Thursday, November 29, 2018

Traveller: Interstellar Wars, using Dirtside II in 15mm

Megz and I decided to try a little Dirtside II while visiting the Tri-State Gamers Day of Games in Springfield, PA this past 17th November. Megz had never played before (though is familiar with StarGrunt II) and I hadn't played in some 4 years - time to knock some rust off.

We were joined by Cliff B. and Gil (?), which was a pleasant development (They were enthralled by the GEV APCs and first thought it was a Hammer's Slammers game - why disappoint them?)

Imperials Advance
I have no idea why my camera is tinting blue.

This was another "Assault on Alpha Centauri" scenario, first taken from the old boardgame Imperium and answers the statement "You should only attack with 3 to 1 odds." with "Sometimes, you only have  2 to 1 odds and you hope to get lucky...". Happens in Imperium all the time.

(Picture note: my I*Phone was fussing, so the first picture turned out rather blue-ish. We switched to the MegzCam(TM) for the rest of the game.)

The Vilani make a key mistake...they bunch up.

The Imps weren't playing very clever, we were just trying to close to range. Bit of a mistake, really. The Terran mortars took out an artillery scout sled, and then sustained heavy missile fire and high velocity rounds from the light tanks (nicknamed "Terridens") destroying the T53 Area Defense sled. Loss of the AD sled is always bad, as it protects the advance against missiles and mortar rounds. And so, the defeat begins...

The line is dressed,
and the advance may now continue...

Some good news; the artillery spotters were able to deploy a pair of mortars on the reverse of the ridge. The third mortar was still in the burning hover sled. Also, an attached Electronic Warfare sled set up jamming of the Terran communications.

Dirtside II doesn't have EW rules, so we ported them in from StarGrunt II. An active EW stand receive three chits, each can be spent to spot units, jam commo or spoof enemy guidance systems. The Imperial immediately began to jam the Terran artillery spotters requests for mortar fire. This blunted the Terran mortar fire, but did not entirely halt it.

The Terrans had very little capability to counter these EW attacks - Terran Tech lags behind Imperial, so their ECW assets aren't effective except in quantity, and there had been no room to land those expensive, and limited effective units.

The ConFed Marines would defend the giant
 drink cup facility, whatever the cost...
Terran Marine platoon, dug in on three low rises. The big building is some sort of infrastructure objective - maybe it refines and bottles water. It has to be strategically important for the Vilani to capture and not simply nuke.

The marines are supported by light, airmobile AIFVs and a pair of light tanks (with hi-velocity guns). There are mortar teams behind the crests of the rises, the squad leaders are acting as spotters - something the Vilani would never contemplate.

The near squad has lost their Chariot-class AIFV to the 44mm gun of the T53 sled. These small vehicles are light enough to drop into positions, but they have thin armour. All Terran Marine Jump Infantry vehicles are built on the same light chassis, easing logistics ever so slightly.

The view of the Vilani, humping over the ridge, from the Terran ConFed perspective. The Terran mortar teams are still being jammed, as the Command Post attempts to re-activate a mortar section to hit the Imps. This was another StarGrunt II rule we imported - a command unit may pass it's activation to a subordinate unit upon making a successful commo roll.

One thing we did not get on camera was an auto-cannon armed Chariot raced down the Vilani right flank and shot up several elements - Imperial mortar section and spotter section as well as the EW sled.  Megz is a lunatic, but the attack worked. Though the "Mad Chariot" was destroyed by the 22mm autocannons of an Imperial AIFV, with the loss of the Imperial EW team, and the supporting mortar, AND the squandered T43 ADA sled, the Vilani cancelled the assault.

The Vilani have second thoughts...

Post Game Thoughts:

Designing Interstellar Wars ground actions can be tricky, especially if you're trying to stay in Traveller Canon. The first few wars must have been a nightmare, with the Ziru Sirka/Vilani lobbing tactical nukes about like lawn darts. The Terran ConFed would need to keep very mobile, which would be somewhat difficult if they're dropping light troops from orbit - unless they're dropping directly onto targets the Imperials can't (or won't) nuke.

Ziru Sirka/Imperial scouts - these poor b@stards.  Light, open hover-sleds leaves them vulnerable to all kinds of artillery shenanigans. They might need their own Area Defence Artillery, also in a light, open hover-sled.

The Electronic Warfare sled was a lot of fun to play. Blocking unit activations makes up for a lot of a beating. In hindsight, we should have jammed both mortar sections and the command post. Live and learn.

Converting Traveller vehicle designs is, in itself, entertaining. Ken Pick has several excellent articles over at Freelance Traveller - highly recommended....Ω

Marines watch while a Chariot brews up.
Let's hope the crew got out.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

7TV: DEPARTMENT X and the Mist from MARS

This past Fall-In! miniatures convention saw a "re-imagined" transmission of 7TV's 'The Mist from Mars' featuring an all-new cast: the stalwart defenders of Earth - Department X, lead by Dr. Hugo Solomon and his companion Pandora King.

The Lancaster Host is still in the process of "renovation", though it feels like for every step forward, it's two steps back. This year, the main ballroom was 50% accessible, causing many games to be relocated the old restaurant, linen cupboards, and in one case, down an old stairwell behind a door marked "Beware of the Leopard"*.

So, thus, my 4:00 PM Friday game, though sold out, was full of empty people.  Since we were testing the 7TV2 Countdown Cards, Megz and I decided to have a go.

Landrover and Infantry by Crooked Dice
Department X deploys - the lead squad, under Captain Nick Keats started on foot. On the second turn, Sgt. Tam Fraser arrived with the X-Weapon Team (a heavy "laser"), via Landrover.  The 'rover was only used as an entry point, given that in previous games, the U.N.I.T. players tended somewhat to mis-use it. Mist players countered that they ought to be allowed to knock down the earthlings with their capsule, and I saw a dangerous precedent developing. So, nix the 'rover.

The Infiltrator, Captain Jo Gray, removes her latex mask to reveal: Greg Morris!  Actually, no, she just karate-chops one of the X-Laser team whilst pretending to be a Dept. X member.

Immediately, Pandora King springs into melee, amidst delighted shouts of "Cat Fight" from the rest of the team. I had removed Pandora's "Beat Everything in Sight" skill for balance purposes, and thus she was not able to bring down Capt. Gray. In fact, this melee would grow over the next two turns, as all available models were drawn into the melee.

A result of the Countdown Cards landed Capt. Nick Keats deep in Mist-occupied territory.

He was very shortly dealt with, having been hypnotised by the alien invader, denying his Leader 2 bonus to Department X. To add insult, Keats was then sent staggering towards his own side, blazing away with his service arm.

Fortunately for Keats, Hugo Solomon had broken free of the Grand Melee once Jo Gray was knocked unconscious. (Tactically, it's more economical to knock Gray out, since she regenerates Hits. Clapper down and cuff her is the rule of the day.)

Unfortunately, Department X was being driven off the field. Without Keats, and with Pandora and the weapons team tied down in the surprise melee, the Mist's numbers were telling.

Hugo Solomon would have to come up with another Brilliant Plan...Next Week on Department X.

Post Game Thoughts:
We like the countdown cards - they keep the game moving and unpredictable. Adapting them to 1st edition is simple enough, we just give out equivalent Audience Appreciation points for Plot Points.

The sides were virtually the same as the Docter Who version, except the Pandora did the punching and Solomon broke the Mists Domination with the Photonic Spanner.  Captain Gray received Leader 1, though it didn't help much in this game since she had used her Infiltrator skill to deploy in Department X's set up zone.

Coming up...Part II - Fists of Fury....Ω

*No, not really. Sillypants.

Friday, September 14, 2018

28mm Land Rover from Crooked Dice

In preparation for running "The Mist From Mars" at Fall In!, I've decided to change the Heroic side from U.N.I.T. and the Doctor to Department X and Hugo Solomon. Reasons include becoming jaded with the predominantly same result the games were yielding (UNIT wins 3/4th the time) and an interest in painting up the 28mm Land Rover from Crooked Dice Design Studios.

As supplied, the Crooked Dice version Land Rover is hella-easier to assemble and paint, being a single resin body with four wheel pieces.

28mm Land Rover from Crooked Dice on a 1" grid
The design is crisp and nicely detailed. Almost no mould lines and the wheels fit nicely into place. It is a fairly light weight model, especially when compared to the Minifigs UK brick.

This model will be painted in Department X Livery; black with the "X" logo. It will be a welcome addition to my 7TV forces, and I might even buy another one for UNIT...Ω

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

NJCon 2018, Doctor Who and 7TV

New, Improved, Prettier Board!
Landrover by MiniFigs UK, Soldiers by Crooked Dice

NJCon was held on 8 - 9 June, 2018 at the NJ Expo Center in Edison, NJ.  Attendance was good and certainly seems to be increasing in this, the convention's 10th year.
Two 7TV/Doctor Who games were scheduled - the first failed to launch as 1:00 PM Friday is still a bit early for walk ups, but the 6:00 PM slot had four participants - two, John and James, from previous games.
The new improved board looked a treat - mat by Mats by Mars and security fence (double set) by Crossover Miniatures

The Mist from Mars game started along familiar lines - UNIT, Mike Yates and the Doctor were trying to foil the plans of the three Servitors of the Mist and enslaved scientists. A team of possessed RAF airmen under Capt. Gray were assisting the Mist, while Sgt. Benton and a Landrover full of machine gun were supporting UNIT.
RAF Airmen by Copplestone Castings,
Fuel Drums by Pegasus

UNIT and Aliens advanced, while the scientists proceeded to build The Deadly Plot Device, and the Doctor nipped into the nearest lab to do likewise.

The "Longstanding Grudge" card turned up again, and true to tradition, it was assigned to Captains Gray and Mike "That's no Alien, that's my ex-wife" Yates. This meant they would get to re-roll failed hits against each other - "Hell hath no fury" and all that...

I'm considering making this a permanent effect.

Landrover by MiniFigs UK,
Soldiers by Crooked Dice
 Events started to pick up on Turn 2, when Sgt. Benton and his HMG Team arrived via Landrover. Benton conducted a bootlegger turn at the gate and backed into the compound, before going all "Russkie Teaparty" and spraying the Servitors of the Mist with .50 Cal hors d'oeuvres.

The Junior Servitor advance on Capt. Yates and stunned him with a blast of energy, before shortly thereafter going down in a hail of NATO lead.

Captain Gray continued to follow Yates, complaining about missed alimony payments, unreturned phone calls, and generally causing a -1 to all of Yates rolls, due to distraction.  Since the figure hadn't done anything overtly hostile (and nothing a married gamer isn't used to), the UNIT side couldn't shoot at her.

This detente would soon end, as sometime around Turn 4, Capt. Gray charged the Landrover, punched, stunned and pulled Benton from the driver's seat, and, jumping in, proceeded to drive away, with a startled HMG team in the back. (This actually occurred over two turns, the Mist side got lucky and won initiative twice in a row. Hilarious.)

 Driving and weaving like a Bombay Taxi, Capt Gray tried to throw the HMG team from the Landrover. Impressively, they were able to make their Agility checks, twice (with the help of the Audience Appreciation chits) and clung on for dear life (possibly they have family from Mumbai?).
The joyride ended when Capt Gray lost control and hit the security fence. Did she survive?
Tune in next time...

The Doctor Intervenes
 Almost as an afterthought, the Doctor reappeared, having discovered a weakness in the Servitors life supports (+1 melee against a Servitor). The scientists countered, and the game ended.

UNIT/Doctor had scored the most points, with Benton and Gray tied for second, with the main Servitors being wiped out.

Coming soon: The Revenge of Captain Gray.

Post Game Thoughts: Not many. Game still seems tilted in favour of UNIT/The Doctor. I might just give Capt. Gray leadership 1 for future games and have done with it. James, the player who controlled Gray, received post-game points for using her aggressively....

Thursday, June 7, 2018

7TV - Doctor Who and the Mist from Mars

Doctor Who©BBC Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Preparing for NJ-Con. We noticed that players can't always spot the game in a large hall, so Megz whipped up a sign placard from elements I grabbed from the web, including art by Andrew Lambert (the three astronauts), an image of Jon Pertwee, and the 7TV logo (adjusted to 1st Ed.)

I should have some nice pics from the new, improved game board - early next week....

Friday, May 4, 2018

Brigade Games "Spies and Patriots" Kickstarter

I'm quite looking forward to this. The fellow in the long coat and open shirt would make a great Adam Kismet for 7TV. The agent next to him would make a good John Major...Ω

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Mats by Mars - Product Review

After Cold Wars, I decided to dress up my 7TV/Doctor Who game map with a mat, designed to simulate the concrete surfacing of an old WWII air base.

Sadly, my normal source - Hotz Mats - has been developing a less-than-stellar reputation at The Miniatures Page, so I cast my browser about and stumbled upon Mats by Mars.

Their website seems well done, and the prices were reasonable, so I ordered a 36" x 36" light Koncrete-pattern, and was well pleased by the result.

The new mat arrived in less than two weeks, preceded by a shipping notification, and rolled up in a sturdy tube, which included a "care and feeding" sheet explaining what NOT to do to my new mat. I thought this was very considerate.  Also, the colour was very pleasant and complimented my airbase nicely.

Market Weatherby RAF Station

Quality:: 5 out of 5
Shipping: 5 out of 5
Communication: 5 out of 5

Mats by Mars overall rating: ««««« 5 Stars. Well Done!...Ω

Friday, April 13, 2018

Doctor Who and the Mist from Mars

The Mist from Mars...has arrived.

This past Cold Wars, in Lancaster, PA, saw Megz and I run a 7TV 1st ed. game: "Doctor Who and the Mist from Mars", adapted from the Rogues Gallery programme guide by Crooked Dice.

We ran two sessions, Friday and Saturday, in the 1:00 PM time slot. One of the advantages of running at a convention is we usually have a full game, and this year was no exception.

Three weeks had elapsed since the initial playtest and the convention, and I was able to complete the barracks and medical hut, paint the crates, paint the Third Doctor in his plaid/tweed cape, and add additional forces for both sides.

For an additional UNIT player, I added Sgt. Benton and a Heavy Weapons Team (HMG), in a Landrover.

For the additional Mist player, I added three guards  - unfortunate RAF airmen, who have since been assimilated by the Mist. I also added Captain Gray, a human victim/servitor of the Mist who has retained her personality but has gone over to the dark side. The character is reminiscent of Captain Black, agent of the Mysterons, which I like very much.

Another Victim...hypnotised.

There was a great deal of hypnotised victims, captured Doctors, Boffins building insidious alien tech, companions screaming, and players doing their best Donald Gray impressions.

Victory was fickle, once favouring the Mist, and once favouring UNIT.  The Doctor was taken out of the former game - cue an early Tom Baker regen.

 An amusing game to referee. Megz has come along quite well as a ref, and was able to run the game herself, with me relegated to fetching the tea and the occasional rules interpretation. Good stuff...Ω

Third Doctor...captured.


Saturday, March 31, 2018

Doctor Who Playtest

Megz and I had the opportunity to playtest my next convention game: Doctor Who and the Mist from Mars.  This is based on the 7TV 1st Edition "the Mist from Mars" as printed in Crooked Dice's 1st Edition resource, Rogues Gallery.

To start, I'd like to apologise for the condition of the scenery - with all the unfinished barracks and black tarmac, it looks like it's waiting for the CGI team to finish. I actually had planned to run the first go at our local club, but thought the game too unfinished for public display.

Without going into the details too deeply, the Villainous Side consisted of three Servitors of the Mist, and three unfortunate human technicians who had been possessed by the Mist.  The Heroic Side consisted of the Third Doctor, Jo Grant, Capt. Mike Yates and four U.N.I.T. soldiers.

Mike Yates is Dominated

On turn one, the lead Servitor approached the Doctor. "You can't be serious," I said to Megz. "The Doctor has four luck - nothing your single servitor can do will hurt him."  Whereupon, the servitor open his visor, revealing himself to be a future incarnation of the Doctor, and hey ho! Swapped his single luck point for the Doctor's four. A well played event card, Megz.

As one might imagine, this dread revelation threw the Doctor for a loop, and it took him a turn to recover his shock.

Then the Servitor approached Mike Yates, and after making an opposed INT roll, hypnotised him into switching sides. Hmm - this is beginning to all look a bit dodgy.

The Doctor fails his
Meanwhile, the three techs been working on a device to assist them in the fight. Once constructed, it provided extra power for the Servitors Energy Blasts, and UNIT trooped began to drop like poorly paid extras.

After a desperate effort to stun the scientists failed, the Doctor and those few UNIT survivors had the flee the scene. The Mist from Mars had gained a foothold on Earth.

Post-Game Thoughts:  Adding the elements of the Doctor, Jo Grant, Mike Yates and U.N.I.T. added a degree of depth that I felt the scenario, written as-is, was lacking. All of the Rogue's Gallery scenarios are "Kitchen Table" setups, playable in a little over an hour, and intended to be run at conventions in Britain as introductory games between two players.

This last concept doesn't work as well at US cons, where the pitch "bigger is better" and games vie competitively for players. Hence, I usually expand the map and increase the number of forces, and will do so before taking this game to a convention...Ω

The Doctor and Companion attempt to flank

UNIT Rallies, to no avail.