Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Omnipotent Fowl

Last night at Enfield Gamers we kicked off the Britannia Jugula campaign with six newly formed Ludi and their equally green Lanistas (Lanisti?). There was much hamming it up and Spartacus quotes a plenty, especially where Jupiter's prize male chicken was concerned. In fact there was as much effort put into making grammatically poor threats as there was playing the game.

I am running Ludus Peckhamus of House Trottari hailing from the marshland to the south of Londinium....which partially explained the smell.

First up I faced Rich and his well hated Sagittarius. In honesty I started playing the deck building side of the game fairly well, building Vox Populi and marshaling my resources. It didn't help when I pretty much let myself get outmanoeuvred on the sands which was quickly stained red by my Secutor, a dead kind of red in fact!
To be honest I was having trouble "seeing" potential manoeuvres on the gridded board and it was costing me dear. That was until the penny finally dropped, clanged even, at which point I pinned two of Rich's lads up against a wall and smashed the both into it repeatedly to take a shock 4-2 win.
Push backs are an important part of combat. If you don't have the space to move back into you take an extra wound. Suddenly I only had to beat Rich's "roll" rather than double it!

Second game was against Shaun who tends to play the long game so I got stuck into him early. Problem was I failed to make it stick, manoeuvre again, and we ended up in a mass scrum in the middle of the arena. Eventually Shaun ground out a 4-1 win.
Third and final game of the night was against Paul who came at me from the off but fairly piecemeal. His dashed out and netted my new Sector which would have proved far more effective if he'd had someone to take advantage of it with.

I was effectively forced to fight around my netted man with fairly minimal resources but still with a touch more than Paul who hadn't built up at all in order to press on me. My advantage and defensive posture told as I forced Paul to engage on my terms and took a convincing 4-1 win.

Applying the campaign rules I had somehow done rather. The two dead Plebi were easily replaced from the slave pens while Rodanius my Murmillo tank and Triggorus my Hoplomachus (a spear is just a broom handle with a point) had both gained enough XP to ping up a level to each going another point of Attack bonus. This in turn garnered Ludus Peckhamus an amount of fame and reputation.

Not quite sure what that means just yet other than a target on the back and higher running costs I'm sure :)
For a "simple" game there are lots of little details to remember to apply. The quick play sheet had a section "10 things that you will forget". That does however mean that there's plenty of depth both tactically and strategically. Even as a fairly seasoned hack (cough) it took a bit to keep up though this was mainly because I was to busy having frenetic fun.

Frenetic is definitely the correct phrase, there's a lot going on on both sides of the arena and plenty to keep track of and second guess. It provides a good "buzz" to the game. 

We played through three rounds in about 2 1/2 hours as newbies with just decks and quick play sheets more than happily :) For the campaign it'll be every other week to keep things fresh and avoid overload. 

By Jupiter's omnipotent male hen, thou knowest where we reside!!

Monday, 29 September 2014

3D Supermarionation

Hello people,

As a longtime lunch-break browser of the geek-nerd blog-o-sphere I often come across various items that link with others in a variety of tenuous ways.

As part of my capitulation to X-Wing I've been clicking around INSERT a fair bit and ended up having a look at people's conversions and alternative paint jobs which seem to be fairly prevalent and high end. 
Whilst looking at some excellent interpretations of Phantom TIEs cloaking I noticed that someone had produced a clear version that I initially assumed to be resin. Clicking a few links it actually turned out to be a clear plastic 3D print! From what else I'd read and viewed on various sites 3D prints were available but said to generally be pretty grainy though this lot would seemingly beg to differ. In honesty I'm not so sure how many of "us" would feel comfortable playing with 3D printed figures but all of a sudden the future seems a lot more immediate.

On a related note I'm looking a my first X-Wing tourney on Saturday. As I'm looking to go Scum, once they're released, I'm looking at a list of Y-Wings and Z-95s so that I get some table-time in with them. Even having played a fair bit of STAW I expect to be learning at an accelerated.....or spanked!!

We shall see :)

Friday, 26 September 2014


Hello people,

This Tuesday down at Enfield Gamers was a major training session for the local Ludi as we got stuck into Studio Tomahawks' most recent offering, Jugula!

We as a club have previous experience with gladiatorial management with Two Hour Wargames Red Sand Blue Sky so just it was a case of uncasing figures, brewing the tea and setting up. A few of the boys played the week before but this time six of us dealt ourselves out a trial Ludus and got stuck in.

The game is card activated but far more than that as they also provide the far deeper resource management element of the game that gives you a number of tactics and strategies to run with. Each Gladiator type has it's basic stats, light or heavy, move and base attack and defence values but it's the activation cards that do the business and make the game what it is i.e fun, challenging, brutal and rewarding!

 Running through the above top to bottom;
- the sandal is how many Gladiators you can activate to move
- the bloke lets you whip up the crowd which in turn gives you attack bonuses and expands you hand size (from 5)
- the helmet is how many Gladiators you can activate to attack
- the fan of cards is how many cards you can draw
On top of that there's the cars text, often situational, the star at the bottom right which can by you cards from the uber deck. The cards are also used as dice, you can play one from your hand or draw blind from the top of your deck.

In short there's an awful lot going on outside of the action on the sand. Once you get your focus on the actual hack and slash manoeuvre becomes critical as you rarely get to move and attack. It's very much a mutual support thing whilst trying to make a hole and then pick off the isolated man.

As far as the evenings games were concerned there were three of them, even as a novice, so four in a night must be possible once you crack on. In short I got taken to school......gladiator school but learnt a fair bit and by the end of the night was even beginning to hold my own a touch. Initially I underestimated the depth and variation of the card deck, I also got out manoeuvred on the sand.

Any budding Lanistas should take a look, well worth a punt!

Monday, 22 September 2014

Maintaining Standards

Hello people,

A potentially oblique reference to a musing that came to me in a similarly oblique manner.
Over the weekend I've had some brush-time with the last 30 rank and file Commandos, representing every last figure that currently have built for the project. In short I've been block painting like the pedant that so many of us are to have them all basecoated and washed.

Having recently read an article, Carmen's Painty Fun Time, about the various standards of painting that we apply to such projects it occurred that if I based them all at this stage they'd look good enough to be deployed as a fully painted army while I finished off the highlight work at my relative leisure.

This also set me to thinking that the whole subject around standard of painted figures / armies is a highly subjective one.
So tracking my own thought processes;

- When starting a new project I won't wait until everything is painted before putting it on the table. I will make sure that it's built to the point of WYSIWYG but otherwise I'm all good with that. An undercoat will make me feel more comfortable though.

- On the gamer / painter balance I'd say I'm probably bang in the middle. Playing with a force that I'm currently painting motivates me to get stuck in with the brush.

- My minimum painting standard for all my figures involves based coat, wash and a couple of layers of highlight.

- I still paint figures as individuals though I'll take a bit more time and effort with a skirmish force than a horde. It does seem that most skirmish and command figures require and allow more painting of them. I still paint by batch when I need to upto a dozen or so at a time.

I suppose, as with so many aspects of the hobby, all of this is subjective to the individual. Back when I worked for GW  we'd encourage a three colour minimum to count as painted. For myself it's whatever the figure requires. I do find that it tend to make more conscious effort with historical figures for a flatter more realistic finish. I suppose that's probably a reaction to my Sci-Fi / Fantasy upbringing.

Anyway another 30 Commandos to a "tabletop standard"....just not quite MY tabletop standard, at least not just yet :)

Saturday, 20 September 2014

A little something on the SIDE?

Hello people,

Another hugely entertaining session of Edge of the Empire this Wednesday following on from the fall-out of last time out. Various real-life factors meant that just three of the group were available in Perit, Tanner and 7-UP-0. Normally we'd cancel with such short number but not so long ago I read an article on J P on Gaming (an excellent roleplaying blog) about running sideplots. As the previous session had been brought to a satisfactory conclusion it gave the option so I took it.

Returning from their sewer run Sindori got a call from Agenai for some assistance elsewhere at which point Perit and Tanner headed back to Sal's Salvage to pick up what turned out to be Kanto's personal data-slate. On their way back out they came across a street urchin trying to cash in on a remarkably well known droid arm, perhaps it was the angle of the wrist....

Negotiating with the cheeky little chap was somewhat challenging but revealed that he and his mates had come across 7s in a dumpster behind The Trough in more pieces than one and that they'd split the spoils between them. Agreeing a price the little lad lead them back to their housing estate and summoned the rest of his street gang and what turned out to be the majority of 7s. It turned out the his head, spine and extra hard drive had been sold to a local Mr Fixit shop so Tanner and Perit headed on to it.

Sneaking up to a rear window Perit got a good look in establishing that it was some form of droid chop-shop with a shadowy robe clad skeletal chap pottering around the place in a rather robotic way with 7s and his bonus hard-drive hooked up to separate test rigs, though 7s had somehow found a new chassis!
 Eventually being admitted to the shop the boys went for the direct approach and simply expressed their interest in recovering 7s. Mr Fixit wasn't giving a lot away, other than a rather interesting odour of oil and manky robes, negotiating in a flat tone that occasionally slipped into a particular metallic twang! In short he required a certain crate recovering form a set of "independent contractors" who had renegotiated a contracted price at the last moment incurring his mono-syllabic displeasure.

Providing the location of a secure storage compound run for the benefit of a variety of local gangs Mr Fixit also provided a set of schematics and 7s head......attached to the chassis of a zero-G maintenance bot with integral remote override control unit. 7s was more put out to find himself without his beloved medipack than finding his left arm ending in a heavy duty multi-tool and his right ending in a ceramite disc saw. Medicine rolls might be a bit interesting!

Heading off for McGregor Storage, for the local crimelord, the boys continued their recent trend of planning based on their available skill set! Tanner hooked into the local power system to slave it to his data-slate whilst also identifying that McGregors has a backup generator. Perit used the high ground to recce the compound identifying three guards, the armoured gatehouse, blockhouse, four camera-posts and the 15 foot link fence. 7s had a play with his new welder attachment :)

The assault was pretty simple as Perit rode 7s through he fence to the back of the target storage box which Perit then hopped onto taking up a covering sniper position. Strangely 7s kind of failed his rather hopeful Stealth checks and the alarm klaxon kicked off while he set himself up for some heavy remodelling of the back of the storage unit.

The guards kept the boys honest while Perit put his newly scoped stun-rat sniper rifle to good use taking out one guard who went route 1 whilst pinning down his mate in the gatehouse allowing Tanner to get in there and hack into the computer establishing a range of heavy assault vehicles and walkers in a secured garage and the safe in the main block-house.

With guard #2 dropped and 7s making slow progress with his circular saw (I was using Destiny points  against him while he failed to return the favour) Perit made a dash for the blockhouse safe while Tanner logged someone using a swipe-card to access the garage.

7s finally pulled out a Triumph, the chaps have been rolling a few more recently, he finally cut his way in.....only for Mr Fixit to activate the remote to scan, locate and pick-up the target crate before doing a 180 and stomping off back through the fence and off into the night. Tanner meanwhile hacked the safe as ominous mechanical stomps came from the garage for Perit ot grab the two lock-boxes inside and beat a hasty retreat with Tanner in tow!

So, yet another successful mission and just not for the players. For me as GM that's another potential NPC  / plot device introduced and a bit more colour to the background.

So other than 7s still being a collection of bits that's a win all round!

As a footnote it does seem that the Obligation system within EotE lends itself well to the use of sideplots. I've used Obligation a few times to cover when players haven't been able to make it but maybe use of sideplots is a more positive and productive way to bring it into play more. We'll see ;)

Monday, 15 September 2014

Illuminations - prt 2

Hello people,

I don't really do un-boxing, as popular as they are amongst so many of my fellow bloggers, but this once is a little different, vaguely review-ish, and hopefully of some actual purpose / value ;)

So my portable / stowable lightbox kit turned up at the end of last week and I've finally had the chance to have a play. Not a lot of instructions but then it is all rather self explanatory. The stowed pack is only a little bigger than an average laptop bag and no thicker, it's definitely as advertised in that regard. The only fly in the ointment is that you you need two 2-pin converter plugs, one for each lamp, which I hadn't realised.
Setup is quick and easy with velcro holding everythign in place securely including the backing cloth. I did find the camera stann too tall for figures, no great surprise, so went with my trusty bendy mini version that allows me to get the camera down to figure level. With only one lamp I also used my painting daylamp, which seemed sensible.
Overall, before even taking a single shot I'm pretty pleased. This has been far less effort than my previous rather jury-rigged setups and is giving me far more confidence of a much better set of photos.  

First test-shot comparison was the recently completed M3 Halftrack, both taken with the proper camera, and it feels like I can already see the rather huge difference. So much more depth of colour and definition.
However moving on to the PIAT and Sniper teams here are the before and after shots though you should bear in mind that thsi is also phone camera vs camera and I'm sure I can do better with the lightbox focus with a bit of practice.
Yeah, not so great with the focus but once I get that sorted everything will be golden. Think I finally have this one sorted, after several efforts. All good :)

Meanwhile A and B sections are base-coated and washed. As is so often the case I've left all the rankers to last on this project but it's gettign there. After this one I will not be looking to paint too many more Commando backpacks for a while :)

Friday, 12 September 2014

Heavy Breathing....

In a kind if slightly stalkerish way X-Wing is slowly infiltrating my gaming sphere. 

I've been donated a necessary damage deck and I've purchased a double booster pack of dice! I've also got dibs on a spare set of movement templates, the banks are different to STAW, and even a play mat, all courtesy of Mr C. Apparently I still need to salvage a set of asteroid counters.
So it would seem that I'm definitely in, I just don't own any actual ships! As I'll be going Scum and Villainy it'll be New Year until I get fully stuck in but I'm sure I can borrow until then. There may even be the odd event which seems bizarre pre-purchase which is a new one on me!

Meanwhile I've been doing a bit of vague fleet research by trawling the blog-o-sphere. Most recently the X-Wing Game Community Blog put up a piece analysing a recent tourney event. As usual my motivation is to be competitive rather than killer and it's interesting to see the more popular builds and cards. 

X-Wings and swarm Academy TIEs are obvious favourites with Z-95s and Phantoms well up there to. The upgrade favourites are pretty clear to. I am reliably informed that Veteran Instincts assists ships that don't deal with stress well while Push the Limit works the other way round.

Z-95s and Y-Wings for me for a bit, likely with a Firespray mixed in as I'm already keen to go full Bounty Hunter.

"Kill him Dad, KILL HIM!!"