Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Bore Wars it shall be.... If we ever %^!#$! finish Tanga!

The poll on the blog and on facebook is over, and by a landslide, the Bore Wars will be the next project.

In 2013 perhaps.

I'll have plenty of time to assemble the extra Swiss, Teddy Bears, and Australians necessary to run the game. Of course, if integrate the Zulu Wars into it, we could make an expansive pre-Tanga history of Southern Gnome Afrikka.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Dairy Queen Presents: Hurricanes...ON FIRE!

I'm alive! No need to send out a Swiss medic, even if a Bier Nurse is available...

This weekend was supposed to be the great finale for part one of the Tanga Campaign. Even with the impending doom of Irene pounding down the door, I had a simple plan: If the forcasts stayed consistent, I could make a reasonable decision about travelling by 11am and still manage to contact everyone before they left AND make it down to Easton by 1pm.

Mother Nature, as we all know, is more fickle than my wife.

Despite some water in the basement and the flickering of lights, I checked with our Easton location and everything looked a go. I'll save the actual blow-by-blow details and go with a factual timeline.

At 10am, a tree fell on the the access road to the main highway. To add insult to injury, it was mere feet from a dirt road to the highway that could have been used as a detour. The tree took out power lines, destroyed a transformer and set everything on fire. Given that the fire and electric companies didn't arrive until 2pm to turn off the power (permanently) and put out the fire, I was screwed.

The access road does continue the other way, dumping you in an out-of-the-way location (and given that where I live in an out of the way location, that's really bad. The road is barely passable in good weather, and you would be putting your car in danger driving it, if, of course, you could cross the bridge that was three foot over flood stage!

Needless to say, I was bummed and had to abort the travels late.

Four brave souls did show up for gaming, Archi, Dalcin, Nichols, and Bob. I felt particularly bad for Bob as we haven't seen each other in YEARS and he drove all the way up from Trenton. The guys got in a rip-roaring game of Axis and Allies minis and another good game of Tannenhauser (sp?)

On top of that, the Day of Sloth looks like questionable weather, so I'm considering pulling back from that one as well. Which is a pity, we have a HUGE pile of wood to burn after the storm.

On the painting front: at least I got a unit of Sikhs primed. *sigh*

Next up: How I spent the previous day "gaming" with "normal" people.

Next up:

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

(Gnome Wars) The Michael Lung Gallery #4

Okay, as a special east coast earthquake double post day, here's today installment

The Swiss casualty marker is fantastic! Not all that usefull in play, but some nice scenery in case a unit encounters a slaughtered village.

I'm still trying to figure out what the use of a standard bearer is for Gnome Wars. Musicians move troops faster and there is little use for changing formation. Worst case, it's for show, best case, it's a 10-pt fig and it looks cool on the battlefield. Gotta love the pine cone.

(Legions of Steel) A whole lotta trouble showed up in the mail

My impulse buy off of eBay last week arrived in the mail yesterday.

Legions of Steel Mk I Assault Fiend

A ridiculous buy-it-now price, only a buck for shipping, I couldn't resist it. Now if I can only find some commandos on the cheap...

When I did get that LOS boxed set this winter, I found the space marines passable, but I was intrigued by the Star Wars battle droids included in the box. Nightmares will be impossible to acquire without some competitive bidding and a little extra fundage. The battle droids are a bit more available, and with Mk I Assault Fiend now in my possession, I need to find a Jar-Jar Binks figure to get hit with a k-pulse grenade.

Ain't mixing games fun!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Battlelords is alive? Again?

The Ram Pyton: Not as Cute as Kitten

Recently in my post raving about how awesome Lehicon IV was, I brought up Battlelords of the 23rd Century (henceforth known as Battlelords...) It was an imperfect game for the perfect time in my life, with a hyperactive salesman as its spokesman.

To the naysayers, Battlelords was just fantasy races... in space... with big-ass guns... with the supposed coolness turned up to 11. And unlike the grumbling fans in the D&D/video game argument, I completely agree with those people. It COULD be like this. It could very well have played as a Barrier Peaks meets Traveller, but it doesn't.

It plays like Phoenix Command meets a high five of awesome to your face!

In the 23rd Century, megacorporations run everything, including military operations. Well, sometimes we call them "espionage" but we don't say that around the Ram Pythons.

Ram Pythons, gigantic reptilian muscle bound behemoths who could rip off a human's arms, carry around weaponry designed for tanks, and had the brain the size of a shrivelled pea. I'm working this off of memory, but the primary order a Ram Python could follow was "If it moves, kill it. If it doesn't move, pick it up and kill it!"

The main rulebook (one of 5 editions?) was chock full of cool races. Orion Rogues, Ram Pythons and their less violent (and stupid) cousins the Pythons, Eridani Swordsaints, Zen Rigelns, and of course the Phentari, a squid like race that were combat monsters, but would spend all their downtime figuring out how to cook the humans in the squad. They LOVED human flesh.

Of course, there is secondary reason for the continued love. Their first (only?) licensed product was a module... "Don't Be Alarmed, This is Only a Test," produced by a small Canadian company called Global Games, ergo, an indirect LOS tie-in.

The system was clunkier than an arena of clumsy people trying to clog dance. There were multiple levels and types of armor, skills, etc, and to be honest, although I ran two sessions back in the mid-90's I had no idea if I was doing the system justice. The players had a good time, but not using the system relegates the core book to a weapons and fluff book. Does one try GURPS with this? I just don't know.

Surprsingly, the game's still kicking around. There is a playtest group (in Vegas!) working on a less-wocky new edition. You can still get most of the product, and even better, you can get it in pdf.

It's not for everybody... just the kids who wanna be cool. Check it out at

Sunday, August 21, 2011

(Hackmaster) Player's Handbook Pre-Orders!

So, the Hacklopedia of Beasts is out! (hoo-ray!). Now, Kenzer & Co has announced the preorders for the Player's Handbook are open. Best yet, you'll get a pdf copy of the rules before the book even goes to the printers! It will be an alpha-copay with available updates, but at least players will get to work with it early, AND Kenzer is accepting errata submissions, so your $59.95 book has fewer errors within its Leatherette cover. for more details.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

I've gotta get motivated...later

Ugh, it's been a rough couple of weeks at the Casa de Viscount. Two weeks of constant rain saps all of your motivation out of you. There are a million things to do before our annual Day of Sloth picnic, and I can't even find enough time to cut the grass in our yard, that varies between six inches and three foot high!

So, obviously, the minis aren't getting worked on. Which sucks, since we do have our final Longido Mountain campaign session next Sunday. If I can finish up the pack mules and at least put flesh tone on the purple Germans, the pics might look okay. Of course, if I can get some more confirmations besides Steve and Nichols I'd be joyous. Of yeah, it's in civilization for once (Easton) so anyone whose interested shoot me a message somehow.

With the ongoing poll, it looks as if the Bore Wars are going to be the winner. I have started a little light reading to familiarize myself with the actual Boer Wars. Like the Crimean War, if it doesn't have heavy US influence, it's not taught in schools.

After looking at a worthless series of wikipedia articles, I started reading an ebook of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's The Great Boer War. Let me just say one thing about anyone who tinkers in history during the late Victorian era: they are an amusing and enjoyable read. Perhaps not entirely historically accurate, but I've appreciated Teddy Roosevelt's writings in the same manner. For every nugget of information provided, there are two or three opinions and some biased analysis mixed in. Since I knew what I was getting myself into, it will be a quick read and I can look into more "scholarly" texts, if I ever get the time.

I've also snatched up a Mk I Assault Fiend for LOS,with shipping, for I think a dollar higher than retail price back in the 90's. That might be my painting project to jump start the rest of them. Fall-in! is coming pretty fast, and I never know if/when I'm going to receive the new figs from Brigade.

Monday, August 15, 2011

(Gnome Wars) The Michael Lung Gallery #3

In this week's installment, I simply show off the bunny casualty marker.

If there's one thing I sometimes prefer All the King's Men over Gnome Wars, it's the casualty markers to show where the carnage actually occured. Of course, we could just tell the wee children that the bunny's are "napping".

Thursday, August 11, 2011

(Polls) What should the next campaign be?

I know, I know, we're barely done witht the first HALF of Tanga, but a man needs to plan, and a man needs a cool poll up on his blog, to boot!

These are my choices to fool around with once Tanga is finished

  1. Rommel's Route to Verdun: Before he was famous Field Marshall in World War II, Rommel was a lowly Lieutenant, leadin troops in World War I. I have campaign book covering all his engagements as his unit moved towards Verdun. It would require a lot of conversion, but any western front fighting without trenches is fun in my book.

  2. Chicka Zulu - Before Tanga, there were the Zulu Wars in Africa. My Zulus would be teddy bears and easter chicks, but it's better than making/painting hordes of African gnomes. I have a scenario book with 11 battles, and terrain is a breeze (albeit a bit Easter-themed for obvious reasons).

  3. The Bore Wars - Mr. Michael Lung who wrote an interesting (and punny) take on the Boer Wars between the Boer Settlers and now Germans. It allowed for the Swiss (garden gnome) figures to be used and justified the use of just about any other nationality I was even pondering purchasing.

  4. Swiss Alpine Fighting: The Wishing Well Campaign had the evil Germans on the doorstep of the Swiss mountains, prepping over the winter for a full-scale invasion. This campaign would involved lots of mountain fighting, but also plenty of machine guns, artillery, and TANKS!

  5. Just play some silly games, fool! We could just go back to throwing some terrain on the table, grabbing some units, and playing. Or I could use this to ponder "kid-themed" games, like a battle for Candyland. Those Gumdrop Mountains might taste great, but they're a pain to march over.

  6. "Real" Tanga- Or I can just prep to play the Battle of Tanga with real figs, not gnomes. I could acquire the figures and refight the battles to the specs in the scenario guide. I do have some desire to collect some European colonial forces, and the expense wouldn't be more than me picking up another two units of gnomes over the next year. Plus I have all the terrain and scenery already made!.

Vote here, and if you can find me on Facebook, vote there too!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

(Nostalgia) Lehicon IV: The Gold Standard

It was the Spring of 1991, MC Hammer was all the rage, Aqua Net was eating holes in the atmosphere, and American troops were mobilized in Saudi Arabia, ready to take on the unconquerable Republican Guard. Worse yet, I was a Junior in High School. I had already attended my first convention (Lehicon III) at the Sheraton Hotel in Easton. I had a taste of convention AD&D, Axis and Allies, dealer rooms and the world outside my gaming group, and I wanted more.

Lehicon IV was a three-day convention at the George Washington Motor Lodge in Allentown, PA. It promised to be the biggest con ever in the area, and even today, everything else paled in comparision. Why?

First off, let's completely ignored the meat-and-potatoes of a con, D&D in some form or another.... they had

(1) Massive Star Fleet Battles tournaments rotating throughout the weekend with 30+ people just playing that, plus slots of Learn to Play SFB and follow-up New Captain tournaments.

(2) Multiple "giant" wargames run with 8+ players, multiple games per slot. the boards were probably 6x10, but with hundreds upon hundreds of Persians, it sure looked bigger.

(3) Battletech Arena - The "You-Kill-it-You-Keep-it" game on a massive 3-D board. Absolute cutting edge at the time, and never few than 12 players at the board all con long, with people rotating in and out all the time.

and that was just 2/3s of the FIRST ballroom. Most cons I've been to in the last ten years would kill for just that kind of attendance. Heck, I've gone to a lot of cons that didn't need that much space! There was just a pile of RPGs, a slew of mini games, hell I think Kingmaker was run each slot and I think they got players in all but one slot! Double Hell, I think someone ran Outdoor Survival to a full table!

With multiple ballrooms, side rooms, and bedrooms reserved for gaming, the three horsemen of Doritos, (Charles, Scott, and myself) grabbed a ride from one of our parents and headed to Allentown.

Friday was our public GMing debut for both my buddy Scott and myself. I couldn't pass up running just one game and getting in for free. Contrary to people whining at registration desks about event ticket nowadays, $20 was a lot of money for a kid washing dishes for $3.25/hr.

I had decided to run Talislanta (2nd Edition). My "Crystle Dungeon" was short on plot, extremely Euro-centric for Talislanta, and just an opportunity to kill Darklings, and that was AFTER I playtested the scenario with my group.

I had three players, all kids younger than I was that never played before. It was short (2 1/2 hours) but lots of fun. The Darklings never stood a chance. I took my hour and a half of free time and hit the dealers area.

Scott had been sat at the table next to me to run Top Secret/S.I. - some sort of zany spy intrigue aboard a nuclear submarine adventure. He had a whole 2 players (our other friend Charles and some other guy). Details are sketchy, but I think Scott forgot all his notes, or the game went FUBAR early. He winged four-plus hours of the game, and it still is agruably, the best game he has ever GM'ed.

Saturday morning I jumped into the first round of a two round AD&D tourney module, not RPGA, just multi-rounds with players voting to see who got to play the second round. Trust me, it was all the go back in day. I was still geting my feet wet in the "how does everyone else play D&D" sense. I killed a few things, got nothing accomplished plot or character-wise, and I was told to check back to see who made it to round two that night. It was as boring as the details I just gave, but at 11am on a Saturday at Lehicon, I couldn't wait to see the results at dinner.

Saturday afternoon was a "How to Play Megatravller" event. We rolled up characters (yay, mine didn't die during creation!) and in the last hour we investigated some fallen ship stuck in a swamp. To this day, I still have no idea how mechanics work, but it was a good time.

Over the dinner break, they posted the qualifiers for the second round of the tourney. Woo-hoo, 1st Alternate! Again, not something I would even ponder playing nowadays, but I was in my glory!

With my Saturday evening opened up, I jumped into the De Bellis Antiquitatis Beginners Tourney. To the layman, DBA is a basic system for fighting ancients battles. Our tourney had Egyptians fighting Tibetans fighting Zulus fighting Romans fighting etc. Armies and playing space is very small and battles are very quick. Ten of us learned the rules and rotated between different battlefields and getting to play nine different armies. I had even bought brand new six-siders from Crazy Egor's to play.

Three hours later, I left the tourney posting an unbelievable record of 0-9. Yes, that's a zero, followed by a dash, followed by a nine. I couldn't make a roll if my opponent's Zulus had been bound, gagged, and suffering from heat stroke. Again, I did have a great time.

With a few hours left over I wandered about the con, seeing if there was anything to jump into.

I was jumped myself by a barrell chested man with no neck and a gigantic mouth who asked if I wanted to play in a brand new game he had written. Within minutes, I was a sitting at a full table, a Tza Zen Rigeln detailed in a massive character sheet, and the legendary Larry Sims doing the first of many never-ending talks I have heard, amping up the table about just how cool Battlelords of the 23rd Century was.

I didn't do much that game either, except soak up the atmosphere, and do some nasty reverse healing on the party's Ram Python (I high-fived his face!), but I was hooked and Battlelords was my big purchase of the con. And Larry's mailing list is the reason we got mailers for UBCon up in Buffalo, but that's another story for another day.

Dealers- Two words, Crazy Egors. I swear the dude had one short wall and almost one long wall of Ballroom #3 with just boxes upon boxes of anything you ever wanted. The dealers went around the walls, plus there were tables in the center of the room to ensure a 360-degree shopping Nirvanna. There were other rpg dealer, some dude who sold dragon candles, a mini painter, and at least a minis dealer. I swear upon my unlucky DBA dice that On Military Matters was there too, but it was over twenty years ago.

My memories of my swag was even less. My DBA dice, a copy of Battlelords, and some D&D modules I probably never ran, but I had also never seen them in the stores either.

My friends had a blast as well. While they did wander around, I think Scott and Charles spent most of Saturday at the Battletech Arena. Somebody brought home some free minis.

What makes this the greatest con ever? The sheer amount of potential each time slot had. When I received the pre-reg book in the mail, I went through a stack of paper trying to schedule out the most diverse and exciting weekend of life. Did I succeed? Oh heaven's no, I was young and stupid. In hindsight, I would have paid to get in, play some DBA, learn to play SFB, jump in some Avalon Hill boardgame, maybe some WRG 7th, maybe the BTech Arena. I'd even try to learn Traveller again (Mega or not). I realized then that I wasn't going to be pigeon-holed into one corner of room, like the BTech gearheads, the RPGA, or the hordes of crazy people from Long Island who had come to play SFB. This is why, even in the heyday of Magic, I needed some role-playing to keep things from getting boring.

Monday, August 8, 2011

GenCon... who needs NEW MOUSELINGS!

I am not a huge fan of GenCon. Perhaps it's my Origins experience telling me there is a level of gamer funk and swamp ass that should not pushed beyond. Perhaps I like my triumvirate of HMGS (East) cons plus Mepacon to better suit my gaming/purchasing needs. Maybe I've already had lunch with Steve Jackson, and praise be to Jeebus, we didn't discuss Munchkin (it didn't even EXIST yet! Boo-yah!).

But I've been subject to two pics from there that whet my appetite:

Minnetonka Mouse and Gold Globe of Gouda perks my interest into pulp gaming, or even a TMNT-esque game with turtles, bears, and *gasp* jungle frog warriors. It was meant to be!

Greens of a bunch of carousing mouselings make my heart all aflutter, images of drunken brawls in mouse guard, more minstrels to be eaten by a snake or scorpion... good times.

And no, the Indy Mouse is not really named Minnetonka, although if I ever use him, I'm calling dibs right now!

Thanks to Jess Carson for providing me the pics, in return, please have a read of her writing(Pathfinder related, but nobody's perfect):

(FALL-IN!) The Battle of Yellowstone has been submitted!

Jim and I finally got together via phone and ironed out the details for Fall-in. Now, I don't have his events descriptions, but it looks as if the joust will now be Saturday night, which does seem smarter from a logistical standpoint. An 8pm mega-event is great, but no one wants to break it down and pack it up at midnight, and then hang out with friends and a few beers.

Withou further ado:

The Battle of Yellowstone - A Theme Event!
For 30 years, the US Cavalry protected one of our greatest treasures, Yellowstone National Park. Join the valiant men of Troop K as they defend the park against illegal poachers, loggers, miners, wayward campers, and worst of all, sheep! 10 players. Of couse, Gnome Wars.

I'm doing some interesting reading on the subject. With little appropriation through Congress, and a climate of political appointee corruption, the Secretary of the Interior turned the protection and maintenance of Yellowstone Park to the Department of War, who sent out Troop M of the US Cav in 1886. Much of the early development of the park, and the call for tighter laws governing protected lands can be attributed to the Cavalry, both white and some "Buffalo" soldiers. Always undermanned, the cavalry's main focus for some time was keeping the the undesirables mentioned in the event description. I found it amusing that in the later years, they even issued speeding citations for visitors in automobiles who arrived at checkpoints earlier than advised.

One side will play the US Cav, patrolling the park. We plan on having four 5-man sqauds for the players. The other players will play the logging camp, poachers trying to hunt wildlife, herds of sheep, and the wayward campers who may or may not be breaking the law, but are stuck in the middle of the "legal enforcement." I'll also need one player to run the wildlife. What's worse than the US Army interrupting your illegal hunting? How about a stampeding herd of elk going through your mining camp!

If the cav does poorly, I can always turn the clock forward to 1918, and the Swiss Park Rangers can take over jurisdiction.

It can nearly be said that this event might resemble Trench Wars more than Gnome Wars. No cheese throwers, no golf mortars, possible no St. Bernards or Bier Wenches *gasp*. The bicycle tank *might* make an appearance if the Rangers show up, but otherwise its some wargaming, a nice pinch of spicy role-playing, and some obscure history mixed into the blender known as Gnome Wars Fun! If someone misses a few pointed hats in the woods, they could actually mistake this as a serious (i.e. real) wargaming event!

Which is something Der Alte Fritz recently did:

With all that being said, some of you might have questions like, "What units are you using for the American Cav?"

Hopefully, (Northern) American Gnome Cavalry! No promises were given, but I've heard through the grapevine that the sculptor was given an extra cookie to finish them first. The when, what, how much, I leave up to Lon at Brigade.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

I'm still here...barely.

It's been a wee bit light on the blogging front recently. In reality, I should have a pile of stuff to report.

I should have the finalized Gnome Wars events for Fall-in!
I should have a review of Gnome Wars 2nd Edition posted.
I should have gushing man-love for Michael Lung, both in picture and in recent correspondence
I should have some gladiators based, if not painted
I should have a location for our game day (Gaming with the Viscount XI) on the 28th.
I should have some gnomes or mules done for said game day.

But I don't.

The girls decided to give Daddy the gift the keeps on torturing me, some sort of viral infection. I knew it was bad when the girls' pediatrician wrote out a script for me (I am a big baby when I'm sick, but I wasn't sick...yet). Between throat and ear infections, my wife taking on a second job for some spending money, and our two adopted kittens running rampant, I'd have trouble getting anything accomplished to begin with.

On top of that, Jim's on vacation, and I can't blame him forgetting to call cause he's on vacation. Of course, he called last night, and I was a doctor's signature away from life support on the bed. Next week, gnomies, next week, we'll have a pile of stuff to make you scratch your head and go, "Really? I waited for a week, and I got THIS?"

Three words: Playtesting Smurf Soccer

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Brigade Games Preorders Open for Aerosan

My first question everyone has... what the heck is an Aerosan?


Borrowing the descriptive text on the Brigade Games website:

Aerosans were used for communications, mail deliveries, medical aid, emergency recovery and border patrolling in northern Russia, as well as for recreation. The Soviet Army used them during the Winter War and World War II. They were found to be useful for reconnaissance and light raiding in northern areas, given their high mobility in deep snow (25-35km/h). They were often employed in co-operation with ski infantry and troops carried or towed by transport Aerosans. Fire support was provided by machine gun-armed models.

I never knew that such a thing existed, and now I want one. No, make that a squadron! fleet? What do you call a group of things that look like the bastard child of a swamp boat and a bobsled? Regardless, I want a bunch for a yet-to-be-determine Russian campaign that I just decided this minute I wanted to run, and I want a bunch of these to convert to Gnome Wars. I don't know if I can insert a gnome torso in the cockpit without kit-bashing, but want to try.

Resin and metal model kit 1/56th scale - $29.00 each for more info.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

More Lessons of Maja

Yesterday I got a package in the mail. I won't go into details yet, but it was a very cool assortment of gladiators (Crusader USA and Steve Barber Models), as well as a unit of Sikh Gnomes.

As I was showing my 2-year old Maja a pack of the Crusader USA gladiators, she responded with glee, "Thank you, Daddy we go paint now," grabbed the blister pack and ran over to her chair at the dining room table... at nine o'clock at night.

She donned her painting smock and proceeded to the paint the equine gladiator's horses... bright yellow. Which leads us to:

Lesson of Maja #4: All Gladiator horses are bright yellow. Which follows to an old one I missed.
Lesson of Maja #5: All pack mules are purple.
Lesson of Maja #6: If you mix yellow and green paint you get... Cheese!

I might add, I have two horses with bright yellow base coats, but she did a great job getting all the nooks and crannies without gobbing it on. And except for a lone gnome who was destined to be tortured, she painted with just one color and didn't want to mix anything.

I may be able to retire from painting before she turns four.