Saturday, May 26, 2012

A Plug for the Gruntz 15mm Sci-fi Barracks Tool

Hi Folks,

Just a quick plug for the Gruntz 15mm Sci-fi "Barracks" profile card builder tool. This is a really neat idea for knocking up unit profile cards for a cracking game which is soon to get a much anticipated updated version of the rules.

The Barracks tool is being crowd funded on Indiegogo so pop over and check it out. The Gruntz rules and Barracks tool are an absolute bargain for the price considering what a great game it is.

Development screen shot from the Mac version. PC also available at the time of release
Nug and I have played a few games of Gruntz now and we absolutely love it. Check out the AAR of our latest game here if you're interested.

Cheers,
Millsy

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

When did you last read Featherstone?

If you're not a wargaming nostalgia buff you're probably going to want to skip this post...

Over the past ten years or so I've been slowly extending my collection of "classic" wargames books. These are books written by the "founding fathers" of the wargames movement and include such revered authors as Donald Featherstone, Chales Grant, Stuart Asquith and Bruce Quarrie to name but a few. These gents boldly went where no man had gone before and dreamed up a lot of what we take for granted nowadays both in terms of game mechanics and also ways of transferring that to the table top.

Many of the original editions of these early wargaming books are increasingly hard to find, potentially quite expensive and in less than perfect condition due to age and use. You take a bit of a risk buying these books and you have to be willing to end up with something you're terrified to open in case it falls apart in your hands. Despite all that I still find these books captivating in so many ways and I find myself constantly wanting to expand my collection.

There has been a plethora of material published since these early books appeared, much of it with better images and production quality, enormous depth of content and covering a vastly wider range of topics and periods. So why are these early books so fascinating to me by comparison? I've thought long and hard about what they mean to me personally and the answer is this - the books themselves as a physical object are not that significant but what they contain and what the represent certainly is. The language, concepts and themes in these books reflect the time when they were written. This was a "glorious new age", an "age of exploration" if you like and THAT alone makes them interesting. Many gamers are history buffs as well and in a way these books are part of the history of recreating history if you know what I mean.

In these early books wargamers are referred to variously as "chaps", "fellows" or "gents", not "noobs" or "lamers". The authors never considered the idea of "uber lists", "min-maxing", "power gaming" or my personal favourite "codex creep". Instead they talked of fair play, club nights with fellow gamers and sharing their hobby by any means possible. Their concepts and ideas were presented without a sense of absolutism and usually a good dash of enthusiam and even a little theatre. Some of this style remains today but a lot of it has been lost.

Instead, many of today's authors strive for accurate representation of myriad weapon systems and situations (even in sci-fi games!), create increasingly complex turn sequences and invent endless new mechanics to solve problems that were put to bed decades ago. They often do so at the expense of basics like simply having FUN. Are we really GAMING when so many of the tenets of what makes something a GAME seem missing? I'm willing to bet Don Featherstone never described a victory as "smashing his opponent's face in" and Charles Grant almost certainly never got marked down on a comp score for playing with  unpainted miniatures. He probably made the jolly miniatures himself for starters.

It's probably best I wrap this up about now, lest I find myself (perhaps rightly) consigned to the category of grognard or worse. If you're interested in learning more check out The Universal General and look under Wargaming History and Shows. There is a good four pages worth of books listed, many of which I've got in my collection already and others which I'm still hunting for. Those curious as to what I've got on my shelf can rummage about in my wargaming LibraryThing.

If you've never picked up and read a copy of Feathertone's War Games, Grant's Battle! Practical Wargaming or any of the others listed on The Universal General I encourage you to do so. You might well find something we lost along the way as gaming became the province of the sweaty masses as opposed to a very talented few...

Cheers,
Millsy

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Federal Army Peacekeepers for Gruntz 15mm

This is the beginnings of my second force for Gruntz - Federal Army Peacekeepers (aka F.A.P.). The theme this time is a lightly armed force, similar but a deal more "pragmatic" than the current UN peacekeepers.

Whenever there is an insurrection, disturbance or even the hint of trouble within the Federated Planetary Systems these guys are dispatched to restore order and "ensure lasting and absolute effectiveness of local authority". Many worlds that have been visited by the F.A.P. argue that the only kind of peace they bring is the peace of the graveyard. The F.A.P. counter this by saying that they only ever respond in kind, never starting fights but always finishing them.


These are all the vehicles the force will have, anti-armour support being provided by mechs more suited to close urban terrain. Gruntz are transported in APCs by Old Crow (vehicle chassis and weapon pods) and preceded by fast recce in the form of Old Crow six-wheeled scouts with GZG weapons.







I've gone with a plain colour scheme to represent the varied theatres these troops fight in. There are plenty of unit symbols and aerial recognition markers to help with the fact guerrilla forces will use a lot of Neural-Net attacks to disrupt IFF, targeting and comms. The Mk I eyeball plays a big role in preventing blue on blue for the F.A.P. (or should that be green on green?)

I'm really struggling with silvering on the decals at the moment despite doing all the right stuff like gloss varnish underneath and solvent as well. They look OK to the eye but it still shows up in photos. Go figure...

Infantry are on the painting table at the moment but an epic ink fail due to magic wash "going off" means they're on hold until some more floor polish arrives from the US. Why on earth can't you buy anything decent in Oz any more???

I must say before I finish that the quality of these Old Crow vehicles for the price is superb. Very clean casts with almost no faults and lots of detail and character. They're also very well sanded underneath, nice and even unlike many other resins I've bought.

Anyways, hope you like the models and back story. Feel free to leave comments and suggestions...

Til next time,
Millsy

Gruntz 15mm Sci-fi Battle Report

Nug and I played our third game of Gruntz earlier tonight. As we've not played very many games we stuck to a straight meeting engagement with balanced points. First a couple of shots of the table during the game. Apologies for the lighting but it's a night game and I still haven't got a sparky lined up for the rack lights I bought.




Here are the forces in summary...

UNSC Grav Force - 300pts played by Nug
1 x Commander
1 x Medic
1 x Engineer
3 x Gruntz Squads (6 + 2 x SAW)
2 x Gruntz Squads in Power Armour (6 + 2 x SAW)
2 x Specialist HMG
1 x Heavy Tank
1 x Medium Tank
1 x Light Tank




NIAEF Hover Force - 300pts played by Millsy
1 x Commander
1 x Medic
3 x Gruntz Squads (6 + 2 x SAW)
3 x Medium Tanks
1 x Medium Command APC
3 x Medium APCs
2 x Specialist MAWPs




Over about three hours of gaming the game tipped back and forth until we both decided to withdraw, having each suffered substantial losses in the last couple of turns. Nug lost all his armour and I'd lost almost all my gruntz.

The table was 6x5 and loaded up with all our new Bug Planet terrain. The whole thing looked terrific and we had great fun, learning plenty of painful lessons along the way. Even this early on we hardly needed to refer to the rules which is a testament to the engine and all the work Robin has put in. We felt that the majority of outcomes were what you'd expect (or dread!) with a dash of luck or unpredictability to spice it up.

Points wise, 300pts a side is probably a bit big for a Friday night. I'd say we'll be settling on 200pts as an evening game standard adjusted for scenarios. We'll also start using a card based random unit-by-unit activation to balance things out a bit so the initiative player doesn't have such an advantage.

As has been discussed on the forums the points system is a bit unbalanced with better quality troops being a bit too cheap using the current linear scale. This is supposedly addressed in version 1.1 so we're eagerly anticipating it's release.

All up a great night's gaming and we're looking forward to next time.

Cheers,
Millsy

Sunday, May 6, 2012

144 corks and some inspiration equals...

...alien terrain. Quite a lot of alien terrain to be precise!

Mrs Millsy has had a box of wine bottle corks in her craft cupboard since near the dawn of time. To say I've had my Wombling Eye on them would be something of an understatement. Fortunately for me I was able to catch my good lady in a moment of weakness and she donated the lot.

Cue a lot of thinking, cutting, gluing and other shenanigans and hey presto, an even dozen snazzy new rock formations for sci-fi gaming sprang forth. These are primarily intended for my 15mm Bug Planet project but there is absolutely nothing on them to really indicate scale so they'll fit nicely into my 28mm games as well.

Here's a few pics. Remember to click for bigger ones...








I'm rather happy with these given the total outlay is less than $10 plus some time. Most pleasing was the number of pieces as I always feel I under do things and leave myself wishing I'd made more of something like this.

They range in size from about 6" up to 12" long. The height is fairly uneven (deliberately so) and stands about 2.5" at the tallest point. Yes I know I've mixed decimals with inches but I don't care.

As people sometimes ask here's a brief list of materials:
  • 144 corks
  • gum nuts
  • 3mm MDF board
  • sand / gravel / cat litter
  • brown / cream paint
  • brown flock / orange plant life

I think with the exception of some sort of tall trees that covers off the natural terrain part of the project, at least for now...

Let me know what you think!

Cheers,
Millsy
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