Sunday, February 18, 2018

It's the one-off nature of board and war games that is the cause of my growing boredom

A week or so ago, I created draft Frostgrave rules for Star Wars. It got me excited a bit in gaming after years of growing increasingly bored with board and war games. Thirty years ago, I was a fanatical RPGer.. building worlds, building campaigns, seeing characters grow.. that was what made me tick as a gamer back then. It was all over by 1992 or 93, with some experimenting in PBeM role playing in 1998 to 2006, but in the end, I couldn't and didn't want to "act" anymore,  even through email text, and just stopped. I didn't have it anymore in me.

In 2007 though, I dabbled back into gaming, this time with board and war games and miniature painting.. these types of games allowed me to no longer be the kid who could sustain disbelief in the fiction of the gameverse, nor put on an act that GMing requires over the long term that is necessary for RPGing.

Ten years later though, these types of games are starting to bore me and I think I now know why.. They are all one-offs.. I've played for hours and hours in board and war games and always forgot about it afterward as I was not emotionally invested in what happened either way.

I played about seven game sessions of Frostgrave with my friend Jeff last year or so, and it awoke in me my long lost campaign-building pleasure that I got thirty years ago.. It was RPG like, but without the need to have belief or energy to act in order to play. You just set up the table, fight out a battle, calculate the experience, and watch your wizard and experience grow..  Growth in experience, inventory and wealth.. very RPG-like, but no need for plots and acting like you do for a full abstract RPG.

Since then, my gaming thoughts are more and more dwelling on these RPG-like skirmish wargames- Frostgrave, Mordheim, Necromunda, Shadow War, etc... . you got a warband, and have the pleasure of watching them grow or possibly wither away.. To see and grow attached to individually- named characters again.. something I haven't been able to do in thirty years.. getting emotionally invested again. A lot more emotionally invested than one-offs like most of my boardgames and wargame rules that I bought such as Kings of War, Warmachine, Warhammer (classic), Age of Sigmar, Konflikt 47, etc, where you bash each other with your "temporary" army for an evening and then start from scratch months if not years later. .

It took 10 years since 2007, but I am beginning to see that as a gamer, I still just want to roleplay without the no-longer-a-kid acting part. The only problem is that my gaming buddies are content with one-offs. I am hoping to do a compromise, and still do the one off board and war games, but also have warband-type campaign games on a consistent or regular basis as well. Perhaps demand a one hour battle (as that's how long they usually take), level up the warband, and then do a board or war game. Both me and my gaming buddies will get what we want this way. I think it will work.

Dungeon Alliance is an interesting dungeon crawl

My friend Jeff's kickstarter Dungeon Alliance came in this week, so we got to try it out today.

A one to four player game, the players each send in four archetypical fantasy characters into a dungeon to fight monsters, with the goal of collecting experience points for each monster kill. The experience points act as victory points at the end.

The character card art is not bad, and their descriptions are a touch quirky.

The miniatures per se are the typical slightly undefined features plastic type, and I daresay, won't be a big improvement if you paint them (I'm getting spoiled by companies like Games Workshop), but they're good enough for their purpose.

The game took a while to set up and has a large footprint, taking up my entire six foot table.

The game is essentially a deckbuilder with minis to move around. Each character has 3 distinct cards with abilities with additional cards you purchase with experience points ( magic weapons etc), that you use to build your hand with...

At the beginning of the game, you mix up your initial 12 cards (3 from each character), into a hand of six, and with that hand, you have to choose which character will go and what kind of attack it will do. You could find yourself not having cards for say, your elf, in your hand, even though you desperately need for your elf to do something or give the elf a boost, or vice versa. You thus gotta move your characters best with the hand you got.

The monsters come in counters not miniatures, but they have information on them that is useful.

You move around exploring tiles, with monsters in every tile. At the beginning, it felt like a crawl given this reason, but then things sped up as we got better and better weapons and abilities to dispatch the monsters.

Like all dungeon crawls, I didn't ask why the monsters were there or why we were going to kill them. It's a dungeon crawl after all. We did not play cooperative, so I couldn't tell you why this game was called "Alliance", as in the game we played, we sic'd the monsters on each other, with a kill giving the dead player a -1 VP each time.

Anyways, not a bad game and I would play it again.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Speed Painting 19 Lightsaber wielders

I recently crafted some draft Frostgrave Star Wars rules (link here) and I subsequently got cracking on painting up some lightsaber wielders after my friend Jim said he is willing to give it the old college try. Even my friend Jeff said he might "give it a try" as well..

I have painted lightsaber-wielders before, such as my converted Jedi Hawkman  in 2016 (as discussed here), but the base is too big for day to day play. Besides, I made the unconscious decision to cede the Jedi school to my friend Jim given that was his character back in the day when we role-played West End Games' Star Wars RPG... and thus I assume he wants to play a human Jedi.

I even did a joke conversion also in 2016, turning Obi-Wan Kenobi to a Star Trek Klingon Sith (as discussed here), but I am not in the mood to play a Klingon as a Sith...

When I buy a mini, I usually put it in a plastic box by category for future paint jobs. I have been collecting lightsaber-wielders for years and putting it in my Jedi-types box for one day to maybe paint them..

Well, I have now reached the time where I do need to paint them.

For a Frostgrave campaign, I only need 2 Jedi and 2 Sith types, but I thought, what the hell, I'll do them all in the box.  There will be bodies in the campaign, so it's good to have variety.

Almost all of them are Imperial Assault lightsaber types, but I do have some small company ones as well, and even some of the crappy WOTC ones.

I put all of them for consistency sake on plain brown dirt base with a little bit of archaeological rubble, as a tip of the hat to Frostgrave. When we do the campaign of course, we'll start off in ruins, but I imagine we'll shift to Industrial terrain, and more sci-fi in general. Still, a tip of the hat and all that.

I generally cut corners and used lots of tricks to get them to just be painted to tabletop quality.. I am working long hours lately, so I would come home and just paint 30 minutes a day in the evening.. Little by little, I banged them out.

For most of them, I first cut out the lightsaber blade and put in a part of a paper-clip to straighten out the blade.

1 to 4   Luke Skywalker variants. 

I went out also and got some Luke Skywalker sculpts and did head swaps to get some variety.


I am especially pleased at the dirty mohawk/punk Sith with the fur I greenstuffed on for some reason.

5. The Obi-Wan Kenobi type

I did not make his hair gray as that would be too cliche. 

6. Mystic Warrior Libby

I liked this sculpt from Hasslefree miniatures so I bought it a couple of years back. Definitely looks like a Jedi more than Sith..

7. Mystic Warrior Kev

Also from Hasslefree.. also giving me the Jedi vibe and not Sith..

8. The Charging Jedi

For this one here, I can't remember from what company it came from..

9. Davith Elso

This one came from one of the Imperial Assault expansions.. A lightsaber-wielding type named Davith Elso

Almost when I finished painting him, I decided at the last minute on a red Sith blade at the end.. then I realized he looks too goody-two-shoes..

So I did what you're not supposed to do, and converted him after painting.. I cut off the head, dirtied up the yellow a bit, put on a 40K Dark Eldar head, and added a theatrical cape..

10-11. Ashoka Tano sculpts

For some reason, there are two Imperial Assault Ashoka Tano sculpts. She must be a popular cartoon character.

If they are not the same character or species, they sure look the same... 

I decided to make one Sith.. cut off the head and also put a Dark Eldar head as well as greenstuffing an animal skin to hide the tentacle things coming off the head.

I am especially pleased with how she came out.. I think she will be in my starting Sith line-up as either Wizard or Apprentice.

They both look good enough for each side.

12. The weird Orb head guy

This sculpt came from Alternative Armies.. I absolutely love this sculpt..Strange helmet, blade facing backwards...

 Definitely going to be in my starting line up as well..

 13 Double-blades

This one also came from Alternative Armies.. Decided to make it neutral for use from either side, with blue and red blades..

14.  My original 3D sculpt

Back in 2016, I ordered my own custom-tailored Jedi using Heroforge's software to make my first 3D Printed mini (as discussed here)

I decided to now make him Sith..

15. The Grand Inquisitor

The Rebels cartoon has as a villain named the Grand Inquisitor who is a a Sith with a rotating lightsaber. Naturally, there is an Imperial Assault sculpt of the character.

I cut out the rotating parts as I just find that stupid and painted him up as Sith.

16. Darth Maul

Imperial Assault of course has a Darth Maul.. but the question remains why he's shirtless..

17. The Elegant Count Dooku

I have one of those cheap crappy plastic Count Dooku minis from WOTC, painted up badly in some factory and with a droopy lightsaber..

I couldn't take the paintjob on the head, nor the droopy lightsaber, so chop-chop..

18. Mystic Trainee Kev

A boy padawan-type from Hasslefree with literally a monkey on his back..

19 Ponytails

Lastly, another cheap WOTC plastic Jedi..

I cut off the head and put in a Viking head but left the blade as it is..

And so, I've got 19 lightsaber wielders (20 if you include the Klingon-looking Sith), which is more than enough..

Now, on to speed paint the hired muscle for the upcoming Frostgrave Star Wars campaign...