Saturday, July 30, 2016

My workbench: Terrain painting continues for Frostgrave...Armorcast cathedral building ruins

Now that I scratch-built some fantasy domes for Frostgrave yesterday (as discussed here)...

I soldiered on with more terrain on this fine weekend.. Miles to go before I sleep and all that.. I dug out some Armorcast cathedral terrain I bought a while back, and thought they would be good Frostgrave (and Kings of War) terrain..

Cathedrals look appropriate for fantasy, the Middle Ages, modern and even sci-fi if you want to capture that gothic look. A very useful terrain piece which I need to buy some more of .

I primed these pieces black and  quickly painted them stone-colour and dry brushed them. They came out nicer than I expected.

The windows had a thin film to them which I broke off to make it look like broken glass..

I was thinking of painting them to look like stain glass, but there is enough black in the rest of the terrain piece to make it look like a fire had stained these stainglass windows..

All in all, very nice to the eye for quick work. Feel free to vote on them on Coolmini, with 1 being the lowest, and 10 the highest, with 5 good enough for tabletop play, here..

Friday, July 29, 2016

My workbench: Scratch-built fantasy domed buildings for Frostgrave et al.

A couple of years back, I bought these paint-it-yourself Christmas bulbs.. You assemble both halves and then paint it to however you want.

I used them to good effect for space battles, painting planets and moons.

Anyways, I dug some of the rest I bought the other day and had an idea to make some fantasy domed buildings I can use for Frostgrave and Kings of War; LOS blockers and such.

I first added some spare fantasy doors I had from a MageKnight kit by sticking them on using milliput..

More importantly, I have this cookie-cutter template I think I bought off Coolmini's store years ago to make bricks and blocks using air-hardening clay..

With a little bit of PVA glue, the moist clay stuck on the dome easily enough I found, though I had to be quick about it as that stuff dries fast. 

Sometimes the air-hardening clay dried faster than I thought and "cracks" appeared in the cookie-cut slabs, which is uninentionally great, as it adds to the fantasy look...

On one I used slabs of different shapes...

and on the other I used the big "cookies."

I wasn't too fussed about lining everything up as I wanted to make this look a little bit rundown.. 

I was thinking of painting them white, but then thought they'd look like igloos, so I stuck with the stone look in grey..

A little bit of dry-brushing and voilĂ .. just took 2 evenings from start to finish, with some time to let the clay dry before painting them..

Please feel free to vote on this on Coolmini, with 1 being the lowest, 10 the highest and 5 good enough for tabletop play, here.


Sunday, July 24, 2016

Another indication of tabletop gaming "decadence" ?

I sent my gaming buddies this Kickstarter video that shows elaborate catapult dice throwers this morning.

My buddies emailed me back their hoots of derision. My friend Craig just simply wrote back:

Oh FFS, what next ? 

I've written before about how the avalanche of elaborate and sometimes ridiculous dice on the market could be heralding an ennui with tabletop gaming in general, and not simply just market forces (discussed here) meeting demand from disposable income. To sum up what I wrote, we need more and more elaborate junk in the face of 40+ years of the hobby since the D&D craze and wargame renaissance, as well as resisting the lure of computer gaming to keep us interested in the tabletop hobby. 

Surely, no one who lives and dies for tabletop gaming would need to haul these things around and then use them in the middle of a game? Rubber band catapults with elaborate carvings to throw your dice around? What next, gilded dice encrusted with diamonds?

As I said in that previous blog post, decadence always precedes the fall. It might be decades in the making, but I can't imagine millenials going for all this ostentatious gaming paraphenelia. Not with the ease of apps.. I mean, look at the enthusiasm of this Pokemon Go horde..

No amount of gimmicks like these rubber band catapults will entice them what is likely an "old hat" hobby in their eyes. 

Us old farts might have to enjoy the decline, but without the dice catapults.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

The Captain is Dead and Star Trek: Expeditions: Star Trek themed game night

My friend Jeff, Jim and I sat down today to play two cooperative Star Trek themed games. The first is the relatively obscure The Captain is Dead, by The Game Crafter, LLC.

Jeff bought it from someone who Kickstarted it.

The game is very inspired by Star Trek.. In fact, I would say it's more like an homage to the franchise.

The premise is the Captain has been killed, there is a hostile Alien ship off the port bow, and the warp core (sorry, the "jump core,") is offline. You and the rest of the crew have to get the engines back up to skeddadle out of there. In game terms, if the ship's shields drop to zero before the engines are repaired, the players lose. The Aliens board the ship here and there and are more like obstacles to getting things repaired.

There's the usual sections of the ship that are very Trekish.. The bridge, engineering, sick bay, etc. .

You got classic Trek devices as well to play with.. I like how the devices pictured in the cards look like what you would see in the original series with the big bulky bright buttons..

There are yellow, orange and red alert cards that generally signify when different parts of the ship break down and players rush back and forth, with the aliens in the way, to repair them.

In this alert card for instance, an irrational fear grips the crew...

 and in this example, there are injuries in the Science Lab..

Sometimes, the alert cards also signify when anomalies, like increased gravity in this example, show up in the best tradition of Trek, to confound the players..

Combat in the game is abstract. The Aliens are automatically killed when a player takes an action to do so when in the same room..
We kept calling them Klingons, but they actually looked crystalline in nature like the Tholians.

In terms of ship combat, it is abstracted out as well. Torpedo hits are automatic on the enemy ship off the bow when the right cards in the armory are played...

The crux of the game is not combat, but having the right skills of your characters at the right time.. Skills are represented by colour coded cards. You must have the right type and minimum amount of cards to fix a ship's part..

You could tell Jeff was a fantasy guy as he kept calling the green science card, which has a laboratory beaker symbol on it, as a "potion" card. He also kept saying "healing the shields" instead of repairing the shields. 

There were six sections ( teleporter, computer core, internal sensors, external sensors, torpedo room, and comm) that would often break down..

You would have to flip them over to red to indicate offline when that happens. We found the teleporter handy to beam around in the ship and a pain when it needed to be fixed.

Some tongue in cheek stuff, but not too much, such as this card, Grow the Beard, which is clearly a wink to Will Riker.

In game 1, I played the medical officer, and in game 2, the Admiral and the Weapons Officer. (I'm guessing the Admiral was a guest on board).

Each character has different skills that help with the skill cards countied to meet thresholds for success. My doctor for instance, had 1 medical and 1 science. Thus if I needed to heal someone and needed 2 medical, all I would need was just one blue medical card to make it.

I wanted to play the Hologram, but never got it in both games.

We got killed in game 1 as we were just playing one character only, especially when we got to Orange Alert. Our shields dropped to zero despite not fixing the engines very much..

In game 2, with two characters each, it was a bit easier and we won..

We had the season 2 expansion, but held off playing it until next time.

All in all, I liked the game.

We continued on with WizKid's Star Trek: Expeditions.. I was not happy with the faces of the actors on the rebooted Trek, Star Trek purist that I am, being on the cover and in the game, but I soldiered on..

The minis were on heroclix bases, which I always found kiddie a bit, but acceptable. The paintjobs were okay, though we had a good laugh on the paintjob of Kirk. He only had one eye painted and he looked like Popeye.

However, the Klingon ship and the Enterprise were nicely painted for clickies.. Maybe it was the decals on the Enterprise..

Anyways, the premise of the game is that the Federation is trying to woo a planet to join the UFP and has to fight some ecological disaster on the planet, fight rebels, and woo the inhabitants diplomatically from the Klingons, all at the same time.

You beam up and down from the Enterprises, accomplishing quest-like tasks. Depending on how well you did, it will influence the subsequent choice of the next task..

The tasks are not all combat and much in line with Trek..

Some examples..

The quests/tasks are colour-coded to yellow, blue and red as you can see above. Your character's ability in those 3 colours are at the bottom of the their heroclix dial, which constantly change as they take damage..

You get help in making your roll with reroll cards, crew cards, etc and such..

Of course, you pick up classic Star Trek artifacts on the planet that help along the way..

The Klingon ship is more like a nuisance, pounding on the Enterprise which is outgunned in this game, forcing us to go further and further back in the orbit track. Negative numbers eat away at the Victory points at the end of the game..

We came close to losing, but we finally accomplished all the quests in the game..

However, our win was just 19 points, which is the lowest scoring band.. We were congratulated and then sent on our next mission.

This game too is very Trekish and dripping with the franchise theme. I liked it also.

Thumbs up on a good gaming day.