Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Another Pirate Game at Dave's!

On Saturday, Jan. 8, my son Lucas and I headed over to Dave's for a session of pirate gaming. Dace had cooked up another interesting and flavorful scenario.

This time, the marauding band of pirates wake from their alcohol-induced slumber in a tavern deep in the British town, far from their boats, and have the unenviable task of hauling their ill-gotten gains back to their ships before being stopped by arriving British reinforcements or bribed local militia deciding to go loyal again!

The game was played on Dave's huge gaming table, filled as usual with tons of awesome terrain. The one difference is that he was in the middle of playing a Napoleonic battle on the same table! So he covered the blocks of Napoleonic troops with cotton batting, and we played that those were banks of smoke rising from buildings that the pirates had torched during their pillagin' and lootin'.

The pirates began the game in a tavern, groggy from too much rum and ale. They could choose to use wagons to carry loot overland, or canoes to go down the river.

At the other end of the river, their ships await - ready to sail off as soon as the loot is loaded.

Oh oh! The first hurdle - one of the militia officers stops the pirates, and demand that they go back to the cemetery behind the tavern to collect that treasure. They'd need all of it to bribe the militiamen, so they decide to go back.

Meanwhile, closer to shore, the arriving British troops assault some of the turncoat militia in a small fort.

After that they advance on the main fortifications, defended by the bulk of the militia.

The pirates, meanwhile, begin their journey, deciding to hedge their bets by taking both the wagons and the canoes.

The militiamen took up positions in a cornfield and tried to hold off the advancing Brits.

After taking the small fort, the main British column continues their advance on the castle. The first unit to try the advance was shattered by the defenders fire, but succeeding waves of disciplined troops were able to take the walls.

The game was quite interesting, and took place on two completely separate fronts. On the one hand, the main pirate party was making good time down the river. The wagons went in a different direction as those pirates joined some militia trying to break through the British lines.

The canoes of the pirates arrive at the last obstacle, and will have to transfer the treasure from the boats to the mules for the last leg of the journey. They are accompanied by the militia officer, who decided to throw his lot in with the pirates rather than face British justice for accepting bribes.

At that moment, a British frigate decided to go a'piratin'.

At that point we ran out of time, with the pirates on one side of the table close to reaching their objective, while the other group found themselves in a stalemate against stronger and more disciplined British troops.

All in all, it was a great game, and Lucas and I had lots of fun. This was his first effort at a game of this type and scale. I think he did great, although I could tell he was getting a bit bored towards the end. By that time, though, we'd been playing for four hours, so I can't blame him. For being nine years old he was awesome!

I have a couple of observations - the biggest one being that the board was a bit too large for a small-scale game. It took too many turns for the pirates to come to grips with the militia on the one side, and make their way down the river on the other. Also, we're caught in a sort of middle ground between a full-blown large scale game, and a skirmish game. I think we're using too many figures for a quick and dirty pirate game. But not enough to justify using large-scale horse-and-musket rules. Some things to think about before the next gaming session...

'Til next time.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Malifaux Gaming Table and more pictures by Lucas

Sunday was sunny, and I was able to go outside and complete my Malifaux gaming table! So, in the first week of January I have already knocked one item off my 2011 to do list. Woohoo!

Malifaux Gaming Table

The table does stand a bit tall, as I neglected to take into account the height of the caster wheels when I built it. Having the wheels on it is key, since it allows me to just wheel it to whichever part of the basement I need it as I continue the larger project of organizing the entire basement. It works fine for adults, and since I come from a model railroading background I love the low-level point of view, where terrain actually does block your line of sight, but it is a tad high for the kids. I'll have to get a couple of barstools for them to sit on when we play.

The playing area is 3'x3', perfect for Malifaux and other skirmish games. It is set up so I can set a 3'x3' board in the top frame, or two 3'x1.5' sections (which is what is in there now) if I want to make modular gaming boards. I put a shelf on the bottom part so I can use that area for storage of bins containing unused terrain or other stuff (you can never have too many places to stash stuff!).

Left side "wing"

Right side "wing"

Removable terrain board

Another view of removable terrain board

I put a pair of "wings" on the table, because I think it is always a good idea to have a place for rules, figures, drinks, snacks, etc., away from the gaming area. On the left is a flat tabletop for books and food and even drinks. One advantage of having it set below the level of the gameboard is that if someone accidentally spills a drink, it won't ruin the terrain and figures. I am thinking about adding dedicated drink holders to the sides to minimize the chances of that happening. On the right, that tabletop is divided into three sections. The sections have a base of foamcore covered with felt to minimize the rattle of rolling dice. Each player can get one section for playing cards, rolling dice, etc, while the center section is used for casualty figures that have been removed from play. Or each player can keep their figures and reserves in a section and roll dice in the center. It all depends on the game.

With some Malifaux and Mordheim terrain

It seems as if the table will be quite practical, and it looks pretty good. The woodworkers among you may have noticed that it is a little over-engineered, and is probably a bit sturdier than it needs to be, but that is how I like to build things. I think I could probably climb on top if it and it would hold up just fine.

Overall I am very pleased with how the table turned out. Another purpose for it was a "proof-of-concept" or test run for a larger 4'x6' or 5'x7' table that I am planning on building later this year, and I learned a lot while putting it together. For example, work from plans! For this table, I had an idea of what I wanted to do, and started sawing, drilling and assembling from a picture in my head. It turned out okay, but I could have saved some effort by planning ahead.

Also, the entire table, except for the MDF board I used on the wings, came from scrap and salvage lumber. The frame for the tabletop came from a prior attempt at a 4'x4' gaming table. The lumber for the structure of the table came from the dumpster next door. They are building a new house on the lot beside ours, and they toss all their lumber scraps away - hooray for me. Several leftover pieces of 2"x4" and 2"x6" later - voila! A gaming table.

Now to finish my Guild Outpost and painting some crews so I can play some Malifaux! (This will include painting up some Gremlins for my son to play, as he has chosen an Ophelia crew and been picking up the figures one at a time with his allowance and getting them as gifts. He has almost the complete Ophelia crew and is looking forward to completing it soon. And I've already been commissioned to build him a Gremlin bayou swamp table for them to play on! Yet more for my to-do list...)

On the Dystopian Wars front, I posted Lucas' drawing on the Spartan Games forum and it was so well received, he decided to do several more:

Blazing Sun vs FSA

Covenant of Antarctica vs FSA

Covenant of Antarctica vs Prussian Empire

I hope you enjoy them as much as I did!

'Til next time!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Dystopian Wars picture

First of all - Happy New Year! I hope you all have a healthy and happy 2011.

I am looking forward to doing more gaming, modeling and painting in 2011. My goal is to get some fleets completed for Dystopian Wars (more on that below), as well as get at least two crews fully painted for Malifaux. I am working on a 3'x3' Malifaux gaming table which would have been completed today except for the rain. (I do my woodworking outside since my basement is rather cluttered...) In addition, I'd like to finish a larger 4'x6' or 5'x7' table as well. Which of course will require organizing the basement in order to make room for it... I am already behind and it's only day 1 of 2011!

So, as mentioned previously, one of my goals is to have some fleets for Dystopian Wars. I've been reading and re-reading the rules while deciding on which fleets to get. While initially leaning towards the Prussians because of their amazing sky fortress dirigible, I have now decided on the Federated States of America as my main fleet, with the Empire of the Blazing Sun as my second.

Why? Well the double-decker Saratoga fleet carrier for the FSA is an incredible model, and seeing pictures of it actually painted up made me fall in love with it. My son has decided he likes the look of the Blazing Sun models. I am eagerly trying to recruit him into the game, and the thought of a Pacific island-hopping campaign between these two forces is very appealing to me, so that is the direction in which we are heading.

I just need to sort some of my unpainted lead pile and decide what I can sell/trade in order to get into DW. We're on a tight budget, so in order to get into something new I need to get rid of something else. But the plan is to get that done as soon as possible, because I can see this game becoming a family favorite very quickly.

Anyway, while he was reading the book my son asks me what faction I will be playing and why. We talked about, and that is when we determined that the FSA and Blazing Sun would be our two fleets of choice.

The next day he gave me a drawing (inspired by the illustrations in the rulebook) of rocket-powered Samurai troopers assaulting an FSA carrier - it is his way of "talking trash" before we even get into the game! I especially like the kamikaze Samurai plowing straight down. I have it up in my hobby area, and it provides my inspiration to get my stuff in order so I can get into this game as soon as possible!

'Til next time!