Friday, November 29, 2013

The Twelve Blogs of Christmas: 2013 Edition

I have one more week of sheer hell at work, and then I can become a humble lackey for the rest of the year.

While it can mean a lot of things, for the purposes of this blog it means I can catch up on the 27 different blogging topics that are sitting in my drafts folder. It also means the twelve days of blogging right before Christmas.

The twelve blogs is a nod to National Blogging Month (or something similar that I refuse to look up.) The gist of it to blog every day for a month, using those topics provided by the project. I tried it once and I think I got 23 out of 30 days written, and it was horrible. With the twelve blogs, I cover random subjects I usually don't cover, reveal dreaded gaming secrets, and get a lit tle heartfelt along the way.

That being said, I'm currently accepting recommendations for topics.  Feel free to peruse the blog in past September and see what I wrote about.  I'll answer questions, tell stories, give shout-outs, and probably post a few holiday-themed minis along the way.   I'll take suggestions through the comments below, my Facebook page (link to side), or good old fashioned emails at viscountericATgmailDOTcom.

Let the festivities begin!  And if you're so incline, Happy Thanksgiving and a Joyous SATLOF!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

(CLA) The Battle of Five Palms

Last night I had a sick wife and two small children who all listened to me and went to bed at a decent hour. That left me with the task of cleaning the kitchen and dining room, followed by this mysterious concept known as personal time.  I broke out my Samoan Civil War figs and some Askaris and instead of trying to paint, I made a further foray into learning Contemptible Little Armies.

I had written a fairly glowing review previously, but actual play, even solitaire is better than working through the turn progression and chucking dice .  

Due to time constraints, I kept the terrain and objectives simple. The five palm trees I had painted were set in the middle of the table, and both sides would need to dash to seize this odd strategic objective.

Samoan Loyalists and Western Allies
Samoan Loyalist Rifles (x10):            Tactical 3, Morale 3
US Marines                 (2 units x10)  Tactical 5, Morale 5   - Marksman
British Sailors              (x8)               Tactical 4, Morale 4

Samoan Rebels and German Assistance
Matala'afa's Elite Guard  (x8)            Tactical 4, Morale 4  - Stubborn
German Schutztruppe  (x8)               Tactical 5, Morale 5
German Askari            (x8)               Tactical 4, Morale 4
Samoan Spearmen      (x10)             Tactical Irregulars, Morale 4

Using the point system, the Rebels are woefully undermanned.  This order of battle might work better if the Loyalists are attacking, and certainly with more cover.

Using the same breakdown as I did the review, let's see how everything works:

Initiative/Movement:  The I-go-you-go system works, especially with the command and control rules, detailed below.  Trying to play solitaire as fair as possible, I made a few crucial mistakes in deploying the right unit.  The variable movement rate (2d6" in clear, 1d6" in rough terrain) did cause a few problems for the Americans, who got off to a very slow start, and aided the Rebels, who managed to establish the defense of their flanks earlier.

Firing:  Using the defending unit's Tactical Rating to determine the attacker's to-hit roll is brillant.   The casualty check at the end of the turn was a bit more brutal, although the Samoan Rifles and Askaris traded bloody volleys of fire at each, hitting all involved, only to watch them survive their casualty checks.   My only concern was the wordiness of the casualty modifiers.

Close Combat:  I love the simple dice-off mechanic, just like in Gnome Wars.  The outnumbered modifiers was key in a deadly melee among the palms, but the most crucial attack involved the Samoan Spearmen.  By giving them a Tactical Rating of Irregular, they were 5+ to hit as they advanced toward the enemey.  However, once they engaged them, regular infantry earns a +2 bonus in melee versus Irregular infantry.   I may make them T4-M3 and keep them behind/in cover.  Two other things I missed in the initial review:  melee is a draw unless a figure beats another's roll by two or more and the loser is killed outright (casualty checks are for victims of weapons fire only). 

Morale:  I said this was easy in the review.  In retrospect, it really feels incomplete.  The first few checks were easily passed.  It wasn't until the units were whittled down and still received multiple casualties that they took over.  The moral markers seemed unnecessary, and there were units at 12% strength (the Schutztruppe) that still kept fighting, as the Elite Guard suffered three failed checks in one turn and simply routed.  I would like to see rules allowing units to fall back to safety with a failed check.

Command and Control:  The ability of staff officers to move in place of another unit, to effect the meta-gaming aspect, is commendable, in the inital reading, I missed the rule that if an attacking unit makes base-to-base contact with another figure, and that figure did not get the chance to move, they still get to a firing action before melee.  Many a man in the Samoan/German army never got a chance to engage their enemy.

On-Table Units:  I only used infantry.  The ranges are quite short, and the -1 penalty for hitting someone more than half your maximum range allows for a lot of near misses.  With additional cover, Marksman is a great attribute, but it was barely worth the cost here.

At the end, I called the game after the 2nd unit of Marines finally arrived at the palms and wrecked havoc. 

Per the picture below, the Samoan Rifles and Askaris were still at half strength, despite hitting enough times to strike every member on the board.  The Marines still had two spearmen harassing them, and the Royal Sailors had routed the Elite Guard and secured the flank, firing a few warning shots at the lone Schutztruppe who was running away. 

I really need to finish the banana trees
I'll play a few more games before I start tweaking the Morale rules, and perhaps some rules for non-officer special characters.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Fall-in! 2013 - Saturday Night's Alright for Znombies

Everyone was psyched for the zombie game, but many forget that there was an afternoon game as well.

Thanks again to Mike Lung for the pictures!

But on to the Saturday Night game... 

Each player had a five figure team based off new rules Jim devised.  Znombies (Zombie Gnomes) were coming and there were a limited number of bullets.  Melee weapons and guile were the order of the day.

The Cult of Urinitis worships their idol

The Undead march past the estate


The attack is on!

Some survivors wait for the inevitable

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Fall-In 2013: Friday Gnomes!

Pictures of the Gnome Wars games were already posted over at Jim's Gnome Wars page.  Please feel free to check them out and comment!

Mike Lung's gnomes obviously volunteered for the Swiss Air Corps, as his pictures are looking down on the carnage of the Battle of Tuglas, fought Friday night.

Oooh, trenches, barbed wired.. and a dinosaur or two.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Apathy of the New Releases (December '13)

Another month, another book of solicitations from Alliance.  No long winded rants today, I need to finish this, do actual work at work today, and rush home to watch the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Special.  Priorities, man!


(Edit: Work is slow and it's almost time to go home, so I'll add that I found it amusing that Jugular Josh's blog is reference as the eight overall result if you Google "Doctor Who."  Still a bit strange that the actual result is his Google+ page linking to one of his Doctor Who posts.)

The Money is No Object List
Twilight Creations
Cthulhu!!!: Hastur La Vista, Baby! Kingsport Edition        $34.99
Cthulhu!!!: Hastur La Vista, Baby! thrusts you into a desperate fight against elder forces from beyond space and time. You place the stalwart private detectives and quick-thinking girl Fridays who’ve stumbled onto the Cult of Hastur’s plans, and it’s your job to find and sanctify enough ritual sites to prevent the King in Yellow’s arrival. Powered by the Zombies!!! system, Cthulhu!!!: Hastur La Vista, Baby! features an ever-changing map of downtown Kingsport, a 1920s Lovecraft Country city besieged by deranged cultists, frightening creatures from beyond the stars, and an endless supply of mythos mayhem. Scheduled to ship in February 2014.

So, if Arkham Horror and Zombies! had a baby with all their good traits, this might be the offspring.

The Imaginary Store List
With GTM #166 being the last order book before the Christmas holiday, there are a LOT of boardgames listed, both new and offered again.  Two pages of Ticket to Ride?   Sounds like a promotion to restock before Christmas shopping parents descend on the store.

Arc Dream Publishing:
Godlike RPG The Courtyard of Hell  $29.95
Someone is still making Godlike?  Impressive.

Catalyst Game Labs
Battletech: Hexpack - Tactical Operations Counters             $29.99
Battletech: Historical - Wars Of The Republic Era                $34.99

Cubicle 7 Entertainment
Victoriana: Streets Of Shadow............................................. $24.99

Evil Hat Productions
Fate Dice ............................................................................ $15.00
In four styles, Antiquity, Eldritch, Valentine, and Vampire

Fantasy Flight Games
Star Wars Art Sleeves .......................................................... $ 4.99
I rarely mention supplies for CCGs, but official SW card sleeves might fly off the shelves.

Star Wars Rpg: Edge Of The Empire Dangerous Covenants Sourcebook ........ $29.95

Games Workshop
Warhammer Dark Elves are the over-priced soup of the day.  Army book?  $49.50  Ten Dreadspears?  $35.00.  Cauldron of Blood?  $75.  You may only need one cauldron of blood, or an army book for that matter, but a fantasy game with $35 boxed sets for ten measely troops. (Or better yet, 10 witche elves for $60)?  No thanks.

Greenbrier Games
Zpocalypse: Core Game ...................................................... $60.00
Zpocalypse looks to be a tile based board game of zombie survival. I haven't heard anything about it, but it's November release is ambitious to say the least.  The core game, a boxed supplement, extra tiles, terrain, figures, and dice, ten products in total.  That's a heckuva investment for a company, distributor, store, or customer to make.
Konami Digital Entertainment
Yu-Gi-Oh!  Legacy of the Valiant Boosters

Koplow Games
More classic Koplow dice.  Bat Dice, Dragon Dice, Penguin Dice, even Breast Cancer Awareness Dice.

Osprey Publishing
A Fistful Of Kung Fu - Hong Kong Movie Wargame Rules ................. $17.95
Kill Rommel! - Operation Flipper 1941 ............................................... $18.95
Modern African Wars (4) .................................................................... $17.95
Hitler’s Blitzkrieg Enemies 1940 ........................................................... $17.95

Paizo Publishing
Pathfinder Beginner Box ....................................................................... $34.99
Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Fortress Of The Stone Giants Adventure Deck  $19.99
Pathfinder Adventure Path: Mummys Mask Part 1 - The Half-dead City.. $22.99
Pathfinder Map Pack: Dungeon Rooms .................................................. $13.99
Pathfinder Player Companion:  Champions of Balance ............................. $12.99
Pathfinder Strategy Guide ....................................................................... $29.99
Pathfinder Tales: Skinwalkers .................................................................. $ 9.99

Palladium Books
Dead Reign RPG: Sourcebook 4 - Fear the Reaper .................................. 12.95
Rifter #65 ................................................................................................. 11.95

Pokemon Company International
Pokémon Tcg: Black & White Legendary Treasure Booster Display (36)
Pokémon Tcg: Xy Expansion Theme Decks and Boosters

Skirmisher Publishing
Swords of Kos ...........................................$39.95

Spartan Games
I've basically written off most of Spartan Games' lines, save the occasional fantastic piece.  With so many new miniatures games getting released each month, if I were a store owner, I would need to focus on my clientele and the bottom line, and I don't see Dystopian Wars, Dystopian Empires, or Firestorm Armada with overwhelming staying power.

That said, I did pause over their soliciations this month, when one of the DW offerings was the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth Air Cadre and a battle group for the Kingdom of Denmark.   I don't know what's going on in the storyline, but it's always nice to see the forces expand from the tradtional powers.

Troll Lord Games
Castles & Crusades Rpg:  Castle Keepers Guide To The Haunted Highlands ..... $34.99
Castles & Crusades Rpg: Codex Nordica .......................................................... $19.99
Castles & Crusades Rpg: Night Of Spirits .......................................................... $  6.99
Castles & Crusades Rpg: Players Guide To The Haunted Highlands ................... $19.99

Wizards of the Coast
Magic the Gathering:  Born of the Gods

Marvel Heroclix: Deadpool Thunderbolts     $16.99
Marvel Heroclix: Deadpool                          Star Trek Attack Wing Expansion Packs      $14.99
Pathfinder Battles: Reign Of Winter Monsters Encounter Pack  $39.99

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

(Kickstarter) Olleys Armies' Steampunk Scrunts Expands

Olley's Armies Victorian Steampunk Kickstarter continues to add more goodies!

They've added sets 9-11

Palace Guard

Riot Squad

These sets look to be additional reward levels you can add to basic pledges for an additional  £15 per 5 figure set (approx $24 US).

The update page on the Kickstarter also has a few pics of the development of a Steampunk Tank.  As if there aren't enough awesome tanks for Gnome Wars, this one looks like a solid piece of hardware. 

No word on pricing or potential availability quite yet.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Mike Lung Gallery #22

While I do have a number of pictures from Mike during Fall-in!, let's start the with some custom gnome body bags, a la the hospital scene from the first episode the Wallking Dead.

I'm not quite sure what that nurse is doing, but it can't be good. 

"Bring out your gnomes..."


Some fresh graves.  The groundskeeper seems to have the right tools.

Monday, November 18, 2013

My Plans for Fall-in! fell through

Note to self:  While you are still employed with a company that deals with Medicare, do not attempt to attend a "distant" convention during the Annual Enrollment Period.  Way too much stuff to get done, even on the weekends.  Throw in the fact that our seasonal temps bailed on Saturday overtime, and I'm just a bit miffed.  There goes all the glowing references I was offering .  

In hindsight, it was a good thing that work kept me forever on Saturday, as the stomach bug hit the house that evening and my hazmat skills were required.  The only advantage of three sick females passed out in the house?  I could actually watch football on Sunday. My bout with the dreaded bug was quick, but impressive. I can not lie that I'm happy Maja's still wiped out from the bug, as I need a day to recharge batteries, check email, and do some laundry.

The good news is our intrepid reporter Mike Lung did make it to Fall-in! and sent over some pics.  Fun was had by all (I have seen numerous accounts of the gnome/zombie table being described as "raucous") and there appears to be an official Gnome Wars jousting mini!

More to come, first I need to ensure a little girl keeps here Gatorade/jello buffet down.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Khurasan Releases Bolshirats & Menshimice!

Khurasan Miniatures has always been just outside my radar.  Despite making some great products for 15mm Sci-Fi, I've always been snagged by one minor fact:

I'm not interested in 15mm sci-fi, and no one I know plays it.

Then, they just to turn my world upside down by releasing 28mm figures for their "Rodent Civil War"

Introducing the Bolshirats and Menshimice, scultped by Bob Olley.

These should look great next to any Swiss, German, or Russian gnomes.  In fact, it explains why the Russians have the great coats and are -1 to hit.  There not that thick to keep them warm, it's to keep the rodents from biting them.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

(Kickstarter) Fantasy Worlds by Acheson Creations

Oh boy, the Kickstarters continue to roll in, tempting the moths in my wallet more and more. 

Acheson Creations is about 3/4 of the way through a Kickstarter campaign for their Fantasy Worlds line.   Lots of great stuff, especially if you wish a more fairy-tale environment for your Gnome Wars games.

Like any good Kickstarter, the pledge ranges are varied and reasonable.  The two items that caught my eye are the mushroom and apple houses: 

Monday, November 11, 2013

Mepacon 25.... the rest of the story

When I wrote my blog post on Saturday from Mepacon, I was sitting in a comfy chair in the hotel lobby with my buddy Brian, waiting for the second half of the Nebraska-Michigan game.  No more than three minutes after posting that entry, an older gentlemen, with far more salt than pepper limped into the lobby and headed towards the con in the ballroom

I dragged Brian back into the con.  For the first time in 15 years, Mike Griffith, godfather of the one day con in Eastern PA, was setting foot in a convention.
Mike Griffith with Mepacon Con Director, Ed Lehman
The addition of Mike made a great auction even better with a table of Old Guard fellas, making bad jokes and trying to bottom feed at the same time.

If there was one thing that threw Mike off, it was the small hordes of children having waaaay too much fun at the con.  They dominated the paint and take, the computer moderated Starfleet game, and a heavily attended session of coloring.   In fact, it looks like the awards for the coloring contest has earned a spot alongside the dice guess, raffle, and auction.
The coloring contest entries

Raffle:  I spent my $10 donation to the con in raffle tickets.  If I get in for free for running a game, the least I can do is give ten bucks directly to the cause.  I hit twice, snagging a demo copy of Dino Hunt and an Unknown Armies book.

Auction: There have been better auctions, but this one was a long Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 1st Edition in great shape.
  • Top Secret 1st Edition Boxed Set, with the 2nd published module included.
  • Some miscellaneous D&D softcovers (a Companion Set, part of the Masters and Immortals boxed sets)
  • Sword & Sorcery d20 City State of the Invincible Overlord HC
  • Orcs at the Gates boardgame
  • Ace of Aces w/ Balloon Busters
  • Harpoon: Battle of the Third World War
  • Ghostbusters RPG Training Manual out of the original boxed set
  • Buffy: The Vampire Slayer - Directors Screen.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures! (Palladium for those who didn't know)
There were a few other minor things, but everything was cheap. 
Despite no one signing up for Burning Plastic, I brought my stuff in to play, shot the breeze with a few people, and snagged some t-shirts for wife and kids.  In the midst of my transactions, I glanced over and some of the younger gamers had rummaged through the box o' army men and had set up a zombie scenario.  As kids 4-8 are wont to do, they would rotate in and out, depending on their whims.  Sometimes one fella was playing
Add caption
... other times six kids would be there.  We used an drastically abbreviated version of Burning Plastic, with a dominating dose of youthful imagination.

We will be playtesting a zombie robot scenario for the game shortly.

Despite missing a few familiar faces (most noticeably author CJ Henderson), it was a great time for everyone involved.  Most games were full, organized play was back to a packed room, the dealers were well stocked, and any con where you can buy an official con bumper sticker and a properly weighted pirate sword prop is a good one. 

Mepacon 26 (Spring 2014) is April 4-6 at the Ramada in Clarks Summit yet again.  My work schedule might allow a full weekend with the wife.  Samoans, Mouse Guard, and Zombie robots are all possibilities.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Mepacon 25!

It's Viscounteric, live from Mepacon 25 in Clark's Summit, PA.  My work schedule coordinated an earlier than anticipated arrival at the con.  

Attendance looks positive, with plenty of of full tables.  The auction table is fantastic and it looks like a good chance to bottom feed for the first time in years.  People are having a blast.

So I've only managed to pick through the buy outs on the auction table: (Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 1st Ed, Some early 80's D&D,  the Invincible Overlord book for 3.5, and an overflowing  Top Secret boxed set.  Not bad for 10 bucks. 

The only minis game being played is a zombie one, but they're doing it right: 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

(Kickstarter) Olley's Armies Victorian Scrunts are LIVE!

I mentioned in late September that Olleys Armies was planning a Kickstarter campaign for Victorian Scrunts.   All the lovers of the short and steampunk should rejoice because it finally went live yesterday.

Us folks in America are looking at roughly $30 per set with shipping, for each 5 figure set. If you do order multiples the shipping lessens it to closer to $27.

The first three sets, that I had posted previously, really don't float my boat.  As much as oversized weaponry fits the Victorian Steampunk era better than, say, 40k, it still looks unwieldly.   The other two sets of the core five for the KS intrigue me a bit more

I could find uses for civilian Scrunts/Gnomes, even if they have a noble cock.

Even better Civilians
The stretch goals for the campaign will definitely put me in a wait-and-see position.  Zeppelin crews would work well in an escalated Gnomes at War campaign, or dare I advance the timeline to play World War G?

Of course, the simplest answer is, I could start building my Gnomish Space Marine armies.  

With the final payment for the family cruise coming up, I need to hold off till the last week, but I'm pledging something.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Eureka to Release Afghan National Police for Fall-in!

Part of me is sad that I'll probably miss the dealer hall at Fall-in! this year.  The other part of me sees this release from Eureka and cheers that I won't be tempted to break the family budget over such cool stuff when we have a cruise, Christmas, and some capital projects to save for.

I've had a soft spot for playing anything in modern Afghanistan.  It's about #12 on my list of gaming prorities, but between Eureka's Afghan natives and US Marines, I've snagged a few figures over time.  Now, they're releasing Afghan National Police, just in time for Fall-in!

No prices from the announcement on TMP, but they would work well to represent any well-organized paramilitary unit.

Check out Eureka's website for more info

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Mo' New Product from Pulp Figures

New releases from Pulp Figures in the e-mail are like a plastic egg full of chocolate a month after Easter, or a Christmas present hiding behind the tree on December 26th.  

For November, there are a few new figs.   
PGJ-21 Masked Avengers $15.00

PHP-1  Film Crew (New Version)
 If you order both sets, you get a bonus Errol Fairbanks, Sr figure (while supplies last).

Bob is also celebrating Movember (an event combining men's health awareness and facial hair)  with a special limited edition figure.

Meet Lord Sir Caulfield Lippenbrush, entrepid explorer and Chairman of the British Columbia chapter of the Royal Geograhic Mushroom Survey.   He's available for $4.00 (or more, if you're feeling generous) with any purchase on the website. All proceeds from the figure will be going to

If for some crazy reason, you can't find anything else to order, he is available individually for $6.50 in North America and $9.00 world-wide, postage included.  Limit one per person regardless. for more info!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

The Mike Lung Gallery #21 - Fall-In Update

It's been awhile since I posted anything about the intrepid Gnomie/Sculptor/Reporter/ General Madman Mike Lung.    Not that he hasn't been crazy busy on projects, just that most are non-Gnome, and those that aren't could be labelled "Top Secret."

Scouts from the fabelled De Fooz unit snapped this picture on the high plateaus.  Znombies are nothing new to the Gnome World.  Heck, even the occasional herd of them may overrun a village, add a few to their numbers, and forced an organized extermination.  But this...

is a well-organized army, with Cultists of Urinitis leading them?

Even with this, a concerted effort by military forces should fend them off.  But what if it's a just a few gnomes trying to survive.  There lies the concept of the the Saturday night game at Fall-in!, "...Just Not the Slowest".

The event description for those who missed it earlier:

S-222 - Gnome Wars: ...just not the slowest.

Sat. 8:00 PM, 3 hrs, 8 players GM: Steven Stanton and Stout Gnomes Sponsor: Miniature Building Authority & Brigade Games, Prize: GNOMES!
Other 28mm, Rules: Gnome Wars A farm house, a roadside in, and a few hundred of your closest undead friends coming for a late-night feeding. To get away, you don't have to be the fastest…..

The only bad thing I can see is that these are just Mike's Znombies.  There are far more forces being accumulated to destroy the players.  This might be the only game I'll catch Saturday, and it's sure to be a hoot.