Friday, 26 December 2014

Making the most of cheap toy soldiers - Different schemes make different men!

The following 3 guys are from a bag of toy soldiers currently on sale in poundland, the reason I bought a large number of them is because, unlike most cheap toy soldiers they are pretty near heroic 28mm scale! The particular figure I'm using here is by far the best of the lot, and I wanted to test to see how different paint schemes could hide the fact that all 3 are the same model.

So from left to right we have: a member of a local militia, an officer of the NAPD which I think stands for National Police Department, and last of all a zombie solider.

 The paint jobs were very quickly done, although not 100% finished in the pictures. The zombie was the fastest as you could probably guess and the militia member took the longest.

I've found that because the figures in bags of cheap toy soldiers are so generically military, that they can be painted with almost any scheme and it looks as the figure was intended to be. A good example is the NAPD officer's ballistic vest, and his balaclava which are details that were simply painted on.

All three models are for use in a skirmish game/rpg I'm working on set in a post-societal collapse of America which was possibly caused by aliens. Each figure represents one of the main factions in the game, the militias, the police, a private army of reanimated corpses. There'll also be a mutant force, a sewer scum force and the plain old army force so look out for this same figure kitted out for each of those, with the mutant having a small amout of work done with milliput. Oh and the aliens which are currently under construction and do not use the cheap toy soldiers, but use something equally as cheap!

As always I hope you had a good Christmas, and thanks for stopping by!


Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Chicken Kroot

I just want to pick out a few more details and this guy is finished (I just don't currently have the paints).

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Super Toy Soldier Squad Alpha Rules

Each player has 5-10 miniatures, each miniature is given a command rating and a training level (conscript, regular and elite). One miniature on each side must have a greater command rating than all the rest on their own side, this is the leader.

At the beginning of the game both players roll off to determine who deploys first.
Each player deploys 1 miniature in turn anywhere on the table provided the miniature placed is not within LOS of any enemy miniature already deployed on the table.

Both players roll off again, this time adding the command rating of their leader, the winner gains the initiative for the turn.

Players pick up 1 die per miniature under their command (including the leader). Both players roll their dice. Dice are then attributed to miniatures with the player without the initiative placing their dice first.

Once all dice are attributed play begins.

Starting with all miniatures with a 1 attributed to them, the player with the initiative moves or shoots with their miniatures before the player without the initiative does so. Play then passes onto miniatures with a 2 attributed to them and so on up to 6.

When a miniature is activated it can either move or shoot.

Pick up 1 die for a conscript, 2 for a regular and 3 for an elite.

In order to perform the action roll the number of dice for your miniatures training level and you perform the action if you roll equal to or under the number on the die attributed to the miniature.

Any miniature activating at step 6 still fails on rolls of 6.

For example: An elite is activated at step 2 and chooses a shoot action, they pick up three dice and roll them, they succeed and hit the target if they manage to roll a 2 or less on any of their dice.

MOVING - If you succeed the miniature can move up to 4".

SHOOTING - Declare which miniature your miniature is firing on. If you succeed the miniature is hit. The miniature hit gets a saving roll if they are in cover from the perspective of the firing miniature - 3+ for cover from fire and 5+ for cover from view.

MELEE COMBAT - If your miniature moves into base contact with an enemy miniature they are allowed a free melee attack against the enemy miniature. If they are already in base contact with an enemy miniature they must perform a melee attack and can perform no other action until the other miniature is killed. Miniatures in melee combat can be fired at, but when the shot misses the attack is scored on the miniature in the melee not declared as the target. When a success is scored in melee combat the miniature hit is automatically killed.

Once step 6 is completed players roll for initiative again, roll and attribute dice again, and a new game turn begins at step 1.

MORALE - When a miniature is killed in combat it is replaced with a casualty figure. Casualty figures cannot be activated and the die for them is not rolled when rolling and attributing dice. For each casualty figure your side has the command rating of their leader is reduced by 1. When their command rating is reduced to a negative number the number counts as a modifier to the value needed to roll when activating your miniatures.

For example a side has taken 5 casualties and their leader has a command rating of 4. When rolling for initiative the leader gets a -1 modifier to their die roll. When a miniature on their side is activated at step 2 you need to roll a 1 or less instead of a 2 or less.

Miniatures will always activate on a roll of 1 regardless of the morale modifier.

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Randomly Generating Mythology: The Battle of Ixu

So this is something that I find intensely interesting, that is, Mythology, whether it's real or invented for the purposes of fleshing out a fantasy world I do love a good bit of Mythology.
Rather than inventing my own I wanted one to be generated infront of my eyes, and as I looked across the room I saw to one side an unopened box of Italeri Barbarian Warriors just the ticket! I opened the box and examined the sprues, and planning on gaming without painting I divided them up, I took one of each sword pose, and one of each axe pose, which amounted to two forces of 3 models each. I decided they were gods, and so I randomly generated their names using the name generation table, there was:
Axes - Tutok, Kuote, Ijoi.
Swords - Tuze, Keryx, Eyox.
They were all male, except for Kuote.
The battle was to decide whether the gods would carry swords or axes, swords to represent purity, heroism and nobility, axes to represent hard manual labour and a bond with the common man. The two groups of gods collided on the plains of Ixu.

The rules I used were fairly simple, each model has an experience rating - 3 for inexperience, 4 for regular and 5 for elite. Roll a no. of dice for each model equal to its experience. 1 die each of those rolled is attributed to - movement, combat and defense. You ignore any extra dice.
A game turn works in four phases - 1 roll and attribute dice, 2 movement, 3 combat, 4 health checks.
1) Roll 1D10 for each model, this determines order of attribution and activation in a phase. Then roll and attribute dice.
2) Move each model in turn upto a number of inches equal to their attributed movement die.
3) Each model fights in turn another model in base to base contact. Roll a number of dice equal to their combat value trying to beat the targets defense score. Each die that does so causes 1 point of damage. If a model is totalled (all its health points are lost during the combat phase) it is killed immediately and does not get to attack if it has not already done so.
4) Roll 1D10 for each model damaged this turn, if the die scores equal to or less than the amount of damage they have been dealt in the game so far the model is killed and removed from play.
That's all there is to it! I'll work in ranged attacks when I need to, but it shouldn't be too hard.

Here's a quick summary of the battle (appologies for the lack of pictures, but the camera isn't working, plus it was 6 italeri 1/72 barbarians, on pennies, on 6 scouring pads to represent a field, not much to look at!):
The gods charged each other, with Ijoi staying back from the fight. Tuze engages Kuote and Keryx engages Tutok. Tuze slashes Kuote with his sword, as she strikes him in the arm, both recoil in pain, Kuote coming out the worse. Meanwhile, Keryx lashes out at Tutok, catching him in the leg, but exposing himself to a blow from the two handed axe, it grazes him but not lightly and he backs off. Eyox tries to charge Ijoi on the right flank, but he backs away. Tutok follows Keryx as he flees. Before he can bring his axe to bear, Keryx lunges, forcing his blade through Tutok's chest, felling him. Ijoi and Kuote both retreat after seeing their companion killed. Kerxy, Tuze and Eyox all charge, trying to take advantage of the lapse in their enemies morale. Eyox and Ijoi strike ineffective blows against each other, while Kuote takes the initiative and charges Keryx. Not wanting to charge a woman from behind, Tuze opts to join Eyox and overpower Ijoi. While Kuote and Keryx parry each other's blows, Tuze and Eyox impail Ijoi, they watch as his body goes limp, and hits the dust. All three swordsmen surround Kuote, for a moment she considers falling on her own dagger, and not allowing the three men the satisfaction of killing her, but instead she focuses her mind, and readies herself for the fight of her life. She successfully protects herself through two joint attacks from the swordsmen, they come again, this time underestimating her abilities, and she decapitates Keryx. Eyox and Tuze look on in disbelief and attack again, with greater ferocity. She sees them off again, and the second time they come she buries her axe in Tuze's chest. Eyox retaliates but she sees him off once again. Kuote and Eyox lock eyes, in their fatigued state they know this will be their final charge. Eyox lunges, and this time Kuote is taken by surprise. He runs her through, and instead of letting her drop like the others, he lays her down and closes her eyes.

So why do all this?
Well as I've mentioned before, I enjoy writing as well as gaming, and for a long time I've thought about gaming the battles in my stories to get the outcome, rather than inventing the outcome. I'll properly write up the Battle of Ixu and use it as the foundation for a fantasy universe, in which all the battles will be gamed, in the hope that the combat will feel more real and dangerous than it does in other universes.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Balancing My Tabletop Skirmish Game

So I have my basic rule system, and twenty something fairly unique characters across five different factions, three main factions with six or seven characters and two factions in the very early stages development. I've played a good number of games solo, and am starting to discover what each faction has working for it, and where its weaknesses lie. Even though games usually run fairly close when you have an equal number of characters, it's fairly clear that some characters are devastatingly powerful, and make others look fairly 'meh', not that those characters aren't good in different ways, but some are just objectively better than others. This has turned my attention to developing the necessary evil of a points system, making those weaker characters more valuable because they free up points to be spent on other things.

But where to begin? What could I use as a starting base system, to then be tweaked by considering other variables?

A long time ago I was listening to a 40k podcast about tournament play, it was really interesting to see what tournament players valued in their various lists, two key factors kept popping up in the discussion, I'll call them damage output and damage absorbtion. Damage output is the number of wounds a unit is likely to cause when activated, damage absorbtion is the number of wounds a unit can take before it is killed. I thought if I can just calculate these two factors for each character in my game, and add them together, it should give me a good place to start, which I can then modify with movement, ranges of weapons and non-damaging special abilities later.

When a character activates in my game they follow a basic system of phases - special ability, shooting, movement, fighting. This means I can total up their basic damage output by totalling the average damage in each step. First up - 'The Lord of Bones', he's one of those hard as nails characters for my undead faction 'The Cabal'. His damage output would work as follows - Special abilities: The only damaging special ability he has is called 'Touch of Death' it's a power 5 (power is the number of D10s you roll) melee attack (meaning you roll those 5 D10s equal to or under the characters fight stat, which in this case is 8) which ignores armour. Since we're not considering armour because that would have to do with the opponents damage absorbtion it doesn't really apply here. To use touch of death the Lord of Bones has to pass a special test, rolling equal or under his 'special' value of 6 on 1D10. To work out the output of this ability I'll multiply 5 by 0.8 (his fight stat), and multiply that by 0.6 (his special stat, using a D10 system sure makes this easy!). My total is 2.4, I won't drop the 4 right away rounding down to 2, I want everything really raw to begin with. After using a special ability the character would shoot, the Lord of Bones has no ranged attacks, plus to use Touch of Death he'd need to be in base to base contact so we can forget shooting. He'd then move which we're not considering yet, plus he wouldn't really want to anyway, because he's already in base to base! Finally the fight phase. The Lord of Bones has a power 8 melee attack, against his fight stat of 8, so let's multiply 8 by 0.8, giving us 6.4, a total damage output of 10.8 for the activation.

Now let's consider his damage absorbtion (which is far easier!). The Lord of Bones has an armour of 8 and a health of 12. Lets say 10 hits are scored, those dice are picked up and rolled against his armour, any that exceed it causing 1 point of damage each. Which works out to 1 in 5 dice scoring 1 point of damage on average. Meaning a total of 60 hits would need to be scored to score 12 points of damage. So his damage absorbtion is 60, plus his damage output of 10.8, gives us 70.8 so far. Let's use this same system to total another character: The Demon Slayer and see how he compares.

The Demon Slayer is one of those tougher characters, but is fairly weak against the Lord of Bones, mainly because the Demon Slayer's power comes from his high power melee attack and decent armour, meaning to use his greatest strength he exposes himself to being attacked in melee by the Lord of Bones and his armour ignoring Touch of Death. The Demon Slayer's only damage causing ability is 'Holy Weapon' this gives a +2 to his fight stat when fighting Demons, for now I won't consider this ability at all, there is only one Demon in the game, so it's unlikely to have a great effect just yet. The Demon Slayer like the Lord of Bones has no ranged attack, so we'll move straight onto his melee attack - power 9 fight 7 (9x0.7) gives us a damage output of 6.3. The Demon Slayer's damage absorbtion however would be a little harder to calculate. He has an ability known as Protective Aura, which means when damage is caused against him he ignores the first point of it. I won't consider this yet however, because it's brought to my attention a few other issues with a points system. Not only do I need to consider the likelihood of a character making their special ability test, I also need to consider the likelihood a player would choose that ability to use in the first place, which really comes down to what kind of player is using the character and what specific situation the character is in. For example an ability like 'Holy Weapon' would be invaluable in a game where the enemy are almost entirely demons, however when no demons are available it would be useless. I think variables like that can only be worked out through playtesting, so for now lets just work out his base damage absorbtion. Armour 7, Health 12. So 3 in 10 hits cause damage, (12x10=120, 120/3=40) giving us a base damage absorbtion of 40, plus the damage output of 6.3 gives us a total points cost of 46.3.

Now just for my own benefit, here are most of my characters all pointed up, and a note as to whether the costing is too low or too high:
The Demon Slayer 46.3
The Bishop 25.5 low
The Paladin 49.6
The Sword Sister 25
The Spear Sister 25
The High Guardsman 20.5

Security Sciences
MK1 HMG Killbot 26.2 low
MK2 HMG Killbot 35.7
MK2 Inferno Killbot 35.7
MK2 Killbot Sergeant 32.2 low
Sniper 24.3 low
Mechanic 26.1

The Lord of Bones 70.8
The Blood Knight 85.6 way too high, should be Paladin/ Demon Slayer level
The Fallen Knight 41.1
The Necromancer 22 low
The Gargoyle 79.8 way too high
Giggles the Dead Jester  19.5 low

It seems damage output/absorbtion is not the only thing to consider in this game. The Gargoyle and Blood Knight are good examples of this kind of thinking blowing their abilities way out of proportion. The Gargoyle has an ability known as 'Turn to Stone', this means when dammaged, if the gargoyle passes a special test, and you spend enough action tokens on him to activate him he turns to stone negating all damage done against him. His special is 5, and from experience I've always had enough action tokens to pull off his ability, especially when coupled with a character with the 'Command' ability, so I went with his base stat. So, 50 percent of the time you can't kill him, and 50 percent of the time you can, I went with the maximum 120, his health multiplied by 10, and then his absorbtion if he never managed to pull of his ability 30, and averaged them giving me a total absorbtion of 75, a Paladin and a half, or Demon Slayer and a half, the very model designed to kill him!

There's still a lot more to consider, more characters to cost, and more on the way in the post!

Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, 10 October 2014

New Recruits for my 'New Earth Engine' Factions

So I settled on the name New Earth Engine as at least the working title for my skirmish game. Here are some new recruits:
For the Orthodoxy...
The Demon Slayer, a melee nightmare, who predictably specialises in dispatching demons.
The Spear Sister, a kickass nun who works well at range and in melee.
The Sword Sister, another kickass nun, similar to the spear sister, but more powerful close up.
Finally a member of the High Guard, the regular military arm of the Orthodoxy, he's light on his feet and best at range.
Next up Security Sciences...
The Sniper, who, as you would imagine, is best picking people off from afar.
The Agent, imagine James Bond, he's lightly armed and barely armoured, but can seriously screw with your plans and oddly is tough to kill.
Finally, in the tradition of SS Killbots, the HMGbot.
Last of the new recruits, for the Lamented...
The Gargoyle, who is quick, deadly in hand to hand, and if he feels like he's taking to much heat can always turn back to stone to negate any damage.
Here are the three factions in totality so far...
The Orthodoxy
 Security Sciences
 The Lamented
Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, 29 September 2014

Playtesting the 'Anything Goes' Sci-Fi/Fantasy Skirmish Game

So I've recently been more serious about my home-brew rulesets and have actually been buying miniatures and play-testing things. Because my mind is a constant mess of deciding on whether to go Fantasy/Sci-Fi/Historical I decided to produce a skirmish game that allowed for all, and not only that, but that also had rules simple and direct enough that people brand new to gaming could easily get their heads around it.

Don't worry too much about fluff for now, but I'll just say the game actually takes place within a virtual world (kinda like the matrix) which allows for odd things, like a knights armour withstanding SMG fire! Here are the two forces I play tested today:
An Allied force of Orthodoxy and Security Sciences.

The Bishop - A powerful Magic user.
The Killbot Sergeant - Agile and good at range.
The Inferno Killbot - Armed with a Flame Thrower.
The Paladin - A tough as nails close combat specialist.
The Brawling Mechanic - Good in hand to hand and able to fix the killbots.
 The opposing force - The Lamented
The Necromancer - Another powerful Magic user.
The Young Vampire - Agile and deadly.
The Blood Knight - The toughest Warrior in play, and with a few screws loose.
The Fallen Knight - The third toughest Warrior in play, who occasionally lapses back into his noble ways.
The Dead Jester - Capable of causing organ rupturing laughter.
The table (2'x2') is simply set up with a good spread of terrain features, since board edges are randomly determined you want to keep things even, or you may fall prey to your own traps! Once both players are happy with the terrain objectives are placed alternately, there is 1 objective in the game per miniature, I was playing out a 5 vs 5 so there are 10 objectives, with 5 on the table at the beginning of the game. To keep things really tense the objectives are not designated a number of points but are added to your objective dice pool, which at the end of the game is rolled, with the winner being the player that rolls highest. You will lose 1 die from that pool each time one of your miniatures is killed. The five objectives on the table are placed alternately and must be at least 6" apart (rolling off to see who places the first), again you want an even spread because starting board edges have not been rolled for yet, so you don't want to shoot yourself in the foot. Board edges are then rolled for - a player rolls 1D10 (it doesn't matter which, roll off for it if you want) going clockwise from any board edge - 1,2 = first board edge, 3,4 = second, 5,6 = third, 7,8 = fourth and if a 9 or 10 is rolled the opposing player chooses the edge. The player rolls and gets the edge rolled for. The opposing player does the same (re-rolling if they get the edge already taken). The first player rolls again for the remaining two edges. Then the game begins - miniatures do not begin on the table but move in from one of the board edges of their controlling player. The game is over when all the models on one side have been killed, or all the objectives have been claimed.

Here's the game after the first player turn. The Orthodoxy and SS have the right hand edge and the bottom edge, the Lamented have the top and left hand edges. The SS Killbot Sergeant has moved in from the right hand edge.
 Each player is given 2 action tokens per model, when they want to activate a model they spend action tokens to do so. The first time a model is activated it costs 1 action token, from then on each activation costs the number of action tokens already spent on the model. Once both players have spent as many action tokens as they are able the game turn is over, they get all their action tokens back and a new game turn begins. When a model is activated it goes through 4 phases - 1) Special Abilities 2) Shooting 3) Running 4) Fighting, you can claim an objective if you are in base contact with it instead of performing a special ability. I'm aware 'phase' systems aren't too popular, however I have found they are great for first time players or people entirely new to this kind of gaming. Combat is designed to be simple and decisive - each weapon has a range and power, and you can only use ranged weapons if an enemy is not in base to base contact. Pick up a number of D10s equal to the power of the weapon and roll them, you're aiming to roll equal to or under your relevant stat - fight for melee and shoot for ranged attacks. The dice that hit are then re-rolled - this time attempting to roll higher than your targets armour, each dice that rolls higher causes 1 point of damage. Models usually can take between 8 and 12 points of damage before they are killed.
The Dead Jester moves in from the left hand edge.
The Orthodox Paladin moves in from the bottom edge, and the Jester moves into base contact with the objective.
The Inferno Killbot runs in from the right getting into base contact with the top right objective, and the Necromancer runs in from the left to get near the top left objective.
The Killbot Sergeant claims the bottom right objective and dashes for the centre.
The an objective is claimed a new one is placed by the opposing player anywhere in play provided it is at least 6 inches from any objective currently in play. Here a new objective had been placed on the far left, and the Young Vampire has run on to claim it.
The Paladin uses an ability called 'Smite' on the Dead Jester, and then shoots magical energy from his sword, and then charges in and attacks him from behind with a devastating strike, in total scoring 5 damage, the Dead Jester only has 3 health remaining.
The Fallen Knight lumbers in from the left and attempts to cause the Paladin some harm, but alas, his armour is just too good!
The Blood Knight moves in from the top and takes some fire from the Inferno Killbot, who then inturn is wounded by the Magical attacks of the Necromancer.
The Blood Knight continues his charge and the Inferno makes a hasty retreat, no point dying and losing the objective he just claimed.
On the left the vampire leaves the objective behind an tries to put pressure on the centre, and not pictured is the Bishop moving on from the right.
The Fallen Knight fails his special ability test and 'lapses into nobility' unfortunately for the Lamented this means he charges the nearest Vampire or Necromancer and tries to kill them.
Here's the table at the end of the first full game turn.
With the Mechanic still not in play the Inferno retreats further from the Blood Knight hoping the Mechanic can get on and heal him in time.
The Dead Jester attempts to do harm to the Paladin, but again his armour is too strong.
The Bishop smites the Blood Knight and moves into cover from the Necromancer.
The Vampire moves nearer to the centre, putting pressure on the objective.
The Mechanic moves in on the bottom right, near enough to heal the Killbot and claim an objective, but he can't do either on the turn he comes in.
The Dead Jester attempts to flee the Paladin...
But fails.
The Inferno is felled by a Magical attack from the Necromancer.
The Killbot Sergeant moves into the central objective.
The Vampire charges it too and a fight ensues.
On the far left the Necromancer is throwing everything he's got at the Paladin...
But can't stop him getting near the objective.
The Blood Knight makes a move on the right.
I forgot to take a couple of pics here, but it seems the Killbot Sergeant claimed the central objective and then backed off from the vampire, the Blood Knight loomed even closer, and the Mechanic claimed the bottom right objective.
Here's an image showing the two new objectives - another one in the centre and another top middle.
On the left the Paladin has claimed the objective and is caught between the Necromancer and Fallen Knight. This spelled the end of the second full game turn.
In the centre the Killbot Sergeant made a dash between the Blood Knight and the Vampire, putting pressure on the central and top mid objectives.
But on the left the Paladin is felled by the Necromancer.
The Vampire gives chase.
Leaving the central objective open for the Bishop to claim.
The Vampire beats the Killbot to the objective, and readies for a fight.
The Bishop attempts to cause as much damage on the Blood Knight as possible, but with his high armour and invulnerability special ability little damage is caused.
The Necromancer opens up on the Bishop...
And a Magical shootout begins. From this point on the Lamented were way behind, their new strategy being to hold onto the final objective and kill as many enemies as possible reducing their opponents objective dice pool, before claiming the final objective and ending the game.
Top mid the Vampire claims the top mid objective and charges into the Killbot.
The game turn ends with a bloody duel between the Mechanic and the Blood Knight, both are battered.
With death looming for both the Mechanic and Blood Knight, the Bishop attempts to use armour ignoring Magic to bring the Blood Knight down...
But he misses allowing the Blood Knight to deliver the final killing blow to the Mechanic.
The Bishop fires again, this time hitting his mark and bringing down the frenzying Knight.
The Necromancer, feeling all is lost, claims the final objective, the one he sat on for most of the game. I could have played on, hoping the Vampire, Fallen Knight and Necromancer could bring down the remaining Killbot and Bishop, but I ran out of time.
A blurry pic of the models still in play at the end.
The two objective dice pools are rolled scoring a clear victory for the combined forces of the Orthodoxy and Security Sciences.
The play test went really well, and was also really enjoyable, I was consistently presented with tough, game changing decisions to make and it really held my attention; which is especially good, since although I was playing solo, I wasn't playing a solo game. Also despite there being no points system to speak of (because I'n in the really early stages of play testing) the game really came down to the wire, had I had more time, who knows what the outcome might have been.

Thanks for stopping by!