It’s blogging but not as we know it

As I suspected, work and family really got in the way of my hobby mojo this winter. I have been blogging, just not here. During the footy season, and my wife and I have been recording the ups and downs of the Fitzroy Youth Girls. Great fun, but not relevant to gaming.

Fitzroy v Ivanhoe 7 Aug 16 25

I have been getting some gaming and painting done, but I’ve been posting to instagram (using the handle @dave2718). I like instagram, the ease of posting straight from your phone is a very attractive. As a mainly a visual platform I find instagram crosses borders and language more than other social media, so I find myself in a wider and more diverse circle than on other platforms. However, just using the phone often means the photos are a bit dodgy. The phone camera is OK, but shots taken without due care for lighting or a bit of hand-held shake are just not as good in general.

Eureka Bunnies

The many groups on FaceBook can also be engaging but can feel a bit too transient.
Most blog posts are a bit more thought out compared to FB, and I like that.

K47 book

With Bolt Action version 2 on the way and Konflikt ’47 just released and Arcanacon not that far away (by my slow painting pace), there is plenty of hobby in the pipeline.

So, here’s hoping to a bit more blogging, painting and playing in the near future.

 

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Distractions

I’ve enjoyed a bit of a hobby renaissance these last few months. Unemployment is not all bad. But the real world has reasserted itself and despite my best efforts, a job found me. Expect posts to slow down a bit, as for the next little while I practice my hobby vicariously by reading your posts instead of creating my own. Keep that great material flowing.

As if that isn’t enough, this arrived on my door step:

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Like many wargamers, I am also a role player, and I enjoy Call of Cthulhu very much.

So many choices.

D.

 

Stuff I like II

How freakin’ cool!

About a month ago I made a post of stuff I like with links to two things.

Well, the issue two of The Golden D6 has landed. It is so cool it even has an interview with Andy Chambers. Get on board.

And, the comic I mentioned, Old England Grown New, well Warlord Games reckon it is pretty cool too. They’re right, of course, it is a ripper.

cheers.

D.

Stuff I like

I found this comic being published via blog. I know nothing about Olde England Grown New, except it is a tale of danger and derring do set in the English Civil War. The first episode can be found grouped together here and is worth the read.

Something else that not too far away is edition two of The Golden D6 I’m looking forward to this being published, it looks like a ripper.  Come on Adam, just because you have a day job, a family, …

Cheers,
D.

Inspiration

It can come from anywhere. Movies, blogs, magazines. I get a lot of inspiration from books, both novels and non-fiction.12439552_1671682923079506_7297011083206998433_n
This is a shot of my recent reading pile. Well, mostly. I have excised the novels that I read from my daughters’ VCE reading lists (in solidarity) and some library books since returned. What is left has a bunch of ideas.

The Antony Beevor books on Berlin and the extract from his Stalingrad work (I have read the full one) make me dream of mid-war Russians and Germans, likely in 15mm to get in plenty of tanks. The Berlin book inspires a late war German list for Bolt Action: hitlerjugend with panzerfaust, volkssturm with bewildered looks and cynical vets with plenty of machine guns.

Isaac’s Army is the story of Jewish resistance (in the camps and out) in Poland. A grim tale that coincided with (yet another) Black Tree Design sale and has led to a platoon of undercoated partisans waiting for some paint. Not standard battles, although I know they have a list, but I think has a lot of possibility for smaller, dedicated scenarios.

I have been working on a Commonwealth Tobruk army in 15mm for a long time. The Kings African Rifle memoir has left me with a vision that if I ever do a desert army in 28mm it will be pith helmets, fezzes, white officers, black troops and the Ethiopian campaign in the early war. The book itself is an entertaining read, replete with the racism one might expect from the time.

The last book I want to mention here is Keep Off the Skyline. I expect there are better books on the Korean conflict, but this one made me wonder why this war doesn’t turn up more often on the table. Late WWII Russian tanks against up-gunned Shermans and Pershings, campaigning up and down the peninsula (including trench warfare) and early uses of helicopters. Even some Sherman on Sherman action via lend lease passed on. All without the asymmetric challenges of Vietnam as the Chinese, DPKR and UN/ROK forces were largely conventional, albeit with a large range in training, morale and equipment. Something else to look into.

Too many ideas. And I’ve barely started on my Carthaginians.

What has inspired you recently?

Good golly, good gaming

There are some great hobby related sites about on the web. One of the things I love is that much of the best content can be found on people’s personal blogs and websites. We all have our favourites. Like many other bloggers, I keep links to some of my favourites on my home page (the list other gaming sites). Here is my current list, along with some comments. There are plenty of others – it is a pretty cool time to be a gamer.

Arkie Gamer tends to the historical, with beautiful minis and tables and often entertaining battle reports.

Azazel’s Bitz Box is a hobby machine, mostly fantasy and sci-fi

Dawn of the Lead is pretty eclectic, but always seems to have an interesting project on the go.

Flying Gorilla is not super active, but Costa a super talented sculpture, mostly for Eureka Miniatures and this blog gives a glimpse of his development process as well as some of his other projects.

Knights of Dice are a local (for me) company who are starting to do some pretty cool stuff with terrain. More active on FaceBook, but still worth keeping an eye on how ever you choose to do it.
(RubbishInRubbishOut is Viv’s YouTube channel, but I’m not sure what he’s doing with it at the moment.)

T’leroth’s easily distracted painting blog is by my friend Ian. Not so active recently – curse you work – but a fine painter.

Sprue Grey Toy Soldiers is the original Melbourne hobby blog. Claims to be the world’s slowest gamer, but I think a few of us could challenge him on for that title.

Adam from Sprue Grey is also the evil genius behind an online game magazine, The Golden D6. Issue one is out, and number two is expected soon. What I like about this magazine is Adam has done some of the hard work in finding the best of recent online bloggers and put them in a single place.

Cheers,
D.

A question of balance

With the arrival of the (so far) points-free Age of Sigmar, game balance is popping up in forums, pod-casts and facebook as well as at clubs and shops. It is the topic du jour.

demon and dude

The demon is blind-folded, so surely that is fair. And the guy has a feather as well as a chain-saw …

The focus of discussion is often on points and lists, which are the by far the most common way to bring balance, but I think these overlook several other ways that people can bring balance to games. Also, as we have all experienced, points don’t necessarily bring balance even if we allow that a consistent scheme is possible.

Points do have advantages. One is about setting expectations on the size of the game, which I think is at the heart of the AoS discussion. Another is that finessing an army list is enjoyed by a lot of people. It is almost a game in itself. Regular readers will know this is not how I approach armies, but I acknowledge many seem to get real enjoyment from this, and list-optimising has the advantage of being an aspect of the hobby that you can do by yourself between games.  Players who like this aspect simply cannot do it with AoS. Nor can they can’t really do it with Black Powder, Hail Caesar, or Force on Force.  There are plenty of systems where points optimising remains: Bolt Action, Flames of War, 40K, etc.
It is a diverse hobby, that is part of the attraction.

Army lists bring several dimensions to a game. Restrictions on building lists are most often used to bring a particular flavour to a game, mostly historical, e.g. restricting the number of units of cavalry for Romans or not giving Parthians access to armoured infantry.  40K does the same with variant lists that highlight various aspects of the background. That this can interact with points may cause angst but it definitely allows players to “forge da narrative”. List restriction that is integral to the rules is another way of achieving balance (and I guess is an almost hidden part of many points systems).

Missions can generate balance.  Too many missions are mirror images. Not just meeting engagements for kill points, but missions where the mission objective is the same for both players. This can be fun, but by changing the mission, different challenges and armies can be tried out.  All the factors of the game can be considered when designing a mission: list restrictions, terrain, deployment and victory conditions. I’m sure there are others.

Terrain is a factor in creating or upsetting balance.  An extreme case is an amphibious assault, where the defender waits in bunkers and the attackers face a stretch of sand to the dubious safety of a sea wall.  Tables do not need to be this extreme to create a challenge but a smaller, dug in defender facing a larger attacking force is more common than most games reflect.

Deployment. Who is on the board?  Who has access to reserves? How safe are your flanks or rear area.  Mix it up, and again it doesn’t have to be symmetric.

Objectives. This is the big one. How do you win?  I like scenarios where there is a clear attacker and defender. This is something that has to be given up at most tournaments, and I’m OK with that. The trade-off is a guaranteed number of games with generally great opponents on often good-looking tables. All wins in my book. But I love it when there is a good story that goes with a game. Ancient enemies facing off in a battle that is plausibly part of a wider engagement.  We don’t play for sheep stations but I like the illusion that we are.

All of this can be fitted into an ordinary game, but does require a bit of planning. I reckon it is well worth it.

In some ways a campaign is the natural habitat for these sort of ideas. But even without that sort of committment there is a lot of dimensions that can be explored.

Saint Celestine's finest moment: purging the heretics with fire and sword

Saint Celestine’s finest moment: purging the heretics with fire and sword

For pick-up games in stores or clubs the simplicity of: “What have you got? How many points? Cool – I’ll leave this unit out or make these dudes veteran, let’s go … ” is attractive and leads to games. This is a good thing. Of course, even without points this conversation can happen and I guess is for those playing AoS.

None of this will necessarily bring balance. One problem that points don’t solve is the dick-factor. I feel that underlying a lot of the passion about balance is not just a desire to have a reasonable chance (in some undefined sense) of winning but having a high probability of having a good game. Feeling competitive is part but not all of this story. Judging a winner is only part of balance.  Wheaton’s Law and its derivatives is an attempt to solve this, but this is changing the topic.

Happy gaming.
D.

Farewell 6th ed – I hardly knew you

So 6th edition of 40K was with us for just two years.  This was the version that I got to play the most and yet I still felt I was just getting to scratch the surface of its possibilities.

All is not lost though, the first weekend of 7th edition and the world is still standing and WATT reconnaissance elements give the new version a thumbs up! Sig-int (OK, the wargamerau forum) is also mostly positive so far.

It sounds like things to look forward to include the narrative possibilities of the unbound force org (which goes with the WATT-vibe nicely) and the mission objectives. I think I’ll miss exploding tanks a little – krak may still get the job done, glancing things to death and I guess there is still plenty of las and melta goodness to dish out those 7+ damage rolls.

The jury is still out on psychic powers and the new phase, but I can hear my Dark Apostle revving up the Word Bearers already. Daemons are back, me thinks (not that they ever really dematerialised).

Next step is save up the pennies for what looks like a very nicely presented set of rule books.

We did get some farewell games in when the doors of the Grand Duchy were thrown open for a fine day’s gaming. Thanks to the Duke and Duchess. With a nice sort of symmetry we had 7 players play 6 games over the day.

Unfortunately, I didn’t bring my camera and the one on my phone just isn’t the same. I was also too busy with my own games to capture any others. F&S is after a new cub-reporter.

I took my Ultramarines. The first game was against the Duke’s Eldar. A spokes-marine says there is nothing to the rumour that the Ultramarine force was tabled by the faster moving xenos.

duchy02a

Fast attack! This is how you do fast attack. Eldar materialise behind the soon to be dead assault marines.

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I saw the xenos scum right over there. Er, hang on, what’s that noise behind us …

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Vroom, vroom. Nicely painted stuff goes faster.

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One of my few high points – a war walker and bike squadron shortly before being dealt with by my devastators

After lunch it was time to face Papa Nurgle

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Morphius rips open the centre (along with a few marines)

We tried out several missions from the Alter of War compilation. Some of the missions were very fine indeed.

I’m sure they will fit right in to the new 7th ed world.

cheers

Arcanacon Rocks

Hi All,

EDIT: An ace picture gallery has been posted at the web site

I promised a blog on Arc but since then Viv from Knights of Dice has posted a series of videos that are a great round up of the week end.  I recommend you check these out for as good an Arc round-up as you will find.

This one is of the venue in general along with player interviews. It does a nice job of conveying the vibe of the weekend. And this is the first of two collages of the lovely armies that were on display. He also has some interviews with some of the trade stands. Hats off to Viv for creating and posting the videos.

The convention was well organised, the venue big enough and well lit (+1 for air con). The mission briefings were entertaining, clear and short. The missions themselves were good, not too wacky, and nothing that would break a reasonably balanced army. The awards ceremony was well paced and fun. A top job and a big thank-you to Dan, Ben and the rest of the tournament organisers. I love the direction that they are taking Arc. Huzzah!

I had six great games but didn’t take a camera so have no images. Thanks to my opponents: Hayden, Andrew (Eldar), Scott (Black Legion), Angus (Death Wing), Randall (Grey Knights), Anthony (Space Marines); I would happily line up to fight any of you or your armies again. I only won one game- I won’t say against who 😉

D.

For those who came in late, Arcanacon 40K is the 40K wing of the Arc franchise and is one of the biggest tournaments on the Australian calendar. It is also one of the most relaxed.