Monday, December 14, 2015

Some 28mm Characters

I'm a scale-hopper, what can I say?

I'm doing 15mm primarily, still, but some 28mm models are just too tempting. Perhaps I'll use 28mm for really small scale skirmishes more (15mm is a little fiddly on occasion).

And of course I  recently made a pretty sizable order of 6mm that I'll probably use with Warfare in the Age of Madness, Dirtside II, and/or Stryker (the cheapness of vehicles and the way ranges look make this scale preferable for anything bigger than a platoon, to me, no matter what the rules were written for).

Anyway, here's some models I've painted in the past few days:

Reaper Miniatures (I've since fixed the weird black mark on his leg and changed the ear flap color to be more red as my reference photo was misleadingly orange)

Reaper Miniatures

Reaper Miniatures

Flash kinda washed out parts of  this model so I took one without as well

Games Workshop (Not totally pleased with the armor markings)

Other news; 5150: Fringe Space is coming out very soon. I think I should note for readers of this blog that most of the mechanics and concepts previewed on this blog are not in the final product (though it is possible some elements will make it into free or cheap expansions in some form). The game is closer to Urban Renewal with a streamlined, narrative focus, and streamlined rules for space combat (that are similar to RSBS, focused on using limited bonus dice) and man to man fire fights (a la Chain Reaction 2015). The whole thing is built to be very modular-- it is extremely easy (and perhaps preferable, in some cases) to port in Urban Renewal or New Beginnings, Star Army, Fighter Command or Star Navy, or really any other THW game (as the combat mechanics are very streamlined I think I'll personally be doing this for more important encounters, and using the streamlined rules for quick random encounters where what matters more is resolution than exact tactical events). The whole goal of the game is to keep your character above water (or improving) month to month; there isn't an economic or financial component to this (that isn't abstracted), but instead the focus is on how these things affect Rep-- increasing or decreasing based on successes and failures. This makes characters fluctuate noticeably over the course of an adventure, which I think is very interesting.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Squad Vs. Squad Playtest

As I said I'd do a military play test with a few more figures-- a 9 man Khurasan Exterminators squad--1 Sgt/Assault Rifle with 2 leader dice and 2 command dice, 2 Cpls/Assault Rifle with 1 leader die, 2 troopers with SAWs, 1 trooper with 'dumb' GL,  and 3 troopers w/Assault Rifles, all with hand grenades-- against an 8 man GZG squad (I forget which)-- The same composition except instead of 2 SAWs and 1 'dumb' GL, they have 1 SAW and 1 'smart' GL that adds significant cover-ignoring abilities. All troops are wearing light body armor, which makes low caliber weapons and shrapnel less damaging, but the rifles and SAWs are pretty much just penetrating it. I'll call the Khurasan Exterminators Imperial Marines and the GZG forces are Asgardian Light Infantry.

The battlefield-- a small, dried riverbed running between two hills-- one with an old wall, the other with a few buildings. At either end of the dry riverbed is another building, and on the outskirts of the village there are sporadic trees.

The Marines approach the village from the west.

To the East, the Asgardian Light Infantry move towards the buildings, their squad leader with an extra rifleman pulling overwatch from the center.

The two weapon teams (SAW on the left, GL on the right) move into the buildings and sprint up the stairs to get into position. 
One of the Marine SAWs can make out the Light Infantry on the right and starts suppressing them, while the activation order allows the dumb GL to start shooting at the third floor of the building on the left (the sprinting troops just visible above the ridgeline). With a few of the Light Infantry suppressed, and several others unable to react as they sprinted, the Marines move one fire team up to the ridge line and exchange fire with the Light Infantry. 
One of the Light Infantrymen gets unlucky and is killed outright by rifle fire. Between this and the weight of fire hitting their position, the entire fire team is suppressed.
Seeing that the enemy is largely suppressed but not easy to damage, the Marine sergeant leads part of his other fire team through cover to the wall close to the enemy position, hoping to start hitting them with grenades.
The corporal and SAW split off and provide additional covering fire against the 3 story building.
With all of their troops suppressed except for the Sgt and his rifleman, the corporals and sergeant expend their energy simply trying to get the suppressed Smart GL and SAW to fire-- They manage to get both moving, but two of the three rolls are low initiative order. The other gets to shoot first, however, so the smart GL gets a shot out.
Meanwhile the un-suppressed Marines are able to put their command and Leader dice towards activating all of their troops (and indeed have an extra successful die to 'pass' down to a fire team, which saves the SAW on the left from failing to activate). I activated the GL separately as he rolled a personal activation high enough to go before the Sgt's group, meaning he could possibly suppress the activated SAW and prevent it from reacting before the Sgt made his move.

The Smart GL shoots over the wall in airburst mode (think like an XM25) and gives a heavy wound to one of the riflemen, but the rest keep their cool and aren't suppressed. This is pretty much the point that it was clear the firefight couldn't be salvaged for the Light Infantry-- even if they had done better to keep the enemy back, the Marines hadn't pinned themselves in buildings, and the Light Infantry inadvertently had-- the doors out were all too visible to the enemy!-- but failing to really connect this one shot ensured that the enemy would be able to advance and likely take out the rest with ease…
The Marine Sgt. moves up and throws a grenade at the two story building on the right, the rest of the squad lays down even more suppressing fire to keep the enemy suppressed next turn as well, and some riflemen move up and start shooting at the enemy Sgt and rifleman. While the Light Infantry could've theoretically gotten in a reaction shot or two that could've slowed the process, the fact was they'd lost the firefight and didn't have the reserves or terrain to perform a tactical withdrawal and regroup. At the end of the turn there was 1 wounded Marine, 2 wounded Light Infantry (including the Sgt), and one dead Light Infantry. The rest of the LI were suppressed. I did play one more activation but only the Marines had any ability to do anything so I called it (they wounded 3 more with grenades mostly).

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Playtest AAR

Did a quick (well under ten minutes) play test of the tactical skirmish rules I'm toying with... This scenario used two identical forces of Space Pirates,
1x Pirate Leader with pistol and sword. (1 leader die)
1x Pirate with pistol and sword.
1x Pirate with nonautomatic shotgun (slug and shot selectable).

I'll do another play test soon with military forces-- the activation system makes military forces very different (and faster with greater numbers on the table). I'll also do a Pirate vs. Military scenario... I expect there to be a fair balance between the disorganized but fast and high-personal initiative pirates and the slow but steady, armored and organized soldiers. I hope also that this will bold well for even more varied forces (such as aliens).
For perspective, I see a baseline military squad as follows:
1 Sergeant (Has Command dice and Leader dice)
2x fire teams
-1xCpl (has leader die)
-3x Troopers
With all having less initiative (less personal activation dice) then the pirates but the leader and command dice meaning that they can put effort into coordinated actions while the pirates all act in essentially random order (though they are more likely to act individually in any one turn).
Of course a poorly trained force with low experience would have neither the pirate's personal initiative or the military's leadership and organization, while an elite force would have both to some degree (the 1-10 stat basis and having several stats play a function in activation and leadership allows a fair degree of granularity).
Hopefully even a platoon's worth of pirates will be playable, but we'll see-- regardless the system is really aimed at a handful of figures a side-- a la XCom. Admittedly this AAR is somewhat below the aims of the system in that it is two very simple AND small forces. Ideally if everyone has the same stats (excepting leader dice) and simple weapons and equipment (no SF weaponry or armor) then you'll be playing with more models on a bigger field, while a small game like this will be more interesting with more detail in each piece…

Anyway, onto the AAR:
GZG figures on Khurasan terrain. The pirates at the top of the picture we'll call Ravagers, the pirates at the bottom we'll call Scavengers. Presumably they've met somewhere on an abandoned installation or ship...

As neither side is In Contact, the leaders roll to activate their whole group and the Ravagers win, sending their shotgun down the flank while the others move out into light cover to engage the Scavengers.

As Overwatch is an action, and without that action troops are roughly equally effective to active troops when reacting, acting first is an advantage on defense or offense. In this case, both sides exchange some pistol fire down the hallway, and the Scavenger with the shotgun is suppressed.

But the Scavenger leader and the other pistoleer are still able to act once it is their turn. The Pirate leader takes an Aimed Shot at one of the Ravagers and gets a lucky hit through cover, taking him out of action. Meanwhile the other pistol moves up to a door and opens it, taking some fire from the Ravager shotgun but taking no damage.

Everyone is in Contact now… so everyone rolls activation separately. Normally a suppressed character cannot roll, but one capability of Leaders (anyone with a leadership die or more) is to assign leader dice to act as activation dice for nearby suppressed troops. Doing this means other actions cannot be taken however, such as coordinating actions that allow units to move together. Rallying the suppressed shotgun means everyone is definitely going to be acting individually (even getting the same activation roll means that they're treated as moving at different times for the purposes of reactions, which is often a disadvantage and is merely an option to coordinated troops). Regardless, the Ravager leader fails to activate, and the first actors are Scavengers… things aren't looking too good for the Ravagers.
The first action in the sequence is Suppressing Fire on the shotgun, which succeeds. Next, the Scavenger Leader sprays suppressing fire down the hall, pinning the Ravager Leader behind some barrels. Finally the Scavenger shotgun finds her way to her enemy's flanks clear, and she rushes up... 

And barely wounds the Ravager! Unfortunately for the Ravagers it is clear that the Scavengers have won the firefight regardless… even surviving a single hail of fire, all of their fighters are suppressed, and sure enough the next turn the Scavengers get another chance to push up unopposed, and the Ravagers are wiped out.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

More Character Models

Just painting some more…
GZG Ravager, Rebel Minis Sahadeen, GZG Armed Colonist(?) 

RAFM (Painted this awhile ago but not sure if I uploaded it).

Thursday, April 2, 2015

GZG Ravager and Rebel Minis Adventurer

As I head into painting again, and also fixing up some models that have been beaten up by moves, I've been reviewing some of my most recent paint jobs. Here are my most recent paint jobs, two SF adventurers who are probably usable for other settings as well:

Rebel Minis Adventurer-- Needs some refurbishing here and there

GZG Ravager-- really loved the detail on this model

(EDIT: Original post didn't properly include the photos!)

Sunday, March 29, 2015

It's Been Too Long

I don't imagine I've been too missed, but I thought it'd be good to just give a brief update.

The short of it is that I've been extremely busy. I moved, I'm studying Mathematics and Physics at the University of Chicago, and what little time I've had to game has been spent integrating myself with some new gaming groups in the area (some of that started before my last update, but was also after a long hiatus…)

More specifically on gaming:

1) I decided I was too busy to continue working directly on Fringe Space. Perhaps when things calm down I'll return to the project to some degree (for various reasons I doubt I'll be 'lead'), but as of now it is Ed the THW guy's. I wouldn't be surprised if, once it is closer to coming out, it ends up with a different name, either. But for fellow THW fans, know that a more space-focused 5150: Urban Renewal expansion is still in the works. If that's something you're particularly itching for, it's probably something you can vote for in the "in the pipeline" polls that go up on the forum and yahoo group occasionally. 

2) Board games are the busy man's friends. 

3) I've run some one-off scenarios for others (some gamers, some not, but none with a real background in tactical miniatures games) that have been a lot of fun. Some 5150 (often with slight mods), but also one game of Tomorrow's War. Also two runs at Death Test. I had fun, as did others, but I've noticed a trend-- I'm still the wargaming equivalent of the "eternal game master." The other gamers tend to focus on light board games. Which means I kinda miss my 40k days, when my gaming group could pool ideas, energy, and resources a bit more.

4) I have a battle-plan. I dug up some of my old 40k stuff. I got Rogue Trader, 3rd-5th edition rulebooks, and the codices for my army. I've still got my issues with the rules. And also the setting. But to be honest, with so much time in the world of more tactical and "sim-ish" games, DIY setting, and hard SF, I'm sort of feeling something different. And empirically people get into this stuff. It's also the only miniatures game with which anyone else in the area can 'meet me halfway' without any real effort-- there are others with old dusty armies and codices. So I figure I'll have some fun updating my old forces to my greater abilities (some of the old paint jobs are pretty bad, and more tactical gaming has made me better even at 40k's tactics, I hope), subversively putting Rogue Trader references in what will likely be 4th edition forces, and throwing dice with some friends. And then maybe I can lead them beyond the comfort of nostalgia and IGOUGO.

5) I have been doing some light game experimentation. Calling it game development might be a bit too far, as I've play tested only twice, and the rules are very barebones. It's basically a hardcore d-10 based RPG modern combat system. Or maybe a squad vs. squad level sim. The basic idea was to make a game where the decisions are more about individual soldier placement and action, building into an overall squad performance (choosing to peek out at this moment, choosing to have the leader get his men moving rather than acting himself, choosing to clear a room by rushing all the troops in or by slowly pie-ing the corner). From what I've heard No End In Sight might be working with some similar concepts, but I still think the basic idea is pretty different from anything I've played (or even heard of): Soldiers are either "In Contact" or "Not In Contact."Troops Not In Contact activate as units (representing formations moving together seamlessly), but once in contact activate individually. Enemy fire basically makes activation more difficult. Leaders have more activation dice that they can loan out to troops around them-- even into a whole cluster together, if the troops are not suppressed. Suppressed troops, however, require individual attention to activate. Other than that, there are no morale rules at the moment. Leaders are somewhat arbitrarily defined. There is only one statistic. 

Actions are pretty much built around an "action point" concept, although streamlined by the rules to get rid of bean counting-- so we have things like sprinting and nothing else, crawling low and nothing else, combat speed movement and snap firing, holding still and taking an aimed shot, or holding still and firing enough semi-accurate fire to get a suppression bonus. Actions are performed in order of activation die roll so that troops who roll higher either don't activate at all (and do an automatic action that basically holds them in place the vast majority of the time) or can choose whether to act first or defer (which means better troops can seize the initiative in the admittedly rare case that this is an advantage, and most of the time instead can wait and see what the enemy does and then act accordingly-- the interactions treat actions as simultaneous, essentially). 

There are currently three "Interactions"-- cases where troopers of different sides interact in challenges, if you will. Spotting is the first, which takes the most recent action of both troopers into account. A soldier sprinting down a road while an enemy is sitting watching the road is at a pretty large disadvantage. Once Spotted, a trooper remains Spotted unless he manages to Break Contact; simply being out of LOS is not actually enough. Say I'm Spotted and I Spot my enemy, too. I duck behind a lone tree in an open field that is in his sight. Sure, he can't see me, but he knows where I am. I still am thinking like someone who is in danger. I'm still in Contact. My enemy however is as well until he moves while my LOS is blocked (by the tree)-- he can move to a new firing position and if I peek out I'll have to try spotting him again while he can easily be firing on my still known position. Reaction is the second interaction; a successful Spotting will cause a Reaction (the spotting trooper decides to fire at a new contact), but already Spotted troops can also cause Reactions by performing any action other than taking cover in LOS of an enemy. Both of these interactions are based around rolling dice and counting successes against one another, with modifiers to the number of dice being based upon the most recent action performed by a figure (hence the feeling of simultaneity). 

The final interaction is shooting: Basically two dice are rolled against Skill for every 'shot' of ROF, and both must succeed to 'hit.' The defender then throws dice (the number of dice based on his cover) against his own Skill. Any successes result in the hit being commuted to Suppression. I've currently played that being hit (resulting from failing those cover dice, or being caught in the open and without cover dice and hit) is an automatic incapacitation but I'll change that down the line to allow for armor and injuries and so on. A survivor of an attack totals his suppression hits (with an addition based upon the Suppression Value of the weapon that targeted him) and rolls that number of dice against his skill; any failures result in being suppressed, which makes activation much more difficult next turn (and he's still targetable, even if ducking down breaks LOS, as his cover is still targetable until he moves while out of LOS, so he is easy to keep suppressed). There is one get out of jail card for troops that are worried about failing their cover dice (or who don't have cover dice)-- if they have direct LOS to the enemy and spotted them before being targeted (so they aren't ambushed or getting shot in the back), they can add a Cover Die for free at the cost of being forced to fail Suppression. 

What this all means: a soldier in the open who is shot at by an unseen target is pretty much dead. The option to take an Aimed Shot or not is a little complex and situational, but in short, a meh-ish trooper (Skill 5 shooting) with an assault rifle (ROF:3 Suppression Value: 0) will kill a target roughly 50% of the time either way-- the complexity comes in the chance of getting spotted by other enemies, whether they are attempting to kill multiple enemies in one burst, etc. Adding in cover, spotting the enemy first (which doesn't help against Aimed Shots-- if you're in the open that +1 for Taking Cover at the last moment is counteracted by Aimed Shot's -1 Cover Die) quickly reduces those odds: just sitting behind a wall makes it only 12.5% chance of the aimed shot killing (assuming the defender has equivalent abilities). As I'm sure is apparent, the importance of causing suppression goes up as the enemy's cover or ability increased. A quick ambush by okay troops (Skill 5-6) against unsuspecting enemies, or flanking fire on suppressed enemies, or firing on enemies who are ineffective in using cover, can quickly result in all enemies incapacitated without any chance to react. Meanwhile firefights between troops who spot each other and have cover quickly become elaborate dances: individual soldiers roll around behind cover to get the advantage of unexpected new firing positions while their squad mates provide just enough fire to keep the enemy from suppressing the whole team, leaders shout orders to individual soldiers who need the extra push, and the whole thing is all about trying to use just the right amount of Aimed and Suppressing Fire to let your troops get a bit closer with a grenade or flanking position. 

Usually once that beings to happen it is clear to the enemies to fall back, though… which means if you don't have pinning units or allies ready to ambush, a true firefight often ends with few casualties. 

It sounds complicated but with streamlined charts it plays pretty fast. I'm hoping I can work on it and push it to platoon level with the addition of action chits. Armor and wounds need to be added, but I'm thinking that barring good armor the current model of general incapacitation will remain for anything bigger than a pistol as the current casualty rates are very realistic. Vehicles will be a whole extra problem (I'm hoping I can treat them basically as  soldiers with excellent armor and more limited options). I'll want to add activation bonuses outside of those supplied to leaders (so that Special Forces are more independent and likely to keep moving without a leader, for example). I also might want to see if I can backtrace the mechanics to a wider range of stats (so number of activation dice could be one, accuracy could be one, a "cool" stat for resisting suppression,  and so on). 

Anyway, it's something I'm hoping I can spend more time on. Right now my play tests are a bit out of date (things were a bit too in favor of the target in shooting previously and it ended up with situations where people were standing next to each other, both 'peaking' around a shared corner yet getting cover for no logical reason, and blazing away for no effect), but I feel pretty good with where this is going. Any comments would be greatly appreciated, however!

As a final note, I'm also looking into taking my space combat rules (long detached from Fringe Space) and releasing them as a small standalone thing.

Anyway, hoping to update more frequently again, both with rules (space combat? Ground combat? RPG stuff?) and with bat reps (even 40k, perhaps). I'll probably get painting again, too. Thanks for reading!