Monday, April 30, 2012

(Gnome Wars) Tanga Campaign #5.5: Escape on the Usambara Railway

November 4, 1914, 0600 hours

With the German Counter-Attack a rousing failure, Major Kraut's mind was weighed down by two facts. One, his forces on Longido Mountain could hold off continued Swiss attacks. Two, the damaged telegraph wires mentioned in game #1 had been repaired, and a desperate order for reinforcements to the port city of Tanga finally arrived.  Still locked in battle, he could not send the requested troop levels, but he did decide to send a handful of troops, and a few support weapons by rail, before the Swiss had a chance to seize the rail station.

The Swiss had made a foothold onto the mountain. The had only seized meager water supplies, and Lt Colonel Dykstra's men were exhausted from a full day of fighting.  When he received reports of German movement towards the railway station in Usambara, he had little choice but to send whatever troops he could muster and try to prevent whatever the Germans were attempting to do.  Good news for Dykstra was some Native units were, coming to reinforce the attack, but would they arrive in time?

German Order of Battle
Objective:  Defend the station and allow the train to leave (sometime after turn 8)

1 unit of Green Germans
1 unit of Grey Germans with an attached heavy mortar
1 unit of Purple Germans (half-strength) with an attached heavy machine gun

The heavy mortar was order behind the rail lines and was given specific orders to stay there until the train was ready to leave. This was to ensure that in the event of a Swiss overrun, the mortar could fall back and rejoin the remaining forces on the mountain. They would use indirect fire and could spotters positioned in the two forward buildings. Hits would still deviate 2d6 inches, however missed shots would be 2d6+8!

Swiss Order of Battle
Objective:  Seize the train (Have one figure touching the train at the end of any turn)

1 unit of Red Swiss
1 unit of Orange Swiss
1 unit of Tan Swiss with Bicycle Tank!
Unknown Reinforcements

Special Rules:
#1 All hills blocked line of sight for troops on the ground.  Elevated troops could fire at enemy troops next to the closest group of hills with a heavy cover penalty.

#2 The Train:  On turn 8, the German player would roll 2d6 and add it to the current turn number.  If that number is equal to or greater that 20, the train leaves the station.

The Swiss Deployment

Irish Laborers Load the Train
With the rushed nature of the engagement, there were no variable attachment rolls.

Turns 1-4
The Swiss began to work the flanks, the tan on the left, the red/orange on the right.  German machine guns and mortar rounds began flying.  With the exception of one hit, the mortar was largely ineffective the entire game. The machine gun, with it's position on the second floor of the station, began a deadly barrage that last a good part of the game.  Its 45 degree arc of fire out the window limited its targets, but those targets were decimated.  Poor rolls by the Swiss medics did  not help matters.  The Orange Swiss, after much deliberation, decided to send a tunneling unit ahead.  This was the first battle in the campaign that allowed tunneling.

Turns 5-8
The Swiss continued to slowly work the flank, but the lack of adequate medics were depleting their numbers.  The Red Swiss movement in the woods attracted a lot of German attention, and again, it wasn't the lack of tactics on the Swiss, it was the messiah-like ability of the Bier Nurse to resurrect all the German casualties that put them in a pickle.
The Germans Fend Off a Swiss Attack from the Woods
The Tan Swiss were getting picked apart.  However, the Bicycle Tank finally began firing into concentrations of Germans and dealing decent casualties. With the only weapon that could take out the tank ordered for indirect fire, it was better to move the troops  defending visible positions, than have them all wiped out.
The Swiss Bicycle Tank Finally Lays Down Covering Fire
Around turn, the few Swiss reinforcements arrived. Despite different target numbers, they all showed up at the same time.  Swiss Askari Colonial Rifles and Native Cavalry came charging down the left flank to support the withering Tan.  Also, making his first appearance in the campaign, it's the outhouse Wizard!  The outhouse was  well behind the German lines and with one good shot available before he had to run of/get gunned  down, he chose a German Bier Stein Grenadier rather than the officer next to him.   Perhaps he was too concerned with the cleanliness of the accommodations.

Finally, on turn 8, the engine sounded.  The German player rolled a 4, and play continued.

Turns 9-12
With the train almost ready to go, the Germans fell back to the rail line to prevent  the Swiss victory conditions.  The first wave of Swiss were pretty chewed up and the second wave was rolling in fast, but late.   The tunneling group of Orange Swiss melee specialists made it within 5 inches of the tracks before popping out and getting slaughtered by the defending German rifles.  The heavy machine gun was pulled from its position to be sent on to the train, but the remaining Germans hiding in buildings popped out to form a wall of lead to neutralize the Native fighters.  On turn12 I was forced to call it.  The Swiss did not have significant forces to break through and seize the train.

As I had stated during game #5 Counter-Attack, I miscalculated not only the German forces for that battles, but rolled fewer dice for the machine gun.  That turned a close battle into a rout, so I designed this scenario to appease my sense of fairness.  This scenario is designed not to be balanced in a typical attack/defend scenario.  The Swiss forces should be exhausted, the Germans are trying to load as much equipment as possible, and the pictures I've seen of the rail depot involve some very sparse terrain.  It should be an easy German victory, unless the Swiss did some significant tunneling.  Multiple small teams of tunnelers, with a few harassing shooters up above  could drive the Germans crazy.  Plus a 1 in 6 chance of  tunnel collapse is still better than a 2 in 6 chance of getting shot at mid range with poor medics.

I chalk this up as a minor German victory.  For the second half of the campaign, the Swiss will earn bonuses on the variable attachment table as if they won the Longido Mountain portion (which they did).  The German effort to send what they could to Tanga will earn them a +1 or -1 adjustment on their variable attachment table.  If the train had managed to leave turn 8 or 9, I may have upped that to +2/-2 to reflect fewer casualties.

I stole the scenario idea from Tim's Miniature Wargaming Blog.  I'll let you the reader try to find the scenario, it's worth the "research.". If we play non-Tanga games in the future, he has a few more set-ups I'd love  to try out.  He was using Contemptible Little Armies for rules, so movement, weapons range, and morale are treated completely different.  Of course the biggest fault of mine is that we had the big table at the con to play with and I wanted to use every inch, if possible.

Next up in the Tanga Campaign:  The amphibious assault on the port city of Tanga commences... someday.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Mepacon Spring 2012

ViscountEric... Has returned... To Mepacon.

It's been a full year and I've missed the two 10th anniversary galas so it's been too long. This time I added a new dynamic to the equation.

I brought my wife.

My lovely wife Michelle is most certainly NOT a gamer. Sure she has played Fluxx and Apples to Apples, and even figured out the basics of Magic, but she traditionally just rolls her eyes and lets me do my thing.
This time I had her come up with me use her sparingly to carry stuff for my Gnome Wars game, hang out for auction and raffle, grab a bite, and we could pass the hell out in the hotel room without any children to bother us for the first time in three years.

Going to a con with my non-gamer wife creates a whole new experience. She is a self-professed t-shirt whore and even though they are con t-shirts, six years of old Mepacon shirts beckoned to her. Finding out the t-shirts came in child's small and onesies meant Maja , Millie, and our friend's little one Alex, got ones too.

We got to the con at 1pm with just enough time to pick up my badge, unload the car, and set up my game. The problems began to arise. First, there was no GM badge. Second, my event was not even listed on the "muster wall" of events! Third, all senior staff were off site having lunch.

By the time 2pm rolled around, all was resolved, and we got center table in the ball room. The actual Gnome Wars write up will be for another post.

For the con itself, attendance looked to be a little lower than usual, or else I peaked into the Organized Play room every time they were on break. D&D, as expected, was the champion, although there was a Toon game that not only was full, but had three standby players.

From conversing with other players, Dreadfleet seemed to have a good following. There was also a very nice Mordheim city display, although I was unable to view it closely as they had renowned author, perennial Guest of Honor, and salesman extraordinaire CJ Henderson next to them, and that is a dance I only perform when I'm ready.  The second I spotted his table in the ballroom, I warned my wife, yet she did not heed my warnings.

Speaking of dealers, it was pleasant.surprise to see CJ, plus a full row of dealers:  The Portal, some guys who only focus on Fantasy Flight boardgames, and the Keep.  It's the first time I had seen the Keep there, and I was pleasantly surprised by the selection.  In general, though, LOTS of boardgames, and Portal had a full line of 4e and other items at 20% off.

The game wrapped up a half hour early, I snagged up some raffle tickets and an auction card for the famous "everything starts at a buck" auction.  I had brought up a box of stuff out of the garage to sell, but alas, I could not find anything to replace it with!  First off, the buyout prices were way too high.  Second, even when they were, like a complete 1st Edition Battlesystem boxed set with a number of extra photocopied pieces glued to chits for only $3, my practical mind overrode my gamer hoarder mentality by saying,
"when am I going to play with this crap?"

An early breakfast and no lunch caught up to us, and about 2/3 of the way into the raffle, I just handed my tickets and auction  card to my friend Tom and the Mrs.and I headed over to Damon's Grill for dinner.  More thanks to Tom, who gave us a $15.00 off voucher as we left.  An appetizer dinner, a few drinks, and a call to check on the kids later, and we were content with the world.

Even better, Tom didn't use my auction card to buy anything.

Up until 8:45pm, I was stuck with the embarrassing fact that my wife had spent more money at the dealers than I had! Middle of the afternoon, she came to the table with a copy of Family Fluxx and a giant d20!  With the auction over, my wife went into the above-mentioned t-shirt frenzy and I decided to possibly buy something.

The gentleman at The Keep was a nice guy and running a decent promotion: Buy one item at listed price and get a second of equal or lesser value for 50% off.  Even with that I had to suffer through some douchebags "haggling"  with him to get some higher end boardgames for below the distributor's cost, much less the dealer's.   Let's just say that I have their names jotted down and if they ever attempt to jump in one of my con games, I'll kindly ask them to go play something else.  Bragging about online prices will only ostracize you from the land of brick and mortar stores, and I think the fate of that store will not rest on the $2 profit on                a game that cost the dealer 15 times that to purchase at wholesale.

 The Portal, The FFG guy,and The Keep in the Corner

 The Auction/Raffle and the other side of  The Portal

Anywho, the spoils:
  • A plush d20 and d10 "for the kids"  I'll throw in another giant d20 my wife purchased.
  • Mouseguard: Winter 1152 and Legends of the Guard.  More "mouse books" to tell stories to my daughter Maja.
As I missed the morning session, I did miss the traditional paint and take, so here's a quick snap of some elementals that paint and take coordinator Tom Carpenter was working on:

As we planned this as a "weekend" away, this was the first time I had stayed at the Ramada in Clarks Summit.  Clean rooms, nice staff, sufficient towels, although I have had better Continental breakfasts at generic hotels before.

We did one more swing through the ballroom, dealt with CJ and picked up Central Park Knight, and we headed to an extremely loud Waffle House for breakfast, then some grocery shopping and then to return home to make sure the kiddos didn't burn down the house.

So that's right true believers, I got through a Mepacon without picking up any random RPG tome, rather a pile of t-shirts, some giant dice, two collected comics collections, and a mythos-related novel.  

Mepacon Fall 2012  (Mepacon XXV?) will be November 9-11 at the same location.  If I do go, I have requests to run a old Mepacon favorite:  Burning Plastic.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Like JD Power, only more awesome

The HMGS, Inc Newsletter is out and the award winners for Cold Wars were printed. I won't hold those in suspense any longer...

The Annual HMGS "BOB WATTS AWARD" for "BEST KIDS GAME": “Gnome Wars: Surf and Turf” by Jim Stanton, Steven Stanton, and the Stout Gnomes.
A couple little comments in regards to this. First off, congrats to Jim and Steve (and Stout Gnomes both Canadian and domestic). Second, it's not an unusual event. I do believe Jim has a nice shelf of Best Kids Game awards from past cons. It's the best thing the judges can offer (outside of Gnomish pirates during a power outage) under the belief that an actual historical game should win the "real" awards. Finally, the "Surf and Turf" was the Friday afternoon game, and nothing compared to the Saturday mega-game.
And one could wonder why I'm planning a Samoan extravaganza with "real" figures for Cold Wars '14. I may substitute the minis with gnomes halfway through just to prove a point.
The other award winners:
1. Best of Show: James Grotto and Tony Venturino and the Metropolitan Wargamers for their series of “sand  games”- “South of Caplainerie, Normandy 1944, “ “Mannerheim Line 1939,” “Ukraine 1941,” and “Hill 41, along the Gela-Niscemi 1943” (20mm WWI/WWII) The Sandbox Game, I believe.
2. Best "1812: World at War" Theme Event: "The battle of Shevardino" and “The Battle of Borodino” by David Waxtel and NJCON (25mm Napoleonic)
4. HMGS Legion of Honor Battle Star Awards:
 “Goodbye to Guns or All’s Quiet on the Ruritanian Front, 1918” by Jeff Wasileski and Nick Wasileski (28mm Pulp).
 “Russia, 1813” by Mike Tyson.
5. ‘Pour Encourager Les Autres’ (PELA) Awards: Selected from all miniatures events throughout the
Convention, with an emphasis on historical events

 “Prairie Grove December 7, 1862” by Paul Olszanski (15mm ACW)
 “Thanksgiving Comes to Schlegel’s Ferry” BY Eric Schlegel and HAWKS (25mm Pike and Shot).
 “St. Patrick’s Day comes to Schlegel’s Ferry” by James “Tank” Nickle and HAWKS (25mm Inter-War).
 “Fortress Pacific” by Steve Robinson and WAGS (25mm WWII).
 “Race across France 1944” by Joshua Osgood, Van Osgood, and the Reading Area Wargamers (28mm
 “Sky Galleons of Mars” by David Kasper, Rick Dunn, and NOWS (28mm VSF).
 “Saturday Night’s Alright for . . . Sacking a Town” by Buck Surdu, Todd Harland-White, and HAWKS
(28mm Age of Piracy).
Now, no sour grapes on this category, and the HAWKS do an awesome job, but the Schlegel's Ferry games aren't exactly historical events. So, giving the pirate game a historical nod, that makes three of the events non-historical. This either means these event far exceed the expectations of wargamers, or the historical GMs need to work on their presentation. Grumpy grognards, perhaps?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

(Gnome Wars) The Michael Lung Gallery #12: Headhunters

It's as good a time as any to post the unofficial rules for Mike Lung's unofficial Headhunters we played with at Cold Wars .  I'm calling them Headhunters because I can never remember the proper way to spell Gnomibals, Cangnomibals, er... Gnomish Cannibals!

I did post "Samoan" stats earlier during my Battle of Apaula Heights AAR, but these seem a bit more polished.
Max move: 12".  Units that have ranged weapons that wish to use them must lose 6" of movement to do so.

Ranged Weapons:            Range                                    To-hit
Archers                           7"-12"                                    4,5, 6
                                      13"-24"                                     5,6

Melee                               Type                                     Melee Die
                                       Chieftain                                    d10
                                       Witch Doctor                            d8
                                       Spearmen                                 d6
                                       Mango Grenadier                      d4
                                       Hula Girl                                   d4
                                       Artillery Crew                           d4
                                       Archers                                    d4

Special Rules:                 
  • No Mercy Against the Mainland:  Headhunters fighting traditonal gnome units will fight one die higher against their opponents (d6 will fight as d8).
  • Tip of the Spear:  Spearman may stop 1" in front off an opposing unit and throw spears at them before closing into melee.  Spears only hit on a 6 on d6.   Headhunters may target specific figures with this ability, but only one spear may be thrown at each figure.  Excess spears are simply ignored
  • Witch Doctor: During healing the witch doctor may move up to 18" to heal  downed figures.  Healing a figure will exhaust three inches of movement.  The Witch Doctor is also considered an officer/nco in terms of morale.
  • Archers may ignore cover modifiers from walls, trenches, and similar structures.  They are unable to fire at anything with hard cover over them.
  • Mango Grenadier: Treat as a Bier Stein Grenadier.
  • Hula Dancer:  Max movement of 18" during healing, does not need to refill.
  Coconut Catapult                            Range                            To-hit
                                                          6-12"                            4, 5, 6
                                                         13-24"                              5, 6
                                                         25-36"                                 6

If the catapult misses, roll d6+8"and use a spinner to determine deviation.  Area of effect of a missed shot is 1" diameter.

If the catapult hits, roll d6 for number of coconuts fired.  Then roll d8" for each coconut deviation (first coconut hits the targeted area.)

The Coconut Catapult crew requires a minimum of three dedicated crew members.  If there are not at least three dedicated crew, the catapult goes silent.  Up to three other headhunters can help with loading the catapult.  Each additional headhunters adds a +1 to the coconuts fired roll (max of 6). 

Point Cost                                       Figure                                          Cost
                                                    Chieftain                                          20

                                                    Witch Doctor                                   35
                                                    Spearmen                                        15
                                                    Mango Grenadier                             10
                                                    Hula Girl                                          30
                                                    Archers                                           15
                                                    Coconut Catapult (+3 crew)            60
                                                           Additional Dedicated Crew      15 each

Cannibals, Polynesians, Samoans, Bad Muthas

Coconut Catapult

A high-protein diet

Monday, April 16, 2012

More Cold Wars Pics

I finally got the photos off the borrowed camera, and I am a bit disappointed that there were a lot of duplicate pics. Without further adieu, remaining pictures from Cold Wars, with some possibly redundant commentary.
Gnome  Mega-game: Everyone arrives at New Providence within two turns.  The British in the fort get a little mortar-happy 

Friday Afternoon Game:  The cannibals get ready to serve the Swiss.  Note the do-nothing Germans in upper-left hand corner.
Friday Afternoon Game: The ships.
An actual sandbox game. I believe this one won best in show. Seems like a whole lot of work for a con game.
Battle of Apaula Heights: Before Deployment
More Gratuitous  Gingerbread Men Pic

Apaula Heights:  The British fall back against the Samoan Bum Rush
Apaula Heights:  A few British stayed on the roof and took out a number of  Samoans.  The Samoans wasted considerable time and casualties to clear out that building.
Apaula Heights:  Samoan rebels ready themselves against (dismounted) American Cav
Apaula Heights:  The British Officer rallies the Gingerbread Men for a counter-attack.
Apaula Heights: The Gingys overwhelm the Samoans
Mega-game:  Shipwreck
Mega-game: Treasure Island set-up
Mega-game:  New Providence set-up
Mega-game: The one German unit accomplishes their mission by delivering the mortar to the HQ
Mega-game: Germans gun down some overly aggressive Highlanders
And a fantastic paint job on some Japanese by Joe and Joe from Livingston,  New Jersey

Friday, April 13, 2012

Steve Jackson Games OGRE Kickstarter

I had previously mentioned Steve Jackson Games' desire to put together a massive Designer Edition to the OGRE boardgame here.  It's been awfully quiet over the last year, and then this week they made an announcement on  You know, the website geared towards towards start-ups getting their dream projects done, like the Miskatonic School for Girls. 

It does make sense.  SJG doesn't have an online pre-order system, and at $100 a set, stores are very tenative when ordering them, even if customers come in with cash deposits or payments in full.  With Kickstarter they were able to gauge support, bring in some additional capital to pay for a few higher end parts of the project that were just not feasible in a sensible budget.

The initial goal was $20,000 within a month to ensure that the game would be on game shelves before Christmas, very strong game shelves as the set now comes in at a hefty 14 pounds!  It took awhile, but that goal was achieved... within 40 minutes!

With 27 days to go, they've amassed $122,781 from 952 different backers.  Check out the Kickstarter project to see what has been added to the set due to this support, and see if any of the support levels suit your needs.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

(League of Gnomes) The British, Part Two: History

As promised, I'm going to provide a little unofficial history on the British, to better explain their military standing.  I am going to briefly cover some early gnomish history to set things up.  Gnomish pre-history will be posted onto a separate page for reference sometime in the near future.   A Gazetteer of the Gnome World is still in the works and this might facilitate it's completion.

The British: An Unofficial History
Throughout the millenia that gnomes have existed, they cycle through three phases of civilization. First, a large group of gnomes get struck with wanderlust and begin exploring the world. Second, the gnomes experience a retraction, many of those explorers either set down roots, or they go back to their home villages. Finally, the Gnomish Wizards begin a societal crackdown, barring gnomish movement and breaking off communication with the new settlements, until the distant lands were forgotten and the wanderlust started up again. 

When a group of French gnomes known as the Britons crossed the Chanel #5, like all gnomish explorers, they were amazed to discover the land alaready populated with gnomes. They were a poor, weak folk who use subsistence farming and surface mining to survive. These unwashed were happy to see the Britons and willingly gave them whatever meager hospitality they could offer. Despite a dreary climate and horrible local food, the Britons set up shop, lumbering the primevil forest, and teaching the unwashed underground mining.

Two things surprised the Britons. First, they discovered ruins with the appearance of the Gnoman Empire and a few of their secrets hidden within. Second was the appearance of the Scots.

The Scots poured out of the highlands and tried lay waste to area, as they had done countless times before. The Unwashed fled instantly, but the Britons held their ground, much to the surprise of the highlanders. The Britons adapted their tactics to drive the highlanders, decimating their ranks with wave after wave of volley fire.

As the Britons entered the Scottish highlands, they were met by an odd site, a number of the Scottish clan leaders accompanying one lone Gnoman Centurion. This Gnoman, Petronius Balboa, was the leader of the Scots and admitted his admiration of the Britons' tactics and a desire for peace. The Briton's leaders desired a continuation of hostilities, but one Briton general, Adrian Hasty, convinced the others that their resources and men were stretched to their limit. The ensuing treaty formed an agreed border between the Scots and a formally recognized Country of Britain. Both sides would build a short wall on this border as a symbolic gesture, naming it Adrian's Rockwall.

With the Scottish threat contained for now, they attempted to expand to the rumored Emerald Island located across Chanel #6. The gnomes they met there called themselves Leprechauns, and were just as vicious and far more magical than the highlanders. The British evacuated quickly, but they did make an alliance with the rebel Orangeman on the island. The British fashion sense also left a mark on the Irish, as they would change from wild men to dignified Leprechauns in top hats and coats.

Surrounded by angry Irish, possibly angry Scots, rumors of angry Viking gnomes, and one relatively safe water border with France, the British retracted and focused internally. They built up their agriculture and industry, and educated the Unwashed Gnomes. From this point forward, they were called the Wash, which in the local dialect turned into Welsh. They were still the lowest caste in the social system, but the British admired their hard work and attention to detail when building contraptions, and most suprisingly, ships.

When the next era of wanderlust occurred, the British rulers looked at other ways to expand their empire. With vast forests and surrounded by the seas, the British focused on shipbuilding. Their bigger faster ships allowed them to dominate the shipping market, opening up cheaper, faster trade with the outlying areas of the Gnomish Homeland. To expand the markets to use their shipping, they sponsored expeditions to the far reaches of the Seven Seas. Explorers, bolstered by a squad of marines, would investigate about 5-10 miles inland to ensure no hostile forces or dangerous geography would affect their choice of a port. Harbor facilities would be constructed, and an open invitation to all nationalities to come and live in the new town under relative freedom.

As the port was established, the explorers would venture out until they found the next suitable harbor candidate. In some cases, such as along the African Coast, the British ports served as trade stations, rest stops for longer voyages, or even drop off points for cargo. Few people ventured into the wilderness. In other instances, such as New Scotland, mass emigration forced the British out of the town's governance, but their shipping interests still dominated the area economically.

As time past, and the gnomish desire to withdraw back to their homeland kicked in, they sometimes would give governance to the local races, rather than the gnome colonists. It is little written, but some British interests were given to Teddy Bear loyalists, and tax revenues would sail back to Britain. The system worked until a) Teddy Bear and Gnome Pirates discovered the secret treasury on New Providence in the Azores. and b) the Teddy Bears in New Britain began an insurrection against the Teddy Bear overlords, who were far more draconian than the British ever were. The Picnic for Independence sparked off a series of revolts around the world, not only in the trade colonies, but spreading to Gnome homelands. When the dust settled, the cycle of gnomish civilization has seemed to stop on exploration, and the world has never been the same.

More Recently
When the dark spectre of Nomepoleon I and the French covered the Gnomish homelands, the British... just sat there, with as many guns as they could muster pointed towards the French coastline. Nomepoleon I did not believe in a navy, so most British claims were unaffected by the Total War of the evil French.

After the first Nomepoleon was brought to justice.British interests in commerce and exploration exploded. Outposts in Africa, South America, and the Pacific were expanded. Relations with Chinese, Japanese, and Indian gnome were establish. It is during this time that both Swiss and British explorers "rediscovered" the Sikh gnomes and brought them back into the fold.

While there has not been a prolonged war between them in over 100 years, the British, Irish, and Highlanders do have the occasional series of skirmishes. None of the nations fully mobilize, but there have been scares.

In the Modern gnomish age, the British Trade Empire stretches everywhere. Their frigates and steamships are still considered the fastest in the world, although the American and German navies are doing their best to contest that claim. The British fancy themselves the world's maritime police force. All reports of piracy are met head on, with no mercy granted those found guilty.

Recently, the only instance of British involvement on European soil among the nations of the Gnomish Homeland was during the Cry-Me-A River War with Russia.

As the other nations are finally filling in the vast gaps between British ports along the frontier, the British are getting more and more involved in local politics. They have bolstered many of their local marine garrisons with British Highlanders "civilized" mercenary versions of their northern neighbors. Reports of African ports sending out Teddy Bear redcoats to defend the outer claims, or rescue British civilians, have trickled back to the homelands. Finally, a few British claims do have Sikh loyal to the British Coin.

Of course, dear Gnomies, any other information about the elusive British would be appreciated.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

(League of Gnomes) The British, Part One: Military

There has been a lot going on with Gnome Wars within the last few months:  New Rules, new nationalities, even new figs for the older nationalities.  I thought it might be appropriate to cover some of the "unloved" nationalities under the League of Gnomes title. We'll cover the nationality in the rulebook, go over the pro and cons and provide some tactics and specific uses for them in your game.  Today I start with the undermanned British.

In most Great War-era games, the British would get a huge chunk of space dedicated to them.  Yet, the Swiss-German dynamic has left them, well, largely unnecessary.  In Gnome Wars 2nd Edition, units with the specific moniker of "British" take up exactly two pages, British Marines and Britsh Highlanders.  Even in the Mega-games, the British have made two notable appearances:  (1) British Dog Handlers chasing pirates and (2) British Highlander figs acting as officers for Sikh units.

I have nothing but my fuzzy recollections and recent history to base this one, but the Marines appeared first.  The metal for them just seemed a bit older when I was working them off.  The Marines seem to be an attempt not to add units to the deadly fields of molten cheese carnage, but rather as an effective foil to the popular gnome pirates.

Marines come in three types:
Regular Infantry:  Your standard infantry, with the bonuses listed below.
Officer (figure not available):  Armed only with a saber.
Dog Handler: Good in melee, and can control up to three dogs.
Border Terrier: The dogs, good in melee, additional bonuses to attack rats which can be associated with pirates.
Dog Handler and Border Terrier
British Marine

Pretty straightforward.  Standard movement/rifle fire/melee for the infantry.   British do get volley fire and "sea legs" (ignoring penalties from firing from a normal moving vehichle or sailing vessel). 

No medics, no musician, and just one leader (although due to lack of figure). You can easily see why you never saw someone field a unit of marines prior to Cold Wars 2012.

Then we have the British Highlanders:
Regular Infantry w/ d8 melee
Officer with Pistol only
Bagpiper use the Scottish Highlander one, I guess
These are the wimpy cousins to the traditional Highlanders. They can form square and volley fire, and per the reference sheet, you can apparently use a Scottish Bagpiper figure to gain its benefits.

Compared to the Scots, they're not much worse. Square and Volley Fire make them passable, plus they're armed with rifles and not blunderbuss.   It's not a horrible loss to have no melee specific infantry and no grenadiers for cheap points, but the loss of the berserker seems to take out the heart of the unit. Instead of a thundering horde of chaos, I picture the British Highlanders as Redcoats at Isandlwana, systematically firing at Zulus.

In fact, they're even wimpy Sikhs, as they do check for morale, and with only one leader, could be easily dispatched.

We're Sikhs with Common Sense!

Why would anyone want to play British? Very little variety, plus, versus the core nations (Swiss/Germans), or even the secondary ones, they would be easily outmatched on the battle field.  I saw the lack of a medic doom a unit during my Battle for Apaula Heights game at Cold Wars.  

For starters, any game with a port or naval theme would benefit from the British, and by benefit, I mean they would kick everyone's ass.   Fighting pirates on the docks, a fortified defense in their British consulate, or even driving around the back of a truck during a riot, the British player would have fun and effective.  And my personal experience of losing a key brig at Cold Wars aside, a full squad of Marines defending a boat would be marvelous.

****Big Bonus Point:  Even pirates don't get the Sea Legs advantage! ****

The real detriment to the British is the lack of a point list in the the new edition of Gnome Wars. It's not that bad to compute

Marine/Highlander Officer: 20
Marine/Highlander: 15
Bagpiper: 20
Dog Handler: a little tricky 15 + 15 points per dog (max 3 dogs per handler, let's not use more than two handlers as friendly gesture, m'kay?)

One little tweak that I might add is to allow ANY British to man any type of support weapon, both in developing a unit, as well as taking over opponent's weapons during the heat of battle. Some weapons, like heavy mortars, requiring at least two of the original crew members to be alive for it to operate.  All British troops should be sufficiently crossed-trained to handle any "unique" event.  During our Cold Wars games, the British easily handled firing cannons from ships and heavy mortars from the fort. I would give the British Highlanders light and heavy machine guns to the list as well.

Marines defending the Legation, and an unknown silver woman.

I may also give the British some tactical advantage during campaign games, when in a port setting.  I might allow them to set-up first, let the other units deploy, and then allow them to re-deploy to a better fighting position.  That would be under my house rules, with nothing official.

Next: Part Two: Some definitely unofficial history on the British

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Happy Easter!

In celebration of the arrival of jelly bean pooping rabbits, zombie jews, or a legit excuse to get out of the house (sorry hun, gotta cut the lawn), here is the new lawn game we'll be playing at Historicon.

HG Wells never imagined this.  If he had, just imagine how many more books he would have written.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Long term convention planning

Those with delicate ears, please cover them for awhile...

After nine days of battling constant waves/strains of the stomach bug, I've decided that children are an absolute bear to raise.  I would sell them on the spot, if I didn't love them so much.

Okay, the fairer gamers can return. It wasn't as bad as originally planned.

My disease-wracked body took a moment of glee to discover people who pre-registered for my Gnome Wars game at Mepacon in two weeks.  Always makes the trip worthwhile when there are actual people who want to play!  That did get me thinking about the HMGS cons and their upcoming themes.

Jim's Gnome-stavaganzas that we know and love?  Some of the events in the past have easily fit into the convention theme (Tanga, Pirates), but many times it's based on available resources and what does Jim feel like playing/lugging down from Connecticut.

I greatly enjoyed gearing my game at Fall-in! towards to the con theme of the US Cavalry.  It just happened to coincide with the release of the American gnomes from Brigade, but it also allowed me to do some research and put together something as unique as the Battle of Yellowstone.

Looking into the future of HMGS cons, there aren't that many opportunities to take advantage of the themes as I'd like:

  • Historicon '12: Colonial Warfare: Imperialism and Gunboat Diplomacy  1837-1937.  Of course, the one theme that I would want to show up as a admission-paying player is the one that moves to Virginia, and I'm one of the wienies not willing to travel.
  • Fall-in! '12:  The Wars of 1812.  A little early  for gnomes  Perhaps if Canadians make an appearance we can have some border-raid fun?
  • Cold Wars '13:  Women Warriors:  3000  years of women in combat.  Excuse me?  Now the more I think about it, the more options open up.   However, we again have no viable gnome option.  Oh well, we have a cruise a month before that, I'm sure I can whip something up!
  • Historicon '13:  The Scots at War.  Now we're talking!  Still not a viable option if we're still talking Virginia, but it's a theme Gnome Wars can handily do.  Heck, half the games turn into Scot-love fests!
  • Fall in '13 is listed  yet, but
  • Cold Wars '14:  Forgotten History:  Not so famous battles and conflicts.  It's like they made an announcement,"This year's theme is ViscountEric!"  With Gnomes this is easy, and I could easily duplicate my Battle of Yellowstone and Battle for Apaula Heights games.  However, I will now make an official pledge
I, ViscountEric, hereby pledge to run a historically accurate Second Samoan Civil War game at Cold Wars 2014, using actual historical miniatures as closely authentic as I can find.
 I'll cover the figure options in another blog post.  Knowing my luck, it'll be just in time for child #3 to come along.  We have timing with kids almost as great as our timing with plagues during holidays.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

(eBay) Oh my head

Recently, I've been perusing eBay with some regularity, dropping dirt cheap bids on worthy items and rarely winning.

Before I go into my boring story, go check out mikeshardlemonade .  Numerous questions surround the seller, but rest assured these were not the items I was bidding on.  If the Hoth "diarama" is still up, it is a thing of beauty.

While perusing one guy's auctions, I stumbled upon some Legions of Steel.  He had some loose Machines, some loose UNE, a couple of blisters and a some tiles/unpuched chits.  Shipping was a bit steep, but I figured if I snagged at least two the costs would be more reasonable, plus I could be aggressive with the Machines lot.  It had a bunch of regular Nightmares, and those guys are fetching $8.00 for a blister of two.

As luck would have it, I snagged up the Machines and random tiles/accessories and they arrived yesterday.  First off, this is how he packaged them:

A spare blue box?  That explains how they were going to ship unpunched chits safely.  Then I made my "d'oh" moment of the week.  A blue box with unpunched tiles, chits, doors, door stands, AND a mini copay of the blue box Rules of Engagement?  Another auction of "random" Machines and another of UNE?

Sonuvabitch, some dude broke down the blue box and sold it piecemeal!

While the "Over a pound of metal" Black boxes had an Assault Fiend, a horde of Nightmares, 2 Plasma Projector, and a squad of humans, the blue box was more of a miss-mash of figs

The ironic thing is, had he auctioned off everything together, he probably could have netted a far more handsome payday.

The one item of nostalgia to me was the free Inferno poster that came with the LOS boxed set.

Monday, April 2, 2012

NJCon Events Posted

I don't know how long the events have been up on the website, but general registration opened today on .

The variety of games is very acceptable in my book: 55 Days at Peking, someRussian Civil War, Roarke's Drift, even a couple zombie games, with just the right mixture of giants.  Yeah, and a something called Flames of War is having a tournament apparently.  Sounds silly.

And to ensure I keep the title of my blogs, here are the two events Jim "The Gnome Guy" is running on Saturday:

Gnome Wars: The Brawl for Lunkhead’s Brewery
Description: Upset over the rising cost of beer Swiss and Scottish gnomes attack Lon the Lunkhead’s brewery to secure their stash for the winter. Can Lon hold out, or will he have to make a run for it?
GM(s): Jim Stanton    Rules: Gnome Wars   Scale: 28mm   Saturday Afternoon

The Brewery, good clean fun, so long as one likes alcohol.

Gnome Wars: The Battle of Saragarhi
Description: Northwest Frontier Province - 1897. A signalling relay post called Saragarhi stands on a bluff mid-way between Fort Lockhart and Fort Gulistan to provide heliographic communications between them. On September 12th, hordes of enemy laid siege to Fort Lockhart and Saragarhi, with the aim of overrunning the fort while at the same time preventing Saragarhi for signaling for help.Twenty one Sikhs from the 36th Sikhs under the inspiring leadership of their detachment commander, Havildar Ishar Singh, resolve not to hand over the signal post to the enemy and seek safety elsewhere, go to the walls and wait for the assault. Havildar Singh knows well that Saragarhi will fall, because a handful of gnomes in that make-shift fort of stones & mud walls can not stand the onslaught of a six hundred enemy. These plucky gnomes know that they will go down, but they have resolved to do so fighting to the last.
GM(s): Jim Stanton   Rules: Gnome Wars   Scale: 28mm   Club or Sponsor: Brigade Games
No. of Players: 8   Saturday Evening

This one Jim has been talking about for at least three cons, so it's nice to see it scheduled.   If any group deserves to fight their version of Thermopoyle on the Gnome Front, it should be the Sikhs.  Can't wait to see them die, er, I mean fight to the man!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Sea Dracula!

Like a poor child from the hood who made good, I must occasionally go back to and remind myself why I don't read/post there anymore.  I don't even know if it's still the largest "generic" rpg forum, but that title brings out the same issue.  Lowest common denominator gamers and the questions they spew forth.  Jim Jones-style flavor of the week game addictions.  And let's not go into their Tangency forum (I avoid it like the plague), where the dominant group's ultra-leftist rants make me want to hate women, gays, minorities, the Earth, puppies, and tasty homegrown veggies.  Don't do it man, it just ain't worth it.

However, like finding a suitcase full of cash after working in a landfill after 20 years, I come upon pure gems from time to time.

The thread Silliest RPG Ever is another hum-drum list of everyone's opinions.  Outside of a few people who just don't get it, or simply want to add to the post count, it's a solid listing of great (and mostly silly) games: Toon,Og, Pandemonium, Kobolds Ate My Baby (All Hail King Torg!), all the standard fare.

And then, a few unusual choices came out, the best of which was Sea Dracula.

If you're familiar with The Extraordinary Adventures of Baron Munchausen, then Sea Dracula is right up your alley.  In fact, like Munchausen, I would treat this more like an role-playing party  game than a true RPG.

I've spent the last twenty minutes sitting here and trying to explain the game, but I just can't.  Let's just combine Baron Munchausen, Animal Lawyers, and Dance Offs.  Mix in a blender with a twist of lime and you have Sea Dracula.

PS:  I'm adding dance offs to all my  games: IOU, Hackmaster, GnomeWars, even Checkers.

And since it's appropriate to mention on this post:  Viscount Eric's Favorite Silly Games:

  1. Toon:  Seriously, you can do anything with it.
  2. Og:  The prehistoric cavemen game.  Never played it, but if one can make run an entire convention time slot playing with a ten word vocabulary, it's sheer awesomeness
  3. Risus: not any higher, because it could be used to play a serious game, but who would want to go around and ruin that?
  4. IOU:  same reasons as Risus, plus the GURPS stick in the muds still try to run it "right".
  5. Paranoia:  The Computer has been my homeboy since 1988, but you ain't cleared for 'dat, G!