able to win fights with weaker monsters. In actuality many in my active force needs a lot of work and there still quite a few holes in my ability to exploit weaknesses. Playing this way is so inefficient because investing in so many monsters at once is very time consuming. Still I enjoy playing the game this way as it allows me to use a wide variety of monsters. My progress is really slow given how much I have played the game but I think this style matches who I am.

Which would makes since, as I have mention, this is similar to how I collect miniatures. I started playing Warriors of Chaos because I love the look of their core troops. After getting enough chaos warriors to fulfill my core requirements I started buying models base on if I like the looks of them or they had rules I wanted to play with. I also never had a standard list. Nearly every time I played Warhammer I wrote up a new list. It was quite rarely for me to ever reuse a list. I quite enjoy making army composition question every game. Did I want to used 2 units of chaos knights in this game or just 1 unit of knights and a chimera? The same is true of my Team Yankee force. I was just buying units and made a new list every time I played. And this will be true Hordes and probably anything else I play. The one exception to this is my idea for a Soviet Team Yankee force. Being more in line with the efficient style of Summoners War, for my Soviet force I will only have a single list and only purchase models that I need for that list. This is how my podcast partner Tracy built his Soviet force. After a few initial games to get an understanding of the rules and how the Soviets work, he made a single list and only brought units that was in that list. Outside of the campaign which had special rules and limitations, that list was the only one he played with. Later in the year he made some adjustments to the list and quickly pick up what he needed for those changes. For me I currently only have an interest in the Soviets because I thought up something a little silly to do with a list. Hint: lots of T-72s are involved! But again the Soviets are the exception. With every other miniature force I much prefer to collect as many different options as possible.

Now that I think about it, this is also how I play many of games as well. I wonder how I develop this habit. I do see some similarities with some classic 80s cartoons I grew up watching like GI Joe, Transformers and M.A.S.K. These types of cartoons have large casts of heroes that do not appear in every episode. Especially with M.A.S.K. as an average episode starts with a problem, following up by selecting which heroes to call in to deal with the problem. In any case, that is about it on discussing my play style. Next time I will talk about the "fun" of the current event. Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Mobile Games: Summoners War & Others

Video games has always been apart of my life. My interest in war games has its roots in video games. Growing up playing games like Masters of Monsters, Dark Wizard and Final Fantasy Tactics had inspired me to design table top games in a similar vein (I later learn those games already exist so I had no need to design them). Mobile games are something I've only recently started getting into. I have a friend that is big into mobile games and he would tell me about the games he played. There was only one game that interest me enough to want to play it myself. I had been thinking about getting a tablet for a while but this game seal the deal for me to pick one up. That one game was Summoners War. I pick up a tablet as soon as I could and I've been playing it ever since.

The game's full title is Summoners War: Sky Arena. Something to keep in mind as Summoner Wars is the name of a different game that also has a table top and mobile version. I wouldn't be surprised if I eventually get into playing Summoner Wars but that is for another time (if you don't notice the difference it's whether "s" is after Summoner or War). Summoners War is a Pokemon like game where you play as wizards summoning monsters oppose to being little kids trying to capture wild animals. What I like most about the game is the designs of the monsters. Many of them I could easily see in a Warhammer or Kings of War army. More than once have I consider trying to paint up a model in the style of the game. Here are some of my favorite units so far.

With the amount of time I spend playing Summoners War I figure I should make some content about it here. What and How is the question. It's not the type of game where I could make a new account and based my force on the characters from Chaos Magic. What units you have available to you is completely random, besides the initial 5. And the more powerful the unit is, the rarer and harder it is to come by. I also don't think I could make it work on my existing account. Since there is no way to rename the monsters it would be incredibly hard to keep track of the Chaos cast from my current monsters. This means trying to do a narrative playing in Summoners War is out of the question. I have consider painting models in Summoners War style before but I'm currently in a position where it is unlikely I will be picking up very many new models soon. There are a lot of ideas in Summoners War that I could use in designing a campaign. However I don't think campaign designing is ideal for a long term and ongoing project. So where does that leave me? What I've decided to do is to write about my "adventures" playing Summoners War and connect the narrative somehow with the miniature hobby. How will this look? I have no idea. This is something I came up with as I was writing this article and I will probably won't know for sure what this will look like until write the first (or maybe the fifth) chapter. This will be a learning experience for me and I hope the end product will be something people will find entertaining.

Since starting Summoners Wars I have tried my hand at a few other mobile games though I haven't found anything I enjoy as much as Summoners Wars. That said, I did come across another game in the same genre that is based on the DC Comics license. It's called DC Legends and it came out this month. This is the second game I've played that seemed to try to cash in on the popularity of another game by using the DC license. The first game was Infinite Crisis which was a DC clone of League of Legends. I don't think clones are necessarily bad. Even though Infinite Crisis blatantly ripped off not only the style of League of Legends but several characters as well, I found the game very fun and entertaining. Too bad the powers that be didn't give it time to find its footing before pulling the plug. What I find most funny about both these games was the way the story justified the games mechanics. In Infinite Crisis an event happen that cause several different universe to merge together. The heroes are disorient because of the effects of the event. They need protectors (ie you the player) to direct them to their goal. In DC Legends case, the Black Lanterns have nearly wiped out all life in the universe. The dead now serve the Black Lanterns as ghosts or shades. Defeating the shades may earn you a shard of a hero's soul. Collect enough shards and you can bring that hero back from the abyss, returning them to life. That is the game's plot. The game's mechanics is that you are able to earn various characters shards in several different ways. Once you have enough shards for a particular character you can recruit them to your team (or power them up if you already have them). I have played many comic book games, but these two are the only ones I've seen that the plot explains the mechanics. In most games the plot ignores that the mechanics even exists.

I don't like it as much as Summoners Wars but I enjoy DC Legends well enough to continue playing for a while. There are some issues I have with the game but it is common for online games to need a few months to work out the kinks. It is highly unlikely I will try to connect anything from the game to any Chaos Magic fluff. On the other hand, there is a DC base war game so it is possible in the future. I don't know anyone who is playing it but the rule book is on the shelf at my local gaming store. I'm not sure what exactly I will be writing about relating to DC Legends, but I will definitely not be posting any pictures from the game. Given the newest of it, I can see myself writing guides about its various features. Once I have two or three articles on DC Legends, I will make a page so that information will be easy to find.

Summoners War
DC Legends

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Returning to Team Yankee

I gave up working on my Team Yankee stuff when Tracy drop it so he can concentrate on a different project. I left off at nearly finishing my first tank. All I needed to do was to shade, add decals and then seal. I encountered a friend last week whom we had convince to get into Team Yankee during our summer demos. He mention that he has some Americans but is having trouble getting the rule book. He also mention another friendly player that has pick up some Team Yankee models. The conversation encourage me to at least finish my current models. Knowing that I still have people to play with renew my interest in the game. So I applied the shade to my almost finish vehicle and this was the result...

Needless to say I didn't get the results I was hoping for. Not entirely sure what I was expecting but this wasn't it. Maybe I was hoping the black would gain a green tinge so it would look very dark green instead of black. What I got was no recognizable change to the black and the grey and blue lines turned green. To say I'm disappointed is an understatement. To fix my tank I need to stripe the paint off and start all over. For now I'm going to put it on the shelf and work on other stuff. The only good thing I can say about this is that I really like the look of the black and green. I think I will use this color scheme for my second company when I want to add a second formation to my list. Unfortunately I'm no longer a fan of my stripe design. Think I still want to same colors but I'm thinking of switch to a camo pattern. In any case I'm putting the pause back on my Team Wraith until I can assess where I want to take them from here. In the meantime for Team Yankee I can put together and paint the Gepard box that I have. I have to admit, even with all the problems I keep running into that it is nice to get back into Team Yankee.

Monday, October 3, 2016

My First Circle Orboros Picks

I spend a day looking over my options for what to play in Circle Orboros and I have to say I am overwhelmed! I could tell the faction deck was pretty thick but I was still surprise at how many cards I got. Even with a handful of duplicates and warlocks needing 2 cards each, I feel like I have more options with Circle Orboros than with any other faction tabletop game I've committed to outside of maybe Battletech. Even if I was in a position to immediate start collecting, I would definitely play many many games with proxies so I would have some clue of what to get. With so many choices, trying to balance an army list between my own unique theme, how I want to play the game and what is actually viable is a little daunting. Fortunately I have experience with multiple different gaming systems to help out.

I've made some initial choices for my army which includes my first 10 point list and strangely enough the focus on my army theme help narrow down what I went with. Warlocks are the most important part of the army and I've decided to settle on 3 for now. Kaya the Moonhunter is my Zifa analogy and the warlock I used in my first list. Kaya and Zifa looks nothing alike so I will be making my own model for her. At one time I had a model for Zifa but I never assembled it and it started to tarnish. I will probably have to get a new model for her after I make sure how big Kaya is. The other warlocks I will be moving forward with are the two versions of Morvahna. Both versions have the abilities and spells I could associate with the ruler of my Fairy army. I haven't came up with a name for her yet but how I envision her looking isn't that different from Morvahna. If I like how she plays I will be picking up one or both Morvahna models, eventually. On the other hand I pick Kaya the Moonhunter because no other warlock had a design I could see Zifa using. I will need other warlocks later on when I expand on the Fairy Army's story to include more characters but for now I will just concentrate on the three.

As for the rest of my 10 point list I use a mix of solo units I'm interested in and a few light warbeast to fill it out. The solo units I'm using are a Druid Wilder, Bloodweaver Night Witch and Gallows Grove. I really like the Druid Wilder, like her game effects and thought it would fit perfectly into my Fairy army. If I enjoy her play style the Druid Wilder will be the first Circle Orboros model I will pick up. Bloodweaver Night Witch on the other hand is something that would be in Zifa's army. Will be looking to convert some for Zifa unless I dislike how they perform in the game. Gallows Grove was added to fill out points. Also it would be something easy to convert for Zifa if I keep it apart of my army. The next part of my list is about light warbests. Laris comes free with Kaya and I paid for Scarsfell Griffon, Wild Argus and Woldwyrd. These picks were mainly for me to get a feel for a variety of warbeasts. Since Laris and Kaya is a team I will need to makeup my own conversion for Laris. Depending on how big it is I may kitbash one of my Tyranid Hormagaunts to make a Zifa's Wild Argus. Lastly I realize I have an incomplete Warhammer Cockatrice which I could use to convert into a Scarsfell Griffon, or one of the other Griffons. Just need to get with my friend so I can compare sizes for my plan conversion to his Trollbloods. Once I get that done I can start work on my custom versions. I also would like to play with my 10 point list this week but that may not happen until next week. I will post any progress I make with Hordes here. Until next time!

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Looking into Hordes

Warmachine/Hordes has been on my radar for a while now. I've been on the verge of picking up Warpborn Skinwalkers to use as Chaos Ogres for some time. A few years ago I played a demo of Warmachine and I enjoy the experience. I didn't get into Warmachine at the time because I wasn't that fond of the steampunk genre. Of course I didn't know about Hordes then.

If you don't know what I'm talking about Warmachine and Hordes are two related but different sister games. They each have mechanics unique to them. Warmachine is game base around having a wizard whom controls arcane golem-like constructs called Warjacks. Hordes is based around having a wizard whom controls monstrous beast. Both systems are compatible with each other so a Warmachine army can fight against a Horde force. Storywise both games are in the same fictional universe called Iron Kingdoms.

Iron Kingdoms on a whole seems to be a mix of traditional fantasy and steampunk. And since I'm still not a fan of steampunk, you are probably wondering what change? Well, it starts with my friend Phil. He is my Warhammer friend. He plays a lot more games than I do and sometimes he gets in the mood to play a certain game for a while. He recently told me he has the itch to play Hordes lately. For me this would be a good time to learn the game. Phil owns a large collection of Trollbloods, enough for the both of us play each other. Beside Phil, my local gaming store has a large community of Warmachine/Hordes players. I'm sure that once I get my own army I can easily setup or join a Warmachine/Hordes campaign.

The question for me is which force to pick? I was surprised when I look into what is available that there were only 4 Horde nations plus mercenaries. I had to remind myself that Hordes is technically only half of the game. Of the four nations I keep coming back to Circle Orboros. Whatever I play in Hordes, that force will be connected to the fluff I've started here on the blog. In thinking about how I want to expand my story, I came up with three ideas I could use a Hordes force. Unfortunately all three ideas would be closest represented by Circle Orboros. Those ideas are a Zifa force, a Fairy/Nature force and a off-shoot of the Shieldmaidens. My first idea for Hordes was a Zifa Winter small force. Zifa has been one of my favorite characters even though most if not all of her material has been deleted here because of cancelled campaigns. She is a chaos sorcerer and apprentice to the Chaos King. Her epithet is Dark Druid and more so than my other characters I envision her army looking quite a bit different than what my collection can show. The downside to me making a Zifa army is that I want to expand my collection beyond chaos and Zifa's Horde army would probably require more than a few conversions. The second option is a brand new army for me. I develop the idea of a nature army while working on the plot of my Holy Moon series. I haven't read the fluff of the Circle Orboros but my guess would be its similar to what I have in mind for my nature army. The third option I beginning to think would not be a very good fit. I'm still working on who and what the Shieldmaidens are and while I can imagine part of the organization could have a druid-like element to it, that would be a reach and takes them in a direction I'm not sure about yet. The reason I pick Circle Orboros for the Shieldmaidens is because the other 3 Hordes nations fit the maidens even less.

I guess with what I've said so far my choice for what to play in Hordes should be obvious. Just need to come up with a name for my fairy/nature army. I did play my first game of Hordes today and I enjoy it very much. I am confident now that Hordes will be a game I can get into though it will be a while before I will have my own army. I did pick up the Circle Orboros 2016 deck so I should have all the stats of every Circle Orboros unit in the game. This will allow me to play with proxies until I am able to purchase an actual force. Plus since I will have the rules and look up model's base sizes, I can kitbash my leftover Chaos stuff to make part of my Zifa army as well. My Zifa army and fairy army will look nothing alike but while I am short on both, I don't mind mixing them up. Let see where Hordes take me!

Friday, September 16, 2016

A Short Update

I'm current working on a few pieces that I had hope would be out soon. An article about my BattleTech Campaign plans, possible new game I'm thinking about getting into, the paint job on my Team Yankee tanks or a Topic of the Week were all things I was working on and had hope at least one of them would be out by now. That didn't happen thanks in part to me getting extremely sick this week. I wasn't able to accomplish anything this week (outside of planning out my National Write a Novel Month novel for this year somehow through delirium). After seeing a doctor today I have manage to recover significantly and hope to release something this weekend. I can only hope because I haven't heal from my illness yet, I'm just feeling much better. Thank you for your interest.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Holy Moon Update

With everything else that I'm working on I felt I need to discuss the reasons why my Holy Moon/Scarlet Nights series hasn't started yet. First and foremost when I decided to do Holy Moon I had very little planned out. I figured that since many of the plot points were going to be decided by the results of game battles, I could just make up the story as I went along. The only things I had worked out was the meaning of the name and concepts of a few main characters that I later work to flesh out. I figure I could just wing it since the result of games would have an affect on the story. I saw myself similar to being a comic book/manga writers that release a new chapter weekly or monthly. But then I realize I was mistaken. Most manga artist probably don't write their stories on the fly. They spend a lot of time developing their story before its starts being release. Sure in many cases the story develops in ways that is either different or in new ways the author didn't initially plan but overall professional writers knows the high points of their story. I know of examples of manga artist putting their work on hiatus so they focus working on their story.

Realizing this, I knew I was unprepared to start writing a serial. Of course I can't have a hard outline of the plot since I want game results to have an impact on the story. However I do need to have a better understanding of my plot elements. In advance I need to know who are the major players in the world that have the potential of appearing in the story and I need to know what are their goals. That way I will have a firm understanding of what the stakes are in each battle as well as know what each side will do next if they win/lose. So on this front I need to do a lot of prep work to make the vision I have for my series work. Prep work I will enjoy doing and now have more time for.

For most of this year Team Yankee has crowded out my other miniature hobbies, which is another reason I haven't done anything with Holy Moon. But now that my podcasting partner is focusing his time on a different project, it doesn't make as much since for me to all my hobby time into Team Yankee at the moment. Which is a little sad with so much movement with Team Yankee as West Germans were just release and British is coming out next month! I didn't expect British to be coming so soon. I'm not completely abandoning Team Yankee as I still have a lot of work to do on my models but since it is unlikely I will be able to play a game of it anytime soon, it is now no longer a focus of me.

Speaking of models that need work, there is one last point I want to make on the Holy Moon delay. I don't limit my imagination to the games I'm playing. Instead I let it run wild and then later try to conform those ideas into a game system. As a result many of the story concepts I want to write about are models that I do not own yet. And the ones that I do are unassembled and/or are not painted. Painting has always been my bane in this hobby. Getting something on the table so I can play has always been my one number priority. Painting has been an important but distance second. But that is not going to work for essentially a miniature comic so I need to overcome my personal insecurities with painting. Getting my sizeable collection fully assembled and painted is not only a must but a start for something new for me as well. Up to this point I never had to consider buying or building terrain. I have always join communities that already had plenty of terrain so their was no need for me to add to it. With the Holy Moon project I now have great need for not only my own terrain but also miniature set pieces you would find in a board game. I can still use the terrain at my local gaming store when I'm playing out the game battles. What I need terrain for is the fiction sections of Holy Moon. Much like a light novel, I want to have a few images to go with my story parts. That means I need appropriate terrain to take pictures of. I'm thinking I will be reusing a handful of locations for these images. Throne room, meeting hall, camp fire and the like. So I don't have to pick up a lot of terrain (at least not immediately) but considering I currently have none this will take some time. And the exact terrain I will need will be depended on where my prep work discuss above will take me. Since this all will take a while, in the mean time I will post pictures of finished Holy Moon models. This will gives myself and anyone interested a sense of progression until Holy Moon is ready to start. Thanks for your interest.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Fulda Gap Ending

It was decided to end the campaign a little earlier than planned after 20 games played instead of 24. Since it was the last day of the campaign (this was about a month ago) Tracy and myself decided to travel to Oklahoma so we could play with the rest of the group. With nearly everyone together we finish the campaign with 2 team battles, played simultaneous. Both games were 2 versus 2 using the No Retreat mission. While no one had access to additional points, all the other special campaign rules were in affect including a few new ones. The US couldn't use laser-guided projectiles except with off-board artillery. The reason for this was to assume the US side had run low on copperhead ammunition since every US player spam them. The US reserve rules were change in that the roll succeeds on a 4+ instead of a 5+. Lastly the US morale rules were changed. As long as the total US force has more than 50% of its formations in Good Spirits and at least 1 US force commander on the table then no formation morale check is need. Once the percent drops below 50 then any US force that cannot make a formation check fails automatically and is removed at the end of US turn. All other morale checks follow the normal rules. The reason for this change was to make sure a player didn't get eliminated too early. In the end it didn't affect either of the 2 games.

I had plan to do a battle report of the game I was apart of but that would have require more time than I had. Battle reports greatly extends the length of a game because I have to pause after every turn to take pictures and notes. Since there was a very real end time and teams games have the potential take longer than one on one games, I decide to scrap the battle report plan. Here are some pictures I took of the game.

The US and Soviets forces each won one game. The US won the game I was apart of. The game was played along the length of the table and a river bisected the battlefield. It was ruled that the T-72s could cross the river with a bogging check but couldn't end their turn on it. We as the US players line the river with minefields. This made the river effectively a barrier that the Soviet didn't want to cross. Since they couldn't proceed with their swarm of T-72s and BMPs, the Soviets gamble by advancing their air support and had hopes of taking out high priority targets. Unfortunately for the Soviets, the US brought plenty of anti-aircraft fire to deal with the Soviet's air. Without ground support, the Hinds and Frogfoots vanish into balls of smoke and fire. With the rest of the Soviet's force stalled, it gave the US time to get reserves in. The US off-board artillery drop a minefield into the middle of a swarm of Soviet infantry and vehicles which locked them down and served as the final nail in the coffin. I brought six M109s and I could drop bombardments that could easily hit 10 or more infantry and vehicles (their first shot was to drop 2 more minefields). With so much concentrated firepower the Soviets were just shredded. By turn 3 one of the Soviet players were completely eliminated. The other Soviet player wanted to continue a little longer but after one more turn realize there was nothing he could do.

The results on the other table were vastly different. I wasn't able to follow what was going on but I did get a few highlights. Like our table, the US over there had plenty of anti-aircraft fire power. Realizing this Tracy loitered his Hinds off the board until the Soviet ground forces were able to deal with some of that AA. Once it was safe Tracy brought the Hinds back on the board, which took the US players by surprise. I think they completely forgot about the Hinds. The game was decided when Tracy's partner dash an unit on to the objective without the US players realizing it. The Soviet player didn't know dashing units cannot take objective but the US player now alerted to the danger was unable to contest or remove the unit so the Soviets won anyway.

During the game I had over heard US won air superiority. I still don't fully understand how the extra air assets is determine but apparently air superiority for one side is a possibility. What this means is that one side gets the maximum air assets available while the other gets very little. Now knowing this, there was a past campaign turn where I am pretty sure Soviets won air superiority. For the final games, this was another factor for the US on my table winning so big. Not sure how Tracy was able to manage on the other table but it seems the Soviets over there were in full control of that game.

The final campaign score was 70 to 54 (or something like that) for a Soviet victory. I didn't write down the final score but it was in that range. Overall the campaign was very fun to be apart of. The Campaign Manager came up with many interesting and unique mechanics for the campaign. Some I thought were great and added to the game, while others probably sounded better on paper than in practice. My personal favorite aspect of the campaign was that battles were based on real locations. Using google maps as a reference, I got to play on uniquely design game boards that players probably would never that thought to setup. Playing on these types of boards change how I see Team Yankee for the better. Now that the campaign is over, discussion can be done to improve the ideas used in this campaign so that the next one will be even better. At this point I am unsure if I will be able to participate in the next campaign though I will love to follow what's going on with it. In the meantime I will continue be working on Team Yankee models. Until next time!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Breakthrough at Mackenzell

Here is the third Fulda Gap Campaign battle report. This battle uses several special rules and those rules are detailed on the Fulda Gap Campaign page. Also this game uses a lot of proxies and partial assembled/painted models.

As usually, we are given pictures to model the battlefield after. This is a field neither of us would have put together on our own. The yellow and green bushes we normally use count as full woods in this game. That meant line of sight is incredibly hard to come by on the western side of the board. Units had to be almost right next each other to see, and sometime not even then. The white rocks counted as crates which we both avoid as much as possible. All in all a very strange board to play on.

Here is the very crowded Soviet force. Soviets did receive an additional 25 bonus points. The Soviet list includes the following:

Main Force

HQ T-72 x1
T-72 x3 w/ mine clearing devices
T-72 x3 w/ mine clearing devices
T-72 x3 w/ mine clearing devices
BMP-2 motor rifle company (AK-74 x4, RPG-7 x3, BMP-2 x4)
2S1 Carnation x3
2S1 Carnation x3
BMP-1 OP x1
ZSU-23-4 Shilka x4
SA-13 Gopher x4
MI-24 Hind x6
Frogfoot x4

25 Extra Points

T-72 x3 (added one to each of the three T-72 units above. Therefore, each unit of T-72s above had four tanks in them, not three)
Shilka x4
Shilka x2 (this unit was place into Flanking Delayed Reserves)
Gopher x4

In addition to this the Soviets Campaign assets are a BMP-1, Hinds x3 on Turn 1 and Frogfoot x2 on Turns 2 & 3, and the Off-Board Artillery is 2S1 Carnation x6.

Here is the US force pictured. The picture includes the following:

Main Force

HQ M1 Abram
M1 Abrams x3
M1 Abrams x3
A-10 Warthog x2
AH-1 Cobra x2
M163 VADS x4
M109 w/Copperheads x6

In addition to this the US Campaign assets are a FIST x1, AH-1 Cobra x2 on Turn 3, A-10 Warthog x2 on Turn 2 and the Off-Board Artillery is M109 x3 w/ Copperheads and Bomblets.

The US has Immediate Reserves which meant half my units had to be place in reserves. The gap in the picture above shows which units start on the table (front half) and which units were in reserves (aircraft and second Abrams). The first unit of Abrams are sideways to show they are also in Ambush.


This time we got the Breakthrough mission which divides the field into quarters. The Soviets have the Northeast table quarter. The US can deploy in either the Northwest and/or Southeast quarters. Given that the Southeast has almost no terrain in it, I deploy most my force in the Northwest. The Southwest quarter is were the attacker places the objectives and his reserves come in. The defender (US) has to place half their force in Immediate Reserves and may place an addition unit into Ambush, which I already describe above who went where. No one can win the game until turn 6. The attackers are trying to control at least one of the objectives while the defender is trying to push the attackers away from the objectives.

Since the Southeast had almost no terrain I deploy a single FIST in very small patch of woods so I could have some vision on the Soviets. Everything else US deployed in the Northwest. I quickly learn the M109s could not see anything without a spotter unless the target is within 6 inches. The VADS and HQ wasn't much better. The Soviets had trouble trying to fit its large force into its deployment zone. Soviets got first turn.

Turn 1

Soviets failed to get in the Off-Board artillery and strike aircraft this turn. Several unit chase after the lone FIST but it was the machine guns of the Hinds that had first crack at it. The volume of bullets hit the FIST multiple times causing it to bailed out multiple times. This force remount checks which failed and cause the FIST to run off. All of the T-72s moved towards the main body of the US. One unit could fire on a single M109 and destroyed it. Two units fire on the other FIST and a lucky shot destroyed it. The last unit fired at the HQ and penetrated the armor. However he failed the firepower check so he only bailed the HQ Abram out.

US failed to get Strike Aircraft but did manage to get reserves and Off-Board Artillery. The artillery ended up being a hollowed victory since no one had vision to spot for it. I brought the Abrams in from reserves though I kept the the ambushing unit hidden. The Abrams moved up along the northern board edge and fired on an unit of T-72s. 4 shots landed but did no damage because 3 made their armor saves and I failed firepower on the glancing hit. My HQ blew up a nearby T-72. No one else could see anything so that was it for my turn.

Turn 2

For Turn 2 Soviets did not get their own strike aircraft but the campaign gave them 2 Frogfoots and they receive Off-Board Artillery. The leaders of the Hinds and Frogfoots spotted for artillery, Hind for Off-Board and Frogfoot for on board. The Hind was able to range in to hit 6 vehicles, resulting in the destruction of one VADS and one M109. The Frogfoot spotter failed to range in. Many T-72s shot at the HQ and doing nothing. This included two T-72 rolling 6 and 5 to hit, which I followed it up with 5 and 6 for my armor save. Another unit of T-72s return fire on the newly arrive unit of Abrams and bailed out 1 tank. Two groups of Shikas shot at the VADS and only bailed out one vehicle. The unit of 3 Hinds launch Spiral missiles at the Abram unit. This destroyed 2 Abrams and bailed out the third (the Abram bailed out earlier was destroyed). The other Frogfoot fire a missile that went wide. The remaining members of the six Hinds fired on the VADS. The anti-aircraft fire of everything I had left downed 3 of the 5 firing Hinds. The two left over Hinds destroyed another VADS. Because all the destroyed Hinds were around the leader leaving no else near him, this force a morale check which the Hinds failed and flew off. The VADS and Abrams also had to do morale checks but they both passed. It is at this point we both realize we could have used the mistaken targets rule to lessen our damage. Live and learn.

US did not get their strike aircraft but did get nearly everything else. I got Off-Board Artillery, reserves which I pick the Cobras to come in and the campaign assets gave me 2 A-10s this turn. A single M109 could see a Shilka and then blew it up with a straight shot. The single Abram remounted and returned fire on the T-72s. One T-72 was bailed out while a second was destroyed. My HQ fired at a different unit of T-72s and destroyed 1. The bailed out VADS remounted so he was able to shot. He returned fire on the Shilkas and destroyed one. The Cobras came in and spotted for the Off-Board Artillery and ranged in on the perfect spot, getting 5 vehicles under the template. Was only able to destroy a single Shilka though. The A-10s endured a lot of AA fire which eventually brought down a plane. The other plane Maverick missile a T-72, destroying it. Despite all the destruction, not enough concentrated fire happen to force a check on the Soviets. Rules wise we learn the aircraft are subject to the no movement requirement of being a spotter (at least when spotting for someone else). We allowed the Cobras to spot because the Soviets did the same on his turn.

Turn 3

Soviets this time gain both their own strike aircraft and the campaign gave them 2 Frogfoots. However the Soviets did not get in their Off-Board Artillery. Gophers tried to take down the Cobras but couldn't land anything. An unit of BMP tried to dash towards the objective but most of them bogged down instead. Shilkas took out their arch-rivals by bailing out the remaining VADS and the VADS failing the morale check to stay in the game. The HQ/T-72s knife fighting ended with the destruction of my HQ tank, but the character survive to jump into a M109. A different unit of T-72s move up to deliver side shots into the lone visible Abram, killing him. A lot of firepower went into the M109s but the only result was a single bailed out vehicle. That vehicle was bailed out twice with the help of the mistaken target rule and made the follow up remount check.

The US failed to get in strike aircraft. Their last reserved automatically came in but it was the A-10s so it didn't help. Off-Board Artillery was available and the campaign gave the US 2 Cobras. However due to the sheer amount of AA fire I felt it wasn't worth the risk to fire. The other Cobra unit tried and failed to range in for the perfect Off-Board Artillery template. The bailed out M109 failed to remount. Two other M109 had targets but roll a combine of 3.

Turn 4

No strike aircraft or reserves for the Soviets. They did get their Off-Board Artillery but had no option to actually use it. An unit of T-72s roll into the forest to wipe out the M109s but manage to only destroy one vehicle. It did force a moral check which the M109s passed. The Shilkas and Gophers combine fire over 30 shots at two Cobras and manage to only bring down one. No one else could see or was in range to fire.

US strike aircraft finally came in ... and were shot down. Off-Board Artillery did become available. A M109 remounted. All remaining M109s, including the now HQ fired straight shots into an unit of Shilkas. Only one hit but each hit is a death sentence. The campaign asset Cobras spotted for the Off-Board Artillery and ranged in on Gophers behind a hill. One Gopher was destroyed and a second was bailed out. The lone Cobra from the main list loitered off the board.

Turn 5

Soviets got both strike aircraft and Off-Board Artillery though the latter wasn't able to be used. Shilkas came in from reserves and took out the Cobras. A lot of firepower went into finishing off the M109s but could only bail them all out. Infantry was able to move onto the objective while the rest of the force spread out to prevent the US ambushing unit from entering. The M109s failed the morale check and were destroyed. However the M109 turned HQ was still around.

I was unable to reveal the ambush which meant there was nothing the US could do to stop the Soviets from winning next turn. The HQ did manage to remount and as a final middle finger to the Soviets destroyed a Shilka which force a morale check. The check failed, forcing the Shilkas to run off and giving US its second unit kill. That meant on top of Turn 6 Soviets win 5 to 2 instead of 6 to 1!

Friday, July 8, 2016

The Boardgame Power Grid

Last Friday I had played the board game Power Grid for the first time. It was also the first time I even heard of it. I quickly took a liking to it for two different reasons. Now I just need to find a way to fit it and its many expansion into my budget.

Power Grid is a family resource management game. The end goal is to power the most cities by the time the game is over. You generate power by buying power plants which are sold in an auction. Every power plant is different and as the game goes on more efficient and powerful plants become available to purchase. The trick is to know when to spend money on upgrading your power plant while making sure you keep enough cash to buy "houses" and fuel for those power plants. "Houses" represent what cities you are supplying power to and they are a big drain on your funds late game. For my first game I had little idea what was going on for the first third of the game before things "click" for me. From that point on I truly enjoyed playing even though I had to play catch up. I ended the game in 4th place out of 6 players. Not bad for my first try considering 2nd, 3rd and 4th place were really close to each other. In fact if the order the players for the last turn was different, I could easily had been in 3rd or even 2nd.

I'm not sure what is in the default game box. The owner of the game I played with had every expansion. I believe the default has 2 maps in it with many many more available in the expansions. I was told each map greatly changes the gameplay of the game. That along with one randomly chosen section of a map is not used makes the replay value limitless. I've only played it once but I have an overwhelming desire to play many more times. I've had this feeling on very few board games I've just played. And while this strong desire mostly comes from the fact that I think Power Grid is an well design enjoyable resource game, there is another reason it appeals to me.

For a while now I have been wanting to put together a "Frankensteinish" grand campaign out of using 3 to 5 board/war games. Games that on their own have nothing to do with each other normally but with some home brew adjustments now have some connection. A rough example with only 2 games would be like playing the RISK board game and replace its combat resolve system with playing a battle of Warhammer Fantasy. Now I really don't like RISK or at least default RISK but the example is in theory what I would love to play with 4 or 5 games. I got the idea for this from my experience playing classic Star Craft and wanting to port some elements of real-time strategy to tabletop war games. To my knowledge a game like this doesn't exist which means I need to cobble together a system from other great games. Power Grid is the first game I found that would work perfectly in this vain, assuming the war game is either Team Yankee or possible Battletech. A Star Craft on the tabletop game to me would be a war game with elements of resource gathering/energy generation, researching tech trees and building construction. I've played in a few campaigns that tried to add some of these elements to the war game but the results were mediocre at best (to be fair these design concepts are not easy to fit into a war game). Power Grid is perfect to handle the resource gathering/energy generation aspect for a modern/sci-fi game. Of course I'm still short one or two board games to make it work but I'm happy to know I have a firm base with Team Yankee and Power Grid.

Rio Grande Games is the maker of Power Grid.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Tanks Surprise!

I did mention in my Summer Update that it was possible that a new game can suddenly catch fire and gain my attention. And that is exactly what happen with Tanks. Tanks is a World War 2 tank skirmish game by Gale Fore Nine which is the same/sister/parent company to Battlefront whom makes Flames of War and Team Yankee.

I first notice Tanks early in the year when on the podcast we discuss BattleFront's plans for this year. Tanks was on the list but it wasn't a big deal for me. I thought it was going to similar to Tank Ace which wasn't a great game in my opinion. I was also transiting from Flames of War to Team Yankee and it didn't make sense for me to go backwards. I next hear about Tanks in May after Tracy seen reviews of it and was now excited by it. Personally I was still not that interested but I was willing to give it a shot now. Plus the price point of the basic game is a really good deal. When you factor in a Battlefront tank usually cost between $8 to $12 for one, the basic game gives you a rule book, all the components to play the game, stat cards for all the tanks (or at least all the tanks in the first wave) and 3 tanks for $25! I had mix feeling on it after my first game. I found the rules simple and easy to understand but I was worried that they might be too simple. Also losing a game I was up 2 tanks to 1 simply because my tanks had lower initial so I got out maneuvered without there being anything I could do about it almost ruined the game for me. The thought of using different tanks with different upgrades intrigue me enough to give the game another chance. That chance came the following Saturday and demo day for me. Tracy told me there was a lot of local interest in Tanks so he wanted to demo Tanks instead of Team Yankee that week. I wasn't crazy about this as I thought the only way to build up Team Yankee support was to be at the store every week demoing it. Plus I still didn't think the Tanks was going to popular for a logistics reason I will get into in a bit. That Saturday the store was packed and it was nearly an hour before we were able to get access to a table. While we were waiting Tracy was at the front picking up paints. Someone walked passed us and out of the corner of my eye I thought I saw the Tanks's box. I brought this up with Tracy and he mention he didn't think anyone else at the store would have the game. At this point the store clerk told us the HAD copies of Tanks but they were now all sold out.

To say we were shock doesn't give the event justice. Our LGS is notoriously bad at getting Battlefront products in. When I first got into Flames of War I ordered a single Panther pack from our store. To this day that order has NEVER came in. They got the Team Yankee box sets 2 months after they were release and beside the token set, our game store doesn't have anything else from Team Yankee on the shelf. So with how bad the store has historically been getting Battlefront stuff in we were really really surprise that they had Tanks on release. They didn't get much but what they did get sold out before we got there. By the time a table opened up we were having conversations with 3 - 5 people about Tanks. At that point it made complete sense to me to demo Tanks. There was a lot of enthusiasm for the game I didn't realize was there. By the time we left I had play another game with British (I didn't like the German national rule) and for the first time I was excited for Tanks. After talking about it all week, I expected to demo Tanks again the following Saturday. Nevertheless, when we got there we found the appetite for Tanks was greater than we could have imagine. The store has a table in front with new merchandise display on it. That week had a lot of Tanks stuff on it. 2 box sets of the base game, several expansion packs for the Panther, StuG G and Sherman. There was also a single expansion pack for the Pershing which Tracy immediately brought ... damn him. Apparently the store got 5 starters in and probably the same amount of expansions for everything available.

The fact that when we setup the demo table, we weren't the only table in the store playing Tanks is when it finally hit me that this game will be huge locally. There was at least 3 other people whom had already invested in the game and the expansion packs were disappearing fast. With so much interest my willpower to resist failed and I pick up the base game and the Panther and Sherman expansions. A slight issue with the game was that Tracy and myself keep wanting to take some of the same upgrade cards and one basic set didn't have enough for us both. Me having my own copy would mean this would no longer be an issue. In retrospect I wish I either got the Pershing pack instead of the Sherman or I just waited a week for it. With the Starter having 2 Sherman in it, I really didn't need a third at this time. Especially since the unique card that comes with the Sherman pack isn't very good. Oh well, at least I'm building up my collection. The base set does give me my first batch of terrain. It is only 2d cutouts but I now have the option to do my own battle reports.

The biggest thing I realize about getting into Tanks is that I miss Flames of War. I quit playing mainly because Tracy no longer had any interest in it. Also I own very little Flames of War stuff. Tracy had a lot of Germans but not really the stuff I wanted to play with. I picked up a few of my favorite German choices but FoW list are fairly large and I had a long way to go before I could get close to owning my own army. A big reason for this is that infantry is extremely important in Flames as well as more troublesome to put together model wise. It sadden me that I put a fair amount of work developing my fictional WW2 German army and then quit Flames of War before I finish a single model for it. The surge of Tanks is great for me in that I can bring back my Himmlisch Drachen Stamm as well as build up my World War 2 tank collection for when I decide to get back into Flames of War. I don't plan on this happening anytime soon but it will be nice when it does to have parts of my army already done. At least playing Flames of War proper. Adapting Team Yankee's rules to Flames of War is probably something I will get to sooner rather than later. And if I can get something done that is playable I could probably get Tracy to try it.

Lots of prospects for interesting projects. Even just sticking to Tanks the sky is the limit on what to do. Locally there will be enough players to do any tournament, league or campaign that is well put together. Just need to decide what I want to do. Before I choose, I will make an effort to put together and paint the 5 tanks I currently own (and find my unfinished box of FoW Panzer IV Hs). I got advice from Vince Venturella on my priming issues so that will no longer be a road block for me. I will need to get a new can of primer. Think I will go with a red primer to use on Germany and Britain. Grey should work well as a secondary color for my Germans. I have time to think of something different to do for Britain as they are not out yet. Tanks is pushing me to experiment with the hobby. Good times!

Monday, June 27, 2016

Defense of Mittelaschenbach

This is a battle report of my second game of the Fulda Gap Campaign. As before this game has several special rules unique to the campaign. These rules are detailed on Fulda Gap Campaign page. Warning, this game does use a lot of proxies. Between me still working on my models and the campaign giving out additional units we weren't planning on getting, proxies are unavoidable.

This was the battlefield and it was quite interesting. The western part of the map is completely opening making it really dangerous. There is a small patch of trees in the south just left in the picture. In the middle of the map moving towards the east is a giant hill. The hill has an east-west road that is flank rows of trees on both sides, which really made line of sight a headache. On the far east there is a larger patch of trees with a small clearing inside the forest.

Here is a picture of the entire Soviet force. The Soviet did receive an additional 25 points which was used to purchase new units. The following has the components of the main list as well as what the extra points were spent on:

Main Force

HQ T-72 x1
T-72 x3 w/ mine clearing devices
T-72 x3 w/ mine clearing devices
T-72 x3 w/ mine clearing devices
BMP-2 motor rifle company (AK-74 x4, RPG-7 x3, BMP-2 x4)
2S1 Carnation x3
2S1 Carnation x3
BMP-1 OP x1
ZSU-23-4 Shilka x4
SA-13 Gopher x4
MI-24 Hind x6
Frogfoot x4

25 extra points

Hind x6
Shilka x4
Shilka x2
Gopher x4

In addition to this the Soviets Campaign assets are a BMP-1 OP x1, MI-24 Hind x3 on Turn 1, Frogfoot x3 on Turns 2, 4, 5, 6, and the Off-Board Artillery is 2S1 Carnation x6.

Here is a picture of the US force. The US also receive an additional 25 which was used to boost the HQ and purchase new units. The following has the components of the main list as well as what the extra points were spent on:

Main Force

HQ M1 Abram
M1 Abrams x3
M1 Abrams x3
M113 Mech Platoon x3
M901 ITV x2
M163 VADS x4
M109 x6 w/ Copperheads
A-10 Warthog x2

25 extra points

HQ M1 Abram (essentially the second in command)
ITV x2
ITV x2
Mech Platoon x3 w/ extra dragon missile team

In addition to this the US Campaign assets are a FIST x1, AH-1 Cobra x3 on Turn 1, A-10 x 2 on Turn 1, A-10 x 1 on Turn 2 and the Off-Board Artillery is M109 x3 w/Copperheads and Bomblets.


The campaign pick our mission for us: Free-For-All. The Soviets is attacking from the north while the US is defending from the south. The key elements of this battle is that everything starts on the board and the person with first turn is decided by a die off after deployment. The person with first turn can not use artillery or aircraft. If that person has campaign assets that come in on Turn 1, all their campaign assets get pushed back a turn. Both players place two objectives in their opponent's deployment zone (within 8 inches of the long edge).

Most of the US lightly armored unit deployed on the eastern objective, surrounded by trees. That made the objective easily defended and dangerous to take. As such, the Soviet practically didn't try. Instead all the action centered on western objective which was out in the open. The hill protected the Soviets very long line of Anti-Air and artillery. The Abrams were out in the open to face enemies coming around the hill. I was hoping the hill along with the double forest on top would help protect the Abrams flank but there is no spot safe from Soviet Aircraft!

Turn 1

The US won first turn which is a mix blessing as now most their units can not shoot, campaign assets are now pushed back, unable to use aircraft and the lost of the Off-Board artillery. Trying to make the most of it, the Abrams moved forward and the VADS that were behind them moved north to shoot at Hinds. A Mech platoon and ITV unit dash towards the clearing on the western side. Almost half of those vehicle got bogged down in the woods. The VADS were only in range of 2 Hinds and took one out. One unit of Abrams fired and wiped out the visible Carnations. The remaining Abrams combine their fire at the T-72s but only manage to bail out 2 tanks. This did force a morale check which the T-72s failed and ran off.

Soviets did manage to get in their Strike Aircraft on their turn as well as the Off-Board artillery. Two rounds of artillery fail to achieve anything as one failed to range in while the other range in on the ITV and Mech Platoons. Hits were made but the vehicles made their armor save. A unit of T-72s moved up the hill and shot at the VADS, destroying one. On western side, BMPs shoot at the HQ which destroyed the second in command. Frogfoot unit fired on some Abrams destroying one. That shot cost the Frogfoot half their numbers as 2 were shot down by 2 VADS. Of the 3 units of Hinds, one loiter off by mistake, the campaign hinds fired and missed while 5 copter fire on Abrams. The AA fire cost the Hinds another member and in turn got 2 hits, which the Abrams made their saves so no damage got through.

Turn 2

US failed to get Off-Board Artillery but got both campaign and normal strike aircraft in. I put the campaign A-10s in the northeast of the map to thin out the AA there but instead the A-10s got shot down. My M109s fire Copperheads at 4 Hinds but one hit land and the Hind made it save. The unit of 3 Abrams move under the Hinds so they could fire on shilkas hiding behind the hill. The volley destroyed 3 Shilkas, but the remaining one made the morale check to stay. The unit of 2 Abrams move on top of the hill and fired on AA vehicles, wiping out the unit of 2 Shilkas and destroying a single Gopher. My HQ moved into the woods to get cover but got bogged down, leaving its rear to the enemy. The ITVs in those woods shot at the BMPs, destroying 1. On the east side the men dismounted and moved forward. Their transports move up and fire machine guns at the Shikas in the woods but did no damage. The Cobras flew in and drop the salvo on Soviet soldiers, killing 2 and pinning the unit. My own A-10s fired on the T-72s on the hill but rolled snake eyes.

Soviets failed to get their strike aircraft and Off-Board Artillery in but the campaign gave him 3 Frogfoots. The BMPs shot at Abram HQ stuck in the woods. HQ failed two saves and got destroyed. I also failed my commander save to jump into another vehicle. The commander and an unit of T-72s shot at the Abrams on the hill, destroying one of them. The remaining Abram failed its morale check and fled the battlefield. The Hinds shot at the full strength Abrams and destroyed 2. The campaign Frogfoots destroyed the FIST that was out in the open. The T-72s that were parked on top of the hill continue shooting at the VADS and destroyed 2 more. The remaining VADS and Abram passed their morale check. Artillery rain down on eastern side, covering an ITV and most of the Mech platoon. It bailed out a transport and pinned the men.

Turn 3

The US got no aircraft and no artillery this turn. The campaign assets gave me one lone A-10 which got shot down. The last Abram move up to shoot at Gophers but completely missed. The ITVs in the woods kill all but one BMP. The Cobras tried to take out some T-72s but AA fire shoot them all down. It is at this point I soon realize I had a problem with my camera during this and last turn. I lost my audio notes for this phase and I don't remember what else happen on my turn. I do know either on this turn or on Soviets Turn 2, one Hind in each unit were destroyed bring their totals to 3 and 2. I have no idea what brought them down. I do believe the Mech Platoon on eastern side failed to rally.

As it is becoming quite common for both players, the Soviets got no artillery and no strike aircraft this turn. It is at this point Tracy remembered he had another unit of 6 Hinds that he had remove from the table turn 1 and completely forgot about them. He brought them in on the east side and they along with the Shilkas destroyed the 3 M113 transports. On the west side the Hinds fired at the lone Abram and destroyed him. The unit of two Hinds used it Gatling gun on the ITVs in the woods, but ITVs are very hard to hit. I had a lot of AA fire and it all missed. The Soviet troops finally rallied and moved up towards the objective.

Turn 4

US Off-Board artillery finally comes in but their A-10s refuse to return to the field. The VADS on the east side move up and shoot at the new 6 Hinds and did nothing. The 2 ITVs over there fire 2 deadly shots taking out a Carnation and a Hind. The M109s fired at the remaining 5 Hinds with Copperheads and destroyed 3 copters. ITV leader in the woods called in the Off-Board artillery on the motor rifle company, killing another soldier and pinning the rest. There was more firing but nothing else landed.

The Soviets normal strike aircraft is still on vocation like my own A-10s. But Tracy did roll to get his artillery in and his campaign assets gave him another 3 Frogfoots. The motor rifle company did rally and move onto the objective. The Off-Board artillery drop a smoke bombardment to screen the motor rifle company. All three units of Hinds move next to the ITVs trying to, but failing to do any damage to them. The T-72s on the hill finished off the last VADS on the western side. The range in artillery on the eastern side fired another bombardment, killing a single soldier. All 3 campaign Frogfoots were shot down by the eastern VADS.

Turn 5

Luck is running out for the US. I got no strike aircraft and no Off-Board artillery. The Mech platoon refuse to rally. The ITVs in the wood attempt to move so they could contest the objective. One bogged down while the other pass and could contest. That ITV machine the motor rifle company and manage to kill a man. All other ITVs fired at targets but nothing landed. Copperheads were fired at the unit of 3 Hinds, 2 were downed. The remaining Hind passed it morale.

The Soviets manage to get everything this turn. Artillery, normal strike aircraft and campaign aircraft! The 2 Carnations that was ranged in on the east side redirect it fire to place a smoke bombardment to screen the motor rifle company again. Said motor company tried to dig in but failed. Shilkas fired 18 shots into the Mech Platoon and miss every one. A second unit of T-72s moved on top of the hill. Lots of fire was pour into the ITVs on the eastern objective, eventually destroying them because I thought they loss their gone-to-ground when they hadn't. The new unit of T-72s shot at the 2 M109s that were in the woods, destroying them both. All the remaining Hinds fired at the bogged down ITV, eventually destroying it. The Frogfoots destroy the active ITV, nearly securing absolute victory for the Soviets.

Turn 6

Because of the smoke screen the only hope US has to prevent the Soviets from winning next turn is to get strike aircraft and take out the last 4 motor rifle company. I got nothing! No artillery, no strike aircraft and now no way to target the Soviet infantry. Given that I had lost my only purpose this turn was to do as much damage as possible. The Mech platoon finally rallied. They moved up because the Shilkas were just slight out of range of their weapons. Pouring their LAWs into the Shilkas, two were turned into burning husk. The remaining Shilka passed its morale to avoid the unit being lost. The VADS moved towards the Hinds, crossing the woods. One VADS bogged down and only one other was in range. Its fire did nothing. The remaining M109s return fire by copperheads into the T-72s and destroyed 2. Again the Soviets passed it morale. My turn ends and the Soviets starts their turn 6 by winning 4-3!