Saturday, December 31, 2022

Space Station Zero - Creating a Framework of Corridor Walls

    My newly-created foamboard walls for games of Space Station Zero
As you may remember from my previous posts, a new project for me is trying out Space Station Zero from Snarling Badger Studios. We'd enjoyed their Reign in Hell rules, so I picked them up from Wargame Vault (nice deal on print and PDF). Reading the rules, I was intrigued, so began building terrain to create my own dilapidated space station somewhere lost in the depths of space. An earlier post showed you the six 10"x11" battle boards I created to piece together for the 30"x22" board.

    Another look at the walls, with images that I had downloaded off the internet glued onto their sides
The more I began to think about it, though, I felt I would need walls to give the real look of a space station. I looked around for something commercially available, but didn't find anything in a reasonable price range. So, like with my boards, I figured that I could create my own. Wandering the aisles of the craft stores is usually where I get my inspiration. I came upon a black, foamboard trifold that I have often seen my students use for project displays. That made me think, "Hmmm..." The trifold would already have the fold in it for each of the 90 degree angles needed. That would work! 

    As you can see, I used about a quarter of the trifold, foamboard display
I stuck a tape measure next to some miniatures and chose to do my walls 4" tall. Since the playing area is 30"x22", I figured four corner sections placed together would work. One arm could be 15" for the long side and the other arm extending out from the corner could be 11" for the shorter side. Placing them all together in a rectangle would create the 30"x22" frame. It was an easy matter to cut the foamboard with a sharp X-acto knife. 

    An exploded view of the four sections, each with a long 15" and short 11" arm
Now, I could have left them like that, but felt that gluing on images of space station corridors could really make the walls pop. I went online and Googled various images of space station corridors, downloading a number of images. I resized these in Photoshop to 4" tall. I then duplicated the image and flipped it vertically so that it could wrap around the top edge of the foamboard and extend down to the bottom, enclosing the foamcore in an upside down "U-shape." I took these images to the local office supply store and printed them out on their color laser printer.

    I used doors/portals glued to cardstock to clamp the four sections together with magnets & steel bases
 The trick was accurately pasting them onto the foamboard. I used Gorilla Glue spray adhesive, spraying both the back of the image and the foamboard. This kept the foamboard from warping, like it may have if I slathered the whole thing in white glue. I was fairly happy with how this process (which took several hours) went. I did screw up, though. One of the four pieces had its image glued on upside down. Much to my surprise, it did matter for everything to line up and have the "raw" foamboard edge facing down onto the tabletop. 

    Bonus pic of a recently-painted Dr. Zaius from Planet of the Apes investigating Space Station Zero
While trying to get to sleep the night before, I thought about how to clamp the four sections together so that it didn't get knocked over during play. I hit upon the idea of using the image of a door or portal glued on a piece of cardstock and placed over where each section joined the neighboring one (at the center of each long and short side). But how to clamp them? I decided to glue steel bases near the bottom corners of each side of the cardstock door. I placed magnets on the steel bases, peeled off their backing, and then pressed the door into position. Squeezing the door attached the adhesive backing to the wall section in the exact correct position. I was delighted to see the doors peel off and reattach easily with the steel and magnet connection. Success! I love it when a concept like this actually works out...ha, ha!

So, here are some pictures of my space station walls with the boards in between. I was very happy with how these all turned out. I think the walls make it look much better than simply using the boards would have looked.

Tuesday, December 27, 2022

Post-Apoc 'Bad Guys' - the Barbarozas!

    My final (I swear!) Post-Apoc gang, the Barbarozas -- the classic movie bad guys
A staple of every Post-Apocalyptic movie are the period equivalent of the biker gang. These are the badly-dressed savages who murder and pillage their way through the film until the hero of the movie gives them their comeuppance. That's what I painted this gang up to be. Their bits of improvised armor, raggedy clothes, fur, and flowing hair made them look the part for me. Even their name in the Battle Valor Games catalog, "Space Cannibals" implies that savagery.

    Three of my biker gang-like Barbarozas - the one with the machete/sword and gun may be the leader
These miniatures were part of the line that Battle Valor Games purchased from Sgt. Major Miniatures. My friends and I put together a huge order back in 2021 and these were from that order (see how quickly I paint?). They looked cool on the website and in the ziploc packs when I received them. However, once I began to paint them, I became less enthused with them. The casting was a little rough in some places and it was actually hard to tell where the shirts ended, for example, and the pants began. I repainted portions of about half of these once it became clear what I thought was the pants was actually fringes of a tattered shirt hanging down. I actually gave up on painting these for awhile after I had done the flesh tones. They looked a mess and I was struggling to find the motivation to paint them up.

    I love the improvised bits of armor these 'Space Cannibals' (Battle Valor Games) were sculpted with
Once I finished a few other batches of figures or terrain that apparently I wanted to paint more, I sat down one day and wrote the colors for the shirts and pants on each cardboard base. I painted the base colors for these, then did a dry brush over each. That was when I discovered, as the dry brushing revealed faint details, that I had to go back and fix some of the figures. Still, by this time, working on them had created a momentum of its own. I chose faded clothes of various colors, including jeans, black paints, etc., figuring these disorganized thugs wouldn't have any noticeable uniform.

    The final two gang members with their dirty clothes and long, flowing locks of 'metal band' hair
Next up, I did the various bits of armor they had festooned all over them. Inevitable, I missed a few pieces here and there and had to step back in this stage, too. I did the armor with a metallic gray craft paint, with highlights in pewter and silver. Then I did the various leather bits in a two tone rust color and ruddy leather. I picked out the various pieces of wood next (mainly on the melee weapons), and then finally their flowing hair. By this time, I had come up with the name for the gang, the Barbarozas. I chose this for the sub-conscious sight clue of the word root "barbarian" in there, and for the reference to the medieval German king, Frederick Barbarosa. I mention this because I know the his name technically means Red Hair (Rosa = red, and Barbar = Hair, "Barber Shop"). I thought about painting them all with flowing red or auburn hair, but figured that worked against the disorganized, non-uniform ethos of this gang. So, I used a variety of hair colors, all dry brushed a highlighting color.

The guns were next, and I used Iron Wind Metals Steel as my base coat with Silver or Pewter for highlights. A dirty black wash over all of them made them look like the unwashed savages that their inspiration in the movies would have. In the end, I was happy with how the Barbarozas came out. I know that I said that I was done with painting Post-Apocalyptic gangs earlier this year, but technically I did need one more as we had an additional player over what I'd originally planned. So, NOW I am done painting Post-Apocalyptic gangs...right?? Oh wait...and my friend Jason just emailed to say Battle Valor has another 50% off sale! Uh-oh...

Sunday, December 25, 2022

Year in Review: My Lead Legionaries "Bests" of 2022

Best of 2022 was returning to gaming in person! Here is me (maroon) with the Sunday Night Crew
Looking back at this year, it certainly had some gaming high points. From winning my first Saga tournament in January to us returning to in-person gaming on Sunday evenings, 2022 had some winners. This post is a look back at some of my favorite games, miniatures painted, conventions, and more of the year.

My 28mm Mongol army for Saga, using Curteys Miniatures (which are a bit on the small side)
Favorite Miniatures Painted: 28mm Saga Mongol army

The first painting of this army was begun in July of 2021, but they then they sat untouched for almost six months. It wasn't until January of 2022 year that the second batch was finished. So, I am counting it as a 2022 accomplishment! Much like with my Moorish Saga army, I did unique robes and patterns on many of the figures in this 28mm Curteys Miniatures army. As I began cataloging each unit finished over the course of the year, I talked about the great variety of poses in the now (I believe?) discontinued line. I really liked the faces on the figures, too. I decided at the outset to just paint the eyes as black, and not put in the usual black socket, white slit and color dot that I do for most 28mm minis. Budokan's horde (my name for the army - a nod at the classic album by Cheap Trick) has done well so far on the tabletop, going 2-1, I believe.

    Little did we know when we fought over Swingle's Saloon, we'd be using these rules a lot!
Favorite New Set of Miniatures Rules: Fistful of Lead

On the last Sunday of February, we finally returned to in-person gaming with a bang. We were back at "Wallace's Brewpub" (the basement of my home brewing friend Mike W) after a very long time meeting Sundays online on Boardgame Arena. For the occasion, Andy S ran Fistful of Lead miniatures rules. These are a line of rules that use the same basic "engine," but tweak it for a huge variety of periods. In due course over 2022, we would also play FFOL for periods as far afield as Star Wars spaceship combat to my own Post-Apocalyptic miniatures game. The thing I like most about them is the choices a player is forced to make. They usually receive one playing card for each figure (or starfighter or whatever) under their command. These not only sometimes provide tactical bonuses, but also dictate when it will act. Thus, players must choose which card to use to activate which figure - who's going first, who has the best shot and is the best fit for that card's bonus, and so on. As I said, I liked it so much I chose FFOL for my own Post-Apocalyptic games over a number of other possibilities.


    This trailer from Sarissa Precision (HEAVILY modified) is my favorite piece of terrain I built in 2022
Favorite Piece of Terrain I've Built: Post-Apoc (or Abandoned) Trailer

Although it has yet to be used in a game this year, this trailer was my favorite piece of terrain I built in 2022. It took a lot of time as almost all of the surfaces were modified. I used corrugated paper for the main facing of the home, as well as corrugated styrene plastic of various sizes for "patches" and affixed to the roof. I used "Granny Grate" from craft stores as the bars over the windows. The interior is painted, as well (see the link above), though I did scale back my original plans. No shag carpeting or posters on these walls. I think I was suffering from fatigue over the length of time it was taking to build. In fact, there IS a second set that I purchased. After how much work this one was, that second one still sits unbuilt. Oh, I plan to one day (a project for 2023?). It will be a much simpler version, though. Maybe I'll build it as the manufacturer intended (minus the cardboard awnings which are not doable, in my opinion). Look for that in the upcoming year!

    The First Command Wargames crew ran four of our rules sets at Historicon 2022 to great success!
Favorite Convention Roadtrip of the Year: First Command Waragmes Trip to Historicon 2022

It had been awhile since we'd done this, but the First Command Wargames crew packed up our games and headed to Historicon 2022 in downtown Lancaster, PA. I was running two sessions of my gang warfare rules, Mean Streets. I helped Jenny run two sessions of Wars of Insurgency, Mike and Jason S combined and ran Song of Drums and Tomahawks, and Steve V ran the War of Austrian Succession supplement to his Seven Years war big battle rules. We had great turnout for our games. I know that all sessions of Mean Streets and Wars of Insurgency were completely full. For our second game of "To Kill A President" -- the modern skirmish scenario set in a fictional, 20th century African country -- we even showed up on Little Wars TV. One of the hosts was playing the president's faction and enjoyed himself quite a bit. That seemed to be the theme of the weekend. Not only did our players enjoy themselves, all of us loved the venue. The wealth of restaurants and watering holes within walking distance of the convention center made it a great trip. We will definitely be back!

    I attempted to run a Saga campaign for our regular, twice-monthly Saga Ohio gaming group...but no
Biggest Flop of the Year: 'Strongholds' Saga Campaign

I love a campaign! I love running campaigns!! So, it stands to reason that everyone else will love the idea of playing in a campaign that I am running? Ahh, what is they say about hubris and the gods? This was definitely my biggest flop of the year. I misjudged the mood of our local group that gets together at the Guardtower East once a month to play Saga. I figured that since we'd been meeting regularly for more than a year that people would be getting tired of random, one-off matchups. However, I think part of the appeal of Saga is that there are so many different factions or armies to choose from. People like building and trying them out. Most Saga players are always in that, "What's my next army?" pondering, if not actively painting it up. And once it's done, well, they ARE going to want to play it, right? So, a Saga campaign that locks them into the same army for an indeterminate length of time is likely to go over like a lead balloon. Which it did, proving that hindsight is 20/20, and hubris dramatically near-sighted. The campaign lasted all of one turn and died a quiet, unheralded death.

    After being snake-bit in recent tournaments, it all came together in January for my Picts' victory!
Biggest Success on the Tabletop: Tournament Victory at Game Table Adventures Saga Tournament

Not to brag, but I have a better than average win rate at our Saga games on our monthly game days. However, to this point, when I entered a tournament, I fared poorly. If I remember right, I was 1-1-1 and 1-2 in my previous tournies. So, I was feeling a little snake-bit going into Game Table Adventures' Saga Tournament to start off the year in January. I had decided to play the Picts from the relatively new Age of Invasions book. I'd been playing them the last few months and was having a good time with them. They're an aggressive army that requires a fair amount of terrain on the board, so that concerned me. I was kind of waiting till I showed up at the store that day to see what the boards looked like before I decided for sure. I checked with the tourney organizer on how one of the mercenary units that allows you to alter terrain would work out in his tournament. When I arrived, though, I looked around, and felt there was a reasonable amount of terrain on the boards. So, I went with my plan of playing the Picts. Check out the link above to read my account of my three games. Suffice to say, I went 3-0 and scored my first and only Saga tourney victory to this point. So that was definitely a high point of the year (never mind that it occurred in January...ha, ha!).

    We had 24 players show up to our ATC 2022 Saga tournament - great turnout, great time!
Best Tournament (that I ran): Advance the Colors 2022 Saga Tournament

A good bit of my hobby time this year was spent preparing for this fall's Advance the Colors Saga Tournament. Last year in our inaugural tourney, we had 16 players. My goal for this year was to hit 24, which weirdly was exactly the number of players I had. At one point, it was in the 30's, but a Covid outbreak amongst the active Fort Wayne, IN, community meant a good handful of guys couldn't come. Still, ATC is a great venue for a Saga tournament. There is a ton of space in the Clark County Fairgrounds venue. We could have fit many, many more players (which means there's room for this to grow...?). Players had a lot of elbow room and could spread out, which was nice. It was a VERY easy tournament to run, too. I had a bare minimum of rules or scenario questions. All of my players were friendly and said they had a great time. There was awesome prize support from Gripping Beast, Father and Son Gaming, Jarls Workshop, Game Table Adventures and Saga Ohio, itself (um...that would be me, painting up six warlord stands to give away!). We ended up having a tie with D.J. Andrews and Daniel Broaddus both going 3-0 to tie for the victory. Great time, and I look forward to next year's tourney, as well. Dare I hope for 30 players this time...?

So, there it is - my bests of 2022. Hope you had a great year of gaming, too!

Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Assembling Space Station Zero Terrain

Combinations of industrial elements from various sources were used to create my space station terrain
One of the things I like to do is scratch-build terrain on the cheap. I usually assemble it using various items I've found at craft stores, so creating terrain for Space Station Zero was definitely going to involve a scouting visit there. My usual choice is of the various shapes of wooden pieces you can find there, much like my peg and drawer pull droids from last post. In addition, on my last visit to Dragons Guildhall, I'd picked up the Mantic Games "Industrial Accessories" from their Terrain Crate line.

    My second piece of terrain has ruptured pipelines from one of the Mantic Games Terrain Creates
My follow up to last post's 3-D printed piece would be a combination of bits from the Industrial Accessories box mixed with things I'd grabbed from the craft store or my bins of various bits and pieces. I actually sat down a couple weeks ago and assembled five 6"x4" styrene bases using these sources. It was several nights of gluing various things together to fill up the base. I followed that up with spray painting all five, and then going over them with a 50/50 mix of acrylic black paint and water. There the five sat for about a week or so until winter break from school hit.

Despite a rough start to break (I tested positive for Covid last Friday), the Paxlovid medication had me feeling better within a couple days. I found myself tiring easily, though, so I worked on and off on the terrain for several days. Still, they took much less time to paint up than the 3-D printed power plant. My second terrain piece for this project was a section of burst open pipeline along with some various industrial fans and vents. These pretty much all came from the Mantic Games box.

    Another view of my two terrain pieces with 28mm Sci-Fi figures from my Post-Apocalyptic forces
With the black base coat, I decided to layer my metallic coloring to give the pieces a somewhat run-down look. Metallic Gray would be applied over most of the pipe sections, leaving only small joins in the base black color. I would apply a Pewter color over the top portions of the metallic gray, and then a small line of silver over that to give an effect of light reflection off the pipes. I used a copper/reddish gold as accent color as I did on the power plant. For two upright pipe pieces with fans atop, I used a Metallic green to add a new look. Finally, after it was finished and fully clear coated, I forced cotton ball material down into the burst open sections to look like steam or gas escaping the ruptures.

    A train store electrical transformer is the centerpiece to my second piece of Sci-Fi terrain
The second piece used a Walters electrical transformer made of plastic for model railroad terrain as its centerpiece. Surrounding it are wooden pieces from the craft store - different size wooden barrels with colored gem stones atop them. I followed the same painting scheme with metallic gray and pewter, but this time with a metallic brown to go with the copper accents. Each piece also receives a black wash to give it a more grimy and less pristine appearance. I was really happy with how the orange gem stones look like glowing power sources. It was the effect I was hoping they would create. I did dry brush silver to bring out the coil rings atop the transformer.

So far, I am happy with how these are turning out. They are not show-stopping pieces, but they look the part, I think. They will look passable on the tabletop and give the proper effect, I hope. Look for more of these coming soon, as another one is currently in progress on my painting desk!

Monday, December 19, 2022

Space Station Zero - a new project begins

    My first Sci-Fi terrain piece sits on my newly-constructed gaming board for Space Station Zero
I had been seeing posts on Facebook about a new miniatures rules set put out by the company that wrote the "Reign in Hell" rules we've played a number of times. This science-fiction game, by Snarling Badger Studios, is called "Space Station Zero." The idea is that there is a derelict space station lost somewhere in the depths of the universe. Starships end up stranded there when their warp drive or hyper-light travel systems fail. Players each take on the role of crew of one of those ships exploring the sprawling, dark, but still functioning, interior of the station. I liked the activation system of Reign in Hell. Its game mechanics played smoothly enough, so I figured I'd spend the less than $20 to give it a look.

    Space Station Zero is a Sci-Fi miniatures rules set by Snarling Badger Studies
The mechanics are different than in Reign in Hell, but seem like they'll work well enough. The same system is used throughout: Roll a certain number of 12-sided dice to pass tests. Even numbers pass, odd numbers fail. Yep - you read that correctly. An "11" is a failure, but a "10" is a success. Some tests toss in target numbers, so you may need to score 6+, for example. That would mean 6, 8, 10, and 12 pass, while lower even numbers and all odds fail. 

    Some of my Post-Apocalyptic forces on the Space Station Zero gaming boards I created
Players determine which type of ship they are from, which will give them a list of types of crewmen (or women or aliens!) to select their force from. The types include medical officers, soldiers, engineers, etc. Players also select how many figures they want in their crew, either 4, 6, or 8. The fewer figures, the better each individual crewman's statistics. The players similarly equip their leader (who does not count towards the 4, 6, or 10). Finally, they select an "Edge," which is a special ability or equipment type that the entire crew possess.

    Close up of the silver, textured paper from Hobby Lobby and my Sharpie grid of plates and rivets
I liked that the game can be played cooperatively or competitively. So many miniatures games we play on Sunday evenings are competitive, that I thought it might be interesting to try something cooperative, for once. However, I think before I spring it on the Sunday night crew, Jenny and I will try out a few games as a two-player cooperative game. In this case, the denizens and dangers of the space station that we will face are controlled by an Artificial Intelligence, essentially a priority list that determines how each droid or crazed alien mutant will act.

    Extreme closeup of applying rivets and grid lines - a functional (if not spectacular) playing surface
Everything seemed to be moving along on this new project, but there WAS a major barrier. I own only a handful of miniatures that could be used in a Sci-Fi game like this, and I own pretty much zero terrain. Well, painted up, that is. And I don't have a playing mat or board that looks like the deck of a space station. Perhaps curiously, that is where I decided to start. I had seen a patterned silver paper at Hobby Lobby when looking for something else awhile back. I went back, checked it out, and felt it would do. The playing area is a weird one (though Snarling Badger says its common??) - 22"x30". Doing the math, that meant if I could produce six tiles of 11"x10" they would cover that area in a 2x3 arrangement. 

    The creases I put in the paper kind of disappeared once I glued the paper to the acrylic tiles
Each piece of silver paper was a foot square, so I cut them to size with scissors easily enough. Then, I decided to crease them to hopefully give the board slight, 3-D look of depth. I reinforced by lining the creases with black Sharpie. I ended up gluing them with spray glue to a smoky, acrylic material which I scored and snapped to the same size. Once attached, I added in a pattern of rivets at each intersection to give the effect of a space station floor made up of rectangular plates. The board is by no means perfect, nor is it the most beautiful playing surface anyone has ever designed. It is functional, and was quick and relatively inexpensive to produce.

    The rear of the power generator - an excellent 3-D printed terrain piece from Jarls Workshop

But what about terrain to put on the boards? "I thought you said you had none?", I hear you ask. Wellll, I did buy one incredibly cool piece of Sci-Fi terrain from Jarl's Workshop owner Rusty Parker at Drums at the Rapids 2022. It would be my first piece to be set down upon my newly-constructed space station floor. As cool as the piece is (Power Generator?), it was an absolute BEAR to paint! I spent more time painting this piece of terrain than nearly every piece of terrain I have ever done. There are just so many recessed grooves, cool lines, and supports, etc., that I think I spent four of five nights on it, several hours each evening! I like how it came out, though. I used metallic craft paints for most of it. I am happy with how the light blue metallic contrasts with the dark gray metallic (and especially the copper accents that make it pop). 

    Side view of this large, 6"x4" terrain piece - it took me LOTS of time to paint all the details
When it was finally done, I was happy with the result. I'm a bit leery of going to such lengths, again, though! Future pieces of terrain are definitely going to have to paint up quicker, or this project will never see its first game. To set up a game, players roll randomly to see how many 5"x5" or 2"x2" pieces are placed on each quarter of the table. So, each board will have a minimum of four pieces and a maximum of 20 (!!!). Now, this power generator WAS one of the big pieces. The smaller ones -- and hopefully subsequent big ones -- will likely take a lot less time to paint up. So, no worries...right??

    Wooden pegs, drawer pulls, brass wire, and beads are the genesis of a force of space station droids
The skeptical second-guessers among you are probably smirking, now. You're just waiting to say, "But what about figures?" Well, I likely have enough figures in my Post-Apocalyptic forces to represent the player crews. So, I'll be set for Jenny and I to test it out. I know, I know...I see your grin! "Enemies?", you ask. Yes, yes, yes, I know. So, I went through the dozens of scenarios in the rulebook and catalogued the enemy creatures or mechanical forces that the players have to defeat. I'm happy to report they break down into essentially two categories: mechanical "drone sentries" (Laser-armed, Medical, Guard, Repair, Worker, etc.) and "mutants" (Starving, Deranged, Experimental, Drunken, etc.). 

    "Intruder Alert!" the space station's droids whir towards a crew investigating the power plant
So, that led me to my first scratch-build - generic drones for Space Station Zero! I modeled them on the only vaguely humanoid worker ones from Star Wars. I used two pieces of craft wood as the body -- the upper body is a wooden peg and the lower is a "drawer pull." Think BB3 with arms. For said arms, I drilled through the upper body with my pin vice and ran brass wire through. I slid beads onto the wire, bent the arms at various angles, then glued aluminum tube over the brass to be a gun barrel or holder for a melee weapon. Parts of this were more fiddly than I expected (particularly using pliers to re-open the crimp caused by cutting a length of aluminum tube). I also used styrene tube as an outer barrel for the gun weapon. It came out better on some of the droids than on others. Same with the weapons. I kind of like how the lengths of dangling chain look for a melee weapon. I'm less happy with the hammers. Oh well. This IS to test out the game and see if I like before I go out and buy commercial models, right?

    Although not originally designed as armed sentries, the droids have repurposed tools for defense
Once the bodies and arms were completed, it was time to paint them. I decided to go with a pearly white body (once again, ala Star Wars) with metallic gray arms and weapons. I also made the lower part of the peg's head a bright steel to give the suggestion of a head and sensors. I painted stripes in bright colors, making each different for ease of identification during game play. Finally, I added tiny gemstones along the centeral torso to represent glowing panels. How do they look? Passable, I say. Hopefully, they look better once they are battling it out with investigating crews amidst the background of laboriously-painted Sci-Fi terrain! Ha, ha!

    Hopefully, these 8 scratch-built droids can cover me for a couple missions of Space Station Zero!
Anyway, more Space Station Zero stuff is on the way, so stay tuned!

    I bought these smaller Sci-Fit terrain pieces from RRB Miniatures at Shore Wars 2022

Saturday, December 10, 2022

Demo Day at Dragons Lair in Polaris area (Columbus, OH)

Indianola Mohawks check out O'Brian's Pot O' Gold motel at our recent game day at Dragons Lair
Our marketing specialist Jason Stelzer arranged a day at the Dragons Lair Comics & Fantasy game store in the Polaris area in Lewis Center, OH. We ran two of our rules sets, the ever-popular Song of Drums and Tomahawks and our most recent rules set, Mean Streets. There was quite the crowd in the store with lots of traffic, especially around our 1pm start time. 

    Jason teachers Song of Drums & Tomahawks to two store customers who said they had a great time
Jason kicked things off running the "Wagon Train Through Peril" scenario for Song of Drums and Tomahawks. This game features two or more families loaded up into wagons and trying to make the safety of a frontier block house across the river before being ambushed by rampaging frontier tribesmen. Jason had a number of players and ran through parts of the scenario three times over the course of two hours. Tim P and Jeff G, local historical miniatures enthusiasts, also showed up to join in on the fun. They played out one vignette while Jason walked two new players through on the other half of the board.

    A family seeks to escort a wagon with women & children through woods full of raiding tribesmen
The new players seemed to enjoy themselves, and at least one of them purchased the rules (which hopefully Dragons Lair will be carrying soon). There were a lot of swings in action with the women in children in the wagons getting in their swings against attacking Indians, as well. Cheers rang out through the store as crucial rolls saw a frontier family scoring successes or falling captive.

    Local gamers Tim P and Jeff P showed up to play the scenario and join in on the fun
Kirk, one of the new players, wanted to try another scenario so he staged a bloody attack on the blockhouse as a second game. It looked like his tribe's warriors couldn't summon up the courage to sprint across the open area into the blockhouse to attack, at first. However, overconfidence and aggression at leaving the door open and taking the attack to the Indians proved to be the downfall of the blockhouse defenders. Eventually, Kirk's warriors summoned up the courage (and activation rolls) to make a push through the door and into the blockhouse itself.

    Indian raiders hidden behind stumps open fire on a family wagon, seeking captives and mayhem
It was a bitter struggle inside the thick, wooden walls, but eventually the frontier fortification fell as the final Indian warrior took control of the upper levels. It was a good time and Jason did a great job teaching the game to new players.

    A 4-gang game of Mean Streets followed as our second event at the Dragons Lair
After a quick tear-down and set up, we ran Mean Streets for four players. I got a chance to play in this game and it proved that just because you wrote the rules doesn't mean you're the best at playing them! I controlled my Hispanic street gang, the Santanas, whose objective was to make it to the far corner of the table and steal a car from the Shell Service Station. Also vying for ownership of the streets were the Franklinton Flippos in their creepy clown masks, the Hilltop Highlanders, and our nemesis this game, the Indianola Mohawks.

    Jason's Mohawks were out for blood (and a little revenge against my gang, The Santanas)
Jason took on the role of the Mohawks and came after my gang right away once we made it out onto the main street intersection. He may have regretted picking a fight with my leather-jacketed thugs as our counter-punch knocked two of his gang members out of action. One of them was his Warchief, so I was feeling pretty pleased! I was also a bit overconfident, as I sent El Lobo, one of the Santantas' punks, away on an "end around" to complete our mission. Thinking my four Santanas could easily take out his three remaining Mohawks, I misjudged the situation.

    The Franklinton Flippos took the scenic route to their eventual goal of stealing some brews
While the Franklinton Flippos feinted at the diner and then headed for their true destination, Wallace's Brew Pub, the battle raged between Mohawk and Santana. Meanwhile, the Highlanders chased the clowns to no avail, eventually busting into the diner to fulfill their own mission of convincing the owner to put their gang on the "take." Four West Side gang members have a way of doing that when surrounding and putting a beat-down on an elderly restaurant owner!

    El Lobo, Manana, and Julio check out the action in front of the O'Brian Motel early in the game
Things slowly deteriorated in my battle with the Mohawks. Maybe, with her length of chain knocked out one of my Warchief Cruz and then another one of my gang members. Pretty soon, Julio was battling it out with three Mohawks who had him surrounded. He gave as well as he got, but pretty soon succumbed to overwhelming numbers. 


    Suddenly, our gang boss Julio is bum-rushed by a horde of freakish Mohawks out for blood!

Still, it was fun to get the gangs on the Mean Streets of Columbus, again. Dragons Lair is a nice, clean, well-lit shop and had a lot of customers of all ages roaming the aisles and playing games. The managers encourage folks to reserve a table and run a game, so the First Command Wargames crew will certainly be back -- probably in January! If you haven't already, check out this game store on the north side of Columbus.

   The Santanas rally to their gang boss's side and soon begin to knock out a couple punk rockers
    Meanwhile, the Highlanders follow the Flippos to their target: Jack & Benny's Old Time Diner

    Initially, things are looking good for the Santanas, as we knock out two Mohawks
    The tide turns and soon Julio is on his own fighting Mohawk gang boss Sid and Ian and Maybel

    While the Mohawks and Santanas were rumbling, the Flippos were crashing the brew pub for beers

    Early in the game, the Mohawks investigate O'Brian's Pot O' Gold Motel