Sunday, 31 March 2013

You start at the Inn...

Gygax and Elmore. Two great uncredited influences on my life. I really started wargaming with roleplaying at primary school, aged 9 in 1985 (if I recall). Red Box rules - aka BD&D, Elmore artwork, crappy dice with a white crayon, and an excellent DM who went onto to a professor of pure mathematics at Cambridge.

Nothing else needs to be said except that I played 4e recently, but didn't like it; too much like WoW or Skyrim for those terminally short of internet connection. Too much combat, too much dice, nowhere near enough roleplaying.

Recently chatting to one of the original primary school RPG group on Facebook, and we decided to invest some time with Roll20 online gaming and take a trip down memory lane. This led me taking my original 1983 rules round to another mate's place on Friday evening. He too started with BD&D, so we could roll up some characters.

He's going through rather a tough time at the moment, so once he'd rolled up a cleric (his favourite character type whatever system we're RPGing) I somewhat spontaneously decided to keep him distracted for the evening by pulling up an original TSR module from the netbook's hard drive and have an adventure with his cleric and my new halfling (played as an NPC).

Despite me not having DM'd in any capacity for a quarter of a century, and not having prepped even a little bit, we had a blast for 2.5hrs of fire beetles, a couple of troglodytes, and a smattering of kobolds.

So Saturday evening we reconvened and carried on, only this time skyping in another of the regular gaming group (a BD&D virgin, but well versed in 3.5 and 4e) for further dungeon bashing.

I relearnt a lot of things about being dungeon master;
1) The players will always do exactly the opposite of what you've planned for
2) come prepared with a list of names for the various NPCs they bump into along the way
3) It's bloody good fun, arguably more enjoyable than being a player

The adventure continues!

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Mass Battles with Splintered Light

The unmistakable thud of a lead filled Jiffy bag hitting the door mat resounded through the halls of Castle Tangent yesterday, heralding the arrival of 70 more of the Splintered Lands range from David McBride at Splintered Light Miniatures.

The general idea behind increasing the SL collection from 'a lot' into 'the entire catalogue' is twofold; Firstly, it gives yet more options for Song of Splintered Lands, and secondly it means we can play some mass battles using Sabot bases.

The whole mass battles thing is something I've not done for a long time (Dystopian Wars excepted), but I've been collecting rules for some time. The closest I've come to actually liking any of them is Doc McBride's (David's father) Pride of Lions. An interesting system, and shows Doc's considerable experience in pushing lead around the table.

However, it is aimed more at the 15mm fantasy crowd - using what appears to be an evolution of the HotT basing regime, with each unit having three 40mm x 40mm bases. Although basing size and regime is not important, the whole thing is prevaricated on the three-base-unit concept. This would turn an SL 20mm 'mass' battle into 'bloody enormous' battle and would need a 6x4 board to really do it justice.

So, I've set about hacking Song of Splintered Lands about to make it fit what I'm trying to achieve. Fairly easy so far; just tweaking the movement, combat, and morale engines to suit units rather than individuals. In keeping with my love of the simple, I'm trying to keep it to four pages max.

At the moment, it reads/feels like a mix of WFB, SoBH, with a sprinkling of HotT thrown in. The current bit I'm pondering is how individualism to create between unit types.

For example, should a unit of Fox Spears be different from Squirrel Spears? To create a difference big enough to drive tactical challenges requires more stat lines, which brings complexity and that slows the game.

Sunday, 17 March 2013

The '80s called... they want me back.

Some things never leave your system. Mostly, prized possessions I've sold and then regretted ever after. My '86 Mercedes 190E 2.3-16 is one such example, not only because they rapidly appreciated afterwards, but because I'd utterly gelled with it; It was magnificent.

Another one of these stuck-in-the-system is my 80s Bretonnian army. I started this in 86/87 I think, around WFB 3.ed, and slowly added bits to it until it numbered over 100 miniatures (not an inconsiderably amount of lead when you're 10 years old). It was all Perry, mostly C26 and slightly later. In the end I sold it, for about £20 if recall correctly, sometime around 93.

Anyway, recently I've noticed something fad/trend called Oldhammer seeping into the blogsphere. This, seemingly orchestrated in concert with the Ansells, seems to involve friendly non-tourney tournaments (at Foundry) using 3.ed rules, and whatever miniatures you fancy, as long as they feel and look 80s.

I'm unlikely to ever go to Nottingham for anything, least of all wargaming, but it has turned the nagging thought of getting another classic Bretonnian army built into a fully fledged wading-through-websites-and-putting-things-in-baskets type affair.

Whilst eBay is full of massively overpriced original Bretonnians, fortunately Brian Ansell made off with the moulds for 90% of the range when he left GW... so they're all available at Foundry. Then there's the current Perry HYW range, which is very much in keeping (and hopefully size) to their 80s work.

More soon.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Sabot Bases

Massed Fantasy Battles. Those three words together in that order can bring about a wide variety of reactions from wargamers. For some, they hark too closely to the Marmite world of WFB, or the incomprehensible HotT.

Me, I used to love WFB when I were a kid. 3rd Edition. Bretonnians, when Bretonnians were basically HYW English/French with a wizard. Since those heady days, I've not played anything which required regiments of units, and the associated stuff that goes with it.

I've got some rules on the hard drive, including Pride of Lions. I've got some printed rules too, including WAB and WFB 3rd ed, and the aforementioned cryto-analyst's wet dream which is HotT. Closest I've come is my half-complete abandoned 10mm Napoleonic armies from Redline, and the now-sold 28mm early Saxon army from Musketeer.

Not played any of them though, mainly because I can't be bothered with painting several 'undred of basically the same miniature, to then spend an afternoon getting wound up over wheeling units, facings, charges, and so on.

However, I do miss the fun of pushing large armies around, and of course the visual aspect. So, on and off over the last few months, I've been hammering Song of Splintered Lands into something more suitable for mass battles. Rather than rebase everything, or buy a whole lot more SLM, I decided to utilise the large existing collection with sabot bases from (be prepared for a not very good website if you visit).

Dunno why they're called sabots. A sabot to me is a kinetic dart for use against armour, not a piece of laser cut wood. Anyway, bought 20 of the 3x2 for units of 6, for use in my cut-down SSL version.

Turned up to they did. Very nice, for the 80p each, and saves a lot of work. Just need to get the pumice gel out and get them to match the basing scheme. They'll also double for 15mm Dux Bellorum (or whatever it is Stuart bought).

Sharp, clean, cuts. Good price. Good services from warbases. Recommended.

Monday, 4 March 2013

Good Lord! It's the Tangent Sir!

The Tangent returns!

I went away, to a dark place called Cantbearsed where painting and playing with toy soldiers is very much verbotten. There I passed out of time, and probably space as well, until I became so bored, so demotivated, that I decided to ironically paint something.

Then I painted some more.

And a bit more.

Then, my latent wargamer reawakened, I bought some more shit I'll never finish painting.


66 Splintered Lands animals arrive soon from the former colony (the one with the really big boats and guns), and some more resin steampunk stuff for Dystopian Wars.

Meanwhile, here's a pic of me around christmas time, consulting with my inner meh on the subject of wargaming.