Thursday, 30 May 2013

Pimp my blog, dawg!

James Brewerton over at Exiles Wargames Painter is celebrating his blog's 3rd anniversary with a prize draw give-away on the 12th of June. I have to confess, I get extra entries for advertising the fact, but the comments are definitely worth a look because people are writing limericks as entries! So far it appears no-one has missed their calling in life but all the same it's worth having a look if you haven't already.

Just one of the prizes on offer.

Congratulations James and happy anniversary!

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Rogue Trader progress 29/05/13.

Just a quick update on my Rogue Trader progress. To recap, I am on a quest to bring back the good old days and play RT like it's 1987. Here is an old, dog-chewed, Star Wars toy I rescued from eBay for a couple of quid. I filled in the top with a paint pot to make a cabin and added a GW chimera laser and a light. It is to accompany the farm building I did recently and the set will soon include some crystal crops and some dino-cattle too. I have quickly dry-brushed it to usableness as I need the farm in a game next week.

Sci-fi 'plant' machine with cutting laser.

I will take a few snaps of the game and give you a write-up.

In other RT news I have found a willing opponent for the 'Wolf Time' scenario from the 'Book of the Astronomicon' aka 'Chapter Approved'. In typical Warlord Paul, 'get it done' style we are not obsessed with using period minis and will hopefully have it all ready to go shortly. It should still be quite a spectacle (especially as the Space Wolf player hasn't read the scenarios and is therefore in for a few surprises!) and if it works it will be repeated with period minis next year.

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, 27 May 2013

My first year as an Oldhammerer.

I have been blogging about my wargaming shenanigans for four months now, before that I was a lurker on other people's blogs and before that I was trying to throw off the shackles of the bad gaming habits I had fallen into (trying to invent Oldhammer in isolation, unaware it had already been done). It has been 12 months since I had my sudden 'wargaming is rubbish and it's my fault' epiphany and I have had to readjust several times since then.

I have posted elsewhere about what Oldhammer meant to me in the earliest weeks, it was a chance to go back to square one and get things right. A bit like starting a computer game from scratch and playing through more successfully and efficiently because of your foreknowledge. Now I find that being exposed to the wider community has subtly changed my ideas of Oldhammer and my perception has shifted (widened?) slightly.

I think more about painting to showcase, something I have never been bothered by previously, rather than just painting to game. I have always been a member of clubs that have gaming as the principle raison d'ĂȘtre and have always been one of the few who had fully painted, neatly turned out armies. I never had any reason to push myself. Now I find I want to learn about the most advanced techniques and things like painting banners and shields.

I have long been part of the extended youtube gaming community and although this video post is about modern Warhammer in it's 8th incarnation it is by a smart and insightful fellow who has some interesting things to say about what draws individuals to the hobby (and it's relevant to my preamble).

If you don't have time to review the video, to sum up OB correctly identifies a lot of the prime motivations that draw us to the hobby (well, a hobby closely related to our own) and I found myself fascinated by his opinions which are obviously accurate from his point of view but are often tangential to what I have come to believe.

It is a little sad that as the video draws to it's conclusion the immersive gamers are discounted as a tiny minority along with the extreme need-to-winners and dropped from the examination so he can concentrate on the hobbyists, purists and competitors. Immersives are dismissed as an 'exclusive' club and unwilling or unable to mix with the majority, but I have seen mainstream behaviours from many in the blogging community so why are we perceived thus?

It's possible that not all Oldhammerers/OSR enthusiasts would see themselves as immersives of course, that's another assumption of mine I'm afraid. Maybe you would see yourself as a member of one of the other groups? I certainly find that relationships are a big motivation behind what I'm doing these days. I am still left with many questions after having watched the video. Are we going to be able to connect with the wider gaming community? Do we need to? Do we want to? Will we even be able to agree on a definition of our activities?

I am going to be updating my mission statement soon. It is currently from the heart but it is a bit rant like and I find I want to do more with the blog. In between the monitoring of projects and posting of battle reports I would like to talk (evangelise?) about what gaming has come to mean to me, the 'social contract' involved when you organise a game and the potential gaming has to be a positive influence on lives.

Please let me know if you have any thoughts on the video or if you have reassessed your views on the hobby recently.

Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, 24 May 2013


Board game night came around again at the club last night, we played two games of Zombicide and had a great laugh in the process.

Zombicide seems to be in fashion all over the aetherweb at the moment and having now played it I can see why. The gameplay is fast, furious and fun and the mechanics are simple but engaging. The miniatures are plentiful and nicely detailed, all the wargamers in the room wanted to get their hands on some to paint them up.

I played as Crazy Ned, the hobo on the right/top row.

As I said we managed to fit in two games and had three hours of raucous fun as our reward. The game was very immersive and there were several cinematic moments, few of us could resist making sound effects as we butchered the hapless zombies with our array of weapons. This brings me on to the only downside of the game from our point of view, it's difficulty and long-term replay value. We had six wargaming veterans around the board and we just ripped through both the zombies and the mission objectives by instinctively making optimum decisions and playing the odds correctly. This was my first time playing Zombicide and of the others only two had played through a couple of games but we all agreed to up the ante for the second game and add objectives to the written scenario to make it more of a challenge. Despite the extra hurdles we were even slicker second time around and our teamwork was very efficient, the zombie horde was doomed even though an entire Olympic track team of runners was spawned in one corner. We double checked all the rules, searching for an answer, but apparently it wasn't anything to do with the game. It's because we are a pack of adversity-honed power-gamers who, when faced with cooperative play and a non-human opponent with preset moves, move in for the kill like a pack of starving piranhas. I must learn from this when I write Rogue Trader and WHFB3E scenarios for this lot!

Regardless of the ease of our bloodless victories we will be back for more Zombicide, we want to try doubling the zombies on the cards and see if that helps.

Two things I would recommend, make all the sound effects and name all the zombies. Axis & Allies is next, in June!

Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Blood Bowl with Thantsants.

I had my first face to face games with a member of the online Oldhammer community today and the day was an absolute blast!

Thantsants made the journey on the trans-Yorkshire highway to Castle Paul and brought with him the beautifully painted 'Slaan in Spacers' Blood Bowl team. He is on the way back now so I have a chance to get my unashamedly biased match report in first if I'm quick.

We played 3rd edition rules with a few roster tweaks to allow an 'all-star' 2nd edition style team and we kind of ignored weather too. The first game went first one way then the other, eventually we got to a key moment with a good deal of thought going on as the grey matter on both sides was stretched to it's limit.

A vital moment in the second half of game one, both Thantsant and myself took our time here with the score at 1-1 and only time for one more touchdown.

The following turn or two favoured the Spacers and my Greenback Gales abandoned any attempt to win and merely clung on to legs looking for the draw. The clock ticked down and things got close but thankfully the seconds ran out and the honours were even at full time! It helped no end when the distressingly mobile Treeman finally took root!

After lunch Thantsants tried out his Dark Elf team, they are all lovely BB2E edition minis and I hope he puts a snap up on his blog for you to enjoy. The Gales had more luck in this game and found knocking pansy pointy-ears about a lot more satisfying than brawling with Dwarfs and a Treeman. It was again 1-1 at half time but with the Orcs to drive in the second half. I found the blocks going my way a lot more often and was able to steadily build up a head of steam with the drive, taking the score to 2-1 to the Gales. A few crunching tackles later and that's how it ended, there is much partying going on in Greenback as I write.

We had a fantastic day, shared the luck of the dice fairly evenly (a string of passed dodge rolls came back to haunt the Dark Elves at one point as balance was restored mercilessly but I think it's right to say luck was mostly good to us both) and had a lovely cuppa and chat afterwards about all sorts of stuff we had in common.

All in all I can't recommend this sort of get together highly enough, I already feel like I have 'met' Erny and Gaj thanks to our game on Roll20 but it is much better to have a proper meet-up. Have a go yourself, maybe Skarsnik's opponent finder will help, you will not regret it.

Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Imperial Commander, 1981, Richard Halliwell and Bryan Ansell

Here is a bit of nostalgia for you, the 1981 'Imperial Commander' by Messrs Ansell and Halliwell.

It is somewhat well used and has the occasional scribble or stain but is nevertheless an important historical document for us 40k fans. With it's Imperium and Bolters Imperial Commander starts to bridge the gap between earlier, Star Wars inspired games like Combat 3000 (1979) or Laserburn (1980) and the more developed and distinct Rogue Trader (1987).

I am having a game soon using some lovely 15mm minis from Critical Mass Games which have been languishing in the WIP dungeon for a few years. I will let you know how it goes, with perhaps a photo or two.

Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

The trigger event for a life of misdeeds on the tabletop.

Here it is.

An iconic still from the 1963 movie 'Jason and the Argonauts'.

This is the moment when it all clicked into place for a little Warlord Paul. No longer would I be King Arthur, Aragorn or one of the other good guys at playtime. From now on I would forever be cast as a necromantic dark lord causing no end of chagrin for all those pesky hero types. Though JatA was ably directed by one Don Chaffey the name forever linked to this childhood defining film was Ray Harryhausen.

Ray Harryhausen, patron saint of stop-motion, in his finest hour.

You may have missed it but today, buried in amongst the news reports about the miraculous story of those courageous young women in Ohio, there was a simple item about my all time favourite Hollywood star.

"Visual effects master Ray Harryhausen, whose stop-motion wizardry graced such films as Jason and the Argonauts and Clash of the Titans, has died aged 92."

Even though his 92 years qualify as what we Brits call 'a good innings' I was nevertheless deeply saddened by the loss of a childhood hero. My two hobby loves, war-gaming and movies, stem directly from an exposure the work of Mr Harryhausen at a very tender age.

A more recent snap of the great man with some of his props.

I only hope as my son grows up he and his generation find time in between hoverboarding and cybernetworking to enjoy Jason and the Argonauts even half as much as I did.

Goodbye old friend.

Thanks for stopping by.

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Campaign in the membrane. The memoirs of a campaign GM.

I recently posted some homebrew Mighty Empires rules that I had run successfully at my local club for a couple of years. They were a bit rough around the edges as the completed 3rd edition got lost forever in an inexplicable PC incident of biblical proportions. I shoved them into a blog post for the benefit (I have no idea if they were of any benefit) of Andrew over at Lawhammer who has a stunning Mighty Empires project on the go. I was not quite happy with the lack of polish so I have tidied them up a bit and hey presto! 4th Edition!

So there you go. Rather than just leave you with the rules, it would probably be of more value to those with a hankering to run their own campaign for me to mention some of the pitfalls I came across.

I should have made it more exclusive. I let anyone and everyone in and that was a mistake. Obviously they all had different levels of interest and I tried to write rules that were very flexible but even so the campaign was too bloated with time wasters from the beginning. A small core of genuine enthusiasts would have made for a better narrative and a slicker campaign.

I should not have taken part as a player. This sounds obvious, but I fell into this mistake because I thought I could manage an unambitious little Realm in the middle of the map and ally with weaker players if possible. The road to hell is paved with good intentions. I had to be pretty firm with a few book-breaking, power gamers early on and I simply lacked credibility as a GM because I was a player too. I needed to be aloof from the proceedings and to hand out edicts instead of trying to manipulate things from within the game itself.

I should not have expected the players to have read the rules. I felt I had covered a lot of angles in the rules to allow a generous amount of freedom as well as the potential for real immersion. Most of it was lost on those taking part and therefore silly, avoidable mistakes were still made because reading rule books is boring and not something wargamers do very well.

One thing I got right was the managing of player's egos. Once the campaign got down to three possible winners I wrote a 'Kingmaker' scenario with three differently sized armies (one a possible traitor) that all had a shot at taking the crown. I got a really snotty email from one participant when he saw the points available to all three and a lot of depressed moaning from another. These were supposed to be the best players in the club and they couldn't get their heads around unequal points! I stuck to my guns and we played the scenario. It went perfectly, a lot of effort was made on the day and we played over a 'show' table and everyone had loads of fun, all three came close to winning with the victor edging it only on tertiary missions. Take that whingers.

Ultimately, I think the players invested in the campaign quite heavily and this is why tensions sometimes ran high. It is great that they got so into it but I would definitely try to channel that kind of emotion better next time.

I would love to hear of any campaign war stories you care to share!

*UPDATE* I have left out Banner percentile modifiers for things like terrain and weather to keep the maths tight and the rules as slick as possible. This doesn't mean you can't expand the list of modifiers though, if you have success with any tweaks I would love to know about them. *UPDATE*

Thanks for stopping by!