Sunday, 28 February 2021

The Wollongong Ripper

Yesterday we headed into town to play an interesting detective game - The Wollongong Ripper. Basically it was a scavenger hunt run across the city-centre, and managed by an app we all installed on our phones. Teams or up to six people set out to solve the mystery of a serial killer targetting police officers.

We were encouraged to dress up. So we did. We lost two team members to illness, so could only manage four of the six Cluedo characters - my son portrayed the worst Professor Plum ever, my wife a slightly bohemian Reverend Green, Maya a very bohemian Mrs Peacock and myself a rather mature Miss Scarlett.

Essentially the app showed us various points on a map of Wollongong where we'd could find witnesses or useful locations. When you got within a certain distance of the point it would show the character's details and you could pick up a statement and maybe interrogate them using a limited supply of questions. Sometimes, though, you'd have to solve a puzzle first and, in at least two cases, you had to visit witnesses in a particular sequence since one would give you an object you needed in order to gain access to another. Some points awarded penalties (usually time penalties) and some offered rewards (a time bonus or extra questions). 

You could guess the killer at any time, but there was a massive time penalty if you got it wrong.

At the end of the day the winning team would be the one that solved it in the shortest possible time, but there was also pries for best costumes, best team name and a few other things as well.

I think around thirty teams took part in total, so it was fun wandering the city and seeing the different costumes and groups of people having fun. We identified a likely suspect very early on, and then spent far too much time confirming it was them - it was, and it was as obvious a solution as it seemed to be. But it was fun taking our time over it.

We'd certainly do something like this again; the initial game setup was a bit fiddly but once we got started it all went very smoothly.

Friday, 26 February 2021

Thursday HOTT

You may have noticed a criminal lack of Thursday evening game reports over the past few weeks. I've actually been turning up each week to watch, but with two burlesque shows in the offing I ended up using one of the spare classrooms at the Uni to fit in some rehearsal in a space bigger than my living-room.

But with both shows out of the way (so expect a Burlesque Update in the next month or so), I could resume my gaming. And what better way to start than an evening of HOTT?

When I arrived Geoff and Peter were already stuck into a game, and I was odd-man out. So I watched Geoff, using some nice Tolkeinesque Orcs grind down Peter's Greeks. It started off looking bad for the Orcs as Peter was wedged into a nice position with secure flanks, forcing the Orcs to hurl their hordes at his spears with little in the way of support from elsewhere. Most of the hordes died, but Geoff got the PIPs to keep bringing them back, and eventually managed to create enough of an opening to break Peter's line. The Greek's knight general found himself tucked into some woods and under attack from a behemoth and that was the end of it.

Peter then had to go, so Geoff and I played the next game. He used his Riders of Rohan (which are, ironically, mostly knights rather than riders), and I used my whimsical Garden Gnomes. I took just the one photo, but basically the snail behemoths (right) managed to take out the Rohan mounted opposite them, despite being surrounded at one point and severely down on combat factors. Elsewhere the shooters and spears took out some of the riders and one spear to pick up a fairly convincing win. Rohan's deployment was broken up by bad going, which did help a lot.

New member Ed had turned up during the second game and watched with interest. When Geoff went I offered to tech him, and he decided to give it a go. I used the Gnomes again, whilst he took a nice simple Elf army of shooters, spears riders and a single non-general hero. Non-general heroes are a good thing to learn with; you can have all the fun of using a hero, without the worry of losing the game if you make a stupid mistake.

Ed's Elves defended, and I sent in the snails again, rolling up the Elven cavalry on his left. To be honest the snails then got stuck in that corner of the board and didn't really contribute much to the battle.

I advanced my centre and Ed did a nice job of turning my left flank. But he lost the shooter duel in the centre, and ended up somewhat fragmented and couldn't quite exploit his advantage. Meanwhile I just steadily ground the Elves down.

One of the maxims of HOTT is that it always pays to get your troops into a coherent line if you can, and we both managed to do that towards the end. On the hill my general was also in trouble, being somewhat isolated and in danger of being surrounded. But at this stage I was one element away from breaking the Elves.

I exploited some congestion to push a spear element back into its friends for a win.

The final game was a fun one and it was good to be able to teach someone the game.

Wednesday, 24 February 2021

Army Showcase - The Morthbrood

This army is the evil opponent of The Forces of Light and, like it, draws ideas from both 'The Weirdstone of Brisingamen' and 'The Moon of Gomrath'.

Here's the army in all its glory. The list is:

1 x Magician General (The Morrigan and Grimnir) @ 4AP
1 x Sneaker (Brollachan) @ 3AP
1 x Flyers (Crows) @ 2AP
1 x Behemoth (Mara) @4AP
1 x Beasts (Palug Cats) @ 2AP
1 x Beasts (The Hounds of the Morrigan)@ 2AP
1 x Lurker (Svart Alfar with Nets) @ 1AP
6 x Hordes (Svart Alfar) @ 1AP

The Morrigan (in her guise as Selina Place) is the magician general, whilst the weed-coated Grimnir is her second-in-command on the same base. The Morrigan is a railway figure, whilst Grimnir is a Micro-Machines Star Wars figure with some added weed.

The creatures of the Morthbrood - the crows are railway model seagulls (I kid you not) with their wings clipped. The Palug Cats are Irregular Miniatures tigers, but painted to look like tabby wildcats, for that is essentially what they are; huge cats. The Hounds of the Morrigan do not quite match the description in the book, but are Warmaster Chaos Hounds.

The behemoth in any HOTT army is usually the showcase figure, simply because of their size. The Mara are basically 20' tall malachite green troll-women. I used an Irregular Miniatures 54mm nude woman as the base, and gave her a ragged tunic made from tissue-paper. Their faces are supposed to be shapeless, so I chopped off the head and replaced it with a milliput blob with a few rudimentary features added. Fun Fact: The Mara were apparently based on the reclining female figures sculped by Henry Moore. 

The Brollachan is the figure I'm least happy with. It's described as a being of black smoke with two red eyes at the centre, which is not easy to model. I used some soft-toy stuffing, shaped and painted black, with the eyes painted in the middle. To be honest I really need to redo it and make it less of an unthreatening blob.

The Svart Alfar are basically your classic goblinoid horse, and I used Pendraken 10mm Orcs and 15mm goblins from what was then Chariot Miniatures to make them. The element with the net are the lurkers.

'The Moon of Gomrath' features Bodachs, which are larger goblin creatures. 

I hope you have enjoyed seeing these armies as much as I did putting them together and playing with them.

Monday, 22 February 2021

Army Showcase - The Forces of Light

Last year I had a request to do an Army Showcase for my matched pair of armies based around Alan Garner's novels 'The Weirdstone of Brisingamen' and 'The Moon of Gomrath'. Published in 1960 and 1963 respectively, these were popular childrens' fantasy novels when I was at school in the 1970s, but I never got around to reading them until I was an adult. They are set in Cheshire, in the area around Macclesfield, contemporary to the time they were written, and concern two children, Colin and Susan, who, whilst staying with friends whilst their parents are overseas, become embroiled in a magical conflict between good and evil. A lot of the concepts, creatures and characters are drawn from the mythology of the British Isles.

It's always hard to do this kind of army showcase without giving away spoilers, and I don't plan to summarise the events of the novels. Instead I will do a post for each of the two armies. The HOTT armies make use of things from both books, gleefully thrown together. Inevitably some things were dropped, simply because there weren't the points to allow for them.

In this post I will showcase the Forces of Light. Here is the army (you can click on the picture to make it bigger):

The list is as follows:

1 x Sneaker (Colin and Susan) @ 3AP
1 x Magician General (Cadellin Silverbrow) @ 4AP
1 x Hero (Albanac and Uthecar) @ 4AP
2 x Riders (Lios Alfar Cavalry) @2AP
1 x Shooter (Lios Alfar Archers) @ 2AP
1 x Lurker (Lios Alfar Ambushers) @ 1AP
1 x Blades (Dwarfs) @2AP
2 x Knights (The Einheriar of the Herlathing) @ 2AP

Here's the two main characters - Colin and Susan - along with the wizards Cadellin. The children would work as a cleric - one of them has a protective artifact - but this would hinder the magician in HOTT. But they also infiltrate the villain's stronghold and evade their minions so a sneaker works just as well. Colin is a plastic model railway figure whilst Susan is, I think, a Peter Pig French Resistance fighter with the gun filed off. Cadellin is a pretty standard literary wizard in the Gandalf/Merlin style, so I used a generic wizard figure from (I think) Irregular Miniatures.

This is the hero element, depicting the man Albanac and the dwarf Uthecar. Albanac is an ERM Border Reiver with a milliput hat, whilst Uthecar is a Peter Pig dwarf whose axe has been replaced by a sword.

Other dwarfs feature in both books, some of them named. I have lumped them together into a single blade element. Once again the figures are from Peter Pig.

I've noticed that in some games I run them as warband, thus showing that I don't really know my own lists. They work as either troop-type.

The Lios-Alfar are basically classic fantasy elves. They are four feet tall, and dress in silver and white with feather cloaks. So to depict them I used Irregular 10mm elves and a simple white/grey/pale-blue wash and dry-brush colour scheme. These are the cavalry.

And here are the archers - one element of shooters and also an element of lurkers.

Finally 'The Moon of Gomrath' features a lengthy appearance by the Wild Hunt (The Einheriar of the Herlathing). Five different groups of them are described in detail, but I only had room in the army for two and these are they. The figures are Sub-Roman British cavalry from Outpost.

This was a fairly easy army to put together, since the fact that it's based around common fantasy tropes means that there was a wide selection of figures available. I did a lot of it using spare figures, in fact - the 10mm Lios-Alfar were probably the only specific purchase I made.

In the next post I will showcase their opponents - The Morthbrood.

Thursday, 18 February 2021

The Return of Machinas

For the past couple of years our car-combat game itch has been scratched by Gaslands, but I thought yesterday it would be nice to set up and play a game of Machinas. When it kind of fell by the wayside back in 2018 I was in the process of rejigging a fair bit of it, and I recently came across my garbled notes and felt inspired to set something up and give it a try.

I played a four car, three-lap race. The vehicles, from top to bottom were:

Bad Blood - A gun front and back and a little bit of armour.

Perfect Day - Pure speed.

Mr Apollo - A little bit of armour and one big gun to the front.

Number Two - No weapons and no armour.

I played Number Two. No weapons and no armour translates to a 'cargo space' effect in my changes, which means that the vehicle can possibly score extra bonus dice during the race as the driver finds useful items stashed in the car. The other three cars were run as NPCs.

All four vehicles has a driver signature and a special feature, but I don't think any of them were triggered at any point.

As a player I normally like to be cautious at the start and sit towards the back until the front runners have worn each other out a little. Three laps meant I had some time to play with, especially as my vehicle could generate bonus dice during the race. As it was the fast Perfect Day shot out in front, enthusiastically pursued by Bad Blood. Despite my caution I found myself in front of Mr Apollo.

Nothing much happened for the first few turns, but on the back straight of the first lap Mr Apollo overtook me by driving on the track's shoulder. 

I decided to return the favour.

Getting the advantage in the pass I decided to make use of a superiority in bonus dice to make an aggressive move ...

... and ran Mr Apollo off the track and out of the race.

Bad Blood was putting the pressure on Perfect Day, trying to pass on the inside.

They couldn't manage it, but it wore down both vehicles, so I maintained a cautious third place.

We were now into the second lap, and just leaving the first straight. Bad Blood was still being aggressive from second place.

I made a run for second place. Perfect Day was a fine vehicle on straights, but was vulnerable on curves, so I thought I'd make a passing attempt on the first curve of the lap.

I made it into second place and then made a run for the front on the curve.

I couldn't manage it, and to make matters worse skidded on the shoulder and had a near-miss collision with Bad Blood.

I survived! And we were now heading into the second curve of the lap.

I pushed my vehicle and took first place. All I had to do was hold it for the third lap.

Perfect Day accelerated ..

... and failed to pass me. On a straight. Things were looking good.

Looking good, that is, until I skidded again, and lost first place. Bad Blood closed up, looking to push me into third place, or maybe shoot me off the road.

I won the pass and decided on an aggressive move again, ramming Bad Blood and wrecking it.

We were on the back-straight of the third lap now, and just the two of us remained. I drafted Perfect Day, building up those crucial bonus dice.

We roared into the final curve, heading for the home straight, and once again I made a move on the inside.

Success! Into the final straight and I had the lead. I just had to hold off a single passing attempt from Perfect Day.

Oh no! Another random event saw my brakes lock up, and I lost ground, watching Perfect Day take back the lead.

I poured everything my vehicle had into making up the lost ground.

But Perfect Day just nudged over the finish line ahead of me.

It was a very close finish; I lost the final passing attempt by only a single point!

I enjoyed having Machinas out again, even though the AI never quite gives the same experience as live players. It's hard with an AI to balance the requirements of a race with the opportunity to shoot or bash, and sometimes vehicles aren't aggressive enough. I may tweak it a little to make passing attempts less frequent but potentially more aggressive. And I still have a fair bit of work to do tweaking my extensive changes to the game. However there's no getting away from the fact that for a race/chase experience, the Machinas system is in many ways better than Gaslands. Gaslands scores on variety of gameplay and the sheer amount of chrome.

Wednesday, 17 February 2021

Nine Years

Yes, I started this blog nine years ago today!

I thought it would be fun to look at a few of the long-term gaming projects I've run here over the years. I found four.

First up is the ongoing Army Showcase series, in which I take pretty pictures of my HOTT armies and tell you about them. I've been doing that from the start and will keep doing it until I run out of attractive HOTT armies. You can see the full list of showcases on this blog's HOTT page HERE

Also ongoing is the One Hour Wargames Scenarios Project, which I started back in 2015. I'd kind of planned in knocking that off in a year, but that never happened. Six years on I'm still going, and I am more than 75% of the way through it. Anyway, it's an attempt to record a game for each of the 30 scenarios in the One Hour Wargames book, in order. Needless to say I've played every scenario, but not 'officially' as part of the project yet.

In 2017 I ran the first proper one year project - the Six by Six challenge. This saw myself, and a number of other bloggers, attempt to play and blog six games of six different rule-sets during the course of the year. A few of us managed it, and others got close. I did monthly updates too. You can see all of the relevant posts by following this tag search.

And finally, last year, I ran the HOTT 52 project, where I set out to play at least one game of  'Hordes of the Things each week for an entire year. It was harder than I thought it would be, but I managed it and you can find a complete list of all of the games HERE.

And what of the future? I have no projects planned for this year, but for next year - which will see the blog's tenth birthday, I think I might try something. I have the beginnings of an idea, and will mull it over ready for a start on January 1st 2022.

(On top of the gaming projects this blog has two ongoing non-gaming things as well - the annual Frocktober charity fundraiser, and my ongoing Burlesque Updates. It's fun to see how many people actually follow those as avidly as the gaming stuff.)

Tuesday, 16 February 2021


In between some meetings yesterday evening I fitted in another game of HOTT. Since they were already on the table, the Inca (the winners of the weekend's game) stayed on, and the next random army box grab saw them up against the Ophidians.

The Inca defended and had space to form a nice solid line, with their protective cleric element in the second rank helping to defend the Great Inca and the heroes against the Ophidians' three magicians.

The Ophidians are a small army; they lumped their magicians in the centre, their archers out on their left ready to advance through the rocks, and massed their warriors on the right.

The archers were immediately ambushed by Amazonian lurkers. The lurkers proceeded to destroy one element of archers, and tie up the other for the rest of the game.

The Inca pushed forward, looking to contact the Ophidians before they could organise a flanking move through the rocks with their warband. The Ophidians advanced as well.

Contact was quickly made. On the end of the line the Inca had an element of blades facing massed warband, whilst more blades faced the Ophidian magicians. 

The Inca won all of the combats, driving back the warband and slaying two magicians!

The followed up with their heroes, closely supported by the rest of the army to create favourable overlaps and kill the Ophidian magician general.

So the Inca got a quick and easy win, and will stay on the table until I pack the HOTT stuff away or they are defeated.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...