Sunday, March 31, 2013

New EU Regulations Cripple Miniatures Industry

One day people will realize just how ridiculous the European Union is, unfortunately it will take something bigger than toy industry regulations for it to happen.

I remember when New York State wanted to ban lead and the miniatures companies panicked and produced new compounds, like Rallidium. I can't imagine what effects this has for Games Workshop, Foundry, Perry, and Hasslefree.

The one thing I don't always remember is just how many hours my fellow European bloggers are ahead of me. ;-)

Happy Easter!

For those of you who celebrate, have a blessed Easter.  For the rest of you, go out and get some sun!  It's been a long cold Winter.  Enjoy the sun!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Zombiesmith Quar Tanks

It's been a month of third-party vehicles and contraptions for Gnome Wars for sure!

Zombiesmith announced the release of two new vehicles for the Quar line:

The first tank is a nice compact variant of a classic WWI tank.  The second one looks more like a mobile artillery emplacement, and I love it.

Check out for more info.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Empire of the Dead Steam Gyrocopter

Although I haven't supportedany, I've mentioned a number of Kickstarters that I deemed worthy of someone pitching in.

One that does NOT tickle my fancy is West Wind Production's Empire of the Dead, a 28mm minis game set in a "Dark and Gothic, Steampunk Victorian Empire."

I don't like the individual minis at all.  They remind me of the Darkstalkers video game, which was fun to play, but the characters were designed in that "I'm uber-cool, flashy, and spikey!  Wooo-oooo!" way.

Since Jim "The Gnome Guy" has been doing a number of conversions, this one item they're producing caught my eye.
The gyrocopter will be coming with it's own pilot, but with minor modification, I can imagine the German HMG figure piloting this.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Apathy of New Releases (April '13)

Between family life, daily blog postings, and actually getting to paint, I completely forgot that the next month's soliciations through Alliance, Game Trade Magazine was available.

Unfortunately, my column's title doesn't dissapoint me personally.  Apathy does that.

My Must Have List
In a post-tax return spending spree time, there's nothing that tickles my fancy

My Money is No Object ListI do have a couple of options here:

Koplow Games - Spotzee Dotzee $9.00 - Koplow is a survivor from ye olden days of gaming.  A family focused dice game?  Sure.  As a store, I'd see about a small rack of them.

Mayfair - Gangs of New York Board Game $35.00 - I love the concept, I just hope the mechanics are there.
Steve Jackson Games- OGRE Dice $6.95 -  You can never have enough OGRE dice!

My Imaginary Store List
For a second straight month, Alliance does a good job listing a lot of existing product again.   The only thing of note that I saw was the mother of all OGRE boxed sets was listed again, which means Alliance might have some inventory.  I sure as heck know it's not a reprint!

Antimatter Games
Deepwars  28mm underwater minis game. Mix Captain Nemo with the Little Mermaid, that's the feel I get from it.  I would love to know the difference between the Deluxe ($59.99)  versus Basic ($34.99) starter packs.  At least the rulebook goes for $29.99.

We didn't Playtest This At All  - card game for 2-10 players
We didn't Playtest This Either - standalone or expansion.
Card game of the month.  Get the equivilent of a display and sell like mad. By September the next big wacky card game is around and hopefully a solitary copy gets pushed to the back.

Formula De Expansion 4 - Buddh, India and a Baltimore street course.

Atlas Games
Ars Magica - Tales of Power

Battletech Field Manual 3145   $39.99
Shadowrun Crossfire                $49.95
Shadowrun Introductory Boxed Set $49.95
Shadowrun 5th Edition Core Rulebook  $59.99

The Walking Dead Card Game $15.00 - Another card game to get in five or six copies.  Hopefully this can be reordered when the next season is ready... and Christmas.

WORLD OF WARCRAFT TCG: TIMEWALKERS - REIGN OF FIRE - I usually mention this as CCGs usually sell and this still seems popular.  Big typo on the form though.  I really hope the boosters are $3.99 and the "Epic Packs" full of boosters and other accessories goes for $39.99
The Design Mechanism
Runequest Book of Quests $19.00
Runequest Monster Island $22.00
Holy Crap!  Runequest!

Evil Hat Productions
Spirit of the Century Race for the Hat Board Game  $30.00

Expeditious Retreat Press
Advanced Adventures #29 The Doom of Red Rauthim  $12.00

Fantas Flight Games

Goodman Games

Louis Porter Jr Design

Road Rally USA  $35.00

LEGEND RPG: THE SPIDER GOD’S BRIDE - Fully revised for the Legend RPG system,
The Spider-God’s Bride is a collection of ten blood-red, sword and sorcery adventures, inspired by the pulp era tales of Robert E. Howard and Clark Ashton Smith. Venture in the footsteps of Conan
the Cimmerian, Satampra Zeiros of  Uzuldaroum, Imaro of Nyumbani, and other fabled thieves, reavers, and slayers! Scheduled to ship in June 2013. MGP 8302 ..............................$29.99
I swear this was solicited before, but it still sounds awesome!

Nevermore publishing
MARS NEEDS MECHANICS - London, 1873 — The Royal Academy of Space Exploration has announced its intention to launch a mission to Mars by year’s end. In its quest to claim, fully explore, and map the great red planet, the Academy is holding recruitment competitions for various positions on the crew. In Mars Needs Mechanics, players represent engineers and tinkerers from all over the Empire competing for a spot on the crew of the H.M.S. Victoria VII. Scheduled to ship in May 2013.................  $40.00

Osprey Publishing
In the dark dungeons beneath Nazi  Germany, teams of occult experts delved into ancient and forbidden lore, searching for lost secrets of power. Ordered by Hitler to discover new weapons that he could unleash on his enemies, the occultists experimented with dark magics, mystical artifacts, and creatures thought only to exist in nightmare. This book tells the complete history of the Nazi occult programs, from their foundations in  Hitler’s early esoteric studies and the Nazi quests for the Ark of the Covenant, the Spear of Destiny, and the Holy Grail, through their experiments with lycanthrope  and zero-point energy. Scheduled to ship June 2013. OSP ..........................$17.95
Anything written by Hite is worth at least stocking, plus it's an amusing subject.
Oooh Ed Greenwood.  Worth a sale or two if your costumer base was out of diapers in the 80's and 90's
They continue to relase more product for their BONES lines, but they're not ignoring their metal lines.  I'd say with the huge BONES solicits, it's still 75% plastic/25% metal.  I was going to put the Chronoscope NOVA soldiers on my money is no object list as cheap bulk sci-fi soldiers/planetary police, but upon further inspection, they look like ass.  Their modern stuff is very hit and miss.

Big Bang Theory Clue!

Wizards of the Coast
Only WotC can reprint existing cards which should be relatively easy to obtain, but with new artwork and still sell millions. Perhaps not the normal cash cow, but budget some money for a case or seven.

I finally saw a good quanity of Zveda at Cold Wars, and it certainly needs a good display.  The boxes are designed to just melt into the walls of other models the hobby shop offers. Of note here are the Ninja Attack playset at  $50 and the Samurai Battles offered again at $80.  A good display and some examples of the figures and this could be veeeerrrrryyyy profitable.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

54mm Stable for Little People

Part of my treasures from Cold Wars every year is always something from the All the Kings Men booth.

I think it's out of guilt that I can't find the time or the players to play AWI.  Part of it may be that in a previous life almost twenty years ago, ATKM owner Ken Cliffe was editor of White Wolf Magazine and gave me my first gaming related "job" as one of the RPG line reviewers in the back of the magazine.

At recent cons, I've moved from buying up a unit at a time and tossing them into the box in the garage, never to see the light of day, to snagging up terrain: trees, river sets, and haystacks.  This year was their new unpainted stable in a lightweight foam resin.

Unlike the haystacks and the bridges, the stable is a bit big for gnomes.  I might be able to pull off a full sized barn, but even then the doors are enormous.  No worries, as I'll make this the centerpiece for the kid's Easter game this weekend.  Perhaps there shall be a "Battle at the Farm."
In a world of Little People, 30mm Gnomes are rather tiny
We do use a lot of Little People in the kids games (they are 2 and 4), and they just about a perfect size

The Highwaymen attempt to rob the Princess
One of the factors in purchasing this was that the foam resin felt like Styrofoam, but was very resilient against normal wear and tear.  It's a goner if the dog gets it, or I sit on it, but the kids are very good with Daddy's "gnomes" of all shape and sizes.

Painting wise, I had a few disasters.  Since the kids normally paint their own things while I do, I set them up first before getting mine ready.  However, when I finally got the chance to sit down, I discovered that they somehow snagged up all my new paintbrushes.  Gah!  Fortunately, I still had a few oversized brushes to add base coats and the six layers of drybrushing for the wood.    I got a lot of paint on other figures this weekend, but this is the only thing I completed.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Teddy's Rough Riders.... on Harleys?

While I've admitted being rather nonplussed about Alien Dungeon's Fanticide, the more I look at their second project, All Quiet on the Martian Front, the more I realize I just need to hit the lottery and take the plunge into 15mm Victorian/Great War Sci-Fi.

When I was at Cold Wars, I managed to take a couple bad pictures of the models at the Alien Dungeon booth.

Martian Walker

Baby Walkers?

Tanks and Artillery
While I love some of the 25-30mm Martian stuff that's out there, like Eureka's, 15mm is better suited for large scale warfare.  Plus the tanks and artillery are calling my name everytime I see them.   The Mark III Baldwins are just screaming Gnome Wars. 

The next thing to get me all in a dither were pictures and descriptions of the "Rough Riders on Early Harleys."  The pics are pretty basic (and they are 15mm, so they can't get too crazy):

Rough Riders - or "Teddy's Own," as they like to call themselves - are some of the bravest (some say foolhardy) volunteers in the army. Operating in small squadrons, they are equipped with grappling launchers. They ride at breakneck speeds on their Harley motorcycles around the feet of the advancing tripods. Once a few grapnels have landed in the works of the Martian machines, the Rough Riders race around in circles, binding the thing's legs together, and getting it to topple, or at the very least be stuck immobile. The tactic does work on occasion, at least enough to inspire more volunteers for the heavy losses incurred by these units.

So essentially the Rough Riders have turned into Snow Speeders toppling AT-ATs in Empire Strikes Back?


Saturday, March 23, 2013

NYC CoC #16: The Pennywell Hangmen, Part Three

For character backgrounds, check out The Pennywell Hangman, Part One

December 20th, 1923
The cars gassed up and everyone armed as a precaution, the investigators made their way across the GWB and towards Frank Hedges cabin near the Pennywell Arsenal.  By the time they got there, it was dark.  They parked out in the open and approached the lit cabin.  The door was unlocked but shut.

It was a small but comfy cabin.  A man was slumped face down on a kitchen table, surrounded by a pile of books, papers, and a bottle of bourbon with only a swig of backwash left.  No one could find a pulse  Everyone checked out the kitchen, the bedroom, and ultimately reached the back of the cabin, with a large stone fireplace and a large sitting chair.  Dr Wintermute turned to see the other side of the chair and saw a body, most of its head blown off from the sizable handgun. 

While he had probably seen some graphic things during his stint in the navy, many years prior, the sight of the apparent suicide sent him over the edge.  He had had enough of these people, and needed to be somewhere safe.  He stumbled out of the sitting room, pushing the other investigators out of the way, and out into the dark woods.

After watching the professor scramble off into the darkness, they rummaged through the papers.  On top was a suicide note from Frank, the decapitated gentleman in the chair.  He knew something was coming to get him, like the others, and he "didn't want to go the way of those gypsies."  Gypsies?  Some in the group did remember a a small group of gypsy wagons in the fields in the village outside of the base.

The rest of the papers were the amateur occult research of Frank Hedges, on a creature that gave a resemblance to the sketch Siobhan had drawn.  Historical, occult, and astrological sources were were listed as well as libraries.  Two things of note stood out in this semi-organized hodgepodge of notes.  One was an astrological chart plotting the constellation Aldebarren, which was scheduled to be at its zenith tomorrow night.  Second was some writing in Latin.  The experienced investigators hoped it was a chant or dispel.

While perusing the materials, they could hear a noise outside.  Peaking through the windows, they could see an even more visibly shaken Dr. Wintermute emerging from the woods at a brisk pace.  He was followed by five individuals who were more stumbling or shambling than actively chasing them.  The investigators armed themselves and began to open fire on the deranged individuals. It might have been the low caliber of the bullets, the poor firearms skills of academics, or the fact that theses creatures were resistant to such attacks, but they only fell a single one. 

Just then an sedan with US Army markings pulled up to the cabin.  Major Sarek emerged from the driver's side and screamed, "We already killed you bastards once," and  began firing at the creatures.   The extra manpower, plus the exchanging of pistols for rifles for a few individuals, managed to take out the remaining ones. 

Sarek popped out his clip and was in the process of replacing it with another as a huge mass came crashing down on top of his car.  For a moment the investigators on the porch could see a giant body with massive talons on its feet peel back steel on the car as if it were a reflex, within seconds it shot back into the nighttime sky with Sarek in his claws. 

To say the investigators freaked out, regardless of SAN check results, was an understatement.  Everyone dashed into the cabin, locked all the doors and windows, and threw what little furniture up against them.  A few who barricaded themselves in the kitchen, peeked through the slats in the blinds, only to see Sarek's crushed body plummet onto the wreckage of his car.   Everyone could them hear the roof creak and groan as something huge was apparently sitting on it.  The investigators remained completely still and after a few tense minutes, the creature flew off the roof and into the night sky.

Soon the man at the table groggily woke up.  He was the Sgt Falcone who had called.  He had come to the cabin to talk to Frank, but he had already killed himself.  The bottle had looked like a good alternative to waking soberly for his impending doom.

Falcone explained that back in 1915, Pennywell was used for testing new types of artillery shells, including top secret models smuggled in from Britain and Germany.  While his unit, the Alpha Squad, was conducting trials for some kind of poison gas, torrential rains wiped out their normal testing range.  Then Lt. Sarek decided to turn the guns around and fire into the surrounding swamp.  They normally put animals out on the range to test the effectiveness of the gas, and this was no exception.  When the Alpha Squad went back to retrieve them, they encounter a number of the local gypsies performing some dark sacrifice.  A quick fight ensued, and in the end four gypsies and one soldier lay dead.  Under Lt Sarek's orders, they heavily interrogated the remaining gypsies, and one of them, spit back a curse.  Enraged, Sarek ordered all the gypsies strung up in the trees and killed.  As the last gypsy died, the actual stars in the sky opened up and a deranged beast of hell swooped down.  They fought if off, but not before losing two more soldiers. 

This week, when they had discovered one of the Alpha Squad savagely murdered on base, the knew the creature was coming back.  According to Frank's research, the creature is weakest at dark, but holds immense power once that constellation reaches its peak.  The smart thing to do would be to come back tomorrow and try to kill it with better weapons.  "It could feel pain all those years ago, it would be nice to remind it again."

The investigators slipped out into their cars and drove off, but first Dr Wintermute wanted to talk to the Gypsies.  The matriarch of the gypsies was not too keen on the this strange group of people barging into the camp in the late evening, but humored them.  She and Dr. Wintermute played a shrewd game of obtuseness, neither willing to give up enough information without the latter providing some first.  Once the old woman knew it was about the Pennywell hangings back in '15, she relaxed and assured them that although the soldier's actions were heinous, her group had forgiven them, and that gypsy curse were painful, but bearable spells.  Anything worse was not from the gypsy tradition. 

As the investigators walked back to their cars, they could see military and civilian police vehicles heading from Pennywell down to the direction of the cabin.

December 21st, 1923
The following morning, the investigators acquired a few more shotguns and went the O'Haras to acquire a few more from Angela's collection.  Angela was very supportive of their plan, and was quite adamant that they had to "finish the job."  The group looked towards Steve for a reason why the normally grumpy ice queen was so animated, yet all he could do was throw his hands up in the air and go, "You don't want to know, guys, you don't want to know."

Through the afternoon they prepped their equipment, including some insulated high water pants.  Falcone recommended they go through the swamp to try to encounter this creature.  All access to the base and cabin would be heavily guarded.  They also continued to work on the strange Latin chant, if it was so.

Late afternoon they drove into New Jersey again, parked at a secluded road south of the base and ventured into the freezing swamp.

They encountered a moss covered berm, which ended up being one of the gypsies' wagons from '15.  Three more of this walking dead emerged from the water, but the shotguns were much better against them (as well as the investigators skill rolls).   As they ventured further, a thick fog enveloped the swamp.  While visibility was nigh in front of them, above they could see the fog/cloud swirling in a vortex, but was it swirling up or down.  It was hard to tell. 

They emerged from the fog into a crystal clear sky, a full moon, and a strange constellation very bright in the sky.  They then heard a godless cry coming from the base observation tower on the other end of the clearing.  The base fence had been forcibly knocked over in a hundred foot section, so they gingerly walked across.  Nearing the tower, something flew out of it and forced the group to scatter, landing right where they had been standing.  It was the barely recognizable body of the Army doctor, Cooper.  

The group threw caution at the wind as they could hear the beast on the upper floor and charged into the tower. 

The resulting melee COULD have been much worse.  Academics and one police officer armed with shotguns was only slightly better than pistols when the creature acted like a wild stallion with talons.  Despite several well placed blasts into the creature it somehow had the ability to rejuvenate itself, sometimes by gashing at an investigators, sometimes with mystical wave of it's claw.

When the carnage ended.  Barely anyone was on two feet. 

Dr Wintermute save the day for the group.  The beast, "Bee-hwyaw-kay", was in Hedge's notes was susceptible to the Latin chant.  Others tried to help with the chant when they could, but most of the time they were running/firing for their lives.  The beast even tried to 'suck the life'  out of him to make him stop, but he still held on.  Some portal appeared far away from Aldebarren's position and sucked the unwilling monster inside.  Despite some blows to his psyche, Bob Wintermute was unscathed.  His library associate, Kalimah was not as lucky, but nothing catastrophic.

Detective Frank Dresden could barely hit the side of a magically summoned barn, but he was deft on his feet, knowing when to leap away, and when to hit the dirt when he earned the monster's attention.

Steve O'Hara survived with more scratches from the swamp and minor case of frostbite than creature damage.

Sgt Falcone was tossed about by the creature, but survived, the only member of Alpha Squad to do so.

Jessica Carson, caught the full ire of the creature.  Perhaps it was her attempts at chanting.  The creature turned her shoulder into bloody Swiss cheese.  She required numerous blood transfusions, but she did survive.

If Jessica took the physical brunt, Dr. Nathaniel Millheim took the mental.  One of the creatures mystical ability forced his skin to blister from the inside!  Lucky for him, the effect ended quickly, and it was the one time the creature didn't appear healed after it's action.  Between the horrifying change in his appearance and the flurry of failed SAN rolls, Dr Millheim was thinking a looooong vacation before they even got back to New York.

Despite all the carnage around, Falcone told the group to take his lead, and proceeded explain away almost everything to the authorities, military and civilian.    The murders had been orchestrated by Dr Cooper, as certain documents "conveniently" surfaced in his office, along with some unauthorized grenades (something had to justify the top of the observation tower collapsing).  The investigators were simply an ill-prepared and incompetent hunting party that got lost in the swamp and by sheer bad luck, got caught in the crossfire between him and Cooper.  Most of their damage was friendly fire.  Dr. Millheim's wounds were probably the result of some old mustard gas canisters that were buried in the swamp.

Siobhan thanked the group for all their help and decided to leave New York for San Francisco.  Bob would have liked that.

Finally, Steven admitted to the group that Angela was pregnant with their first child.  What effects the decontamination may have done to his unborn child weighed more on his mind that any inter-dimensional summoned beast.  The true horrors that make man suffers are from his fellow man.

Next: I may do a #16.5 to catch the group's activities through the Winter, or I may just add that to the next episode #17 The Dreamer.

Friday, March 22, 2013

GW vs. FoW

I consider most of my gamer interests to be on the fringe. That being said, I do try to follow the more mainstream games by news and message boards.

This month's whiny, ranting debacle was Battlefront's Flames of War.

I almost got engrossed in reading page after page of people complaining that BF were self centered bastards who didn't really care about "the game."  That the price of models were way to high.  That the game was not historically realistic.  That everything was geared towards tournaments, from point list.  Wondering why the SS have multiple and there's little love for the Russians.. or their Romanians.

All I could do is giggle.  It's nice to see historical wargamers admit to their own "evil empire, just role-Playing and CCGs have Wizards of the Coast and Fantasy/Sci-Fi Minis have GW.

Every whine and rant could easily be interchanged with a 40k version:

"All the rules and lists in the supplement are to make the company money."

Until we get minis produced by Franciscan monks with a vow of poverty, any decent company wants to maximize profits.   Units are produced to maximize profit margin.  Why shouldn't they add 10-20-even-30 percent to the price of a guaranteed seller, if it won't put a dent in the overall sales?  New rules are designed with the next "wow" factor.  I'm sure someone else has done proper comparisons between the 40k Codexes and the latest FoW supplement.  FoW does have the advantage of limiting its tournaments based on Early, Mid, and Late War era equipment, but every addition amps up the coolness factor.  What works for teenager fanboys works for middle age fanboys as well, the later just won't admit it as quickly.

My favorite quote from all the conversations, "Nazis always sell."  That explains why some low volume armies are neglected.  Germans and Space Marines get constant revisions.  Romanians and Eldar always get the short end of the stick.

The big difference is 40K's background is entirely fictional, whereas FoW uses units that partook in this small engagement known as the Second World War. Again, new source books have been known to be "rife with historical inaccuracies." This is a true but laughable complaint, as some of the larger tournaments were known to field more King Tigers than were ever produced. For one, its a tournament setting. Second, Battlefront is trying to sell minis, so the correct but obscure Italian tank destroyer isn't going to be cost effective. If you really want to field that unit in a friendly games, there are plenty of 15mm companies that focus on lesser known troops and vehicles... and all at a cheaper price

Game play:  This layman gamer only has the vibe he picks up from watching games, but FoW has one advantage:  the troops move.  Most tournament AARs I've heard on What Would Patton Do certainly mention at least one unit making some significant movement across the board.  Tanks and artillery may need to stay in position depending on scenario, but some infantry or combined arms is making a charge or and adjustment to said charge.

From my time watching 40k games in stores, on WarTV, and other online sources, my opinion of the game can be summed up in this video.

Contrary to what appears to be the GW player opinion online of "This is TEH AWESUM!"  I can only liken that board to a Wal-Mart parking lot on Black Friday... with only a little more vehicular weaponry.

It is true that a considerable amount of action took place on the above board, but it's like watching trench warfare from space.  And in the smaller game I've watched online,  I can throw in a load of laundry, vacuum the house, and come back to the exact same battlefield, only missing five figures. 

Don't get me wrong, I'm not disparaging either game.  They certainly aren't my cup of tea, but I do love the Rogue Trader elements of 40k, and FoW introduction of some form of historical wargaming into the average FLGS has to be applauded.  I just can't tolerate that certain percentage of the base complaining about the inevitable.  Prices are going to go up, rules are going to get Munchkinize, quality is going to suffer.  They might not be Hasbro (actually one of them is), but WotC, GW, and Battlefront are not boutique games compared to the gamer hobby as a whole.  You get a whole different set of pros and cons versus playing The Sword and the Flame, Kyromek, and the original Highlander CCG.  If you can't accept them, there's plenty more fish in the sea and dice to be chucked.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

You maniacs! You blew it all up... in 15mm

I think I mentioned Hordes of the Things (HotT) just once before here.

HotT seems like a simple enough system, and great for finishing multiple turns of a campaign game in an afternoon. And with 15mm, the minimum number of figures can be considerably inexpensive.

My daughter found a chair and started cleaning off some of our higher shelves over the weekend.  She brought down this. 

It's a rather small Statue of Liberty, probably snagged up by my Mother went she took a trip as a kid.  Without an Antiques Roadshow to confirm it, I'd say it's a dime a dozen kitschy souvenier. 

And basis for a great headquarters piece for a Planet of the Apes HotT army.

This isn't even my area of interest and I'm pondering... Does anybody make 15mm  Apes with guns?  Chimps?  Baboons?  I didn't find anything via internet searches outside of like-minded people two or three years ago. 

I know some of the normal sized 25mm gorillas could be used as giants, but this is going to nagging in the back of my gaming head, and I have little time for such silliness.  Any help can be appreciated.

Of course, there's the obvious question of who would I play with... but when has that stopped me?

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

NYC CoC #15: The Pennywell Hangmen, Part Two

For character backgrounds, check out The Pennywell Hangmen, Part One

December 19th, 1923

Another good dusting of snow had hit the city in the early morning hours.  It was refreshing to Detective Francis Dresden.  After putting in time for a long-term investigation, he had gotten wrangled into a bizarre murder or suicide at the Hotel Algonquin.  In the chaos, some civilians had gotten access to the crime scene, and despite Detectives Stapleton and Hyatt being the primary investigators on the case, he spent the wee hours finalizing the initial crime scene report to avoid mention of that.  With the sun rising, Dresden took a walk for some air, and a decent cup of coffee.  Neither worked very well, as he came back to the precinct fighting off the exhaustion.   He could barely keep his head up to notice the feet of those walking along the sidewalk.

As he approached the precinct, he could hear a man say, "Hey, that's him over there!"

He groggily lifted his head, only to have it met by the door of a large truck, a sudden flash of light, and everything went black.

For the guests at last night's Mogens Institute Christmas party, the weird events of the evening and the late hour of the ordeal couldn't interrupt the weekday morning routines.

For Steven and Angela O'Hara, their morning ritual of breakfast and griping around the kitchen table, was cut short by a knock at the door.  When Steven answered it, multiple armed soldiers in gas masks and extra protective clothing barged in and demanded he and his wife come with them for their own protection.   Not even a moment was given for them to grab their coats as they were escorted to a large truck and eagerly encouraged into the back.  There, they saw the unconscious body of Detective Dresden, as well as the two other detectives on the case and the coroner who was at the crime scene. 

Helping out that young lady last night might NOT have been a good idea.

The truck moved across the city and variations of the encounter took place.  Doctor Millheim and Brian Nichols were awoken from their slumber and taken, the good Professor and his friendly library assistant were picked up at the abodes and still brought in, although they tried in vain to demand some protection of their civil liberties.  Even the teacher-heroine, Jessica Carson fell prey to these strange men at her school, although she detected something wrong while walking to the Principal's office and tried a futile escape attempt.

The most disturbing stop was at the Wanisko home.  Although Joshua was the only attendee at the party, the soldier also demanded that his wife and three-year old daughter come with them as well.
The truck, and a convoy of sedans that followed sped through the streets of New York City with nary a stop nor a siren.  In fact, the only stops they had made were to pick up people.  This mysterious convoy made its way over the George Washington Bridge into New Jersey and drove a considerable distance south into a military base.  There, the truck backed into a large warehouse building and the group was unloaded into a holding area.   The only things in this building were a series of tents made out of bedsheets, some sort of showering equipment, and about two dozen soliders, all wearing the gas masks and additional protective clothing. 

Dr. Wintermute demanded to speak to a commanding officer and was soon met by a Major Sarek.  Major Sarek quickly explained that everyone might have come in contact with dangerous chemicals the previous night, so a chemical shower and inoculation was a precautionary measure for every one's protection.  The professor would not accept that an inoculation was needed for anything that wasn't biological, and caught the Major stumbling.  The Major waved soldiers over to take the the professor back to the group.

After a considerable wait standing in their pajamas in the unheated building ,an individual referring to himself as Dr.Cooper and an unnamed soldier spoke to the group.   All individuals would take a chemical bath to neutralize anything they came in contact with.  After the shower, they would get an inoculation as a precaution, once everything is complete and they were cleared, they would be allowed to leave.

The coroner and the other two detectives were the first to be taken. The rest could see little behind the curtains, but things around them caught their eye. When the coroner showered, soldiers began a fire in a barrel and burned his clothes. After the inoculation, the coroner was seen passed out (?) being pushed around in a wheelchair to another tent! This pattern continued with the two police detectives.

For Joshua Wanisko, the activities behind the tents and sheer terror in the tear drenched eyes of his wife and small daughter brought him to the brim of panic and reckless action. Noticing that the a set of large barrels near the fire were marked with the components of mustard gas… and some of those had older marking from Carrington Industrials sent him flying off the edge. Desperate to make his family safe he lunged at the nearest guard… and within seconds was face down on the cold pavement with a severe concussion and multiple rifle barrels pointed at the back of your head.

His commotion was not in vain. It brought over a sergeant in charge and he tore into the soldiers. Apparently they were only interested in the people at the hotel that night. Family were not to be picked up. He apologized, ordered other soldiers to remove their masks and escort the frightened women to a warmer place. He gave Joshua a hand up and moved him to the front of the line, and told someone to get his family back home first when he was cleared. Joshua completely lost consciousness before the chemical bath hit him.

For the rest, the procedure went without incident. The shot made everyone groggy, and by the time they regained consciousness, they were in a heated holding area wearing medical gowns, with soldiers passing out water and biscuits. Soon a solider approached Dr. Cooper, and in a look of disbelief, the doctor stated that they were all free to go. Everyone was dressed in unmarked military uniforms and each person was driven back to their residence.

The rest of the day was one of recovery and connection. For Joshua, he tried to make numerous phone calls for help: The NYPD, The Bureau of Investigation, even his Congressman. No one was willing to lift a finger. He even got the nerve to call Mr Carrington directly. After hearing his story, Carrington thanked him for his assistance, said he was already aware of the situation, gave him the rest of the year off with pay and told to not come back to work until he felt better. Somewhere in that conversation he might have mentioned not speaking of this to anyone else. He did contact Jessica and found out the others had decided to meet, but in his condition, she advised him to stay home and stay safe and she would update him later. He was in no condition to argue.

For the rest of the group, networking back together was much easier.  Meeting in a low-end restaurant, the group tried to decide their course of action.... RESEARCH TIME.

A team hit the library and could discover little, only that the army base in question was the Pennywell Arsenal, an artillery proving ground that was almost shuttered after the war.

Detective Dresden used his badge and contacts to find entrance into Robert Williamson's apartment.  Police had done a quick once over of the place already.  All they could discover was a collection of medals in a picture, as well as a picture of a slightly younger Williamson during the War with his fellow soldiers at the Pennywell Base.  One of the soldiers was holding a sign with the same script A in a pentagon that was on the deceased's tattoo.

The most fun for the afternoon came from Professor O'Hara.  He had managed to contact Wanisko and invited him over to the Columbia chemistry labs.  Steven had collected a decent amount of the mysterious black water and wanted to see what it really was.   The results were a bit disturbing.  Inside the water was an unknown mutated fungus that was super-reactive to heat and cold.  With a little coaxing, he could make the water move on its own!

Those in the group who weren't already exhausted tried to check out the missing prostitute's flat and man on the card she was carrying, Theodore Depp.  The missing girl, Siobhann, was nowhere to be seen, but they did discover that Williamson was a regular and had a tendency to shoot off his mouth about previously being in the army.

 December 20th, 1923
Morning research and any imaginable leads lead nowhere for the group, but early afternoon, they were in Dr Millheim's "office"  Sharing ideas and swapping stories between glasses of Canadian Whiskey.  As the stories became more and more specific, Dr Wintermute began doubting the other's sanity.  Walking dead?  Alternate dimensions?   Perhaps the rest of the group were a bit too fascinated in the dime novels of magick and the occult.

To complicate his allegiance to the group, there was a knock on the door.   After the group hid their drinks, Nichols opened it to see Siobhan, the prostitute.   She was certainly better dressed that their last encounter with her, but a glint of the same fear could be seen behind her eyes.

She had checked herself out of the mental hospital and had been on the run ever since, stopping only shortly to grab a coat and shoes.  Her story confirmed many of the group's hypothesis.  She had met Williamson at the hotel, like they had many times before.  Something smashed in the window and began attacking both of them, and at that point she ran out of the room to get help.  She pulled out a folded piece of paper and gave it to the group, saying she could remember everything about the creature.  It was oddly bipedal, with huge muscular arms, short,sharp claws, small bat-like wings and a twisted head whose mouth look more of a twisted jagged maw or beak than teeth.  Ever since that night she could feel it's presence, but it wasn't hunting her... yet. 

Williamson had told her that he was leaving town shortly, that a fresh start on the West Coast might exorcise the demons of his actions during the war.  He had even asked Siobhan to come with her.  She was going to yes, but the creature had attacked first.  With that, she sank into Dr. Millheim's comfy desk and slowly began to cry.

Dr. Wintermute was having none of this.  As a proper gentlemen, he told them all in the nicest way possible that they were all batshit crazy and called the operator to patch him to the Pennywell switchboard.  Once connected he explained that the missing girl from the Hotel Algonquin was here and was not decontaminated.   He then tried to explain away the misconceptions of the girl and the rest of the group, chalking them up to lunacy, even taking all of them up on the roof of the building to prove no flying creatures, other than the occasional pigeon were flying around killing people.  With that a total failure, he decided to call Bellevue and claim a number of people were suffering from violent delusions and hysteria.  Despite repeated calls to them and repeated responses of help coming, no ambulances, no police, and no army personnel showed up at the door.  The rest of the group oddly let the gentleman go through his motions until the futility of his actions, right up to the point that the phone rang.  Somehow, Wintermute was allowed to pick it up.

The voice on the line claimed to be Sgt Benjamin Falcone, a member of the unit that had rounded up everyone the morning previous.  He had actually been the one to "rescue" Josh's family from the process.  He explained that he and his fellow soldier Frank Hedges had information that individuals such as them could appreciate.  A meeting was arranged at a cabin near the Pennywell base in New Jersey, Siobhan was told to stay in Millheim's office with Nichols, and a few personnel weapons were picked up on the way out of the city. 

Either the Investigators would get answers, or Dr. Wintermute would prove, to at least himself, that everyone else had a mental malady.

Next:  Part Three and the exciting conclusion of the Pennywell Hangmen, or... "Bob gets his own malady"

March Forward Final PEL is Up!

Like Americans talking about the rest of the world, those of us wargamers on the East Coast don't know how lucky we actually are. Not only do we have the largest convention in the country (Historicon), we have it's two younger HMGS (formerly East) cousins, Cold Wars and Fall-in!, plus we can venture down for Guns of August and the Williamsburg Muster.

To see notice of another HMGS chapter running a convention is always interesting. We forget that most other conventions are operated by fewer staff and volunteers than Cold Wars has running the walk up registration table on a Friday morning, and their square footage is half the Distelfink ballroom.

With that consideration in mind, The final event list for HMGS - Pacific Southwest's convention March Forward is up.

March Forward, Saturday March 23rd, Manhattan Beach, CA

Location: I've always thought the idea of a wargaming convention in a Nationa Guard/Army Reserve Armory was a perfect combition, except this drill hall looks a bit smaller (but much cleaner) than the one I remember during my service.  I can just picture the bickering East Coast hordes complaining about sound and floor issues.  I'm assuming these people are just happy to have a decent con.

Dealers: Four dealers for a one day?  Perfect.

Games:  I not only find it ironic that the sessions are bookended with DBA and 40k demos, but I love the idea.  Plus there's a Wargamer Bootcamp to give players a familiarity of other systems?   Some form of this should be a requirement for all wargaming conventions.  Gamers can expand their horizons, at best, find a new game and players, and at worst, have some concrete reason NOT to like a system, rather than "it sucks," or "it looks complicated."

Personally, I only find the Bora Gora Boogie Gaslight game interesting, but as I say about new product coming out, I am never anyone's target demographic.  Ancients, Medieval, War of 1812, ACW, and plenty of fighter combat is listed, plus a Flames of War tournament for those inclined. 

The great thing I love about these more "intimate" cons is that you can pull off certain promotions far more effectively.  They're going to have hamburgers, hot dogs, and similar fare available for lunch.   That is something that hasn't been offered in my area in over 10 years.  As much as I love the three day Mepacons, those early one day cons at the Wind Gap American Legion, as well as its predeccesor, Bogglecon, had fantastic on-site lunch fare that was cheap, handy, and always tasty.  Even more exciting was the idea that they were ordering pizza for dinner (for a charge, of course.)

If you're even remotely in that area, for the love of God, make some time this Saturday and go over to the con and support your hobby.  You might even have fun doing so...

Monday, March 18, 2013

More Crazy Gnome Conversions!

Still recovering from Cold Wars, adjusting back to dealing with the little actively plotting against us.  Who needs Gitmo when you have two little girls under 4?

It's good to know that there are other crazy Gnome Wars people out there.  Mike Lung brought to the attention of this website:
Irrational Numer Line Games

This guy does a number of different project, but he does a top notch job with his Gnome Wars conversions.  Whether it's the paint jobs on his Japanese, his take on Star Gnomes, or a very Austrian unit that perseverates on their mothers, it's great work.

I particularly love with the Confederate gnomes, turning one batch into Texans "Remember the Gnom-alo"  and a fantastic bunch of Mexicans, complete with low rider tank.  I would have never thought of a low rider tank!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Sunday Afternoon Painting

This weekend I had Mr. Mom duties yet again. Saturday was a debacle, with a mini-blizzard and the kids completely amped up from 8am to almost 11pm.

Today is a different story. The kids woke up happy and we headed off to the local diner for as pleasant a breakfast as one can expect with a two and a four year old.

After sufficient potty stops, we headed off on a 90 minute drive through the back roads of Northeast PA. It managed to knock Millie out, and upon the return home, Maja and I played out in the snow, then returned in for afternoon of painting.

Well, Maja painted. Between maintaining sufficient paint to paper ratio for hand prints, I managed to clean up and base some figures. Hopefully I'll get primer on them after my wife gets home.

First are some Nigerian Rifles from Brigade Games that I failed to add to my list of spoils from Cold Wars. These were literally a last second purchase (three minutes before the dealer hall closed). They are going to be used for German trained Samoan rebels. Considering the picture of the troops was circa 1887, they probably best represent ten years of neglect. Yes, the stories of German Askaris is simply phenomenal, but they had a much longer relationship with the Kaiser.

Next up is the big project: two teams for the Ice Warz fantasy hockey game. I knew there was a reason to pick up hex bases! The figures were from a tabletop hockey game I got for Christmas a few years ago. The figures are closer to 35-40mm, but if they're dealing with oversized orcs and rat men, I don't think anyone will mind. I did keep the plastic flanges that attach the figure to the game. The goalies were more separated but I've had a dickens of a time keeping them balanced, so I'll take the criticism from the other eight players around the world who have played the game.

Third is a pack of Grenadier Future Warriors "Law Enforcement". I have a Squat and a random Warzone figure in the painting queue, so the Gnomish Space Marine RPG moves along slowly.

Finally, here's the WW1 figure I painted at the paint and take at Cold Wars. I had fifteen minutes to sit down and decompress, so be gentle. It also survived in the same pack as the Nigerians for a week inside my coat. Manufacturer unknown.

Perhaps tonight I get to paint (and watch Walking Dead).

Friday, March 15, 2013

A Gamer's Ode to Beer

My quiet time during the walk of our annoying pooch, Pokey, has been netting some doozies on the blogging front. Having recently returned from Cold War, I fondly remember the my first impression of the con nearly 15 years ago.

“They’re drinking beer at the tables. This is gamer nirvana!”

Sure there are rules in place to limit outside beverages from coming into the Lancaster Host, but coming from the Legion Hall/hotel RPG con environment, this crazy idea that gamers could be responsible people made my heart skip a beat.

From an early age, we latch onto the common tropes of gaming, the Cheetohs, the Mountain Dew, and for our group, plain M&Ms. As we become old enough to legally drink, some of us staunchly ban alcohol from the table, some embrace it to the point of foolishness, yet most try a happy medium somewhere in between.

For me, with both sides of the family populated by a number of alcoholics, a conscious effort was made at an early age to avoid the binging or common consistent dependency that plagues those with disease. That was made easier by the fact that all of those family members were cheap as hell, and only bought the foulest tasting swill imaginable.

The first taste of beer that I remember was sipping the foam off my Dad’s beer while men of the family played pool in my Grandfather’s basement. Pretty much every kid does that, and no matter what brand, gives a sour puss face afterwards. That was expedited by my Dad’s choice of beer: Schmidt’s , Schlitz, or later on, Old Milwaukee. Those brands could peel the paint off a battleship.

Outside of the occasional failed sip, an experimental raid on a friend’s parent’s liquor cabinet, and a lone beer at Ft.Gordon enlisted club during AIT when I was 18, I was as good a kid with alcohol as a parent could hope for.

On my 21st birthday I was working at New Frontiers in the Phillipsburg Mall. I got off at 8pm and my buddy George bought me my first level beverage. Only problem was , the Hollywood themed restaurant in the mall (Café Hollywood?) only had domestics in stock, so I swallowed my pride, and an MGD.

Booze never entered into the gaming equation in most of the 90’s, and if it did it was in a casual setting and no one got sloppy drunk.

I've had three enlightening moments regarding beer since the mid-90's.  First when Bob (Dr Bob in my Cthulhu game) bought me my first Guinness and told me to go back to college and get my life straightened out.  I at least got the first part done, dude.  Thanks to that conversation, I definitely expanded my regular gaming group.

Priorities, man!

Second, was when I ordered a Rogue Morimoto Ale during a weekend beer fest.  Apparently it was concocted by one of the Iron Chefs.   It was the best beer I ever paired with food.  The table had ordered nothing my Asian appetizers, and it was the first time I completely understood food pairing with any beverage.

Third, was my first case of Steigmaier Bock beer.  Steigmaier is a speciality brand produced by the Lion Brewery here in Wilkes-Barre.  Their normal load of ales, lagers, and beers are pretty close to the Coors Light quality, but their seasonal stuff is fantastic.   The springtime Bock was the final beer epiphany for me, and the one of the few times I ran back to the beer distributor for another case THE NEXT DAY, and I had only drank one. 

I've tried Leinenkugel and Yuengling's versions, and while very tasty and better than 99% of other beers, still doesn't touch Steigmaier.  The worst part is, either the yearly production run is so small that I can't find it or they just stopped making it the last two years.

Of course the ultimate moment of gamer cool was during my Hackmaster campaign in the early '00s.  My buddy Wooly had gotten married (in real life) early on in the campaign and had gotten a keg of Yuengling Lager and a half keg of Guinness for his reception at the local motorcycle club.  As his gift to me for being his best man, I got to take home the still very full remains of the Guinness, I just had to procure my own tap.  It sat next to me in the basement as I GM'ed the game, and needless to say, I never went thirsty.

This year at Cold Wars, I definitely went ghetto with the alcohol selections.   The beer of choice at the gnome tables is Bud Light, with a healthy mixture of some product of Nova Scotia that the Canadians smuggled across the border.  Don't tell anyone, but when I went out by myself to Applebees for dinner Friday,  I had cleanse my palette so to speak with a cider, and followed it up with a Guinness.

Guinness makes everything better.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Gamer Tupperware Parties

I love my wife. For someone so intelligent, so does have her clueless moments. But the one cockamamie idea she hasn't acted on is running some form of the Tupperware.

If you don't know what a Tupperware party is, get off my lawn, and does your mother know where you are?

Of course, the last time I heard about a real Tupperware party, my Mom went to one and I think I was ten. Nowadays, it's all about candles, purses, baskets, jewelry, and "slumber parties." And lets not forget the barrage of phone calls, emails, and now, annoying Facebook posts EVERYONE can see. It's the female equivalent of the used car salesman.

But is there a gamer version of this? Better yet, shouldn't there be? No, I'm not talking about D&D night. That is what brick and mortar stores and good promotion are for. I'm thinking more in the area of small press, or better yet, workshop miniatures.

It would never be as pervasive as the female model, but what's wrong with a local rep for a Napoleonic minis company bringing the new line around to a collection of gamers, everyone doing one big order to save on shipping and the rep getting some minor kickbacks?  Am I just describing a demo team with a bag/display of unpainted lead and order forms?    Am I just crazy?  Comments please.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Santa Claus vs the Nazis

Sometimes the pictures that I want to use just don't come out right, like the Christmas Comes to Schlegel's Ferry game:
A Bumble, a Killer Snowman, and a Gnome Driving a Tractor.  Fantastic!
Sometimes I just drop the ball and completely miss an extravaganza beyond compare. From Cold Wars, I present: Santa Claus vs the Nazis.

Gnomes... err.. Elves and Teddy Bears working side-by-side, and a drunken nutcracker
This is my dream Christmas game, only turned up to 11 and hooked in Speed. This is a better world where Teddy Bears and gnomes, errr, elves frolic and play together and Christmas village buildings have a better life. Where Weird War 2 Nazis are just called Nazis.

My ideal Christmas game.  Makes me want to start hitting yard sales for Christmas buildings now.
Thanks to One More Gaming Project and the HAWKS for running this one!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Cold Wars 2013 - GNOMES!!!

With a name like Gaming with the Gnomies, you didn't expect at least a full post dedicated to all things gnomes?  Shame on you!

Like I had mentioned in my Friday post, Jim "The Gnome Guy" Stanton was forced to cancel the Friday 11am slot due to family and weather concerns, but managed to show up to run the game anyway. 

Here's a little secret I have, but don't tell any of the other "Stout Gnomes" who help run games:  I absolutely dread the regular twenty player extravaganza.  They drain my psyche and make me go hoarse the week after for little reward.  The idea of participating in a Gnome Wars game with only eight players total was too tempting.

First off, a shout out to Bill, whose pot o' gold mortar will help their opponents "Taste the Rainbow" of death.  I also like the redneck nurse from the Confederates being used to serve a more refined whiskey to the ailing troops.

The morning scenario was "The Battle of the Bees" from the Battle Tanga.  It essentially combined that battle with some of the other engagements around the rail line outside of town.  Each Allied unit, a collection of British, Sikh, Irish and Highlanders, had a separate objective once they reached the town. 

Although the Allies could not be touched by the German guns as they trekked through the jungle, there was the constant threat of killer bees.  At the end of every turn an Allied unit was still in the jungle, their player would choose a number between 1 and 6.  The GM would roll, and if their number came up, that unit was beset by killer bees and would have d6 figures run away d10 inches in a random direction.   This mechanic was a mixed bag:  it slowed down the Sikhs to a crawl, since their poor morale forced them to remain in base-to-base contact through the game.  For my British marines, it was a boon, as they "charged" towards the rail line to avoid the bees.  One of our poor Highlander units hugging the table edge was decimated as bees chase a 1/3 of them off the board!
The Bee-shy Highlanders Regroup and Move On
Once the Allies reached the tree line, both sides began trading fire, with minimal losses.  As the units charged across the open ground they were met by the sounds of a train coming into the station!  The German reinforcements from Longido Mountain had arrived!  The Irish made quick work of them with an extremely lucky mortar hit right on the tank of the engine.   The surviving Germans in the cars crawled out and set up a defensive position around this new piece of terrain.

The Germans make a stand
The German Center and Left flank fell back into the town with Sikhs and Highlanders in pursuit.  The British lined up on the track and traded volley fire with the machine gun nest atop the hospital, while their commanders and attack dogs tried to turn the corner of the German line. 
The Highlanders swarmed the hospital, losing a great number of men to clear out the bottom, as the remaining British line took out the machine gun team and descended into the melee along the tracks.
This might take awhile
The Germans quickly surrendered thereafter, and the Irish could finally take a well-deserved break....

The Gnome Joust

The Joust is the high point of social gaming for me.  Get a little rowdy, drink a little beer, talk a little trash with no repercussions.
The Jousting Arena is set.
I don't know where Jim got the jousting rules from, but they're ridiculously easy, yet produce some great moments.  Each match is three rounds with the highest score winning, unless you unhorse your opponent, which results in immediate victory.  It's double elimination and a perfect opportunity to show use any type of gnome cavalry, as well as custom gnomes (and a few dinosaurs).

The Black Gnome by Mike Lung
Unlike previous tournaments, where I got unhorsed on the first pass of my two matches by six year olds, I fared considerably well.  I managed to defeat two of the dreaded "Canadian Jousters", finally lost a match and worked my way to the loser's bracket final, only to be defeated by one of my previous Canadian conquests.
Awful Cheese Hulk (from Outer Space)

The rest of the night was sitting around and trying out Mike Lung's wackiest creation to date, Awful Cheese Hulk.  Using the Reaper Space Mouslings, a lot of putty, and a Swiss cheese scrap booking hole punch, Mike has created a fun, whimsical game combining Space Hulk with Awful Green Things from Outer Space.  The creatures the mice fight are clumps of moldy sentient cheese that pay homage to the Awful Green Things.

The mice failed their mission miserably, and only managed one figure back to the ship. 

Into the Cheese Hulk

You need a hot hand to win this game
Another secret, I had never played any version of Space Hulk until that night.  After one game, I can see just how tedious it can become.  If I have to choose a map tile space boardgame, I'll stick with Legions of Steel.  I even handed Mike a copy of the rules so he can integrate Space Gnomes (from Olley's Armies) into the fray.
The Saturday Mega-Game

Saturday afternoon was three interconnected Gnome Wars games to represent the Battle of Tanga.  Not completely historically accurate, but there was a "proper" Tanga game being played at the same time if you were a purist.
Table 1: The Amphibious Assault
The amphibious landing back in 1914 was uncontested, and ours largely was too.  There was a tribe of cannibals who had captured a few gnomes (and a dog) as a side objective.

Table Two: The Rail Line
If the gnomes got across table one, they ended up on the same edge of table two.  Very familiar board from Friday morning, with Killer Bees harassing everyone involved.  Three German players were set up here from the start, as well as a few "advance" units to keep everyone busy.  One realization everyone made, not all nationalities or units were not technically invading.  Some were delivering beer, others were rescuing the bakery, etc.  With some common sense (and common courtesy) the Germans only had to worry about those who wanted to take the rail line or conquer the city.  Figuring that out with some of the players was easier said than done.

Table Three:  Tanga
Table three was the final objective for most of the players, but it started with a lot of troops already in town.  The Germans held the customs house in the center.  Two units of Russians held the tavern across the square.  British marines waiting for relief holed up in the two story structure to the left, and a true army of Irish (about 100+) mustered in the trees.  The Irish needed to go in the opposite direction of the other players, attack the pirates on table one, and rescue their kidnapped leader, King Stanton.  All looked good, until we dropped 150 Znombies (Gnome Zombies) into the town square!   Set up in 25 figure herds, some were directed by the one GM, Cam, while others wandered aimlessly, only attacking if they came within an inch of a figure.
Cannibals and their buffet
Sikh Cavalry on Tigers

The first appearance of the Russian Bear Cavalry.  They got eaten by Znombies

Russians defending the tavern and beer truck.  German defenders are ready for the invaders.  Znombies wander in the distance.

Znombies wandering around the town square

Flamethrower Tank burning Znombies while the Irish Goose-steppers try to get off the board.
More Irish Cav tries to run past the Znombies
The Irish feel like chicken tonight

EVERYONE descends onto table two... and the gloves come off
It may be no surprise that I ran the Tanga table, so most of the pictures came from there.  The invasion force sort of sputtered, until the Sikh players with four fully intact units decided to discard diplomacy once they reached Tanga and tried to wipe out any non-Allied unit.  They were defeated, but at great loss.  The Russians barely held onto the tavern, the znombies were defeated, and the Irish managed to cross three full boards, rescue their King, and almost make it back to Tanga with only znombie related casualties.  In other words, just a regular Gnome Wars con game.

With 30 players, 4 GMs, and over 1200 gnomes, it was our biggest event yet.    I hate to see what we have in store for next Cold Wars.

Cold Wars 2013 - Saturday

First off, I still got it!

After wandering into our room around 2:30am and finally hitting the pillow at 3:30, I was up, dressed and ready to go by 7:15.  I spent some time chatting with my friends about fatherhood (Steve's little guy is eight months, and Jeff just found out last week that his wife is having twins.), mediocre chain restaurant food, and horrible GMs.  It appeared that the duo got into a bad string of aerial games, be it biplanes, Mustangs, or star cruisers.  These guys are the type who will tell you straight up they've never played before or that they will need help the first turn or two, so to be invited as a walk up to three separate games over the course of the day and  each time leave with a bad taste, I may be biased, but I'll say that a few GMs have a bad day, and some the regulars haven't had a good day in a couple of years.

After the required breakfast over at The Continental, I headed over to get into the 9am Trench Wars game.   Gnome Wars owes a tremendous amount rules-wise to Trench Wars, so it was ridiculously easy to pick up. So easy that my years of gnomish experience made me the commander of the nine other Allied players as they attempted to assault the Hindenburg Line.  Two items that hadn't translated to the gnomes were unit activation and destroying bunkers and that threw me for a loop as a tried to coordinate these players taking 50% casualties by turn 3.  My main duty was to direct the offboard artillery, and my of my, was I on fire.  On the dozen or so rolls for it during the game, I rolled direct hits (6 on a d6) five times, and at least five other times to deviation hit troops in a trench, an exposed machine gun team, or hit the barbed wire, allowing the French troops easy access to charge to their deaths.
Trench Wars: The Allies race across no-man's land to reached the German trench

The French are full of Elan, and by the end of the turn, full of lead as well
I couldn't coordinate enough and concentrate firepower, so while the Germans were significantly weakened, we had no troops left to sweep the trenches.  Fun game.

My afternoon was another quick dash through the Flea Market with lots of teasers, but again, nothing caught my eye and wallet.  The dealer's hall got me for some more random dice, Killer Teddy Bears from Macho Women with guns, and a pile of Howard Hues paints that I may not use for awhile.  I also finally made it to the Brigade booth to shop and despite Russian gnomes, Russian gnomes on bears, Spanish buildings, and a pile of books, I came away with three little gnomes to round out existing units and a pack of WWI Nigerian tribesman that I will used as trained rebels for Samoa.

The rest of the day was GNOMES, GNOMES, GNOMES (separate entry to follow) with hearty meal with the Gnome Crew at Five Guys before I made the trek home.

Romans vs ?

Hobbit related?  It looks like an awesome Car Wars track to me.
More Middle Earth Mayhem
1st Gulf War
28mm ACW
Simple and spiffy
A few random thoughts on Saturday:  While I did see a LOT more girls/women participating, I also noticed a rise in loud obnoxious women as well.  One woman in the Flea Market had such an annoying voice, with a Jersey attitude, that I apologize to her neighbors, because I just rushed by to make my ears stop bleeding... and my bullshit meter from going off.   Another one that got to me was the one in the First Gulf War pic above.  She kept harping on a mailing list and Kickstarter project to anyone new walking by within earshot, and it was in a "know it all corporate trainer" tone, if that makes sense to anyone.  The larger numbers of moms playing games with their kids, hopefully offsets that back into a positive light.

Friday night was wild and Saturday night was working up to that when I left.  Nothing we don't deal with every other years.

I saw cleaning staff in the bathrooms multiple times and the food stations had more staff than I remember, cutting down on wait time except for perhaps peak meal times.

Five Guys was good, but underwhelming.  I've had better burgers at a lower price elsewhere, but it was the company I kept that made it worthwhile.

Finally, the group of Gnome Wars fans we lovingly (and quite accurately) call "The Canadians" have been spending the last year working on hockey rules to use the Fantasy Hockey figures Brigade Games sells, as well as other manufacturers.  The were nice enough to give me a copy of the non-league rules, as well as a regulation size laminated map of a hockey rink to play on.   It's on the slate of games for the group to play, right after another two Cthulhu RPG sessions and some CLA playesting to make sure Samoa might be able to work with teams of newbies.  At least my oldest, Maja approves....
My daughter playing Fantasy Hockey:  Spanish-American US Infantry vs Peeps.