Case Study – The Demise of Alien Dungeon (and All Quiet on the Martian Front)

Interesting article regarding the demise of Alien Dungeon, the company behind the All Quiet on the Martian Front Kickstarter or “I Cant Believe Its Not War of the Worlds” as Hairy Gamer Tris and I called it.

I honestly believe I dodged a bullet with this Kickstarter as it came at a bad time for me and I couldn’t invest. im now glad I didn’t as I’d be left with missing stuff and an unfulfilled pledge just like poor ol’ Tris.

Notes From The Bunker

All Quiet Three Legged Stompy Fun

Back in May of 2013 Alien Dungeon launched a Kickstarter to fund a new miniatures game, All Quiet on the Martian Front – aka AQotMF.  This was a miniatures game of the Martian invasion of the world, ala H. G. Wells, with a hint of steampunk.  Taking place prior to WWI in the mundane world, the Kickstarter was a big success, receiving over $300,000.00 of the $50k target goal. The rules for the game were written by Rick Priestley, a seasoned game writer.  There was a lot of promise here.  Prototypes of the miniatures appeared in the Kickstarter leading us to all believe that the company had laid out all of the groundwork to be successful.

My Martians

They delivered product too, albeit many months late.  Some of the products, like some the big land battleships were not delivered, and other product was cancelled outright – with offers…

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Frostgrave – Official FAQ & Errata

If youre following along with my adventure in Frostgrave then the updated and latest Errata and FAQ may be of help to you.

Thanks to Jimmy Terry Taylor of Jimmy Waz ‘Ere for the link. Keep up the good work sir!


Jimmi Waz 'Ere


Hi all,

Just a swift note to anyone not on the Lead Adventure Frostgrave forums, that an official Frostgrave FAQ & Errata has been posted by Joe.

Many thanks Joe🙂

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Frostgrave – First thoughts

Morning guys and girls!

Last night I was lucky enough to get a Frostrgrave demo over at Tabletop Tyrant  (FB – ) in Leicester from the very talented and excellent Adam Cooper or “Coops” from Leicester Phat Catz (FB – )and his own commission painting service Mountains of Metal ( go check them out on Facebook or via their website .

I was playing another member of the Phat Catz, a guy called Jon Adamson.  We both had very little experience in game and were playing our first games.  I’d managed to skim read the rules previously but I always find the best way to learn is by being “in the trenches”.  Jon wanted to play an Enchanter based Warband (and I can see why now!) and I was being very obvious and eeee-vil by rocking a Necromancy based Warband.


Coops took us both through the building of our Warbands and choosing of spells for our Wizards, and by definition his/her apprentice.  I settled on the following:-

1 x Warhound, 2 x Thugs, 2 x Thieves, 1 x Crossbowman, 1 x Tracker and 1 x Treasure Hunter

My spells would be 3 from my chosen school of Necromancy, and are Bone Dart (the ability to shoot a shard of bone as a ranged attack), Bones of the Earth (a skeletal hand emerges from the ground to immobilize the intended target) and Raise Zombie (the ability to induce a raised Zombie to join my warband for the duration of a battle).

Necromancy Magic schools

Then your wizard gets to choose 1 from each of the Aligned schools which are cast at an additional difficulty (+2).  The schools aligned to Necromancy are Witch, Summoning and Chronomancy.  I chose Fog (a fog like barrier to block Line of Sight) from Witch. I chose Fleet Feet (the ability to add +2 Move to a model for the duration of the battle) from Chronomancy and I chose Leap (target model may make a 10” magical leap) from Summoning.  You also have to choose  a spell from one of the Neutral schools, which for Necromancy were Sigilism, Soothsaying, Enchanting, Illusionism and Elementalism.  Now in hindsight I should have taken Elemental Bolt (The spellcaster may make an immediate +8 shooting attack against any figure in line of sight) from Elementalism which is a stonkingly good spell (or at least seemed it last night) but I had a plan and my plan involved moving quickly and covering lots of ground via spells so I chose Teleport (Spellcaster can move him/herself to any location within LoS).  Hindsight is a wonderful thing!

Adam equipped us with some miniatures for our Warbands and set up what looked like a very scenery heavy 2’ x 2’ battleground.  This was my first exposure to just how scenery needy Frostgrave is and Im glad I have a fair few bits to use.  I also hadn’t realised just how small 3’ x 3’ (the standard board size for Frostgrave battles) is.  Some of the scenery Ive been planning is very large indeed…I have quite a large wintery forest courtesy of some Lemax scenery, two GW Mighty Fortresses/Citadels, two Gardens of Morr and two large Amera plastic bits.  Adams scenery was beautifully painted and it was nice to pick up some hobby hacks and tips and tricks…I’ll definitely be looking out for some of those scenery bits.


The game began and it always starts with any “out of Game” spells your Wizards can cast.  My Necromancer could cast Raise Zombie so I attempted this.  You roll against a target number, in this case 8 on a d20 for my Wizard and 10 on a d20 for my Apprentice (apprentices always know the same spells as their Masters and cast at a +2 difficulty.  In fact the stats and spells for your Apprentice are directly linked to the stats of your Wizard.

Your Wizard begins at Level 0 and has a starting stat-line or profile of:-

Move   Fight    Shoot   Armour Will     Health

6          +2        +0        10        +4        14

And this generates your Apprentice stat-line or profile as follows:-

Apprentice stats

Therefore your Apprentice has a stat-line of:-

Move   Fight    Shoot   Armour Will     Health

6          +0        -2         10        +2        10

In Frostgrave, every figure – be it Wizard, Apprentice, Soldier or Creature – has a stat-line, which determines its effectiveness in the game. There are six stats, explained below:-

  • Move (M): the speed of a character. The higher its Move, the further it can move each turn.
  • Fight (F): the character’s ability in hand-to-hand combat, and its ability to avoid missile fire.
  • Shoot (S): the character’s ability with missile weapons such as bows and crossbows.
  • Armour (A): how much physical protection a character is wearing, including armour, shields, and magical protection. It also includes any natural armour a creature may possess.
  • Will (W): the character’s determination, courage, and ability to resist spells.
  • Health (H): the physical toughness of a character and how much damage can be endured before he/she is badly wounded or killed.

Once our Warbands were selected and spells chosen we could begin.  We each were given 3 treasure tokens to deploy on the board.  This was a little difficult as you cannot deploy within 9” of a board edge and they must be at least 6” apart.  On a 2’ x 2’ board this wasn’t easy to achieve but we just about managed it by changing the limits to 6” away from table edges.  Some would be very easy to grab whilst others involved sneaking around the ruins and scenery to get into advantageous positions so fast mobile troops would be useful here as would spells that allow you to move treasures or models quickly like Telekinesis, Fleet Foot, Teleport and Leap (three of which my wizards knew although in hindsight I’d have dropped Teleport in favour of Telekinesis or even Elemental Bolt.

 You roll an opposed d20 to check for initiative and whoever wins determine which side of the board to place their wizard and his warband. The player with the highest roll, rerolling ties, selects the side at which he would like to start and activates first. Your opponent starts on the opposite side.  The first player should then place all of his figures on the table, within 6” of his table edge, in any formation he chooses but where miniatures are in relation to Wizards and Apprentices can make a HUGE difference. Your opponent then does the same with their figures on his/her table edge.  Due to the smaller boardsize we deployed in opposite corners so put as much distance between the two Warbands as possible.  You then alternate between the phases of each turn, with the initiative holder always going first.

Every turn is divided into four phases: the Wizard phase, the Apprentice phase, the Soldier phase, and the Creature phase. Once all phases have been completed, the turn is over. Assuming the game is not over at this point, the players should once again roll for Initiative and begin another turn.


In the Wizard phase, the primary player may activate his wizard and up to three soldier figures of his choice that started the phase within 3” of the wizard. The secondary player then does the same, and so on until all players have had the opportunity to activate their wizard and their 3 soldiers.  If a player no longer has a Wizard on the table, he may not activate any figures in this phase.


Once the wizard phase is complete, the turn moves on to the apprentice phase, which is very similar.  In this phase, the primary player may activate his apprentice and up to three soldiers within 3” of the Apprentice. Soldiers who have been previously activated in the wizard phase are not eligible – figures may only be activated once per turn, unless some special effect specifically says otherwise.  Once the primary player has activated his apprentice and any soldiers, the secondary player may do the same, and so on until all players have activated their apprentices. As with the wizard phase, players who no longer have Apprentices on the table may not activate any figures in this phase.


After the Apprentice phase comes the Soldier phase, in which the primary player may activate any of his Soldier miniatures that have not yet been activated. Then, the secondary player does the same and on until all players have activated all of their remaining soldiers.


Finally, the turn ends with the creature phase. During this phase all creature figures are activated in the manner indicated by their specific rules.


Models have a small selection of Actions they can perform during each turn.  When a figure is activated, it may perform two actions, one of which must be movement.  The other action may consist of a second move (at half speed), fighting in melee using your Fight (F) stat, shooting using your Shoot (S) stat, casting a spell (if a Wizard or Apprentice), or any of a number of special actions such as picking up an item of treasure or interacting with something as defined by the scenario.  A figure may perform its two actions in any order.  Thus, for example, a figure may shoot and then move, or move and then cast a spell.

There are situations in which a figure will only be allowed to perform one action. In this case, a figure may take any one action – it does not have to be movement. A figure may also choose to perform only one action, which can also be of any type.


Once a figure is in combat with an enemy figure, it may spend one of its actions to fight. In a fight, both figures roll a d20 and add their Fight (F) stat, plus any additional modifiers that may be relevant to determine their total score. The figure with the highest total score wins the fight and may inflict damage on his opponent. It is a very simple system and also great because it allows a defender to essentially win a combat and kill an attacker.  To determine damage, subtract the loser’s Armour stat from the winning figure’s total score. If the result is a positive number, then that is the amount of damage that has been inflicted.  If it is 0 or a negative number, then no damage is caused. If damage was inflicted, this amount is subtracted from the loser’s current Health stat.  In the event that both total scores are the same, the two figures land their strikes simultaneously – both are considered to be the winner and inflict damage on their opponent.


If a figure is equipped with a bow or crossbow, it may make up to one shoot action per activation.

Before declaring a shoot action, a figure should check that its target is both in range and in line-of-sight (LoS.

To check range, simply measure the distance between the shooter and the target.  If the distance is less than 24” (the maximum range for both a bow and a crossbow), then the target is within range.

Given the ruins and obstacles that should litter the table, LoS can be a bit more difficult to determine. While not essential by any means, a laser pointer or a length of string can be a useful tool for establishing line of sight. If you don’t have one then apply common sense and agree between yourselves what constitutes LoS but be consistent.  Unless the target is completely concealed from view, it is considered to be in LoS.

Once range and line of sight have been confirmed, a shooting attack is handled in a very similar fashion to melee or hand-to-hand combat. Both the shooter and the target figure should roll a d20. The shooter adds his Shoot (S) stat to his total, while the target adds his Fight (F) stat acting as some kind of dodge or combat awareness attribute in this situation. Any additional modifiers should then be added such as cover. Once both figures have a total score, the two are compared. If the shooter has the higher score, then the shot has hit and damage should be determined. If the target has equalled or exceeded the shooter’s score, then the shot has missed.

Damage is determined in exactly the same way as for hand-to-hand combat. The shooter takes his total score and subtracts the target’s Armour stat. If the result is a positive number, then that is the total amount of damage that has been inflicted. If the result is 0 or a negative number, then no damage is caused.

For example, an archer with a Shoot stat of +2 fires his bow at a thug with a Fight stat of +2. The thug is standing in the open and there are no other modifiers. The archer rolls an 8 and adds his Shoot stat for a total of 10. The thug rolls a 2 and adds his Fight stat for a total of 4. The archer has scored higher and thus has hit his target.  Unfortunately, his total of 10 is equal to the thug’s Armour of 10, so no damage was caused. The arrow just nicked his target’s sleeve or pinged off a metal plate or buckle.


As the game is all about collecting treasure I guess we ought to cover what happens when you find some?  Well if any figure is in contact with a treasure token, he/she may use an action to pick it up. No figure may pick up a treasure token if there is an enemy figure, either a creature or a member of a rival warband, within 1” of it.  Once a treasure token has been secured, it moves with the figure as the figure moves.  A figure may only carry one treasure token. Additionally, any figure carrying a treasure token is considered to be encumbered due to the weight of his hard stolen booty and as he is carrying something his/her ability to fight is reduced – his Move is halved, and he has -1 Fight.  At any time during its activation any figure carrying a treasure token may spend one action to drop it. If a figure carrying a treasure token is killed, the treasure token remains where the figure fell.

If a figure carrying a treasure token moves off the board (via any table edge except for the opposing Player’s edge), the treasure has been secured for the warband, but the figure may not return to the game.  Note that treasure has no particular use during the game – in the heat of battle, figures are far too busy fighting for their lives to thoroughly examine their loot.


Wizards and Apprentices have the ability to cast a spell they know as an Action.  To cast a spell, the player must announce which spell his wizard or apprentice is attempting and the target of that spell.  If the spell does not include a range then it can be cast at anything as long as the Wizard has LoS on the target.  The player then rolls a d20. The spell succeeds if the number rolled is equal to or greater than the casting number. Be aware that in some cases it is important to know the actual result on the die, not just that the roll succeeded or failed.  If the roll is less than the casting number, the spell fails and the action is lost. In addition, the caster may suffer damage from the failed spell as outlined in the spell failure table below. Damage caused by spells that are cast Out of Game may be ignored.


As your Wizard and Apprentice successfully cast spells and kill opposing Warband members they will gain experience.  Experience is spent on your Wizard, as the Apprentices stat line is related to the Wizards.  Successully casting spells, recovering treasures and a Wizard killing opposing Soldier, Apprentices and Wizards all generate experience.  Some scenarios can also generate experience for the Wizard but that will be covered by the specific scenario conditions.  Once Experience is gained after the battle it can be spent.  For every 100 Experience a Wizard may advance a level.


Level is a numerical representation of the power of a wizard. Generally, wizards of the same (or similar) level will be close to one another in terms of power, even if their abilities vary wildly. All starting wizards are level 0. A level 20 wizard is much more powerful. Compared to a level 0 wizard, he will almost certainly have better stats, know more spells, and have lower casting numbers for those spells. A level 40 wizard will be that much more powerful again.

For every level a wizard gains, he may choose to improve a stat, improve a known spell, or learn a new spell.


The wizard may improve one of the following stats by +1, up to the maximum shown in brackets: Fight (+5), Shoot (+5), Will (+8), Health (20). Each stat may only be improved once after each game, even if the wizard gained multiple levels – so, a wizard who gained two levels in a game could improve his Fight by +1 and his Shoot by +1, but could not improve Fight twice to give +2.


The wizard can focus on any known spell in order to lower the casting number by -1. The minimum casting number for any spell is 5, and can go no lower than this, no matter how much the wizard might want to improve upon it. Each known spell may only be improved once after each game, even if the wizard gained multiple levels – so, a wizard who gained two levels in a game could improve two spells by -1 each, but could not improve the same spell twice to give -2.


The wizard may learn a new spell for which he has a grimoire in his vault. A wizard may learn one new spell for each level he gained in a game. He may not, however, improve a spell he has just learned until another game has been played.


Games of Frostgrave can end in several ways. If one player has no figures left on the board, either because they were all killed or moved off the board, then the game ends immediately. The player with figures remaining collects all of the treasure still on the board automatically as there is no resistance to the warband scoruing the ruins. In the incredibly rare, but theoretically possible, event that neither player has any figures left on the board, the game ends, and all treasures left on the board are lost.

The game also ends immediately should the last treasure token exit the board.

Some scenarios may have specific objectives that end the game as soon as they are achieved.

These cases will be explained in the specific scenario and unless specified by the scenario, the player who collected the most treasure tokens is the winner.


That’s pretty much it for Frostgrave.  Its taken me longer to write it than it takes to learn it and that’s part of the beauty of the system.  Its simple and intuitive and covers everything you need to know in a well laid out and simple to read rulebook.  It adaptive enough to cover a lot of options and tweaks to suit your local crowd.

It’s a simple one dice, the d20, system.

Ive really enjoyed playing Frostgrave and will definitely play again.  I’ve got a warband ready to go and scenery in various stages of construction.  Its truly a great game and is everything that Mordheim could have been but better.  The setting is wide open for all sorts of expansions and already Thaw of the Lich Lord has been released with a new campaign, extra monsters, new treasures and spells to boost your wizards and Apprentices.  Coming next is the expansion “Into the Breeding Pits” which if I had to go by what I knew from internet buzz and images floating around I would say introduces the sewers and the Gnoll race.


Happy New Year Mancavers!

Sorry for the world’s longest reflection and introspective on 2015 but its only once a year right?

No wild partying tonight. …hell not even a single alcoholic beverage as I’m away to Portsmouth to collect Grace for the weekend tomorrow. To anyone reading this you survived the numerous culls this year so I either genuinely like you and enjoy your company or you slipped through the net. If it’s the latter please identify yourself for culling.

2015 represented a massively lucky year for me. I shouldn’t be where I am now. I shouldn’t have what I have now but I do and for that I’m eternally grateful. I have no right to be sat here as I am now and should probably be drinking myself to death somewhere alone.

I love my girls to bits and am lucky to have someone as driven as Lucy H Lucock. She has been a rock this year. She has achieved so much in 2015 and I’m very proud of everything she has achieved. She’s lost a lot of weight, gained her health and confidence back. She’s become a Slimming World Consultant leading her group in Potters Green and has been inspirational to so many others. Keep up the inspirational work babe! I love you x xx x

My other girls, Grace and Phoebe, despite only being half-sisters are the most charming and loving sisters you’ve ever seen. They love each other so much and is evident in the sounds of laughter around the house when they’re together. A right pair of cheeky scamps and when it’s silent you should worry! They’re cunning. …verging on the malevolent and evil.

At times this year it’s been hard for the Marden clan. Some of your follow the drama that my sister causes and it was right but tough to tell her she’d made her bed and had to lie in it but ultimately it’s done her the world of good. Tough love was required and if it sounded harsh it needed to be. She needed help and couldn’t see it nor be told. Now she sees that and she’ll get the right help away from the poisonous toxic influence that was in her life. It was a pleasure to see her smile when she saw the girls at ColinAndZoe-mas. She’s back.

Colin and Zoe are an awesome couple. I’ve not always seen eye to eye with my brother but as he has gotten older its been a pleasure to watch him become the husband/father/man he is today. He’s a better husband than I was. He’s worked hard for it and he deserves everything he’s got. Zoe is his rudder, guiding and pushing him along. You couldn’t ask for a better sister-in-law and aunt to my girls.
Finners or Finley to give him his proper name is a cheeky so and so but every time I see him he’s becoming more and more confident and social. He’s a great little lad and a good foil to Phoebe and Grace.

Debbie is somewhat new to the family and every time I see her I can see just how happy she makes my Dad, Steve, even if her ability to play games is adversely affected by gin and she cheats. Lol. They’re a perfect couple and an awesome team leading a tag tag bunch of reprobates and ne’er do wells. I can see just how alive my Dad is with her and she has been everything my Dad needed and more. I couldn’t want for a better evil step-mum.

It’s been a long road for the family and especially my Dad. He’s always been my hero. …i never tell him stuff like this. He was the reason I studied what I studied at Uni. Everything practical I have today is as a result of him. If there are elements of my character you like you have this man to thank in part. The arty, creative, food-porn writing, moody sulky drinker in me….that’s all Mum. I’m sure wherever she is now she’s sat partying Oliver Reed, Keith Moon and Lemmy Kilminster under the table!

Lucy’s lot treat me and Grace like we were thier own and have really welcomed us with open arms and patient temperaments. I don’t think of it as putting up with northerners more like having another Gran and family. Thank you Michelle and Margaret.

Lucy’s siblings love the bones of the girls and would walk to the ends of the Earth for them and I couldn’t ask for two people to love the girls any more. Darrell and Emily. ….you’re both awesome and welcome at Chez Marden anytime.

I’ve not really managed to achieve much over the year and I should have done more. ..I need a driving force to keep cracking the whip. Messrs Evans and Alderman I’m looking at you! With that in mind I’m pledging to do more. …I’m going to start with 1 miniature a day so by the end of 2016 I should have 365 minis done. That’s my target for 2016. I realise that’s low but I have a work/family/fun balance to maintain. …and if something had to give it would be the pledge.

Hobby wise I’ve met a great deal of people and dealt with a lot of people I’d like to call friends now. …some people seriously went above and beyond this year when I was pretty low. ..thank you all. Anthony Evans, Rob Alderman, Chris Nicholls, Gareth Mosley, Brent Jay, Derek Maynard, Mark Rapson, Andy Thomas, Mike Bissell, Diggity Dug, Alexandre Dupuis, Ellis Norris (my green blooded brother from another Mother), Mark Southerd, Mark Waz Bretherick, Matt Heath and Steph Heath, Scott Young, Shaun Sullivan. Honestly there are far too many of you to name everyone individually and if you haven’t been is not because you haven’t inspired or been awesome to me.

Some of you may be aware that I’m part of a review website on Facebook called The Hairy Gamers with my long term bro-mance and partner-in-crime Tris. It’s been hard at times to keep pushing forwards and getting stuff out there. We’ve struggled but through everything we’ve kept going and I couldn’t have done it without you Bro! 2016 brings exciting times for us. ..taking on more, new blood in Gareth and James who’ve joined the family. Pleasure to have you guys onboard and here’s hoping for a successful and infamous 2016 for the Hairy Gamers. I want more. ..I want to get involved in more and take on more so if you have anything you want us involved in drop me a line on

Lastly my pretend family who’ve all been so welcoming. As some of you may know I spend a few weekends a year in a field and The Silent Tide are like a second family to me. …by that I mean money sucking leeches that drink on the sweat of my brow! Ha ha ha im just kidding. Since day one Dan Max, Stu Art, Andy and Sarah, April and Darren, Harry and the new Mrs Sarah, Andrew, Simon and Tony & Anu have made me feel involved and welcome. I’m not just a poor man’s version of James Tucker like some spreadsheet monkey. Nope. ..I’m just a lowly lowly cook. Not just me but Grace and Lucy too. You’ve made us feel part of the family and for that I thank you all. See you in a field soon! Unless you play X-Wing or we have a social in which case you may see sooner.

So what have I learnt this year-

Work smarter not harder.
Enjoy what you do and do what you enjoy.
Rage is not my friend.
I take on too much and fail at too much. …do less and do it right and better.
True friends are a rare commodity.
The love of a good woman is important, the love of a bad woman is priceless.
Hard work is its own reward.
I need more time for gaming and painting.

Happy New Year everyone. See you in 2016.

‘Model-making Basics’ – modelling and shaping

Some excellent ideas and goes for modeling 25mm scale items and armatures for sculpting your own minis from a recently followed blog by David Neat.

I’ve even spotted something in here to make my life easier and I’m not sure David intended it as such. Hopefully he’ll have more ideas I can borrow for my modelling projects!

Cheers David.



This is the third of five outline accounts dealing with what I consider to be the five defining areas of model-making work; main construction, fine construction, modelling/shaping, creating surfaces and painting. I’ve written these overviews in preparation for teaching sessions at RADA ( Royal Academy of Dramatic Art ) in London. So they’re tuned towards the specialities of theatre design model work, but most of the points will be relevant in general terms to model work in other disciplines. I’ve started with the general ‘themes’ or requirements of the subject .. in other words the ‘ways of thinking’ behind the practical work .. and this is followed by a selection of ‘ways of doing’ giving more specific and practical guidance on the materials and methods used.

As I see it, ‘modelling and shaping’ encompasses the making of any element in the model that cannot be achieved by methods of construction. That…

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