Tuesday, 16 June 2015

The Ion Age Project Update

200 30mm x 30mm square bases arrived just yesterday, some of which I am turning into bases, and testing my idea for the ultimate Ion Age board.

The idea as I outlined in my previous post was to glue the bases to 30mm washers available on the cheap from Wilkinsons and hopefully that will be enough to hold the individual squares to some magnetic craft sheeting which I'm still waiting for. If that fails to work I'll try adding some stronger magnets to the underside of the bases, and if that fails, I'll have to glue them down.

So either way, on to decorating the bases. The tiles for the Ion Age game are mostly concrete blocks, dumpsters, piles of rubble and futuristic vehicles. I've just got theories at the moments but I'm hoping to cast some of the concrete blocks using plaster and a rubber ice cube container. Rubble can then be produced by breaking up some of those blocks, mixing that with cat litter and throwing in bits of sprue and broken match sticks. Dumpsters should be easy enough but I'm not sure how good they'll look, so I'll look into the commercially available options, and finally the futuristic vehicles, possibly the hardest option, but I think I've found at least something:

I'll check back after the magnetic sheets arrive and I've done some tests.

Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

An Approach to Solo Gaming

An idea hit me the other day, an idea which was so very simple but made a lot of sense. I've read through a lot of Solo Systems recently and they all have one thing in common.They are two player systems with a Solo System bolted on, this is not new, in fact I have said this before on this very blog. But what does this mean? It means you play the two player game but when your opponents turn starts you let the solo mechanics play out their turn with a little bit of your help. This leads to a system with an inevitably inferior AI opponent, unless by some sheer unimaginable level of luck the AI opponent does exactly what would be right to do at every opportunity. But you can see the problem can't you? Computers struggle to beat humans in games of strategy and tactics due to our innate ability to recognise patterns without having to check all the data and permutations. So why would we think a deck of cards or a few dice rolls would manage anything close?

My previous solution was to remove contact time with the rules, since the major drag of solo gaming was not having two memories to remember all the rules and stats. I did this by producing or attempting to produce a system that had no visible statistics. It was fast, but over simplistic. But the theory stands. Why play an inferior AI opponent when you are the most well balanced opponent you could possibly face? Also that way you also get the pleasure of twice the game, since you play both sides. There is only one flaw to this idea, that beating yourself isn't much fun. The competitive side to all of us would never get its kicks.

A second solution, which is an important stepping stone to where my thinking is now, is to take that simple streamlined system but up the challenge in terms of the games restrictions on the player. My thinking is here, that in some war games, often the better ones, you actually have two opponents. Not just the opposing player but also the game itself. So to produce a solo game that works you could shrink the amount of opposition the opponent gives and up the opposition the game gives. For example rather than going with a simple alternate activation system why not make it so you have to play cards from a hand to activate units. Meaning you'll need to manage your hand well if you want to activate the right units at the right time. A simple system I used for a game of Dinosaur combat involved using cards to activate Dinosaurs. Each Dino had a suit, and each section of the map did too. If the card you played matched the Dino's suit and also the section of the map it was in it got three action points, if the card matched either the Dino's suit or the section's but not both you got two action points, if the card matched neither you got one action point. Cards were then also used in combat, the higher the card the better it was. So before you can think about tackling that AI across the table you have to battle with the hand you've got, do you play that card that will get you three action points or hold on to it since its high value will help you out in combat? Increase the challenge the game presents in and of itself before you look to your opponent. Play both sides have twice the fun? Well not quite, because the previous adage still stands - beating yourself isn't much fun.

I certainly felt like I was on to something though. The major problem with the idea as it stood was that the more emphasis the game put on having you battle it instead of battling your opponent the more strain that put on our AI when it came to its turn. How was the AI supposed to decide on which card to play if the game was set up to challenge a human mind? As a side note here, I had an idea for a smartphone app that acted as the AI opponent. We've all got little computers in our pockets that could easily play against us, they do frequently in strategy games, why not utilise them? Especially for games that are grid based - Ion Age Firefight, Deadzone, Dreadball that abstract movement and ranges to squares or hexes. That with a simple overhead view of the map on the app you could fulfill all your AI opponent Solo Gaming needs. But I'm a little bit of a purist. I'm still obsessed with the idea of creating a system that you can play solo, feel like you've actually overcome something that isn't just yourself again and only uses the dice and tapemeasures we're used to. Afterall if you need a smartphone how are you supposed to solo game in the post apocalyptic world?

"Suppose I should look into solo gaming..."
 So here was the idea that hit me: to stop thinking about your solo opponent as a solo opponent. Don't make them just another player - the major flaw in systems that bolt the solo game on afterwards. And to think, by not making the AI opponent just another player it also means you don't need to see where their figures are at all times. By solo gaming you can actually play a game with real fog of war. So what if, and here's a very basic idea soon to be fleshed out, you have a deck of cards, some of the cards signify enemy units, some random objectives or equipment, and some are simply blank. These are then attributed randomly to grid squares (maybe not totally randomly, but in such a way that it is more likely an enemy would appear behind cover rather than out in the open). When a unit of yours moves in such a way that it gains line of sight to a grid square, or that a grid square is able to draw line of sight to your unit, reveal the card given to that square. If it's an enemy unit they open fire, or maybe if they're out of range or have no ranged ability they move using cover towards the unit they just saw. Enemy units always shoot when able or moving towards your units if they're out of range or can't shoot, but will prioritise getting to cover if they are caught out in the open. While you struggle to activate units maybe using a hand of cards, the AI opponent is allowed to cheat, activating whatever they need to when you move into line of sight regardless of the number of units that is. You have your men turn a corner and spot a number of enemy units with their pants down in a town square, they will all move for cover as they would in reality, it's up to you which you shoot at.

As I said hopefully things will get fleshed out in the future, but I'm off to get married so not for a little while just yet.

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, 25 May 2015

Ion Age Touch Ups

So getting going on the project I posted about yesterday, I decided to touch up the figures I already had. Here's what I had already:
A pretty basic, kind of dull paint job. And after a little while of working at it I came up with this:
I'm migrating them from the plastic bases to washers, but aside from that I've gone with blue trousers with a yellow stripe down the outside of the leg, yellow shoulder pads, and I've added a good few highlights to the reds to really bring them out.
I am a really big fan of that yellow stripe. I'll check back once they're all done and based, and while I'm working on that I'll think about how I can touch up the Knights.

Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, 24 May 2015

The Ion Age Firefight Project to End All Ion Age Firefight Projects

I've had a hankering to paint some Ion Age figures for a while now, and I've had my eye on some of the Legion Pioneers, which have been on my to buy list for a very long time. To go with this all a plan has been brewing to build a completely modular and three dimensional Firefight terrain set. The first step is to cover a flat and hard surface with magnetic sheeting, the second step is to mount 30mm square MDF tiles to washers, texturing the other side with sand, rubble or placing on various items of cover. The hope being that the magnetic sheeting will hold the washer tiles in place well enough for a game to be played on top. I could even make destroyed versions of certain terrain pieces to really go to town! I haven't forgotten my Retained House of Kroy and am hoping to put them into action against some Khanate scum.

So experiments will be under way in the coming weeks, but I do have to get married first and go on a honeymoon...

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, 4 May 2015

Randomness and the Solo Experience

I've found that the most rewarding Solo Experience I have ever had has been using a system of rules I constructed myself. I'm not saying this to blow my own trumpet, because when it comes to rules mechanics and my ability to design new ones or choose existing ones and form those into a coherent gaming experience, it is entirely random as to whether the experience is fun or a dull drudge. This is not true for all would be designers, but as I am a full on amateur and in many ways a beginner it is more true for me. So I was simply reflecting upon a rule system I created, and my experience of gaming it, the fun I had, and then trying to work out why that system was more engaging than the plethora of other systems I have cobbled together. One thing kept coming to the surface, it was the central dice mechanic of the game, and how unpredictable that dice mechanic was.

Here's that mechanic word for word from my notes:

Pick up a number of dice equal the attackers attack value.
Pick up a number of dice equal to the defenders defence value. Include 1 die per complete 6” between the attacker and the target, and a number of dice equal to any cover.
Roll both pools of dice. Each die rolled by the defender cancels all the dice of that same number rolled by the attacker.
The number of dice left in the attackers dice pool is the number of hits.

Try to predict the outcome percentage wise, especially when larger volumes of dice are rolled. I'm fairly good at maths, but I realise this is beyond what my mathematical ability will allow.

Hit allocation then worked as follows:
Pick up a number of dice equal to the target units Agility value. And roll for each miniature in the unit in turn in any order you choose. Each roll that matches a value in the dice hit pool causes 1 hit on the miniature rolled for and removes 1 die of that value from the hit pool. Once all miniatures in the unit have been rolled for ignore any dice remaining in the hit dice pool.

Not only is it tough to predict the number of hits caused on a unit, it's then tough to predict which miniatures in a unit will take hits, and the hits they take will be randomly determined. To make sure things aren't a constant stale mate the maximum number of dice either side can roll in combat is 10.

For close combat both sides roll a pool of dice and hits are any unique values rolled between sides, for example, a 6 rolled by side A will block all 6s rolled by side B and vice versa. Hits are then allocated as with shooting. Again remembering the maximum number of dice that can be rolled is 10.

I've found myself in the past just statting up two forces putting them in base to base contact and fighting bouts of close combat to see who comes out victorious, and with close combat the way the dice work really make it feel like the two sides are going at it.

I'm hoping to expand this mechanic out to form the basis of my full solo system.

Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, 5 April 2015

A Different Dice Mechanic

Yesterday the other half and I took a nice walk through a place in North Devon known as 'The Valley of Stones' which was rather beautiful, and I thought would be a pretty amazing challenge for terrain makers. Afterwards we stopped off at a local pub for a nice lunch. Throughout the pub were book cases, packed with all kinds of strange tomes. I grabbed one simply titled 'Time Lord' and discovered to my amazement, it was a rulebook for a Doctor Who role playing game (wiki page, including a full download of the book: ).

The first thing I do whenever I pick up a new rulebook for anything is to check the basic dice rolling mechanic behind the game. More interesting was that this RPG had a mechanic I had never seen before. You have a set score you need to get from 0-5 to perform an action, and to determine if you make it, you roll 2D6 and subtract the lower value rolled from the higher. I started thinking about the applications of such a mechanic and realised that it was rather ingenious, the only downside probably being that a range of 0-5 probably isn't large enough for any serious RPG, but you could try it with say D10s or maybe, if you're fast at mental math, D20s.

Just a small thought.
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Wednesday, 1 April 2015

A Basic Rundown of The Mechanics for My Solo Skirmish Wargame

Each troop type has a number of tokens, these tokens are the same as the troop type’s stats. For example a unit with speed 4, shoot 4 and close combat 3 will have 4 speed tokens, 4 shoot tokens and 3 close combat tokens. The tokens for every unit are then placed in a bag or cup, and mixed together.
One player draws a token from the bag, and the token is then immediately resolved. For example Bill draws a speed token for the Orthodox Sword Sisters. Each Sword Sister still in play is then allowed to move up to 4”.
A move is always 4” unless a special rule states otherwise, this is because speed is determined by the number of tokens a troop type has, not the distance it moves each time it performs a move action. You can apply effects to movement such a rough terrain costing half movement etc.
A hit is scored on a 4+. Each model has a choice between firing upon its nearest enemy model in cover or its nearest enemy model in the open, unless the nearest enemy model is in the open in which case that model must be fired upon. Models in cover will be hit on a 5+ or a 6+, but this is determined by the cover they are in. For models to be in cover they must be obscured from the firing model by half or greater. When a model is hit they lose 1 shield point.
A melee or close combat attack is performed when two opposing models are in base to base contact and one of their close combat tokens are drawn. A model causes a hit on another when they roll a 4+. If a model moves out of base to base contact the other model is allowed an immediate free attack (meaning a token doesn’t have to be drawn) against them which hits as normal on a 4+. When a model is hit they lose 1 shield point. If a model is not in base contact with another they may perform a move action instead, but this move action must be towards the nearest enemy model.

If a model is hit and is reduced to 0 shield points it is killed. When all tokens have been drawn from the bag the turn is over, all tokens are returned to the bag, all models’ shield points are fully restored and a new turn begins.

There will also be a number of special rules,but these have not yet been decided upon and potentially a magic system that works the same way as my previous solo game idea - there will be an additional stat for magic. When a magic token is drawn you put it to one side. When another magic token is drawn, or the turn has reached its end, you must declare what you want to do with your stored magic. Your opponent then declares an equivalent action. Pick up a number of dice equal to your stored tokens and roll them, on a single 6 your action is performed, on a roll of no 6s the opponents action is performed. You cannot combine the stored magic of multiple troop types, each troop type uses their magic individually.

Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, 15 March 2015

How I paint power armour

I was messing around with techniques for painting power armour and I think I've stumbled upon a winner which looks pretty good and takes little time/effort. It's not an unknown technique just one I haven't used before.
First you base the mini in whatever black you use normally. Then apply a complete drybrush of grey, and on top of that a drybrush of white. What you want is a version of your finished mini if it was in greyscale instead of colour. Then using the tamiya clear range of paints I apply colour over the top, and paint anything that would be metallic. Finally the whole thing gets a brown wash, is varnished and based. Here's the result on a space marine I had lying around:

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Sunday, 8 March 2015

Why aren't there more percentile systems?

A while ago I posted a little something about how I handle mass rolling of 2D6 without resorting to coloured pairs of dice, this was mainly due to my attempts to play Laserburn Imperial Commander. It only just dawned on me today however that you can do the exact same with 2D10 rather than 2D6, and 2D10 can be read no just as a result from 2-20, but as from 1-100. You could have the large skirmish style game (usual 40k levels of figures) based on a percentile dice system. So I suppose the question is then - is results from 1-100 necessary for a game when if you want to go really high you can get your hands on a D20?

D100 can seem a little overkill, but I suppose with that extra granularity you get granularity in your stats and real room to have characters or units improve in a campaign. Just a thought I had, having realised I haven't posted in a long while.

Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Old School Sci-Fi Figures

I often think about how privileged we are in the war gaming world to have almost any figure we could possibly want available online for purchase. But I wondered what you would have done a good long time ago if you wanted an army of space marines? So I set myself a little modelling challenge of coming up with a way of producing a science fiction force using only what would have been available to the gamer in the early years of the hobby.

So after a bolt of inspiration I grabbed a handful of 1/72 WW2 figures, and a box of 'map pins' and did the following:

Not sure if anyone ever did do this, but it works for me, and they do have a certain charm. Now to create an opposing force and find a rules system to use.

Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, 13 February 2015

The Elusive Tactical Retreat

I've been thinking up rules which is usually all I think about apart from Theology, and this week I've been struggling with the idea of the tactical retreat.

It seems, in my experience anyway, what the tactical retreat really only works within the campaign game. Other wise you're always working your forces down to the bone, only the mission matters regardless of the cost, which isn't at all realistic. Troops are either destroyed or hang around until their morale breaks and they flee... there may well be a point at which you pull some men back from a position a small tactical retreat if you will, but I'm talking about a force wide retreat off the table of troops that are not fleeing in fear, and for good reason. It's something that happens a lot in real wars, but again on the table top is unlikely unless your trying to save troops for a mission later on in a campaign.

So how can we replicate this on a tabletop in a stand alone game?

Kings of War game me an idea. In Kings of War there are three outcomes to a game you can win, lose or draw. The margin of the draw is quite large however, so one player can have earned more points than another, quite a few in fact, but the game still counts as a draw.

Say you're getting battered by your opponents force, and you know that very soon he'll have so many more points than you that it will be a win for him and a lose for you. What if by making that tactical retreat, you can force a draw?

Just a thought. Plus I'm thinking it's better to reward players more points for taking prisoners and less for killing people... just so we can have less blood baths and more ethical gaming (assuming you treat your prisoners well).

Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, 7 February 2015

The Colour of Paraguayan Uniforms?

So the Osprey has come through in the post and I have embarked on more serious reading regarding the Chaco War. But after a basic flick through I've got a conundrum...
The Paraguayan Infantry I have already painted were colour wise based on this image:
It's the front cover of the Osprey as I found it on google images, the Paraguayan Infantryman being the man in the centre (if you hadn't already guessed). One thing the Osprey has inside is lots of actual photographs of soldier during the war and a number of images of Paraguayan Infantry. One such image (not in the Osprey but which emphasises my point) is:
Now I'm not sure if it's a trick of the light or camera, or if there is a point in the Osprey I haven't yet gotten to, but the majority of the images I can find of Paraguayans would lead me to believe that their uniforms are infact, at least in the majority far lighter than the cover of the Osprey would lead you to believe. One of the few images I found to the contrary was this one:
But I would still say the uniforms are a few shades lighter than the Osprey, and there's a fair few lighter shirts and trousers dotted around. So maybe it's closer to the truth to paint my troops in a much lighter yellow-green as opposed to the olive (castellan green) I was using.

Just a thought, thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, 5 February 2015

The Chaco War Project

My wargaming 'hipsterness' has reached new heights in that I'm now planning on doing a Chaco War project... a war which has fairly little information out there in the various aisles of the internet, at least information in English. So I bought my first Osprey, and through looking at pictures on google images realised I had a few relatively useful miniatures in my 'random miniatures I bought with no intention of actually using' box. A while back I grabbed a few of EM4's civil war figures, one set of Confederates and one set of Union. Browsing google I realised while not perfect there were enough similarities between Paraguayan infantry in the Chaco war and EM4's confederates that I painted some up as such. Here's how that went: 
 After a layer of PVA because the plastic is more like vinyl and Nato Black from Tamiya. I also cut the bayonet of off the end of the rifle.
 The base colours.
 A wash of Agrax Earthshade.
 Sand on the integral base.
The base was painted with Tamiya Khaki and finally the whole figure was lightly drybrushed with Ushabti Bone, a process I have heard called 'dusting'.

I'm looking at more conversions, such as turning the Union figures into Bolivian Infantry, but only time will tell on that one! I'm also looking at scratch-building some Vickers MGs so more on the Chaco War project in the future!

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

When a game is obviously a game it's a problem

If you regularly have a peek at what I'm up to you'll usually see that I'm tweaking or working on rules, in fact this is probably the main way my hobby expresses itself in my day to day life. When I'm not thinking about rules I'm usually painting models and listening to podcasts, my favourite of which is Meeples and Miniatures. The reason I love this podcast so much is because, as you may have guessed already if you've ever heard the show is how in depth they go into the rules mechanics of certain games. In the Meeples and Miniatures spin-off podcast View From the Veranda the host Neil and Henry Hyde of Miniature Wargames fame were discussing the difference between 'gaming' and 'wargaming', 'gamers' and 'wargamers'. The 'wargamer' being the one more concerned with historical plausability and realism as opposed to cool mechanics, and the 'gamer' being all about the mechanics as an end in themselves rather than a means to an end. My thoughts on this distinction came to a head while watching a demo game of Bolt Action from Warlord Games on the Beasts of War youtube channel. Bolt Action has been called by many the 40k of the historical hobby, which makes a lot of sense when you consider the minds behind it, and isn't necessarily a bad thing (although I'm sure some mean it that way). Bolt Action has at it's core a mechanic to randomise unit activations. There is a central bag of dice into which is added a die per unit on both sides. When a die is drawn a unit activates the colour of the die determining which side it belongs to. I drew a grey die so the Germans activate, next I drew a green die so the Americans activated a unit, so on and so forth, with each unit only activating once each. The problem came for me when Warren noticed that since one flank on his opponents side had already activated it wasn't urgent for him to take action on that flank. I would say it provides you with a tactical choice to make, but in reality it doesn't because the correct choice is and always will be obvious, attack what hasn't yet activated to reduce its effectiveness, but that's not my main problem. My main problem is that it presents you with a 'game' scenario, not a 'historical' scenario. When has any general ever said "It's no longer pressing for me to order my men on the right flank since the enemy has already activated his units." What the mechanic does is force something to the surface that we as wargamers really shouldn't be reminded of - that model men need to be 'activated' at all. Real soldiers don't pause after they have run a certain distance, or wait their turn to shoot, and while these may be necessary evils in many cases for us as wargamers we shouldn't be reminded of such things while playing, especially when we are reminded by making a choice that was never made by a real life officer. Call it a fatal flaw in the single unit activation type game, at least one where you determine the activations to take place as opposed to randomness like in Gruntz or levels of experience like in USE ME. The goal we are striving for as rules writers or tweakers (because if you game you're one or the other) is simultaneous action, so why make a point out of being a single unit activation style game?

Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, 31 January 2015

How Easy it is to Adapt 'That Solo Idea' for Two Players

Roll off to determine which player gets the first turn. Each player gets the standard 10 dice. On your turn you declare your action, your opponent then declares their equivalent action. You draw a card and roll your dice. If you succeed you perform your action, if not your opponent performs theirs. It is then your opponents turn, they declare their action, you declare your equivalent, and then they draw a card and roll their dice.

Repeat this process until someone wins!

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Thursday, 29 January 2015

More Playtesting of That Solo Idea and Thoughts

So I played another game again today with similar forces. Sir Gildain his Squire Pharen and their wizard friend Tannik faced off against Lord Urleth and his Zombies. It did not go well for Sir Gildain and his companions. Sir Gildain faced off against a Zombie in the middle of the field and was soon overwhelmed by more arriving and the infamous Lord Urleth. Pharen managed to reach Gildain slaying a Zombie on the way but more soon arrived. Finally Tannik got moving and attempted something drastic, he tried to pull a tree up from its roots and cause it to fall on a Zombie to free up Gildain's withdrawl. Unfortunately it fell on Gildain knocking him unconscious. Pharen then lunged desperately at Urleth hoping to dissuade him, but was knocked flat, and like his liege was out of the fight. Urleth then leapt the fallen tree as Tannik retreated to a ruined house to make his final stand. Tannik attempted a risky spell, casting an arc of energy to shoot Urleth from his horse and out of the battle. However Urleth's apparent magical resistance again came into play. The arc reflected from his black armour and struck Tannik. The day was lost, and once again the vile necromancer Urleth escaped.

I had a lot of fun with the game, and realised the openness of the system really opens things up, especially for those magic characters. All I had to declare was what Tannik wanted to use his magic to do, and then an equivalent - no spell list needed, no long list of points values and the system automatically balances itself.

The card system also really came into its own. The reason things went south so quickly was because I knew I only had a few cards remaining in the deck and if I hadn't taken out Urleth by the time they were gone he would automatically escape, this pushed me to make rash decisions, and it didn't help that at the time I was running low on dice!

I need to play with more ranged characters that aren't mages though. the challenge of thinking of an equivalent action when not using something as chaotic as magic should be interesting. A crossbow will either hit or miss, it's not likely to deflect and hit the firer!

Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Play testing that idea for solo gaming plus some pics of my growing 1/72 fantasy collection

 Lord Urleth and his Undead
 Tannik Druze, Sir Gildain and Pharen Thark, Knights of the Green Blade
 A selection of heroes yet unnamed except for Kora the female barbarian, and yes the one in the middle is a dwarf. The guys without flock on their bases are not quite finished yet.
The Centaur leader up close.

So I tried a little game with the top most two forces using the ideas from my previous post, Lord Urleth and his horde and the Knights of the Green Blade. It was a really simple set up as the two forces faced each other on completely open ground, although the way I'm going for movement rules I should really have played with more terrain.
The zombies slowly advanced while all of Tannik's magic managed to backfire incapacitating him before combat had even been joined. The zombie's split with two attacking Sir Gildain and the other two going after Pharen. The zombies seemed strangely tougher than normal with two managing to down Pharen, and as they attempted to bite their way through his armour, Sir Gildain downed his two, but he came off worse for ware. As he stumbled about attempting to regain his composure Lord Urleth charged, his sword at the Knight's neck height. Sir Gildain dodged at the last second and struck a blow that would have easily killed a mortal man. Lord Urleth rode off, leaking his black blood down his horses flank. The Knights of the Green Blade had been victorious but at what cost?
The game played so quickly I didn't really have the time to take pictures, but I have to say it probably was one of the better solo experiences I have had, and thinking about the rules I can see why, it's essentially one step up from playing as a child would with the dice, cards and abilities determining the outcome of events rather than just your imagination. Also it's a fun challenge to manage your dice well, and knowing when to roll lots of them and when to hold back.
It was a simple 9pt game. The forces stacking up as follows:
Sir Gildain - Devastate, Immortal, Elite.
Pharen Thark - Devastate.
Tannik Druze - Ranged, Heal.

Lord Urleth - Devastate, Immortal, Elite, Fast.
Zombie (x4) - no abilities.

Devastate increased the strength of any wounds dealt by 1.
Immortal reduced the strength of any wounds dealt to a character by 1.
Ranged enabled a character to attack at range.
Heal enabled a character to heal wounds.
Fast enables a character to move twice.
A character has a base cost of 1pt and then costs 1pt extra per ability they have.

Thanks for stopping by!

Here's an idea for solo gaming

Grab a deck of cards with all the kings, queens and jacks removed, so you get a deck of Aces to 10s. Then take a large number of six sided dice and take ten of those and put them to one side. The deck is your game deck, and the 10 dice are your dice pool.

Set up your table with your figures and with your scenario in mind.

Declare what you want one of your figures to do and then declare a roughly equivalent action one of the enemy figures will do.

Draw a card (always draw the card after you declare the two actions, never before!), if it's red it increases your dice pool by the number on it. Aces=1. If it's black it locks a number of dice in your pool equal to it meaning you cannot use them in the roll. Pick up a number of dice you want to roll and roll them. The action you declared for your figure is performed if you roll a single 6. If no 6s are rolled then the action you declared for the enemy figure is performed. You must always roll at least 1 die, unless the black card locks all your dice in which case you automatically fail.

Return any rolled dice to the big pile, declare two new actions and then draw a card.

Repeat this process until the deck is exhausted or you complete the scenario objective.
If you haven't completed the objective by the time the deck is exhausted you automatically lose the game.

You could play the game as simply as that. You could enforce a stats system on top of it, whereby when an action is 'performed' it still needs to be rolled for. For example, I failed and so get charged by an enemy and attacked, the enemy can only move up to their move stat in inches, and will only hit me when they get there on a roll that is equal to or lower than their fight stat. You could on the other hand impose a system of special rules. For example - I declare that my warrior will strike the enemy causing a light wound on their barbarian, the equivalent is obvious, he will attack me instead and cause a light wound. I draw the card and roll. I score a 6 meaning my warrior hits the barbarian. My warrior however has the special rule 'devastate' which turns any light wounds caused into heavy wounds, so although I declared a light wound I deal a heavy wound. The enemy barbarian does not have the special rule devastate, so had I failed the roll, my warrior would only have taken a light wound.

Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Randomly Generating an Enemy Force for Skirmyth

Since the system is at present incredibly generic with basically no special rules, it is still incredibly easy to entirely randomise a force creation. This will be good for me in the playtesting and to see if any set up can break or really challenge the points system.

When playing solo you should generate your own force first, and make a note of their own points cost. For example in previous playtests I've been using a 120pt force. You would then roll for the scenario (which is a system I'm working on) which will dictate the nature of an enemy force, it maybe a force you have previously generated so there's no need to randomly generate one again. You then roll for resistance level on a D6, on 1-2 it's low, 3-4 it's matched and on 5-6 it's high. Each of these results gives a rough points cost for the force you will be facing. Matched means the enemy force is roughly equal to your own, with a margin of 20pts on either side (which may be larger for larger forces). Low means you generate the force but as soon as it exceeds you own forces points cost you drop the last character generated. For high resistance you stop at the character that exceeds your forces points cost. For matched you stop when the points cost lands within that 40pt buffer zone (20pts either side).

So let's go with my 120pt force. I roll for resistance - 2 which is low. So I'm dropping the first character to exceed 120pts in the enemy forces total points cost.
So that's a running total of 115pts, so I'm certain the next character will exceed the final 5 pts so we won't go on.
So how did I generate those characters?
Initiative, Attack and Speed were all simple D6 rolls. Resolve was D6+2 (I couldn't stop rolling 3s), and the type was determined by a further D6 roll (1-2 Warrior, 3-4 Ranger, 5-6 Mage).
If you can't remember how the points costs were generated it was (Attack+Speed)xInitiative and finally adding Resolve.
You could then go on to generate names for the characters if you so wished.
For forces you have already generated you drop or add characters to meet the resistance level. When dropping I would recommend dropping the character that brings you closest to the points cost.
The system shouldn't cause too many problems and it shouldn't generate hugely outlandish characters, with your lowest points cost at 5 and your highest running to 80. With most stats capped at 6 except for resolve which is capped at 8, it's unlikely you'll get totally wrecked in a single attack from an enemy character. I am however concerned about speed and may apply a D6+1 to it instead of a straight D6 as above. Assuming the character can spend half of their initiative on speed before the end counter is drawn, Character 2 above will cover roughly 1.5 inches per game turn... which is really slow!
The other problem I'm working on is the counter system. Since when generating a new force new counters would have to be made, a total of 18 for the force above. I'm working on a system which means you won't have to, but we'll see what comes of that in the future.

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

The hopefully improved fantasy/scifi name generator

I felt that my previous incarnation with twists on a D6 roll was a little too restrictive and not fast enough. So here's the simpler new incarnation of the system.

Roll 1D10 for name length.
Roll 1D10 to determine starting letter type - Odd = Vowel, Even = Consonant.
It's then the classic vowels on a D6 (including Y) and Consonants on a D20.
This time however you also roll a D6 after you've generated a letter. On a 6 the letter repeats. On a 4 or 5 you repeat the letter type but roll for the next letter, and on a 1-3 you go to the other letter type. You can only have a maximum of two of the same letter or letter type in a row.

Much simpler. Let's give it a whirl!

Fji Qxiag
Kkiwecihy Szyyduy
Uuwe Mtoe

Those are our 'raw' results. Just what the dice dictate, and with some editing we get -

Ji Xia
Kiwe Szyydu
Uwe Toe (I was hoping for Boll... but Toe will have to do)

Eventually I'll get a system together that stops those bad letter combinations but until then the system will always have a chance of churning them out. Though it's true purpose still works, to generate names that don't all sound the same, which is what I can't do when I come up with the names myself.

Monday, 19 January 2015

Skirmyth - The Solo Skirmish/ Light RPG: A Second Encounter

I played a quick solo game this evening using my second incarnation of the Skirmyth rules. A system with more visible stats, but still with no real need to look anything up. Characters are activated when a counter with their name on it is pulled from a cup, the counter has written on it not only the characters name but their speed and attack stats. The number of counters a character has in the cup is equal to their initiative value. Speed determines the distance a character can move in inches when their counter is drawn and attack determines the number of dice a character will roll when making attacks. They do damage equal to the number of successes they score on the dice rolled (Warriors 4+, Rangers 5+ and Mages 6+). Apart from character counters there are also joker counters in the cup. Jokers stay out of the cup until the 'end' counter is drawn but return all other counters to the cup. When the end counter is finally drawn the number of jokers determines which column on a table is rolled on to determine a random event. For example in my game, two jokers were drawn and so when the end counter was drawn I rolled a die and consulted the event table, for two jokers and a roll of a 6 there was a small earth tremor which caused both sides to take morale checks. Morale is currently an extremely simple system. When a character is killed or you are forced to take a morale check by other means pick up a die per character still alive on your side and roll them. You pass the morale check if you roll a single 4+, if you fail to roll any 4+s you fail the check and lose the game. I thought it might be too simple initially but it creates a really interesting dynamic - you don't want a small number of hugely powerful characters because you'll get less dice when making morale checks, on the other hand you don't want a huge number of weak characters because that will normally mean you have to make more morale checks. I also thought it might create unrealistic scenarios where heroes flee from much weaker foes, however should a band of heroes lose a character surely their concern is no longer the mission, but protecting and restoring that fallen character to health? So in that sense it portrays greater realism. The real strength of it however is in the fact that morale is controlled by a standard dice roll meaning you never have to look anything up. The number of dice you roll being the number of remaining characters you have!

This evening I played a simple 4 vs 5 line up and charge at each other game.
On the one side we had -

Sir Gildain - I:4, A:4, S:3, R:6, PTS:34, Warrior
Pharen Thark - I:3, A:4, S:5, R:5, PTS:32, Warrior
Terse Kolf - I:2, A:6, S:5, R:5, PTS:27, Ranger
Tannik Druze - I:2, A:8, S:3, R:5, PTS: 27, Mage

And on the other we had -
Prince Lorek - I:2, A:5, S:5, R:10, PTS:30, Warrior
Harken Drane - I:2, A:7, S:3, R:5, PTS: 25, Mage
Kel Krace - I:4, A:2, S:2, R:4, PTS: 20, Warrior
Skorth Dar - I:3, A:3, S:4, R:5, PTS: 26, Warrior
Ajen Low - I:1, A:12, S:7, R: 5, PTS: 24, Ranger

The game was supposed to be 120pts, however while writing this up I realised that Prince Lorek's force was 125 points... but considering Sir Gildain tabled him without losing a man it's not like those extra 5 points really helped.

The game played exceedingly quickly. I remember reading lots of rulebooks where games claim to be 'fast paced' but this one truly is, with a standard skirmish like this taking around 10 minutes to play. You may also notice I was intentionally trying to break the game with characters like Kel Krace and Ajen Low, Kel having a huge number of activations but being pretty weak and Ajen only a single activation but devastating when he does activate.

So what have I learned and what questions have this little playtest brought to light?
Primarily I need to decide what route I want the main focus of the game to take. At present I'm playing it much like your average skirmish game where two evenly matched albeit different forces face off, rather than a dungeon crawling, hack and slash style game with multiple enemies each far weaker than our main characters.
Secondly I need to decide how damage dealt is increased by circumstances - at the moment if your characters remaining resolve is double their targets the amount of damage they do is doubled, and tripled if triple etc. Alternatively if  two characters are ganging up on another the damage dealt is doubled. I need to playtest further to see if this is too dramatic an increase and maybe adding rather than multiplying would be more appropriate. Obviously +0 if no damage is dealt, +1 if resolve is higher, +2 if double, +3 if triple, and +1 per additional character in the combat.
Thirdly I need to develop the actual solo AI mechanics.
Fouthly I need to develop scenarios to make the game more interesting/ narrative.

Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, 16 January 2015

The Counters and Cards Conundrum in Skirmyth

I like the simplicity of my current system. Each character has a number of cards equal to their speed and attack stats. For example a character with speed 3 and attack 7 will get 3 speed cards and 7 attack cards in the deck, and it works really well in play. The only problem is the mass of cards required to play the game.

The flip side of this is for each character to have 1 card with all their stats on, and when a characters card is drawn a player gets to decide which action to perform based on the stats of the character on the card.

So we have - System 1 - Each point of a stat has a card, and System 2 - Each character has a single card with all their stats on.

The question is then, is there a middle way? A way between these two extremes?

Yes, what if a character has some cards containing their stats (say speed, shooting, melee) the number of which was equal to their initiative stat. For example a character of initiative 4 would have 4 cards in the deck with their stats on. When one of their cards are drawn the player in control of them would be allowed to select an action to perform based on the stats on the card.

This may drastically change the current system I have, but it removes the need for saving cards since you would never draw a card that you couldn't use. I can also still use the standard rolls for types - Warriors hit on a 4+, Rangers 5+, Mages 6+.
Your stat earns you a number of dice equal to it, the amount of damage you deal in an attack is equal to the number of successes you roll - Warriors 4+, Rangers 5+, Mages 6+.

Further notes -
Warriors hit on a 4+ and have no ranged ability.
Rangers hit in a 5+ and have a ranged ability. Characters further than 12" away are hit on a 6+ as are characters in cover. Characters further than 12" away and in cover are hit on a 6+ and you half the number of dice you roll.
Mages hit on a 6+ and have a ranged ability, their attacks are not effected by range or cover and they can spread damage dealt among multiple targets as they desire.

A characters total points value is equal to the total of the stats on their cards, speed, shoot and melee, multiplied by their initiative (the number of cards) and finally adding their resolve (hit points).

Multiple enemies can all be controlled by the same card drawn, for example all zombies could act when a zombie card is drawn. To make things really interesting why not include counters on the board that represent enemies that have not yet been spotted (including some decoys?), that all move when an 'unseen enemies' card is drawn, and they all make a standard 3" move towards the nearest player character.

Why not include more than 1 joker, and a different card that signifies the turn end. When a joker is drawn all cards are reshuffled into the deck, but the joker drawn is placed to one side. When the turn end card is drawn the number of jokers drawn could signify something, maybe you roll on a random event table, adding the number of jokers drawn to increase the severity of the event? Or the number of jokers dictate the number row on a table you roll on...

Thanks for stopping by, and if you've read this, thanks for putting up with my ramblings!

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Scurge of the Solo Wargamer Part 2 of N: Solo Skirmyth (Skirmish-Myth geddit?) First Playtest

Reflecting on my previous post in this series I drew up a simple set of rules. The goal of which was to eliminate the need for statlines, which while they exist are effectively invisible. My first attempt works as follows, a character has 3 stats, Attack, Speed and Resolve. The Resolve of a character is equal to their level, and the Attack and Speed when totalled are equal to their level. My hero, Sir Gildain Knight of the Green Sword, has Attack 7, Speed 3, Resolve 10 and is level 10, simple enough. Resolve is the number of hit points a character has, once Sir Gildain has taken 10 points of damage he is out of the game. Speed and Attack are converted into cards that go in the game deck. Sir Gildain gets 7 attack cards and 3 speed cards (or alternatively counters in a cup). When a speed card is drawn, Sir Gildain gets to move D6". When an attack card is drawn Sir Gildain gets to make an attack, or if he can't he can save the card for later.
Here's Sir Gildain and his cards, I just used playing cards with labels stuck to them. The top row say 'Sir Gildain Attack', the bottom row say 'Sir Gildain Speed' (maybe 'run' would make more sense).
Battles are fought between equally effective forces, just use their levels like a points system. For example -
The Heroes

Sir Gildain - Attack 7, Speed 3, Resolve 10, Level 10. Type - Warrior

Kora the Barbarian - Attack 5, Speed 5, Resolve 10, Level 10. Type - Warrior
Total Level - 20

The Orc Bandits (or Celts painted green)

Krug the Shaman - Attack 3, Speed 2, Resolve 5, Level 5. Type - Mage.
Boleg the Archer - Attack 4, Speed 1, Resolve 5, Level 5. Type - Ranger.
Bazgar the Berserker - Attack 0, Speed 5, Resolve 5, Level 5. Type - Warrior.
Agaz the Axe Orc - Attack 3, Speed 2, Resolve 5, Level 5. Type - Warrior.
Total Level - 20.

You'll notice each character has a type. Types are as follows:

Warrior - No ranged ability, hits in melee on a 4+.
Ranger - 5+ to hit at range or in melee.
Mage - 6+ to hit at range or in melee, magic user.

Once you have all your cards shuffle them with a single joker included, and draw the top card to begin playing. Here's a little playtest battle report, I'm not adding much flavour but simply listing the cards drawn at what happened so you get an idea of how things work -

The two sides face off against each other, on a rather barren plain...

A speed card is drawn for Kora and she charges 6" forwards, then the same is drawn again, she rolls a 4 but opts to only move 2", so she doesn't get too far ahead of her companion. 
The Krug the shaman draws an attack card and saves it, Agaz draws 2 attack cards and also opts to save them.
Sir Gildain draws 1 attack and saves it. He then draws a speed, rolls a 1, and steps forward. He then draws 4 successive attack cards and opts to save them all.
The Orc Berserker Bazgar draws a speed card and charges 5" towards Kora. The Shaman draws another attack and saves it.
Then the joker is drawn, returning all saved and used cards to the deck, it is shuffled and play begins again.

After the first bout of cards, the two forces are nearing each other, who will get first blood?
The Agaz charges Kora while the archer fires at her and and misses.
Sir Gildain saves an attack.
The archer fires at Kora again and rolls a 1, missing by miles.
Sir Gildain saves another attack.
The Orc shaman saves an attack and then runs up behind Agaz the axe Orc for protection. Agaz saves an attack.
Kora saves 2 attacks.
The archer fires at Kora again and misses, Boleg needs to get to the firing range more often!
Kora saves another attack.
Sir Gildain saves 4 successive attacks.
Kora saves another.
Kora draws a speed card and charges Agaz, if she makes it into base to base she'll get a free attack, and can use her other saved cards in the attack too! She makes it the distance and uses her speed card and all 4 attack cards together getting her a total of 5 attack dice. She could opt to go all out, meaning she rolls 1D6 and on a 4+ does maximum damage and on a 1-3 does no damage, or she can roll 1D6 for each card. 
Here we are, with cards and dice before the roll!

And there's the roll, a devastating one!
Kora does damage for every 4+ rolled because she is a warrior type. Damage would normally be 1 point per successful die, however since Kora's level is double that of the character she is attacking, she does 2 damage per successful die. Had Sir Gildain been in base contact with the Orc too, she would have done 1 extra damage per successful die. But as it stands with 4 successes, and 2 damage per success, she does a total of 8 damage. The Orcs resolve of 5 is no match and he is killed. Kora immediately draws a speed card and charges after the shaman but comes just short.
Bazgar the berserker draws a speed card but only charges 1" towards Kora... maybe he's afraid?
Sir Gildain draws 2 successive speed cards and manages 8 inches of movement.
Bazgar draws another speed card and makes it into contact with Kora, but only rolls a 2 when using his free attack failing to damage her.
Boleg the archer draws an attack card, with Kora in contact with Bazgar he cannot shoot her, so he opts to attack the rather slow, Sir Gildain. He manages a 5 and does 1 point of damage.
Kora draws an attack card, rolls a 6 and slams Bazgar for 2 damage.
The Joker is drawn.
After the second joker, Sir Gildain is still slowly moving forwards under fire while Kora faces off against the berserker.
The Orc berserker tired of fighting Kora attempts a charge on Sir Gildain, he makes it in but rolls a 1 on his attack, his poorly maintained axe bounces off of the Knight's pristine armour. Boleg takes a shot at the now exposed Kora and fails to hit.
Kora charges the shaman and fails in her attack, she then wheels round and charges Bazgar but misses him too. Sir Gildain opts to save his attack card. Kora then attacks the berserker and misses.
Sir Gildain attacks using his saved card also, he chooses not to go all out, needing only a single success to score enough damage to kill the berserker, he rolls a double 2, failing on both dice and doing nothing. He then draws a speed card which he opts to ignore.
Kora bounces off of the berserker, leaving him in Sir Gildain's hands and again charges the shaman, but again she misses.
Boleg saves his attack card, since both his targets are in melee combat with his friends. The shaman opts to back off from Kora giving the archer something to shoot at, and luckily for him, forcing Kora to save the attack card she draws next.
Boleg shoots at Kora, using both his attack cards, and scores 1 hit resulting in 1 damage.
Kora saves another attack card and Sir Gildain saves another 2.
The shaman saves an attack too, but then the joker is drawn.

Bazgar charges Kora and manages 1 damage. The shaman saves an attack card.
Sir Gildain saves an attack card and then draws a speed, enabling him to attack Bazgar with two dice!

He rolls a 2 and a 6, scoring him 3 points of damage (2 for being double the level of Bazgar and an extra one since Bazgar is also in contact with Kora), the berserker is killed. Kora then charges the archer and the shaman and misses both free attacks,
Boleg the archer saves an attack card.
Sir Gildain saves two attack cards.
Boleg draws another attack and uses his saved card too, he rolls a 5 and a 2, scoring 1 point of damage on Kora.
Krug the shaman draws another attack card and opts to cast a spell, if he succeeds he will do 5 damage to Sir Gildain, if he fails to cast the spell will backfire doing 5 damage to himself. He rolls a 4 and two 2s, with no successes (6+), the spell backfires and he is killed.

To speed things up, Kora and Sir Gildain then chase the archer down and finish the Orcs off by killing him.
I'm using D10s to keep track of resolve. If you use the dice to keep track of remaining hit points rather than damage done it means you only have to look up a stat the first time a character is damaged.

The game as it stands plays incredibly quickly, although to speed things up I do want to develop a morale system games where you fight to the last man often turn into a boring, going through the motions type game rather than being interesting or dynamic towards their latter half. I also noticed the importance of speed over attack. Kora although her attack was lower managed to kill 2 Orcs to Sir Gildain's 1 who spent most of his time playing catch-up (maybe his armour was too heavy). This isn't a problem with the balance of speed vs attack, it just means that Sir Gildain has to be played in a certain way. He may take a while to get to the fight, but once he's there, he's pretty devastating.

The card mechanic works perfectly, the only chore being having to make the cards. I think in the end I will opt for counters drawn from a cup, but until then it works fine. What I like most about the card mechanic is it builds in character quality without any additional characteristics. The higher level a character, the more cards they have, the more likely they are to get cards before the joker is drawn! This is why opted for a card per point of stat rather than the stat on a single card. Sure it means more cards or counters, but it gives you something extra for your troubles. Something strange I did notice was that I no longer looked at characters as a line of stats because I couldn't see their stats, but I felt the characters. That may seem like a strange sentence and it is, because I've never experienced that in a game.

Although the game doesn't currently have a solo mechanic built in I have left space for it, by which I mean that when a card is drawn it's a really simple decision for an AI to make since your decisions are so restricted. For a speed card warriors are most likely to charge the nearest enemy, and rangers and mages are most likely going to use them to keep their distance. AI controlled Rangers and warriors will always use their attack cards as they appear, saving them only if they can't use them, since mathematically it makes no difference. Mages will be more likely to hold on to their attack cards so they can cast spells but I devised a simple system for that while playing. The magic system which is 3 lines in the current rules allows any spell you can imagine and is fully reversible, meaning you will come up with horribly cunning spells for the AI to cast on your own characters more on that another time.

The rules even have room for a full leveling up system, which in it's first iteration is as follows -
1 XP per enemy character your character killed.
1 XP per objective achieved by your character.
Pick up an number of D6s equal to the total XP gathered by your character and roll them.
The character levels up 1 level per 4+ rolled.
The new levels can be used on either attack or defence in any way you choose!

For example here's what I actually rolled after the fight -
Kora killed 2 enemies and so gets 2 dice, she rolled a 5 and a 6 taking her up to level 12. She opts to put 1 level into speed and the other into attack.
Sir Gildain killed 1 enemy, and luckily rolls a 4. He opts to put it into speed (for obvious reasons).

The leveling up system fits because of the card system, it's easy to include any number of stats because you can add any number of cards to the deck, you're not limited by the dice used, a stat can be more than 1-6 or 1-20 or even, if you're crazy 1-100.

That was a long one, but thanks for sticking with it and thanks for stopping by!

Monday, 12 January 2015

Baron Ace!

The above figure is one of my first attempts at 1/72 plastic conversions. The body is an American WW2 soldier and the head is a Gaul. The conversion was done with one of Games Workshop's drills, a paper clip and super glue. I'm really happy with how easy the conversion work was to do, and I look forward to doing more. I'm feeling a Weird World War project coming on, and maybe this guy currently named Baron Ace will lead some Allied forces into battle! Considering I should be able to get a full platoon out of the box of gauls and my current collection of Revell WW2 American plastics, I'm rather excited!

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Scurge of the Solo Wargamer - Stat Lines Part 1 of N

Playing Solo wargames can be fun, the only problem is that most rulesets are not designed for solo gaming, and those that have a solo option to play often have their solo elements tacked on to a two player ruleset, there aren't really any wargames I know of that were built as a solo experience from the ground up.

So what's the main problem when it comes to solo gaming?

In my experience it's looking up statlines. I'm happy to play both sides when there's no decent engine to run an AI opponent the only problem is you don't have two minds to remember statlines. This creates a constant flicking from game to army list or game to the more convenient but still tedious unit card. The goal then is to create a game that either has no statlines - every body hits on a 4+, or whereby the stats are there but invisible. How is that possible?

I've wondered about using a card driven system. Where each unit has a card for each stat - move, shoot, melee etc. And when the card is drawn the unit can choose to act upon the card or save the card. When the unit acts upon the card the card has the stat written on it - '5+' for example - roll your D6, no need to look it up. The problem comes with armour, or defence values, because as 'passive' stats a character wouldn't have the card in the deck. What would you do if you drew your characters 'armour' card? Nothing, but maybe save it for an attack... and then if your character hadn't drawn their armour card would they die instantly from an attack? Another idea I had was to write the defence value of the character on the base, but that can mess with the aesthetics of a game, and annoyingly practically excludes a character improvement system... unless you're willing to keep painting over and painting new numbers on bases. Hit points then seem a likely system. A higher defence character simply has more hit points. This works well enough... but does have the added drawback of the need to keep track of hit points, which for me normally means dice cluttering up the play area.

Is there an easy solution? Is this even a problem, or is it just me? Stay tuned as I mull this one over and come back with a part 2.

Monday, 5 January 2015

Wargaming Bugbears: 1/72 is not 20mm!

Apart from a Games Workshop my nearest proper town has a couple of 'actual' model shops, by that I mean shops that sell models for scale modellers. Along with the tanks, planes and ships are the plethora of figures in varying scales. This has led me into gaming in a number of periods, and having a growing collection of 1/72 figures. People talk of how great it is now to game something like Saga which only requires a single box of Wargames Factory figures, where for years the same number of troops could be bought in the 1/72 scale for less than a quarter of the price of the modern 'cheap' plastics. 1/72 figures are not only cheaper than their bigger brothers; they are also often better sculpted and use the actual proportions of real people! Which funnily enough, has been a barrier to me in previous years, having come into gaming around 40k's fourth edition; I normally expect larger heads, hands and weapons. But let’s not continually praise the little work horses of the wargaming world, the 1/72 infantryman, which for so many of us was the first figure we ever owned. Let's move now to defending that heritage and my own anal retentiveness by addressing the question of scale.

It has come to my attention that a number of people are referring to our 1/72 friends as 20mm, which was most noticeably said by an unnamed (for their safety) online wargaming news outlet. Let's be clear here, there are a number of different ways manufacturers and gamers measure scale. The difference in from foot to eye level or from foot to top of head often creates a little difference in the heights of certain figures. It's not often an Airfix figure will match closely an Italeri in height, but that's no problem, since people come in different sizes. One thing however is that neither are 20mm! I point the finger solely at Games Workshop and their increasingly bloated figures that really push the limits of 28mm scale. Even Mantic games their comparatively small nemesis calls their figures 30mm scale and their figures often are shorter than Workshop's. So you pick up your Space Marine and stand him next to your Italeri British Para, and you think, 'Well, this Space Marine is 28mm, and this Para is tiny so he can't be 25mm he must be smaller... around about 20mm should fit.' Instantly you have moved from doing real scales and wandered off the path into the world of pure fantasy. Take out a bloomin' measuring tape and look at the real heights! Of if you don't have any to hand, jump on Plastic Soldier Review and check the reviews which include an accurate measurement of figure heights, with Airfix on average coming in at around 22mm, Italeri and Revell at 24mm and some reaching 26mm. Bearing in mind Plastic Soldier Review measures from foot to eye level to be more precise than the imprecise method of foot to top of head because some people like wearing big hats. Or if that is not enough to convince you a quick check of the Wikipedia page for figure scales ( which claims 25/28mm scale is 1/73.2 scale.

Most gamers are aware that a 1/72 figure is vastly taller than 20mm. However some aren't the majority of which have moved from Games Workshop's games into the world of historical gaming, for which we have things like Saga, Flames of War and Bolt Action to thank. Remind these folks that 1/72 is not 20mm, but is in fact true 25mm. I cannot pass judgement too harshly on these poor people for I was once one of them, and had it not been for the classic game Starguard (which is 25mm) recommending the use of converted 1/72 vehicles I would never have noticed either.

I fear for our hobby, as it moves into bleak and gothic territory in the future, as Games Workshop's figures increase in size to apocalyptic proportions, near life size, and have to be shifted by a team of sweaty men at the command of spotty teenagers. All the while being claimed to be heroic 28mm scale, and our stalwart heroes the 1/72 infantrymen are relegated to lower and lower scales till people scoff at my 2mm armies. But I'll still use them, I'll still pull out my true 25mm friends, because they've always been there, they always will be there, in boxes of 50 for pocket money prices, just as good old Featherstone liked it.