Thursday, February 1, 2018

Fur-grave: Gallery of the Warbands

I'm ready to start my Frostgrave: Ghost Archipelago campaign with my regular Sunday evening gaming group. The South Seas setting really appealed to me because I had so much appropriate terrain painted up already from my 28mm Pulp games set in Southeast Asia. As you have likely seen from earlier posts, I will be using the anthropomorphic figures from Splintered Light Miniatures as my warbands.

I have been busy painting up warbands for my players to select from for the last few months. Each warband will be half the size the rules suggest (5 figures, instead of 10). This is because we will have bigger groups playing, most likely. For their convenience, and as an introduction, here they are all gathered together. Some may show 6 or more figures painted, but that was just to give them some variety or choice!.
Badger Heritor and Warden (with familiar on base)

Badger Spear and Axe
Badger Archer and Axe
Bear Heritor with Animal crew
Bear Warden with small brown bear familiar on base
Bear crewmen
Jungle Rats
Jungle Rat crew, with Heritor in black at front left, and Warden in middle with staff
 Pine Martens
The Pine Marten warband
Pine Marten Heritor and Warden
Pine Marten crew
More Pine Marten crew
Raccoon Warden (with raccoon familiar on base) and Raccoon Heritor
Raccoon Crew
Satyr Warband
Satyr Warden
Blurry image (sorry!) of the Satyr Heritor
Satyr spear and archer
Satyr Sword and Archer
Weasel Warband
Weasel Warden
Weasel Heritor
Weasel Crew

 Assemble Your Own Crew
In case any of my players want to create a motley warband of various, random Splintered Light Miniatures animals, I am giving this option on a first-come, first served basis. As you can tell, I really like SLM's animals. One thing, though, is that many of their cool creatures are single-casting, or have just a couple poses. So, we'll see if any players decides to go this route. For their convenience, here are the rest of the SLM animals I've painted!
Three mice (not blind), suitable for either crew, Warden, or even Heritor
Three Squirrels
Two Skunks
Two Opossums
Two Wolverines
Two Beavers
One Coyote Warrior
One Prairie Dog Warrior
Wildcat Warrior (or Heritor?)
Armadillo Warrior
Fox Warrior

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Battle of Mollwitz, 1741 - For King or Empress

The Battle of Mollwitz, 1741, with Steve's 10mm Austrian infantry
 Steve V decided to use his Seven Years War big-battle, fast-play rules set, For King or Empress, to refight the opening engagement of the War of Austrian Succession. Although a Prussian victory, the Battle of Mollwitz, 1741, is infamous for Frederick the (not yet) Great fleeing the field when he thought the battle was lost. His mentor, Von Schwerin, urged him to do so, and then went on to win the battle, much to his king's chagrin. In our refight, there was one brief, shining moment when we thought our left wing Austrian cavalry would sweep the day, but otherwise, it was a historical reenactment all the way (and a Prussian victory).
The setup of Steve's refight of the Battle of Mollwitz, with teh Prussians at top and Austrians at bottom
 Steve wanted to playtest this scenario for the conventions he will be running it at this coming year. He set out the troops for us, cautioning us that the Prussian left wing cavalry across the river may not ever get into the battle. That proved to be true, as their commander, Mike S, wisely decided not to advance one unit wide across the bridge to face Joel's deployed battle line of Austrian cavalry. I was in the middle, matched up against the feared Prussian musketeers. According to the rules, they would have an average 2/3's chance of causing a hit in musketry fire against my lines, while I had only half the chance against him. The drum beats sounded our advance, "Doom! Doom! Doom!"
The flank battle that never was, as the Prussian cavalry wisely did not cross the bridge to fight the deployed Austrians
The numbers and statistics represent this being an engagement between Frederick's well-drilled troops against a newly-raised Austrian force countering his advance to snatch Silesia from Empress Maria-Theresa. In hindsight, Steve said we should not have advance our infantry to meet the Prussians, and instead made them come across to meet us. That may have given us more time to press through on our surprise flank attack on our left.
My brave Austrian fusiliers advance to their doom against the Prussian musketeers
The back half of Allen's cavalry force had the option of suddenly appearing on the right flank of the Prussian battleline. Allen -- true to his Hungarian roots -- seized on the chance and slammed into the side of Keith's mixed cavalry and infantry brigade. His troops were driven backwards, but Mike W quickly came to his rescue. Allen's sudden attack saw success, but he was essentially matched up against two commands. He fought the good fight, garnering what little success the Austrians had that day. However, he soon began to have troops fall back, as well.
Our one hope -- Allen's left wing could bring troops on board onto the right flank of the Prussian army
Meanwhile, Joel and my decision to march to engage the Prussians proved to be a disaster. We stood firm on the first round of engagement, giving as good as we received. However, after that, it went downhill quickly. Battalion after battalion suffered hits and began to flee towards the rear. My troops were the first to go, followed soon after by Joel's. It wasn't long before our center had more holes than line.
Meanwhile, the Austrian and Prussian lines advance to close with one another
Late in the battle, Joel finally brought in his massive cavalry command onto the left of the Prussian line. However, the impassable river guarded their flank, and we were hitting them frontally. Here and there Joel scored some successes, but the historical handwriting was on the wall, and we saw Mollwitz would once again end in Austrian defeat.
The Prussian commanders, from left, Keith, Mike W, and Brett, ponder what to do about Allen's flank attack
The game played quickly, and Steve took notes and made plans to change what he saw as tweaks to make it a more smooth flowing game. Of course, I argued for beefing up the Austrian's chances, but we shall see what the tweaked version of the battle looks like. As always, For King or Empress provides a fast-playing, easy-to-figure-out game. In many horse and musket rules sets, new players are reliant on the GM or more experienced players to help with fire and melee. With his rules, our newbies were able to roll and adjudicate their own engagements without his help after the first couple turns. Steve's 10mm troops are gorgeous, and always look good on the tabletop. I had forgotten that Mollwitz was a "snow" battle, so it was good to learn a bit more about this engagement.
Here comes the cavalry...or not! Joel's Austrian cavalry wing never really got into the battle until it was basically lost

Monday, January 22, 2018

Clash of the Kaiju Clobbers Cleveland

Cleveland, the Ohio National Guard, and some B Movie monsters were the scene for some monster-stomping action
I have always been a big fan of Godzilla movies. Years back, I played in Doug Johnson's light-hearted "Clash of the Kaiju" games at Drums at the Rapids. Each player takes on the role of a monster stomping buildings into rubble, swatting aside ineffectual human armed forces tanks and vehicles, and then battling it out for control of the city. After getting the rules, and years of working on the necessary monsters and buildings, Keith was finally ready to host a game for our Sunday night gaming group.
My monster (or "kaiju"), Kur Slug, at left, is eyeballed by Allen's monster, Atomic Squid
A table full of cardstock buildings stood in for Cleveland, Ohio, and Keith's supply of movie monsters and random creatures stood ready for the battle. Keith insisted we draw randomly for our Kaiju -- as people call those Japanese movie monsters, nowadays. This meant none of the big names like Godzilla, Rodan, or Gamera made it onto the table. I drew Kur Slug -- a nasty looking, pinkish centipede looking creature with 12 limbs. Joel drew Sluggo, whose bulging eye stalks looking hilariously nonchalant as it slid along the city streets. Allen had Atomic Squid, which could not leave the water, so was limited to how much he would encounter the other monsters. Mike S had some plant thing with a name like N'gock, or something like that! Keith would control the Ohio National Guard, which was augmented for the emergency with experimental mech walkers with advanced weaponry.
Kur Slug dispatches an experimental mech walkers of the Ohio National Guard
I had played the game before, and learned you need to focus early on smashing buildings, and only going after the human military when they got in your way. In Doug's Clash of Kaiju rules, you get bonus cards when you stomp a building into rubble. These bonus cards can help you with augmented attacks, additional actions, movement, and defense. Experience had taught that you will need those cards when you start fighting your rival monsters. So, I quickly began racking up buildings, avoiding the other monsters and the military.
Sluggo takes a leisurely....stroll? Slime? Though the deserted streets of Cleveland
A hilarious continuing story developed as Joel's Sluggo led a group of tanks on a merry chase through the city streets. You may not know this, but a giant slug is faster than a tank. So, Joel kept squeezing between buildings, turning corners, and generally frustrating the tanks as they sought to get a shot at him. In general, the human military pieces -- helicopters, tanks, jets, etc. -- are ineffective against monsters. Joel tried to take down a few buildings along the way, but was having horrible luck with his die rolls. Most monsters need a 5-6 on 1d6 to smash a building, "6" on the largest or strongest ones. Monsters have three health levels, and at their peak, usually roll 4d6 per attack, which I calculate being about an 80% chance of taking down a building. While Joel defied the odds in a negative way, my Kur Slug was balancing it out in a positive way. I failed to take down only one building all evening -- meaning I was racking up more cards than the other players.
Sluggo sneaks over and "poaches" the plant-thing's kill of a mech unit -- earning the bonus cards despite Mike doing most the damage!
My clever plan was to build up such a hand of bonus cards that I could suddenly attack another monster by surprise and knock him out with a couple overwhelming blows. My job got a bit easier as Sluggo started to take damage from the Ohio National Guard. Even better, the plant-thing ended up fighting two of the mechs back to back. They wore him down and eventually knocked him out. Unexpectedly, he was given another Kaiju, so I knew I had to spring my attack a bit earlier than I wanted.
Sluggo tries to get at an annoying jump jet, which had been pestering all evening
I used a "move to any square on the board" card to appear next to the weakened Sluggo. I rattled off a bunch of cards -- one to freeze his actions so I suffered no counterattack, and others to double or augment my damage. It ended up taking two turns (during both of which I froze his actions), and most of my cards, but Kur Slug eventually pounded the hard-luck Sluggo to the pavement.
Kur Slug launches a flurry of attacks with his 12 limbs, taking two turns to knock Sluggo out
I didn't have to worry about the Atomic Squid, as Allen had withdrawn back to the water after destroying all buildings within his reach of his Lake Erie home. Allen truly turned the city's waterfront into "The Flats"...ha, ha! Mike S had a flying reptilian (Gayos, or something like that) that was the sole other surviving monster to dispute Kur Slug's control of Cleveland. He had been steadily building up cards since arriving on board, while I had been steadily depleting mine. Plus, I had used all of my special attack (each monster has a limited number of more deadly, special attacks -- such as Godzilla's breath attack or Kur Slug's poison spit). Gayos flew in and attacked, breathing his flame on Kur Slug till he had expended all of them. I struck back with everything I had, also whittling him down.
Keith's cardstock Cleveland Ohio, eerily deserted just before the monsters arrive
Mike S should probably have won the match based on damage remaining and attack dice. However, Kur Slug's dice remained hot. With only 3 hits of health left, he took out Gayos, and triumphed. I had rolled exceptionally well on Defense Dice (need sixes to be successful), while Mike seldom blocked any of my attacks. Kur Slug ended up being the new King of Cleveland -- at least until the next monster smackdown occurs.

It was a fun evening, with lots of dice rolling and a little bit of tactics to make for a good game. Keith's cardstock city looked great. Now he just has to make some rubble pieces for the destroyed buildings!

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

New Frostgrave Warband: Weasels

Weasel warband using Splintered Light Miniatures
I had to put painting more Frostgrave warbands on hold while I finished up some terrain and miniatures for my Wars of Insurgency (modern skirmish) scenario that I was playtesting this past weekend. Once those were out of the way, though, I primed up four unpainted Splintered Light Miniatures weasels. A couple of the figures required modification, which I will discuss below. This brings me up to six painted warbands. Considering one of my players has painted up his own mice warband, I am just about ready to begin play.
A heavily-armored weasel will be this warband's Heritor, most likely
First up is the leader of the warband, the Heritor. He was the most heavily armored and impressive looking of the five, so I chose him. Of course, if whichever of my players decides for the Heritor to be one of the other figures, that's their call, too. I was going for a somewhat pastel theme to this warband. So, I decided a rose or pink color would be interesting and different. I thought copper colored armor would make the color palette even more striking, so I added highlights and plate in that color. I really like this figure, although the "sniffing armpit" post isn't the most unique or impressive in their line, he painted up really cool looking, I feel.
The warband's Warden, or spellcaster -- a figure I modified to give a cool-looking wizard's staff
This figure began as an axeman. He held a small axe in both hands, which I thought I could convert into a staff. I am pretty happy with how it turned out. I snipped off the axe at the blade and flattened out the surface. I glued a tiny golden bead to the top. I added a piece of appropriate width spear shaft to the bottom of the axe, and voila! It was done -- axeman to wizard! I gave each of the figures besides the Heritor a fancy, scrolled "W" (for Weasel, naturally!). I like this one's design the best, as I tried to make it look like arcane writing, too. I'm very happy with how this figure turned out.
The Weasel crew -- all from Splintered Light Miniatures (archer's bow added on)
And here is the crew for the Weasel warband. I decided to give front and back pictures so you could see the scroll "W's" on them. I added the bow to the archer on the right. I simply took a length of lead spear, bent it appropriately, and epoxied it to his back. From there, it was all paint. I like how it looks slung across his back. The one on the left was actually painted previously. I did at a tuft of grass to make him match the other four better, but otherwise he was untouched from before. I really liked the scroll W on the back of the swordsman in the middle. I was able to give it a lighter touch, which I think looks better than the thicker designs on the other figures.

What's next? I have six Satyr figures on my desk, primed and with their flesh base-coated. Once this batch is done, I think I will go ahead and let players choose their races, outfit their warbands, and we'll play our first game. I'm looking forward to trying out a Ghost Archipelago campaign, and hope the players enjoy it!