The Caffeinated Penguin

musings of a crackpot hacker

Wargaming rules post collection

| June 27, 2015

So, I’ve been wanting to do a couple of these posts for awhile, one for wargames and one for roleplaying games. This is the one about wargaming. I’ll break it down by scale (meaning the size of miniatures) and scale (meaning the size of the engagement), the latter which I’ll call “scope” for clarity, and Genre. I’m ignoring genres or scales which I don’t play.

  • Scale: 15mm-30mm (one figure per base)
    • Scope: Platoon to company size (15 – 250 soldiers) (aka “army”)
      • Genre: Modern/SciFi
        • One Page 40K – This is basically the only game in town for games of this scale. All the other ones I’ve tried are just a boring slog which take too long to play. This is largely because they’re “scaled up” skirmish games. OnePage rules sacrifices a lot of fiddly bits (namely, weapon strength and rate of fire are aggregated together into the number of dice rolled, and the different models’ strength, toughness, and separate melee and ranged skills are aggregated together into a single quality number). The overall goals are fun and simplicity, and I’m finding that this leads to more tactical depth, because you can focus on tactics and not get hung up on the crunch. The rules aren’t currently generic, but they aim to be once they get the bugs worked out of the point calculation system.
    • Scope: Squad to platoon size (4 – 15 soldiers), maybe a little bigger (aka “skirmish”)
      • Genre: Modern/SciFi
        • One Page 40K This is the scaled down version of the One Page 40K rules. I have not played this extensively. As above, it is not currently generic, but intends to be.
        • Zed Or Alive is a modern post-zombie-apoc skirmish game. Uses the Savage Worlds Showdown engine, which is familiar to me. It’s less wargame-y and more “RPG light”. It is miniatures agnostic with point values for unit creation.
        • This is Not a Test is a near future postnuclear skirmish game, which throws a pile of different tropes together and hits blend. It’s pretty obviously heavily influenced by the Wasteland and Fallout series of games, as well as tabletop campaign-oriented skirmish games like Necromunda. It is miniatures agnostic with point values for unit creation.
        • Pulp City is a superheroes game, with mechanics that fit the theme and a rich backstory, and rules for doing all the fun pulpy stuff you’d like to do. It’s designed for play with their miniatures, and no unit creation rules are provided.
      • Genre: Fantasy/Steampunk
        • Warmachine and Hordes are a superbly balanced, well-modeled, strongly thematic, nominally skirmish pair of games which are widely played and I highly recommend. (Warmachine is based around the command of steam-powered robots, Hordes is based around the command of large creatures, and the two systems are compatible, so a Warmachine army can fight a Hordes army without issue). My only drawback to it is that I get burnt out on it because I love SF stuff and start to miss it. But, that’s not the game’s fault, it’s my malfunction.
  • Scale: Smaller than 15mm.
    • Genre: Space ships
      • Firestorm Armada is a space ship game which hits all the happy buttons with regards to space ship combat. It’s not generic per-se, but there are various homebrew points systems for creating ships, which I’ve found to work out to be pretty balanced.
      • Full Thust deserves an honorable mention. I very much like this system, but Liz doesn’t, mainly because of the pre-plotted movement. She vastly prefers the alternating system of Firestorm Armada and, while we could use the Firestorm Armada movement system with Full Thrust, it’s easier to just make up ship cards in Firestorm Armada.
      • X-Wing is a really good game and has the distinction of having the only movement pre-plotting mechanic which Liz likes (because it’s done very quickly and unobtrusively). Plus, the minis are prepainted, so it’s really a “pick it up and play” gateway game (or game for the busy gamer). I like the system so much, I may try to port it to the now defunct Crimson Skies game, because I have a pile of those planes, but everyone hates the movement system (alternatively, I’d use an alternating system, not unlike Firestorm Armada).
    • Genre: Naval
      • Dystopian Wars. So, I don’t generally like naval games. They just don’t really appeal to me. The exception is that very narrow period of time which was WWI-WWII, with large battleships with big guns with lots of aircraft flying around. Dystopian wars hits this in a Victorian SF setting, so you get a pile of weird things (cloaking devices, tesla guns, flying ships, etc.). It is non-generic. You use their minis and unit cards. There are no unit creation rules.
    • Genre: Land
      • Dystopian Wars covers land warfare too, with the same notes as above.
      • I don’t have a generic one. I’m looking. I own several, but I don’t really like them. I’m waiting for the One Page Rules guys to come out with something in this scale (likely called 1pEpic or something like that, after the now-defunct Epic 40k game, but the key here is that is must be generic. I have a pile of modern microarmor, as well as a bunch of epic 40k stuff, and I’d like to be able to use all of it under the same ruleset. In the One Page Rules Forums, some folks have reported success using the One Page Kill Team rules in that scale, and that’s not a bad approach. I mean, when engaged, infantry will either get killed, driven back, or pinned (called stunned). This makes sense. I’m not sure it makes a lot of sense with vehicles, but I could be sold on it – they either blow up, back off, or get rattled and don’t act. Fair enough. However, there aren’t rules for making units, nor are there some units that are really common in epic 40k games. It also is kind of an “all or nothing” killing of units rather than a graceful degradation of capabilities, like there is in the Dystopian Wars ruleset.. which may be another option – come up with a points system which works and use those rules. Not sure.
      • Dirtside II is a solid generic contender, but I need to play it more to determine if I really like it.
      • Axles and Alloys Post apoc automobile warfare with kitbashed matchbox/hot wheels cars. This is kind of its own thing, and is just fun.
      • Battletech: Alpha Strike This is a giant stompy robots (and, actually, airplanes, tanks and other combined arms) in the future game, and is a streamlined version of the regular Battletech game. This allows for both larger games playable in a normal time frame, or the same sized games as regular Battletech, but played in a shorter time frame. Liz and I played a 2 on 2 battle in half an hour, and that was while learning the rules. The game is fast, brutal, dynamic and, while the rules cover all situations, they are pretty simple, while keeping the real flavor of Battletech. As with other rules discussed in this post, they get out of their own way, and make you want to focus on campaigns and strategy, and not making sure you get the rules correct, because doing so is simple.
    • Genre:Air
      • Dystopian Warscovers air warfare too, with the same notes as above.
      • I don’t have a generic one here either. I’d love to use my Crimson Skies planes, but there are two problems with those rules as written:
        1. Liz hates pre-plotted movement.
        2. I don’t like the way the guns are done – large caliber guns make big holes at short range. Small caliber guns make small holes at long range. I get why they do this (game balance), but it’s kind of annoying.
        There are a couple of ways to fix these items. I’ll take them in order, using the same numbers as above.
        1. The simple solution is to not pre-plot movement. Have the activations alternate between players, even better, happen based on pilot skill. This is how most of the games detailed above work. Alternatively, you can borrow from X-Wing, which does pre-plot movement, but uses a really good mechanic for doing so (namely, a little dial which you set then put upside down near the ship or plane). With the advent of 3D printers, making your own really nice looking ones becomes easier.
        2. There are a couple of steps to fix this. The first is to rework the ranges so small caliber has a short range and large caliber has a long range. However, you need some type of way to keep it in balance. Options:
          • Limit ammo for larger caliber ones (this ends up requiring more bookkeeping, which is not great).
          • Let smaller caliber stuff shoot more (roll more dice). This results in rolling buckets of dice.
          • Make smaller guns cost less in terms of game points.
          I’m not certain which is correct. It also influences how damage is recorded. The original game uses sheets where you color in boxes for your planes as they get damaged, which is a lot of fun to watch your plane get shot up. But, if you let some guns shoot more, you end up having planes get shot down more quickly. If you drop this requirement, and give each plane a certain amount of damage it can soak before it gets destroyed, then that works, and is pretty conventional. So, yeah, I’m not sure what to do here, which is why I’ve done nothing. If anyone knows of a good set of generic airplane rules, leave a comment.

Catching up

| September 14, 2014

So, yeah, August came and went.

Liz was gone for a couple of weeks, hunting Dall’s sheep above the arctic circle in Alaska with her dad. It was the trip he’s always wanted to take, and it was the experience of a lifetime for the two of them to share.

Meanwhile, I got to spend the two weeks with the boys, which is great because I don’t get to spend days with them like Liz does. So, my boys and I hung out, I cleaned up around the house, read them some books, we laughed, giggled, rolled around on the floor, it was grand.

For the second week, my mother came to visit, and we visited Professor Bond’s Emporium. It’s a cool shop in a neat old mill, I hope it sticks around. The website is a bit out of date. If you’re interested, you’d need to pop in to the store or call to see who is playing what when. They have a good inventory of Magic cards and assorted board games, with some Warmachine and RPG books.

Anyway, I picked up Betrayal at House on the Hill and X-Wing. Both are quite good.

X-Wing uses the best preplotted movement system I’ve seen (if you’re in to that sort of thing), which apparently as licensed by WizKids for use in their Attack Wing game. Otherwise, it’s just a cool, fun dogfighting game. I think the system would be great for a reboot of the old Crimson Skies boardgame.

Betrayal is interesting. Basically, you and the other players cooperate in exploring a haunted house, which is different each time you play because it’s made from randomly drawn tiles. As you explore the house, there are events that happen to you, items you find, and omens, which often work like items, except that as there are more omens revealed, the more likely it is that the haunt starts. Once the haunt starts, you look up in a book of 50 different haunts which one you’re playing (based on the omen and room combination), and that tells you who the traitor is. The traitor then tries to complete some objective (typically killing the other players by some means) and the remaining players try to complete their objective and survive. So, there is a tremendous amount of replayability in this game.

While my mother was here, we watched a lot of YouTube videos from The Painting Clinic, which got me thinking again about getting an airbrush for miniatures. Since Liz is going back to work, I figured I had a little bit of pocket money. The missing piece to this when I last looked at getting one several years ago was a spray booth – they were either expensive or took up a lot of space when I wasn’t using them. So, anyway, I found:

  • portable airbrush booth
  • A cheap airbrush kit (Okay, so this wasn’t the kit I got, but it was the kit I should have gotten, because the compressor has a tank, and there is a quick disconnect fitting, and it has an airbrush holder. I ended up getting a lesser one, and buying the other things separately – it saved me some money while I was experimenting, but I’ll likely have to buy a new compressor with tank, etc. So, I should have just bought this, it would have been cheaper in the long run).
  • After some experimenting, I got a second airbrush. The idea here is that I use one airbrush with the 0.5mm needle for thick stuff (mainly gesso, which I use as a primer) and the other with the 0.3mm needle with thin stuff (namely thinned Vallejo acrylic paints).

What I’ve found is:

  • Primer – 0.5mm airbrush, 1:1 gesso to glass and tile medium. This flows fine, though tends to gack up the airbrush, so I throw it all in the ultrasonic cleaner every time I use it. I do wish the spray was broader, but it works, and I only need to spray one coat (when I brushed it on, for some reason, it always took 2).
  • Paint – 0.3mm airbrush, 2:1 Vallejo to my standard thinner (3 parts distilled water, 1 part flow aid). This works great for general painting, though this spray can actually get broad, which is nice for basecoating.
  • My old crappy craft paints don’t work well through the brush, mainly because they’re a little chunky and tend to jam up the brush. That said, I don’t know if it’s the quality of the paint or the age of the paint – they’re really old. So, that’s what I’m experimenting with and what I’ve figured out so far. I’ll post pictures once I have something that’s actually more than just primed. I’m working on planets and asteroids for space games, some resin Victorian buildings for Dystopian Wars, and a Warmachine gun carriage (which right now just looks like a big red box – but it takes me about 15 minutes to spray a coat, whereas brushing would take me like an hour, and it takes 5 coats to get the color right).

Aaanyway… it’s bedtime.

More warmachine

| October 12, 2013

Last Saturday, a guy with whom I work and his son came up and played some Warmachine.

Liz and the boy ran eNemo and a largely electrically-based army, and I and the dad ran Karchev with a mixed ranged and melee army. Scenario was Steamroller 2011 capture the flag. Khador won by caster kill – apparently, Nemo can’t survive a couple of Ice Axe hits to the face (boosted by Unearthy Rage). He was pinned by a Man-o-War Drakhun, and he didn’t run away after a the same Juggernaut crushed a Thunderhead the previous turn.

Playing with new camera

| September 24, 2013

So, my Mom was up last weekend, and she, Liz and I played Warmachine for the first time in quite awhile (months? I honestly don’t remember). Anyway, since Liz got me that cool camera, I took some pictures while playing with the HDR mode. I also bought a miniature tripod – the idea being that I can put the camera on the table and on a 2 second delay so I can keep the camera really steady.

Anyway, photos. (Edit I reworked this to have larger versions of all the pictures, rather than using the gallery. Clicking on them will bring up the full size version, which are about 5MB each).

Productive weekend

| March 27, 2011

Kind of a lazy about the house weekend, but with us, that doesn’t mean nonproductive:

  1. Got the oil changed on my car, the inspection sticker affixed, and some misc detail repair (the 1 to 4 power adapter is remounted, etc.).
  2. While the oil was draining, I tidied up the garage a bit.
  3. Got the seed order squared away
  4. Emptied the compost buckets
  5. Played with dog
  6. Posted the generator instructions
  7. Made bread (maple oatmeal)
  8. Cleaned up and stowed the beer equipment in the basement
  9. Cleaned up the furnace room a bit (still needs more, and I need to add some more light fixtures back there)
  10. Assembled some more minis (Behemoth, Drago, Skarre)
  11. Made chicken and dumplings
  12. Watered the plants

I think that about covers it.

Templecon 2011

| February 16, 2011

So, Liz and I attended Templecon two weeks ago. It was a mixed bag.

Full details behind the cut.. (more…)

Reconstruction of damaged miniatures

| January 12, 2011

or, “my dog ate my wife’s warjack”.

Basically, Socks the cat duped Diesel the dog into eating one of my wife’s Cygnar warjacks – a Lancer, to be precise. Basically, she shoved it off the top of the entertainment center, where it fell about 4 feet on to a the TV stand. The shield arm popped off and flew across the room. I believe it landed on the arm, which is why there wasn’t any other damage to the figure. Diesel dog then retrieved the arm (I presume Socks was egging him on, playing him for a patsy) and proceeded to chew on it.

We found the shield and lower part of the arm, so I had enough to reconstruct the upper part of the arm (we did, however, find that part of the arm later, so Diesel didn’t swallow it. That said, I had already started the reconstruction, so I didn’t end up using it).



| January 12, 2011

So, Liz and I have been playing a pretty decent amount of Warmachine, and I took some pictures. Note that the bases are not yet finished.

This is two folding tables put next to each other, which is what we’re using for a game table until the Geek Chic table arrives.