Sunday, 5 April 2020

Azul Online

We're empty-nesters, so whilst our children are safe and well, they aren't part of our household and are isolating independetly of us. This means, of course, that we haven't seen them for a few weeks, except online. But we still like to play games, so yesterday we tried out a game on Tabletop Simulator. Tabletop Simulator is interesting in that it doesn't provide online versions of games, as such, but simply ways of presenting actual game components virtually, leaving you to do the actual playing. You still roll dice, deal cards and move counters around. And you can play remotely. So Caterine and I set up a session on our respective PCs, whilst elsewhere in Wollongong my daughter and her partner jined us on their laptops.

And we played Azul. This partially because it's an unofficial user-designed setup and is therefore free; there's a whole range of 'official' game sets that you can buy for a modest outlay.

It worked really well, once we all got used to the interface, and we had two excellent games (made all the more excellent by my winning both of them, the second by an extremely comfortable margin).

Catherine acquired an assistant.

We have a few other games to try out for future sessios (I'm keen to try Codenames, and we may have a workeable version of Tales of the Arabian Knights as well), but this was a useful trial session and a lot of fun.

Saturday, 4 April 2020

Saturday Morning Gladiators

I've had a copy of THW's 'Red Sand Blue Sky' for ages, but had never played it. Mostly because, of course, if I needed to scratch that gladiator itch I had my own rules to play with, and they were always in need of developig.

Anyway, I finally got the game out this morning, and gave it a go, running a retiarius (Valentinus) against a secutor (Gannicus). Gannicus was run by the game's AI.

RSBS uses a grid, with for wall sectors surrounding eight heart areas and one centre zone. Movement is one zone per move. The different zones come into play if a gladiator has to appeal to the crowd - you get a penalty if your in the wall zone and a bonus if you're in the centre.

I started the gladiators in opposite wall zones.

The game uses pretty standard THW mechanisms, with some rolls being 2D6 against a stat, generating 0, 1 or 2 successes, and others being handfuls of dice, based on stats and situation, looking for successes. Each gladiator has a pool of bonus dice, which they can recover through rest actions.

Gladirtors take their actions based on an initiative roll which favours the faster, lighter types.

On their turn a gladiator may move one sector, or perform a ranged attack, such as casting a net or throwing a weapon. Here, Valentinues has thowrn his net, but missed - the number of successes is equal.

If a gladiator enters the same square as another, they roll opposed series of dice on the manuever Table to see who gets the advantage, whch may lead to one of them making an attack.

Valentinus won this, but by a low margin, and opted to step back, hoping that Gannicus might stay in place and recover, making him a target for the net.

But Gannicus advanced, and the two gladiators rolled for position.

Valentinus got the better of it, and performed a powerful bash attack, which not only seriously wounded Gannicus, but pushed him back and knocked him down. Gannicus was actually in a bad way, with a bleeding wound that would hinder all of his future rolls, and drain his bonus dice.

Valentinus closed in to finish him off, but couldn't manage it.

Gannicus put up a good fight despite his wound. Valentinus cast his net, but got caught in a tug of war, which allowed Gannicus to snatch it off him.

Valentinus closed in a again ...

... and caught Gannicus a mighty blow to the chest. This knocked him down and left him on 0 bonus dice, which meant he surrendered and appealed to the crowd. His serious wounds and total exhaustion meant that they spared him.

I thought that RSBS was OK, and might give it another go, but obviously playing it for the first time I was looking a lot of stuff up and duble-checking rules, so found it more involved that I think it probably was. There aren't too many decisions to make, although I suspect if you have more than one bout in the arena at a time, moving around zones becomes harder (you can only have three active gladiators in a zone).

I got Munera Sine Missione out afterwards, and ran the same bout. Valentinus started well, tripping up Gannicus with his net.

Gannicus revovered and returned the favour, knocking Valentinus down.

Gannicus scored the first hit - a light wound on Valentinus.

Valentinus returned paid it back with interest, slipping past Gannicus's shield to deliver a nasty wound in return.

Gannicus never really recovered, and a second hit from Valentinus saw his down and appealing to the crowd, who weren't so merciful in this game.

I set up a second game, with the whip- and sword-armed Rodan taking on a mighty Crupellarius.

Rodan gave ground as his ponderous opponent advanced, using the whip to drive him back and to try and gain an advantage (a whip scores no damage but can inflict critical hits).

This approach did leave Rodan dangerously close to the arena wall, but the armoured gladiator was too slow to exploit it (he rolled really badly for AP).

Rodan started using hiw whip attacks to build up some support from the crowd, whilst his armoured foe managed to press forward and knock Rodan's sword from his grasp. But the fight had gone on too long for the crowd, and the referee stepped into end it and declare a draw.

Neither gladiator had inflicted any wounds on the other, but both had lost stamina through fatigue.

Anyway, it was fun getting the gladiators out again; they've been sadly neglected for the past year or so. RSBS had some features of interest, but (and I know I'm biased here) I still like the fast-paced action of MSM. Both games give an exciting narrative, though.

Friday, 3 April 2020

Palaeolithic Painting

I've posted loads of pictures of my Palaeo Diet games over the past couple of weeks, but not really done a gallery of the stuff I've assembled for it. This has all been painted in the past three weeks, which for me is an impressive rate of production.

Also they're all figures I had in my unpainted lead pile.

Let's start with the hunters. This is my first group, the blonde ones.

And the second group, with reddish-brown hair. The two groups also have slightly different skin tones.

For each group I did one fire-user, two bow or sling-armed hunters, two with spears and two with clubs or axes. There's also two hounds.

The figures are from Irregular Miniatures. They're 15mm. It's the pack they put together for their 'Tusk' game, which I think was the precursor to Palaeo Diet.

On to the beasts. The grazers are cows from (I think) East Riding Miniatures. They're probably a bit big and bulky for what's intended by herd grazers, but they're all I have. I'd like some other type of animal, so I can have herds of different species on the table, but I'm not sure what to get, from whom or how I'd bulk the order out to make it worth the postage.

Here's the obligatory mammoths - they're MY Miniatures. I think. Again, I may find some other large grazers as an alternative. I have some toy bears that, in a dark room and without my glasses on, would pass for a Diprotodon-type creature.

Apex predators. There's a rather friendly-looking black bear that's a plastic toy I got given years ago. And two giant wolverines, from Amazon Miniatures. I like the wolverines a lot; they painted up very nicely.

Pack predators - most of them are Pendraken 10mm wolves with once Peter Pig wolf thrown in for good measure. As I said in another post, they're a bit small, but I assume that they make up for it with attitude and ferocity.

Finally a couple of terror-birds that I bought for a HOTT army which I've subsequently retired and broken up for other projects. I got them a long time ago, but I seem to recall that they were from Steve Barber.

The paint-job, which is over 20 years old I think, probably needs tidying up, but they'll pass.

Animals Assemble!

(I added four pigs to the final picture. They're my critters and I have no idea who made them)

HOTT 52 - Week 14 - The Morthbrood vs The Forces of Light

We may be socially isolated, but I had my Thursday evening wargaming session with Catherine this week. And we played my weekly HOTT game.

As with last week I got out a matched-pair based on a series of childrens' books - this time Alan Garner's 'Weirdstone of Brisingamen'/'Moon of Gomrath'.

Catherine took the Forces of Light, under the wizard Cadellin. I took the Morthbrood, led by the fearsome Morrigan. This is a battle where both sides have magician generals.

Catherine defended.

The Morthbrood - a standard evil magician (The Morrigan) plus hordes (Svart Alfar) army, but with the obligatory behemoth as well (the Mara).

The Forces of Light are a mixed bunch of riders and shooters (Lios Alfar), dwarves (warband), knights (The Wild Hunt) and  hero (Albanac / Uthacar)

I started off by sending the Morthbrood's various beasts to attack Catherine's left, which was defended by the dwarves. Thet were supported by Svart Alfar lurkers.

My lurkers were driven off, but Catherine deployed her Lios Alfar ones.

A fierce battle erupted as my lurkers returned. The beasts killed the Lios Alfar ...

... but the dwarves proceeded to destroy both elements of beasts, securing her control of the flank.

Meanwhile the Morthbrood had been advancing. We both got good PIP rolls in the early bounds.

The Morrigan ensorcelled the opposing hero ...

... who promptly escaped magical confinement and appeared in the Morthbrood's rear.

The armies approached ...

... and the Morthbrood charged. I was aiming to fix the Forces of Light in place with the hordes for as long as possible, whilst using the Mara to work down their line after making a breakthrough.

Both lines broke up as the battle ebbed back and forth.

The Mara destroyed the knights opposite it.

Catherine pulled her line back and reformed, leaving the Morthbrood in a bit of a mess.

On the other flank the Brollachan (sneaker) and the Morrigan's crows (flyer) destroed some Lios Alfar cavalry.

Albanac was moving back into the action. The Morrigan sent some Svart Alfar hordes to delay him whilst concentrating on trying to kill Cadellin.

The Mara attacked the enemy general ...

... but he retreated through his own troops, and the Morthbrood sneaker, to safety.

And at that point Albanac rode in and slew The Morrigan, to give Catherine the victory.

That last fight was a 50/50 - if Catherine had lost she would have also lost the battle; casualties on both sides were very close at that stage, with both armies only a few AP from breaking.

The last few dramatic turns were observed by Pandora.

I thought I'd done an army showcase on this pair, but it appears not. I might put something together, although I seriously need to redo the Brollachan which looks a bit rubbish..
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