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Wednesday, 18 October 2017

4-way all in brawl (The Battlefield: Miniature Modern Warfare)

On the weekend we had a quick 4-sided/way game of The Battlefield: Miniature Modern Warfare with Harriet using the Dark Eldar, Paddy with the Chaos Space Marines, Alex using Orks and Charlie and I leading the Necrons.

We played a slight variation of the Death Match Game Mode (pg 39 of the rules) which is pretty straight-forward: normally points are awarded for enemy 'kills' and the first team to score 25 points wins.  In the interest of time - we had less than an hour before dinner to setup, play and pack everything away - we played to 15 points, limited the number of Units to a max of 3 per Team and made them default Assault (with Bipod) and stuck with 9 CAP per player per turn - nothing too difficult.

The game played fast and furious with Alex's aggressive attack on both the Necrons and Chaos Marines racking up a few points but then he went too deep and was cut down in crossfire between the two forces.  Paddy's attack rolls were amazing (Crown Casino watch out) regularly achieving multiple successes thanks to exploding 6's.  Harriet was a lot more conservative than her brothers, hugging terrain and focusing on Paddy's units, one-at-a-time. 

In the end Harriet was victorious with Charlie and I coming a close second.  This picture says it all:


Whilst I must admit, I prefer the manner in which Rogue Planet keeps all players continually immersed/invested in the game (through the Counteraction mechanism), The Battlefield has lots of features that makes for an exciting game.  The manner in which cover is resolved, occupation of terrain and spotting works very nicely.  And Spawning: the kids love the fact that they can respawn their downed units and rejoin the battle.  That coupled with the opposed combat die rolls kept their attention.

I'm continually amazed at the kid's ability to comprehend complex things like The Battlefield's Overdrive system - maybe it's just not that complicated?  Sure I helped them consider options etc, but one thing that definitely helped everyone in that regard was having the following cheat-sheet/card handy:



That card, coupled with providing the active player with 9 CAP tokens/stones/gems made for relatively quick rounds - I think I only had to reference the rulebook twice during the whole game.  Big Tick.  Often the Card would be snatched out of my hand so that they (not I) could work out their sequence of Actions in their head (tactical planning and some mental arithmetic ✅) without letting onto their opponents what they were considering.  It made an old man smile.

PS we also used the Card's side as the standard Unit's Movement - no need for tape measures and rulers people! 

Actually, when preparing for the game, I reviewed the rules and realised that I'd misunderstood - previously I was calculating CAP cost using Base to the power of the Action, not a multiple of the Action e.g., a third Shooting Action should cost 6 CAP (2 Base x 3rd Action), but I was applying a cost of 8 CAP (2 Base ^ 3rd Action)*.

*Funnily enough it actually worked and REALLY forced one to think hard whether and how far to put a Unit into Overdrive... might be worth testing again in the future... maybe a mechanism that could account for troop quality??

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Suppressive Fire (Rogue Planet)

If you've been following this blog for a bit, you'd be forgiven for thinking that I've found Brent Spivey's Rogue Planet something of a revelation: a flexible, fast and feature packed set of rules that are quick to communicate and provide the means for a whole lot of deep tactical play.

"Wait for it... wait for it..."
I'm always on the lookout for something a little different and I thought I'd also try my luck with Brent's earlier game The Battlefield: Miniature Modern Warfare.  Now the game is quite different to Rogue Planet; however (and not surprisingly) there's some common threads in the design.  One feature of The Battlefield that's caught my eye is Suppressive Fire - and it struck me: Rogue Planet doesn't really have a Suppressive Fire mechanism.  Sure Heavy Machine Guns provide for a Driving Fire Attack (along with Heavy Fire and Bound Manoeuvre) but it isn't quite the same.

Rogue Planet's Driving Fire mechanism can dramatically increase the shooter's ability to hit their target and if successful, rather than inflicting damage, it forces (drives) the target away from the shooter.  Want to push those nasty bugs back some?  Flick your machine gun to Driving Fire and let it rip.  But that isn't exactly how I envisage/imagine suppressive or covering fire.

The Battlefield also allows (some) Units the ability to forego the opportunity to damage a target and instead subject them to Suppression (page 31).  The exact mechanics really require a broader appreciation of the game's rules, but in a nutshell, there's a better chance of suppressing a target than harming them directly and upon the successful suppression of a target, the target is subjected to a Command Action Point overhead or penalty until it's expressly negated by the suppressed player.

That was a bit long-winded.  How about: (1) it's easier to suppress than harm a target, (2) to activate/order a suppressed Unit requires more Command Action Points than otherwise and (3) that CAP overhead remains indefinitely until the owning player actively negates the same.  Consider:
Support Team A successfully lays down suppressive fire on Assault Team B.  The net result of the suppressive fire being 3 Suppression Tokens being applied to Assault Team B. 
Now in order for Assault Team B to perform any 'normal' action, they first need to expend 3 CAP to wipe their 3 Suppression Tokens.
One thing that I've been trying to simulate in Rogue Planet (using our slightly modified rules that incorporate measured moves) is a charging and defending an entrenched position sort of thing.  Now while Rogue Planet's Op Fire Counter Action works quite nicely in this regard (even if the odds of success aren't fantastic) it still doesn't feel quite right either.

As to when Suppressive Fire can be played, I've toyed and we've tried making it solely a Primary Action ("Lay down some covering fire - Alpha Team get ready to roll"), Counter Action ("There's the charge lads, now make them hug the ground") and both. Putting my mind to it, I've come up with the following house rule when playing Rogue Planet.

SUPPRESSIVE FIRE

SUPPRESSIVE FIRE simulates an attacker firing their weapons at the enemy to force them to stay in cover, to reduce their mobility and their ability to return fire and reconnoitre a position.

A unit may initiate suppressive fire on a single enemy unit for the same Action Point (AP) cost as any other Shooting Action (typically 1 AP) available to them and are subjected to the same buffs and debuffs as per Shooting Actions.  For example, a unit equipped with a Machine Gun may combine a Heavy Fire Attack with SUPPRESSIVE FIRE to generate a +3 bonus for a total cost of 2 AP, a Flamer can be employed to suppress a Group with a +2 bonus and whilst using a Carbine provides a +1 bonus when attempting to suppress Lightly armoured targets, against Medium, Heavy and Groups, there's no buff to be had.

SUPPRESSIVE FIRE attacks require a skill check that will be based on the ranged attack skill and defense rating [RAT vs. DEF] of the units involved.

SUPPRESSIVE FIRE must target the closest enemy unit that is a valid target.  Enemy units that already engaged in melee or are already suppressed MAY be ignored.  Unless benefiting from a special rule, suppressive fire requires line-of-sight.

As a Primary Action
Upon declaring a SUPPRESSIVE FIRE action, the attacker need make a Skill Check and apply the following success-and-armour related results:
LIGHT ARMOUR and GROUPS:
Partial and Total Successes cause the application of Suppression Tokens equal to the difference between RAT and DEF (minimum 1).
Critical Success the application of Suppression Tokens equal to the attacker's RAT.

MEDIUM ARMOUR:
Partial Successes cause the application of 1 Suppression Token.
Total Success or Critical Successes cause the application of Suppression Tokens equal to the difference between RAT and DEF (minimum 1).

HEAVY ARMOUR:
Partial and Total Successes cause the application of 1 Suppression Token.
Critical Successes cause the application of Suppression Tokens equal to the difference between RAT and DEF (minimum 1).
A (standard, non-ROGUE related) Failure allows the Opponent may make two MOVE actions with two separate units.
A Critical Failure allows the Opponent may make two MOVE actions with two separate units and causes a Suppression Token to be applied to the firing/suppressing Unit.
As a Counter Action to a MOVE or CHARGE
The MOVING or CHARGING model must make a Skill Check with a ROGUE die.  
If this causes the MOVE or CHARGE to Fail, the active unit receives Suppression Tokens equal to the result on the ROGUE Die.  
If the Skill Check is failed normally, the moving unit is STAGGERED from a location along the active units movement path selected by the countering player.
 Suppressive Fire Counter Action - Dodge
Units being targeted by SUPPRESSIVE FIRE may declare a DODGE Counter Action.  If the ROGUE die causes the SUPPRESSIVE FIRE Action to Fail, the dodging unit may make an FX roll and move up to that distance.  
Note, in such circumstances (1) only one additional MOVE is made available to the team being targeted by SUPPRESSIVE FIRE, and (2) the additionally moved unit cannot be the same unit that was targeted by the SUPPRESSIVE FIRE.
Suppression Effects
Before a unit that has been suppressed can perform any actions, the cost in Action Points must be paid equal to the number of Suppression Points on the unit.
Furthermore, when engaging a suppressed unit in MELEE, attackers gains a +1 buff for each of their opponent's Suppression Tokens.
So there you have it.  We did experiment with the suppression effect automatically reducing the oppositions available AP (for this Turn) and even modifying their AP generation on during the next Turn; however neither felt as 'right' as The Battlefield's Suppression Token mechanism.  Whilst I don't like littering the board with tokens, I can't see an elegant manner in which to otherwise track suppression - if you've got an alternate idea, please shout-out!   I especially like the Critical Failure effect as it easily translates into jamming or something similar at the worst possible moment.  Fun times.

Finally we've been playing that all Missile Weapons are capable of Suppressive Fire but they are no specific Suppressive Fire buffs as such, rather the buffs normally available to a given weapon/unit are applied.

Fortification (Terrain In Progress)

You know how it is: whilst sorting out the recycling you happen across something that just says 'make me'.  Kind of sick when I think about it some more.  Be that as it may, in a matter of a couple of hours we've gone from trash to something that's promising to be treasure.  Behold, some work in progress of a fortification type thing!!!

It's got the makings of a nice fortified strong-point for a game or two.  I still want to make some sort of hatch through to the roof section and I've also got some bits and bobs that will give it a bit more character (like a spotlight-thingy near the main airlock/door).   When it comes to basing it, I'm 50/50 between the easy rocky desert affair or on a more industrial space-port tile... maybe I'll just make it flush so I can use it in either setting.
PS those figures in the shot are 28mm.


Some work-in-progress shots

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Backdrops and Walls


I have this idea in my head that a good 28mm skirmish game should be playable on something as small as a 12x24 inch board.  Along those lines I've created half a dozen 12x12 terrain boards that I can position together in a variety of ways.  


At that scale however, it always feels like the action could or should spill out further.  In an effort to 'contain the game' I've been toying with backdrops and walls that can be added/removed as the occasion dictates.




Here's some shots of the same, presently I'm up to Prototype #2 with #3 in progress 👌
The rough-and-ready Prototype #1

Two 12x12 boards using prototype #2 - those are some
28mm scale figures in for reference

A somewhat closer shot

How the backdrop/wall holds together - Prototype #3 will likely employ 6 inch walls on what's appearing as the bare cardboard on the bottom of the current Prototype #2.

Saturday, 7 October 2017

Some ramblings about The Battlefield: Miniature Modern Warfare

Lately we've been dipping our figurative toes into another of Brent Spivey Creations games called The Battlefield: Miniature Modern Warfare, which I'll shorten to simply "The Battlefield".

There's plenty to read about online that describes the game at a macro level - how it borrows from many computer first person shooters (FPS) and real time strategy (RTS) games.  Well that's true, it most certainly does - I'll likely do something of a review/battle report in due course.  The game has got some rather innovative mechanics as well - different from Rogue Planet (which we've been playing during the course of the year) - and I thought I'd touch on some of the same with a bit of
teaser. Enjoy!

Command Action Points and Overdrive

Post-script: I've subsequently realised I wasn't calculating Overdrive CAP costs correctly.  Rather than working out at the power of the order count (Base CAP ^ Order Count) it should be a multiple of the  order count (i.e. Base CAP x Order Count).  Rather than rewrite the entire post, I'll just revisit the first example below.  Whilst the application was incorrect, the outcome was spot-on: the more orders you give a single Unit during your Turn, the less your Force will be able to collectively achieve/action.

The Battlefield's defining mechanism is the concept of Command Action Points ("CAP") and Overdrive.  Each Turn, each player is allocated a finite amount of CAP with which they're able to issue orders to their units like Move, Shoot or even order an artillery strike.  The Overdrive mechanism makes the cost of issuing orders exponentially more expensive the more a given Unit is employed during a player's Turn.

For example, ordering a Unit to perform a standard measured Move costs 1 CAP.  If that same Unit was ordered to Move twice in a Turn, the total CAP cost would be 3: 1 CAP for the first Move and 2 CAP for the second.  Should a Unit receive three consecutive Move orders in a Turn, the total CAP cost would be 7: 1 CAP for the first Move, 2 CAP for the second and 4 CAP for the third.
For example, ordering a Unit to perform a standard measured Move costs 1 CAP.  If that same Unit was ordered to Move twice in a Turn, the total CAP cost would be 3: 1 CAP for the first Move and 2 CAP for the second.  Should a Unit receive three consecutive Move orders in a Turn, the total CAP cost would be 6: 1 CAP for the first Move, 2 CAP for the second and 3CAP for the third.
So the only thing limiting what you might try and accomplish with a single Unit is that a given Unit's efficiency suffers the harder they're pushed.  This is where the tactical options come into play...

Imagine I've 4 Units (Unit A, B, C and D) approaching an Objective and I've got 12 CAP available - 4 Units/12 CAP being something of a default in the game . I could...
  • ...push Unit A ordering 3 Moves for a total cost of (1+2+4) 7 CAP and Unit B ordering 2 Moves (1+2) for 3 CAP and use the remaining 2 CAP to move both Units C and D once apiece; or
  • Move all four Units as a united front twice ((1+2) x 4 Units) for the same cost.
So how important is my force's coherency?  Is it more advantageous to approach the Objective sooner with fewer Units or later with more?  I love that type of turn-by-turn tactical play - it provides many opportunities for a narrative that can make all an otherwise ordinary game memorable.

The above example only touches upon one application of CAP during the game.  Just today I came to appreciate another interesting facet of the The Battlefield's rules involving CAP, Spotting and Shooting.

Spotting in The Battlefield


Before a ranged attack can be made upon a Unit, the target first needs to be "Spotted" i.e. identified and acquired as a legitimate target. Spotting costs CAP and is (typically) subject to the gods of chance.

A successful Spot requires 4 successful Spot Checks.  Spot Checks accumulate, so whether the Spotting is the result of one or more Spotting Actions matters not; however a Spotting Action are subject to Overdrive and can be augmented.  Sounds complicated?  It isn't really, and the mechanics are easily illustrated using a simple example.


During a routine patrol, Fire Team Alpha happen upon a Squad of Chaos Marines emerging from the depths of the spaceport. Before they can open fire, Team Alpha need to positively identify (aka 'Spot') the Marines, confirming that indeed they are cruel, minions of the Chaos gods.

A 4-model Unit's default Spotting Action involves rolling 4 dice (one for each model) with each 4, 5 or 6 generating 1 success. A total of 4 (cumulative) successes are required in order to designate a target as Spotted.


Scenario 1


So for Team Alpha's first Action, a standard Spotting attempt is declared at a cost of 1 CAP. Rolling 4d6 yields a 2,3,4 and 5 = 2 spotting success.

Team Alpha then attempt a second Spot/Action in the turn, costing 2 CAP (due to Overdrive kicking in). Rolling a further 4d6 yields a 2,6,6 and 6 = 3 additional spotting successes, which accumulate to a grand total of 5. 4+ spotting success mean the Target has been acquired, so now Team Alpha can declare a shooting Action. 

Shooting's base CAP is 2, but because this is the Unit's third Action for the Turn, the Overdrive effect increases the cost to 8 CAP (2 Base, 4 as 2nd Action, 8 as 3rd).

So the above scenario has Team Alpha successfully Spotting and then firing at the Chaos Marines by employing 3 Actions at a total cost of (1+2+8) 11 CAP.



Scenario 2


Team Alpha's first Action is an Augmented Spot: allocating additional CAP to a Spot Action means that additional spotting dice are rolled. So as a first Action, Alpha attempt a Spot with 4 Augmentations i.e. an additional 4 dice are added to the default 4, resulting in 8d6 being rolled available. The total cost of this Action is 1 CAP + 4 CAP = 5 CAP.

Team Alpha's spotting attempt generates 2,3,4,5,6,6,6 and 1 i.e. 5 successes and 3 failures, therefore the Chaos Marines have now been confirmed/acquired as targets.

Team Alpha's second Action is to fire upon the Marines. Shooting has a base CAP of 2, but as a second Action, the CAP cost doubles to 4 CAP.

So Scenario 2 had Team Alpha successfully Spotting and then firing at the Chaos Marines by employing 2 Actions at a total cost of (5+4) 9 CAP i.e. 2 CAP less than in Scenario .  Also, Scenario 2 has also left the Unit with a lesser Overdrive impact for their Turn's next Action, being the 3rd for the Turn.


So there you have it a rather nice example of how The Battlefield's Overdrive mechanism makes for some dramatic tactical choices during the course of the game.  Players need to continually consider what it is they intend to do, their available CAP and work out a sequence of Actions with 

*If you're already familiar with The Battlefield, you'd appreciate that a few other factors come into play, but I've deliberately kept it simple  .





Sunday, 1 October 2017

Treacherous Terrain and Rogue Elements in Rogue Planet

One of the great things in Rogue Planet is the Treacherous Terrain mechanism.  In a nutshell, Treacherous Terrain allows a player to employ normally 'neutral' elements of the battlefield to attack their enemy.  It certainly makes one think twice when taking cover!  If you're imagining Venus Fly Traps, Strangling Vines etc, you're on the right track.

In our games set in Libuscha's Banksia Plains, we've made use of a lot of Treacherous Terrain and Rogue Elements as of late.  They're both great narrative devices that also can act as a catalyst for play.  For example, when playing a Strike game (goal: kill your opponent's leader) we often found ourselves hunkering down, playing defensively (yes, even my pre-teen kids saw the sense in keeping the target out of LoS!).  By using the Treacherous Terrain mechanism, suddenly cover can become dangerous... this really forces one's hand.

Currently we've the following four terrain-like items on high rotation (note the hyperlinks to the more detail write-ups of each):

  • Banksia: are predatory tree-like mollusks that block line of sight and slowly, relentlessly hunt their prey.
  • Witches Cauldrons: emit clouds of  psychotropic steam that causes paranoia, disorientation and hallucinations.
  • Sky Urchins: reign down from the skies of Libuscha.
  • Echidna: man-sized masses of spines that will charge at the drop of a hat.
There's a few more (and one big) ideas brewing, so stay tuned.
Echidna (Top-Left), Sky Urchins (Top-Right), Witches Cauldrons (Bottom-left) and Banksia (Bottom-Right)

Update: I got pinged and asked whether I'd made any other weird plant-like terrain.  Yes I had - just hadn't included them on this particular Post because they are/were standard, vanilla alien plant-like terrain pieces, not Treacherous Terrain nor employed as Rogue Elements (yet!).  Names... well they haven't needed names to date, but I am most definitely open to suggestions...


Echidna (Libuscha + Rogue Planet Fluff)

Whilst many of the Libucha Banksia Plains inhabitants slow moving, there are some notable exceptions.

A mob of Orks fighting off a parade of Echidna
The Echidna was a horrific ancient Terran predator that was apparently capable of consuming thousands of prey in a single sitting.  The combination of a long, sticky tongue, strong claws and covered in jet black spines, apparently posed a threat to even vehicles of the age.

Fortunately the the adult Libuchan Echidna is only 2-3 meters in diameter and is typically sated with one or two kills a day.  These Libuchan animals are less skilled at stalking than Banksia and instead rely on their speed and stamina to harass and run down their prey, often targeting lone or sickly Banksia.

Whilst solitary animals are the norm, occasionally a 'parade' of 4 or 5 Echidnae will band together for a period.   Whether alone or in a parade, the Echidna will shuffle along the plains in much the same manner as a snake, by undulating the hundreds of razor-like spines that cover its entire body.  Each of these spines are quite capable of slicing through plasteel - Echidnae have even been recorded shredding their way through the walls of military-grade facilities.

Echidna aren't free from predators themselves.  A mature Sky Urchin is quite capable of carrying off all but the largest Echidna and it isn't unknown for Echidna to find themselves trapped within a grove of Banksia, especially as the result of an encounter with a Cauldron.


Use in the Game (Rogue Planet)

Echidna may be employed as Treacherous Terrain.   Should the Echidna move off the map consider it permanently removed from play. 

Upon activation Echidna will travel FX Range in a direction designated by the active player - make a FX test to determine how far the Echidna will travel to perform a Move, Charge, Counter Charge and Intercept.  Charging, Counter Charges, Interceptions and Engagement may only target the nearest Unit (friend or foe) - this may necessitate expending two Action Points to move an Echidna away from friendly Units before moving them into Engage with an enemy.

Any Units that come in contact with the Echidna are considered Engaged for Melee purposes and the Echidna may not be Disengaged by the use of further Action Points.  Once Engaged, an Echidna can be further Activated as per Treacherous Terrain to perform a Melee Attack. 

Echidna's Unit Profile: CQ5 RAT0 DEF4 ARM Medium Size Small, +2 Charge

Upon scoring a kill, the Echidna will drag itself and its prey down into the sand, removing them both from any further play.

Note, Echidna are subject to to the effects of terrain such as difficult terrain, obstacles and the likes of minefields and Cauldrons.

Friday, 29 September 2017

New Recruits (Hobby Time)

Earlier this year I was delighted to make an exchange with one of the gentlemen of Nunawading Wargames Association which saw me adopt around 20 Orks.  Half of them were tabletop ready with 9 others requiring a fresh lick of paint.  Now that I'm finding my stride painting-wise, I thought I'd try my hand with these lads.  Well I'm glad I did: Orks are evidently quite forgiving when it comes to painting and the boys (my sons that is) are keen to give these new recruits a workout.

How I approached the painting: undercoated using a gray spray paint.  I then used green and brown washes for the skin and clothes.  Various metallics were applied to weapons, helmets, buckles and the like and spots of base colours like reds and blues.  I put some more spots of wash around some details and then finished of with the lightest of light green dry brushing on the Ork's skin only - my previous dry brushing was a bit overboard so I restrained myself.  The basing was just kitty litter and some basic washes and then I sealed the lot with a matt varnish. 

The whole job took about a week of evenings (which seems like a lot in retrospec) but no complaints, it was good fun.








Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Witches Cauldrons (Libuscha + Rogue Planet Fluff)

Libucha's Banksia Plains are a unique environment. The constant threat of tsunami and roaming herds of hungry Banksia have resulted in some evolutionary adaptations that are worthy of examination.

Despumat aeni pythonissam or Witches Cauldrons are unfortunately a relatively common sight.  Found in clusters of up to a dozen individual organisms,  Cauldrons take the appearance of globular cups, sized from 50cm to 2 meters in diameter.


Cauldrons are another mobile, albeit slow, predatory lifeforms.  Cauldrons spot the Laborsisn landscape and along with the Banksia herds they collectively pose a material threat to all those within their vicinity.

The Cauldrons name is derived from it's thick viscous pysotropic soup that slowly boils and bubbles, bubbling and releasing clouds of steam in the Cauldrons vicinity.  This "broth" and the accompanying mist can induce a variety of hallucinogenic-like states upon those entities making contact with the same.  Of note is the fact that entities need not ingest the substance as it evidently can and does trigger reactions regardless of whether entities are fully environmental shielded or even non-organic in nature.

The broth's impacts are typically categorised as one or more of the follow effects:
  • Paranoia causing the target to seek cover and hide - unfortunately upon the Banksia Plains, typically cover translates to predatory Banksias;
  • Disorientation resulting in the affected entity to move into a random direction - again rather a dangerous outcome when amongst Banksia; and
  • Hallucinations impairing the affected entity's judgement e.g., suddenly coming to the realisation that your squad members are actually the very same aliens you've been hunting!
Cauldrons live in a symbiotic relationship with the Banksia. Thanks to the Cauldron's hallucinogenic mist,  those Banksia lurking in the vicinity benefit from more readily accessible, well at least less troublesome, prey. In turn the Banksia act as a deterrent to all but the most determined of the Cauldron's predators.

Interesting Banksia also periodically deposit their Pearls into the Cauldrons which almost certainly accounts for their broth's more potent effects.  Whilst as many as a dozen Pearls may be residing in larger Cauldrons, presently there's no safety,  reliable and cost-effective manner in which they can be harvested.

Use in the Game (Rogue Planet)

Cauldrons are classified as Difficult Obstacles, resulting in a -1 modifier to all attacks passing through and requiring either two Moves or a successful Skill Check if attempting to pass through on a single Move.

Should a Unit pass within Standard FX Range inches of a Cauldron, they need make a effect test when attempting their next action.  Examples of such effect test include:

  • Move, Charge or Intercept: perform a Skill Check with a Rogue Die.  Should the result be Failure, then re-perform a move of the same distance in a random direction.
  • Shoot, Return Fire or Op Fire: include a Rogue Die with the role.  Should the result be a Failure due to the Rogue Die, then resolve a standard  Shoot Skill Check against the nearest ally unit.
  • Melee: will attempt to Disengage Melee and head to the nearest cover (even if the Cover is Dangerous Terrain).

Cauldrons may be employed as Treacherous Terrain.  Upon activation, generate a cloud of steam that will randomly travel FX Range in a direction designated by the active player - make a FX test to determine how far the cloud will travel.  At the end of each Player's Turn, roll a d6  1-3 the cloud disperses and 4-6 the cloud will now randomly drift again using a FX Range.  Should the Cloud drift off the map consider it dispersed.  Any Units that come in contact with the Cloud suffer Cauldron effects as above and the Cloud will partially block LoS of Units firing through it (-1 Modifier on Shoot, Return Fire and Op Fire Skill Checks).

Monday, 18 September 2017

Sky Urchins (Libuscha + Rogue Planet Fluff)

The notoriety of Libuscha's vast herds of Libuscha's predatory Banksia is such that people often assume that in the skies above the Banksia Plains are relatively safe - after all, the Banksia themselves are slow moving beast, rarely reaching heights beyond 6 meters tall and even the local tsunami's top out well below the operational ceiling of all but the most antiquated vehicles.

If it were the case, Libuscha could almost be termed a paradise.  Unfortunately, like Libuscha's Banksia Plains, the skies of Libuscha are also teaming with life that both resilient relentlessly aggressive.  One such life-form is the Libuschan Sky Urchin.

Sky Urchins are spiny, globular animals that, with their close kin, such as sky mites, constitute the class Echinoidea of the echinoderm phylum. About 950 species of echinoids inhabit all Libuschan skies up to the stratosphere.  The shell, or "test", of sky urchins is round and spiny, typically from 1 to 2 meters across and surrounds an internal gas bladder that provides the urchin with its buoyancy. Common colors include green, olive, brown, purple, blue, and red.

Much like their land-bound cousins the Banksia, Sky Urchins are aggressive omnivores.  Sensitive to movement, they'll plummet from hundreds of meters out of the sky, impaling their prey on their spines before rising up to feed into the sanctuary of the sky.

Urchins don't restrict to themselves to terrestrial targets either.  Draw as they are to movement, should they sense an aircraft they'll commencing trailing the same.  This can result in hundreds or even thousands of urchins converging in on the hapless vehicle, clogging intakes and overwhelming control systems.  Worse still, even should the vehicle evade the urchins, they can unwittingly lead a ravenous horde of urchins back to their port which can quickly overwhelm all but the most sophisticated of defensive systems.

Use in the Game (Rogue Planet)

Sky Urchins are treated as dangerous terrain that may be employed by a Player as a Counter Action to any of their opponent's movement-based Action (Move, Charge etc).  When doing so, a Rogue Die is included in their opponent's Skill Check.  The Rogue Die result, should it match one or both of the results on the two Skill Die, that die or dice is discounted.  Should the Skill Check result in a Failure, then apply the Rogue Die as damage to the target.

In the event of a Critical Failure, then also effect a Sky Urchin attack on each and every unit (CQ5 +1 vs Small) on the board, representing a swarm of urchins descending upon the battlefield.

Friday, 15 September 2017

New Recruits (Hobby Time)

There hasn't been quite as much playing this month as some, but we have found some spare moments to do some crafting - mainly painting and a bit of building.

Firstly painting.  During the course of the year I acquired four 'fresh' human mercenary type models (these apparently old IMEF models ones from Reaper) and maybe 20 OOP Dark Eldar in various states of completion.  Well now they're all painted (awaiting basing this weekend) and ready for action.

I hit the mercenaries first, using my 20 year old paints plus a couple of new additions upon finding that some 20 year old paints don't necessarily work like they once did - fancy that.  I based them in grey, coated them in red, highlighted in orange, and did various detail bits using the standard metals etc.  Good fun.  Perfect?  No way!  Tabletop ready?  Absolutely, especially in these parts.

It was fun finding the time to zone out whilst zoning in and just put some paint onto something.  Learned some new skills and I imagine that things can only get better from here.

I approached the Dark Eldar differently again.  Firstly a black base coat then, trying out my Aldi airbrush for the first time, (attempted to) applied a bronze to everything but their weapons and faces.  Dry-brushed with a copper and then a little bit more discretely (at least on some models, I was finding my skills) with some gold.  Did some red/yellow/orange things on their hair and metal on bits of the guns and they came out fine.

So a few hours of painting over a handful of days and we've now got a whole new force/faction all but ready to join the fray.  Interestingly enough it is only once I took photos of the models did I really notice some gaps in the initial air brush work - there's a lesson to be had there.

Finally on the terrain side, we've now added some more Aussie-sourced items.  One of the guys at the club asked why I didn't seal and paint my recent Banksia... I thought about it some and came to the conclusion that I might as well give it a try on my newly acquired flora.  Pretty basic basecoats then simple poster and acrylic paints and... wow, I (and the family) was surprised at how good they came out.


A bit of colour makes them almost seem alive again.  Dead simple, cheaper than chips and worked out a treat.  Thanks for the suggestion Brent!

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Ghost Farm (Rogue Planet Scenario)

The family's understanding of how Rogue Planet plays is now getting to a level where they're wanting to do something a little different than the standard straight-up battle.  Here's a Scenario we've played and refined a number of times and a very brief rundown of one such game.

++ Copy AT-99. Copy? ++

The Situation

On ancient Terra, there were legends of ghost ships, brimming with treasure, wandering the oceans, waiting to be plundered by the brave, daring and fortunate.  Libuscha Prime also has ghosts.  Lubruska's ghosts are far from uncommon and unlike Terra's ghost ships, Libuscha's ghost farms are all too easily found.  The wealth even once such farm might hold is staggering - enough to finance a dynasty.

But the risk involved are extraordinary.  As if the Banksia herds alone weren't enough, it would seem that every imaginable outlaw, corporation, xeno faction, government organisation and fanatic feel compelled to wade into a the inevitable bloodbath with only one guarantee - that the Banksia will not go hungry for long.

Farm Alpha Tango Niner Niner has been offline for six cycles and it's last harvest transferred twenty or more cycles before that.  That suggests a lot of Pearls... and a lot of Banksia...

The Forces

Each player may nominate one of the follow Forces:

Chaos Scouts

Two lone scouts ranging ahead of a larger Chaos warband, approach the farm drawn by the disturbances in the warp caused by the massed pearl harvest.

  • 1x Chaos  Assault Marine QC4 RAT5 DEF5 ARM Medium (Powered) SIZE Small ERG 4 + Chained Blade + Fantasy Ranged (118 Credits)
  • 1x Chaos Tactical Marine 4 5 5 Medium(P) Small 3 + Carbine
Corporate Auditors

An Audit Team has been deployed to verify and secure the Corporation's assets.

  • 1x Analyst 3 4 3 Light Small 1 + Carbine + Blade + Scope
  • 1x Auditor 3 4 4 Medium(P) Small 3 + Machine Gun + Scope
  • 2x Drones 2 3 3 Light Small 1 + Scattershot + Flying

Prime Patrol

The AIs have identified a high probability of an incursion occurring in the area and deployed a patrol to investigate the situation.
  • 1x Tactical Trooper Squad 3 3 3 Group 4 Small 0 + Carbine + Blade
  • 1x Mantu Battle Suit 3 4 4 Medium(P) Small 3 + Carbine + Scope
  • 1x Assault Trooper Squad 3 3 3 Group 4 Small 1 + Fantasy Ranged + Chained Blade

Lizardman Raiders

A band of Lizardman Raiders intent interfering with the Pearl Farm arrive at exactly the wrong time.
  • 2x Skink Group 3 3 3 Group 4 Small 0 + Fantasy Ranged + Spear + Shield + Blade
  • 2x Saurus Group 4 2 4 Group 4 Small 0 + Spear + Shield + Blade + Great

Tani

Separated from the main hunting pack, three Tani Gilli stumble onto the farm.
  • 3 x Gilli 4 5 5 Light(P) Small 2 + Carbine + Axe

The Battlefield

The Forces meet within the Banksia Plains. In the middle of the map is the entrance to an underground pearl silo (6x6 inches).  

We raised our silo and ruled that it could be traversed using two Action Points (one moving to it's base then a second climbing up onto the silo proper) or a single Action Point via a successful Skill Check (Partial Success yields a Move to the opponent and a Failure yields both a Move and Stagger - ensuring that the Staggered Unit doesn't fall uphill!).

Mulling around the silo are the indigenous Libuscha life-forms, primarily Banksias - the more the merrier!

Victory Conditions

Each Force is attempting to access the silo and secure the Pearls within.  To access the silo requires a total of five (5) successful Skill Checks.  The rules for these Skill Checks are as follows:
  • Attempts can only be made by Units upon the silo.
  • Each Unit may only generate a single success in any given Turn.
  • A Unit may attempt any number of Skill Checks in any given Turn - subject to the usual Action Point and consecutive Action rules.
  • Attempts by Units engaged in Melee are made with a -1 modifier.
  • Any Total Success or Partial Success generates one of the five required successes.
  • Both a Partial Success or Failure result provide the opposing Force with a free Move Action.
  • A Failure result negates/reduces the Force's success by one e.g., a Force that had generated four successes attempts for their fifth and fails would have their success total reduced to three.
The first Force to amass the five silo Skill Check successes is awarded victory and the game is ended.

Should one Force be eliminated, play should continue whilst the remaining Force tries to access the silo whilst avoiding the Libuschan locals. 

Special Rules

Banksia

The Banksia are treated as dangerous terrain - that is they're able (and more than willing) to attack either force.  Banksia can be utilised as Dangerous Terrain (CQ/DEF 3 + 1 vs Small) as detailed within the Rogue Planet rulebook.

Adding to the danger, the Banksia are also able to slowly move around the Battlefield.  At the end of each Player's Turn (Turn, not Action), roll a D4 and their opponent may move that many Banksia D4 inches each (i.e. roll separately for each Banksia) towards the closest Unit i.e. Banksia cannot be moved such that they increase the distance to their closest prey.  Should a Banksia make base-contact with a Unit, they may instantly attack at nil Action Point cost.  Each Banksia may be moved only once per Banksia move resolution/Turn.

Our Battle Report(s)

A well earned victory 👍
We've played this one a few times now and each time the game has taken different routes.  I think the most memorable was Harriet using a Chaos Marine themed Force vs Me playing humanity's NeTWork 21, one of Humanity's many Mega-corporations.

Harriet put her faith in her Marine's Medium Power Armour's ability to soak up damage and forged ahead towards her goal.  Whilst I was able to achieve a LoS a few times, my shots went wild meaning that Harriet was able to make it to the silo well before me.  With her Tactical Marines tasked with cracking the silo's code, her Assault Marine ran interference.

Whilst my troops had  Scopes to fire at the Marine on the Silo (normally they'd have to target the closer Assault Marine) they weren't able to achieve many Total Successes which translated into many additional Moves for Harriet - kind of played into her hands.

One memorable point in the game was when I had managed to get some Troopers past the Assault Marine and onto the silo whilst having another Unit keeping the Assault Marine engaged.  Harriet surprised me (and made me a little proud, because I didn't think of it) by ignoring the opportunity for an easy kill through Melee and instead throwing my Units into one another, bowling them off the silo!  So very Chaos.

Not everything went Harriet's way.  I managed to use the Banksia effectively, slowly but surely creeping towards her Tactical Marine and ultimately taking it out!  Harriet was getting cocky and instead of sticking to a safer CQ:DEF Melee resolution, she opted for a CQ:CQ, forgetting that negated her Power Armour's Rogue Die (I wasn't going to reminder her - she was winning!).  Yep, that's greed for you.

The roving Terrain proved a bit hit for all involved, including the bystanders.  I've already whipped up some new Libuschan locals and have some ideas for more still.  The Rogue Planet Treacherous Terrain mechanism is really very clever, and now I'm thinking about how to start having three-player games with one player  controlling these 'Rogue Elements' (see Rogue Planet eBook rules pg 23).

Once again we played measured Moves (12 inches) and Unit-specific Energy Pools.  I'm finding the measured Moves seems to make sense - it kind of eliminates the crazy zig-zags we were finding ourselves doing in previous games to dodge things etc.  Playing Unit-specific Energy seemed to work and the use of additional models as Pawns (basically nice looking tokens, which makes a huge difference to the look and feel of the game) worked a treat.

Monday, 4 September 2017

Building Terrain is fun

Got to love papercraft.  Buy it.  Print it.  Cut it. Glue it.  Done.  Or not and start again without too much $$$ down the drain.  But when it works... oooohhh.  Nice.

We've been playing a few games in which we've been using our latest non-paper terrain items (Banksia) and I was wanting to incorporate the hatch/gate to some underground bunker into the same.  That got me poking around here and there, well one thing led to another and within a short space of time, we've now got the beginnings of a whole new spaceport-type affair. Feast your eyes on this:


The floor of the spaceport is from Wargame Vault's Spaceport Title Paper Terrain by Dave Graffham Models if you feel like giving it a go yourself.  Right now we're working out what to make next - a wee bit of planning before the printing starts in earnest.

Update: over the course of a few evenings I've based about 48 x 24 inches worth of our spaceport - learning a few things about gluing in the process.  I've got the Kitty Hawk in the following shot for scale.

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Banksia Farming (Libuscha + Rogue Planet Fluff)

Given the diversity of habitats and life forms present on the Rogue Planet Libuscha, the vast stretches of rolling 'Banksia Plains' are host to an ecosystem that's remarkable for entirely different reasons.

Firstly the Banksia Plains are periodically and suddenly flooded with devastating effect.  Waters from Libucha's seas heave up into huge tsunamis, scouring the land of virtually all life.  The indigenous Banksia (Banksia Libuscha) however have adapted to and thrive in this harsh environment, with the floods playing a vital role in their life cycle and survival.


Whilst the name "Banksia" can be traced to a long extinct Terran shrub, the Banksia Libuscha is hulking an aggressive omnivore.  An adult Banksia trunk is typically 2 meters thick and 5 or more meters high, and comprises of a single central 'spike' surrounded by dozens of clam- or oyster-like like protrusions referred locally as Banksia 'mouths'.

During times of flood, these mouths allows this plant analogue to absorb huge amounts of biomass in the form of plankton, algae etc.  Banksias are also opportunistic hunters, quite capable of biting-off even heavily armoured limbs, and as a result Banksia plains are largely devoid of other life forms.

Similarities with Terran flora and fauna do not end there.  In the same manner that Terran oysters secrete nacre, Banksia generate a similar, typically round and highly sought after Libuscha Pearl.  One major difference is the catalyst for the process: Terran pearls are the result of the animal attempting to deal with an irritant, whilst Libuscha Pearls are evidently used as bait or lures by the Banksia.

Libuscha Pearls are unique to Libuscha and their size, beauty, medicinal and other properties make them highly sort-after commodity.  The term 'Banksia Farm' is often applied to the vast stretches of plain in which the Pearls are located and harvested.  Cultivation has unfortunately proven futile, as Banksia only generate their Pearls in order to lure their prey.  One method that does deliver higher Pearl yields involves the release of lifeforms into the Banksia Plains - the Banksia apparently sense lifeform and, in an effort to attract the same, accelerate their Pearl production.

Another interesting feature of the Banksia is it's ability to move.  Banksia can and do both herd and migrate, seeking out and hunt new sources of food or even moving to lower ground in anticipation of floods.  Fortunately their movement rate is in the region of a 5 meter a day; however their numbers, resilience and sheer tenacity makes for a danger that should not be underestimated.

Needless to say, Pearl farming is a dangerous affair.  Trying to pluck a Pearl from a Banksia mouth is dangerous enough, but when coupled with the constant threat of tsunami, flash floods and being hunted by the Banksia themselves, it very quickly becomes apparent why the Libuscha Pearls are so expensive.  All attempts to employ harvesting robots, domesticate the Banksia and artificially reproduce their Pearls have been for nought.  The Banksia farmer of today is essentially the same as the Banksia farmer of yesteryear: either an extraordinarily courageous individual, someone driven by desperation or both.

Monday, 28 August 2017

Unit Profiles - Work In Progress

Found this rather clever little app on the interweb - RPG Cards.  You can use it to create Cards for games.  There's probably some other similar things out there, but I'm going to give this one a go to generate some game cards for the family (and others? in due course) to use.


Step one is to create some small photos of each Unit/Model to be included in the Card - they apparently need to be published (the photos) and it appears that publishing to Blogger does the trick. Enjoy!