Testing The Devils Run:Route 666

Once again, last night, Mark Rapson, of Word Forge Games, and I threw down and tested some more scenarios from WFG’s forthcoming Kickstarter The Devils Run:Route 666.

Last week we tested the first of the Brit Attack Muggy scenarios where a fleet/swarm/bunch of Brit Attack Muggys attacked a convoy of Hauls Angels vehicles to cripple and steal an objective from one of them.  This week saw us complete the Muggy scenarios with the follow-up “Blew The Bloody Doors Off!”.  This scenario saw the remaining Brit Attack Muggys (we lost poor departed Ronald RIP to a long dive off a bridge into a river….may he rest in peace) of Michael, Charlie, Keith and Bill attempt to escape with their hard captured booty through a tunnel and off the end of the 5th tile.  As long as Charlie made it off I would win.  The plan was simple….keep those Hauls Angels off Charlie whilst he made a run for it.

Charlie could not be the target of ranged attacks if he was within 1-2 squares of any other Muggy, Michael added +2 to all other Muggy Evade rolls if within 1-2 of another Muggy, Keith was more difficult to hit as he adds +2 to all BS tests against him and Bill allows all Muggys ahead of him to re-roll a single failed Ballistic Skill (BS) dice per turn.  Knowing what my boys could do I set out my stall.  Bill would bring up the rear using his twin linked minigun turret to fire behind and keep anyone approaching off the Muggy’s sixes whilst improving everyone elses attacks.  I didn’t expect to attack much as the majority of my Muggys can only fire directly ahead although they can be all fitted with the turret.  Charlie would be central with Keith and Michael sat either side stopping the Hauls Angels from swiping him.  Seems simple innit?

The game started and it seemed to be going to plan.  Again the Brit Attack Minis were every bit as good as I (a huge Mini fanboy) had hoped and they do not disappoint.  Charlie was untouchable as he kept another mini close at all times.  This meant that Marks Hauls Angels would target the other minis first.  Bill was the first to fall but the aim of this scenario was not for me to escape with all my cars…..just Charlie.  He was my priority so the other guys could be sacrificed if necessary.  Bill went down first.

Keith was targetted next but despite Mark doing everything he could to side swipe him off the road Keith rolled an amazing Armour roll of 2 or less on a d10 no less that 3 times in a row to reduce the damage from one of Marks cars to a single Chassis Point (CP)!!!  Keither even had the lowest Armour (A) of any of the Muggys and couldnt rely on Ronalds Armour (A) re-roll as he was brown bread guv!

I was using the intervening terrain to weave and evade the slower Hauls Angels vehicles.  I wasnt affected by rough ground nor did I pay a penalty for moving diagonally which meant I kept my speed up and simple blasted off down the board hiding behind rough ground to slow Marks relentless assault.

Keith evaded and escaped the clutches of Hauls Angels with superior speed and maneuverability eventually catching up with Charlie and acting as his wingman as they escaped through the tunnel to freedom!

Victory to Brit Attack again!

With plenty of time left we setup another new scenario involving Justice chasing down some of the Laws Haulage gang.  Justice are a primarily female led gang inspired by the teachings of St Michael and Justice.  Over time their methods have become more brutal and they really do have some nasty and neat tricks to tackle the enemy.  I had thier Leader, Cadence on a bike armed with a Harpoon called “The Gatherer” which not only removes Chassis Points (CP) but also Armour (A) when it hits thus making the defensive capabilities of the target even worse.  A very nasty weapon indeed and this would become important as she had a mission to track and catch the lead Laws Haulage vehicle.  No other member of Justice could attack it.  To help he in this she had a special rule meaning any Laws haulage vehicle had to take a target priority test before they could used a ranged attack against her.  If they failed they could not target her.

I also had two junior members of the Justice gang and an Executioner.  This badass Valkyrie nutcase wields a huge sword and can really put the hurt on if she gets close doing 4 Damage per hit!!!

Collectively all my Judges could completely remove a vehicle from the game if they took off more than 50% of the remaining Chassis Points (CP) in a single turn so high damage weapons start that ball rolling and supporting Judges can then remove 2 or 3 hits and completely take out the vehicle.  This is a great mechanic for the weaker bikers of Justice.

First round saw the Executioner strip 4 hits off a Laws haulage biker before a lower judge  finished them off.  Cadence tore some armour off her target and reduced his overall Chassis Points.  My remaining two bikes ganged up on Marks second bike and took it down reducing it to a smouldering wreck on the road.  Next turn the Executioner did her thing again lopping the head off the passenger on the Laws Haulage Trike armed with a Flamer.  This was good as I hugely fear that trike mounted flamer.  You get no defence against it.

With one vehicle completely removed and two smouldering wreck blocking the road Mark decided to make a run for it and race away hoping to lose Cadence.

A lucky recovery/repair roll (roll 3 d6 and if 2 are gained your downed vehicle is back and can move its Minimum Move (MM), if 3 are gained I.E. a 666, then the vehicle is back and can take actions normally) brought Marks trike back into the game.  He slammed on the brakes hoping to smash into the Executioner but she evaded leaving him to be left for dust behind.

Rather than give the trike a free shot at the Executioner I too slammed on my brakes and moved behind him to attempt an attack using that devastating sword.  This would leave me vulnerable to being left behind as the game progressed.*

*As vehicles move forwards the last tile is moved from the back and adds to the “rolling road” effect so essentially the road is always changing.  This means any vehicle left on the rearmost tile when it moves is lost permanently and left behind.

When Marks target car moved off the third tile both the Laws haulage trike and my Executioner were left behind and lost.  It wasn’t an issue as she had accounted for 3 casualties and couldn’t actually target Marks car….only Cadence could.  She was only a few squares back sitting in his blindspot and stopping him from slamming on his brakes and taking her out.  My remaining two bikers sat just behind as wingmen now that the Executioner was gone and Mark had no other vehicles remaining.

Slowly but surely each hit from Cadences Harpoon stripped more Chassis Points (CP) and Armour (A) from the Laws Haulage car until with one final killing (Critical no less!) blow she took him out.

Victory for my Justice as Cadence and the Executioner proved what psychopathic badass Valkyries on bikes they were and wrecked everything in sight.

We decided that perhaps the bikes were too fragile because had Mark successfully achieved a swipe or ram on my bikes they would almost certainly have been destroyed or in a very bad way.  We also determined that the Executioners sword whilst fun was ridiculous and simply did too much damage if it hit.  We tweaked some numbers and ran some math and Mark took away some new stats to test another day.  i think the Justice will appeal to anyone who likes “the Eldar” way of doing business.  Hit hard, hit fast but dont be built for attrition.  You know you’ve taken a hit off them but if you get into good positions and can target them you will kill them.  I await further Justice expansions to see what effects they have.  they work well as a team and there are some truly tasty buffs between them.  I think Mark is 100% right that the Executioner is unaffected by some of the rules that buff Judges otherwise she’d be a little OP.  As it was she needed a tweak or it was simply too powerful.

Onwards and upwards for Mark, Word Forge Games and my other project The Hairy Gamers as we all head to Dragonmeet in London at the weekend to either exhibit our games or loiter and make nuisances of ourselves.  Hairy Gamer Tris and I will be at the WFG stand at some point to take in some demo time.  Come say “Hi” to us and the WFG Guys.

Purgatory Miniatures by Underestimated Games

I recently stumbled upon a game I’ve been mulling over creating myself for some time.  I’ve always loved Christian Dogma and mythos especially the sort of stuff that has made it into movies and films such as Supernatural, Legion, Dogma and the Prophecy Trilogy.   I love the idea and thought of Angels and demons fighting for the will of man and Fallen Angels battling with the Heavenly Host.

10015091_806625929391102_1243099927502709490_o.pngThis weekend I discovered Purgatory by Underestimated Games.  Once I had seen some of the minis for this game (especially St Peter) and read the story behind Death I knew this game was the thing I had been trying to create.  Thankfully someone had already started this process for me.

I’d love to explain exactly why I love the f**k out of this idea so much but I’d not do it justice so I’ll let Underestimated Games do it themselves:-

Purgatory is going to be a world/game where everything is set in modern times.

It’s a world where time has stopped.

After the war for Heaven, where Satan led the renegade angels against the throne, Satan was cast down, along with those that followed the dark path. The schism was great. Heaven itself was built on the foundations of Duty, a duty to guide mankind, to watch over us, protect us and prevent us from regression and devolution. At the point where Chinese and Egyptian civilisations were expanding and growing into the cultural and distinct societies that history has taught us, the war for heaven was reaching a crescendo.

The usurper; Satan had been cast down. His followers crushed, broken and scattered across the many realms. During the closing stages, the greatest of God’s champions, Michael smote Satan outside of the great keep and in doing so expelled Satan and his followers from Heaven.

The renegades, led by the Bale Star (Satan) were banished and cast down upon the Earth in righteous fury.

Herein lay Michaels mistake. For now, humans knew that they were truly not alone and as the greatest civilisations in history watched on in wonder and awe as destruction, evil and rancour descended from the skies in tidy of fury and humiliation.

These ancestors scoured the lands, attempting to track down these fallen comets to understand their meaning. Some of the greatest migrations of human settlements and some of the greatest conquests by human civilisations have been driven by this momentous event with warlords, kings, generals and rulers determined to be the first to truly communicate with the gods.

But the renegades had vanished.

Whilst evidence existed of their arrival, nothing other than the impact site could be found. Tracks leading in all directions confused the greatest hunters and diviners of their time, confounding kings and great leaders to a lifetime of nothingness.

The renegades had dissipated like smoke, as if into the very air we breathe itself for none could find any trace of their existence.

The renegades fled into the canyons, mountains, gorges and forests and there they dwell. Broken, cast aside and defeated they remained hidden from humanity, watching, learning and licking their wounds, waiting for their moment to take the ultimate revenge on God – The mass slaughter of his greatest creation, Mankind.

Time marched on and men forgot. Details, texts and writings of the coming of ‘God’ was consigned to history as a story, fairy tale or myth. Historians have studied and argued over these relics and ‘holy texts’ until the present day, so lost in their study they did not see the obvious signs and portents that would truly confirm the renegade angels existence and more importantly, the extent to which mankind was being manipulated.

Every war, every act of desecration, of slaughter, debauchery and dictatorship has been the machinations of the renegades.

God saw mankind ripping itself apart in greed, lust, murder and war and could watch no more.

At this moment, God declared war on the renegades, war on earth and war on mankind. The clock would be reset, mankind would be saved and the renegades destroyed or brought to justice.

God loosed the angels of heaven but in doing so time slowed. Earth was not designed for angels and the arrival of so mightier a being tipped the balance of time out of place, what was undone and those that had died, perished and been consigned to history awoke and roused themselves from their eternal slumber. The doors to Valhalla were cast aside, the Petersrauld Gates smashed asunder as the legions of damned and worthy vomited forth, back into the material world for the long war to come.

Angels were truly revealed to mankind as they hunted the renegades and battle lines were drawn as humanity flocked to banners and made ready to stand by a side or stand alone.

The above is a very draft version of what were are looking to achieve. It sets the tone and in simplistic terms:

Earth is now a battlefield where angels and mighty beings do battle in the very streets, districts, towns and cities that surround us as we take a side. Who will you choose?

We wanted to bring a range of models to you, that not only had the age of cliché of demons vs. angels, but angels that could represent either side. Most importantly though we wanted to bring an element of us, of what we are as people to the game in an attempt to mix fantasy with modern.

We are aware of previous texts or ideas that place angels or god hidden in humanity, guiding us and making our decisions. It is important to point out that this is not that. Whilst yes, we refer to angels manipulating humanity, it is a precursor for God to rain down angels upon us to destroy earth as we know it and very much like he did with Noah, to cover the lands to start again.

For example, we are in the closing stages of bringing to you ‘factions’ that see groups of humans that can be fielded together or mixed with other factions to play a progressive skirmish game where humans are pretty much the goblins of the world, weak, useless and insignificant.

For those that read this BLOG not only will you understand about what it is we are looking to bring but more importantly a heads up as to the first factions that will be coming to you. The Soul Train and NWA. (Nuns with Attitude) But enough of that.

The game will be accompanied by a card system, the cards will be used to purchase upgrades for weapons or to grant models and character ‘gifts from the gods’ that can be used in game. We want people to progress with their ‘crew’ as they play more games and get better (or worse) as time goes along. There are some fantastic mechanics that we will be bringing to you that add that unique and often random element to the game that will tip the balance in a number of directions making each experience a different one.

More of this will follow in the coming months and weeks but instead, we have taken the time to go through some of the art we have released to explain, what, where or who they are.

In the coming days we will be doing a piece on each of the pieces of art that we have released to date, to give you an understanding of the thought process behind the who, where and what is going on in the picture.

This time around, we will start with where it all began. Heaven Fall.

Heaven Fall is the image of the ‘comets’ falling over the great pyramids of Egypt.

Why Egypt?

Well Purgatory, or the notion of it was first mentioned or referred to in the bible in the book of Ezekiel. More specifically chapter 26, verse 20 (some of you may have noticed this appears as our facebook page). When researching this, it became apparent most scholars point to this being around the 600 to 550 years BC. When understanding which civilisations were around then, two immediately stood out. The Egyptians and the Chinese Dynasties.

Egypt is a powerful reference point. Whilst to devaluate the Chinese civilisation, we decided that the Pyramids of Giza represented a much more well-known ‘icon’ to start our journey. That is why we chose it

What is going on exactly?

This is the moment that mankind was aware of other beings. The ‘comets’ are fallings angels streaking down through the clouds, cast down from Heaven. You will not that we made reference to the ‘bale star’ earlier, this is represented by the black ‘comet’ which is designed to be Satan. The black trail associates the comet with being impure.

The pyramids are a vision by us of what we though they may have looked like at the time. Rather than make the mistake of getting the timelines wrong and showing them as they are now, we asked our artist to picture them as they might have been.

You will see in the image that people are ‘watching on’ in the bottom left of the image and that in front of the pyramids themselves there are references to markets and a town very close by.

The sky was designed to be quite ominous, to reflect the circumstances and to draw attention to what was going on at the time.

What is going on with the pyramids?

It’s a question we have been asked and the answer is quite straight forward. The story above talks about realms, we don’t want to limit our thoughts to just Earth and the cosmic, celestial style of the main pyramid it designed to allude to a greater power being wielded here. It’s quite an important aspect of the drawing.

Why start there?

It’s not what is going on now, we admit. However it was always our intention to provide people with a gaming experience that was rich with background and references. We are great admirers of Games Workshop in this regard as this storyline that they have created is often a greater pull than the models themselves. It can lead people to reposition, re paint or even design their own ideas based on a smallest fragment of text from just one piece of background.

We wanted to start with where it all kind of kicked off, so that if anything people knew why Angels were running around being the crap out of soul singers and nuns…..

That was taken directly from the website for Purgatory Miniatures available on:-

http://www.purgatory-miniatures.co.uk/

There is also a Facebook group to build some buzz about this game and hopefully generate interest in a future Kickstarter in 2017.

https://www.facebook.com/purgatoryminiatures/

The guys have long terms plans and a huge range of characters to develop and build a game around.  If you wanna play blaxploitation soul musicians from the 70’s or religious zealots and refugees, you can.  If you want to play the forces of Fallen Angels and the dark side, you can.  Me personally I like the idea of suited and booted bad-ass angels with huge sets of wings resplendent in all their heavenly glory.

The miniatures are superbly detailed and beautifully made.  They are certainly on par with any other resin miniatures out there on the market currently and I really am looking forward to slapping some paint on them.

The Underestimated guys should be at Salute 2016 and I for one will be making a bee-line for their stall to take in some table time and see whats coming next.

#warinheaven

#heavenlyhost

The Devils Run:Route 666

Some of you may know that I occasionally get tempted by a Kickstarter here and there……..well I backer one earlier this year which Ive mentioned a few times, The Devils Run:Route 666 by Word Forge Games.  Its very Mad Max in its style and inspired by older games such as Car Wars and Carmageddon and Dark Future.  I’ve been itching to give it a go and luckily on Tuesday night I managed to get out to Leamington Games Club to meet with one of the brains behind Word Forge Games, Mark Rapson.

The idea was that we’d have a run through of WFG’s recent successful Kickstarter for The Devils Run:Route 666.

I’d had a quick flick through the rules and had a vague idea how the game should work. There’s no better way to learn a game than through playing and I hadn’t pushed any miniatures around in anger so I was keen to give it a go.

We setup using the miniatures in the core game with me playing Laws Haulage and Mark taking control of The Hauls Angels. The scenario was straight from the rules with or respective gangs racing to grab an objective/token.

Each gang had a car sized miniature, a bike and a trike/buggy with each having its own abilities and benefits. The Law Gang had a twin minigun buggy whilst the Angels had a flamer equipped trike.

Having won initiative I opted to setup first placing my fastest vehicle ahead to race off and grab the objective. My buggy sat out on the flank where the rougher terrain didn’t affect its movement. The car came up the rear to hamper Marks gang.

The mechanics are deceptively simple and within one round I had them down and was quite happy with how things worked. The game is refreshingly easy to learn and really makes me glad I backed at an early stage as my decision to do so was validated within moments of playing.

The game time isn’t too long and setup isn’t a laborious activity making this game a perfect tabletop game. The ease with which rules are learnt and shown means anyone can get into the game in an evening and still allow plenty of time for a couple of games.

Having narrowly lost my intro game Mark offered me the chance to help playtest a scenario involving the Brit Attack gang and their Mini’s.

My Brit Attack gang consisted of all five named Mini Drivers. Michael, Ronald, Bill, Charles and Keith and their fleet of Minis were to attack a convoy of Marks gangs vehicles and destroy a target vehicle.

Mark gave me a Mini to take away as a thank you and it is an amazing miniature. I’m looking forward you assembling him and slapping some paint on him at some point. It’s a little smaller than a Matchbox or Hotwheels scaled vehicle as my attached picture shows but not detrimentally so. It’s the actual wheelbase of the mini that is key in TDR:R666 rather than the size of the car. A Mini or “Muggy” should be roughly 35mm by 35mm.

My Minis were quick, nippy, evasive and worked well as a team. They are everything I hoped they would be and more and I’m so glad I backed the Brit Attack. I’m looking forward to future games testing out the other Brit Attack models such as Cab Croozers, Lord Hood and the Beefeaters. I also backed The Hunters and shall look forward to testing them out too.

For TDR:R666 backers you will not be disappointed in this. Mark and Co really have developped a great world to play in and have some great plans for future expansions. You may even recognise some of the White Van Drivers for Brit Attack when they get released!

The game is slick, has beautifully manufactured miniatures, a simple elegant ruleset with some flavorful and characterful models and characters in game. If you enjoyed Dark Future or Car Wars you will love this game. The scope for personalisation and modifications to you gang is almost endless and will provide you with years of gaming for very little outlay.

‪#‎highwaytohell‬
‪#‎borntoride‬
‪#‎igetmykicksonRoute666‬

Chill out! Its Frostgrave….

So many many games and suggestions for games end up being sent to me and its not often I take a punt on something without doing a little bit of homework first because with so little free hobby time its imperative that I spend my hobby pennies wisely and on things Im fairly sure will a) get played, b) be enjoyed and c) have some local gaming.

images

There has been a buzz lately about a game called Frostgrave for Osprey Publishing by Joseph McCullough.  Yeah you know, the Osprey Games who are renowned for their Historical stuff.  They’re worth checking out if you like that sort of thing and they can be found here:-

So what is Frostgrave all about? What’s the USP?

Well according to the blurb from Osprey Frostgrave….

Amidst the frozen ruins of an ancient city, wizards battle in the hopes of discovering the treasures of a fallen empire. In this fantasy skirmish wargame, each player takes on the role of a wizard from one of ten schools of magic, and builds his band of followers. The wizard’s apprentice will usually accompany his master, and more than a dozen other henchman types are available for hire, from lowly thugs to heavily armoured knights and stealthy thieves. Wizards can expand their magical knowledge by unlocking ancient secrets and may learn up to 80 different spells. While individual games of Frostgrave are quick and can easily be played in an hour or two, it is by connecting them into an ongoing campaign that players will find the most enjoyment. The scenarios given in the book are merely the beginning of the limitless adventures that can be found amidst the ruins of the Frozen City.

portada-frost01-04082015So lets take a look at the rule book itself…..firstly its reasonably priced and I think RRP is £15 but I managed to grab myself a copy for £9.50 delivered from Wordery via eBay.  Its a solid hardback, full of well produced colour glossy pages, beautiful artwork, and a front cover that really evokes the feeling of the game.  Its slightly smaller than most rulebooks which surprised me upon arrival but not a rulebook to be ashamed of that’s by any means. Its seriously well put together and laid out in a well thought out and simple way.  Mechanical diagrams to explain rules are clear and concise and help the reader understand concepts quickly.  The back is full of tables and free Warband lists to photocopy and use although the same materials are available via download and the Facebook community.  The production values and quality of Osprey stuff is apparent through out the book.

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My only complaint and it is a very minor one at that is that there is no Index linking page numbers to subject in this book but that is mitigated by having a fairly robust Table of Contents.  Sadly again there are no page number to subject list so whilst you know vaguely where something is and it wont take you a massive amount of time you wont know exactly where it is.

At its core, Frostgrave is a low fantasy skirmish warband game akin to the old Games Workshop favourite Mordheim.  I personally would say that Frostgrave is what Mordheim wishes it was but others may not completely agree with me there.  At its most simplistic you pick a wizard, a school of magic, and a warband, and go completing scenarios (included in the book) and skirmishes against other warbands in a campaign based setting gaining upgrades and funds to spend on gear to improve your warband.  That is it at a basic.

You have a certain amount to spend when setting up your warband, you can spend it on an apprentice to add more magical firepower, which is a suggestion I agree with strongly!  Then there is a selection of other troop types, War Hounds, thugs, thieves, trackers, Knights, Barbarians, and many more.  So many in fact you can even theme your warband.  The way weapons are defined in this, and the types of soldiers you can hire mean you can use many of your existing models to play this game in no time at all.  I had some old Celtos miniatures just sat around doing nothing so using them I’m creating a Celtic themed Warband.  Going to the Brigade Model’s website to buy some more about £30 later I had a rounded out Warband full of character and a look and feel I was really happy with.  I’ve also found that Hasslefree Miniatures make a range of Celtic looking minis that fit well with my Warband so my evil necro-Celts now have a Queen/ Witch riding her undead troll to push them forward.  You can buy miniatures anywhere for this game; GW Empire are a good look, North Star Miniatures sell Frostgrave specific box sets allowing you to build upto 30 soldiers which would be more than enough for 2-3 warbands, Reaper Miniatures are a good source of Wizardly looking models, Hasslefree make great miniatures which work well too but this is by no means an exhaustive list of what is available out there to use.

10849 frostrgrave-rear images (1) frostgrave demo

What do I need to play?

Well Frostgrave isn’t that miniature intensive to get playing, nor does it require a massive amount of specialist templates and tokens.  A pad, a pen, a warband of 8-10 miniatures and some d20 dice and you are playing.  Everything else whilst nice is not a requirement to play.  Yes of course you’ll need something to play on and scenery but you might already have some lying around from Warwhammer, Mordheim or Malifaux that you can repurpose.

The game can be played on a table from 2′ x 2′ to 4′ x 4′, which is good, as it can be played on most dining room tables.  It does recommend nice dense scenery.  Battle Systems Fantasy Terrain have recently completed a Kickstarter for some cardboard dungeon terrain which could be used if you were so inclined.  Games Workshop Warhammer or Age of Sigmar terrain is also fully compatible as are some of the excellent Pegasus Hobbies ruined gothic church kits which i fully intend on getting a few of.  Some more canny gamers keep a look out at boot fairs and in toy shops for cheaper terrain but at this time of year Poundshops and supermarkets are full of christmassy stuff which can be used for frostgrave scenery.  It wont take you long to find some awesomely inspirational images via Google simply typing “Frostgrave Scenery” or “Frostgrave Terrain” and of course for the truly lazy you can always buy pre-painted, pre-assembled stuff from eBay.

Just some quick images to give you the idea……

CNF1UWNWcAABGrE CNF1UWQXAAAxcPI frostgrave 003_zps3yibmcw4 Frostgrave_Ruined_Church_17.00_ images (2) images (3)

You can make your scenery as complicated or as simple as you like.  Chunks of polystyrene sealed and painted grey will happily suffice for ruined walls and broken down structures until you find or make better.  Scenery should have a very snowy, frozen wintery feel and I was very lucky to pick up a great deal on some Christmassy looking snow covered pine trees from eBay.  A great deal at £12.79 for 21 assorted sizes.  They come pre based in a clump of snow so require very little effort to turn into gaming scenery.  I was so impressed I ordered another 42!  It is my intention to build up a few crumbling wizards towers, a graveyard, some ruined houses and some Celtic looking terrain to round out the look and feel of my Celtic inspired warband.  I’m also on the hunt for some old scenery from GW or similar.  Back in the day GW released a plastic fortress which I intend on using to build the city walls of Felstadt aka Frostgrave.

GW Plastic Fortress assembled.

GW Plastic Fortress assembled.

GW Plastic Fortress components

GW Plastic Fortress components

So whats it all about then?

During each turn we have phases, first we roll for initiative.  Each player roles a dice, highest has initiative and is the primary player for the turn.  Then we have a series of  phases in order, Wizard, Apprentice, Soldier, creatures (Random creatures, such as Undead and Demons and Yeti’s stalk the ruins of the city).

The wizard gets to go first, he is the focus of the warband after all, you can activate him and up to 3 soldiers within  3″ of him.  Then the secondary player does the same, alternating at each phase based upon who won the Initiative roll at the beginning of the turn.

The apprentice phase is the same as above, primary player first, then secondary player.

Then the soldier phase you can activate any of your soldiers that have not gone yet, and the same with the secondary player.

When activated each figure can do 2 actions. move and move, move and fight, shoot and move.  Then you have the normal expected actions, jumping, climbing (and falling)
Models have a few stats to keep a track of….. usually the higher they are the better.  Movement (M), expressed in inches, Fight (F) which is a 0 or a number with a plus, +2, +3 etc again the higher the number the better the models ability to fight and attack.  Shooting (S), which is the same arrangement as Fighting.  Armour (A) which is a number again, Willpower (W) which is a plus number as Fighting and Shooting, and lastly Health (H).  So your model will have a “stat-line” as follows:-

CaptureThe stats are simple to follow, you do not have to remember any tables to hit or wound or anything like that.  It is all dealt with in one dice roll.  Lets take an example…..

In a fight both figures roll a d20 and add their fight value to it.  So we have a Thug who has a fight of  +2 against a Knight who has a fight of  +4  The thug roles a 6 on his d20 and adds his fight to that for a total of 10.  The Knight rolls a 12 and adds his fight for a total of 16.  The knight has more so he wins.  The Knight then subtracts the thugs armour from the Knights total roll.  The thug has an armour of 10 so takes 6 damage from his health.

Shooting works in the same way, though with modifiers for cover. I like to think of it as the opponents ability to hide or dodge against the archers aim.  It is a nice change to the roll to hit, roll to wound technique, as the higher you roll to hit, the more damage it can potentially do implying a more accurate shot.

There is a nice mechanic about rolling natural 20s for critical hits doing double damage which can lead to great story telling moments!  Its similar to the Crit hit mechanic in PRODOS’  Warzone Resurrection and AvP although in their case the lower the better with 1’s being Crits and Autokills.

Its a simple yet elegant system when used, and keeps the game fast and frantic.  Weapons can alter the effects adding a plus or a minus depending.

There are rules for when a model is reduced to 4 wounds or less and is considered wounded. Models will have a -2 to all rolls, and can only do one action.  A nice touch showing the reducing ability or an injured model and makes even an injured model an asset if the actions are simple.  It also gives you a chance to heal your injured and keep them in the game rather than they simply cease being operational.

Frostgrave is all about the Wizards and we’ve barely touched on them yet.  Your spells and spellcasting is an important part of the game, and with the sheer amount of spells to choose from it should be!  There are 10 different schools of magic:- Chronomancer, Elementalist, Enchanter, Illusionist, Necromancer, Sigilist, Soothsayer, Summoner, Thaumaturge and Witch.  Each school has its own flavour of magic and other schools spells will be complimentary and others opposed.

Casting works in the same simple way as combat does, you roll a d20, if you equal or exceed then the casting value then the spell is successfully cast.  If you roll less bad things can happen!  Depending on the amount you fail by you can damage yourself.  You can also get bigger effects to your spells dependant on how successful your attempt to cast is.  This is particularly important in Summoning Spells when larger more ferocious demons and bigger Contrcuts can be created/summoned and bound to service.  Wizards empower and boost thier spells ensuring success or pushing the level of success into the next bracket of success by swapping an amount of his/her health for a number to boost.  Spend 3 health and take 3 damage for an extra 3 on the result.  This can become really important when dealing with the level of failure or success as taking 1 damage to add 1 on the dice roll etc can be the difference between success and failure or the varying degress of success. Doing this I imagine the wizard straining hard to control the magical energies.

There is treasure to collect in the streets, dictated by the scenarios, and creatures roam the ruins too making the fights not just against the enemy warband.  I like that it adds something else to think about.

The normal winner of a standard game is the last warband standing, and all treasure and experience gets dished out for the campaign phase to upgrade your characters and spend on goodies.

To Campaign or not to Campaign?

The campaign based stuff is one of the best parts of this game, following your wizard and his soldiers through their adventures in the ruined city.

In a campaign game when your soldiers and heroes reach 0 health in battle they are out of action but not becessarily dead, although in Frostgrave even death isn’t the encumberance it used to be.  A player would roll on the charts at the end to see if they live, are wounded, or fully recover.  Permanent injuries can continue through the whole campaign, like smashed toes, blind in an eye, psychological scars, all sorts of things that add to your character, and all gained with a story to tell.

Certain activities in battle grant your wizard experience that he can spend.  Every 100 points of experience give him a level, and for each level he reaches he can increase a stat, fight, willpower, shoot, or health.  He/she can also improve a known spell making it easier to cast, or learn a new one, again adding to the customisation of your wizard, you can make him adept at spells he knows, or a walking spellbook full of spells for each situation.

When you find treasure in the game world it can be gold, that is spent on upgrades and new members of your Warband, or perhaps something else, an artefact like a Grimoire, a Magical Potion, or a Magic Weapon or Item for a member of your warband.  The rulebook contains a detailed and almost exhaustive section on all the items you can find whilst treasure hunting in Frostgrave although during a campaign I’m sure you could come up with more items as you delve deeper into the crypts and dungeons of the city.  Thats part of the beauty of this setting…its all pretty exhaustive but there is so much scope for expansion and home brewing scenarios and new equipment and rules.  The world really is your oyster.

You can spend your hard earnt gold on new recruits to replace the old, lame and injured, or upgrade your war gear between battles.  As you progress you will need a base to send your raiding Warband out from. Yes you actually get a base of operations, you pick between a selection and each one gives you a specific bonus.  You can then add upgrades to your base that provide all sorts of in game bonuses for you and your warband.  As the campaign progresses you can improve your base to provide all sorts of goodies.

Summary

GW’s Mordheim has always been a solid go to skirmish campaign style game, and whilst others have tried to dethrone it nothing has come close in all its time.  Age of Sigmar has a skirmish element but that seems to have been a massive flop with most Warhammer players going back to older versions for their gaming.  Frostgrave not only gives Mordheim a bloody nose it but steals its lunch money, slips on some shades and flips it the bird as it walks away! Not long after release the first expansion for Frostgrave was announced and even spoiled in the back of the main rule book.  The Thaw of the Lich Lord comes to the gaming table this month and North Star Figures have been running a Nickstarter to generate interest and give players/backers the opportunity to buy everything they need at great prices.  I backed this project and now have all the goodies plus the new book arriving shortly, giving me time to complete my Celtic Necromancy Warband before I jump into a cultist Summoner warband and eventually into my daughters Frozen inspired Warband.  With the promise of more expansions to come it looks on a regular release cycle and further Nickstarters from North Star Games Frostgrave looks set to become THE fantasy skirmish campaign game, and rightly so. Osprey and Joseph McCullough have put great work into this.  Go to Osprey and get your order here although eBay and other avenues are open for ordering. It is a must have for any fantasy gamer.

The King is dead, long live the King!

Star Trek FIRST LOOK: Scorpion 4 Attack Squadron for Attack Wing

Exciting news from StarTrek.com as they reveal an exclusive First Look at the Scorpion 4 Attack Squadron for Star Trek: Attack Wing Wave 20, out this month.

The Scorpion class vessels were small attack fighters stored aboard the Reman warbird Scimitar in 2379.

When Captain Jean-Luc Picard was captured and taken aboard the Scimitar by Praetor Shinzon, the Captain and Data used a Scorpion class fighter to escape, taking the fighter through the Scimitar‘s corridors when the shuttlebay doors were sealed to prevent them making a more direct exit. Although he initially found the craft difficult to maneuver, he eventually managed to drive the vessel through a window located in Shinzon’s representative chamber and escape into space, where the craft was beamed aboard the USS Enterprise-E.

The Scimitar’s shuttlebay, where the Scorpion-class vessels were stored, was later destroyed when the Enterprise and the Scimitar collided.

Finally the fighters I’ve been waiting for as a Romulan fan and player.  I’ll certainly be grabbing 3 sets.  Whilst they are a little lack-lustre play wise I cant help but want them both to play with and as a collector.  It is a shame that the Cloak Action isn’t native and to get a set of fighters that have both Cloak and Sensor Echo you need to spend more points than buying a D’Deridex or Valdore class ship.  However I’ve waited 20 Waves for these ships and even, at one point, almost bought Shapeways versions to tide me over.  Tonight I’m a happy Romulan!

Source: Star Trek FIRST LOOK: Scorpion 4 Attack Squadron for Attack Wing

Gaming on a budget – The Challenge (Month 5 – Part 10)

So Mancavers, this months update sees me give you some very quick and dirty match reports for two games this week.

On Monday evening my Fishermen Team of Shark, Salt, Jac, Greyscales, Sakana and Siren took on Mark Southerd’s Alchemists which consisted of Calculus, Compound, Midas, Katalyst, Vitriol and Flask.

Calculus Compound Flask Katalyst Midas Vitriol

I forgot so much in this game. Once Salt was removed I completely forgot the +2 Bonus MOM, +2 TAC and +2″/+2″ MOV per player which might have helped.

Glad I swapped Kraken for Greyscales, I do like him. Should probably drop Siren if no Kraken so will go with Angel next time around. I remain to be convinced about Sakana but I’d need a bigger threat than him as an option. Maybe Fangtooth? Maybe Gutter?

Mark was patient as ever and deserved his win if for no other reason than putting up with my stupid questions and changing the damage I apply when I read things properly.

6-4 to Marks Alchemists. His team took out Shark, Siren and Salt. I scored with Greyscales following a Shark knockdown on Midas and Salt stealing the ball before passing to Greyscales using a snap shot.

Tonight saw my nemesis Andy T come over for a game with his new Engineers team.

The newly rejigged lineup for my Fishermen took to the field against Andy’s Engineers tonight.

The lineup was Shark, Salt, Jac, Sakana, Angel and Greyscales. Sakana and Greyscales on the wings with Angel and Shark up front with Jac and Salt sat in behind sweeping up.

I think Andy had Ballista, Mainspring, Colossus, Velocity, Ratchet and Salvo.

BallistaColossusMainspringRatchetSalvoVelocity

We didn’t grab any pics as we got straight into it tonight.

Back to winning ways! 12-10 to my Fishermen. I think I’m finally getting to grips with my preferred team and tactics. My first turn was shaky as having kicked off with Salt I dragged him back with Jac’s activation and waited for the smoke to settle to strike. Shark quickly engaged and stole the ball from Ballista before scoring early in turn two. 4-0 Fishermen.

Andy was unlucky and was whiffing rolls allowing me a chance to not take damage and keep mobile. Sakana was keeping Velocity at bay and under threat from his range 2 melee on the left. Immediately after kick off the ball scattered into range of Velocity who activated next. Despite an attack of opportunity on Velocity an unopposed run and an open goal meant Velocity struck back immediately. 4-4

I kicked off hoping to gather with Angel and score again but the scatter from the goal was unfriendly and snapped to Ballista as soon as he activated.

Shark activated his legendary and really slowed the Engineers who were all caught with it. Jac and Greyscales did some great work on the right flank to rob the ball from the Engineer captain and did enough to tackle and dodge away. Using Greyscales remaining influence to run and shoot plus the momentum I was generating he scored again with a screamer to take extra momentum which he used to run the length and get away from the Engineer defence and back into the wing. 8-4 Fishermen.

Yet again the kick off placement and scatter favoured the Engineers and yet again the ball was close to Colossus. Jac stripped him of it and Salt gathered before advancing down the right flank hiding behind Jac and Greyscales.

Now not shackled by Sharks legendary play Balliata threw some nastiness at Salt killing him. 8-6 Fishermen.

Theball was dropped and scattered off the pitch. Restarting from the centre spot the ball conveniently fell within a few inches of Velocity who again activated next, ran, collected the ball and had another easy unopposed shot at my goal to take the lead. 8-10 to Engineers.

This time the ball scatter was kind of in my favour as it landed between Colossus, Angel and Jac. Colossus and Ballista had been busy doing what they do best knocking my players over making it hard to keep mobile and leaving both Jac and Angel knocked down.

It would be hard to score without using my bonus momentum from Salt and then somehow generating more for a shot. Now buffed by extra MP and +2″/+2″ from Salt being taken out by Ballista it wad left to Jac get up and clear Colossus out for Angel. He spent a momentum to get up, activated Ramming Speed and jogged 7″ at Colossus pushing him away before attacking him to get a momentous 1″ dodge. Using his Heroic play, Trident Tested he shoved Collosus even further away from Angel. Now she was out of strike range of any unactivated Engineer so whoever Andy activated couldn’t do anything to her or the ball. Angel could activate next. I had 2 momentum thanks to Jac’s earlier momentous dodge.

Angel spent a momentum to stand up leaving me 1 for the shot. Thanks to her 3 influence and Salts demise she could sprint 10″ grabbing the ball on the way before using her play Super Shot to shoot with 5 dice from 10″ out. Threat range of 20″…..19″ away. Goal fishermen for a 12-10 victory and game!

I think I’m finally getting to grips with the playstyle I want to use with the Fishermen. Every game I learn something new and until my Union Ringers arrive have a settled team line up.

Again muchos gracias to the very patient Andy T who puts up with silly questions and me taking too long over who to activate next. Cheers buddy! Great game!

Next up are my purchases for this month.  It was my intention to start buying the members of the Union team that can play for the Fishermen this month.  They are as follows:-

Avarice and Greed

Avarice and Greed

Hemlocke

Hemlocke

Gutter

Gutter

Snakeskin

Snakeskin

Fangtooth

Fangtooth

I reckoned for my £30 I could grab 2-3 of these guys and boost my options for my Fishermen but something came up that made me change my mind.  Whilst looking around eBay I stumbled upon a full Masons Team for sale.  The Masons are another of the Guilds that occupy the world of Guildball.  This seemed a good idea to me as it meant I would have two teams so could play at home with people who didn’t have a team, could teach others and generate local interest and most importantly practice and refine my Fishermens tactics.  They were a completely different style to the Fishermen.  Where the Fishermen are the Guildball equivilent of Blood Bowl’s Elves or Skaven the Masons are the equivilent of the Humans.  They don’t excel in any particular area and are good all rounders.

masons

The Masons’ play style is all about balance and subtle flexibility. They have strong but not outstanding offensive and defensive options available to them. With a good mix of buffs and debuffs forming the foundation of their combo play, they need each other to excel.

They are equipped to play well during all phases of the game without a definitive focus on any key area, which is why they are the most flexible of teams to play. They have the tools and the play style to adapt to every situation, as long as you can piece them together properly.

Mason rewards players who can see and build play to effect combos, and then take advantage of any situation.

I was very lucky because the auction I was watching included all players in the team and wasn’t being watched by many people.  I silently watched and waited and at the last second put in my bid of £33.  With so little time left no-one could counter bid and it was accepted.  I had won!  So within a few days my full team would arrive courtesy of eBay.  I now had:

Honour

Honour

Harmony

Harmony

Brick

Brick

Mallet

Mallet

Marbles

Marbles

Tower

Tower

Flint

Flint

Now this wasn;t in fact the FULL team as during October a Season 2 player was added to the Masons line up.  I had previously bought Sakana the Season 2 Fishermen and had a full and complete line-up.  It didnt feel right to now have a complete team so rather than be missing one I decided to push the boat out and really overspend this month by purchasing the metal miniature Chisel from Element Wargames for £8.95.  I felt justified in doing this becasue I had saved so much on my Masons team.  Rather than pay the £60 odd for a full Season 1 Masons line up I had in fact only paid £33 including shipping.  Happy days!

So total spend this month was as follows:-

Masons Season 1 Team – £33.00 (including shipping)

Chisel – Season 2 Mason – £8.95 + £2.95 shipping

Total spend – £44.90

Ok so I overspent but I can recoup it next month or simply write it off as a one of occasion like a birthday or bonus from work.  Im happy with my purchases and feel I can now make some strides forward in Guildball.

Happy Mancaving!

Star Trek FIRST LOOK: Halik Raider for Attack Wing Wave 20

More exclusive reveals from StarTrek.com.  They have an exclusive First Look at the Kazon vessel, Halik Raider, available this month for Star Trek: Attack Wing Wave 20.

The Halik Raider was first seen in the Voyager episode Dreadnought where treacherous members of Voyagers crew in league with Seska were transmitting details of a powerful Cardassian weapon stolen and used by the Maquis back in the Alpha Quadrant.  The crew surmise that upon investigating a debris field in the Delta Quadrant it would take a very powerful weapon to cause so much damage to the duritanium-hulled unmanned probe. Upon investigation, Commander Chakotay and Lieutenant B’Elanna Torres find that a powerful Cardassian weapon caused the destruction. Captain Kathryn Janeway asks if Seska could be involved but Torres reveals that she herself was responsible.

Source: Star Trek FIRST LOOK: Halik Raider for Attack Wing Wave 20

Star Trek FIRST LOOK: USS Hathaway for Attack Wing Wave 20

Our friends at StarTrek.com have an exclusive First Look at the Federation destroyer, the USS Hathaway for the upcoming Star Trek: Attack Wing — Wave 20.

The USS Hathaway, as seen in the TNG Episode Peak Performance was briefly recomissioned in 2365 and towed into orbit of Braslota IV in the Braslota system for a Starfleet battle simulation, in which Commander William T. Riker commanded the obsolete Hathaway against the state-of-the-art Galaxy-class USS Enterprise-D. Although the Hathaway ran on minimum power, had only a few shards of dilithium, and no antimatter fuel, Riker’s away team managed to reactivate the ship and place it in sufficient condition for simulated combat in only 48 hours.

The battle proceeded well and Riker was able to outwit Captain Jean-Luc Picard on several occassions. Unfortunately, the war games were interrupted by the intrusion of a Ferengi D’Kora-class starship, the Kreechta, whose DaiMon, Bractor, believed that the two starships were engaged in real combat. Thinking that the Hathaway must be of great value to be fighting against the Enterprise, the Ferengi demanded theHathaway’s immediate surrender after disabling the Enterprise.

Fortunately, the combined crews of the Enterprise and Hathaway formulated a plan in which it was made to appear as if the Enterprise destroyed the Hathaway to prevent it from falling into enemy hands. In reality, the Hathaway had merely made a split-second warp jump, thanks to the resourcefulness of Wesley Crusher, the instant before photon torpedoes, launched by the Enterprise, were detonated. Its potential prize destroyed, the Ferengi retreated. Following the exercise, the Hathaway was towed to the nearest starbase.

Source: Star Trek FIRST LOOK: USS Hathaway for Attack Wing Wave 20