Wednesday 29 August 2012

Bank Holiday Board Game Goodness!

Well this Bank Holiday weekend was spent down in Pembrokeshire with my Mum. Old films were watched, a zoo was visited and, hence it's mention on this blog, a boardgame was played.

As previously mentioned Emma, my long suffering fiancée, only likes playing board games that take ten minutes or less to explain and about an hour (or less) to play. However, there are some games she has enjoyed in the past and is willing to give another go. One such game is Arkham Horror.

We played it with a bunch of people years ago, I think on that occasion we did manage to kill off the Elder God who was causing mischief. At the very least we managed to get a few shots in. I've played it solitaire many times since, one investigator verses the Dark (and have been devoured almost every single time but have enjoyed every game). 

For any not familiar with the game it's a co-operative (or solo) jaunt against the game itself, you move round investigating strange occurrences (collecting clue tokens) which you then use to seal Eldritch gates that keep opening up and spewing forth monsters onto the streets of Arkham. It scales pretty well as it has different victory conditions depending on how many people you play with. The co-operative element works really well. You find yourself planning who will go fight a monster whilst another goes and gets some clue tokens.

Time-wise it can run a bit long by Emma's reckoning, it takes about an hour per person (before you're consumed) or slightly longer of you're doing well. However, it is hugely dependent on luck. Every turn a gate opens, if a gate is already open you get a surge of monsters and a clue is generated. However if a gate opens on a clue it disappears or if there's an open gate on the clues location it does not appear. In our game this happened a lot so quite a few turns were spent running around trying to generate some clue tokens from random encounter draws on locations. After a couple of hours we decided to have a break (which we have yet to continue).

I was thinking about ways to speed up what is an excellent game and I think next time we play I might use a house rule that if a clue cannot be placed it's placed nearby, or perhaps give the clue to a random monster - allowing you to claim it if you kill it. Clues that are 'swallowed' by gate locations I think I'll randomly dump somewhere. If this makes it too easy I'll tweak it. Having said that I haven't yet had a rummage around on Board Game Geek to see if people have any variants for faster/two-player play.

This week I've got a few days real work lined up so gaming opportunities are a bit sparse, especially as I also have two 'secret' projects I'm working on. One is rather big and involves playtesting, writing, painting and web design and the other is equally big and involves editing and layouts. Both are tremendous fun and will be annouced in the coming months.

Ooo, and Orcs in the Webbe v6 is getting there too, four pages now have layouts I am happy with and (drumroll) the new logo nearly there (although the colours may change) :) 

Here's a sneak peak of how things are looking...

Keep the Flag Flying!


Thursday 16 August 2012

Firefight 2.0: Getting Going

I spend many many hours writing and editing for both pleasure and as part of my monthly tasks on Barking Irons Online and Orcs in the Webbe (which if I'm honest I really enjoy so they're pleasure too). I also like converting games for use with virtual tabletop software (like the awesome Battlegrounds). The one thing I don't seem to do much of is actually playing the damned games I write and create. Well, thanks to this blog,  that stops now. One of the reasons I started it was to make me think about what takes up my time. The posts themselves are written mainly on the bus so there's not much time lost there. This evening Ems is staying over down in London (one of the perils of being a lawyer in a city hundreds of miles away from home) so I am going to play a game...

Sounds simple doesn't it, but what to play? Something I know the rules to? something new? something digital? something out of a box? All have pros and cons. It's decided that when I get in I intend to game. I shall give it some thought, but not too much, five minutes after I'm in I want to be playing a damned game...

(incidentally I did realised trying to cram Action Cards, Virtual Table Top (VTT) Software and Boxed Game ethics into one blog post was a bit much. Today's post is about the game. Yep, I've used Battlegrounds to play it but this post is about the game (and maybe a teeny bit about the Action Cards). A bigger, shiny VTT post is coming soon, don't you worry...)

*Thirty or so minutes later*

Well, I made it in and decided to give Firefight a whirl. I know I haven't finished my FF2.1 training gamebook yet but I did manage to finish off making my Action Cards. So I'm going to play the first FF2.0 scenario in the rulebook, Getting Going, using Bob Minadeo's cracking solo rules which can be found on Barking Irons here

And so it begins...

Firefight 2.0: Episode 01 "Getting Going"

A simple grudge match between two sets of four Muster, for ease of play called Red and Blue. I took control of the Blue and gave the Red's over to the solitaire rules. 

Turn One

Event: 2 Spades - No event

Initiative: Red 5 vs Blue 1 - Red's Go First

I rolled a D4 to choose which order to activate the red miniatures. I've cut and pasted bits from the solo rules to show what each character gets up to.

Red 3 - 5 of Diamonds (Discretion) - A figure that is already behind the furthest available cover on the battleground will Stay Frosty instead of Moving, firing on the first enemy to spend a General dice within LOS and weapon range.
Red 3 - Tactical Option: Stay Frosty

Red 1 - Ace of Clubs (Willingness to Wait) - If there is no enemy figure in LOS within the distance indicated by the card the figure will default to a Stay Frosty action, firing on the first enemy to spend a General dice within LOS and weapon range.
Red 1 - Tactical Option: Stay Frosty

I worked out which squares would trigger opportunity fire and marked them on the map. This helped in the solo game so I didn't miss anything.

Red 2 - 10 of Diamonds (Discretion) - Move and Fire action if an enemy figure is in LOS within the distance indicated by the card. Any movement will be used to move away from any enemy figures only if the figure can end its move in hard or better cover.

Red 2 - Move & Fire @ Blue 4 - 5,2,3 - No TARGETs - Stays in place

B4 has to activate next as survived attack.

Blue 4 Move & Fire @ Red 2 - 3,5,6 - One TARGET - Moves 2 squares
Red 2 - Is Turn Done so can only use Tactical Response: Armour
Response: Armour - 2 - No DODGEs

Well, that went well :) 

Red 4 - 3 of Spades (Intent to Harm) - If there is no enemy figure within the distance indicated by the card the figure will default to a Move action. The figure will move as close to the nearest enemy as it can. The figure will end its move in the best cover it can reach given its objective of closing with the enemy, this means it can end up in the open if no cover is available.

Red 4 - Move - 6,5,1,2 - Moved 3 Squares

My go... Not many places I can go without triggering Opp Fire. Going to go for a move action with Blue 1.

Blue 1 - Move - 1,1,4,4

Actually checking cover rules I'm pretty sure he can hit me... (edit: Actually think I got this wrong but hey ho)

Okay, so, checking the Opportunity Fire rule card.

Red 3 - Opportunity Fire @ Blue 1 - 1,6 - One TARGET
Blue 1 has already rolled two Dodge's though so TARGET is negated.

A question arose: I'm not sure if one of my Move Action Dice had been a TARGET could I have Opp Fired back ? I, at that point, did not have a Turn Done marker... Hopefully one of the writers will let me know :)

Blue 2 (Emeritas Hughes no less) - Move & Fire @ Red 3 - 1,4,2 - Moves 2

I changed to mini numbers here so I could place them on the squares with the character and also replaced the Turn Done on Blue 4 and reduced the Dice Pool, just in case you were wandering why it's different.

Blue 3 - Move - 6,6,5,4 - Moved four squares

Decided to risk it and stick him in the open as hitting is hard. Fingers crossed...

Removed all status tokens and tokens showing Opp Fire squares for AI and made # tokens for red smaller too.

Turn Two

Initiative - Red 4 - Blue 2 - Red's Win

Event: No Event

Roll D4 to select which red to actiuvate, re-roll on a 2

Red 1 - Queen of Hearts (Measured Approach) - If drawn as an action card, a picture card indicates the figure will fire at the closest enemy in LOS and within weapon range regardless of distance or chance to hit. Suit will indicate the specific action used to make the attack. A figure drawing hearts will use a Move and Fire action. Any movement from this action will only be used if the figure can end its move in soft or better cover.

Red 1 - Move & Fire @ Blue 3 - 3,1,5 - Moves 2, No TARGETS

B3  has to activate next as survived attack.

Red 1 in Hard Cover from Blue 3's viewpoint.

Blue 3 - Aimed Fire @ R1 - 5,2,2 - One TARGET
Red 1 - Is Turn Done so can only use Tactical Response: Armour
Response: Armour - 1,2

Red 3 - 6 of Diamonds (Discretion) - A figure that is already behind the furthest available cover on the battleground will Stay Frosty instead of Moving, firing on the first enemy to spend a General dice within LOS and weapon range.

Wow, Red 3 has a massive view of the battlefield. I've put translucent 3's to show the squares that trigger Opp Fire again.

Red 4 - 7 of Hearts - (Measured Approach) - A figure drawing hearts will use a Move and Fire action if an enemy figure is in LOS within the distance indicated by the card. Any movement from this action will only be used if the figure can end its move in soft or better cover.

Red 4 - Move & Fire @ Blue 4 - 1,3,4 - Moves 2 squares - No TARGETs

Blue 4 has to activate next as survived attack.

Blue 4 - Aimed Fire @ Red 1 - 3,6,2 - One TARGET !
Red 1 - Is Turn Done so can only use Tactical Response: Armour
Response: Armour - 1,6

Blue 2 is going to Aim as that doesn't use a GENERAL dice so won't trigger Opp Fire (I think)

Blue 1 - Aimed Fire @ Red 3 - 4,2,4 - No TARGETS

Blue 1 - Move (nothing in LOS so no choice) - 6,2,5,6 - Moves into a Red 3 Opp Fire Square
Red 3 - Opportunity Fire @ Blue 1 - 2,5,5 - No effect

End of Turn Two !

Turn Three

Initiative: Reds 5, Blue 3 - Red Wins

Event: Queen of Spades: Artillery Barrage!
There is no such thing as “friendly fire”. One side or the other has mistakenly landed a barrage in your battle ground. Roll 1d6 for each figure in play, friend and enemy both. Any figures rolling a 6 are killed and removed from play. Roll 1d6 for each terrain item in play. Any terrain item rolling a 6 is destroyed just as if it had failed to dodge a hit from a heavy weapon. All figures are now marked “Turn Done” and play proceeds to the following turn’s Random Event phase. 

R1 - 6 - DEAD!
B1 - 1
B2 - 6 - DEAD! 
R3 - 6 - DEAD!
B3 - 3
R4 - 3
B4 - 4

All terrain is fine.

Bugger me. That was an eventfull turn.Emeritas Hughes (being the hero of the piece) has been stablised and rushed to hospital... He will live to fight another day! Faceless Red dudes not so lucky.

Turn Four

Initiative: R5, B4 - Re-roll
Initiative: R3, B5 - Blue goes first!

Event: 9s - No Event

Blue 1 - Aimed Fire @ Red 4 - 1,4,2 - Missed

Red 4 has to activate next as survived attack.

Red 4 - Queen of Hearts (Measured Approach) - If drawn as an action card, a picture card indicates the figure will fire at the closest enemy in LOS and within weapon range regardless of distance or chance to hit. Suit will indicate the specific action used to make the attack.A figure drawing hearts will use a Move and Fire action if an enemy figure.

Red 4 - Move & Fire @ Blue 1 - 1,6,2 - One TARGET, One DODGE
Blue 1 - Is Turn Done so can only use Tactical Response: Armour
Response: Armour - 2,4
No DODGEs - Dead!

Blue 4 - Assault Fire (as cannot see R4, don't fancy my chances as need two TARGETS to hit but might as well give it a go) @ R4 - 4,5,5 - No TARGETs

Time to close the net, no point assaulting as it's really hard with so few dice and no re-rolls. Next turn one or the other should get a clear shot. Might even win initiative next turn..

Blue 3 - Move - 1,6,5,3 - Moves three squares.

End of Turn

Turn Five

Initiative: R4, B3

Argh ! Red's going to get a shot in (although it depends on thier action card.) Is there an event...

Event: 8 of Clubs - No Event


Red 4 - 6 of Clubs (Willingness to Wait) - A figure drawing clubs will use a Move and Fire action if an enemy figure is in LOS within the distance indicated by the card. Any movement from this action will only be used if the figure can end its move in hard or better cover.

Red 4 - Move & Fire @ Blue 4 - 2,3,6 - One TARGET
Blue 4 - Tactical Response: Running for Cover - 2,3,5,6 - No DODGEs ! Dead !

Blue 3 - His squad decimated tries to end it...

Blue 3 - Aimed Fire @ Red 4 - 2,2,5 - One TARGET
Red 4 - Is Turn Done so can only use Tactical Response: Armour
Response: Armour - 4,2
No DODGEs - Dead!


I really enjoyed the game. The solo mechanics work really well, it was pretty close. I am crap at anything tactical but it felt like the opponent was reacting to my actions.

That random event took me a bit by surprise, Bloody hell, wiping out three characters, including Emeritas Hughes! It's so long since I uploaded the article onto Barking Irons I'd pretty much forgotten how powerful some of them are. It made the start of every turn after really tense, just in case something else cataclysmic happened. The solo rules would work for a number of Sci Fi skirmish wargames. I'm thinking about compiling a list of event cards for different settings for use in FF2.0 (jungle, underwater, spaceship etc). A quick web search shows most of the work has been done already, just a case of finding twelve I like the sound of for each setting and jotting down the game effects.

Modesty can jog on, my Action Cards performed brilliantly! Every turn was really smooth with no referencing the rulebook required at all. No melee was forthcoming, but that's because I think it's really hard to actually hit someone as a preliminary 'focus' roll is needed before rolling to hit. More powerful characters with higher dice totals and re-rolls wouldn't have as much difficulty.

I will definitely be playing FF2.0 again in the near future, I can't stress how smooth the mechanics felt as I played the scenario.


Monday 13 August 2012

Fighting with my Fiancée

Saturday and Sunday mornings have always been a time for cartoons, and even though I'm thirty-five, they still are. Through an amazing stroke of luck Emma, my fiancée, likes superhero cartoons too. I've shown her many TV shows and films that I consider must-see classics, most are met with a initial grudging acceptance and after ten minutes or so a lack of interest that often ends in slumber. However, much to my surprise, when one day she found herself being shown a mid season one episode of Batman Beyond she not only stayed awake the whole way through but asked to see another episode and so started a mini obsession with DC superhero cartoons. Having exhausted my back catalogue of Batman and the new Young Justice on hiatus we gave the  little known Legion of Super-heroes cartoon a go. LoSH is a re-telling of the young Clark Kent's trip to the future to aid Earth's teen-aged heroes, the Legion, before heading back to don tights and defend Metropolis. LoSH is at it's core a 'battle show'. Every episode has a plot that leads up to a climactic confrontation where fisty-cuffs ensue. My gaming brain started to tick.

As mentioned in an earlier post, Ems gaming criteria are less than ten minutes to explain the rules and no longer than an hours gameplay. So, I gambled. I suggested it, and much to my surprise Ems said yes. What am I on about? Well, this last weekend saw Emma play her first ever wargame. The table in the study was cleared, a map of Metropolis laid out and a few handfuls of Heroclix figures dusted off and we played a game.

I like scenarios, not just pointless grudge match battles, so I concocted a flimsy plot worthy of the LoSH show. A Boom tube had opened in Metropolis Park and a handful of nasty Parademons from Apokolips had come through to destroy the statue of Superman. The Legion were tasked with stopping them. I played the game more as a GM than a direct opponent, making sure the plot proceeded, including bringing through Tharok near the games end to provide more of a threat than the Paradeons (which are in fact a bit rubbish). Despite Tharok's appearance (and his invulnerability) Ems duly trounced me. I'm not going to go into full details but Heroclix really does encourage tactical thinking, especially as the characters powers change, you need to think about what the next click brings - do you lose powers or gain them ? How do powers work with other characters ? That sort of thing. I'd given a plot reason for an hour time limit (Boom tube could only stay open that long, clever eh ;) ) and a frantic hour of super-hero battles was enjoyed. She's even said she's willing to play it again! 

Next time the Dark Knight and some of his allies will be taking on some ne'er-do-wells in Downtown Gotham... 

Thursday 9 August 2012

Firefight 2.1 - Learning to Play

FF2.0 is one of those games that I have always wanted to play but like many wargames (and even some of the larger box board games) I find the rule book a bit unwieldy. I'd really like it if it were available in a 'big box' edition like Space Crusade or the soon to be released Sedition Wars: Battle for Alabaster (which I am very excited about, so much so I forked up £100+ during it's Kick Starter campaign). Imagine if you could crack open the box, match the miniatures up with their stat cards and get playing an introductory mission within ten minutes. Well that's what I'm going to do, I'm going to go through the motions as if FF2.0 came complete in a box, imaginatively called Firefight 2.1. Obviously things will take a little longer as all I have at the moment is a collection of disparate elements and no 'fast play' cards or mechanics and it is actually my first time playing a full game. Luckily I've been tinkering with the rules booklet for ages...

I started, as I so often do these days with printed rulebooks, by cutting the spine off my original with a craft knife and scanning it all in, giving me a document I could chop and change to suit my needs (and also take everywhere with me on my trusty Transformer Prime).

Whilst I was sorting through the rules, making my own QRS of sorts I got to thinking about Action Cards. After a bit of re-reading and tweaking I realised FF2.0 would really benefit from these. Each turn, when it comes to move your figures you sort through a small pile of Action Cards, each with a different available option on it along with a summary of the rules and perhaps a page reference or two to the full rules in the book. FF2.0's Tactical Options and Defensive Responses lend themselves really really well to this idea. I'm not going to get tied up in making pretty cards in GIMP straight off, I'll do that if the idea works. For the mo, I've jotted down the Tactical Options and Responses onto torn up bits of paper.

I also had another thought, imagine, if you will, an initial mission with a bit of background fluff that works in such a way that it only introduces one card at a time, split into paragraphs like a 'Fighting Fantasy' story keeping surprises in store. So, that's what I'm going to do. I don't want to spend to much time on plot and I do want to introduce some civilians characters for my planned campaign later on so I'm going to write it as I go. I'm also going to play the game out using the Battleground VTT software ( as that way I've not got any setup time or anything to worry about, and once again I can take the game with me.

Right then, first up lets pick a suitable map from my digital terrain directory... I want something sci-fi themed with interiors, so I can use automated turrets and the insides of buildings to introduce some of the cards... I think a Heroclix map as they're nicely detailed for games that use squares for movement... Found one! Smuggler Base by Josh Derksen (just do a Google search and you'll find it too). It's got some overprinted blurb on it but I can ignore or keep that as whim takes me. So then a sprinkling of fluff...

FF2.1 - Episode 1 - "Rust"

A Prydian Muster Fire-Team, consisting of four newly qualified Privates and their Emeritas intercept a distress signal coming from a nearby moon. They land  their ship and the Muster are ordered to check out the source of the signal whilst the Emeritas stays on the ship. 

Job done. The map already has a space craft on it, so I've just deployed my four mustermen armed with Moth VI's right by it. I've jotted all the important details for each marine down onto little bits of paper (Muster Infantry Private - Move 4 - Ranged 1 to 8 = 3 - Ranged 9+ = 2 - Melee 2 - Armour 2 - Moth VI - ST 1 - P) so I now have character cards !

Technically it's turn one, but we don't need to bog down the new player (me) with that. There's also no initiative at the mo as there are no enemies present. Now I need the first entry in my mini- gamebook to 'teach' people the first Tactical Option. How's about something like this:

Entry 001 - Tactical Option: Move

As you step off the shuttle your earpieces crackles to life. You realise it's Emeritas Kane back in the cockpit.
"Listen up grunts. The signal's coming from one of those buildings to the east of this complex. Get your green backsides over there and let me know what you find."

- Take the Tactical Option: Move card.
- Work though it for each of your marines moving them through the central corridor to the East.
- Place TURN DONE tokens as specified. You remove them from your marines at the start of each turn.
- Play through three turns, then turn to Entry 002.
- Note that surrounded highlighted in green count as Low Obstacles (see the bottom of the Tactical Option: Move card for details).

First Move Over

Entry 002 - Tactical Option: Move & Fire

"Hold it right there men. I'm picking up some old issue air mines in the field up ahead, hell, they're practically ancient. I've hacked them so they can't move, but they can explode. You're going to have to shoot them from a distance. Be careful, they are live. Also this'll let anything within five clicks know we're here so keep it tight people.!

- Drop the eight mine markers from a height of 15cm onto the map (could have starred locations on the map perhaps, or even include a mini map in the entry with where to place mines)
- Take the Tactical Option: Move & Fire card
- Working through each of your Muster in turn, select one of the two available option cards. Note that to go within one square of a mine would mean certain death. Even green Muster ain't that stupid.
- Each mine has ONE hit. As soon as a hit is scored remove the mine.
- Note: pay attention to the burst fire breakdown on the bottom of the card to understand how to target the same mine twice with the same action.
- Once all the mines have been removed, go to Entry 003.

Mines Placed

Entry 003 - Tactical Option: Aimed Fire

"Crap! Everybody freeze, don't move an inch! We've got a problem rookies. I'm picking up a new air mine rising up from the grass, it's a bit more advanced and even though I've hacked it I can't stop it fully. If any of you move, you're dead. You're going to have to take it out using aimed fire."

- Place an air mine marker in sight of at least two of your Muster but ideally three or four.
- Take the Tactical Option: Aimed Fire card.
- Play through some turns, using only the new Tactical Option until the mine is destroyed, it has ten hits.
- Then turn to Entry 004.
- Note: The burst fire penalty does not affect aimed fire as shown on the bottom of the card, in fact all dice must be assigned to the same target.

(Wow! I hit the mine for six hits in one turn! Huzzah! I felt this needed a picture)

Entry 004 - Actions: Operating Equipment

"Well done rookies. You might actually have listened to some of what I taught yah. Who'd have thought it eh. Right then. Check out those two outbuildings."

- Use any of your Tactical Otions to move and investigate the two outbuildings.
- Take the Action: Operating Equipment card. Note that this is not a Tactical Option. To operate equipment you make a Tactical Option as normal and if you are next to the equipment (in this case, the door) you discard one General dice to operate the equipment.
- When you open the door to the Barracks (Southern outbuilding) immediately turn to Entry 005.
- When  you open the door to the Armoury (Northern outbuilding) immediately turn to Entry 009.

Entry 005 - Tactical Option: Assault Fire

"Careful men. Now you've cracked the door open I'm picking up a reading from inside that building. Some kind of damned intereference means I can't get a bead on it. It could be a hostile. you're going to have to go in firing on this one."

- Place a token between the two beds, this is your target.
- Take the Tactical Option: Assualt Fire card.
- Read through it a few times. This card allows you to target something you do not have line of sight to when your character activates.
- Reset all your charactesr (remove tokens) and play through the Tactical Option: Assault Fire card with the Muster who opened the door.
- If your first Muster does not manage to get into line of sight then select Tactical Options for your squad from your four cards but note that you MUST follow the sarge's orders and use an Assault Fire option to enter the building.
- After you have line of sight to the target, and possibly fired. Record how many hits you scored and turn to Entry 006. 

About to enter, route marked out. Token for potential hostile placed.

Entry 006

You burst round the corner, finger tensed on the trigger, as adrenaline floods your system you see the potential hostile. It's just a droid, about a foot high, designed like a cat but with bigger ears. Despite it's mechanical nature it somehow looks scared as hell huddled up against the far wall.

- If you scored at least two TARGETS (6's) as per the Assault Fire card, turn to Entry 007.
- If you choose not to shoot, or if you did not score the required two TARGETS (6's), turn to Entry 010.

Entry 007

You unleash the full might of your military spec Moth VI rifle on the defenceless automaton against the far wall. Amazingly the creature seems to sense your intent and milliseconds before the rounds should take it apart it darts off under the bed, disappearing into the sub-structure, your bullets slamming into the far wall.

You hear Emeritas Kane laughing through your earpiece. "Nice one rookie. Valuable ammo spent on scaring off a kids toy. That might not make it onto your record but it sure as hell will be making the rounds in the mess when we get back!"

- Note down the code letter ( V ). It may be referenced later on.
- Turn to Entry 008

Entry 008

"Come on people, hustle! We ain't on holiday and have to get back to HQ!"

- If you have explored both outbuildings turn to Entry [Not Yet Written].
- If not, use any Tactical Otions to move and investigate the remaining outbuilding.
- If you have not yet explored the Northern outbuilding, turn to Entry 009 immediately when you open it's door.
- If you have not yet opened the door to the Southern outbuilding, make your way there and immediately turn to Entry 005 when you open it's door.

Entry 009 - Tactical Option: Move & Melee

As the door slides open you hear a mechanical whirring and flash of rusted metal flies past your eyes as you back up. Before you stands a robot, it's design is familiar but it looks so old. It's wide metal chassis is bolted to the floor

"Gods! We've got a hostile. My panel says it's just a servo-droid but the readings are well off. It's gone crazy. I've disabled it for now, but you've go to take it down quick. Firing ain't an option either, the rooms too small and full of munitions. Rebound could kill yah straight off or even ignite the ammo. You're going to do this the old fashioned way."

- Place a token against the far wall of the armoury to represent the servo-droid.
- Take the Tactical Option: Move & Melee card and read through it, Melee is a bit different to Ranged combat.
- You must first pass a Readyness Roll, as detailed on the card.
- If you pass then move on to the Melee Combat section in the lower half of the card.
- The servo-droid has four hits and no armour.

Entry 010

The small robot looks at you, and for a second you think you actually see understanding in it's eyes. A noise from one of your squad mates startles it and it darts off under the bed, disappearing down through gaps in the foundations of the building.

"Good call private. No point wasting ammo on kids toys."

- Turn to Entry 008


And that's all I have for now. 

I wanted to get it online to see what people thought. I'll be carrying on the game tomorrow. I really liked the "Choose Your Own" idea, not mine originally, Oliver Johnson and Dave Morris used proper miniatures combat in their brilliant Blood Sword gamebooks set in the same world as their Dragon Warriors RPG. I think it lends itself really well to a square based movement miniatures game. You could have set events happening on set tiles and all sorts. Definetly something I'm going to expand on in the future. 

I also really liked the Tactical Option cards. Gaemplay was fast and the rule book was barley referenced as I wanted. I'm going to do all the Actions as well as the Tactical Response cards for my 'boxed' version of FF2.1

So, tell me what you think :)

Keep The Flag Flying !


Tuesday 7 August 2012

Reina Knizia's Decathlon

So this last weekend my fiancé, Emma, and I headed down to the big smoke to attend the last day of the Olympic Tennis. A grand day was had, but that's not what this blog is about (your sighs of relief are almost audible as I type). Whenever we go anywhere, holidays, daytrips etc I usually throw a few easy fast play games in the bag on the off chance I can catch Ems in a moment of weakness and persuade her to play a game. It's not that she doesn't like gaming but there are a few unwritten rules I have discovered over the years.  Rule One: the game rules have to be explainable in under 10 minutes.  And; Rule Two (the main rule): the game itself can't last longer than an hour, preferably 30 minutes. If those two rules aren't followed then even though we might get one game in, a general board games embargo starts that could last months. This rules out about 85% of my games straight away,  most them being big box strategy games. Usually backpack games include Chez Geek, Pass the Pigs, Guillotine and Citadels (chuffed to bits I managed to squeeze that last one in, it nearly didn't make it due to the ten minute explanation rule).

Well as we were off to the Olympics I wanted something with a sporting theme. I knew I had nothing in my collection so off I went to Board Game Geek (BGG). I'm sure all of you reading this know about BGG but just in case it's an online database of pretty much every board game ever with news, rules, reviews, modifications and so much more. One of the things it has is Geeklists. These are lists of games that people have put together along a specific idea or theme. There are four I subscribe to,  one about solitaire games, one about computerised versions of games with AI,  one about Android versions of boardgames and another with games that are free to print and play. The last one is great, it is a list of hundreds of games that are completely free. True you normally have to pay for paper and ink to create them using your own printer (hence the title) but some of them don't have many components (and even ones that do can usually be played in virtual tabletop software but more on that in future posts). I remembered seeing a dice game one day whilst 'browsing' called Decathlon. It's one of those games that needs barely any components, just one page of black and white printing and eight D6's cadged from other games (or your disturbingly large dice collection if you're anything like me).

The game plays a bit like Yahtzee (this was my 'in' to get Ems interested as that's one of her family's favourites). It has ten mini games, each of which uses a set number of the eight dice. It is, as the name suggests, based on ten track and field events. Each mini game represents a separate event and each is nicely structured managing to evoke feelings of the real event and remain different enough from the others so that things don't get repetitive. You can play against as many people as you want (or as few, technically solitaire too). It played quite quickly with me and Ems taking it in turns to go first in each event. There is obviously a lot of luck involved as it's a dice game but there is a surprising amount of tactics involved in deciding what to re-roll and what to keep. The only thing we'd do differently next time is that for running events we roll at the same time, one die at a time. We did this for the 1500m and the tension was great.

It was a close run thing with only a handful of points between us as we went into the final event. I managed to win by a tiny amount but obviously I was humble in my victory as otherwise Ems would never play again ;)

Given it's tiny nature (a sheet of paper and 8 D6's) and interesting fast play, Decathlon will definitely be going on more breaks/holidays with us.

The rules on BGG can be found here.

Saturday 4 August 2012

Zombies, Run!

So today I started my new 'game' - Zombies, Run! It's a cracking little app for iOs and Android (in my case my trusty Android powered Transformer Prime TF201) which at it's core simulates you running away from Zombies whilst jogging.

It's fair to say I'm not a jogger, I've tried before and have always found the motivation hard. Well, after a glowing recommendation from my good friend CJ, I paid the £5.49, quite steep for an Android app, and downloaded the 200mb program.

The startup instructions are a bit pap but it's easy enough to figure out. (Note all these notes are for the Android version and are probably different on ipads etc).

Basically you open the app and start a mission, it then plays an audio introduction to the scenario and then plays your music to you as you jog. Between each song you get the next part of the story. The story seems quite good (although I admit I've only completed Mission 1 at the mo) with you surviving a helicopter crash after the Zombie Apocalypse. You are soon contacted by a radio operator from a local armoured township. The story is one of the apps strong points so I won't give any more away.

You do need to have created a playlist with a third party app before Zombies, Run! will find your music. All I had on my device was Katherine Jenkins and it didn't really fit the theme. I'm going to create a better one with more energetic songs. There is a music shuffle option aswell to stop every mission seeming the same.

Whilst you run you get voice notifications of items you find, these are useful items which you use to upgrade your HQ between jogs (see below) along with 'quest' items mentioned in the narrative. These items are seemingly awarded based on time jogging and are themed around the surroundings your character is currently in.

A good imagination helps as during the course of your jog your character, Runner 5, will be going through wasteland, forests and abandoned buildings all whilst jogging round your park or along your local canal.

With GPS enabled the app monitors how far and fast you have run as well as enabling Zombie Chases. These sound awesome. At random points during songs you hear Zombies approaching and need to increase your speed to outrun them. My TF201 has crap GPS, a known fault being rectified by a hardware mod Asus are sending out to all owners free of charge.

Between missions you can upgrade the township you find yourself in using items you find whilst jogging. Upgrading certain areas unlocks later missions. I'm not sure if this is the only benefit of upgrading as I'm only at the start. If there isn't any benefit, hopefully future seasons (there are plans for a Season 2 already) will do something with it.

It's worth noting people have mentioned that there's no way to change the difficultly but there is. If you have a playlist with shorter (or longer) songs you'll have to jog less (or more) to get to the next narrative section. Although if you run for less you'll presumably get less items.

All in all it's a cracking game. I sure as hell wouldn't have gone jogging today without this app. I'm looking forward to hearing the full story of Runner 5 and hopefully getting a bit fitter too.

You can find out more about the app on it's website.

Keep the Flag Flying!


Musings of a Welshman - The 2012 Reboot !

Whatever happened to this blog? It was created as a place where I kept track of my new gaming dedication to Flash Gordon in 15mm, intending to get the most out of gaming by using cheaper miniatures. I had some success too and now I look back and wonder what might have been given the surge of 15mm gaming in the last few years.

Then almost a year ago to the day it was rebranded as a haven for solitaire gaming but, even though I have continued gaming on my own, I never updated it with a single post as my mind once again got caught up playing, creating, writing - never remaining focused enough on the one subject.

I, like many others, have started myriad online blogs/projects before and more often than not they fall by the wayside as my interests change, my posts get fewer, even loyal readers visit slow to a trickle and eventually they become unused, forgotten, almost a tomb of sorts. An online grave containing treasures from a forgotten age, gathering virtual dust, waiting for an intrepid virtual archaeologist to uncover them.

My own albatross/opus Orcs in the Webbe started life as an archaeological adventure, digging up lost articles for a little known and even less played gaming system called Flintloque. Now, ten years later after two new versions and hundreds of followers (both new and renewed) I find myself running Barking Irons, the official site for Flintloque, and like so many other projects my own site has faded into obscurity.

The problem is that I am one of the gaming worlds planners, like I'm sure many of you will be too. I have designed games, written sequels, reformatted older rules - all for my own eyes behind closed doors, occasionally just within the confines of my mind. Usually I flit between projects on an almost weekly basis. This means I get a tremendous amount of things started but as my mind wanders precious little things finished. Like the tombs they inhabit, this creates more artefacts that get lost and forgotten about.

Sure I havent forgotten about  Orcs in the Webbe . Plans are in fact underway to re-create it with the extremely functional and smooth Joomla 2.5 system utilising the excellent K2plugin. A few of you may even have had a sneak peek, but for the moment it mainly sits in neutral gear, waiting for something to inspire me to pick up the reins again. Perhaps a new game, one featuring a different perspective on Orcs, will do just that...

But I digress (imagine that...), where am I going with this 'inaugural' post... Well, it's more of a general announcement. This is my current blog reboot, much like comic book characters and television/film franchises that keep coming back in a slightly different form, this blog shall hopefully be a place to tell the world what I'm thinking about and also a place where I can get feedback on those thoughts. Too many ideas go by in my head to keep them to myself. It'll keep it's focus on gaming (be they wargames, board games, ccgs, or dare I say it, computer games) but with my wedding coming up and real life being what it is, the occasional non-gaming post may slip in. 

Hopefully you'll all find something to inspire you. 

Keep the Flag Flying!


Monday 22 August 2011

And now for something completely different...

Heya Folks,

Well, no posts for over two years. As I'm sure you may have surmised my 15mm Flash Gordon project now sits on a metaphorical shelf with a multitude of other ideas. I'm sure that all gamers have a similar place for their unresolved projects, mine is something like the storage room of the Ark of the Covenant from Raiders.

I've been quite busy with other projects actually, Orcs in the Webbe, my blackpowder fantasy site was going really well for a while, so much so in fact that I joined the ranks of Alternative Armies as the editor of the online version of their content portal, Barking Irons. OITW is still ticking away, mainly as a pre 3rd Edition Flintloque archive at the mo but there are plans. They're in a box next to some other in my storage room, but significantly nearer the door than some others.

So, what then will I be doing on this blog...

As I'm sure you've noticed the title has in fact changed. The sad fact of the matter is that these days the only gaming I get to do is on my own. So I intend to document what I play and how exactly I go about playing it. It's not all going to be wargaming, in fact the boardgame and CCG content may in fact outweigh the wargames content but that's the nature of gaming alone, some rulesets work out better than others.

I hope those of you that have followed me so far continue to do so and that I might get some brand new ones with which to share my experiences.

Woody Allen once made a marvellous statement about the other, perhaps better known, form of 'playing with oneself' which I will tinker with and leave you to think about...

Don't knock playing with yourself, it's gaming with someone you love.

Keep the Flag Flying !