Monday, 1 May 2017

Buried Alive - An Update

Neanderthal solo play is awesome!
Well, that's a bit melodramatic, but fact is that while I've been able to play some games and squeeze in some time for hobby stuff I haven't had much time or energy over for blogging. My planned Jovian Chronicles month that would have coincided with the kickstarter was the first casualty, but I can happily say it wasn't needed as it still hit every stretchgoal Dream Pod 9 could come up with, including updating the old sculpts! Who would've thunk! Of course, those articles will still show up, the rpg session report is a priority, but at a later date.

So what have I been up do gaming-wise during the last couple of months? Let's take a look at roleplaying and miniature gaming first since those are quick subjects.

No actual roleplaying sessions. I've been reading Blades in the Dark and getting eager to try it, and a friend of mine just got his Tales from the Loop rulebook (the Simon Stålenhag rpg!) and is all fired up about trying that - something we might do online, just to see if it works for us or not. I also aqcuired a copy of Burning Empires, a game I don't really ever expect to run but that I want to own and read. And as always my mind keep coming back to Torchbearer and The One Ring... you know the drill by now.

No miniature gaming either, but I did paint a piece of terrain I've had lying around for a while - a Japanese torii (shinto gate) from Warsenal. I originally got it for Infinity, but what actually motivated me this time was the recent release of Test of Honour from Warlord Games. While there are plenty of cheap and well designed rule sets for skirmish gaming in feudal Japan it seems like the market really had a pent up craving for a quick and simple rule set bundled with a bunch of decent looking plastic minis in a really cheap box! The first two waves of the starter box sold out through pre-orders and it is now listed as sold out on their online store as they're scrambling to get more copies produced. Of course some can still be found in local game stores. It's really cool to see such enthusiasm for a subject matter close to my heart - the facebook group is almost 3000 members strong at this point!

All this for £35?! Yepp!
However, I havn't bought the starter myself yet. Partly because it was sold out at Warlord and I wanted to get it together with some terrain. But mostly because I'm thinking that I want to build the table first. A large part of my motivation for wanting to play games set in Japan is to make nice looking scenery. So I've ordered a number of model trees and bamboo from China for use with Test of Honour and Infinity and I'm currently considering what to do about buildings. There are some great and fairly cheap options out there, although building myself would be the cheapest of all. Having it be usable for several games is also another major reason that I felt I could allow myself to get into it. I don't have the space or budget to fuel several different terrain tables, but since I want a futuristic Japanese feel on my Infinity table too the trees and even some old style buildings will work.

Fabled Realms Eightfold Path (think Dragon Age's Grey Wardens) starter set, courtesy of @fistyglueman.
No miniature painting I'm afraid, although the CEGA ships I started earlier are almost done, and my Yu Jing starter force is staring med down as I write this. Speaking of skirmish games I have to mention upcoming The Legend of Fabled Realms from 4Ground (yes, the terrain makers!). It's a fantasy skirmish game that will launch on kickstarter in June that features 8-30 minis per side and a dynamic action/reaction system like Infinity. In fact, it seems to put a number of things I really like on collission course with each other and I just hope something awesome comes out the other end - how does Mordheim campaign + Dragon Age setting + Infinity rules sound like to you? Yeah.... not to shabby! The info so far is somewhat limited, but two of the designers had a long discussion with one of the guys at Beasts of War, mainly talking about the (gorgeous!) miniatures and background setting, but also how the rules work. Check it out here.

Damnit! I just wanted to write a quick update and it's already longer than I intended and I haven't even got to the board games yet!

Andean Abyss. I think this might have been the last turn we played. 
So... board games. When there's a lack of times board gaming is what saves the day. In early March four of us COIN enthusiasts got together to play Andean Abyss. I had told them that it's the longest game in the series and that it was dubious if we would have time to finish it, but at least one of us was adamant to start at the beginning to get a sense of how COIN games have evolved. As suspected we had to call it after five hours when we drew the third propaganda card. We still had a great time though and it finally feels like the others are as comfortable with the COIN system as I am, which bodes well for the future. We've decided to skip ahead for our next game and go for Falling Sky. I'm really looking forward to seeing COIN taking on the ancients!

A couple of weeks later we finished our Imperial Assault campaing, however as that will get it's own post I won't talk about it here besides saying we had a blast and are glad that it's over. :)

Pax Renaissance - I think I'm in love.
All of April has been Phil Eklund month for me! First I played through Pax Renaissance solo, just to grok it, and was blown away by the sheer scale of it - it's such a beautiful monster that I can't wait to get it to the table with fellow Eklund enthusiasts Jacob and Claes. It's of course similar to Porfiriana, but with even more things going on while still managing to be easier to oversee, perhaps thanks to the board.

Pax Pamir - Yes, I am trying to win through a pyramid scheme!
The Pax theme continued as me and Claes and Jacob sat down to play Pax Pamir for the first time. Again, it's Pax but quite different from both Porfiriana and Renaissance, very likely since it's done by a different designer. That is not to say it's not a great game though, because it is! Claes won by a landslide in the first game, which might have come down to us playing taxation completely wrong. We had time for another game which abruptly ended on the first topple with me winning as Russian loyalist as the other two hadn't realized how easy it can be to win in the beginning if no one tries to balance out aqcuired prestige.

Neanderthal - for when you really feel the need to get eaten by Tyrant Sea Bears!
A couple of weeks later I got to play Neanderthal for the first time and for some reason I felt if flowed much better than Greenland. Perhaps it's just the awesome graphical design by Karim Chakroun or perhaps I never really grokked Greenland, but I immediately felt Neanderthal was more appealing. In our inaugural game Claes as the promiscuous Archaic man got stuck early on and got hit by setback after setback, resulting in him feeling really frustrated during the first half of the game. He came back during the second half (when I was getting decimated!) but by then it was too late and Fredriks harem holding Neanderthal won handily. We talked about the experience afterwards and how Phil's game can be punishing and feel very random at first, but how you learn to mitigate that randomness and value tactics over strategy for day to day survival and in the end Claes said that he would be up for another game now that we've learned how it works.

I had so much fun so I played it solo a couple of times at home as well, losing once and just barely pulling off a win the second time thanks to domesticated bees and horses!

My claim to Bios: Genesis fame - mosses and insects!
Inspired by Neanderthal and the kickstarter for the new edition of Bios: Genesis I pulled out that title as well and played three solo games in quick succession. The first two ended in marine victories through endosymbionts (which always feels like cheating to me) so in the third game I limited myself to not counting endosymbionts for victory conditions. Even with this harsher penalty I just barely managed to get moss and insects earning me my first terrestrial victory! Woo! There will be more Neanderthal and Bios: Genesis in the near future.

Oh, through BGG I recently discovered the excellent new podcast Between Turns. It's very bare bones with just the two hosts talking, but they have great insights and are nicely grounded without becoming boring. Their latest episode (9) is all about Phil Eklund's games, mostly about the Pax games but also about how Phil designs in general. There will be a part two focusing on the science games, and I'm eagerly looking forward to it! So check it out for the Eklund stuff, but stay once you've listened to a few of the other episodes and realized it's good stuff!

I think that's about it for now... yeah...

Don't worry though, there will be more updates in May. Until then!
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Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Jovian Wars - Hard Sci Fi Spaceships - Kickstarter Funded!

The ships in the basic pledge.
Long time readers of Fire Broadside knows that I've been a fan of Dream Pod 9 in general and Jovian Chronicles in particular since nineties when the first (proper) edition of the roleplaying game was released. After getting the core book I managed to snag the Ships of the Fleet line of books that I read and re-read several times as the ship designs not only looked great, but were well thought out from a scientific standpoint as well. I highly recommend them to anyone with an interest in spaceships, regardless of your thoughts on Jovian Chronicles.

Later as I discovered more of the miniatures line I was sad to see that none of the ships from those books had ever been made into models. Sure, the rules for them were perhaps a little over the top, and certainly took away from the earlier mecha centric position of the core book and supplements, but they just looked so cool! Since then I've slowly grown my collection of books (still missing, Spacer's Guide, Nomads, Mars and Mercury sourcebooks - drop me a line if you want to get rid of yours!) as well as added to my collection of ships and exo armours and I can now field pretty much anything from the core book and mechanical catalouges.

Still.... those newer designs from Ships of the Fleet kept haunting me so when I heard from Robert Dubois (head of DP9) that they had been 3D designing them and were preparing a kickstarter I was overjoyed! And now it's here and almost at 200% funding as I write this!

Not only has Tony Baltera, who also rendered the new fleet scale exos, created some great looking models from the design in the books but DP9 has actually scaled them up as well. The old models are 1/5000 scale while the new ones are 1/4000 - about 25% increase in size! Not only does this make them more imposing on the table, but it allows for more detailing and extra touches like having the habitats on the Valiant being posable. Just look at this picture and you'll see the difference:

Quite an upgrade I'd say! You can see the new bases that are used for Jovian Wars as well. Also, the Poseidon has been beefed up slightly to give it more of that battleship look. While I like the old design just fine the new one certainly feels more battleship-y.

As I mentioned above the funding right now is just shy of 200% meaning we've unlocked all the actual combat ships from the books as well as a large amount of extra pieces like habitation modules and cargo containers you can use to customize the models. Up next are fleet tenders and transports which might not sound all that exciting but they're always good to for scenarios and just look at that Gagarin fleet tender - it's huge!

Another four ships unlocked.

Now, about the new game itself; Jovian Wars takes the setting from the default cold-war-going-hot of the 2210s to full blown solar war, which makes for a great excuse to beef up your fleets a bit so more ships and exos are on the table! Hehe!

The rules have been designed by David McLeod who made the well received new ruleset for Heavy Gear Blitz and is quicker and a bit more abstracted than Lightning Strike while still retaining a lot of the flavour and details that makes the setting unique. This is primarily through the use of exos and fighters but also the way you take damage and keeping track of the general state of the ship in some detail. For example, while there are hitpoints they are almost secondary to a ships systems and how well they are performing - a ship without working point defence is a sitting duck for close assaulting exo armours!

The rules are still in beta phase, undergoing playtesting, but I really like what I've read. Of course, I really like Lighting Strike and the tactical rules in the rpg as well so with Jovian Wars I'll have three different games where I can use the same miniatures. I guess depending in what kind of mood I'm in and how much detail I want.

The latest unlocks including the small CEGA anti-exo Hydra defense boat!

Still, new smooth rules are cool and all but in the end it's all about the ship models. And I know there will be a number of people who aren't interested in the Jovian setting at all and simply want the gorgeous models for some other gam - and that's perfectly fine! I mean, there aren't all that many hard sci fi spaceship designs out there and with The Expanse growing more and more popular (remind me later to talk about how close that setting is to Jovian Chronicles!) I think there's a growing market for ships that are not Star Trek, Star Wars or just your general boat in space kind of deal like virtually all other spaceship battle games out there!

Not unlocked yet, but should be soon. Did I mention that the Gagarin is yuuuuuge?!!

There is a lot more to see on the actual kickstarter page, like all the extra parts added in stretchgoals and all the exos and fighters that are available too if you want a good starter fleet to get going quickly. There's another 12 days to go and I feel confidend we'll see all the CEGA and Jovian stuff unlocked at the very least, and I've heard Tony has been rendering some Venusian ships as well....

During the coming couple of weeks I'll be posting more about Jovian Chronicles, like a session report or two from our ongoing campaign, some talk about the expanse, pictures of my painted exo armours and, if all goes according to plan, a Jovian Wars battle report!

So head on over to the kickstarter and check it out and I'll be back soon with more space goodness!

Friday, 10 February 2017

Future - 2017

Quite a bit late, but I am back to have a look at the year ahead and what games I'm excited to play (and buy). Hopefully it'll be more of the former than the latter. Eek!

Board Games

The game I'm probably most exited to get my hands on is First Martians: Adventures on the Red Planet by Ignazy Trzewiczek and Portal Games. Mars was the big new board game theme last year and in the end the excellent (and Swedish!) Terraforming Mars seemed to totally dominate that genre while First Martians slipped into 2017. This was probably for the better, partly to give it some breathing space, but also to let Ignazy tweak it a little more and get the two (2!) campaigns just right.

Anyway, it's a kind of sequal to Robinson Crusoe and uses very similar mechanics, except this time you are first settlers on Mars, trying to survive in an extremely hostile environment. Think a coop version of The Martian where you're all trying to be out-Matt Damon each other! The big new thing is the introduction of an app to take care of a lot of the cards and story mechanics of the game. This has allowed Ignazy to construct much more dynamic stories that change depending on how you play. Similar to the two-part cards in RC where you'd encounter the first part and then the card would be mixed in with the event deck and come back and bite you at a later time... except times a thousand!

There will be six stand-alone missions, like in RC and two campaigns - one regular and one Legacy that will change drastically as you play. Really looking forward to this! I'm ready to go to Mars!

New Angeles was a great surprise when it was announced, but a happy one for sure. I'm always eager to see more games using the interesting Android setting and one where you control the different corps and vying for power in New Angeles just seems awesome right off the bat! As more previews turned up I came to the conclusion that it seems a bit like a mashup of Battlestar Galactica and Archipelago - two games I love. While you try to win as the different megacorps, it's not necessarily about being on top of the leader board as you simply need to be ahead of your main competitor (given to you as a secret card at the start of the game) and making sure the city runs relatively smoothly so the federal government doesn't step in and take the entire cake (which would be a win for an eventual federalist player).

It seems like so much fun, although I am definetly worried that it won't fly at all in at least one of my gaming groups. Since it's built on player interaction and to always be wheelin' and dealin' I think it will just collapse when faced with a group who refuses to do that. While I don't think my friends are that bad there are certainly strong elements of "if you get a small advantage by me gaining this huge advantage I am NOT doing that!". Hehe! Even so, I want this asap!

It's not all new-fangled doodads in this list either as my quest to play more COIN games is ongoing! It actually went decently last year, with me finally wrestling the bots to the ground and figuring out how their flowcharts work. This mean I could start playing "proper" solo games so I played Andean Abyss a couple of times and about half a game of A Distant Plain, just to grokk it. It works great and is fun indeed!

Of course, living opponents are even better and our gang of COIN enthusiasts have decided to play Andean Abyss a month from now so everyone can get to grips with the core COIN experience. These days I'm feeling pretty secure with the system so my main role will be to teach the other guys who have much less experience. We have loads of more titles to play though; A Distant Plain, Falling Sky, Liberty or Death and Cuba Libre are all owned by the group but have yet to be played.

Is one of these lists complete without some title from Phil Eklund? I think not! While the 3rd edition of High Frontier is finally close to shipping to backers, and I'm very eager to play it again, I'm going to put upcoming edition of Bios Megafauna here instead as I think it has so much potential! Not only will it feature updated designs allowing you to port your organism from Bios Genesis and continue playing in Megafauna, it will also have a puzzle Pangea that you slowly split apart as the continents start to form. Imagine that together with the art of Karim Chakroun and yeah... exciting times indeed!

Other games I'm extra eager to get my hands on and/or play are Bios: Genesis, Terraforming Mars, Kanagawa, Sekigahara, Apocalypse Road, MYTH, Imperial Assault: Jabba's Realm, Pax Renaissance and Forbidden Stars. To name a few...

Roleplaying Games

Last year we got Jovian Chronicles rolling and there's no chance I'm letting go of that baby! We actually just played our third session and had a blast, even though it mostly consisted of the tactical game as the players conducted an assault on an orbital station close to Jupiter. With The Expanse just starting its second season it just feels so right to have a hard science fiction game focused on space running alongside it. While The Expanse doesn't have giant robots, there are many, many other similarities so the show works as great inspiration for our gaming sessions (if you haven't seen it, do so now. It is fantastic!).

I'll type out a proper session report soon, but suffice to say we're having fun and now we're getting into the campain proper as the last session finished off the intro scenario.

I had put Torchbearer next, but with Cubicle 7 taking over Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay I'm torn! I love Torchbearer and the upcoming Middarmark world book looks absolutely phenomenal, but the possibility of getting a modernized WFRP that still retains that 1st edition feel is also very, very cool (not saying we'll actually get that, it's just what I hope for). Hmm.... but since we don't really know anything about the new WFRP yet I'll still go with Torchbearer. Because it is awesome!

It does require quite a bit of buy-in from the players though, and I'm not sure I can get mine to invest right now, but if I could have Jovian Chronicles sitting on my shelf for 20 years and then pull out and play it now I guess Torchbearer won't be going anywhere either.

Finally, with Blades in the Dark getting its final PDF and a proper hardcover book heading my way soonish I would love to play it during 2017. Blades is set in a kind of Victorian city named Duskwall and is heavily inspired by Dishonored and Thief. As John Harper writes, you play as "a gang of criminals seeking their fortunes on the haunted streets of Duskwall. There are heists, chases, occult mysteries, dangerous bargains, bloody skirmishes, and, above all, riches to be had if you're bold enough."

The system of goals and heists are very interesting and (as can be seen from the kickstarter) lend themselves well to hacking. We're getting not-Star Wars, not-Black Company, not-Shadowrun, not-Dune and a bunch of other setting hacks that you can use for the game as well! I have yet to read through the game cover to cover, but I feel it coming to me soon.

Some other roleplaying games I dearly want to play or buy are Coriolis, The One Ring (always!), Tales from the Loop rpg, Ten Candles, Swords Without Master and Mutant: Year Zero (any of them).

Miniature Games

This is the category where I feel the need to really get the old axe out and start chopping at my collection. While I love miniature games and painting, it is by far the most time and money consuming part of my gaming hobby, and these days time especially is a rare commodity.

With that said I am going to invest in the upcoming Jovian Wars kickstarter. I don't count this as a new game per se, as I've had Jovian Chronicles and Lightning Strike since the ninetiees and even though I like the new Jovian Wars rules I'll be using the ships and exos to play the older games as well. Just the opportunity to finally get models for all those gorgeous ship designs from the Ships of the Fleet series of books is making me salivate! More on this as the kickstarter launchers next week.

Infinity will always have a place in my collection and as I'm kind of rebooting my Yu Jing as they get more and more resculpts I'm aiming to paint the new starter set during the spring months and follow it up with fun additions to bring it to 300 points. As my friend Claes enjoys the game as well, with this Haqq, we can paint and play in tandem. Currently we're going through the intro campaign in Red Veil so Claes can get up to speed.

I have some new markers and terrain that I will be talking about soon as well. Of course, Infinity's big drawback is the amount of terrain it requires, but if I get rid of my Deadzone and some old GW stuff I'll have more than enough space for it.

Last up is Dropfleet Commander that I got in the mail a couple of months back. So far I've barely
touched it, just divided up the bits bits that my friend is getting and then shoving my Scourge under the bed. That might not seem like it's a game I'm excited for, but I really am! I just don't want to start another project only to find myself without an opponent when I'm done. So while I'm waiting for either of my friends who also backed to finish their fleets I will keep painting Jovian ships and Infinity figures. Then when I have an opponent with a painted fleet I'll get stuck in and do mine - Scourge ships are quick to paint (I think).

As for other miniatures games, I'm really trying not to but I think you could probably count MYTH and Imperial Assault in this category as they require a big time investment for painting as well. I don't see myself investing in any other large systems, but I will be keeping my 15mm stuff and would love to try things like Rogue Stars, Ronin and Saga - games with a low model count basically.

As always there are many more games that I want to play than I could possibly make time for, but hope never dies I suppose! I will be trying to focus better this year, especially when it comes to painting, so hopefully less wasted hours and more armies that get to see action! This goes for roleplaying as well though, as I want to play a decent amount of Jovian Chronicles, at the very least 10 sessions, before we switch to something else.

That's it for new plans for 2017!

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Friday, 27 January 2017

Breaking: Cubicle 7 Aqcuires Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay!

I'm jumping the gun a bit here, but it's all so exciting I simply can't help myself!

Yesterday Grim and Perilous (makers of Zweihänder) reported that a large European publisher had got world wide distribution rights to Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay. A few hours of frenzied speculation followed where names such as Modiphius, Mongoose and... Cubicle 7 came up but it was soon inadvertedly confirmed, through, that it was indeed Cubicle 7 who has landed the deal.

Later, when asked on Facebook, C7 cheekily responded with the following:

So yeah, Cubicle 7 + WFRP = True! And this makes me a very happy man!

Well unless they're forced by GW to do a Age of Sigmar version which would crush my newfound excitement. But I don't see that happening - GW has been really good about reviving old fan favourites lately so I'm actually hoping we might see something close to the first edition of the game! I would of course settle for a more modernized version, fitting with the end times, or whatever was going on in the Old World before bubbleworld, kind of like the 2nd and 3rd editions.

So why am I so excited about this? Well, as far as I'm concerned Cubicle 7 is a publisher that have consistently high quality across all their products, don't rush things and have a meticolous eye for the feel and details of the settings they portray in their games. They don't release a thousand splatbooks detailing every single class/ship/location/weapon like many other publishers do, but instead focus on making the best core game experience possible. Supplements are generally well thought through and don't feel redundant or uninspired.

In addition to that, TS Luikart joined Cubicle 7 in 2015 and he's contributed to a number of games that I really like, including WFRP 2nd edition, The One Ring, Dragon Age, Eclipse Phase and Dark Heresy. He has a good grasp of the setting and I would be very surprised if he's not involved quite heavily.

Now, it'll probably be a couple of years before we see a new release but if you'll allow me to dream for a bit...

I would like to see a setting that's very close to how it was presented in the first edition, which wasn't darker necessarily but certainly much more chaotic. No, not in the Chaos with a big C way, but in the way that it felt new, vibrant and quite unpredictable! The later editions were retconned to gel more with the current version of Warhammer Fantasy Battles, making everything a bit more... cookie-cutter. I would love a return to the more chaotic era of first edition. And seeing how OSR has been growing steadily the past few years I don't think it's impossible.

A new system designed from the ground up for WFRP would also be nice. While I have a certain fondness for the old system in the first two edition, and parts of WFRP3, I wouldn't mind a new more modern system, but hopefully with a slight OSR feel to it, to be used for a new edition. I have for a long time wanted to run Warhammer using Torchbearer as that seems like a pretty perfect fit, so a decent amount of grit would be welcome. And of course, Torchbearer will soon get its very own official setting, which looks awesome!

I could keep going on but I think I'll have to contain myself and wait for the official announcement from C7. Hopefully with a little bit of information attached. I had more or less written off WFRP as something that I would only play again if I went back to the first two editions (sold all my WFRP3 stuff a while back) but now my head is swimming with hopes and wishes!

Saturday, 31 December 2016

Past - 2016

Another year behind us and it's time to have a look back at what came and didn't come to pass during my 2016 gaming year (I'll simply refrain from talking about all the horrible non-gaming related stuff that has been going on and focus on the fun stuff!). As always the board games far outweighs miniature and roleplaying games, but that is only to be expected. So let's get stuck in with the top three!

Board Games

The big fat number one on this list is, of course, Star Wars: Imperial Assault. We started playing the campaign in August and since it's tricky to line everything up for the four of us to get together for 4+ hours to game we still have the last two missions of left to play. This is scheduled for next week so hopefully we'll be done with the core campain then, and since we started on August 7th that will be exactly six months from start to finish!

I think we've all had a good time with the game and at times it can be incredibly cinematic and you get that Star Wars feel, but it can at other times feel like a bit of a slog with a lot of minutea and careful consideration of every move. I played FFG's new edition of Doom yesterday (it is very good!) that uses a card play system similar to MYTH and I think it is just what games like Imperial Assault and Descent need to feel more... modern again.

Now don't get me wrong, I really like Imperial Assault and I think the newer campaigns will be a great step up from the one in the core box, which is very uneven. I'm especially eager to get my hands on Jabba's Realm as that kind of Star Wars underworld has always been close to my heard. And who don't want to sick a rancor at those pesky rebels!

Next up is MERCS: Recon by Megacon Games - another dudes on a map game but very different from Imperial Assault. Especially since I've played this mostly solo! While you can be up to five players it's also a great solo experience that most of the time has the right amount of shit hitting the fan as you try to exfil through and increasingly secfor infested lab while fires are raging and civilians are running all over the place! And now I have got all the extra kickstarter material that I haven't even touched yet, which really makes me eager to get back to this soon.

On place number three is Bios: Genesis from
Sierra Madre Games, again mostly solo plays! If you're wondering if I've lost all my friends it's simply that we've been focusing mostly in IA when we've played together. Haha! Anyway, Bios: Genesis might be my second favourite Eklund game after High Frontier as it has such an awesome theme that is well implemented, creating a game that changes as you play. At first it's all about creating lifeforms, but as life is starting to pop up the game changes to become a battleground inside these lifeforms as you parasitize and absorb other players. A great achievement by Phil!

Other games close to the top is Twilight Struggle, Sushi Go!, Forbidden Stars, Netrunner and Andean Abyss (again mostly solo!). If there's one thing to take away from my board game experience this year, it's that well designed solo games can be great fun and a great way to scratch that board gaming itch even when you can't find time to do some actual face to face gaming with your buddies.

Comparing my played games to my Future - 2016 post from a year ago it lines up fairly nicely. I've played MERCS, Imperial Assault and a Sierra Madre Game (although not High Frontier 3 as I had hoped). I haven't played a single game of Roll for the Galaxy though... need to remedy that.

Roleplaying Games

Not a lot of roleplaying, but 300% increase from last year at least. One of my long, looong time roleplaying dreams have been to play Jovian Chronicles and this year it finally happened! We started playing the Odyseey SEED campaign in early spring and managed another session during the summer. It's been on ice since then, again because it's hard to get people together, but I'm feeling session three coming along early 2017. One of our players has recently finished moving house, so hopefully it'll be a little easier to get it going now.

With the kickstarter for Jovian Wars - the new miniatures game from DP9 - I'm sure the interest for the setting in general will grow. I'm not holding my breath for anything new for the rpg, but it's still nice to have a "living setting", as it were.

I also got to play (yes, play not GM!) the new Coriolis by the Free League and Modiphius and we're looking to continue our adventures in the Third Horizon in 2017. Our group are explorators - archeologists to be precies - and we're currently investigating a rumoured artifact in the Erequ system. My character is a fugitive with mystical powers that has found employment as an articaft "specialist". We are currently on the run from the local secret police and seem to have become embroiled in a secret war between the current totalitarian regime and the old regime that lost its power in a coup. Good stuff all around!

Beyond that I've taken a look at Storium which is an online rpg medium which seems interesting. You take turns and write about what you do so a game can extend over weeks and months, which is a nice contrast and cool to just have humming in the background. I've even considered integrating it with our Jovian Chronicles campaign as an advanced form of blue booking. Maybe. It's an interesting concept anyway!

Considering I got to start playing Jovian Chronicles I'm putting a big checkmark on my January post on which rpgs I wanted to play in 2016!

Miniature Games 

Infinity again saves the year from becoming completely mini gaming barren! Me and Claes just managed to squeeze in the first two tutorial missions from Operation: Red Veil this week. Although he tried the game last year it didn't really stick so we both felt we might as well start from scratch, and also motivate each other to paint. Unfortunately none of us finished any figures for this game, but we still played to get our motivation going.

These are of course tutorial missions, with just three or four minis per side on a tiny battlefield with paper terrain and yet Infinity's core mechanics are so well designed that even this can become nail-biting experiences! Some highlights include; a shotgun blast, covering two of my Zhanshi and hitting on 17 or less, that missed with a roll of double 18! My nice big heavy armoured Zuyong being the first casualty, showing how lethal the game is. The final roll in the game with my last Zhanshi firing at the Khawarij, the last standing Haqq model, and critting - saving me from loosing the game and settle for a draw instead.

While I have some important other painting priorities to take care of first, this really made me eager to play the rest of the mini-campaign!

You might wonder what happened to Dropzone and Dropfleet Commander that I went on about a year ago. Well, I'm still waiting for my opponents to even put together their Dropzone models so I have kind of shelved that - even going as far as considering offloading my Games & Gears Dropzone table that finally arrived. Things might change if they get inspired by Dropfleet, but if not I simply need to focus on the games that actually get played. Fingers crossed though!

As for Dropfleet - it has arrived in all its kickstarting glory and it looks both fun and beautifull! However, as I mentioned above I have some other painting to take care of first, and I have also decided to wait until my opponents have at least built, and hopefully painted, their fleets before I touch mine. I know I can finish mine in a few evenings so I am not worried about falling behind. And don't worry, I'm not bitter simply pragmatic. I will build and paint things that I know will see play from now on.

Last year I also talked about Jovian Chronicles and Lightning Strike and I've shown some of my painted exo armours but.... you ain't seen nothing yet! Hehe!

That sums up most of my gaming year I think. As always I'll follow up this post with the Future - 2017 post soon about all the games I want and hope to get to play during the coming year!

Now, Happy New Year everybody!
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Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Star Wars: Imperial Assault Campaign - Part 3

Star Wars Imperial Assault AT-ST
And we're back with some high adventure from a galaxy far, far away! With only four(?) missions left of the core campaign the heroes are getting more powerful at the same time as the Empire is deploying more of its elite troops. If you need to catch up please check out part one and part two of the campaign.

I only needed to paint one additional model for this session - Carnor Jax, I mean the Royal Guard Champion. Yes, that really is Carnor Jax as can be seen on the cards from the Imperial Assault beta playtesting phase. For some reason they felt they had to change it, probably because of what Disney let FFG do (and don't do) with established characters. However it's just as obvious as General Sorin really being General Veers. Anyway, on to the reporting!

As always, there will be SPOILERS for the core campaign below so keep that in mind.

After one win and two losses in our last session the rebels were hungry for getting one back on the ole' Empire. Unfortunately for them things didn't go according to plan and they found themselves being sucked into an imperial stardestroyer! There was a small chance of escape though, if they could destroy four critical terminals controlling the tractor beams and then get back to their ship. It looked a little hairy from the get go though...

Star Wars Imperial Assault - Drawn In
I have a bad feeling about this!
While the stormtroopers didn't pose that much of a threat the E-web blaster cannon and the elite officer directing its fire proved a deadly combination! Diala moved toward the closest door and tried to open it to access the terminal beyond but rolled badly and lost a complete turn just getting it open, even with Gideons help! Jyn blasted stormtroopers left and right while ducking and weaving her way toward the other door. Fenn charged toward the E-web but quickly got pinned down and soon had to retreat back from the heavy fire. Finally, Gideon was so busy ordering people around that he forgot to move out of the line of fire and soon found himself wounded. And to make matters worse the door Diala had (finally!) managed to open shut close again!

I got to say that during the first two or three turns my dice were hot as hell while the rebels couldn't even open their doors. If it hadn't been murder it would have been funny how I just kept rolling four damage with my stormies and double that with the E-web while the rebel return fire proved mostly ineffective. Fenns assault on the heavy gun was beaten back and he and Jyn instead went the other way around, through the control room.

Star Wars Imperial Assault E-web
Charging an E-web with support is brutal!
Diala did finally manage to get in and destroy her terminal and Jyn and Fenn destroyed their closest one, while in a fierce battle with my elite stormtrooper squad just around the corner, close to the E-web. At that time the Carnor Jax spawned from a Doom-esque door behind them and proceeded to cut down poor Gideon. As more troops kept pouring in we had a little discussion about their chances and while they had managed to destroy two terminals and had one more nearby, the rebels simply didn't see how they could possibly take out the fourth and get back to the elevator back to their ship without all of them getting wounded. At this time Diala was the only unwounded hero but Carnor Jax was closing in so instead of drawing it out they held up their hands and let themselves be take captive.

Another Imperial victory! After this we should have played the forced Escape mission but after some discussion we decided to simply skip it in favour of getting on with the campaign. It's not that we didn't want to play the mission as such, but it would have meant the need for an extra session to finish the campaign, and it's not like the Escape mission has any juicy rewards you miss out on.

Instead we went to the next side mission and since Fenn's character mission, Brushfire, was available the heroes decided on that rather than trying to recruit Han Solo. It's a pretty fun mission where the heroes have to run around and disarm six bombs while avoiding fire from a huge AT-ST. It was of course extra fun since we got to use the painted model for the AT-ST which hadn't seen play yet!

Star Wars Imperial Assault - Brushfire
*Gonk-stom, gonk-stomp, gonk-stomp!*
They again brought their meat shields, getting me enough Threat to deploy my veteran elite stormtroopers who are... pretty scary at this point! I gave the Assault Armor to the AT-ST for some extra durability as I knew both Diala and Fenn could put out some nasty damage. The heroes raced forward and quickly took out the probe droid and the closest bomb. Fenn then rushed ahead toward the red bomb behind the AT-ST! A bold move indeed. While he did manage to disarm that bomb he had to retreat before using it on the AT-ST as the fire from the elite stormtroopers and the walker itself was overwhelming.

A squad of heavy stormtroopers caught the clumped up rebel forces in a crossfire and put some light damage on almost all of them. Diala ran after Fenn, trying to cover him as well as getting the other red bomb, while Jyn ran pas the walker and down toward the blue bomb. Gideon and the troopers stayed behind and Gideon got the other yellow bomb in the corner.

Star Wars Imperial Assault AT-ST attack
It was at this point that Claes, who plays Jynn, realized she had made the noblest sacrifice!
Jynn's dash didn't go unnoticed though and soon the AT-ST had shifted its attention to her. Backed up by another probe droid the wounded smuggler was running head over heels, with trees blowing up around her! A wounded Fenn barely managed to take out the E-web and then slowly tried to make his way through the muddy water to the blue bomb in the corner. Diala bravely used her Way of the Sarlacc to figh of the elite stormtroopers but was soon wounded simply because of the superior numbers!

Star Wars Imperial Assault - Trooper vs Trooper
I really liked this little vignette! Two grunts firing away at each other while their superiors take all the glory.
The heavy stormtroopers took out the last of the rebel troopers and the walker again shifted its focus back to Gideon - the only still healthy hero in the group! Fenn just managed to disarm the next to final bomb and the Diala avoided enough damage to move close to the final bomb and... disarm it! Which was in the nick of time as the AT-ST would have moved and fired twice on Gideon in the next activavion - probably giving the win to the Empire. As it was the rebels stood victorious instead, having driven the Imperial presence off Onderon! A great close-fought game - much more even and fun than Drawn In had been.

We finished with the regular post-mission book keeping of buying weapons and skills. All the heroes now have one of their top 4xp skills and Diala and Fenn are using Tier III weaponry (Fore Pike and Pulse Cannon respectively) while Jynn is still holding on to her DL-44.

The next two missions are The Source followed by the Finale! However, with birthdays and christmas coming up it will probably have to wait until the beginning of January. Until then, may the Force be with you!
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