Saturday, July 30, 2011

Review: Flying Lead

Flying Lead, by Rich Jones and Andrea Sfiligoi, can be seen as the modern conflict version of Song of Blades and Heroes. From reading the official forums and the rules, it becomes apparent that it is the most sophisticated rules-wise among the Song of Blades "children" (I've played so far SoBH, Mutants and Death Ray Guns, Fear and Faith and Song of Drums and Shakos.) So let's get to the review:

Contents: Flying Lead is a 48-page standalone rulebook that is chock-full with rules, rosters, scenarios and optional systems. It doesn't hold back on information and is enough on its own to play modern or near-future conflicts with the Song of Blades engine. It includes general rules for vehicles that with a little work might be adapted to include small mecha or powered armor too.

Presentation: As with other Ganesha books, it's laid out in two columns with grayscale illustrations. The exception are a few brownish "watermark"-style silhouettes on a few pages. These, and the bullets on the margins of all pages, were a little annoying while reading and a waste of printer ink but still not enough to cause grief. Font sizes are still good enough to read in booklet format.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Wasteland Wanderer: the Solo Scenario

In this solo scenario for Mutants and Death Ray Guns, you control a group of survivors that must cross the post-apocalyptic wastelands. Maybe they have to bring supplies or information to some distant settlement, or maybe they are on a quest to find something or someone. In any case, they must leave the relative safety of their village or citadel and brave the dangers of the wastes.

The wanderers
To start this scenario, create a party of four characters using the standard MDRG rules. They can only be humans, mutants or robots and at least one of them must be human. For each human on the party beyond the first, you are entitled one reroll of equipment (on any character) when creating your party. Note however that mutants and robots may allow special options in some encounters.

Scenario structure
This scenario is played as a series of six random encounters, rolled on the encounter table. After each combat encounter that you win, you may use the Survival Table from the book to find out the fate of your figures defeated in combat. If all your figures are defeated in combat, you lose the scenario. If some of them flee, you may go on with those. You win the scenario if your party survives their sixth encounter. At this point, they manage to complete their travel without further incidents.

Cops and Gangs: a New World Disorder battle report

In a previous post, I have written about my first impressions of New World Disorder, which looked like a promising system with some RPG-like features. However, I still had to play some games to write a proper review. In the meantime, I've also bought the two expansions for the game, Cyber Zone and Zombie Apocalypse, which will be discussed in future posts. This post is a battle report of a solo test game.

The scenario
In a dystopian near future, whole cities have turned into ruined slums, and there is constant fighting between gangs and corporation-sponsored police. In this game, a patrol of corporate cops chases Massive, a notorious gang leader, along with two gang members, to a dead end in the slums. The cops decide to try to take down Massive instead of waiting for reinforcements, interested in the bounty on his head.

The opposing forces
From left to right, we have the three gang members: Red (Punk, Brawn 1 / Brains 1 / Guts 1, carrying a light assault rifle), Massive (Thug, Brawn 2 / Brains 1 / Guts 2, Fearless, with a medium submachine gun) and Skid (Punk, Brawn 1 / Brains 1 / Guts 1, with a medium semi-auto pistol).

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Flat-folding glueless blocks

I've been fiddling with other ways to create flat-folding glueless models, inspired by TopoSolitario's great IKubes. The first picture shows the results of my experiments, including some 2"x2" blocks, a ramp and a wall.
There are two versions of the block. The most basic one is built from a single strip of paper, requiring nine cuts. It can be easily drawn with a ruler and square. The downside of this version is that some parts of the top stay raised, making the resulting model less appealing. The other version adds some tabs and slots to help closing the box. In both cases, the bottom of the block is open and a diagonal support can be inserted to add stability.
Two or more blocks may be connected using a short strip of paper, which acts like a simple clamp. This way, several blocks may be used to build larger structures. Blocks can also be stacked on top of each other to create buildings of different heights.
Here is a picture showing the unfolded models. From the top left, in clockwise order: the basic block, ramp, the alternate block and the wall (certainly the most complex of these structures.)
Even though I did these tests using common paper (75gsm) the results were reasonably sturdy. In the end, the modular blocks are less efficient than the IKubes -- I would need two sheets of paper to fill about the same volume as a single IKube. However, these blocks may be useful as an additional option for flat-folding, easy to build terrain.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Pulp terrain pieces

I've been building some terrain pieces in 28mm scale, which I intend to use in both ShadowSea-inspired games as well as pulp adventures: pre-historic jungles, swamps, ancient ruins...
The materials used were mostly Lord ZseZse Works' Ancient Worlds set, Puka Shell Games' Terrain Pack (for the grass texture on the campground), a plastic potted plant and some epoxy, foamies and hot glue for modeling. The bases are 1.5mm thick cardstock or 4mm thick foamcore in the case of the campground.
The campfire was inspired by this simply awesome article on modeling burning tires and oildrums, although my results don't do it justice.
I was amazed at the texture quality from Lord Zse Zse Works' product. These columns were easy to build, fit perfectly and they will look great as obstacles or hiding spots in a game.
I still plan on building the temple from Lord ZseZse, plus some ruins with a sacrificial altar using Finger and Toe Models' Lost City blocks but these will take time.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Observatory Model

Last night I built the free observatory model from Dave Graffam using the tips from the just-released (and also free) Paper Modeling Guide (written by Jerry Jensen, released by Dave.) The guide is all about taking care with every step of the building process -- from cutting to pre-folding the glue tabs or spreading glue to the edges, there are lots of little details you might have not given thought before.

Even though it's a one-page model with well-designed parts, it took me about two and a half hours to build using all the ideas from the guide. However, as you can see the model does have some complex parts like the telescope and the roof, so it would be wrong to say that building any model carefully would take over two hours per page.
The point, however, is that the result looks simply great -- perfect, for my standards. I tend to build models in a chaotic fashion: cut and build some parts, apply glue stick without much care, sometimes find out I built something wrong... this little exercise in patience and method showed me how I can achieve better results.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Customizing some plastic minis

Yesterday I went to our local games convention... I regret to comment that it used to be better, but it's still better than no convention at all. Anyway, I grabbed a bunch of old Clix models for a reasonable price (that is, when considering prices of miniatures around here.) The idea is to build two sets to play ShadowSea-inspired games: a set of eight "natives" including lizardmen and amazons, and a set of eight "invaders" with some steam robots, armors and a conquistador. Initially I split them into two groups: the ones that could get by with only a few adjustments and the ones in need of a full repaint.
 Always keeping in mind that what I want is "tabletop-worthy" quality, nothing more (heh, possibly lower than "tabletop-worthy" for Cool Mini Or Not standards) here are the ones that I intend to make smaller adjustments. I plan to start with the lizardmen, which I think are really OK, and just add a few details. I might end up repainting the four robots/armors to give them a consistent look...
After everything is done, I plan to cover the base slots with putty, paint them and add some grass, possibly in two different textures for the two groups. Hopefully, everything will be done in the next few days, taking advantage of my vacation.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Review: Chain Reaction 3.0 Swordplay

I got some time to try Chain Reaction 3.0 Swordplay, which is the other free rulebook from Two Hour Wargames. The main question I wanted to answer was: how different it is from the "standard" Chain Reaction, which I have previously reviewed?

The answer is: quite different. Sure, the basics of character Reputation, passing 2d6 tests and reactions remain the same, but then you have different reaction tests, since this is aimed at fantasy/historical medieval conflicts. And there are different reaction tables for each broad type of unit, so that knights on horses react differently from archers or infantry. If the Chain Reaction 3.0 was already loaded with information, this one goes further bringing two scenarios, six historical army lists and four fantasy army lists, to boot.

I ran a quick game using 15mm miniatures and halving all distances and ranges. In this scenario, a small band of orcs controlled by me must steal two treasures from the undead, stored in locked treasure chests. The two orc heroes (in armor) are Rep 5 warriors with heavy armor and two-handed weapons. The one with the cloak is a star. The other orcs are Rep 3, unarmored. Two of them have small shields and swords, the other two have polearms.
The undead are organized into two groups. The first consists of five Rep 3 skeleton warriors, unarmored with various weapons, led by a Rep 5 wraith lord, protected (by magic) and wielding a mace.
The second group consists of three Rep 4 skeleton knights, unarmored and equipped with swords. The leader is the one with the slightly taller hat, in the middle.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

3:16 Solo Play

I bought 3:16 Carnage Amongst the Stars and fell in love with the system. It has a very competently designed "light" rules set, and allows play ranging from mindless alien slaughter to deep character development. In my opinion, it's not the kind of game well suited for solo play, as any other RPG that builds tension based on the creative uses that players make of the authorial power granted to them, like Fiasco for instance.

Anyway, I wanted to try the game and I'm still not sure when I'll be able to find a group willing to play it, so I thought I'd use good ol' Mythic GME along with a couple of house rules and see what happens. My main inspiration regarding solo Mythic stuff, by the way, is the Solo RPG Gamer blog, which has a lot of interesting posts on the subject.

To start the game, I created four "player" characters in the following manner: first, I used the Mythic random description tables to get inspiration for each character's reputation. Then I rolled one six-sided die, adding one for their Fighting Ability, re-rolling on a repeated result. From that, it's possible to figure the rest of each characters' information. I rolled for the weapons and on the names table for each character. Thus were born:

Sergeant Hicks - reputation: Lunatic
Corporal Miller - reputation: Pushover
Trooper Abe - reputation: Sleazy
Trooper Sims - reputation: Righteous

I randomly generated the planet and alien attributes, using the game rules. Since I had 20 threat tokens to use in alien encounters, I decided to roll one six-sided die, adding 1 for each encounter after the first, to figure how many I'd allocate to each encounter. Once I had eight tokens or less left, I would go to the final encounter of the mission. Lastly, I rolled for the NPC who would brief the team. Lieutenant Goodman got a result of "oficially odd" on the Mythic description table. I asked "is he seen as too informal for an officer?" on the fate chart, getting an Exceptional Yes answer. Then I was ready to start...