A mixed post – A couple of pictures from a weekend game and some “Work-in-progress” pics

September 27, 2011
Hello everyone!

I thought I would write up a brief post on what I have been up to.  Let’s see…I woke up at the crack of 4:00 am, neck was a little sore.  Brushed teeth, combed hair (lamenting about its continued thinning) and then…oh, sorry.  😉  You’d probably rather hear about what gaming and miniatures stuff I’ve been doing!

Sunday I went to “Ambush Sunday” at Unique Games and Gifts in Grayslake, Illinois.  The game was, once again, “Tomorrow’s War” by Ambush Alley Games.  The theme was a little different this time: Aliens vs. aliens.  A totally non-human themed scenario.  Cool, actually.

This scenario, which I am only briefly covering, pitted the “hard-to-kill” Crusties (minis by GZG – attributes by “Tomorrow’s War”) against [cue ominous, deep, echoey voice] “Spaaaccce Buuugsss!”  Uh, “Space Bugs”, also called “Spugs” for short.  Okay, they aren’t the official “Rattlehead Games” Spugs models, but they are very buggy, and from space, so…

I don’t know who made the space bug minis.  Check with Beast’s Wargaming Blog; Jim will be happy to tell y’all.  He painted them up VERY nicely though.

The Space Bug force, complete with a Gigantic Vehicle Tank

The Space Bug force was all gathered up in a “Zerg rush” format, strategy right out of “Starcraft”.  Sadly, the poor Crusties, who had already deployed, had set up a great position to fight an opponent who used something resembling normal human tactics.

Beautiful terrain and tactically deployed Crusties

Interlocking fields of fire and defense in-depth don’t do squat against a “Zerg Rush” at one spot.  Now I know how it was to face the Posleen (John Ringo book reference).

A Crustie squad helping guard the cat food factory

The Crusties did not have a good day.  Do these guys look happy? 😉

Seriously though, we experienced what sometimes happens when you put a scenario together on the fly – the Space Bug side ended up way overpowered.  It happens sometimes.  We figured out how to correct the scenario but got sidetracked before we could replay it.  It was still fun and, as always, I still state that every wargame tells a story.  This was the story of a seemingly victorious force of Crusties who drove the humans out of the town and took over the cat food factory only to be overrun by vermin.  Vermin that stood 6 feet tall and wielded plasma rifles!  “We’re gonna need a bigger flyswatter!”

On other topics, I have been working on the cool stuff I purchased from Scott of “Combat Wombat Miniatures” when I met him at the “Recruits” gaming convention in Lee’s Summit, Missouri.

http://www.combatwombatminiatures.com/

Combat Wombat has occasionally been bringing his collection of “factory seconds”, models that end up sub-standard during the molding process, and selling them at a discounted rate at conventions.  I got lucky enough to stalk him at “Recruits” on Friday night until his booth was open enough for me to start pawing through his “seconds” box.  The pictures below are some of the minis.  I have been working on them, patching a few bubble holes and sanding down some warpage.  Some people pay a premium for minis in worse shape than these.

Some of the minis I purchased from Combat Wombat

Yeah, it’s a mixed bag, but I am trying out several different ideas for forces.

If this is his "substandard" you should see his good stuff...

He would have normally thrown these away as rejects.  Scott has very high quality standards and his customer service is first rate.  He’s also fun to hang out with!

I thought I would show how I magnetized some of the turrets

More pieces.  These with turrets flipped over to show how I magnetized them.  I am silly enough to like having rotating turrets on my tanks so I can point them at the enemy vehicles and say “BANG!”  Magnetizing turrets on epoxy vehicles is dead easy.  A little *careful* drill work, some epoxy or super glue and the right sized neodymium magnets and away you go.

These minis ought to paint up marvelously.  Yes, they took me some more time and work but it was fun.  The “Combat Wombat Miniatures” standard products are gorgeous and quite affordable.  I am saying they are a good deal.

Note:  I am a customer of “Combat Wombat Miniatures”, not an advertiser or payed flunky.  I am saying these good things about him because I am pleased with his product.  I believe that if you buy his stuff you will be pleased too.  As always, your mileage may vary.

Thanks for reading and I hope to have more stuff to write about soon!

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Review of the Fall 2011 release of “Tomorrow’s War” by Ambush Alley Games and Osprey Publishing

September 20, 2011

Greetings All!

I have had my hardcover copy of “Tomorrow’s War” by Ambush Alley Games for a little over a week now.  I have read it, referenced it, waved it around and used it in the games I ran at the “Recruits” gaming convention.  I recently read that some folks are looking for some reviews on the “Tomorrow’s War” rules – it being a couple of weeks before it is officially released.  So, here goes my review of the Fall 2011 release of the “Tomorrow’s War” rules.  I hope my tens of readers of my blog will like it! 😉

“Tomorrow’s War” – Review by Walworth County Wargamer

So…where to begin…well, first the Earth cooled.  And then there were dinosaurs!  But they all died and became oil…oops, that was the movie “Airplane”.  Let me try again.

About a year ago I was intrigued by the Ambush Alley Games talk of “Tomorrow’s War”.  I found a local gaming con last November where I had a chance not only to try it out but to meet Shawn and Peggy of Ambush Alley Games and to also meet Jim Roots, one of the developers.  I lucked out in that Jim is somewhat local to me.  Okay, about an hour drive to game with him at a friendly local game store, but I have a Prius and an iron @$$, so it works. 

I liked what I played enough to immediately purchase the “expansion” version of “Tomorrow’s War” that they were bundling with a copy of “Force on Force” if you bought them electronically as pdf files.  Within a week I created my first horribly unbalanced scenario involving Warhammer 40K Tau and Orks.  I got better at balancing things after that. 

I also got to game somewhat regularly with Jim Roots and his son Wil, who taught me a lot more about the game.  Being an enthusiastic glutton for punishment I joined the development group as a playtester and have played quite a few really cool scenarios.

So, what do you get if you purchase this Osprey Publishing version of “Tomorrow’s War”? This is not an expansion or a supplement.  This edition of “Tomorrow’s War” is a stand-alone game. The basic print quality of the hardbound book is excellent.  The photographs, artwork, tables and such just explode off the pages.  It feels like it is worth what you paid for it.  The printing of black text on the often blue backgrounds can be a little hard to read at times but that is a fairly minor fault.  I can still read everything.

After getting my hands on my very own hardcover copy of “Tomorrow’s War” I dived right in with it at the “Recruits” gaming convention.  Having the *real* book as opposed to my “big honking binder” with my playtester’s copy was very nice.  The tables were easy to flip to, the table of contents was nice and having an Index is awesome.  I wish the Index was a little more extensive but it is not bad.

Well, that’s the book, but what about the game?  I’m getting to that, okay? [mental note: when you are writing a blog and you start hearing your readers in your head, perhaps it is time for a vacation]

“Tomorrow’s War” – The Game

Whether somebody likes, dislikes or just doesn’t care about a game is a very subjective thing.  Me, I like the Ambush Alley Games products a lot.  “Tomorrow’s War” is turning out to be *that game* that I have been looking for.  It works for me.  Very obviously your mileage may vary.  So let me go forward with what *I* like with “Tomorrow’s War”.

Top of the list is the concept of “Action – Reaction” that is the basis of the AAG gaming system.  It goes roughly like this: Player 1 (who has the initiative) activates a unit.  That unit could be infantry, like a Marine fireteam, or it could be armor, like a tank or an APC. Player 1 could choose to Move, to Fire, to Move and then Fire, to Fire and then Move or a few other special options. Player 2 happens to a have a unit within “Line-of-Sight” of this activated unit.  Player 2 *may* choose to attempt to “React” to the action of Player 1’s unit.  This is done by declaring the Reaction and stating what you are going to do, i.e. Fire or Move.  The players then roll Troop Quality dice to see whether the Reaction was successful or not.

I love this basic “Action-Reaction” game mechanic.  If you are the non-initiative player you are never just sitting there waiting for your opponent to move and then to fire on your immobile forces.  You *always* have your head in the game.  You are always looking to perform that perfect maneuver, to line up that great shot or to successfully take cover so as to spoil the other guy’s great shot. By its nature the mechanic emphasizes mobility and fluid combat.  It encourages it.

This is well-polished in “Tomorrow’s War”.  I find that the book guides you through the sequence of play and provides decent examples of how to perform the basics.  The rulebook is divided up into several sections, each section capped off with a sample scenario that “puts it all together” for what was covered before.  These are good scenarios too!  They are fun to play.

The Number 2 thing I like about “Tomorrow’s War” is how the rules are “layered”.  You can play perfectly fun games with just the very basic rules and not miss much of anything. 

I am *not* an expert at the game but I was able to get groups of people playing a moderately complex scenario with about 20 minutes of convention time.  After the first couple of turns they needed very little guidance.  The only charts I had to keep referring to were the Vehicle Damage charts and the First Aid charts for casualties. They didn’t miss Morale and Bail-Out rules for tank crews or deck attacks from infantry-launched missiles.  Those could certainly have been included but I didn’t see a need to add the complexity to the scenario.

The rulebook is *replete* with examples and explanations.  It makes it seem like there are a lot more rules than there actually are.  The explanations guide you through things pretty well.  If you still have questions, the Ambush Alley Games Forum on their website has lots of friendly people.  Shawn and Peggy both post there frequently (many times daily) answering questions and making comments.  People will help you if you don’t understand something.  More importantly, if you just plain don’t like a rule then Shawn will happily advise you to change things to your heart’s content when you play.  It is *your* game, after all.  You’re supposed to have fun with it.  😉

The rulebook is written with 15mm scale miniatures in mind.  However, if you want to scale up or down that is no problem.  You may just have to adjust move distances up or down accordingly.  I have used 6mm, 10mm, 15mm and 28mm scale minis in TW games.

There is no worry about weapon ranges.  With a few exceptions all weapons are assumed to have unlimited range on the game boards we are using.  If you consider that at 15mm scale an M1 Abrams has a range of over 40 feet (over 12 meters) then you can see why this is.  There are “optimum’ ranges, based on Troop Quality, where troops have an easier time hitting their targets.  Nothing too complicated.

Okay, now does “Tomorrow’s War” deliver a “sci-fi” feel to the rules and gameplay?  You betcha!  This is not just an add-on for “Force on Force”.  This is written from the ground up to be a hard Sci-Fi wargame.  From basic body armor rules up to full powered armor, from low-tech slug-throwing combat rifles to laser rifles to energy weapons that project streams of plasma, from track-laying tanks to air-cushion hover tanks to grav vehicles – it’s all there, fully integrated.  There are rules for combat drones of all sorts, how to fight in a vacuum and even how to deal with a unit that is overstressed from being on the sharp end for too long.

You also get asymmetric engagements (we have them today; we’ll have them tomorrow), Close-Air Support and Off-Board Artillery.  A full 3 dimensional combined arms battlefield awaits.

The first thirty-two pages of the “Tomorrow’s War” rulebook are taken up with the author’s “game universe” describing events and places for about the next 200 years.  Some folks have commented that this is the weakest part of the rule book.  You can certainly ignore it and play the game to whatever background you wish.  Me, I have gamed David Drake’s “Hammer’s Slammers”, things from Games Workshop’s Warhammer 40,000 universe and even just scratch games of no particular background.  It all works.  BUT, the “game universe” the authors created for “Tomorrow’s War” is actually kind of cool.  There are some good ideas there that can lead to creating some great scenarios and campaigns.  Read it, digest it and think about it.

What does “Tomorrow’s War” not have?

If you look through what I have discussed so far you might notice something lacking.  How do you set up a game?  Are there points so you can have balanced forces? Well, the rule book and core mechanics for the game are NOT written with “points” and “1000 point armies” in mind.  Like “Force on Force” and “Ambush Alley”, “Tomorrow’s War” is a scenario-driven game.  And the scenarios are mission-driven.  In a scenario the goals of each side can be wildly different than just “kill all the opposing side”.  More importantly, just as in real life, the forces available may be quite uneven.  In war you fight with the army you have, not the army you want.

How does this equal fun games? How do you set up a scenario that is going to be fun to play?  Well, the creators of “Tomorrow’s War” have promised some sort of basic “points” system to be available for download by the official release time for the rulebook.  I think it will help people get started with the game but I also think that most folks will “outgrow” it.  For one thing I know that many people are developing TW scenarios of all sorts that will be freely available.  These will take place in various science fiction backgrounds from movies, books and video games.  For another, if you play a few games of this you quickly get the feel for how to balance a scenario.  They play quickly enough that if you figured wrong it is easy enough to adjust things and try again.

“Tomorrow’s War” is like all the other Ambush Alley games in that Troop Quality is the most important factor.  It is not the weapon the soldier holds that makes him or her effective.  It is the training, the conditioning, the esprit de corp.  The rules as written reflect that.  Some people don’t like that focus as much.  That is fine.  This game, like all games, will not appeal to everyone.  I like the whole troop quality vs weapons quality concept.

The gaming system created by Ambush Alley Games is focused on results.  It is not focused on the precision minutia of weapons and ammo performance. It abstracts them, instead concentrating on the importance of the QUALITY of the soldiers who are using the tools.  The way I explain this is: “Give a group of U.S. Navy Seals some cornmeal, some popsicle sticks and some hot dogs and I am sure they can use them to kill the enemy.  Give a group of fresh soldiers right out of basic the same materials and they might, maybe end up with corn dogs…probably burned. Give those materials to the average third-world insurgent and they will probably harm themselves…

“Tomorrow’s War” also has a scale it works best at.  Not scale as in 15mm, 28mm or 6mm – I have played TW with minis at all those scales.  What I mean is that it best represents squad to company sized engagements.  You would get a bit bogged down with larger ones and it is not a “skirmish” game for individual characters.  In fact, the structure of the game system doesn’t have “characters”.  When played at the scale it is intended for the game plays very well.  I have had games last a half hour to about three hours. That varies with the size of the game and the experience of the players.  They have all been fun, so far.

What else “works” with “Tomorrow’s War”?

Well, the “Action/Reaction” system works really well for big tank battles. I have had two people play a 2 hour game that involved over 2 dozen heavy and light tanks, contesting a river crossing.  They were both new at it and they still had a great time. [note: I need to run that one again.  It was way fun to do.]

Finally, I have a “love/hate” relationship with the “Tomorrow’s War” “Fog of War” cards.  What are they?  Well, one of the optional rules you can layer on for great fun and randomness is the addition of “Fog of War” cards.  If one side or the other rolls a “1” when making a troop quality check during an “Action/Reaction” they then must draw one of the special “Fog of War” cards.  The results of the card usually take place immediately.  These results can be things like one of your vehicles breaking down, a random artillery round strikes one of your units, a storm blows up and visibility drops for everyone – any number of things.  It is a mix of things that will mess with you and help your opponent or vice-versa, or even things that will mess with everyone.  They really tend to flesh out the scenario and can turn it from a “game” into a “story”.

Why the “love/hate” relationship?  Because the cards seem to hate me and tend to screw me at every opportunity, that’s why! 😉  I think they are in collusion with my dice…

Should “Tomorrow’s War” be on my “I gotta have it” list?

Confession time – I am a Ambush Alley Games fanboy…sort of.  I like the games, I like the game system.  As I said earlier, it “works” for me.  I have fun while playing TW and I have noticed other folks have fun too. 

“Tomorrow’s War” is not a game aimed at competitive tournaments. It is a game for gamers to have relaxed, fun games where they question their opponent’s parentage and threaten their own dice with the microwave…well, yeah, but still having fun and laughs while doing it.  Many of the games I have played are worthy of stories because of how they turned out.  This will work for some people and not be other’s cup of tea.

If it sounds good to you then check it out.  I have had fun with it and I think that other people will too.  If it seems like it is not for you then that is fine too.  Life is short and gaming time is shorter.  Play the games you enjoy!  I will do the same.


After Action Report on gaming at “Recruits” Gaming convention in Lee’s Summit, Missouri

September 12, 2011

Greetings everyone!

I am back home, relatively rested and have transferred the pictures off my Droid.  Time to write up how things went at “Recruits”.

It was great!

Okay, maybe a wee bit more detail is required… 😉

We (my son Thomas and I) made the 9 hour drive to Lee’s Summit from Elkhorn, Wisconsin.  The drive was blessedly uneventful.  We met up with Shawn, Peggy and Jim of Ambush Alley Games and followed them over to the event site, Lee’s Summit High School.  There Thomas and I helped them haul stuff in so they could get set up.  Peggy had the amazing timing to have us haul the stuff in during a strong rain shower that stopped moments after we got the last load inside.

Shawn and Peggy of Ambush Alley Games hard at work getting their tables organized

My slightly damp son Thomas, after hauling stuff in the rain.

Of course there was method to my madness! The sooner the AAG folks got set up the sooner I could buy my copy of “Tomorrow’s War” from them.  Hee-hee, it worked!

A very happy Walworth County Wargamer. Got my copy of "tomorrow's War" and a set of "Tomorrow's War" Fog-of-War cards.

Later on that evening I spent time and money by “Combat Wombat’s” table buying 15mm scale sci-fi vehicles.  Now I have some future projects.
Saturday came bright and early and we had a frustrating time trying to get to the darned high school.  There was a marathon being run and the police had blocked off all the routes we knew to get to the site.  Geez, wouldn’t the marathoners get much better times if they were running away from cars?  Oops, that was not my “inside voice“… 😉  Anyway, we finally made it and I got my game set up.

My "Tomorrow's War" game layout for Saturday at "Recruits"

The “Tomorrow’s War” scenario I was running was one of my own design, based on material from David Drake’s book “Paying the Piper”.  It is one of his many books about “Hammer’s Slammers”,  a future mercenary armored regiment.

The book is available as an e-book for free from the Baen Free Library:

http://www.webscription.net/p-316-paying-the-piper.aspx

To keep it simple, the scenario involves a platoon of Hammer’s Slammers heavy hovertanks, known as “blowers” and a short platoon of Hammer’s Slammers “Combat Cars” all trying to make it to a river crossing.  The blowers may be air-cushion vehicles but they are too heavy to cross the river anywhere except a ford.  The combat cars are light enough to cross the river directly or go over the river bridge.  Sounds simple, right?

The opposing forces are locally-manufactured armored vehicles in the service of the city-state of Solace on the planet called “Plattner’s World”.  These vehicles are built by slapping an armored frame on top of a mining crawler chassis and mounting guns and/or turrets to them.  They have one gunner/commander and an Artificial Intelligence unit to drive the vehicle.  Though mounting fairly strong guns they still epitomize the concept of “a hammer, protected by an eggshell”.

River Crossing Scenario

Hammer’s Slammers Forces – Tech Level 2 – Troop Quality: D8/ Morale: D10

3X Blower Heavy Hover Tank armed with a 20cm Energy Gun

Heavy Energy Tank Gun – AP:4/AT:6 (Heavy) (Slow) (Heavy Hitter) – Turret
Mounted

Against Armor: Roll 6D8 plus 1D8 for Heavy Hitter plus 1D8 for Tech Level
Shift, Ignores 2D of Defender’s Armor (Defender rolls 2D less on defense roll)

Against Troops: Roll 4D8 plus 1D8 for Heavy Hitter plus 1D8 for Tech Level
Shift

Slow Firing – Loses 2D8 each time it fires after 1st time – 8D8, 6D8, 4D8, 2D8

Front Armor: 4D12 Side Armor: 3D12 Rear Armor: 3D10

6X Combat Car, 4 armed and 2 “Trucks” hauling infantry

Three 2cm Rotary Energy Guns, Combined Firepower AP:4/AT:4 (Medium)

Against Armor or Troops: Roll 4D8 plus 1D8 for Tech Level Shift

Front Armor: 3D8 Side Armor: 3D8 Rear Armor: 3D6 (Open-Topped vehicle)

Troops: TL2, Hard Body Armor (+2D), TQ/Morale: D8/D10

Slammers Fireteam Alpha

3X Rifleman, 2cm Powergun (TL:2, AP:+1) Ignore 1D of armor or cover

Gunner,  2cm SAW Powergun (TL:2, Ap:+2) Ignore 1D of armor or cover

Slammers Fireteam Beta

3X Rifleman, 2cm Powergun (TL:2, AP:+1) Ignore 1D of armor or cover

Gunner,  2cm SAW Powergun (TL:2, Ap:+2) Ignore 1D of armor or cover

Combat Drones assigned to the Slammers (TL:2): (not in the novel)

2 Hover Drones, Troop Quality D8, “Dumb” Bots (-1 Reaction Roll)

Cautious move 8”/Fast move 16”  Hard Armor: +2D

Armed with Advanced SAW and Grenade Launcher: AP: 4D8, AT: 2D8

All Bots survive on a 4+ of a 1D6 roll.

————-

Solace Government Forces – TL1 – Troop Quality: D8 / Morale: D8 Troops/D10 Vehicles

6X “Trencher” Light Tracked Tank (Medium Vehicle) armed with a Medium Gauss Cannon

Medium Gauss Cannon – AP:2/AT:5 (Gauss) – Turret Mounted

Against Armor: Roll 5D8,  Ignores 1D of Defender’s Armor (Defender rolls 1D less on defense roll)

Against Troops: Roll 2D8

Front Armor: 4D10  Side Armor: 3D10  Rear Armor: 3D8

Also armed with 3 Gauss SAW Machine Guns: AP:2/AT:0 (Gauss)

Against Troops: Roll 2D8, Ignores 1D of Defender’s Armor (Defender rolls 1D less on defense roll)

2X “Stalker” Tracked Tank Destroyer armed with fixed mount Heavy Gauss Cannon

Heavy Gauss Cannon – AP:4/AT:6 (Gauss) – Fixed Mount

Fixed Mount requires successful Troop Quality roll for every shot after the first. Front Arc Only.

Against Armor: Roll 6D8, Ignores 1D of Defender’s Armor (Defender rolls 1D
less on defense roll)

Against Troops: Roll 4D8

Front Armor: 3D10  Side Armor: 3D8  Rear Armor: 3D8

1X Stalker with an “Ultra-Class” Heavy Gauss Cannon

Ultra Class Heavy Gauss Cannon – AP:4/AT:6 (Gauss) (Slow Firing) (Heavy
Hitter)

Against Armor: Roll 6D8 plus 1D8 for Heavy Hitter, Ignores 1D of Defender’s
Armor (Defender rolls 1D less on defense roll)

Slow Firing – Loses 2D8 each time it fires after 1st time – 7D8, 5D8, 3D8, 1D8

Solace Troops

Troops: TL1, Soft Body Armor (+1D), TQ/Morale: D8/D8

Solace Fireteam One

3X Rifleman, ACR (TL:1, AP:+1)

1X Rifleman, Buzz-Bomb Rocket (TL:1, AP:2/AT:2)

Solace Fireteam Two

3X Rifleman, ACR (TL:1, AP:+1)

1X Rifleman, Buzz-Bomb Rocket (TL:1, AP:2/AT:2)

Solace Combat Drones (TL:2) (Off-Planet Purchase): (Not in the novel)

3 Walker Drones, Quadruped

Troop Quality D8, “Smart” Bots Cautious 6”/Fast 12” Hard Armor: +2D

Armed with Gauss Squad Support Weapon: AP: 3D8, Ignores 1D of Opponent cover

Also armed with RPG: AP:2D8/AT:2D8

All Bots survive on a 4+ of a 1D6 roll.

———–

Those are specs provided for the gamers to use.  The “Hammer’s Slammers” vehicles are from Old Crow Models in the UK.  http://www.oldcrowmodels.co.uk/

The Solace vehicles are from Proxy Models.  http://proxiemodels.com/

The infantry is all from Khurasan.  http://khurasanminiatures.tripod.com/

The combat drones for both sides were modified from WizKids “Mechwarrior: Age of Destruction” miniatures.

The Slammers forces

The Solace forces

One may notice that there are COWS in with the Solace forces?  What’s up with that?  Are we playing “To-moo-row’s War”? In the words of Inigo Montoya “Let me asplain…no, that will take too long.  Let me sum up.”

I wanted to try a different mechanic for “hidden forces”.  In most miniatures wargames each side sees all the other forces already on the board and can react to their presence by how they deploy and move.  I wanted to present one side with a different tactical problem: you know something is there but you aren’t sure what it is.  It could be a tank, a squad of infantry, a tractor or just nothing.  So the Solace forces deployed numbered markers on the game board.  Their minis were placed behind a wall on boxes that were numbered matching the counters.

The Markers for the Solace Forces are placed on the battlefield

The Solace minis were placed on the sheets with the numbered boxes.  Cow miniatures were used as “nulls”.  We decided the cows were wandering around with small radio transmitters on collars around their necks.

The Solace minis are hidden from the view of the Slammer's players

For the markers to be “hidden” they had to be placed out of line-of-sight of the opposing force, either behind a building or hill or more than 3 inches inside of the forested areas.  The trees placed on the gameboard outlined forested areas in the battlefield.  These areas limit visibility and provide cover.

In order for a Slammer’s player to “reveal” one of the hidden markers they had to move a unit to within 8 inches of the marker and then make a successful troop quality roll.  Alternately, they could simply move into line-of-sight of the marker.

To keep the markers from “revealing” themselves the Solace player could move them no more than 3 inches.  The markers would also be revealed if they moved into line of sight or performed any combat activity, like shooting.

So, some markers would be revealed as combat units and others would be revealed as cows.

The four players, 2 on each side, figured out their strategies and the game started.

The Slammers forces enter the battlefield

The Slammers forces entered the map and made a right to check out the woods.

The Slammers forces enter the forest and uncover a cow.

The Slammers uncovered their first “blip” only to reveal a cow.  They had a beef with that.  They considered it a cheesey maneuver.  Some of the infantry deployed, either to sweep the woods or to milk the cow…

A Solace tank reveals itself to try and get a jump on a Slammers combat car

A solace tank popped out of the woods to take a shot at a Slammers combat car.  They exchanged fire…

The exchange of fire goes poorly for the combat car

The Slammers combat car receives a “Destroyed” result when hit by the gauss round from the tank.  It did knock the tank down to 1/2 firepower in the process.

The deployed Slammers infantry gets the jump on some Solace infantry advancing up the hill

A nasty firefight flared up in the woods on the forested hill when the deployed unit of Slammers infantry intercepted the Solace infantry that was advancing up the hill.  The Solace forces got the worst of that deal.

A Solace tank destroyer crests the hillside to get a shot at the oncoming Slammers armor

The Solace player brought forward another unit and crested the hillside with his one tank destroyer that mounted an Ultra-Class Gauss Cannon. He was trying to take the armor column in the front to disrupt it.

A Combat Car gets brewed up by the Tank Destroyer

Disruption achieved.  A Slammers combat car gets brewed up by a shot from the Tank Destroyer.

Another solace tank comes around the hill. The tank gets hit for a mobility hit and being suppressed - but it survived 2 shots from 2 Slammers blowers

Another Solace tank came zipping around the hill to exchange fire with a Slammers blower.  In a 2-for-1 deal it got to be shot at by 2 Slammers blowers.  Miraculously it survived 2 hits. It was suppressed and hit for half mobility, but it was not blown up.

Much carnage - leading to the Slammers deciding to withdraw

After much battlefield carnage, the kicker comes for the Slammers when, during a simultaneous fire exchange between a blower and the Solace tank destroyer, the Slammers tank lost its main gun.  The Solace tank destroyer was brewed up.  This was on top of more battlefield losses of combat cars and made the Slammers player decide to withdraw.

The "knife-fight-in-a-phone-booth" battle of tanks in the forest

The small wooded section developed a nasty little battle between two Solace tanks, a tank destroyer and a Slammers combat car.  The Slammers combat car was destroyed as was one of the Solace tanks.  The Solace tank destroyer was gun damaged – 1/2 firepower.

The Slammers infantry overruns the Solace infantry

The deployed Slammers infantry overran the Solace infantry but had to redeploy when the Slammers pulled out.

A reasonable victory for the Solace forces.  Painful, but reasonable.  They couldn’t afford to win like that again.

The afternoon gaming session was lively.  I had 4 teenagers, 2 boys and two girls, who sat down and wanted to play.  They had not played this kind of game before but they were sincere about wanting to try and played very enthusiastically.  I didn’t get any gameplay pictures; the players needed more of my attentions.  The end result was a marginal victory for the Solace forces.  The kids seemed to have a lot of fun playing.  In know I got a real kick out of two giggly teenage girls controlling the “Hammer’s Slammers” hardened mercenaries.

The aftermath of the second game - the Slammers got caught in an infantry crossfire

The kids seemed to get a real kick out of revealing the cows!  They found them udderly hilarious.

The “hidden unit” mechanic I used seemed to work pretty well.  The players did not have a problem using it and it didn’t appear to slow things down much.  In the first session the Slammers players commented favorably on the “tactical surprise” element the mechanic generated.  I will have to try it again.

I did more shopping in the evening, buying some 15mm scale alien miniatures so I can put together a very different kind of force.  I will show y’all when I am ready with it. 😉

“Recruits” was great fun, I am glad my son and I went and I am thankful for the folks who ran it.  I had a great time and want to go again.  I want to thank Shawn and Peggy and Jim for their hospitality as well.  They are very cool people!

Thanks for reading this and I hope to see some of y’all soon.  Have fun gaming!


Quick Friday Night Update from “Recruits”…

September 9, 2011

Hi all,  tired Wargamer here…

Long but uneventful drive to Lee’s Summit, Missouri.  Met with various Ambush Alley folks and headed over to the school.  Helped haul stuff in during a pouring rain that stoped 5 minutes later. Go figure…

Yours truly forgot his cord for his camera, so just a couple of pics will end up here until I can get home for a more intensive AAR.

Happy Walworth County Gamer with his shiney new copy of "Tomorrow's War" and a real, professional "Fog of War" deck for it!

Here are Shawn and Peggy of “Ambush Alley Games” hard at work getting their spot set up at Recruits.

Shawn and Peggy hard at work. I will rotate the picture when I get back home...

Tomorrow will be fun and busy.  I am running “Tomorrow’s War” scenarios in both the morning and afternoon sessions.  Wheee!

Hope to see some of you there!

Mark G.


Road Trip – Gamer Style!

September 8, 2011

Greetings all!

I will be hitting the road tomorrow morning for a 9 hour roadtrip to Lee’s Summit, Missouri, to attend and run some “Tomorrow’s War” at the “Recruits” gaming convention held at Lee’s Summit High School.  The con runs Friday, 5:00pm to 11:00pm, Saturday, 9:00am to 11:00pm and Sunday, 9:00am to 2:00pm.  I plan to be there for Friday evening and Saturday.  I will be running a “Hammer’s Slammers” based scenario of “Tomorrow’s War” in the Saturday morning time slot.  It ought to be fun!

http://recruits.mtswebsites.com/index.php

I hope to see some folks there!

Mark G.


“In the Emperor’s Name” Genestealer Cult minis – crafted by my son, Thomas

September 3, 2011
Greetings all!

A little “show-and-tell” this time: pictures of the miniatures modified by my son Thomas to serve as his Genestealer Cult retinue for the game “In the Emperor’s Name”.

Briefly, “In the Emperor’s Name”, or “ItEN” is a skirmish-level game (free download) created by the guys at “Forge of War”.  It is based in Games Workshop’s Warhammer 40,000 universe, placed, well, 40,000 years in the future.   A good link to get the rules for “ItEN”  is here:

http://thegamesshed.wordpress.com/2011/07/02/in-the-emperors-name/

Anyway, the basic units of the game are individual figures who are part of “retinues”.  The classic “good guy” retinue in the game is the “Inquisitorial Retinue”, containing an Imperial Inquisitor and his various followers and henchmen.  The game is fun to play and encourages a lot of creativity with the individual miniatures, since each one is a unique character, not part of a faceless horde.

If you’re gonna have good guys then you need to have bad guys for them to fight.  In playing the game “Warhammer 40,000” my son Thomas really likes his Tyranid army.  The Tyranids are an insatiable, pitiless alien species that travels through space in huge “hive fleets” made of living ships and devours the life of entire planets, leaving them dead husks.

Individual Tyranids are highly differentiated by genetic engineering, some are small and nasty and others are HUGE and nasty. One type of Tyranid is called the “Genestealer”.  In their natural form they are 4-armed, two-legged close-combat killing machines, with claws that can shred steel.  They are known to act as advanced scouts for hive fleets, stowing away on old ships and making their way to crowded planets.  There they capture humans and “implant” them with biological pods that enslave the person and start to genetically alter them.  When they capture enough people they form secretive cults.  These cults can last for generations, with successive cultists becoming more mutated until purestrain genestealers are being bred.  All while this is happening a psychic signal is being generated.  As the cult grows the signal gets stronger.  Eventually the signal gets strong enough to attract a Tyranid Hive Fleet.  When the Hive Fleet attacks the planet the Genestealer cult comes out of hiding and tries to cause chaos and mayhem to hinder the planetary defenses.  Obviously, it is to the interests of the Empire to prevent this from happening.

Games Workshop stopped producing “Genestealer Cult” miniatures over a decade ago.  Thomas used some leftover Tyranid bits from his Tyranid army and some “Necromunda” and “Space Marine” parts that I gave him to create his “Genestealer Cult Retinue”.

The Core Retinue of the Genestealer Cult

The Retinue of the Genestealer Cult show here has two Leader figures, some heavy combat figures and some normal combat figures.  These would be supplemented by normal-looking human figures representing “Cultists” of various sorts and “Purestrain Genestealers” taken from Tom’s Warhammer 40,000 Tyranid Army.

The Genestealer Patriarch, huge, bloated with evil and deadly

The main leader of the cult and the retinue is the Genestealer Patriarch.  He is huge, ugly, highly intelligent and deadly in combat.  Tom created this one by attaching an old, Warhammer 40,000 2nd edition Tyranid warrior head onto the body of Warhammer 40,000 “Space Ork”.  He cut the body off and turned it backwards to create a more “hunched-over” effect.  He used “green-stuff” epoxy to make the ragged cloak that the Genestealer Patriarch uses to disguise his appearance.

The Genestealer Magus, a high-powered Psyker/Leader who is good in combat

The Genestealer Magus is the high-level Psyker (using psychic powers) of the cult.  He is a leader unit and is second to the Patriarch in rank.  Tom made this one by attaching a modern Tyranid Warrior head to a Space Marine torso, with legs and arms that came out of a bits pile from who knows where.  It uses its Psyker powers to hover off the ground (The miniature being supported by its “green stuff” cloak).  A neat visual feature, if you ask me.

The next few pictures are of the “Mutated Cultists”.  They are made from a variety of Tyranid, Necromunda, Space Marine and “whatever” bits.  Some have extra arms growing out of them and most have some kind of ranged weapon.

Mutated Cultist Number 1 - Armed with an energy pistol and a bone dagger growing out of its right arm

Mutated Cultist Number 2 - Armed with an energy pistol and wearing hard body armor

Mutated Cultist Number 3 - Armed with an energy pistol and a hugely mutated right arm

Mutated Cultist Number 4 - Armed with a Bolter, a dagger and an extra right arm with claws

Mutated Cultist Number 5 - Armed with an energy weapon, a Chainsword and an extra left arm with claws

Mutated Cultist Number 6 - Armed with a big knife and a weird, mutated biological ranged weapon

The various mutated cultists have ranged weapons that are generic enough in appearance to fill a variety of weapons slots, depending on the points value and makeup of the retinue.  They make very good “Bad” guys.

The Genestealer Patriarch and Magos together

The Genestealer Cult makes for a fun range of enemies to pit your forces against.  Even an evil retinue based around the “Forces of Chaos” would go against them.  After all, you can’t conquer a world for the Gods of Chaos if the Tyranids *eat* it.