Monday, June 30, 2014

The Laurel Lakes 500

At last, a low-key weekend!  Outside of a few friends coming over to see the house, and a kid's playdate I just needed to be at,  things finally started to unfold.

First off, for the first time, my basement workstation, with the first couple of the dozens of boxes, kits, and miscellany brought down from the garage.

The stools my wife snagged at a Salvo/Thrift Shop dirt cheap. They're two or three inches short to be perfect, but I'll put up with them till Christmas.   I'll also need to snag a desk lamp that will be bolted onto the side of the bench.  Those flourescents are freakin' bright, but they're behind my hulking frame and adding shadows while I'm painting.  I also have two more metal shelves to bring over from the old house, plus a seven-foot plastic one for the opposite wall of the basement that we're setting up as a pantry to supplement our cabinet-poor kitchen.

I've got two quick projects I christened the bench with.  I'm painting up my Gnome Wars Americans (Union) up to become the Imperial Guard of California.  Any good flag makers already have a California flag in their normal stock, please let me know.  I'm also working on them so they can be fill in French for some Great Gnome War campaigning hopefully in August.  In Gnome Wars, the Swiss are the primary enemy of the Germans, so the French may fill in a role more akin to the Belgians.  I also do not like the French gnome sculpts which are huge and look more 1917 than 1914. 

The second project I'm keeping secret, although for the loyal readers I will hint that (a) I paid retail for stuff you would never imagine me buying in the first place and (b) it's for the Gnomish Space Marine project.  I'm about halfway done with the ten models, pics coming soon.

On Sunday, I filled in the time between church and the previously mentioned playdate with a new race concept.  GwtG contributor Mike Lung and I have been putting around ideas for a Gnome car race to add to the other events at the HMGS Inc cons.   Mike's pulling out all the stops with 1/43 scale cars and German machine gunners puttied up to look like drivers.  I, on the other hand, wanted to test out the basic rules, start from there, and move onto elaborate gadgets, off road courses, and running gun battles later.  If it's good enough for my 3 and 5-year olds, it's probably simple enough for a wargamer to understand.

So while the girls watch some horrible princess video after lunch, I dug out some engineering graph paper I had snagged years ago at an Office Depot closing for around seventy-five cents a pad. 

The track for the initial Laurel Lakes 500 would make an engineer cry:

Sponsored by the Army National Guard and Jurassic Park 4
Another fun thing I pulled out of the boxes in the garage, some old race cars my Dad had when he was a kid that are now mine.  I would carefully take them down off the shelves my dad had his antique cars on in my parents' bedroom and spent hours with those six, plus a few larger ones, racing across the bedspread and the carpet.  I would have killed for an actual track, much less some rules.

 The rules we kept simple.
  • 1d6 for movement.  You must drive around other cars.
  • If two cars ended a turn either side by side or bumper to bumper, both wold roll a d20.  On 1-5, that car would spin out and lose a turn. 
  • Cars could only pass on the outside on the turns.
  • I did have a few directional arrows to poorly represent racing physics.  On a five lane track(?) anyone in the center had to decide to go high or low through the turn.  While the outside lanes did have more spaces, some of those squares had other arrows that, if a car ended it's move on that space, it would automatically slide out further to the next lane.   There was a spot on each turn, that if land on a spot on the third lane, it would shoot you out not only to lane four, but continued to lane five..
The prize of the race?  The winner got to keep the dinosaur that was decorating the racetrack on their dresser overnight.  Upon finding this out, the girls became cutthroat.

The first lap had Maja and her green cars jumping out to a considerable lead.   Surprisingly, three-year old Millie had some problems with the lanes, and I kept on wiping out my two cars trying to pass one another!
 At the end of first lap, Millie's blue car had caught up, but halfway through the first turn, Maja's team came roaring back and back the blue car in tandem, and subsequently kept spinning each other out. 
The post-race team meeting is NOT going to be fun...
Millie then took took over and fired off a series of rolls so big, a one turn penalty for rolling dice off the table couldn't even slow her down.   Celebratory ice pops were served in the winner's circle, as well as important lessons about being a sore loser and poor winner.   
Maja rules lawyering the position of the cars.
We'll run a few more races, tweak the arrow concepts for drifting and such, and maybe I'll try to put together a wild figure eight track for the 4th of July weekend.

Two other amusing thoughts:  I have a spot in an Alpha-Test this weekend for a much beloved new version of a game.  I may be staring at something that may have a header:


Then again, I might be hallucinating.

I also woke up this morning rolled over to grab my glasses, and woke up face to face with a dinosaur.  Seemed little Millie didn't want to sleep in her room last night and waltzed on over to sleep with Mommy and Daddy, dinosaur in tow.

Friday, June 27, 2014

The Gnomes of August?

Despite the normal Friday chaos at work and calls from daycare, I've actually thought of a crazy concept, and it's for the motivation for the blog to begin with, Gnome Wars.

This Saturday is the 100th anniversary of Arch-Duke Franz Ferdinand's assasination in Sarajevo, giving European the big push into total war.  As Gnome Wars weapons and units are based off of largely Great War technology (the rules are developed from Trench Wars), should be be "celebrating" with a large online moderated campaign game?

I propose....  THE GNOMES OF AUGUST !!!

Let's be honest, the only time we see anyone actually playing Gnome Wars is either at a few select cons or my postings about games with my kids.  There should be no shame with getting a few friends together, moving a few gnomes on the dining room table (paint optional, for the gnome, not the table), posting a pic or two and having it count towards the war effort.  Heck, I'll even take take Eastern Front or even Italian/Serb/Austrian games, if the figures are painted.  Double heck, I'd think Tanga games should count. 

Before I delve into researching how to pull this off, I'd like to see how many takers there are.

Here would be your requirements.

Two or more Gnome Wars units between you and your friends.

Time to play at least one game a month, and no more than once a week.

An active email account, and a the willingness to send pics of the battle and a little after-action-report of the battle.

In return, myself (or a volunteer moderator) would make adjustments to the campaign map based on your battle, and send a basic outline of the next battle to be fought, with special rules, if need be.  Scenery and terrain would be "use what you have" (i.e. books or magazines for hills or trenches, if you don't own any).  We may allow non-Brigade figures only if the gnomes outnumber them, say 2-to-1.

With some luck, and the help of a few friends across the country, or across the globe, your troops might be home for Christmas.

Anybody interested, comment below, or email me at viscounteric AT gmail DOT com, starting the subject with (GoA).

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Even With Money Things Move This Slow...

Another weekend has passed, and I've paid my pledge for two more successfully funded projects.

While I threw a buck at the Atlantis Theragraphica, I did pledge for the hardcover of Age of Cthulhu 8: Starfall Over the Plateau of Leng, and that one hit enough stretch goals to be chock full of goodies.  It will also include three mini-scenarios: The Gang's All Here, Risen is the Moon, and Transatlantic Terror, as well as 22-page insert of the handouts and pregenerated characters, perforated tear-out sheets of business card props for the pregens,  additional NPCs for adventures in and around Eureka Springs and this is all in addition to a piece of free scenery from Fat Dragon Games.  After all those freebies, I also get a pdf of one of the other Age of Cthulhu books just as a part of the original campaign, so #7, Timeless Sands of India it is!

I know all the freebies are still in the writing phase, but I was happy to support the project, knowing full well that the book was already edited and ready for printing.  Getting this book in hardcover was Goodman Games' main objective of the entire fundraiser.   For a campaign ending June 22, I anticipate some the rewards trickling in well before the summer is over.

That's a little amusing to me, as I'm still waiting for the (hopeful) Christmas shipment of my Reaper and RAFM pledges, especially with RAFM already launching their next one.  Hopefully it's not to get pledges from Peter to pay for Paul's orders.

I do know, via a KS message, that my Tales of the Crescent City should have been sent to the printer last night, and the download information for the pdf should be arriving "any second now."  (EDIT: I typed this up at work right before I left for the night. When I got home, the link and codes for the pdf were in my email.  The book is exquisite.)

The main thing that got me thinking about this was a Facebook post from Travis Hanson, the artist for Tanner Jones and the Quest for the Monkey Stone

That, my friends, is the layout for the cover, which means this book is soooo close to going to the printers.  While the Crescent City book I want now, I do have images of the girls opening this up on Christmas Eve after dinner and everyone reading this next to the fireplace. I can create dreams of a "perfect Christmas" and years of nostalgia from a funny book with teddy bear pirates, right?

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

(Kickstarter) RAFM Fantasy Miniatures Universal Soldier

RAFM has just launched their Kickstarter campaign for their fantasy miniatures in a soft plastic (a la Bones), and the publishing of their fantasy rules, Universal Soldier.

They're starting with two "factions" and if all the initial stretch goals are reached there will be six available to pledge for.  On top of that, if I'm reading the campaign correctly, if all six factions are unlocked, an additional 11 figures get added at qualifying levels!

I'm using the skeleton faction as a sample, since they are one of the initial two, and they would be the faction I want if I happened to pledge.  Forty-one skeletons are a welcome addition to a fantasy player, or even someone looking for a different opponent for his gnomes...

The $48 (Canadian.  Around $44 and change US) pledge seems like the best place to start, if your not interested in a revamp of a rules set that's been around in some form since 1977.   Not too happy with the $15 ($13.50US) shipping and handling charge outside the US, but that 's consistant with the CoC Kickstarter.... that I'm still waiting on, btw.  If they're working alongside Reaper in this endeavour, I will also remind our dear readers that I'm still waiting on my Bones II order that ended eight months ago.  Yes, my order isn't scheduled to ship until December 2014, but am I willing to wait 13 months to possibly get this product? 

I shall pledge my buck and wait and see what happens.

Apathy of the New Releases (July '14)

I enjoy going over the monthly pre-orders every month on my blog.  As much as I started the Apathy series to confirm that there's barely anything coming out that I would buy, it fills a big void that I've had since leaving gaming retail almost fifteen years ago.  While I would love to have the financial independence to have a store of my own, right now I'll leave it to the guys at Emerald Vale Games to try and figure it out. 

Recently EVG moved from Alliance over ACD for their orders.  ACD seems like a company that tries a lot harder and a lot better than Alliance.  Not only do they have online updates on their inventory at 8am, noon, and 4pm, for their three warehouses, such data is actually available at the consumer level!  There's only a four hour window to try to claim, "Sorry, out of stock," and everyone has the opportunity to check up and confirm that.

Try as I might to change to ACD's pre-order system, I just can't.  Despite some chronic lateness with certain companies' solicitations, Alliance's Game Trade Magazine  is the most comprehensive and easy to use of all the listings.  While I've heard fleeting stories of stores using GTM as the sales tool they're designed for, giving the customer something more than the spreadsheet or plain pdf the other distributor provides is timeconsuming and foolhardy at best.  It's better to sell the customer the products using GTM, and then go use your distributor(s) of choice when ordering. 

My Want List
Rock Paper Scissors Lizard Spock Dice Game (Koplow 18384) ................................................$3.00
From The Big Bang Theory, my non-gamer wife will be getting a set as well.

My Money is No Object List

Maybe the D&D books at the bottom of the post (aaaah... Spoilers!)
The Imaginary Store List

Adventureland Games
ELEVENSES: THE CARD GAME OF MORNING TEA .......................................................$15.00

Ares  Games
Ten new Wings of Glory planes, ranging between $14.90 and $19.90 MSRP

Battlefront Miniatures
BRIDGE AT REMAGE BFM FW230.....................................................................................$30.00
Battlefront has a nice listing for their new products.  Dust Tactics and the new FoW Great War suffer from the lack of  pictures.  Every infantryman, truck, and tracked vehichle from regular FoW gets a picture.  Doesn't bode well for them.   One the good side, the British Mk IV tanks in 15mm are about half the price of a 25mm one.  Sounds about right. 

Bezier Games
CASTLES OF MAD KING LUDWIG ..................................................................................$59.99

Catalyst Game Labs
SHADOWRUN RPG: FIRE & FROST PAPERBACK .........................................................$14.95

Cryptozoic Entertainment
DC COMICS: DECK-BUILDING GAME - FOREVER EVIL ............................................ $40.00
NHL POWER PLAY TEAMBUILDING CARD GAME ..................................................... $40.00

Cubicle 7
THE ONE RING RPG: RUINS OF THE NORTH ............................................................... $34.95
ROCKET AGE RPG: LURE OF VENUS............................................................................. $29.95

Diamond Comics
First off, they're soliciting for Game of Thrones pint glasses and ceramic mugs, and if these happen to arrive after your post-GenCon "haul o' cash," I can't see anything wrong with stocking these through the holidays.

Secondly, My Little Pony plushes?  If the price is right, and your store customers have young children or are young children, I say why not?

The next part makes me giggle with nostaligia.


There are a number of other series that I don't remember through the years, but collected versions of the two DC series will skew the nostalgia of how not-so-good they actually were.


Fantasy Flight Games
TALISMAN: THE WOODLANDS EXPANSION .................................................................$39.95

1879: MINIATURES COREBOOK........................................................................................ $29.95
1879: BRITISH FORCEBOOK  ............................................................................................. $19.95
This new version of some of the old guys at FASA had Kickstarter campaign for 1879 awhile back that failed so spectacularly that they pulled it.  Here's hoping they catch their niche in the 18mm Colonial Steampunk Sci-Fi market.

Gale Force  9
D&D  TYRANNY OF THE DRAGONS - SANDESYL AND PHARBLEXX ....................... $25.00

Games Workshop
Everything after the fact again with GW.  The 40k Rulebook and Wood Elves and solicited.   For $85, you get a slipcase with three books: Book 1 - A Galaxy of War, Book 2 - Dark Millennium, and Book 3 - The Rules, which according to my math, should mean a $30-35 rule book should be made available, but it won't.  GW has always been expensive, but that sort of outlay for new players seems prohibited, even with the old $50 for a single video game comparison.   Of course they don't care about the long-time players who have shelled out $50+ for each edition since 2nd over the last twenty years.  Those guys already have most of their models and GW will only do their best to squeeze them for the rulebook and the two new "must have" units for their armies.
As I've noticed in the new FLGS,  YU-GI-OH!  creates the same mindless sales in adults as Magic does.  

Everything list was "Offered Again" but I will comment on the special characters.  After seeing some ridiculous prices for individual "special" figures, twenty bucks for a mounted character and ten bucks for a walking one feel like a steal for the customer, rather than highway robbery for the company.

Villany Board Game .................................................................................................................. $45.00

Ninja Division
Relic Knights was a wildly successful Kickstarter that was infamous for it's massive delays.  I won't say anymore on the solicitations in this month's GTM other than (a) they're overpriced and (b) I'm definitely NOT in their demographic.

Osprey Publishing
Lion Rampant - Medieval Wargaming Rules ................................................................................ $17.95
This whole line of rules seems to be doing okay across the blogosphere.  People are at least trying out each rules set as it comes out.
SOLDIERS’ SONGS AND SLANG OF THE GREAT WAR.................................................... $12.95
WHERE THE IRON CROSSES GROW: THE CRIMEA 1941-44 ........................................... $25.95

Overworld Games
Good Cop Bad Cop .................................................................................................................. $14.99

Paizo Publishing
PATHFINDER ADVENTURE CARD GAME: SKULL & SHACKLES RAIDERS OF THE FEVER SEA ADVENTURE DECK ..................................................................................................... $19.99
PATHFINDER CAMPAIGN SETTING: UNDEAD UNLEASHED ........................................ $19.99
PATHFINDER CARDS: MUMMY’S MASK FACE CARDS ................................................ $10.99
PATHFINDER FLIP-MAT: TECH DUNGEON ..................................................................... $13.99
PATHFINDER LEGENDS: RISE OF THE RUNELORDS - FORTRESS OF THE STONE GIANTS (AUDIO CD) ..........................................................................................................................  $15.99
PATHFINDER MODULE: PLUNDER & PERIL .................................................................... $24.99

Pokemon Company International

Sanssouci ................................................................................................................................. $39.99

Steve Jackson Games
Knightmare Chess, 3rd Edition .................................................................................................. $29.95
I remember when the 1st Edition came out... at half the price.  I know, I know, uphill both ways, get off my lawn.
Mars Attacks:  The Dice Game ................................................................................................. $19.95
Munchkin: Halloween Pack ....................................................................................................... $ 4.95
Munchkin Legends 3: Myth Prints .............................................................................................. $10.95

Bang! Halo
Bang! Walking Dead
Doctor Who Dalek Yahtzee
Legend of Zelda Monopoly

and finally, where the bulk of your store's funds are going every month from August through December

Wizards of the Coast
DUNGEONS & DRAGONS NEXT RPG: PLAYER’S HANDBOOK (August) ....................  $49.95
DUNGEONS & DRAGONS NEXT RPG: MONSTER MANUAL (September) ...................  $49.95
Why the gap with no October book?  Is the DMG that far behind?    Rumor and inuendo start NOW!

D&D: TYRANNY OF DRAGONS - THE RISE OF TIAMAT (October) .............................. $29.95
Thirty bucks?  Yikes!



Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Lessons of Maja #11-14

Between the great weather, a super comfortable new mattress, and a full day of doing "stuff,"  waking up in the morning this week and getting the kids off to daycare on time has been impossible. Tack on some kid grumpiness, and it's something other than jellybeans and sunshine in the ViscountEric estate before 8am in the morning.

Lately, the kids have been bringing stuff to school and leaving everything to fall into the Lost and Found.  Little Millie has had some big-eyed Leopard end up there every morning for the past four days, so I finally instituted a patriarchal decree and seized the leopard to take to work, and eventually back home.

I tried to explain to the girls for the umpteenth time, that bringing toys to "school" was frown upon, that they lose a lot of their stuff that way, and, with a huge barrel of ponies at the daycare, they should set up a game or war using them.

Lesson of Maja #14:  Daddy, we can't have a war here.  It's breakfast time!

It's not quite no fighting in the war room, but I'll take it.

And since I haven't numbered the last couple of Maja's lessons, and I fear that this phase could be disappearing (at least in this form),  let me list lessons #11-13 that hadn't been numbered here.

#11:  "The house is on fire and Mommy needs to go to Mexico."   Overheard a while back while playing pretend outside.  Given that the girl's current favorite Scooby Doo is a movie based in Mexico, this doesn't seem as surprising as it was when they first said this.

#12:   "Anyone dressed like Darth Vader is a scary guy." 

#13:  "It's a rule of God that there should be cake at weddings and parties and balls.  That's why he made cake."  Maja's got a nice non-demononational version of the Old Testament God that she developed.  I kind of like it.   Since my parenting style is certainly NOT New Testament in theme, I can understand how she developed that.  And since I haven't done so recently, thanks God, for cake.

And the leopard?  It's under safe supervision before being transferred back to the wilds of the kids' playroom.

The Mike Lung Gallery #26

I don't like to harp on Mike's projects before they're finished and unveiled at a con, but these are two good to pass up. 

Without going into too many details to start, Mike is developing a setting on the Moon for the Space mouslings, gnomes, and other various races to fight over.  Needless to say, this moon is indeed made of cheese, and through some deep existential thought, the broccoli trees were deemed necessary!

After some disastrous attempts and moulding trees, he resolved himself to wire, lichen, and cat litter.  Below are his fabulous pieces.

Monday, June 23, 2014

A Wedding to Measure... for the Charge!

Not much on the gaming front this weekend.  The girl's dance recital on Sunday... and dance recital rehearsal on Saturday morning took up the big chunk of the household chore scheduled, meaning things got mixed around a LOT.  I don't remember if I ever feel asleep during a public presentation before, but the second half of the recital, after my girls did their little performance made me snooze, and it had all the Frozen numbers in it that I automatically start humming as a brainwashed dad.

Mrs Viscount and I hit a wedding reception on Saturday afternoon for one of her coworkers.  The table favors were the surprise of the day: tape measures!

 Alas, it was a hit with the 80 or so other attendees, as I could only pocket my wife's and mine.  Th is is contrary to my wife, who stole an entire table of no-shows' champagne.  Needless to say, I drove home that evening.

We also had an appearance by The Admiral...
Always Outranks a Captain!
 And SOME people got goofy with the chair covers *whistles*

Which my friends quickly turned into something more inspiring.

Thanks, Phil!
As a whole, the staff at the Genetti's in Hazleton was fast, effecient, friendly, and everything I ate/drank there was delicious!  I was nervous going there, as I've frequented the Wilkes-Barre location for about a half-dozen weddings and a few work functions and the  had the feel of multiple assembly line receptions going on at once, which  is how they make their money.

The only thing I did manage to do this weekend was finally bring some stuff down to the Kriget Rum (Basement War Room).  Most paints and flocking are on the table, as well as my new secret painti ng project.   I almost got paint on a figure Sunday night, but I realized I hadn't brought down any water cups yet and when I emerged from the basement, there was a little Millie roaming the living room, looking for someone to help her fall asleep.  #firstworlddadproblems

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Tooth and Sword Kickstarter Expanded

Earlier this month, I mentioned Meridian Miniatures' Tooth and Sword Kickstarter.  It appears that a stretch goal has been reached and a third set of figures, the Neutrals, are now available for the campaign.

The good news, is the sculpts are all great.   I do have two questions:
  1. Why do a stretch goal when the campaign hasn't even reached the main goal?  Smells of desperation, but I'm probably horribly wrong.  I HOPE I'm horribly wrong.
  2. To get the Neutrals, you have to pledge for all three sets?  There's certainly some cost ratios that determined that decision but it has dissuaded me for pledging at any level. 
But I'm weird like that *Get off my lawn!*

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Challenge Accepted, Miracle Whip Guy!

When Facebook isn't trying to lobotomize the remaining masses who are slightly immune to cat memes, political claptrap from both sides of the spectrum, and wives's tales and rumors my five year old could debunk, it lays down some potential gaming material...

I could easily take this guys ramblings and transform them into an In Nomine game, a nice Kult adventure, or even reverse engineer something Innsmouth-style for the Esoteric Order of Dagon, but the gauntlet has been thrown down from Phil at Adventurous Endeavors:

  • Phil I swear to Cthulhu if this video, not the Miracle Whip commercial mind you...this video, is NOT the plot for the Day of Sloth IOU game I will lose all respect for you and strip you of Gazoo status.
    8 hrs · Like
  • Eric Jacobson Challenge accepted!
    8 hrs · Like · 1

  • Considering we had to scrap last year's Illuminati University game due to the a good number of folks being unable to attend the Day of Sloth, I now have a LOT of material to work with. I'm quite certain I'm gong to spend considerable time between my fourth and fifth beer thinking about the scenario, and just winging it....

    Be careful what you wish for, Phil....

Let the Organizing Begin!

Despite a weekend full of weddings, dance rehearsals, and dance recitals, I finally got a little bit of time to start getting the Kriget Rum Viscount Eric up and operational.  Don't worry, I'm either transporting people or attending those functions.  No shaking my groove thing in public or polygamy this weekend.

The first of what I hope are three metal storage shelving units has made it downstairs, and before I just dump my box o' paints on the work table, I figured it would be appropriate to sort things out.  A snafu at Pep Boys with some parts netted me a $20 of any purchase coupon, and they stock plastic shoeboxes and bigger and prices right between dollar store and heavy duty Rubbermaid, I may have snagged a few.

After Friday night, I had a few boxes brimming (mostly terrain), but I still have a number of mini cases to go through and pull all of the miscellaneous figures and find them a home with like minded minis.  Another night or two, plus some numerous trips carrying it down to the war room., and I can figure out priority projects, outside of my Union Gnome Infantry.

Friday, June 20, 2014

(Kickstarter) Legends of Cthulhu Action Figures

I rarely venture out out of the games section of Kickstarter.  I do this for two reasons:
  1. I cry poverty enought as it is when mentioning games
  2. I cry even louder when stuff like Legends of Cthulhu has a campaign.
Cthulhu action figures are one thing.  We've got statues, gee-gaws, and miscellanae galore for Lovecraft material, but we could use a few more action figures and monsters. 

Now, make them in the style of the 70's/80's figures of yore (a la 3 3/4" Star Wars), and you've got a dangerous mix of intellectual property and nostalgia.  Don't worry, it's only dangerous to your wallet.

Just the Kickstarter video alone makes we want to play with them!

The interview with the guys at Warpo took up most of the latest episode of The Miskatonic University Podcast, and I have to admit, it did convince me to look up the campaign.  C'mon, they spent a good time in the interview just talking about how mandatory it was for the cultist to have a vinyl cape!  The guys love toys and love HP Lovecraft, and they did manage to get some of the classic toy sculptors to "go retro" for these figures.  I also love how much information they put on about the whole design process.   This isn't some teenage kid with a sketch or two and no clue how they're produced.    Lots of time and effort has been pulled in, and it's not the case of if and when, but how many and how much of each.

The one thing that makes me cringe is the price.  The figures individually are $35!  Mind you, these will be in exclusive Kickstarter packaging, but come on!  All four figures (on cards) and any stretch goal bonuses are at the Cultist Level which is $110 ($27.50 apiece).  If you need more cultists or Deep Ones, you can get groups of 4 without packaging for $65.00, but it's treated as an add on at the Cultist Level only.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Getting the "F" out of FLGS

Today was the first day I stopped into my new FLGS and realized the two main proprietors, Brad and Joe, were not around.  Some of the "inner circle" (family) had opened up the store on time and were waiting for the imminent arrival of the guys from their real jobs.  I wandered over to the Magic cards and leafed through a few binders. 

There was a table of late teens/early twentysomething guys playing Yu-gi Oh and as the game neared a close, they began dropping F-bombs like drunk sailors on leave.  No one else said anything, and it appropriate that some random white dude would reprimand them, so I let it go and observed.  When Brad and Joe got it, everyone caught up, and I discovered, to my horror, that one of the kids had been hired to work a few hours!

There's a lot of things you can't completely control when being away from the store.  Staffing is one of them. Customer behavior is another.  I have to say I was 50/50 when it came to hiring staff.  Some were beyond phenomenal, and others I had to double count tills/inventory, and even send in a secret shopper to verify wrongdoing.   One problem I didn't have was language, especially more f-bombs than a squadron of B-52s over North Vietnam.  People are willing to go in some seedy holes in the wall to get a product they need, they're willing to deal with "interesting" people, but drop a few casual curses in a sales setting, and second thoughts come back faster than anything on Earth.

What if I was just a random dude coming into the store for the first time?  That would make me feel rather uncomfortable, if not completely unwelcome.

Now change things to a professional mom, looking to get guidance towards purchasing a box of Magic cards, hot new Eurogame, or even a GW army deal.  The ones with still more sense than money would eith turn right around and never come back, or finish the transaction, and keep the kid away from the store indefinitely.   

True, stuff happens, and words slip out.  I'm certain that my run in game stores from '93 to 2000 I let a few choice words escape my lips with customers about, but I would hope if I died and went to gamer heaven, most of those occurances were either after hours or in specific company.  The smartest thing to do is drop that portion of your vocabulary at the door regardless if your a customer or employee.

And while others may argue, cursing left and right while playing Yu Gi Oh is the same level as someone getting stabbed while playing Chutes and Ladders. Cursing Furries might be the only thing lower on the geek scale.

I did shoot off and email to the owners, just as a friendly FYI. 

Edit: And I did get a nice timely response from Joe and I will consider the issue taken care of. It doesn't mean I'm retracting this post. It was written in such a way that I don't mention my FLGS by name, that was intentional. It's an important topic for any shop owner, their employees, and anyone who frequents stores for game nights.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

(Kickstarter) The Dude Abides, But You Should Pledge

A huge smile appeared on my face this morning as I perused the recently launched Kickstarters and found out Impact! Miniatures started a new campaign that might be more my speed. 

For lovers of ecclectic minis, zombie survival games, and Coen Brothers movies, Little Urban Achievers are 28mm minis in spincast resin that really tie in the room, or your gaming table.

This one seems ridiculously affordable, $29 for the 14 resin minis.   They do offer the figures for individual sale, but with the caveat that you must pledge the $5 base pledge before adding on, and the add-ons will be in more expensive metal.  If I want to just  make a Zombie apocalypse at the bowling alley, it would be $30.    The Kickstarter is only two weeks long, so I only have till June 30th to make a decision.

(Edit: I've come to learn that this line has been available in metal, and the figures look to be over $5 apiece, so the add-on promotion is a decent deal.  Still pondering).

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Other Uses for Victorian Scrunts

It looks like the Olley's Army Victorian Scrunts Kickstarter has shipped and everything I've read has been glowing.  Some pledges even admitted just wanting the heads to kitbash some Scandanavian Trolls.

I must admit I'm kicking myself for not getting something from the KS campaign, or even having funds to order some right now.  When I look at this picture
I don't see Victorian Scrunts, I see overweight German gnomes defending the town of Tanga, and doing it splendidly dressed.  With my first wargame in forever fought over Father's Day, I'm advancing towards starting the 2nd half of the long-ignored Tanga Campaign using Gnome Wars.  Civilians are only a possible variable force, and I can design a nice multi-national squad of gnomes to represent them, but these fellows would trump that concept without a doubt.

Monday, June 16, 2014

The Father's Day Battle of Hook's Farm

I thank my lucky stars every day that we don't celebrate Father's Day as extravagantly as we do Mother's Day.   Guys are truly simpler creatures.  At best we would like a gift about some interest we love, a simple but solid meal with the ingredients we love, and the possibility to be left the #$%# alone for a awhile.  Pretty much the same requests we have everyday.

This weekend had my wife working insane hours each day, so I got a whole weekend of "single daddy" mode and, outside the expected meltdowns, everyone had a total blast.  

The reason I can celebrate, Maja (5) and Millie (3) on their 'pirate ships'
First off, I got my big Father's Day gifts left weekend.  The two basic things to keep my new yard in tip top shape, a new manual push mower, and a small tarp to lug the five years of leaves and other debris that built up over to the compost pile.
I know, sexy, right?
Saturday was a manly start as I had to shuttle the girls around for dance recital pictures (Thank God a relative came in for hair and make-up).  A stop at the recycling center, then to our favorite "breakfast place," some time back at the old house still grabbing a few items and tidying up for my mother-in-law to move in, and a trip to the hardware store later and  I had two exhausted little ones who passed out around seven and slept through the night till ten the next morning.  It's true, I'm a slave driver.

Sunday's late start threw a list of errands off the table, so it turned out to be another breakfast out, some more time at the old house, and the most important chore:  clearing off the dining room floor of the new house for a tea party of grape juice, BBQ chips, and Tastycakes, and setting up the much anticipated Father's Day game.

I had planned on running The Battle of Hook's Farm from HG Wells' Little Wars last year to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the book, but life began the crazy climb to insanity which has just started to subside.  After finally getting a chance to start opening up "my" boxes at the house, it was only natural to play with everything I could find.

First off, the map of the battlefield.

Our floor looked similar, but with our own stylings..
Daddy?  Can we start playing yet?
We kept the same objectives as the book, but added in one vital wild card:  Queen Elizabeth II.     The Queen and her escort were scheduled to make an appearance at Firely Church.   Her entourage would move 12" straight ahead at the end of each turn, and only if they were unobstructed.
QE2 riding into a trap!
 Little did the Queen know, by news of her journey travelled fast, and an army of gnomes, organized by the pony revolutionary Fluttershy had been amassed to stop her appearance.

Fluttershy Rebels

  • 2 units Cavalry, one German, one Australian. No guns.
  • 2 unit Swiss gnomes,  The Redhats and the Rangers
  • 1 unit German gnomes, Puple uniforms.
  • 1 unit Sikh gnomes

Objective:  (1)  Capture the church to prevent the ceremony  (2) Capture the Queen!
Shutterfly leading her troops to victory!  
 Maja had also set up a cool HQ for the rebels, complete with Confederate flag bearer, a turtle, a combat, SCUBA team, and a shoebox building.  Little would I know the HQ would have game implications before we even moved the first figure.
Fluttershy's HQ
 In response to the supposed attack, the local nobility raised sufficient forces to protect the Queen, and hopefully the church.   Of course, the noble in the area in charge of such things was Sofia the First, of Disney Jr fame...

The Queen's journey coming to an end.
 Sofia the First's Defenders of English Royalty

  • 2 units of British Commandos (Green Berets and Red Berets)
  • 2 Beefeaters guarding an advance outpost near the church, they had a cannon with them, to dissuade others from getting near their guard shack, not the church.
  • 1 unit Human Union Infantry
  • 1 unit Gnome Union Infantry
  • 1 unit Gnome Union Calvary

Objective:  (1)  Hold the Church  (2) Protect the Queen
It's a long way for the Queen to go...
 Before we even starting moving troops, Millie added a third objective.  Sofia the First commandeered the Red Berets to go on a secret mission to capture Fluttershy's shoebox building "So the puppies had a dry place to stay when it rained."  We weren't using the Gnome Wars St. Bernards as medics, but Millie had put them on the board.  Oh well... more fun!
Sofia, and her posse.
The Rules
With nothing to throw at the other units, I used a stripped down version of Gnome Wars.  Infantry  moved one ruler (12"), Cav moved two rulers. Infantry that reached the plywood boards (a hill) would immediately stop, no matter what remaining movement was left.  Shooting units/figures had a range of two rulers. Shooting was resolved with a d6 per figure, high hits, less modifiers I calculated in my head..

The bunnies advance.

The Aussie Primer Brigade charges  forth with a Mousling companion.
 Turn 1:  
It a couple units to have Maja get used to the rulers, but soon the rebels were off the races.  It took a bit to get  Millie to move her figures, but she did a decent job for a middle aged wargamer, less a three year old. No firing, no charges.
The defenders find their position

The Beefeaters are unfazed.

Turn Two:
Millie bailed on us about halfway through turn 2, preferring to feed potato chips to our real puppy, Pokey. Maja was oddly selective about NOT moving the Swiss gnome infantry units, but rabidly wanted to get the Sikhs to get within range to fire,  and cav units close enough to charge.  The Sikhs whittled down the British Green Berets, and the British could not hit the broad side of a barn in return.  The German Cavalry was taken out by the Union forces, but their troops obstructed the advance of the Queen!
Preparing for the Kangaroos!

Union forces (and Zeke the Mouse) cripple the German Cav.

The View from the War Correspondent's Balloon
 Turn 3
The Union Cav met the Aussie Cav with a flanking charge, but the dice were not in their favor, as the Aussies survived a the charge and the Red Berets fire so that one lone kangaroo rider remained.  Maja's tactic of holding two units back seemed to work, as it stalled Sofia's advance and forced me to consolidate Union troops where it wasn't advantageous.  She's been playing with me for three years, something must have rubbed off.
Cavalry was decimated this day.
Turn Four:
The final turn was cut short due to the arrival of my wife and her cooking up a solid meal of chicken, potatoes, and cheese baked in the oven with Yuengling hot sauce and covered with bacon.

The lone Aussie Cav figure rushed to the Church.  Rebel Victory!   Next, we had the reason most five year old girls don't play hardcore Napoleonics.  Maja declared that Fluttershy the Pony and Zeke the Mouse met on the battlefield and instantly fell in love, stopping the fight.  If only the real world worked that way.

If a Mouse and Pony can't get married in this world, I don't want to be part of it.
Despite the late start, we got our annual game in, Maja had fun (little Millie for a bit, to) and I got to organize my stuff into new boxes before dinner.   I greatly enjoyed breaking out Britains that I haven't played with since I was 13 or so.  I understand the appeal of using them for 54mm ACW, so I may have to scout local hardware stores and hobby shops since that's where I last saw them.   I may have to break out the big pads of paper for some small scale roleplaying with Millie using the Mouslings and my always evolving TIARA rules.

Being a Dad is the best job in the world.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

(Review) Tales of the Sleepless City

For the longest time, Tales of the Sleepless City was my holy grail of my want list.  I believe that and the mousling tavern set sat there for the longest time, and at long last, both are removed.  

I wanted this book for two reasons.  First, I had read nothing but rave reviews from the other products at Miskatonic River Press, and second, with my Call of Cthulhu campaign moving to New York City, it only made sense to get as many quality scenarios to give me options as a keeper.

Sleepless is a varied anthology of scenarios from multiple authors for New York City.  Some are tied to actual historical events, others reinforce urban legends and myths of the era.

"To Awaken What Never Sleeps" by Daniel Harns starts with the Investigators getting involved in an actual historical event (a subway accident) and the slowly involve themselves with the inner workings of Megapoliomancy.  Yes, I didn't know what that was either before I read the scenario.  A good number of potential "ins" for the group besides being the heroic rescuers, plenty of potential harm, both in hit points and sanity, and a potential benevolent ally (more towards the city than the players) make it a solid scenario just outside the norm of CoC tropes.

"Terror from the Museum" by Brian M Sammons starts out very graphic, gets the group on the run, and involves a certain Egyptian god and their favored possibly running around in the sewers.  After reading this I realized that Keeper Murph over at the Miskatonic University Podcast used this with the serial numbers filed off to bolster his Masks game that had deviated, and the first two locations worked great.    Not tremendous risk, and accordingly not much reward.  Despite a few Egyptian links, only one skill check focused specifically on that, so any group can easily be fitted into it.

"The Fishers of Men" by Charles Michael Hurst deals with folk medicine and religion in Harlem in the 20's. The investigators may be dealing with a high-profile case, but they're also dealing with the day-to-day lives of Harlemites, and most investigator groups are a bit to white to handle that properly.  There's magic, rivalries, prestidigitation, and the chance for mass casualties.  There's also some potential for mass growth in investigators' Occult and Cthulhu Mythos skills.   A sneaky street level smarts is required to achieve success.  You ivory tower intellectuals leave this one alone.

In "The Tenement" by Oscar Rios, investigators are hired to investigate(!) a deplorable tenement in Hell's Kitchen.  It has a huge cast to track, tons of role-playing potential because of it, and a lot of (hopefully) non-lethal ruckuses to resolve.  A good mixture of academic and street characters is need and LOTS of social skills (perhaps some points in Medicine and Other Languages would greatly help as well). 

"A Night at the Opera" by Mikael Hedberg has the investigators getting box seats for opera's premiere, but a front-row seat to some otherworldly shenanigans.  This one I can imagine some pacing issues with, as the whole scenario takes place in less than seven hours game time.  Once the investigators are aware of the situation, it can go from containable to world-ending disastrous in just a matter of a wrong turn and a successful skill roll.   The scenario feels like a nice "filler" between longer campaigns, but the physical and SAN lethality are a bit much.  Taking into consideration what they're fighting, that might be understandable.

"The Child and the Weeping Mother" by Tom Lynch and Scott David Aniolowski takes the investigators deep into the politics, intrigue, and Mythos of Chinatown.  Lots of potential violence, escalating racial tension, Chinese gang violence and a game of  "Which dialect of Chinese is this crazy Oriental speaking?" make this a challenging scenario.  For the second time in this book, benevolent figure of mysticism is presented as a short and long-term aid to the group.  This one might require a bit more prep for the Keeper than "The Tenement" but the results with a good group might turn out tremendous.

All in all Tales of the Sleepless City is a great addition to any one's Call of Cthulhu library.  There's enough variety in color and style that most Keepers can easily insert 2 of the scenarios into any campaign and use the others for one-shots. 

This meets my lofty expectations and on the Gaming with the Gnomies Five-Gnome System, I give this book an illustrious five out of five gnomes.

Tales of the Sleepless City is 150 pages, plus a few more for ads, and originally retailed for $29.95.  I know my FLGS grabbed that the last physical copy from the ACD distribution channels, so good luck!

I also just broke down skill use, SAN loss, and some other tidbits about the scenarios here.

Friday, June 13, 2014

(Stat Crunch) Tales of the Sleepless City

While a review of Tales of the Sleepless City is forthcoming, I realized that it had been some time since I compiled a "stat crunch" of a CoC scenario book, and such an analysis would help with said review.

What is a stat crunch, o' true believers?   It's my way of determining if a scenario is appropriate/inappropriate for a group of investigators.  It falls under four sets of data.
  1. Skills:  I will list each skill that is called in each scenario, as well as how many times it is specifically called in it.  If the scenario calls for the potential of skill checks, I will end it with a "+".  Seven Library Use rolls for seven different items is, of course, seven times.  (Library Use x7)  A vague reference to Persuade being useful in a bar counts as one (Persuade 1+).  I've found too many scenarios have "hidden skills" that can kill a scenario in mid-stride if the investigators aren't well-versed (Of course we carry an Egyptologist around in our gang during a turf war, just in case we fall into a sewer full of hieroglyphics.)  In a game was cosmic horrors can overwhelm mere mortals in seconds, I'd like to give the investigators as many chances to succeed/flee as possible.  The inevitable will happen soon enough.   I also don't include any weapon or combat stats unless specifically mentioned.
  2. Potential SAN Loss- If the investigator experiences every encounter that triggers a SAN check, the first number is the minimum sanity loss if they pass every check, and the second number is the maximum SAN loss if they fail every check.  Although it should be common sense, if you're planning on a filler scenario between campaigns, you might not want that scenario that has a range of 5 to 200 in SAN loss.
  3. Potential San Gain - If you succeed in every major objective, this would be your maximum SAN reward at the end of the session.  Perhaps I'm being too kind, but I do compare gain versus loss for a campaign. 
  4. Cthulhu Mythos (and more):  If you read all the tomes and experience all the special circumstances, this is the max Cthulhu Mythos % your investigator can learn.  This does not include the free CM points for experiencing a Mythos creature for the first time (if you do that sort of thing at your table).  Again, CoC is a lot more risk than reward (and earning CM can be more risk than reward), but I like to know what can happen to the group I'm running.  I'll also include any possible automatic skill increases or rewards, such as Occult and Credit, where applicable.
Check out my other Stat Crunch attemps here.

Disclaimers:  The scenarios in Tales are not tied together for a coherent campaign.  They are meant to be one shots or added as filler for a campaign where appropriate.  I've typed up this earliest portion of the post before compiling the data.

To Awaken What Never Sleeps
Architecture x1
Climb x1
Credit Rating x2
Cthulhu Mythos x6
Drive x1
Fast Talk x3
First Aid x3
History x1
Jump x1
Library Use x8
Listen x1
Locksmith x1
Medicine x2
Navigate x2
Occult x6
Persuade x5
Psychology x2
Spot Hidden x4

Min/Max SAN loss range 7-67
Min/Max SAN reward     2-12
Cthulhu Mythos   +3%

 A pretty well-balanced CoC adventure, even with the six Cthulhu Mythos rolls.

The Terror From the Museum
Archeology x1
Art (General) x1
Biology   x1
Cthulhu Mythos x1
Disguise x1+
Egytian Hieroglyphics x1
Fast Talk x4
Hide   x3+
Listen  x3
Locksmith x3
Medicine x1
Occult  x1
Persuade x7
Photography x1
Psychology x1
Spot Hidden x4

Min/Max SAN loss range  4-29
Min/Max SAN reward      3-16
Cthulhu Mythos    +1%

An Egyptian themed scenario the whole party can love!

The Fishers of Men
Anthropology x2
Biology x3
Chemistry x2
Credit Rating x2
Cthulhu Mythos x4
Dodge x1
Fast Talk x2
History x2
Library Use x2
Listen x1
Medicine x2
Natural History x2
Occult x4
Persuade x3
Psychoanalysis x5
Psychology x2
Sneak 4x
Spot Hidden 10x
Min/Max SAN loss range  4-36
Min/Max SAN reward  3-29
Cthulhu Mythos:  +10%
Occult:  +10%
Credit Rating +5%

A LOT of sneaking around and investigating.

 The Tenement  
Anthropology x1
Chemistry x1
Fast Talk x2
Law x2
Listen x1
Medicine x9
Other Lang: Hungarian x1+
Other Lang: Italian x1+
Other Lang: Polish x2+
Other Lang: Spanish x1+
Persuade x20+
Photography x2
Psychoanalysis x1
Psychology x5
Spot Hidden x4
Min/Max SAN loss range 10-55
Min/Max SAN reward   2-26
Cthulhu Mythos  +5%
Credit Raing +16%

The Tenement is a LOT of traditional investigation, taking statements, and persuading people to work with them.  While it doesn't show using this method, there is a lot of potential combat (mostly fisticuffs) so a party would need to be smart, empathetic, and tough to handle the assignment.

A Night at the Opera
Art: Music (any) x3
Climb x3
Credit Rating x1
Cthulhu Mythos x2
Dodge x1
Electrical Repair x3
Fast Talk x1
First Aid x1
Hide x1
Library Use x5
Mechanical Repair x1
Operate Hvy Machinery x1
Other Lang: Italian x1
Medicine x1
Persuade x1
Photography x3
Sneak x1
Spot Hidden x7

Min/Max SAN loss range:  7-165
Min/Max SAN reward     1-20
Cthulhu Mythos 4%

Lots of physical skills for a scenario based upon around an opera.

Ertong He Kuqi De Muqin
Bargain x1
Biology x1
Credit Rating x3
Cthulhu Mythos x6
Disguise x1
Fast Talk x3
Hide x1
History x1
Natural History x1
Occult x2
Other Lang: Cantonese x1+
Other Lang: Mandarin  x1+
Other Lang: Taishanese x1+
Persuade x3
Psychology  x6
Sneak x3
Spot Hidden x15

Min/Max SAN loss range 9-41
Min/Max SAN reward   3-18
Cthulhu Mythos  5%

The scenario is in Chinatown, prepare for some Chinese investigators or a few issues lost in translation.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

(Kickstarter) Meridian Miniatures Tooth and Sword

Since I am friends to all well-sculpted anthropomorphic, mouse or otherwise, the Tooth and Sword Kickstarter from Meridian Miniatures caught my eye.

I'm normally not a big of the Chibi style, but the Mouse and the Lion really caught my eye on this one...

And I can picture the Vampire Bat and Squid/Cthulhu lurking in the shadows of a Gnome Wars game.

The problems I have with this Kickstarter are minor, but burdensome. 
  • The four figures I want are split between two sets.
  • Which is roughly $55US to get for eight figures with shipping from the UK.
  • The campaign ends the day after our first mortgage payment for the new house is due.
Outside of cost, nothing to dissuade those who want to pledge.