Friday, 30 November 2018

Arnor Lives! Plus of course some rambling...

With the weather (only slightly) curtailing my wanderings in the Great Outdoors, I have been back at my painting desk feverishly churning through my army of Arnor for Dragon Rampant, plus a couple of units for Angmar. I'm relieved to report that they are now complete! Next year I'll be looking to Rohan and Isengard and the Battle at the Fords of Isen, and then it's on to Mirkwood...

I'm still getting in regular gaming of course- though my tastes (and those of at least one of my gaming groups) are leaning more towards RPGs of late- the ubiquitous D&D (3.5 edition) of course, but also Call of Cthulhu, with the new edition of Warhammer Fantasy Role Play waiting in the wings...
My favourite type of miniature wargaming has always featured strong narrative elements (take Dracula's America, for example!), but I feel that this aspect is dominating my gaming more and more, and will likely become the focus of my miniature collecting/painting going forward- expect more 'stories' rather than 'battle-reports' on here in the future...
On this subject, I recently discovered the fantastic 'Nightfolk' range of miniatures by Northumbrian Tin Soldier- brilliant, whimsical figures with an old-school feel that evoke the influences of my childhood- films like Labyrinth, Dark Crystal, and the art of Brian Froud! Taking advantage of the recent sales, I picked up Sly Ralf's Boys and the Foggy Peak Goblingtons sets- who knows where this will end?

On the game design front I'm tinkering away on a few RPG systems of my own- who knows if they will ever see the light of day beyond my circle of gaming friends, but I'm enjoying the process regardless- and that, my friends, is all that matters!

I'll leave you for now with a few photos of a clash between Arnor and Angmar, somewhere on the North Downs- and as always, apologies for the fuzzy camera-phone photos! I am also thinking of making a more suitable backdrop for my photos- my living-room doesn't quite evoke Middle Earth, does it?!

The battle lines close-in...
Plucky Hobbit archers harass the barbarians of Carn Dum from the flanks!
Riders of Arnor intercept Wargs trying to outflank the Arthedainian shield-wall.
The Orcish hordes!
King Arvedui and Malbeth the Seer face down the Witch King himself and his fell spirits.

Sunday, 12 August 2018

Return to Dracula's America, Part 3- Louder Than Words

Here we are with the last in this little 'mini-series' of Posts giving you new rules to try out in your games of Dracula's America.
This time we will be looking at some new rules for Actions, to give your models some additional, dynamic options during play.

The usual disclaimer applies here- these are not yet 'official' amendments to the rules, so you should always agree to their use with your opponents beforehand. Please do give them a go, though, and see what you think- any feedback can be shared with me either here or on the Lead Adventure Forum (I don't have Facebook so won't be able to keep track of things on the Player's Page!).

Let's get to it:

Once per Activation, an unengaged model that is on foot may Sprint instead of making a normal Move Action.
For the duration of that Move, the model adds +2" to it's Move Rate (so typically giving a total movement of 6"). However, this Move must be made in a straight line- choose the direction you will Sprint before making the Action.
You can use Sprint to Charge or engage an enemy.

Once per Activation, a model may Snap-Fire instead of making a normal Shoot Action.
This Action must always be made against the closest visible Target, and the Shooter makes a 1 Die Shooting Test that can never be modified in any way.
If a Hit is scored, then the Target must make a 1 Die Nerve Test- if Successful, they are unaffected. If they Fail this Test they are marked as Done (think of them as pinned-down by the wild incoming fire).
As soon as the Snap-Fire is resolved, the Shooter's Action ends immediately- using a Skill or Weapon (such as a Repeater Rifle) does not allow you to make any additional shots in the same Action!

Once per Activation, a model may Blind-Fire instead of making a normal Shoot Action.
Resolve a Snap-Fire attack using the rules above (this counts as your Snap-Fire for that Activation), but treat the shot as being made from a position 1" away and in LOS of the Shooter. This must be a position that would be accessible to the Shooter, and allows you to represent things like a model quickly ducking from around a corner to get in a hasty shot, before ducking back into cover.
In this way, you can potentially avoid triggering an enemy model on Lookout.

An unengaged model on foot may Lie Prone at the end of any Move Action. Lie the model on it's side and give it a Prone marker to show this (and to differentiate it from Downed models).
A Prone model can stand back up, but this takes up an entire Action. Until then it may be harder to see, counts as being in Cover against Shooting (even if in the open), may Move up to 2", may not Charge or otherwise engage an enemy, cannot hold a Bystander and suffers a -1 Die Modifier in a Fight. It may still Shoot or Cast Arcane Powers.

So far I've found these options to be good fun, and that they serve to make the game even more cinematic; but let me know what you think after giving them a go!

I'll be back in the near future with some more Drac.Am painting...

Friday, 10 August 2018

Return to Dracula's America, Part 2- Regarding Summoning, and the Gentle Art of Hitting Things.

Hello, folks!

Here is the second batch of optional rules for Drac.Am for you to take a look at- as before, please give them a try and let me know what you think, but remember that these aren't official new rules; simply some 'work in progress' options for you to try out ahead of a future errata/FAQ...

Don't forget to spread the word- the more people we have testing them out, the better!

First up, Fighting- I know that some people find this a little underwhelming compared to shooting, and this was deliberate since I wanted this to be a game about close-range fire-fights rather than a face-to-face slugging match! But for those who favour fisticuffs, here are some new rules to try out:

  • When you Strike your opponent, their Save is determined by the total Successes you scored, rather than the difference between your totals.
  • Shoving works exactly as before- you push your opponent away a number of inches equal to the difference between totals.
  • If the Defender wins the Fight, they will not Strike their Attacker. Instead, they may either remain engaged or Shove their opponent away.

Now here's an alternate idea for Summoning in the game- some players feel that this can get a little out of control (especially with an optimised Crossroads Cult Posse!), so here is one possible solution to this:

If your Posse has the ability to Summon other models during play, you will generate a 'Pool' of 4 Summoning Points (SP) at the start of each game.

SP are expended whenever you Summon a model during that game- whenever you successfully Summon a creature, reduce your Pool by the corresponding amount of SP shown below.

Use a piece of spare paper to track the number of Points you have available during play, and ensure you keep your opponents updated on how many SP you have remaining as the game progresses!
  • Lesser Entities cost 1/2 an SP each.
  • Minor Entities cost 1 SP each.
  • Major Entities cost 2 SP each.
For example, I successfully Summon a Behemoth- this costs me 2 SP. I now have 2 SP remaining in my Pool. Later that game, I Summon a Lesser Entity- this costs me 1/2 an SP. I now have 1 and-a-half SP remaining in my Pool!

Return to Dracula's America. Part 1- 'Tis But A Scratch!

Time to blow the cobwebs off this Blog...

While my gaming time has been limited due to me taking advantage of the dry weather (though my Church of Dagon Posse is coming along nicely), I haven't been idle behind the scenes- between myself, Northstar Miniatures and Osprey Games you will hopefully start to see a gradual release of additional material for players of Drac.Am over the coming months!
While I can't give too much away right now, expect new rules for Twilight Order and Red Hand players, new Factions, new Hired Guns and Mercenary Drifters, rules for setting your games and campaigns in a new environment, and extended background dealing with the aftermath of Forbidden Power- even a look into the origins of Dracula and vampirism. I'm also working on a 'choose your own adventure' style 'branching narrative campaign' to tie it all together...

Hopefully we can round it all off with an Errata/FAQ, and a few optional or updated rules- in that spirit, I thought I'd share an idea for new Injury Tables with you here, so you can have a crack at them and maybe even give me some feedback! I intended the existing Injury system to be pretty unforgiving, to represent the dangers of living in a world populated by monsters (human and otherwise), but I'm aware that it can be a little too 'rich' for some- here, then, are a set of (slightly) more forgiving Injury Tables for the faint of heart!


1 = Dead!

2-4 = Lasting Injury. Roll a D5 on the Table below.

5-9 = Close Call. No effect; the model is unharmed.

10 = True Grit!


1 = Old Wound.
2 = One-Eyed.
3 = Limp.
4 = Weakened.
5 = Laid-Up. You may pay $5 for medical treatment at this point to treat this as a Close Call.

Please feel free to share this on the Players Facebook Page, or discuss it with me via the Lead Adventure Forum- the more folks that give it a try, the better! Let me also just reiterate that these are still WIP and are not 'official' amendments to the existing rules- as usual, both you and your opponent/s must agree to their use beforehand!

Next up, some options for Summoning...

Friday, 15 June 2018

A Shameless Plug...

What with there being a period of unseasonable weather (sunshine in June?! The world has gone mad, I tell you!), things have been pretty quiet on the gaming front this last month or so- hence the dearth of Posts here. Though I've still managed to flap my hobby-butterfly wings, and started a Gangs of Rome project- more on that very soon, I promise!

But I digress... Here is the titular Shameless Plug, to let you know that Northstar Figures have just started their 'Nickstarter' pre-order programme for Dracula's America: Forbidden Power- there is money to be saved, and free miniatures (plus some very nice acrylic tokens) to be had if enough people jump aboard! The link is below:

And now back to our regularly-scheduled programming...

Friday, 11 May 2018

The Clouds Burst, Part 2

Well that last Post was a bit long-winded!

So let's move on to Scenario 2- in this, the Free Folk have fallen back towards the lower slopes of Erebor as the armies of Bolg pursue them. This game was played across the table diagonally, with the Gates of Erebor off-table to the Free Folk's left and the lower slopes behind them.

Serried ranks of spearmen- Dwarf, Elf and Man alike- presented a wall of glittering points towards the enemy. Unperturbed, the forces of Evil came on in a great rush- accompanied by a Troll!

Rather predictably, there wasn't too much manoeuver from the Free Folk in the early game as they assumed their Wall of Spears in the centre and on the left, while Mirkwood Archers stood on the right with arrows nocked...
The Goblins charged forwards en masse, with the Troll lumbering up behind them and Wargs once more prowling on the flanks.

*The Free Folk nervously stare down the onrushing horde...

With the distance closing, white-fletched Elven arrows began to fall amongst the packed ranks of Goblins and casualties began to mount- one Unit of cowardly scum even fled in tatters before the deadly rain of Elf-Shot! This had the effect of driving the bulk of the Evil force away from the Elves- straight towards the Dwarves on the left flank...

At that moment, a great cry of horror went up as yet more Goblins suddenly appeared behind the Free Folk, clambering over and down the lower slopes of Erebor to catch the defenders in a deadly pincer move!

*It's a trap!

Denied any targets, the Elven Archers now turned smoothly and let fly at the ambushing Goblins- once again they proved deadly accurate, and countless foul creatures tumbled from their vantage point with despairing cries- the remainder routing in panic. Under cover of this lethal bow-fire, the Elven Spearmen marched up to confront the surviving Goblin ambushers as they descended.

Meanwhile, a few desultory skirmishes were fought on the left- the Goblins and Wargs had the worst of it, but even so many brave Dwarves would never see the Iron Hills again. Repeated waves of attackers battered the Dwarven lines relentlessly, as the forces of Evil played for time and the Troll loomed ever-closer...

*Can the Dwarves kill enough Goblins before the Troll reaches them? Errr...

A great groan of dismay went up from the Free Folk as once again the relentless pressure of Goblin wave attacks bore fruit as the Dwarf Warriors on the left collapsed and were over-run by howling Wargs, which began to rampage through the backline, hoping to link up with the Goblins coming down the mountainside. The spear-armed Dwarves finally managed to destroy the Goblins they were facing but it was too late, as the ominous shadow of the Troll fell across them...

When things seemed to be at their bleakest, another shout rose above the din of battle- this time accompanied by the thunder of falling masonry as Thorin, the King Under the Mountain and his Company sallied forth! Smashing into the Goblin ambushers like a thunderbolt, they trampled the surprised creatures and continued on into the Wargs prowling the rear of the Free Folk lines. Wiping dark blood from their weapons, and mourning the loss of Bombur, Bofur, Bifur, Nori, Dori, and Nori they turned to face the Troll as it enthusiastically tore through the beleaguered Dwarf Spears...

*...And cue the dramatic theme music- Thorin takes charge of the situation!

But the sixth Battle Turn had now ended (and it was getting late!), so it was time to determine the winner of the Scenario- though they had blunted the Goblin attack, the Free Folk had fewer surviving Units in play and so the Shadow was once again triumphant- though only just!

Next week will see us play the final Scenario, as the ragged survivors of the Free Folk confront Bolg and his minions- will Beorn and the Eagles turn up in time? Will we be able to squeak a Pyrrhic Victory by killing the Goblin King? With my dice rolling, who knows!..

The Clouds Burst, Part 1

Last night, I finally got to use my Battle of Five Armies collection in a game- two games, in fact! In a happy coincidence we had five players- Tony and Tom would command the Wargs and Goblins respectively, while myself, John and Andy would take control of the Dwarves, Elves and Humans; with control of Gandalf being shared between us!

As I've mentioned briefly before, I had decided to break the events of the Battle into three Scenarios- each game would represent a smaller 'snapshot' of the larger struggle, and so a little 'Gamer's Licence' has been used! In general though, I hoped to represent the broad storyline of the conflict.

Before going any further, I will admit that I love the Dragon Rampant rules. They are quick to pick up and their unpredictability makes for some nice narrative moments. They allow you to be creative in the Units you field, and it's 'large skirmish' scale means you don't need to paint hundreds of models- for someone who gets easily distracted from one project to another, this is a real plus!
Some will say it's not suited to larger battles, but with a little bit of imagination and flexibility I think they can still serve you well...

Having said that, a few changes were made for these Scenarios-
  • Battle Turns. Because these Scenarios called for certain events to happen at certain times, or to have a set time limit, we split each into 6 Battle Turns. In each Battle Turn, each side would get a Player Turn.

  • Proximity. We prefer a 1" minimum distance between Units as opposed to the usual 3". We also allow friendly Units to pass through one another, as long as neither is Battered.

  • Command Chits. In DR, failing to order a Unit ends your Turn immediately. This can be a little too random for some, so we decided that each side would roll a D6 at the start of every Battle Turn to determine how many Command Chits they would receive:                                   1 = No Chits, 2-5 = one Chit, 6 = two Chits. Each Chit was basically an 'extra life' that allowed you to maintain the initiative following a failed Activation Test.
The Elves, Men and Dwarves face off against each other while Gandalf (Bilbo in tow) strides between the rival forces and tries to defuse the situation! Meanwhile, the forces of Evil pour onto the battlefield, catching the Free Folk unprepared...

*The set-up. Bickering Free Folk on the left and the hordes of Shadow on the right!

Evil went first, and the hordes of Goblins charged across the plain- meanwhile the Wargs held back a little and attempted to outflank the Elves. The Free Folk desperately tried to pull back into a battle-line, but the confusion caused by the sudden arrival of the ravening hordes meant they were slow to do so (all their Activation Tests suffered a -1 penalty in the first Battle Turn!).

The Bowmen of Esgaroth abandoned the rocky hill and fell back towards Gandalf. On their right flank, the Esgaroth Warriors formed up into a Wall of Spears just in time- the first wave of Goblins crashed into them, while the Elven Spearmen behind failed to Activate and stood watching the carnage as the Men repulsed the Goblins at terrible cost; only to be pounced upon by a pack of Wargs! Battered by this experience, the Men fell back with their defensive formation in tatters!

Meanwhile on our left flank, the Dwarf Warriors caught another mob of Goblins as they rounded the hill- great slaughter was inflicted on both sides (mainly because my dice rolling was so bad!), and their long hatred for one another saw both Units wiped out (In actual fact, both Units failed their Courage Tests and Routed, but our explanation is much more heroic)!
Our left flank was now wide open, but thankfully only a few Goblin Archers were now present there and seemed reluctant to exploit the hole in our defences...

As yet more Goblins crested the hill and poured down into the valley, the Elves finally woke up and heroically interposed themselves between the onrushing hordes of Evil and the ragged Men of Esgaroth. Repulsing the Wargs harrying the retreating Men, they assumed a Wall of Spears in time to blunt another Goblin attack- routing the cowardly curs in a flurry of leaf-shaped spear-tips!

*At the height of the fighting- the Free Folk are hard-pressed on all sides!

Nearby, Gandalf raised a hand and lightning flashed across the battlefield! It struck a mob of Goblins and caused terrible casualties, but somehow the fiends continued their rush and caught the Bowmen of Esgaroth. Despite the deaths of many comrades, the Men fell back Battered but unbowed.
Shrieking in fury, the Goblins charged again and this time the Bowmen were cut down where they stood! As another wave of Goblins crested the hill, Gandalf's magic once again struck the Bowmen's killers and routed them- the craven survivors scurrying back to their lairs, now shrieking in terror!

*The Elves and Men stand together as it appears the forces of Evil are faltering...

Meanwhile the Elves and surviving Men formed a wedge of bristling spear-points to meet the fresh Goblins coming down the hill, their grim resolve also keeping the circling Wargs at bay.
At the last moment the Goblins changed direction as if driven by some dark will and started heading towards Gandalf, who looked a little exposed as he stood with Bilbo peering from behind the Wizard's cloak... Taking advantage of the confusion, the Wargs saw their opportunity and pounced on the Men of Esgaroth, having circled around the Mirkwood Spears while their pack-mates kept the Elves occupied to their front. The screams of dying Men were soon silenced by the triumphant howling of wolves!

*Things look grim for the Grey Pilgrim...

With that last combat, the sixth Battle Turn ended and with it the Scenario- incredibly close, but Evil had won a narrow victory as the Free Folk fell back towards Erebor...

Part 2 on it's way!

Arnor Lives! Plus of course some rambling...

With the weather (only slightly) curtailing my wanderings in the Great Outdoors, I have been back at my painting desk feverishly churning th...