Archive | May 2013

HOTT Melnibone Army

The title says it all.

Not a great showcase of my skill but a definite example of speed-painting.

Most of the figures are by Games Workshop, most from the Easterling line of Lord of the Rings, but a few from Warhammer and Mordheim.

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The front and back of my army stronghold.  Really not much more than  a camp.  The tents are cardboard covered with cotton.  The patchy paint was difficult to achieve but gave the effect of canvas and the obvious lines to demark stitching.  Since the fantasy stronghold is still not finished, this does double duty for the other HOTT army.

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Blade and shooters.  Two units of each in the army, nothing too special.

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Spears (including spear general) and knights.  Again, two seems to be the trend for units.

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Behemoth.  This is the only model that is not Games Workshop…although I don’t know who made it.  I think it was Reaper.  The body was terrible, so I cut off the shoulders joint and cut the tail on an angle and viola…hydra tunneling to battle.  Very impressive…but not so effective.

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Wizard.  He stands on a simple set of stairs made from foam core and patience.

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My Elric.  Not flashy or fantastic, but more in line with how I see him.  Black cloak, black blade, and pallid skin with white hair.  Still have yet to use him in game, but he is based for use as either a hero or paladin.  I personally prefer hero, but paladin is relevant too: anti-magic and never the general seems to define him quite well.

So where are the dragons?  Unpainted and dusty.  After playing a few games I quickly realized that the dragon is very expensive and could never be in an army with a wizard.  And I would drop the behemoth too for more units.  The problem is I built this army out of what I had, and that means some high points models.  After playing games I would say the blade and spear are my backbone.  The knights provide punch and secure a flank and the shooters give me the only backbone I have in cover.  Notice how the flashy units didn’t get mentioned?

Behemoths are very effective but risky if hit on off angles or drawn out of your lines…they get pushed back and start stomping your own units.  Wizards can do some devastating damage…and in one game I lured my warband heavy opponent out of cover by repeatedly blasting him…but the wizard takes so many AP to move and shoot he normally secures a flank with the shooters and my infantry fight the war.

Not a fantastic post but one I have been promising to put up.

Next update will likely be showing off some Austrian Napoleonic Cavalry before they get handed over.  The super-secret project is almost at stage 2…but I need to build the diorama base and individual bases first.  As a teaser, it is also Napoleonic and a bit sharpe.

I hope something here inspired somebody.

More Ultra FUBAR

I had a few minutes with my keyboard so I hammered out the Ultra FUBAR rules I have been using into a single page document.  I claim no credit for  these rules, I simply drafted what others wrote into a single page.

Ultra FUBAR 6mm

I did also get a few miniatures in the mail these past few weeks.  While I was assembling some Napoleonics I took a few extra minutes to put together the new shiny toys.

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A Dragonfly Gunship from Microworld Games.  I bought a pack of these and they will be a hover vehicle for the new army I am designing.  8 missiles, 2 rocket pods and a chin-mounted chaingun…this is a vehicle that challenges that comment I made previously about no vehicle I own having too many weapons.

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TEF infantry, also from Microworld Games.  They look fantastic and have a very unique style of armour.  Hydraulic tubes or mechanized leg supports are evident even at this scale.  My concern is that the heads are lacking a bit of detail.  The side by side of a PFC-CinC Solar Empire Marine shows they are realistically proportioned but are smaller than the marines.  The head blanks and smaller size could be an issue for some.  My solution – they aren’t humans.

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A Cargo Helicopter by Dark Realm Miniatures (from the Pax Arcadia line) looked so much like a landing craft I bought them to convert.  I clipped off the rotor mount and decided I was done.  I had intended to add large engines, but it looks good as is.  So this will be an aircraft transport…and I realized the aircraft rules I wrote need an addition to cover paratroopers or touchdowns to drop off cargo/troops.  So I quickly hammered out both and this baby can do both.  It will also feature in several scenarios for objectives (dropping cargo, etc).

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Israeli Defense Force Namer IFV by GHQ Miniatures.  I thought this looked futuristic enough and with that heavy armour gave me a different idea for the force.  The infantry will be the heavy hitters in this force with vehicles being exclusively for speed and survivability.  This vehicle mounts an automatic grenade launcher and 7.62mm machinegun so can’t handle much more than light vehicles in the real world, and I kept the same profile.

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And French VAB-VCI (4×4) by GHQ Miniatures provided me some light transport with even lighter guns.  So these will act as a light battle-taxi.  The lines and design seems pretty sci-fi to me, and the lack of media coverage of the French military (at least here) means the vehicle will be unfamiliar to the casual observer.

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With German Fennek Reconnaissance vehicles by GHQ Miniatures providing forward eyes and target spotting.  Anybody who sees these says they look like they are from a movie…so definitely a given for a futuristic vehicle.

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A group shot show-casing all the new model types.  The force will be a conventional army but will rely on the infantry for most of the firepower (especially anti-vehicle).  The gunships will pack a huge arsenal, but will be very light so prone to getting blown up.

I plan to have these as an alien race from an inter-galactic mega-corp.  They will revolve around technology and supporting arms.  The missile launchers, for instance, will gain benefits to hit targets designated by the recce vehicles.  With different styles of play, I think they could face the Colonial Marine forces I have done up in a straight toe-to-toe fight.

But, that will have to wait.  I am undecided on if I want a desert camouflage pattern or a black digital style with blue and purple highlights.  Sounds bizarre but I can test paint without having to strip if I don’t like it.  These don’t get even a lick of paint until I have some Austrian Cavalry fully painted.

I hope something here inspired somebody.  Please test out the Ultra FUBAR rules, and check out the FUBAR forums to join in the discussion to shape this revised game system.

Ultra FUBAR

No, it is not my attempt at crazy superlatives. Instead it is an attempt to trial the latest version of FUBAR, which is still in it’s infancy.  Tonite I had a chance to try out the new rules with Chen-song at the EWG semi-monthly games night.  We managed to play two games of platoon size each in a little over an hour and a half.  A very fast pair of games.

The biggest proposed changes reflect activation and reaction fire.

In FUBAR it has happened in many games where a unit becomes engaged and then fails to do anything while getting cut down by enemy fire. Or worse, most of a game is spent idly throwing dice while units bask in the sunlight and fresh air.

I think a picture speaks a thousand words:

Game 2 - turn 1

This is the end of turn 1 in game two.  Chen-song failed to activate 2 of his 3 units.  But look, he has more than one unit on the board.  How does that work?

In the proposed revision we were trialing tonight, all units have 1 action if they fail to activate (and initiative passes to the other player) and 2 actions if they successfully activate.  Actions are chosen  from a list:

1. Move up to maximum move distance (infantry 6 cm, walkers 9 cm, ground vehicles 12 cm, hover vehicles 18 cm).

2. Fire one weapon.  After a lot of debate from another FUBAR player we decided to cap vehicle fire unless stationary and only one action is taken.  While most vehicles only have 1 or 2 weapons, some are bristling with weapons and would give a very unfair edge.

3.  Aim.  This provides a +1 to the next shoot action.  Again after discussion we decided it can’t stack beyond +1 and yes, it can be used on reaction fire.  Like suppression markers, the bonus is removed following the activation roll.

4. Assault.  This is an infantry only action.  It allows a move of up to half move distance and engaging in an assault.

5. Scenario or unit specific actions (repairs, calling artillery, uploading the virus, etc.).

So, if a unit fails, it can still move.  If it passes it can move twice.  Or move and fire.  Or fire twice…well you get the idea.

Reaction fire is simple: every unit is able to make one reaction fire per turn if a unit moves within their line of sight and range but with a -1 to the roll.  We discussed it an using aim seems relevant.

So now on to some nitty gritty:

Game 1 - early

In game 1 the Cats were working on the secret objective to seize infrastructure while the Strays secret objective was to secure and upload virus.  Just on the turn Chen-song secured both objectives (as it was a smaller scale game only 2 infrastructure and 2 tactical objectives were placed), my orange Frames unit contested the objective.

Unfortunately, the Cats swarmed from the power-plant onto the Frames.  The reactive fire of the Frames did suppress a couple of Cats, but the remainder swarmed over the walkers with limpet mines.  A following turn of shooting did cause a few more casualties, but the Frames went down screaming into cyberspace.

Game 1 - mid

Although not clearly visible, the SPRCs (Semi-Autonomous Programmable Robotic Combatants) are flanking the Cats at the power-plant.  After one turn of successful shooting, the Cats fled from the power-plant.  If a unit is below 50%, and fails an activation, it makes a double move towards the nearest friendly board edge.  Each following turn if they successfully activate they function normally.  If they fail, they flee again.  Maybe a bit fake, but remember that unit is really combat ineffective by the time it has been chewed down to below 50%.

With the Cats gone, the Sparks moved in to secure the objective.

Game 1 - firefight

The other side of the battlefield saw a half strength Lion Pride securing the Water Treatment facility while a Strider Squad dodged in and out of cover to move into range of the deadly tanks.

The turn around the corner resulted in two things, one expected the other not so much.  First, the Lions did some reactive fire.  Making use of the Sabot Rounds, only luck saved the lead Strider from any damage.  In reply, the light cannons chattered away.  The lead Strider was having problems with his gyros, but his wild firing caused the crew to be suppressed.  In contrast, the rear Strider stuck a lucky microchip in the breech with the round and blew up the Lion tank.

Game 1 - end

Here is close to the end of the battle.  The lone Lion tank managed to chew through the rest of the Strider Squad, and the Strays fled the battlefield.

In every game I call 3 end conditions:

1. A player achieves a Major Victory.  If at the end of the following turn they still hold the victory conditions, they win.  In this game, the Cats almost won very early on.

2. A player loses 50% or more of their units.  Note, a unit below half that fails an activation is considered destroyed for this condition.  This is why the Cats won.

3.  One player concedes.

What we drew out of this one is that assaulting can trigger reaction fire.  We discussed it and figured it is not unbalancing to have the assaulted unit suffer from reaction fire.

In Game 2 Chen-song brought out the Colonial Marines to face off against the Strays.

Game 2 - firefight

Sadly most of the pictures didn’t turn out.  However, this important picture did.

At this point in the game we discussed the virtues of how many weapons a vehicle can fire.  Under the old FUBAR, a stationary vehicle can fire all weapons and if it moved (depending on distance for some types) it could only fire one weapon.

Fortunately Bruce (another FUBAR player) was present for his 2 cents on the fire effects.  He made a great point: that much firepower is unfair for a failed activation.  Consider a vehicle (like the AILV suppressed) failing activation.  It can take one action, so opts to fire.  It didn’t move…so despite failing activation it can now unload all of it’s arsenal.  Hmm.

On the other hand, a stationary vehicle can now only fire 2 weapons (or the same weapon twice).  For most of my vehicles they only have two weapons – an anti-pers and an anti-armour weapon.  But a couple have three weapons.  I’m sure there are people who have loads more.  So what Bruce suggested is a vehicle can opt to fire all it’s weapons at the cost of two actions.

The original proposal for Ultra FUBAR had different actions costing different points.  That  seemed a bit complicated for me, since it was something to either memorize or reference.  So that is part of why I suggested the stream-lined approach.  So right now, I am 50-50.  The number of vehicles or situations where the 2 action choice would seem relevant would be very few.  So I might suggest that as an optional rule.  The primary rule will still stand.  So most vehicles don’t fire much more than infantry.  Well until you consider the greater rangers and higher firepower they carry then those two shots from across the table makes a BIG difference.

So something for you to consider in your games if you wish to try Ultra FUBAR.  When I get a chance I am going to make the rules I trialed into a one-pager, and have it available for download.

I hope something inspired you.

May Day Games Day

Long and busy day, but finally came and passed.

There was quite the turn-out with games ranging from Warhammer 40k to Pirates to a Vietnam game dense with foliage across a 12′ x 4′ table.

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Chen-song was hosting a game of Ambush Alley set in the near future.  A private security contractor firm was escorting cargo through insurgent occupied areas.  These were some of the best 1/72 scale models I have seen.  The minor conversions and effective paint scheme turned artillery tractors, contemporary armoured cars, some SOF soldiers and even a few French resistance fighters into a sci-fi mercenary outfit.

The insurgents were out of the box insurgents…ranging from French resistance to Chechnians to Taliban.

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The models were a variety of manufacturers but mostly Caeser.

If you haven’t played this game before, I recommend it.  Fairly quick and fast it makes the asymmetrical warfare abstract.  Insurgents have “hotspots” where reinforcements may appear, meaning anything from teeming bug-like hordes to an apartment building filled with irregulars can be represented.  The quality of troops is based on the type of dice rolled, meaning that better quality troops increase the odds of success without changing the numbers drastically.  Of note, many effects can reduce quality such as pinned or suppression, dropping the combat effectiveness as fatigue sets in.

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A shot from the objective of the convoy.  Whoops, looks like the auto-pilot made a wrong turn.

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After one vehicle was destroyed, insurgents sprinted into the street to seize the trucks.

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Even suppressed, the Swords for Hire outclass the insurgents and cut down the over-eager swarm.

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Near the end of the game.  A few more turns happened, but the insurgents swarmed the mercenaries and gradually forced them back.  At the building marking the objective exit no less than 30 insurgents had set-up shop selling IEDs and souvenirs.  The key to victory for the insurgents was the numerous IEDs.  While simplified and abstracted, it allowed an area of effect attack to be revealed by any unit.  Naturally there was a limited number.

DBA - Spartacus DBA - Carthaginian

Later in the day I borrowed an Ancient Brittons army from Dennis to play some DBA.  Pictured are the games against the Spartacus Revolt and Carthaginians.  I also played against Ancient Spanish, and that was a lop-sided battle.  Not pictured: my crushing defeat.  Very stiff competition and an interesting concept: each player was restricted to only using Enemies of Rome.  At the end of the day I feel confident in saying Rome won.

The last event of the day I was involved in was FUBAR.FUBAR 2FUBAR 3

Not many pictures turned out well, but the two above clearly show a turning point in the game.  The Cats had held all 3 Tactical Objectives after assaulting the Colonial Marine Sniper Detachment.  Above you see the Black Infiltrator Pride.

Two Colonial Marine Squads?  Pshaw.

A full Platoon and Tank Platoon?  Ok, let me call a friend option.  Oh, I guess artillery is on coffee break.

Despite several turns of all but ignoring the withering fire, the Colonial Marines eventually obliterated the Felines in the building.  In fact, they killed them and moved in close enough to contest the building just in time to prevent a Feline win.

The game ended in a draw following an end of time.

Of note, both players were asked how they would appreciate the new proposed changes of Ultra FUBAR for activation, and seemed pretty happy.  Unfortunately I realized I explained it wrong and missed a couple details.  But when I thought about it some more, they may actually be simpler and better options.

Time will tell.  But with some terrain quickly and easily painted up and some new troops in the mail I may have a chance to play pitched battles with peer forces instead of the 3-way cluster this way played out.

I also realized that for bigger games, unit bases will probably be better.  I am going to quickly draw and build a few to try out.  I figure it will speed-up turns but having the figs removable will allow cool occupation of terrain or easy removal of casualties.

The auction at the event did give me a few figures that will eventually form the basis of the pulp rules-set I have been toying with.

But first comes some Austrian Napoleonic cavalry and the super-secret now past due project.

Hope something was inspirational here.

Finishing touches

Although I didn’t get all the bells and whistles in the mail in time, got everything else finished for MayDay this weekend.

I have tried something new and I’m not 100% on which way is better.

Here is the old way I did an infantry squad and transport:

Squad and Transport 1

Each card only depicts what it represents.  Seems fairly straight-forward to me.  Downside is sometimes it isn’t always clear that they all function as one unit.

What I tried with my last platoon was this:

Squad and Transport 2

Exact same unit stats if you are curious.  What I did was put the represented portion in the foreground (infantry in the top picture) and the other model(s) in the background (AILV in the top picture).  What I have seen done by other FUBAR players (Bruce) is a single card with the details of the whole unit laid out.

From a playability perspective, I was hoping to be able to field mechanized infantry as basic infantry without needing to do new cards.  So if, for example, Orange Platoon, Black Squad will be a dismounted unit I can just use the infantry card.  However, I am also realizing that most of the times I am going to be fielding these guys it will be as mechanized infantry.  Really the only balance they have is their combined weapons: the above squads you will notice only have anti-tank assets in the vehicle weapons.

I also managed to get the Strays mission cards done.  Something totally different, as their missions rely on a very small force attempting to stay under the radar.

Strays Mission 5

Strays Mission 4

Strays Mission 3

Strays Mission 2

Strays Mission 1

To those paying attention, yes that is Hello Kitty.  Again, all artwork that is not mine is used without permission.  The Strays have been using the KT-TV (Kitty TV) Station and broadcasts satellites to house their virtual world and the uploaded personas.  So not only will they have a KT-TV news truck as a “command” element, but the intact terrain will have KT-TV billboards and signs.  Advertising everything from Alpha Squad (BJ Barracus now played by a Felinoid) to KT-TV News (Watch us watch you!) the billboards will be my bit of humour on the battlefield.

The most difficult mission will be the capturing of vehicles.  While a successful and lucky player will grow like a mechanical horde of zombies, most players will quickly realize that tanks and APCs don’t like getting assaulted.  The capture and upload of software for the power plant will likely pit the Strays directly against the Cats – very bad day to be a Stray.

Next post should have lots of nice pictures of May Day and little lead soldiers.

Hope something here inspired somebody.