Reluctant Allies

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More Advanced Song of Blades and Heroes gaming this week, with Matt, Derek, John, and Pat each fielding a Hero and Sidekick as they search for the Treasure of Sagra-Bayar.

Each player has their own reasons for finding the treasure, but their goals align  – at least for the moment – and they must work together against a common enemy.

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Choose, you must.

As this was the first meeting, each player had only one player model available for the mission. (Got to make sure they’re going to play nice together)

Even worse, they were forced to make a difficult choice right away: rescue the Seer under attacked by murderous raiders, or save the ancient rune stone about to be smashed by an enraged giant. Each offered different benefits and rewards, but given their strength and time constraints, they could only help one.

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Hearing the giant’s hammering blows in the distance, the party chose to aid the Seer. The battle quickly devolved to individual combat as the raiders turned to face the new threat. Boasting and over-confident, the Ork Tracker went down early on, severely wounded. His new-found companions came to his rescue however, including the Seer, who revived him.

Derek’s Elf Druid dispatched two of the crazed barbarians with his spear while Dragonkin and the Dwarf accounted for one more apiece. Seeing his mates dispatched, the remaining raider fled.

The grateful Seer not only resurrected the Ork but informed the party as to the whereabouts of a possible entrance to the treasure fortress. Each player also received an enchantment on one weapon or article of equipment.

Unfortunately, the Rune Stone was demolished.

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The Hand of the Runesmith, searching for the ancient Dwarf artifact, Uldur’s Anvil
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Blood-Sworn Ork trackers, seeking revenge on the Necromancer, Varro Desecrae and the return of a sacred clan totem.
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Winterthorn Emissaries, sent by the High Council to locate sacred, arcane texts which might reverse the fading power of the Eldar.
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Dragonkin Cleric and Dracolisk familiar. Legends say the Treasure Fortress of Sagra-Bayar is guarded by a great, abyssal demon. This terrible evil must be destroyed.

 

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These make the perfect crazed raiders.

 

Reluctant allies for the moment, the party bound up their wounds, re-sharpened their blades, and went off together toward the Pass at Guhna-Tel.

More next week. Have a great day.

New Terrain and ZP pictures

Coming off the holiday break, last night’s game session was more shooting the breeze than miniature foes. Everyone was more intent on hanging out and chatting than getting serious about a game. That said we did a quick brawl that let me put two new terrain pieces on the table: a ruined apartment building and a swamp. The building is an MDF kit, the swamp pieces scratch- built with wood bases, foam core, water effects, flock and Woodland Scenics tall grass.

We used Zona Perestrelki – our STALKER-flavored skirmish rules – for quick combat.

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The battle ground: a refueling station eleven kilometers inside the north perimeter of the Zone.
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The swamp
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“Look behind you!”
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Stalkers and scientist make it to the fence.
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ZERTs (Zone Enforcement and Recovery Team) facing down a pack of feral dogs.
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Bandits scrounging for petrol
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ZERTs at an old supply truck. Something valuable inside, perhaps?

There’s more ZP in the pipeline, but for the foreseeable future, we’ll be doing old-school RPGs (both Interface Zero Cyberpunk and straight up DnD) and a short ASOBH campaign, “The Treasure of Sagra-Bayar.” I’m finishing the brushwork on the character figs this week and will post photos later.

In the meantime, corny as it sounds, I was struck by a deep sense of gratitude when the guys walked in last night; it’s a great hobby with great people and I’m glad to be a part of it.

Have a good day.

And if you’re in a STALKER mood, A Prayer to Saint Strelok is available for your reading pleasure. Spasibo!

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Games that stick.

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I’ve been thinking about games that have durability, replay-ability, longevity.

As anyone familiar with hobbyists and the hobby industry knows, “Shiny” comes and goes. Indeed the hobby industry is built on ‘shiny’ and every gamer worth his salt has a lead/plastic pile that bears mute witness to the fickle siren song of new figs, a new range of figs, a different scale, genre, time period… Let’s all admit that most of the war games on Kickstarter are miniatures-driven – not rules driven. Coming to my ‘end-of-year’ game room clean up this week, I’m definitely guilty as charged.

But between tidying the game room and some recent attention to my home-brew rules, I’ve been thinking about the war games that last after the shine fades and asking ‘What games do I/other gamers return to and keep playing year after year? And why?’

I know the answers are different and flavored by individual experience and preference. Some people started playing DnD decades ago when they were Stranger Things kids and have stuck with it through all its editions. Others move on to Shadowrun or Cyberpunk 2020 because they scratch that Neon and Mirrorshade itch and there’s no need to look elsewhere. (Ain’t that right omae?)  Some sink their teeth into 40K early on and cling to it like a Pitbull all their days. ( I think that’s what GW wants) When I posed this question on TMP, nearly 50 historical gamers listed rules like DBA, HoTT, Johnny Reb, Lion Rampant, Dragon Rampant, and so on.

For a SF/F gamer like me: in no particular order and off the top of my head, I’ve played VOR, Void, Celtos, Chronopia, Warzone, CAV, Stargrunt 2, and Full Thrust. I did a stint with THW’s Bugs, 5150, and After the Horsemen. I’ve tried 40K, Necromunda, Inquisitor, and Space Hulk. Then there’s Warmachine and  Hordes, Iron Ivan’s Disposable Heroes and Ambush Alley games. (I know I’m forgetting some.) Now add Board Games, RPGs, Quick Start versions and Indie rules like One Page X, and the locust swarm of games I’ve read but never played/played once, and the trail of game rules behind me looks like a the footprints of an epic quest or an addict’s detritus. (a bit of both, I suspect)

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As far as I can discern, a game’s ‘longevity’ factor has multiple ingredients ranging from brand loyalty, local availability of players, and personal experience/associations, to the quality of related miniatures. But there are also underlying currents of simplicity and versatility. Those seem to be crucial.

Across the board, the common denominator in rule sets that seem to stick is that they are a reliable, straightforward framework to hang the action/story on. Sure, there may be particular flavoring and a degree of crunch/gritty detail, but the appeal seems to be that a player can plug in their force and play the game, not the rules. Combat, Movement, Morale, Special Abilities and Genre Specifics are resolved in the background while the battle, the story, is allowed to come front and center. IMO, the primary reason DnD and RPGs remain so popular is they provide mechanisms for players to participate in a common adventure, in a story.

The challenge is to translate that robust, functional dynamic to a war game, into a mock battle. The hitch is that most miniature war games seem to have been built on the back of RPGs and the detail level that’s so enjoyable and necessary for a player character in a dungeon crawl doesn’t scale up to platoon, regiment, and brigade level. Defeating Nash-Zaroth the Liche King requires the same kind of ‘combined arms’ flexibility as taking Istvaan IV in the Andromeda system, but the fine detail needs to be abstracted and smoothed out. Otherwise, the flow of the game/battle grinds to a chart consulting, modifier algorithm factoring, special rule quoting halt. CLUNK – players are disengaged, thrown out of the story, and there goes the fun. And I contend FUN is the real reason we’re still playing with toy soldiers and making up cool stories.

So as I approach Game Room Cleaning Day, not only am I going to take a hard look at the clutter, (expect a new batch of items For Sale) but in refining Zona Perestrelkimy STALKER-flavored, home brew skirmish rules –  I want bake in the brooding, dangerous, specifics of the Exclusion Zone but always remain mindful of honing the mechanisms to support the story, the mission, the game play, not bog it down.

It’ll take time, some sweat, and not a little bit of play- testing, but whether or not ZP gets picked up, that’s going to be a goal for 2018.

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Best Wishes for a Happy and Healthy New Year to you all.

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PS: the short story A Prayer to Saint Strelok is available at Amazon if you feel like getting in the mood. Enjoy.

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Why STALKER?

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As the setting for a skirmish wargame setting?

Are you kidding? If you have ever played any of the STALKER PC games, you shouldn’t be asking that question. And if you haven’t played STALKER: Shadow of Chernobyl, Call of Pripyat, or Clear Sky, you need to get on that. Right now.

Dark, brooding, creeping dread punctuated by moments of pulse-spiking terror as you scavenge the irradiated countryside around Chernobyl searching for valuable, other-worldly artifacts.

Face down bandits, blind, feral dogs, mutant boars, and shuffling waves of mind-wiped zombified soldiers. Hunt invisible, swamp-dwelling Cthulhu-esque bloodsuckers, collect the bounty on deformed psychic horrors, and always watch out for Snorks.

Zona Perestrelki (Russian for ‘Zone Firefights’) will combine the solid game engine of our “Cleared To Engage” rules with the distinct STALKER-themed hostile environment and a simple campaign system that will allow you to transform a bumbling group of Molodovs into Zone-hardened veterans – if they live long enough.

My Chechen Wars Kickstarter miniatures are slated to arrive first of the year, so look for them in AARs of our ZP playtest games Q1 2018.

Until then,

GET OUT OF HERE, STALKER!

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Dark Templars

“A moment of laxity spawns a lifetime of heresy.”

Bobby Jackson sculpts straight from Reaper Miniatures. These heavily armored knights in dark livery make for the  perfect band of zealous crusaders.

Led by Confessor Malcador Izzik, they are out to purge every trace of blasphemy and wickedness from the realm.

 

They were scheduled for an appearance in one of our ASOBH mini-campaigns but our sudden lurch to the neon grit of New Kowloon set them on the back burner for now.

But they’re patient…

 

Blue Rose Import/Export

Character figs for our upcoming Interface Zero 2.0 games set in New Kowloon 2069.

 

Blue Rose I/E is one of New Kowloon’s finest independent trade services, offering secure storage, fast transport, and outstanding turnaround time for all your goods and products. Stop by our warehouse at Dock 5H – 37. North Pier, Lower New Kowloon. Or visit our VR office on the Grid at BR_EI.LNK.COM. 

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Remember – Quality shows at Blue Rose! 

 

Miniature Clearance Sale

Clearing the Overflow Shelf and sending these off to a good home.

FANTASY FIGS  SOLD

12 assorted metal Reaper fantasy figs and 7 Reaper Bones* Orcs. Tabletop-level paint jobs, satin sealed, 40mm bases. Terrain not included.

$50 Includes USPS Priority Shipping in the ConUS.

 

 

MODERN/NF POLICE AND CRIMINALS  SOLD

Mix of Assault Group and Foundry Street Violence. The Police are Westwind figs led by an old Rezolution Marshal supported by an RAFM Drone.

All metal, decent brushwork, satin sealed.

$50 Included USPS Priority Shipping the ConUS.

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KRYOMEK RETRO SF  SOLD

All metal figs with funky, old-school vibe. Predator Marines and two flavors of Corporate Marines.

$25 Includes USPS Priority Shipping in the ConUS.

 

 

Contact me here. First Come-First Serve. I will combine shipping on purchase all three lots. PayPal Only. Thanks.