First up – site stuff. I’ve been having some issues with the site and various pages not loading. Thanks to everyone dropping me messages, clearing out some old images and fixing up the site seemed to overload it a touch. Going to spend some time fixing some stuff at the weekend, turns out running a website for over 7 years with no real tech overhaul leaves a lot of junk lying around.
Hobby wise, I finished painting the pair of Bushmaster I printed off. I’ll be doing a proper photo set on them later but they were painted up as a pair of PMC vehicles, the olive drab frantically sprayed over with some desert tan when the vehicles were flown out there. I went for tinted windows rather than the usual blue glass, and once again Black Contrast playing a vital role.
The vehicle printed last night was a French VBL light vehicle. This is the test model, just to see how well they printed. As with all models from Guaro3d, the quality is fantastic – spending the money is well worth it. I still need to tweak it’s positioning on the build plate to reduce damage to the lower portions, as well as looking at some smaller supports (seeing as the vehicle is much smaller than the Bushmaster).
Once again I must stress. These things are Tiny and Adorable. I’m actually working on tweaking the turret ring and doing a mashup with some of the guns from Spectre – these would be great as patrol vehicles for the Emirate of Bazistan with two ring mounts and a PKM on each.
With these vehicles, I also have a Hawkei I’ll print at some point but I’m looking at others going ahead. When doing skirmish games (as opposed to platoon actions) small vehicles are more likely to be fun in the game, rather than overpowering. I’m eyeing up the Scorpion and Scimitar next – light tanks that would probably be very popular in the Bazistan peninsula.
I finished off the week’s Battle Report! It was really fun game to play and even better to go back to and play through. Still need to get back into the flow of it to speed up (and not be distracted by watching wrestling with friends) but happy to get the blog flowing.
Once I finished writing, I got to painting. The Bushmasters have been sat waiting to be painted. I started off with the black paint, needed for tires and more. I’ve really got into using Contrast Black Templar over coloured sprays, giving you a black with different depths without needing to drybrush.
Tomorrow, I’ll add the details. It won’t be a huge amount – adding some tans to the windows before going over the top with the glass colour before the final touch of drybrushing dust on. Can’t wait to see how it ends up.
And before I sleep, I put something on the 3D printer – lets see how it works out tomorrow morning. Fingers crossed it might be another light patrol vehicle for some more modern troops I did a late pledge for earlier this month…
Just around a year ago, the first playtest version of Skirmish Sangin V2 was put up on the facebook group to be tested. It has taken me this long to actually sit down and get it ready to play, mostly due to finally getting my mojo back to play some Ultramoderns.
With the first game of my newly planned monthly schedule against the Dastardly Regular Opponent coming up, what better time to jump back into Skirmish Sangin, one of our preferred rulesets for Ultramoderns, especially with the new Version 2 and all it’s changes. This is also the first game in the ChargeReal setting, using my fictional nation of Shyluz.
We begin our mission on the outskirts of Al-Khalas, a small village in the south of Shyluz, close to the border with the Emirate of Bazistan. Last night, PMC operators from TIJ moved into the village and took cover for the night, the civilians fleeing into the hills. This alerted the forces pursuing them, elements from the 1st Airmobile Division of the Republic of Shyluz Army.
After deploying from their transport helicopters (a variant of the Mi-17) at a safe distance from the town, the platoon spread out out over the various hillsides. Our section moved into the main buildings, splitting into the three teams that form a Republic of Shyluz Infantry Squad.
The Scout Team, a pair of Veteran soldiers who had completed the Shyluz Ranger course, were the foremost element. The moved into town, unable to spot any of the hidden defenders.
On the right flank, the Gun group (based around the MG3) moves into an overwatch position to cover the rest of the village.
The main group, including the NCO, radio operator (required due to the outdated comms equipment the squad use), Light AT weapon team and combat lifesaver, started moving down the main road into town. Pictured here taking a pause before the advance.
Against them, the PMC force was comprised of 7 operators (a mix of Elite and Veterans). Four of them were armed with assault rifles, the machine gunner with a PKM and the team leader with a P90 SMG. The final member was an elite sniper, hidden under camo netting. All of them had body armour and several grenades each (which will come into use).
To lay an ambush, a team based around the machine gunner took up a hidden position on a compound roof, while the commander lead a three man team hidden in the marketplace. Overwatching both, the sniper took up position in the main compound. All of them started off as hidden, giving a pretty useful -75% to being spotted by the opposing force. They also had three claymore mines, hidden among six possible locations. These were treated as a hand grenade but only in one direction, set off after a demolitions check.
For the first few phases of the game, the Operators held their fire, waiting for opposition to get closer. The Scout team, despite having Gone Firm (the replacement for being prone) are quickly spotted by their sniper thanks to their impressive Spotting skill. Additionally, the operators are sharing information between each other, helping the others to spot targets.
The main Shyluz force is slow to move off, partially due to being lulled into false sense of security by the lack of contact. Or maybe it’s the squad leader trying to get orders through the limited radio network thats being hampered by the surrounding hills.
On the right, the base of fire team moved into their covering position, blissfully unaware of the possible danger in front of them. Again, the PMC team wait to open fire, instead spotting and reporting positions to the rest of the team.
Despite the NCO and radioman holding position to get orders from command, the rest of the team moved up to the field edge and went to ground.
These crop fields took advantage of the new cover rules – obstacles fall into three categories: Concealment, Cover and Buildings. For these troopers, the fields are concealment – good at blocking line of sight, bad at stopping bullets. A nice simplification that rapidly sped up playing the game.
Meanwhile in the square, the squad leader continued to hide while slowly cranking out Tempo points for the squad, passing out commands and keeping the squad updated as to the attackers movements.
Tempo is a brand new mechanic that both myself and my Dastardly Regular Opponent found REALLY changed how the game played. Tempo points represent a soldier understanding the flow of the battle and being able to push ahead. They can be gained through either command actions (assuming you are a character with that skill) or lucky rolls, and then can be spent to do actions that modify the usual flow of the game, such as interupting enemy actions, reacting to coming under fire in ways other than “hitting the deck” or even adding an additional action point for when you really need to move.
Speaking of which…
The NCO managed to lag behind the rest of the squad, keeping an eye on the village. While sprinting towards cover, the enemy sniper called an interrupt and sent a round downrange. A successful hit (elevated position, target in the open and using two AP to focus easily overcoming the penalty for targeting a moving target) only saved by the NCO’s body armour roll being especially lucky.
As an aside, the body armour and overall damage was perhaps a little bit swingy. Maybe not enough to cause a problem or ruin the game and it’s easy enough to rationalise it (sometimes the hit might be more of splinters or ricochets or maybe it just slams into the armour).
The next stage of the PMC ambush was for the group in the centre to prepare to fire. First up was someone attempting to spot a target when… A Fumble was rolled. Much like in V1, fumbles occur when you roll a “00-0” on the D100 and can lead to some bad things. They have changed since the first version, now giving the possibility of draining your Tempo, losing track of your spotted targets… or making yourself exposed for someone else to spot.
Obviously the movement of the PMC in the town centre drew just the wrong sort of attention. Naturally I selected him to be spotted by the machine gunner in the Base of Fire Team, already set up in a perfect flanking position. However, part of me was aware that I’d have to wait a little bit before actually being able to drop that 2″ burst of MG fire.
At a similar time, just as the fireworks kicked off, I decided to push my scout team up to the buildings. They would not be aware of the enemy forces above them, their spotting being unable to work out what the noise coming from above them was. Behind them, one of the Base of Fire team also attempted to spot but failed.
At this stage I unfortunately had a minor issue – all of the activations coming up were for the PMC force. And worse, my Dastardly Opponent was all ready to use them. First action?
Flipping over the claymore marker and rolling to detonate…
It went off successfully, the mine slinging a torrent of ball bearings at the two soldiers within the blast radius. Not even the protection of the rocks was able to reduce the damage to a manageable level. The Machine Gunner was killed outright, while the loader took enough points to permanently pin him, effectively taking him out of action.
The next thunderous explosion was a PMC operator posting a frag grenade off the room and into the scouts below. This time there was no cover to reduce the damage and again, both operators were severely injured.
This of course was made worse when the next PMC decided to finish the job with another frag grenade. This finished off both scouts, the deadly amount of damage (3d10 inside the kill zone) easily overcoming the armour protection.
Overall, this flank was starting to look like a nightmare. Two thirds of the total number of troops on that side taken out, leaving only the team leader and a rifleman still in action.
However, the fight wasn’t over yet. Despite some small arms injuries from the PMC machine gun, the team leader was able to slide into cover next to his subordinate and hand him a frag granade. The rifleman then activated, winding his arm up to fling the bomb…
And Nailing the guys on the roof with it. One PMC operator was taken out immediately, while the others all took damage and suppression from flying debris.
On the opposing flank, having spotted the gunfire from the elevated positions, the main team decided to attempt to flank around the compounds. Interestingly at this point they were unaware of the group still in them market.
Until they managed to work out a good flank onto the hidden bad guys. Looking through the gap behind the buildings, the pair of riflemen were able to spot the hidden enmies and start putting shots down, although none managed to cause damage.
In response to the advanacing enemies, the sniper fired a final shot down the road at the edge of the field and then relocated to cover the rear. Getting an additional AP via tempo points, the sniper went firm in cover, giving them a little more survivability.
Meanwhile, the Shyluz Infantry started moving up a little closer, working their way around the field to avoid being cut down by the machine gun fire. It should be noted that the NCO of the team lagged behind a touch, using most of his actions to attempt to get more tempo and interrupt some of the enemy movement. However, this was not as successful as the Elite PMC Commander, and much of the dice rolling was unsuccessful.
Unfortunately I managed to miss out on getting a photo of the action but the Infantry ran into a major issue when the PMC operators pulled out frag grenades and lobbed them over the cover. There was less immediate KIAs than on the other flank, but it was definitely spreading the suppression and wounds around.
At this point, the PMC team realised they could slowly start peeling out, having delivered a pretty destructive ambush on the pursuing force. The machine gun team on the building moved first, with one of the riflemen picking up the body of his teammate. The small group left the back door and kept moving.
However, their retreat left an opening on the right flank, meaning the two remaining members of the Base of Fire team could move up. The team leader reached the edge of the wall and fired a few shots at the retreating team in the marketplace, who had managed to disengage behind the thunderous explosions. However, being injured meant most of the shots whistled overhead.
Of course, shooting off the rifle caught the attention of the PMC Machine Gunner who managed to spot and then shoot through the field. The rounds shredded the foliage, removing the Shyluz team leader from play.
With a smoke grenade popped and most of the pursing force pinned down, the only obstacle between them and escaping was the enemy Radio operator, who had managed to find a gap in cover that neither the PMC riflemen or the sniper could engage. It was of course at this stage that the Dastardly Regular Opponent decided to try out the CQB rules. A quick combat move, a very high CQB skill + sidearm and the radio operator was in the dust.
With the entire Shyluz infantry squad in various stages of out of action, the International Janissaries managed to break contact and escape into the wild forest that covers the border between Shyluz and the Emirate of Bazistan. They had taken casualties and injuries but managed to get everyone out and to safety.
Overall, it was a really fun game to sit down and play. The new version of Skirmish Sangin keeps a lot of the stuff I loved from the original, slims down a lots of the bulk in the older systems and then adds some new twists.
In addition to the ingame tweaks I am also a big fan of the new character creation process. By breaking the link between activation order and skill level, you can now have much more varied soldier types at the different levels. Additionally, each character is built from a template, giving you some preset to values to then adjust to give them the specific feel. Building the two sides took a fraction of the time it used to.
In terms of the game, we both had a really good time, quickly getting back into the swing of it. I’m already planning out a new scenario in the setting, looking at some other operations in the ChargeReal. Maybe over the border in Emirate of Bazistan. There are a few little things I think I need to prep before next time – the character sheets have a lot going on on them (wounds, tempo and suppression especially) that need to be tracked during the game. I’m think of using some pins on a backing board so I can move them back and forth. But expect more games soon!
Today’s work – all focused on getting ready for tomorrow’s game! I’ve printed off the Skirmish Sangin V2 rules (and the play aids), rolled up the soldiers, finished off the scenario and updated the wiki page! The original plan was to do Local Forces vs our old friend in Commando Global Solutions but alas they were AWOL in The Dastardly Opponent’s collection and so will reappear later. Instead I’m rolling out the Insurgent PMC as a team from a new organisation The International Janissaries. This also means that every figure on the board is afflicted with “new model syndrome”.
I also had to finish off one of the teams. Using the latest Combat Octopus release, I added two NCOs (one for the Scout team, one to lead the squad) as well a radioman. I continue to be impressed by the parts, and will definitely be writing more about them. Assuming they do well tomorrow. Also yes, I will be giving them basing material as well.
I also realised I needed some Claymore markers for the ambush being sprung (especially as this scenario is suspiciously close to a certain level in Call of Duty 4). So I 3d printed a claymore mine model, painted it green with white letters on the front, propped it onto a rock and then added more basing material. It’s not perfect but it’s a pretty fun marker. Rulewise we’ll probably use it as a remote frag grenade (as the rules aren’t in for proper claymores yet) but will testing the demolition skill to see if the thing actually goes off.
I realised the other day as I watched various youtubers return to email list to make sure you see their stuff, as handy as social media is, it’s also not where a big chunk of the people interested in hobby live. And honestly, I’d rather not lose all my stuff to the whims of some algorithm. For this reason, I’m returning to the old magic (RSS and Email), posting my daily content on the blog for everyone to enjoy.
The focus of my hobby time today was mostly getting the new additions to my Republic of Shyluz Infantry done. The two NCOs (Scout Leader with G36 and Regular Infantry with MP7) and Radio operator will feature in the squad taking part in Saturday’s game.
I also wrote Saturday’s scenario…. Mostly
Lunch time was a chance to break out the spray cans. The pair of Bushmasters have been undercoated in Humbrol Olive Drab. Seeing as they are PMC vehicles, I’m going with a green scheme (with a few black panel) hit with a dusting of tan as they have been hurriedly moved into a desert theatre.
Other things on the to be sprayed pile are a firing line of handgunners from Highland Miniatures, some Lion Guard from Last Sword and two misc heroes from Last Sword as well.
August is gone. Not the most summery of months for me, I ended up getting my second jab and falling ill on week off (not related, was just run down from work). On the other hand, I got a ton of stuff done hobby wise – painting, printing and writing. So overall, pretty good!
Also you might have noticed, my paint rack has expanded! Yep, I realised I was still putting some of my paints into my drawers, rather than having them within arms reach which was getting annoying. Because of this, I picked up two extra drawers to carry more citadel paints. It’s also added a nice shelf for my phone mount, meaning I can keep it at eye level (and stop missing phonecalls when it’s on the stand).
Your eyes are not deceiving you. That purchase column for this month is an unusual colour.
Lets take a look at the details.
Shyluz Infantry (Germans)
PMC + VIP
Shyluz Internal Secruity (Germans and Russians)
Shyluz Infantry (Germans) (3D Printed)
Shyluz Internal Secruity (Germans and Russians) (3D Printed)
PMC + VIP (3D Printed)
Combat Droids (3D Printed)
Captain Carter (3D Printed)
Skull Forge Studios
Hades (3D Printed)
So yep, all of my additions to the database this month were 3D printed. This is the first month that’s happened and it was a lot of fun; printing out the models, working out the paint schemes and thinking up the scenarios and uses for them
I also managed to do well on painting, working on a few things from previous months as well as most of the things I printed this month. It’s one thing I’m aiming to do with all the patreons that I’m on – if I’m buying the models, I should probably get to work on them and enjoy the painting.
Battered Brush 2021
I did it! I finished battered brush with over 10 days to go! I decided to give up on doing on GW stuff as it was more of a personal challenge. It was really cool to watch the map slowly tick up as I managed to fit painting days in. It was even better once I started beating the dreaded line!
Project 3D Printing
As I mentioned above, this is the first month where I’ve actually not purchased any physical models. Instead, I’ve picked up a few STL files but spent most of my printing time pushing the edge of what I’m used to the on the printer. Going bigger, realising mistakes in my setting (100mm retract speed was maybe a touch high)
A lot of it has actually been learning how to properly setup and support models. I’ve moved from just using Chitubox for everything to a hybrid Lychee/Chitu solution – doing the initial supports and resizing in Lychee before going back to Chitu for slicing. Lychee’s supports seem a little more reliable (if aggressive) but I also like the repair function, especially as new versions include a button to use Azure’s web tools to do it.
Technically not part of this month but, after finding a great source for some ultramodern vehicles, I’ve started experimenting with hollowing models and adding holes to drain out. This is something I haven’t tried, but it’s a neat addition to the skill set.
For the first time in a while, Moderns is the busiest category on the blog! I appreciate that a lot of people read this blog mainly for the ultramodern content and luckily for them, I’m slowly getting my mojo back for it. I think partially it’s down 3d printing opening up what’s coming out but also I’m a sucker for world building and so coming up with new scenarios (both setting and gaming) is something I really enjoy. Now I just have to get them on the table.
I made it my aim at the start of the month to get some of the Patreons I’ve been paying for printed off. First up was Combat Octopus, a Patreon I’m really excited about (as a man wanting to build a pile of fictional nations). With their 1990s Germans, I found a really unusual set of models (only Eureka doing a similar set) with a whole host of options thanks to their multi-part setup. September will see some more additions to the Germans and Japanese SF coming out and I will definitely be painting some out.
I’ve painted them up as the first fictional nation in my setting, the Republic of Shlyuz, giving them a mix of G3s and G36s to match the squad loadout I’ve got planned. Once I’ve got the NCO and Radio operators printed, I’ll go into more details on them.
The other modern patreon I have is Turnbase. They are doing a nice range of figure every month and this time it was my weakness – PMCs
I will admit, I’m a little less excited about the possibilities of Turnbase – it seems to replicate a little bit of what Spectre and Empress are doing, with less of the sheer range size the others have. However, I don’t want to be too harsh on them – they are still producing models at a satisfyingly rapid rate, with some really interesting weapons and poses. Swappable heads means (like my anvil subscription) that it’s worth still getting them
The other thing Turnbase does excellently is adding vehicles. Their last two months have included a vehicle as part of the pack. I do like how it’s offered at both the regular and upper tier level (the upper tier adding more to increase the value). The PMC Month also included a Little Bird, in both gunship (if you paid extra) and transport role.
Now, I love Little Birds. I adore scout and utility helos in games like ArmA 3 and GTA Online. That last one might show in what I constructed – a PMC light support gunship, made by taking the AH6 body and not printing the weapons for it. I can easily see this appearing on the board in support of some PMC types. No guns, not even the boards, just a machine gunner leaning out the side. Printing was nice and easy (their supporting work continues to get better) and got it all printed within a workday.
Downside – the initial version was fractionally too small for the crew (as you can see). However, with Turnbase being active on Facebook, I was able to raise the point, get a response and fixed files within a few days. Not bad!
With Spectre releasing it’s long awaited Covert/Overt models last month, I didn’t want to waste time with them. The paint schemes were relatively simple, but it did add the extra challenge of “now paint two models basically the same”. Overall, I’m really happy with how they came out – simply yet standout, while still looking like civilians. A full post in coming covering the range, but I can see them getting a chunk of use.
And this is where I get into trouble – robots! Or should I say Bipedal Semi-Autonomous Combat units (or BSAC) from the nation of Arcadia in the ChargeReal. I’ve always like the Chappie-esque robot design, and I think adding them to ultramodern wargaming (with the right rules) could be an interesting tactical challenge. These models are free from Turnbase’s Gumroad website and (after a quick rescaling) were printed out. I’m already thinking up ideas for them, trying to sell these things as early prototypes rather than 100% perfect for combat – the type of things you need to spend time commanding rather than it automatically changing orders.
Not quite finished this month but here are some more figures using from Combat Octopus parts. These guys are supposed to be the Interior Securtiy troops of Shyluz (hence the Russian look to them) but with the same camo of the regular troops. The torsos are form the modern Russians set, mixed with legs from the German set and with heads using the Vityaz helmet. I have three more from the squad acting as the long range element but I think these guys are perfect for the ex-Soviet door kicking look.
Your eyes do not deceive you – I played a game of Necromunda this month.
I managed to invite the Former Housemate over for a quick game, as well as splitting up the Hive War box we bought a few months ago. As well as it being nice to be social again, it was also fun playing the game. Necromunda has just that right level of
As for the game result? Well, the attempt by the Enforcers to escort a captured Escher Champion through the badlands ended up going poorly when the Delaque ambushed. A well placed sniper, aid from an Eldar Bounty Hunter and the casual dropping of a melta trap just behind the VIP to turn her into ash basically meant Enforcers were out for the count. I definitely need to learn the tactics of the guys I have but I really liked how they played. And importantly, going up against my Eldar Bounty Hunter meant I got to see her loadout actually work out.
I can’t wait to get into a campaign and get some revenge!
Speaking of Eschers, here is the Champion in question. After assembling her last month, this month I actually sat down and painted here. And it may shock you but look! Colours!
I decide to go for a paint scheme inspired by an Anime character I like and I’m really happy how she turned out. Having relied so heavily on dark colours and Agrax Earthshade for so long, painting a model without it felt like a new experience.
So, what next for the Escher? Well I need to go and assemble them first, but I’m aiming for this style. I think I might try and use colour pallets from characters I really like, giving them a fashionable and bright edge in comparison to my Space-Merc Enforcers.
Of course, that wasn’t the only Necormunda model I worked on. I had picked up a pair of hangers on because I love the models – the Ammo-Jack bristling with magazine and shells, the dome runner with the skull mask. However, I decided I wanted to get them into the field.
The Dome Runner is light and agile like every other Escher, but the skull mask made me think of the Death Maidens. For this reason, I’ve decorated her up as a rogue Escher now returned. A needle pistol and sword make sense weapon wise, and I added some Escher pouches to make her match her sisters. And speaking of, I think her clothing might end up being from the same series as the Champion above – black and red, ideal for an outsider.
Seeing as my enforcers can roll with bolt guns from the off, the Ammo Jack will become an Enforcer champion. Just assume that’s all the gear he stole I MEAN confiscated. I also decided to change his headgear – the original head is a bit plain and all my other mercs are using Anvil pieces. So I looked through my collection of STLs and found a Ushanka.
So I had a friend at University called Denis, who was from Russia and, it’s safe to say, made university unforgettable. Always up to hang out, enthusiastic and excitable and not afraid to burn ammo at airsoft. Who better to be inspiration for a ganger covered in ammo?
Now, you may notice he’s joined by some friends. These lizzards are a reference to a little story that came up early in in knowing Denis and it lodged itself in my brain. One of my friends mentioned while I was showing off the basic model, another said one should be on the gun craving violence. Luckily I found a Sumpkroc model on Cults3d, scaled it down, printed it off and attached them. I think they are a really neat addition, both making this guy standout but also making him uniquely mine. I can’t wait to see what happens when he hits the table.
Fantasy was quiet this month. Sadly my games with my sister took a pause this month (we finished the first arc and so took a week off, during which I was exhausted, and then I was ill for the other one this month). However, this hasn’t stopped me writing up those games (or at least finishing the first one). The other two are almost done, I just keep being distracted from finishing them off. However, for a sneak peek, go and ready the narrative my sister has been writing over at her blog.
However, that doesn’t mean I haven’t been planning ahead. Last month some very nice MDF tilesets from PWORK turned up. The tavern and dungeon sets are going to wait but the caves are going into action for Episode 2, game 1. I still need to finish assembling them but it’s a really smart little setup, with literally three items that needed instructions. I’m still not sure how I’m going to paint them (or even if I will before the game) but it’s a set I’m very happy with.
However, I am looking far beyond the limits of this first story. I’m already planning Episode 3 + 4 and trying to think where our swordmasters will be going next. One thing I’m excited to show off in this setting is the variety of characters you might end up encountering. These Lion Guard Elves fit into that – one of my ideas features a hidden Elven temple that the Swordmasters may stumble upon, giving a location for future battles in the episode. However, we’ll see what I come up with.
These models are from Last Sword and were a nightmare to get printed. All of the files needed repairing, so eventually I had to take them into Lychee and repair all of them, thankfully added by the Azure tools. Now I’m done, I’m really happy with them – there are some great poses, a trio of characters and spot on for my image of them. Now to plan the scenario…
Yes that’s Captain Carter.
Yes, I did buy her from Skullforge Studios to go with my Chain of Command force.
No, I have not painted her (I tried and failed when i went too hard on the while paint).
No, I have not worked out her support list cost or rules…. but I will.
That’s it for this month’s update, I’ll see you in a month!
Scene 1 – Forest Clearing. Alistair Von Ferrumgard, leader of this band of Swordmasters watches stoically as his pupils form up in two groups of two and prepare for a mock duel
Introducing a player to a new game is tricky. You usually have to find a good scenario that is interesting yet not overwhelming, showing the game off without deluging them in details. Luckily, Open Combat is simple yet interesting enough that you can easily play it on a flat barren plain but see the ins and out of the combat system, enjoying the movement back and forth that comes from rolling a lot of 3’s and 4’s.
The Sister took the pair of Jochman and O’Dicca (who secretly are the main characters but don’t tell anyone), while I took the less teamwork focused (and less heroic) pair of Wolfgang and Zorros. All of them, as well as their master, use the Swashbuckler profile from the Sword Masters expansion to Open Combat, giving a pretty reasonable statline with a few of the special tricks that expansion added such as Lunging and Riposting (as you’d expect from a sword fighting expert). To add some variation, I tweaked each of the statlines for the heroes to play into the rough character archetypes I had scrawled down for them. Alaistair is the Old Leader (slower movement and increased mind to improve his use of Inspire), O’Dicca the Brash Youngster (increased attack), Jochman the Stotic Ally (increased fortitude) and Zorros as the the Cocky Bastard (increased mind to make him better at taunting opponents as well as some items to better suit the model).
Wolfgang did not receive any such additions – he is a mere swashbuckler. Take from that what you will.
One part of playing to tell a cool story rather than playing just to win is trying to play how best to suit the characters. I started off by not using Wolfgang and Zorros as a team – Zorros is more likely to push his junior assistant forward and wait for the moment to strike. Instead, I attempted to drag Jochman out of position, using the Taunt skill (which pulls a target model towards the character. Jochman however has no time for such childish behaviour.
Remember what I mentioned above about playing narratively? Well my sister managed to use her pair of characters exceptionally well. Despite Wolfgang getting up in both of their faces, the back and forth of Push Backs and Impasses went in her the pair’s favour. Eventually, Jochman was able to hold Wolfgang long enough for O’Dicca to flank around an deliver a strike from the rear arc, taking advantage of the massive reduction in character defence included in the Open Combat rules.
However, despite outflanking Wolfgang, it did not stop Lacele in turn being attacked from the rear (a move befitting a slippery character such as Zorros). In fact, he was able to land two good attacks, definitely a danger when you only have a fortitude of 4. Open Combat actually lets you land multiple hits depending on how many dice match the target result, so having a character with high ATK means you might end up with a maximum of 6 damage per turn (assuming you roll perfectly).
O’Dicca was easily able to turn around and fight back against her attacker (you can already hear the witty dialogue between the pair of them) using a combination of knock backs followed by lunges. Lunge is an interesting move in Open Combat, letting you attack with your speed rather than your attack state as well as giving you the ability to attack from 1″ away. The downside, rolling a 1 means you end up stepping into the fray, a mistimed lunge leaving you vulnerable. Rolling a 1 also means that you lose the initiative, leaving other characters on you team without an activation and at the mercy of your opponent.
Inevitable, with the fall of Wolfgang letting the pair gang up on Zorros, he soon lost the last of his Fortitude and the mock battle was over. Not even the use of his fine hat or cloak as a distraction would save him.
A good intro to the rules, as well as a fine start to the story of this group. The ruleset was really easy to teach a new player, with only a few core fundamentals to learn so you can focus on the actual gameplay. We forgot a few of the minor abilities (only remembering them part way through) but overall a success.
In the next game, I’ll be taking control of the bad guys, letting The Sister take control of the entire party and taking the first steps into The Estate of Vorpass!
An advantage of moving back to Leeds was bringing me closer to friends and family which brings with it the advantage that I have a much wider base of people to see and play games with. One of which is my Sister, who runs her own blog covering her hobbies. She is not really a wargamer, having only had the classic experience of being dragged through a game of Warhammer or two and collecting a few of the old Bretonnian figures. However, she is a keen board gamer and a fan of all things fantasy.
One day last year while we were hanging out (thanks to me being a single-person household I was able to bubble with family), she expressed an interest in giving my hobby a go. And as you might have seen, I have been lacking in wargames in the last 18 months. Because of this, the idea of running a game ever two weeks sounded pretty damn great.
However, the eternal question is what to play?
After a few weekends of thinking about it, as well as watching some classic swashbuckling films and trying out a ruleset, we finally decided we’d play some Fantasy skirmish (and not just due to the pile of models I’ve been collecting for it).
Part of this was also down to the rules – Open Combat is a system with plenty of potential for including a whole variety of troops (everything from hordes of rats up to large beasts), easy to expand with a collection of house rules and most importantly – it was simple. There isn’t 101 moving parts that need to be pulled together, there isn’t a host of cards that each player must learn. Instead, all you need is a few D6s, a few models, a small board and the 1 page quick reference guide.
The other part was down to the story telling element of wargaming. Neither my sister and I are rushing into games for the competitive side – it’s much more interesting to use them as ways of creating an exciting plot. For this reason, we both got especially excited about the idea of using our games as the starting point for content for both our websites – I’d be writing the game focused side (as well as detailing the scenarios) while The Sister on her blog (https://wolfishwritten.wordpress.com/) will provide the ongoing narrative written in universe.
However, we’d need a setting. And luckily I had one in mind…
(map coming soon)
Midgard is a fantasy setting that I’ve been writing over the past few years as an excuse to let me use all the wonderful fantasy figures out there. It is a setting that contains elements of many other fantasy settings (such as the Old World from Warhammer, the Continent of the Witcher, Westeros, etc). At some point, I’ll write more about it but it’s a merging of low fantasy mud and grime while still containing elements of high fantasy and legends (such as encountering gods and there being other races without going too hard on the “humans are big racists”).
The main characters of the story so far are a group of the Swordmasters. These are the key agents of the main ruler in the world of Midgard, The Empress. At her command, they crisscross the realm to solve issues and protect her rule. It’s best to describe them as diplomats, spies and assassins all rolled into one, occupying the same slot as famous characters such as the Musketeers of the Guard in The Three Musketeers.
Going forward, we may encounter other groups working through the empire. There are a wide number of groups that go about their trade throughout the Imperial Lands and it’s kingdoms and into the unclaimed Marches, from the usual Mercenaries and Templars to Vampire Knights, Garou Scouts and Elven monks from secret temples hidden away where the average citizen would not expect to find them.
Of course, you can have all the setting you want but there must be a story within them. When writing the campaign, I’ve worked out that I want it to feel a bit like a premium TV show crossed with a little bit of the feel of the old Sharpe TV Movies. Each episode will contain a number of a scenarios (often using similar or the same terrain) while the actual plotlines may cross over between episodes, assuming the required dramatic cliffhanger is reached.
The Core cast will naturally move between Episodes and storylines (as well as having some bonuses to keep them around for longer), but you will see other characters join in for a few battles depending on how the fates go. Depending on how long we play, certain reoccurring characters might crop up, for good or for ill.