Tuesday, 22 May 2012

We're gonna get right back to where we started from.

This Sunday I was lucky enough to have a visit from my good friend Marvin-the-ARVN (not his real name) and along with mi hermano paternico Jonesy and his daughter Myrtle (also not her real name, in fact in real life I make it a point to call her by a different name every week) we had a game of FUBAR.  As a break from VSF we decided to do a regular Science Fiction game, so Jonesy brought out his WH40K Tau army and I dug out my EM4 plastic Space Rangers, which proxied as 40K Space Marines, with a squad of Combat Zone Power Armour proxying as Terminators.

Since we were all new to this version of the rules, we had a couple of rules queries that soon got smoothed out, and the game went fairly swimmingly.  The Space Marine tactical squads significantly outgunned the larger Tau squads, but the Tau had some special troops that could deliver a nasty surprise, like a tank gun with unlimited range that automatically killed rather than suppressed, mounted on a grav tank that could lurk out of sight on the extreme edge of the board, then pop-up to launch an attack and dropping back out of sight before anyone could return fire.  Or the Tau battlesuits with plasma cannon that reduced armour saves.  Or those blasted Shield Drones which seemed to effortlessly absorb every single hit we scored on anyone.  In fact the only casualties we caused through the entire game were 3-4 shield drones, while we lost two tactical squads and the Terminators.  In spite of this the game was a  Space Marine victory, as the Tau players kept withdrawing wherever the surviving Marines advanced and so ceded all three objectives on the tabletop.  Most importantly it was a good fun game in great company and something I hope to repeat soon.

Anyway, the game did get me thinking about doing something new as a break from VSF gaming. I've a mixed bag of 25-28mm Sci-fi stuff in various states of readiness, including a whole load of "street violence" types.  Inspired by some of the great battle reports coming out of the Winter of '79 blog I'm thinking it would be a fun change to do some skirmish gaming, with individuals or small fireteams as the base unit.  I'm thinking of going back to this blog's original concept, the "Axis of Naughtiness" modern day Imagi-Nations.  Let's take the island of Paradiso and thrust it "five minutes into the future", so that we can get away with using some near-future SF vehicles, and I've probably got most of what I need to play a good range of civil unrest, rebel insurgency or gangs vs authorities games.

For the more far-out SciFi figures, I've been thinking of a slightly more post-apocalyptic setting, with a totalitarian regime keeping its people sheltered in a closed community, while occasionally venturing out to the badlands to deal with rebels and gangs and petty kingdoms.  Pretty standard dystopian sci-fi fare, and most of the modern day figures would still be usable.

Then of course, there's that big box 'o zombies.  Everything goes better with zombies :-)

So that's vaguely the plan for the next few months, to start delving into my Sci-Fi/Street Violence lead mountain and get them painted and readied to the point where I could easily throw together a game with them at short notice.  This time last year I had ten Victorian British soldiers and ten Prussians painted, plus a handful of civilians.   The aim is to now do the same for the Sci-Fi/Street Violence stuff.

Which doesn't mean I won't be playing, talking or thinking about VSF.  The whole point is that I've got enough stuff finished now I don't need to push to get something new ready for a game, though I  might sneak a couple of half finished units onto the crafting table now and again.  And I'm still going to try out a few more rulesets and continue my personal GASLIGHT rewrite, plus see if we can't reschedule the aborted May game.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Don't hear the bell, but you answer the call

I've just heard some rather sad news. Paul Reid, organiser of the Warboot wargames trading events, founder member of the Manchester Area Wargames Society "Black Panthers" group of hardcore non-competitive gamers, has died.

Paul was one of the gamers invited to the last scheduled GASLIGHT game.  But at around the same time that my father was having his recent bad reaction that resulted in us cancelling the game, I was unaware that Paul had been hospitalised as a result of his own battle with the Big-C.  From what I hear, the deterioration was swift.

I can't pretend to have been bosom-buddies with Paul, but he was one of the MAWS gamers I'd connected with when I returned last year.  He was a good bloke, a VSF fan and reader of this blog from the early days. I last saw him at the last MAWS Warboot event, where we had a spirited conversation about the evils of competitive wargaming, along with some gossip about the organisation of this year's Britcon (or the lack thereof).

Sorry we never got to roll dice together again, dude. Yer going to be missed.


And on a brighter note, let's hear it for Bluebear Jeff of Saxe-Bearstein, who's kicked the Big-C in the daddy-bags and is now back home recuperating from his own surgery.  I know Jeff's facing a long and possibly un-fun recovery period, so let's keep those good wishes and positive healing energy flowing his way.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

This was a Triumph....

... or rather "Triumph & Tragedy", on sale from Northstar Miniatures at the low, low price of £7.50 (RRP £12).  I'd heard some positive buzz about these rules, and seen the forum at the Lead Adventure Forums, so I thought this was a good opportunity to check them out.

It's a 40 page B&W staple bound booklet with middling-to-good production values. The introduction says that the focus of the rules is on the Inter-war period, but in truth they are so generic you could easily use them for gaming anything from late Victorian to WW2.  The scale of the game is about the same as GASLIGHT, Valor Steel and Flesh or Through the Mud and Blood.  Units of up to around ten figures and some individuals, with maybe 50-100 figures per side.  Some people call these "Skirmish" games, and while the scale of battle they're designed to fight would indeed be called skirmishes in real life, I prefer the term "Small unit"  games, as "Skirmish games" to me are those where the main unit of play is the individual soldier.

Troops are rated Raw/Trained/Veteran/Elite, each with a base score (which is the target on D10 to cause a casualty in firing or melee), a morale modifier and an initiative score.  There's nothing revolutionary about the rules, players of the other games I mentioned will be on familiar ground here.  The rules cover suppression, vehicles, artillery and even light aircraft, though the focus of the game is definitely on man-to-man combat.

One nice feature is the initiative system, which I think would make a nice alternative rule for GASLIGHT (see below).  Each unit or vehicle has an initiative card, but instead of shuffling them all together, each side keeps their own deck.  At the start of each turn, the players assemble their decks into the order in which they'd like to move their units.  The top card on each deck is turned over, and the units revealed take their actions in order of their initiative score (or if tied, simultaneously).  It's a nicely intermeshed initiative which avoids the risk of one side having a long spell of inactivity through a bad run of cards, as in each round of cards both sides will get to activate something.

The vehicle rules look serviceable if a little lightweight and definitely geared towards vehicles only playing a supporting roll to infantry and characters.  For example, any mounted weapon heavier than an LMG or HMG is simply classed as a "cannon".  That's fine in games where you want a 20-pdr on an improvised mount in a lorry's flatbed to be as significant a threat to enemy infantry as a proper tank, but no good if you want to field a selection of tanks and distinguish between their performances.

Overall it looks like a fairly straightforward and solid set of rules.  I'd definitely consider them a contender if I was playing VBCW or one of the other inter-war conflicts.  The vehicle rules would need a revamp to properly reflect the diversity of vehicles I like to field in my VSF games, but it would do fiine for games focussing more on infantry and characters.  Two thumbs up, and definitely worth checking out at the sale price from Northstar.

(Based on Triumph and Tragedy)

These rules are most suited to head-to-head games with only one or two players per side.  For larger, multiplayer games, the traditional GASLIGHT initiative is a better option.

Each side assembles an initiative deck, with one card for each vehicle, unit or unattached Main Character.  At the start of each turn, the players sort their initiative decks into the order they would like to activate their forces.  The sorted decks are placed face down with the first unit they wish to move at the top.
Play then proceeds in rounds, with each player turning over the top card of their initiative decks.  The units thus revealed may then take their action for the turn in the following order.
Unattached Main Characters (in rank order, so Heroes first, then Adventurers etc)
Vehicles and Conveyances (in order Speed, fastest first)
Cavalry (in order of Scuffle, highest first)
Infantry (in order of Scuffle, highest first)
Others (e.g. Artillery)

In cases where both units would act sumultaneously either act like Gentlemen, or roll dice to break the tie.
When one side has exhausted their initiative deck, their turn ends.  The other player(s) may complete activations for the rest of their units, but must continue to follow the order set in their initiative deck.  

Shuffle each side's initiative deck so that the card presented for each round is random.  Or do this for one side and manually sort the cards for the other.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Sixty-eight guns will never die, sixty-eight guns our battle cry.

The ongoing work at my father's house to prepare for me moving in with him has taken up most of my time in the last week or so.  We're now preparing the front room for redecoration, which has been my temporary bedroom/mancave for the past eight months, so the painting table and all the half-completed projects on it have had to be packed up and put into storage, along with the 4' wargaming board. At the very least this is triggering a shift in gaming gears, as well as enforcing a bit of a break in the crafting side of things.

So I find myself turning again to the "software" side of wargaming, rules and mechanics.  One of the common complaints I've heard about GASLIGHT is that it leaves a great deal up to the gamer, such as coming up with appropriate vehicle attributes.  "What stats should I give my steam contraption?" asks the newbie GASLIGHTER, perhaps more used to having "Chapter Approved" vehicle profiles spoon-fed to them by Other Games.  People kept asking for benchmarks against which to evaluate their vehicles.

Of  course, having been designed to be as open and generic as possible within the Victorian Science Fiction field (and knowing Buck, with one eye on Pulp-era gaming as well) GASLIGHT couldn't give hard and fast benchmarks.  As soon as it did that, it would be imposing a specific vision on the gamer.  As an example of this, the Valor, Steel and Flesh rules from Paroom station have all land vehicles moving at exactly the same speed.  Now if your concept of VSF vehicles is that they'd all tend to be slow, hulking brutes of broadly comparable size and power, then that's fair enough, and probably a reasonably realistic assessment of the very first real-world landships.  But it then rules out a whole world of interesting vehicle concepts - swift monowheels, light tankettes, or Professor Nutjob's Atomic Rocket-powered Racecar.

So GASLIGHT declines to give "official" benchmarks, leaving it up to each individual gamer to rate his toys. But actually, GASLIGHT does give you a hidden benchmark of sorts, masquerading as the Vehicle and Conveyance Capabilities Chart.
(c) Christopher Palmer and John R. “Buck” Surdu and used without permission.

I've redacted parts of the table in an unsubtle ploy to force you to go buy the GASLIGHT Compendium. Hey don't blame me, if they were my rules I'd have Open Sourced them by now.  Anyway, we're only interested in the extremes and the median values for our purposes.  This table masquerades as a means for randomly generating vehicle stats, but who on earth would ever want to trust the performance of their shiny new steamtank to the roll of some dice?  This is actually our secret benchmarking key. Look at the two highlighted median rows.  Imagine your hypothetical "average vehicle" as having stats rolled on these two rows.  I used my standard British Landships (Atlantis "Spanner" tanks) as the average vehicle.  For a WWI game, you might choose the British Mk IV tank as your average, for  WWII you might choose a Panzer IV. For a modern-day "street violence" game, it might be a mid-sized family saloon car.  You might not want to actually field a vehicle with all-average stats, but merely keep it in mind as a "hypothetical".  Since we have two median values, pick one or the other, or alternate low value/high value, but don't worry too much about the exact values.

So for every other vehicle you need to evaluate, compare it with your average and within the bounds of the maximum and minimum values on this table.  We're not trying to rate things in absolute terms, so that so many inches of armour equals such-and-such a Save score, or so many MPH of speed equates to X inches of movement.  We're just looking for capabilities relative to our average.

Let's look at armour Save for example.  The values on the table above are for a vehicle classed as Armoured.  Unarmoured vehicles halve this value, giving unarmoured vehicles with Saves of 5-8, Armoured Saves of 9-16 with 12-13 being our Average.  You can quickly run through the options for rating a new vehicle in your mind.

Is this the lightest-armoured vehicle I'm ever likely to field?  If yes then Save=9
If the answer is "nearly the lightest" then Save=10
If the answer is "no, but it's still lighter than our Average" then Save =11

Is this the heaviest-armoured vehicle I'm ever likely to field?  If yes then Save=16
If the answer is "nearly the heaviest" then Save=15

If the answer is "no, but it's still significantly heavier than our Average" then Save =14

If you get to this point, then your vehicle has roughly similar levels of armour protection as your average vehicle, so give it a Save of 12 or 13.  (Depending on which of the two numbers you picked, you have one last option to make the vehicle ever so slightly better or worse than the Average)

For land vehicle Speed, we have another guideline to bear in mind, normal human movement speed.  Anything with a speed of less than 6" is going to be unable to keep up with even infantry.  Fortunately for us, powered vehicles roll twice on the Steam column and add the values together, giving us a range of from 6" to  20", with an Average of 13" (or just a shade faster than Cavalry)  Follow the same process, evaluating your vehicle's movement compared to the average.  For Speed, again it's larger, but on the other hand is wheeled which suggests faster speed.  Overall I'd rate it as equal to the average - Speed 13". 

Spin is a bit of a special case, in that the die rolls don't really give you a minimum-median-maximum.  Instead I assume that most vehicles will have a 45 degree Spin, unless there's a good reason based on the design or purpose for them to have better.  For example, a very small tankette with closely spaced treads looks like it ought to be very nippy and manoeuvrable and so might get a Spin of 90.  The Royal Horseless Artillery Gun Trucks mount a heavy revolving cannon on the front and a lighter defensive Gatling gun on the rear.  They look like they're built to dash forward into position, fire their main gun, then quickly turn around and retire from enemy attacks using the rear Gatling for covering fire.  For that tactic to work in a GASLIGHT game, it needs to have a 180 degree Spin, which is what we gave it.  I also tend to give walking vehicles a 90 degree Spin by default as well.

Let's do a worked example, for the Brass Coffin from Ramshackle Games.  It's bigger and chunkier than the standard Landship, but it does have a lot more exposed cogs and machinery and looks a less efficient shape - Save of 11.  For Start and Sustain, the Brass Coffin is the product of a Mad Inventor and so you might expect it to be a little less reliable than a mature piece of engineering like the Landship.  On the other hand, with more of the Coffin's mechanics exposed, it might be easier to carry out field repairs and kick start it when it stalls.  So we'll go with a Sustain of 16 (slightly inferior) and Start of 13 (top end of average).  Finally for the Spin score, I see no reason why it shouldn't have the default 45 degrees.

So much for the vehicles, how about the bits that go BOOM. Although GASLIGHT has a weapon generation table and you could follow the same process as above using that, I found the simplest method for rating conventional vehicle weaponry at least was to stick to the three "basic" artillery sizes, Light, Medium and Heavy.  This requires a fairly straightforward assessment of the weapon based on size and simplifies play a great deal.  You may want to customise the stats slightly to better reflect the model - a Medium gun with a short barrel might only have a 36" long range instead of 48".

One thing to bear in mind - a lot of VSF or SF vehicle models mount outsized weapon barrels, much larger in diameter than a 28mm field gun model.  Rather than have almost every vehicle carrying a Heavy Gun, I've generally rated most guns as Medium, except where it's obviously intended to be a light or particularly heavy weapon.

For a more detailed approach, I'd always been impressed with the Space 1889 Soldier's Companion with its chapter on Artillery of the World.  In it were stats for pretty much every type of field artillery or naval gun you're likely to come across in the 19th century, on Earth or Mars.  I always wondered whether it would be possible to convert those tables into GASLIGHT terms.  I spent an hour or so and worked up stats for a selection enough to cover most GASLIGHT needs.
(c) Chris Johnston 2012... nah who am I kidding, if you want to copy this
then fill yer boots.

The first three entries are the "standard" artillery types.  Again I wanted to establish a median, and so compared the Medium Gun to the Space 1889 stats for the 12pdr, which was the standard British field artillery piece around the time I play in (1880s-1890s)  One hex/foot of range in Space 1889 equated to 8" in GASLIGHT, and applying that scale to other weapons gave reasonably close values.  "Heavy" guns gain a few inches of range, but nothing too startling.  I adjusted SRMs by eye, taking guidance from the Space 1889 tables Penetration and Damage values.  I've highlighted the three gun types that equate best to the "standard" artillery types. To be honest, this scale starts to break down once you start to get into the heavy naval artillery.  Personally I would never use more than a 6" gun, and that only on the very heaviest of vehicles, but I've included speculative stats for 8" to 12" guns for anyone who wants to play out a battleship bombardment.
For the heavier guns I've also adopted the Space 1889 notation for Rate of Fire.  A number in brackets indicates the number of turns taken reloading between shots.  So a gun with a ROF of (2) may fire, spend two turns reloading, then fire again on the fourth turn.
All these stats are for modern rifled artillery.  For Smoothbores, GASLIGHT suggests deducting 2 from the SRM.  If you want to be realistic, you could also reduce the range of smoothbores to about 75%.  So if you were playing an ACW by GASLIGHT game, a 12pdr Napoleon smoothbore would have a long range of 36" and an SRM of 0, compared to the similarly sized 3" Ordinance Rifle's range of 48" and SRM of +2.

Of course, all these weapons ratings are scaled to match my vision of VSF and the sorts of games I want to play.  You might decide to see things on a slightly grander scale, rating all field artillery as Light guns, 4" to 8" guns as Medium Guns and leaving Heavy Guns to represent battleship main armaments. You may or may not decide that those outsized gun barrels are actually naval calibre guns.

Both our approaches are equally correct according to our own visions of VSF.  And that just goes to illustrate how flexible GASLIGHT can be.  As long as you rate all troops and vehicles in a battle relative to eachother, the rules can handle a wide range of different styles and periods.

Monday, 7 May 2012

So glad we met, the second time around.

Following everyone's advice about just playing some games and having fun, yesterday mi hermano opositor Jonesy came round and we had a friendly gaming afternoon (albeit one peppered with plenty of good-natured verbal fencing along the lines of our last Sunday game).  With the recently repainted bedroom awaiting the delivery of a new carpet, we had a huge empty room that was just begging to be better utilised.  So the day before I invested in some commercial folding tables, two of which give a very respectable six foot by five foot playing area.  I also wanted to try out the PMC resin cottages & farms that I'd bought a while back, which will be the core of my rural village terrain.  (You might also notice the two rocky hills/mountains making their debut, alongside a new pond that I threw together last week as a side-project)

I had a selection of rules that I wanted us to try out - as mentioned in the previous post, Valor Steel and Flesh had recently arrived along with the new 5th edition FUBAR & VSF supplement.  Jonesy had also printed out copies of "Through the Mud and Blood", a WWI ruleset from Two Fat Lardies, and Wolsung Steampunk Skirmish Game for me.  After a little hemming and hawing and some dice rolling, we settled on giving the new FUBAR a run out.

We actually got in two games in the afternoon.  The first was a combined arms affair, with mini-Me Dr Vesuvius leading two platoons of Masked Minions and a troop of Iron Men supported by the Brass Coffin, against three platoons of British infantry and HMLS Pinafore.  We found a couple of major mistakes in the rules-as-written plus a few other things that needed a bit of interpretation, but nothing we couldn't work around fairly easily.  My Iron men marched up the main street and charged a unit of waiting Brits, but after being victorious they found themselves caught by enfilading fire from the buildings occupyed by a second platoon.  Meanwhile on the far right, a unit of Masked Minions in the hedgerow found themselves pinned down by weight of fire from an advancing platoon of Grenadier Guards.  Although the Brits were in the open, their superior discipline and training, combined with some very unlucky activation rolls from me, meant that the Minions were never able to bring any significant fire to bear on the Guards, who gradually whittled down the Minions' numbers until their morale broke.  With two of my three units rendered ineffective versus the one Brit, I yielded the field gracefully.  You know, like wot a proper gentleman gamer does.

Since in the first game our vehicles hadn't quite made it into engagement before the game was resolved (both of us had lousy activation luck) we decided to try an all-vehicle game.  We cleared off the village buildings and rocky hills, kept the overall layout of the roads and added some more rolling hills to break up the terrain.  We each picked 7-8 vehicles that felt roughly balanced and statted them accordingly.  We then split up our forces into three groups, one to enter the board at the start and two groups of possible reinforcements which we diced for every turn.  Jonesy stuck with the British while I led the forces of Imperial Germany.

The second game went fairly well, though not as well as the infantry game.  We ruled, mistakenly in my opinion, that vehicles up against hillsides were "hull down" and got the benefit of heavy cover.  This kicked the to-hit target number up to about 8 on a d6, which meant that to hit an attacker needed to score a 6 followed by their normal expertise (5+ for seasoned troops)  Combined with the fact that FUBAR doesn't differentiate between close and long range, once both sides got their vehicles into cover within range, there wasn't much motivation to keep moving forward and the battle largely settled down to be a slogging match of attrition.  In the end we called the game before reaching a definite resolution, but personally I think Jonesy had the edge in weight of remaining firepower and tactical position.

We both enjoyed the games though and Jonesy felt that the game played a lot quicker than GASLIGHT. I've fed back our thoughts and experience to the author and we're looking forward to seeing the game develop further.  I'm definitely more impressed with FUBAR after this second playtest.  I'd quite like to give the standard sci-fi/modern version a go sometime.


If you want try VSF FUBAR out for yourself, I have the following recommendations (if Lanse doesn't make them part of the rules)

1) Instead of giving units that aren't in formation a -1 Activation penalty, flip it to give units that are in formation a +1 Activation bonus.  It's so easy to fail activation already, this felt a lot more balanced, and I think was one of the reasons the infantry game felt so much better.  Figures in Formation should not be able to use the "Duck and Weave" action.  Figures with the Skirmisher advantage should get the +1 in open order as well, and maybe be allowed to Run and fire (not sure about that last one)

2) The Morale rules as currently written (2d6 - Activation, if over remaining number of figures) is plumb broken, as it means better units are actually more likely to fail.  We simply changed the roll to 1d6+Activation, and it worked better and made sense.

3) We couldn't find it written anywhere, but we ruled that vehicles could not move and fire.  It gives a bit of an advantage back to the PBI.

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Just one look, that's all it took, yeah.

So a big box from America arrived today from that nice Mr Weiss at Brigade Games.  Inside were some Paroom Station miniatures I'd ordered a while back, and a copy of "Valor, Steel and Flesh", Paroom's own Victorian Science Fiction ruleset.  Now while I still think of myself as a GASLIGHT loyalist, it's no secret that there are a couple of aspects of the game as written that aren't playing well for me right now, so I'm looking around at alternatives.  Earlier in the year I playtested three possible "replacements", Colonial Adventures from 2 Hour Wargames, FUBAR VSF and Ross Mac's "With MacDuff to the Frontier".  But Valor, Steel and Flesh  is very popular on the Lead Adventure Forums, so it's something I'd wanted to take a look at for a while.

Now while I generally agree that game reviewers should always play a game before trying to review it, in this case it only took a quick read through of "Valor" to realise that this wasn't the GASLIGHT beater that it promised to be.  To be honest it felt more like the result of someone's extensive set of GASLIGHT houserules combined into a new ruleset, as the two games share an awful lot of common ground.  Both are roll-under-target systems, although GASLIGHT uses D20s and Valor uses D10s.  Both have 10 man units and both base morale checks on rolling under the number of surviving men.  The ranged weapons tables look very similar with close/long range, ROF and armour penetration stats.  Both games use card initiative, although Valor only uses it to determine which side may activate a unit, not the specific unit as in GASLIGHT.  But I wouldn't suggest for one moment that either game copied off the other - Valor is apparently based on "Brother Against Brother", an ACW skirmish ruleset that predates GASLIGHT, so it looks to me more like a case of parallel evolution.

Where GASLIGHT is kept as open and loosey-goosey as possible in order to cater to as many different visions of VSF as possible, Valor is written primarily to support the Parroom Station "Redcoats on Mars" setting, which despite claims to the contrary is basically a mashup of Space 1889, Barsoom and War Of The Worlds.  Like original GASLIGHT, Valor shies away from giving points values, instead recommending a more "story based" approach to scenario design.  This is admirable, but to be brutally honest, sometimes it's nice to have some sort of point system to help the scenario designer get a rough idea of relative strengths.  Valor takes the story approach one step further, advocating the use of "event cards" (but sadly only giving a half dozen as examples) and a "plot point" system which allows players to spend points to avoid bad dice results in-game.  The latter is fairly common in roleplaying games, but this is the first time I think I've seen it in a tabletop wargame.

While Valor does tighten up a few things in a positive way ( troop formations, vehicle mounted weapon fire arcs) it also makes a couple of fairly hefty assumptions about the setting.  It uses randomised movement distances, which isn't a problem in itself, but then goes on to give all land vehicles 2D10 movement.  That means there's no way to represent ligh fast vehicles and slow, lumbering vehicles, as everything will be moving between 2" and 20" per turn.  The completely random movement based on a D10 gives too big a random swing for my taste and having all vehicles effectively the same speed is just the nail in the coffin.

Honestly, if I was coming into Victorian Science Fiction gaming from scratch and had a choice between GASLIGHT and Valor, Steel and Flesh, it would be an absolute toss-up between them.  What might tip the balance is that GASLIGHT still has a fairly active Yahoo Group and online community, albeit much quieter than when the game was at its peak.  You can post a GASLIGHT question on  the Yahoo group, on The Miniatures Page or the Lead Adventures forum and expect to get a reply from Chris or Buck within a few days.  Whereas all I've seen for Valor is a single Yahoo Group which hasn't seen any traffic since January of this year.http://www.parroomstation.net/ just goes to what looks like a strange blog page in Japanese.

I'll pinch a couple of bits and pieces from Valor, Steel and Flesh for my GASLIGHT Vesuvian reforms, but I doubt I'll ever play it.  It's not that it's a bad game, far from it.  It's just my own tweaks to GASLIGHT have already brought me closer to the game I want, while Valor seems to offer a very similar feeling game with no outstanding differences yet also introduces a couple of additional problems that would need addressing.

In other rules news, the old FUBAR playtest post here at the Axis recently drew a comment from Lanse Tryon, the author of the FUBAR VSF supplement.  Perhaps not coincidentally, on various online fora like Lead Adventure, Froggy the Great (who may or may not be Lanse in disguise) has released the latest version of a 2 page combined FUBAR 5th Edition + VSF supplement.  Integrating the rules has allowed Lanse to eliminate some redundancy between the core rules and the VSF supplement (like weapon tables and different vehicle rules) freeing up some space to add some more features.  He's already addressed some of my original complaints with the rules - Mounted is now an advantage that a figure or unit may have, adding 2D6 to movement, plus there are rules for keeping troops in close-order formation.  I had hoped to squeeze a playtest of it in today, but looking at the clock that's probably not going to happen now.  I do want to give this a fair trial thoough - the previous playtest was a touch unfair seeing as how the scenario I played didn't include characters or vehicles, which were the real focus of the VSF supplement.

I've also been looking at the beta version of the Wolsung Steampunk Skirmish Game.  It's pitched more at the "warband" style of skirmish game, like Necromunda or Song of Blades & Heroes, but that sort of game can be an entertaining and fun diversion.

Thanks to everyone for their comments on the last post.  With the exception of items that are currently on my painting/modelling table, I'm declaring a moratorium on new figure/model/terrain projects, and shifting to make playing games a priority.  I currently have the following sub-projects that I'd like to bring to completion before putting them away.

  • One unit of ten Fenian Brotherhood cavalry - primed and with the riders magnetized to the saddle (that's another story) these just need painting to bring to completion.
  • Sixteen VSF character figures awaiting painting - I'd put them away but I have a KR Multicase and a converted GW case for unpainted character figures, both of which are full (272 figs... argghh)
  • Project Traffic - half a dozen assorted horse drawn vehicles to liven up the Victorian city terrain.  All based and primed with some partly painted.
  • Project Dollhouse - the four "pink" village buildings, three of which have had all remodelling completed and are primed, just awaiting painting.  The fourth needs an hour or so's remodelling work before painting.
  • The converted OO signalbox - completed to about 95% with just an hour or so's final paint touch-up required.

 And that's not counting the stuff I've happily put away half-finished, like the Victorian slum scratchbuilds.

And finally the best news of the week isn't wargame related at all.  At yesterday's scheduled hospital visit they diagnosed my father's bad reaction last week as down to an infection, not the treatment.  They even suspect the infection may have caused the symptoms that led them to start the chemo course in the first place.  In light of the fact that his blood counts were now perfectly satisfactory and that he may still be weakened by the infection, they decided that continuing the chemo was neither advisable nor necessary and instead sent him home with a course of antibiotics and an appointment in four weeks time.  Needless to say, Vesuvius Snr is over the moon with this news as am I.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

I see a red door and I want it painted black.

 The good news, and at the end of the day the most important news is that my father is fine after his weekend scare.  I think he's just been lucky in the past that his side effects from past treatments have been so mild, or couteracted by other treatments, that this time it caught us all by surprise. He was sent home later on Saturday and since then has been growing increasingly stronger.

I feel a little gutted though about having to cancel Sunday's GASLIGHT game.  I hate letting people down this way, no matter how justified the reason, and with it so difficult to schedule these bigger games it's a bigger blow than just cancelling a weekly game.  Frankly the incident has left me feeling in a bit of a funk.

I think I need a bit of a "palate cleanser" as it seems like all I've been doing lately is build/paint stuff for VSF (or some generic stuff like the rocky hills).  So I wonder should I...

a) call a halt on painting and construction and make a concerted effort to schedule some VSF games using the figures, vehicles and terrain I've been working on, maybe trying out different rules or styles of game.

b) Put the VSF completely to one side for a couple of weeks and work on developing another project (candidates are Zombies, Modern/near future Street Violence, Eliizabethans, Sci-Fi, 15mm modern)  A brand new period/genre is out of the question due to current finances, so no 18th century, VBCW

c) Forget "developing" anything and delve into the storeroom and see what figures I can get a game out of with a minimum of effort (e.g. rebasing my 15mm colonial stuff for the Portable Wargame, 19th century pre-dreadnoughts/Ironclads, 6mm modern, returning to the Novembre civil war.)


d) Man up and crack on with finishing all the half-completed VSF related projects (which basically means the pink dollhouses, the horse drawn traffic, the scratchbuilt slums and the Fenian Brotherhood cavalry.   THEN choose a,b or c.

On the one hand, I've really started to enjoy the crafting side of the hobby, making terrain, converting buildings, yes and even painting miniatures (to a point). But on the other hand, I'm wondering if not actually getting to play as often as I'd like is what's giving me the blues, and that I need to stop preparing for games and instead actually focus on playing them.

What might be nice would be to turn up completely empty handed and play some games with other people's figures and choices of rules.  That would be a real palette cleanser.

Please excuse the navel gazing.  Normal service will be resumed once the existential crisis is over.