Thursday, March 21, 2013

Vikings are the New Pirates!

Remember a few years back when Pirates of the Caribbean movies were all the rage? In the microcosm of miniature wargaming, piratical miniature battles also gained additional table-love. Like many, I painted a small band when one of the local groups started a skirmish campaign using Legends of the High Seas.

And now it’s time for the Vikings to take center stage! How do I know this? 

  • Several sets of Dark Ages/Vikings rules have been or shall soon be released, and even some older ones re-released.
  • New Viking figures are being produced in metal and plastic.
  • The History Channel has a scripted miniseries on the topic: Vikings. *UPDATE*: A second season of 10 episodes has been ordered!
  • How to Train Your Dragon (2010) - a CGI children's movie about Vikings with Scottish accents learning to live with dragons - spawned a successful TV show, Dragons: Riders of Berk, and a second movie is in the works for release in 2014. 
  • Inexpensive lots of Viking miniatures have disappeared from eBay and other online markets, only to be replaced by packs of new figures at retail prices or unimpressively painted, used armies.
  • The cover of the flyer from the Miniature Figure Collectors of America has Vikings on the cover.

Coincidence? I think not!

I’m quite happy about this because it’s always been a period of interest, with four painted warbands already in the collection. Yes, being ahead of a miniature wargaming trend is an odd experience.

Modified a set of simple rules for Viking skirmishing a couple years back that are fun, fast and FREE: RAVENFEAST - newly updated, version 1.2. Sample stats that are given were designed for ease of play at conventions, but rules for designing your own troops are included. Remember: these are not the legions of Rome; they’re Scandinavian farmers behaving badly!

I was fortunate enough to run a driftage rights skirmish at the local club a couple weeks back which inspired painting another two basic warbands (in the works) and then expanding them all. Also need to make up a serviceable farmstead for raiding and burning.

Any suggestions on a good online how-to for thatched rooves on wargaming buildings?

Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

VOID RACERS: the Second Playtest!

And this is slightly after where we all made it through the first gate and promptly flew off the edge of the mat!

Got together with a few members of the local club and had another go at Void Racers. And, boy!, did we go. Right off the mat. Inertia does, indeed, fight you both tooth and nail. 

This was a four player game around a new course: a simple loop with 3 numbered gates. As can be seen in the photo at the top, a few gas clouds were added to grant cover but not imperil movement as they act like stationary, perpetual smoke clouds.

All 4 racers made it out of the starting gate at maximum acceleration. The next turn we all crossed the firing line; mayhem ensued. So far, so good.

Here's where the education started. It had been discovered that speed was a form of cover, so going faster (at least twice as fast as your nearest opponent) was better than going slower. Everyone increased their speed. We all blasted through the first gate.

It was at this point that Newton bitch-slapped us. Unable to generate enough thrust - or temporarily unable to control our racers due to a critical hit - we discovered that the universe may be infinite, but felt game mats are not. Eventually, we made it back on course (see what I did there?) and dropped our speeds. 

Then the body-count started to climb. Weapons fire and critical hits took their toll on our racers. By the passing of the third gate, there was only one racer left.

Things learned:

Like all proper, old school wargames, clipboards were required!

There was the desirable effect of players having to choose between lining up an attack, or favorably positioning themselves for their next movement phase.

The race course will be surrounded by a energy barrier that allows errant racers to return to the race though at very low speeds. Have to see if this will be abused.

The dogfighting aspect of the game seems to be working, but the racing portion still need some tweaking, as it's proving far too deadly. Simple solution: there will be two levels of play - racing and dogfighting. Instead of inflicting damage, racing will use the same rules and weapons for combat, but the damage will be nonlethal and short-lived. Thrust points instead of structure points will be lost for a turn, and critical hits will temporarily disable random systems. Combat will still have a part in the race, but racing shall be what wins the game.

And, yes, we're still using counters. The miniatures are on the assembly table.

Thanks for stopping by!