Thursday, November 29, 2012

Squadrons and Knights and Horses, Oh My!

I've just finished up my annual fall project of making clothespin toys for the craft fair at my daughter's school. After lots of cutting, hot gluing, & painting, I was able to make 14 biplanes, 30 knights & 15 horses.

The knights & horses are made using the clothes pins specifically for making wooden clothespin dolls. I get the pins from Michaels craft store here in the US. They usually have a small wooden bits section in each store & the pins are from a company called Woodies.

This year I added axes & great swords to the knights arsenal.

Normally, I'd have a picture of some knights on horseback too. The legs of the knights are supposed to be able to slip over the horses backs. But for some reason, the horses' backs were wider this year & the knights wouldn't fit.

In years past, I ended up drawing the horses eyes so looking tried, worried or sad. This year some how I made them look mad or mean. These 4 horses look like a bunch of thugs planning a "grain silo" job.

Ponyboy confronts the Socs.

At first I thought these 2 could be Spy vs Spy until I realized the white one looked like an angry Snowy from TinTin.

The biplanes are made from the old style wooden clothespins. It was tough to find these, but I finally tracked them down at an Ace hardware store.

The all the toys took about 10 hours total to make. In addition to the knights not fitting on the horses, I other problems this year. I usually use Sharpie permanent markers to color the knights. But either the formulation of the ink changed, or the white primer I used had some weird chemical in it, or I had the worst luck with buying new pens, because every new pen I bought ended up drying up within about 3-4 minutes of use. I bought (& returned) 10 silver pens & they all stopped working pretty much immediately. I used to only need 2 silver pens to finish all 30 knights. So I ended up just painting the silver using a bright silver miniatures page.

To give proper attribution for these project, I got all my ideas from the Penny Whistle Blog.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

1st Strange Aeons Game


I recently ran my 1st game of Strange Aeons at our local weekly club night. Strange Aeons is a skirmish level game where government special agents fight against Cthulhu cultists. Think Necromunda in the 1920s/30s with Tentacles.

Usually Strange Aeons (SA) is a 1-on-1 game. But due to our club nights having up to 6-8 people, I doubled the number of gangs, so there were 2 per side. & I made the gangs a bit larger than normal so they could be split in half to support more players.

The scenario had a Treasury Man with military support investigating a possible moonshine operation. At the same time, Threshold agents (a secret government agency to fight supernatural threats) were investigating reports of some sort of backwoods sacrificial rituals.

Here's the Treasury team with the lead investigator (Character), Sgt w/ SMG(Agent), 2 riflemen & a reporter to record taking down the moonshiners (all 3 Civilians).

& here's the Threshold Team with the main Investigator in the center (Character), a professor of ancient languages & his daughter/assistant to the right (both Agents), the local farmer who reported the rituals & a police office for protection on the left (both civilians).

Here's a picture of the board layout. The flat terrain pieces outlined in brown in the picture are what I call "terrain blinds" & are explained in a prior post.

Normally, an SA game is played on a 2'x3' board. But because I doubled the number of gangs, I doubled the size of the board. So the board was 4'x3'. The 2 "good" gangs (Treasury gang & Threshold gang) entered the board from the left. The 2 "bad" gangs were in hiding as part of the terrain blinds.


I allowed both good gangs to do a single group move, activating their whole gang at once to get them within conflict range of the bad gangs. This allowed the moonshine operation to be seen & put on the table.

With the moonshine shacks on the board, the Treasury men made an immediate attack against them. Unfortunately, the police office was the caught in the crossfire and the 1st casuatly of the game. The weight of the Treasury gang's fire started taking its toll, and the moonshiners took their own casaulties. This allowed the G-Men to clear out the front shacks.

But unbeknownst to the G-Men, something had been scuttling through the underbrush & was about to pounce. [I used one of the extra terrain blind pieces to allow the 2nd "bad" gang to move unseen (or at least unidentified) across the board. & again, until they were in direct visual range, I allowed them to activate & move as a whole group all at once.]

Finally, the GUST (Group of Unknown Scuttley Things) broke cover & the Treasury men saw the full horror of what had been stalking them. [These were run as Vermin from the Shocking Tales #1 suppliment, with 1 Cultist Henchman as their Pied Piper. Because the GUST were just Vermin, they didn't actually cause any Resolve checks. "the full horror" just sounded good in the narrative.]

Here's a shot from the other direction showing just how vulnerable the G-men were to the gnashing beaks of the GUST.

Luckily, the head G-Man quickly & calmly started gunning down the horrible GUST as they rushed his team. Below is evidence of the GUST's unfortunate luck for one of the few that got into combat. The 3 white 6s was the melee roll for the head G-man, while the 2 purple 2s was for the GUST (& that was even on my special cthulhu dice).

Finally, one got past the Treasury gunline & attacked the reporter who had gotten too close trying to take pictures of the horrible GUST. The Sgt in the background recoils in surprise.

The reporter's lack of formal combat training was telling, and he was ripped apart. He did win a posthumous Pulitzer Prize for his final picture.

The rest of the GUST were killed in their tracks, and with over half of the moonshiners taken out, Good prevailed and both the moonshiners and the cult were cleared out.

But the Threshold Agents thought certain references to Moon-tree Shine found in the shacks indicated a connection between the moonshiners and the cultists. What else, other than providing moonshine to other-worldly beings, could explain the size of such a large still?


Unfortunately, my design of the gangs kind of led to difficulties during the game. Having the cult gang be all melee-only figures meant the moonshiners (shown below) had to face all the fire from both gangs on their own. Also, since the leader of the cultist gang didn't have the Command skill, each GUST was being activated one at a time, meaning it was very difficult to allow the GUST to support each other in melee.

Also, I probably didn't explain the significance of the Command skill to the moonshiner players. They hid the head of the gang (classed as a Cult Leader) at the back of the moonshine area to protect him. This meant the moonshiner gang was only activating 1 figure in a turn facing to the good gangs activating 6 figures a turn (I allowed both gangs on a side 1 activation each turn, & the good gangs would always activate their leaders with their Command skill. This allowed each good gang to activate another 2 figures, for a total of 6 for the whole good side.)

Therefore, between the bad side having half the number of guns, & not being told how to effectively use the few skills they did have, the game wasn't terribly enjoyable for the bad side. The good side players loved it though 8).

But a few of the players enjoyed the concept of the game, & were able to look past my bad game design, to be willing to try it again. & one player not only specifically ask to play again, but bought some of the rule books. So, he & I are planning more 1-on-1 games to try to work the kinks out more before trying another large game.

& before I get deluged with questions about the GUST figures... I got them off ebay, from a seller who's name I don't remember. He'd had them custom made & was just selling off the extras.


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

New Game Mechanic? Terrain Blinds

Recently, I ran game where I didn't want all the key terrain out on the board since it'd give the players a sense of what was in store. So, drawing on my long familiarity with Too Fat Lardies games, I considered their use of Troop Blinds.

The Too Fat Lardies games use Troop Blinds to represent an unscouted force of unknown size & composition moving around on the board. So, I decided to create Terrain Blinds.

They are non-descript terrain placeholders that allowed me to show the players that something is in that area of the board, but that their figures can't tell what it was until they got closer. Otherwise, if I just left the "hidden" terrain piece off the board, the empty spaces would look funny & be a bit misleading to the players.

Here is the intial board set up. The terrain blinds are the flat green/brown patches circled.

Here is a close up of the blinds.

& once the players' figures got close enough to the blinds, here is what replaced the group of blinds in the right center of the initial picture.

I sure I'm not the 1st person to come up with the idea of hiding terrain from the players. I know I've seen fully laid out 3D dungeon crawls where the unexplored part of the dungeon is covered up to prevent the party from seeing what's ahead. But in all the wide & varied wargaming reading I've done, I've never seen the use of actual Terrain Blinds placeholders like this.

So please let me know if you've seen this kind of Terrain Blinds use before, & what you think of the idea.

Beavering Away

My local club (Miniature Wargaming Society in Sacramento, CA) has decided to put together another big game for next year's conventions. Last year, one of our members put on a massive pirate game with 24 players, loads of boats & over 2000 figures. You can see that game at Pirates of the Carob Bean Sea.

The next game is tenatively called Rumble in the Jungle & will be a simplied version of the DUST Warfare rules for Weird World War 2 games.

I have been helping out by building some of the trees for the game. They are 3 sets of the the GW trees. Ironically, I've been looking to pick the GW trees up cheaply for a while, & then GM for the club game hands me 3 boxes of the trees to build that he got for $5 each.

I've finished painting all the separate parts of the trees, but still need to assemble them.

Here are the bases that the trees fit into:

Here are the leaves that will be glued on the the trees:

Here are the trees themselves:

And finally, here are the trees & bases together:

I think they've come out pretty well. My only disappointments are that I didn't fill where the separate model pieces join together, & that the grass I added doesn't show up too well. I may pull the grass of & replace it with small tufts of lichen since I think they'd be more noticable & probably more durable.