Thursday, April 30, 2015

Gamecraft 6mm Taco Bell

First off, Happy 40th Birthday to my friend Wooly (Felix the Headhunter from our distant Battletech days). 

It is fitting on this day that I present the 6mm Taco Bell from Gamecraft Miniatures

 Do the Mechs have to use the drive-thru?

The best part is these guys also make a 15mm and 20mm version, as well as some great box stores in 6mm (Best Buy/Ikea)

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

CoC #26: Masks of Nylarathotep #6 Misr House

March 15, 1925,  2am

After following a truck leaving the Blue Pyramid led them to an island estate, a running gun battle force the investigators to hide in a small wooden area near the manor house.   In response to the gunfire, the truck they had followed drove back down to the gatehouse.

Doc Millheim and Steven O'Hara were on the left flank of the group and they watched a peculiar thick fog work its way across the island on an otherwise perfectly clear night.  It held its shape surprisingly well as it drifted between the woods and the manor house.  Steven, in his weakened state, decided to dash out in front of the fog, stepped into a gopher hole (failed Dex check), and fell face first into the ground,with a twisted ankle to boot.  Doc Millheim raced out to rescue his little buddy, picked him up in one fell swoop and headed towards the manor house.    The fog still managed to envelope the pair, tripping up Doc and even pulling him away from Steven, like a fish hook in the mouth.  The fog forced its way into the good doctor's mouth and began suffocating him!  Lucky for him, Steven was able to regain his composure and save the doctor, each reaching the the back corner of the house to ensure some distance from the magical fog.   These two found a back entrance for the kitchen, and for a large part of the early morning hours, rummaged through the kitchen and pantry looking for oil to make some form of bombs.  They were far more successful at evading the denizens of the estate than setting up explosive devices.

Joshua Wanisko (an NPC investigator) also ran off into the fog, unexpectedly, but no one knew where he ran off to.

Inspector James Barrington, Professor Bob Wintermute, and grad student Anthony Parks all decided to make the long, diagonal run to the front doors of the manor.  Wintermute was fine, Barrington's 55 year old lungs got him severely winded, but it was Parks who slipped on the stone driveway and fell face-first on top of it.  Everyone finally regrouped at the doorstep.

Egyptologist Randall Ward stayed in the woods, a .22 rifle in his hands to cover the approach from the gatehouse.  He watch the truck leave the manor, but a few large fellows jumped out the back and made a slow walk back up to hill.

Before Millheim and O'Hara burst open the kitchen door, Steven emitted a fairly loud "Help!" which caught the attention of Wintermute.  He tried to advance along between the front of the house and the fog, to get around to the back of the manor, but tendrils came lunging out of the fog and Bob could only high-tail it out of that area to the safety, but full exposure of the side of the building.    No sooner did he catch his breath, but he was wracked with unspeakable pain all over.  It took all his effort to hold onto his shotgun, stagger back to one of the windows, and smash it.  He sat on the rather large stone window ledge with one eye on the dining room inside and one eye on the fog as it went by.  Once the fog dissipated he tried to run around the side of the building only to see a large stone obelisk atop a hill in the distance, and a finely dressed British gentleman in tweed walking down from that hill.   Wintermute decided to high-tail it out of there and sprinted past the back of the manor and towards the shore.  There he simply dove prone into the dirty, wet sand, and prayed to any benevolent soul for a sweet release from this hell-hole.

While this was taking place, Barrington and Parks had ventured inside, Parks knocking on the door before entering.  This alerted the cultists inside, but the investigators stayed a step ahead of them, always knowing where the cultists where without alerting them of their location.  Finally, they ventured back down to the main hall, where Parks decided that if they were make a final stand against evil, this humongous fireplace would make a great spot.  Lo and behold, they found a secret door next to the fireplace and hid behind it just before the cultists entered the room.  Once the sound outside dissipated, the duo came out of the "priest hole" and fully searched the upstairs, netting NOTHING.

For Randall Ward, he would have watched the comedy of errors at the manor if he was not so focused on the men walking up the road from the gatehouse.  He was waiting for them to get within reasonable range to shoot them, but someone/something almost snuck up on him from behind!   A gentleman in a suit, wearing a fez, stabbed him a knife.  He almost cast a spell, but Randall fired a glancing shot at him.  The second shot missed, allowing the fez-wearing man to cast another spell.  The last thing Randall Ward remembered was the flat of this man's hand reach out and touching Ward's forehead, then blackness.

Back along the shore, Bob discovered a small pier with a smallish yacht moored to it.  Despite all his nautical knowledge related to destroyers and cruisers, he managed to cast off in the darkness of the ocean.  All he could see were the storm clouds magically form over the island, focusing on the obelisk,  The two pair in the house ventured out of their hiding places in the house, hopefully to find the people they were desperately trying to avoid.  They heard the thunder, saw the clouds, and could make out the cultists.  Despite their interruption, the cultists were going to have a ritual that night no matter what.  The man in tweed order the cultists to shackle three of their own to the obelisk, as well as one capture Joshua.    The remaining cultists continued their chant and the whole group could watch being best described as gods descend from the clouds and ravage the sacrifices in way that should not be described on this blog.

The five remaining investigators (including Wintermute) only shook their heads as the ritual took place.  (It should be noted here that not only did everyone make their SAN checks for minimum loss for watching the ritual, but they all made their SAN checks with one loss apiece for seeing GODS.   Not bad for potential loss of 26.  Even DocMillheim's 24 SAN survived.

Bob escaped into the inky blackness of the night.  Doc Millheim decided to take a picture of the ritual, and while the flash of the camera did not bother the gods (there was lightning and thunder as well to contend with), the cultists began chasing Millheim and O'Hara around the island.   They worked the coastline, ultimately finding a rowboat and desperately heading off into the darkness. Ultimately they reached the "front" of the island where the bridge and gatehouse were.  As the tide was subsiding, the crashing waves beneath the bridge turned to rock and the rowboat hit one, and capsized in two foot of water.

For Barrington and Parks, seeing the cultists chase after other party members gave them the impetus to quickly but unassumingly walked down the road to the gatehouse.   Halfway there, they encountered a completely befuddled Randall Ward, who knew nothing of what was going on.  When they finally reached the gatehouse they were met by four agents of Scotland Yard!  

Inspector Daniel Bragan, a subordinate and confidante of Barrington, kindly acknowledged and informed all three of them were under arrest, for suspicions of numerous crimes.

The investigators are spread among the four winds, arrested, capsized, lost at sea, and a victim of an unspeakable act.   How can anyone piece this back together?  Come back for Episode #27:  Masks of Nylarathotep #7:  The Aftermath of Misr House.

The next entry should help explain why all these illogical acts took place, but I'll use a statement I made as I recorded my recollection on my way pick up my daughter from Grandma's house and head home:  "I don't know if the cultists were just inept, or the investigators were just really, really good at hiding."
Not from my group, but stolen from

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Viscount Eric's Day of Gaming 2 AAR

Sunday was the second annual Viscount Eric's Day of Gaming.  I didn't want the same mass of humanity this year, so no firehall, no birthday cake, so major social media announcements.  I figured that if there were five or six of us total, we wouldn't run out of snacks and beer.

I ended up with 3 1/2 of us, and you know what, it was perfect.

After dragging the kids out of bed early on a Sunday morning and running to the store for the gaming vittles, we got home before the 10am start so I could put on a pot of coffee, munch on a donut, and read the paper while the kids were exiled to the playroom to watch "live" TV (I was not going to be interrupted by DVR or Netflix snafus today, nosiree.)

Brian wandered in about 10:30 with a truck packed for a far bigger spectacle than I was planning, with extra chairs and tables, and three or four additional board games on top of his already packed briefcase o' gaming. 

We moved immediately onto Battletech.  We grabbed twelve mechs at 50 tons or less (the ones I managed to photocopy the sheets at work) and we randomly drafted our six. 

Since we hadn't played B'Tech since my last birthday soiree and the previous time to that was more than a decade ago, we creept along slower than usual (note to self, next time time we have d6s not only to denote hex movement, but different colors to differentiate walking/running). 

With the radom draft, it looked like I got all the fast mechs.  I survived my mad dash behind enemy lines, which turned around to follow and allowed me to peg them in the back with other mechs with long-range weaponry. 

Then Brian's freakin' Panther tried to pop my head off with a PPC.  My pilot scampered over a hill and out of sight, but then the Panther turned his attention on stationary Assassin, pulled two criticals, and hit 23 racks of LRM 15 ammo.  *BOOOM!*

Although the outcome was still open to anything, with my fast mechs drawing his heavy firepower and my Trebuchet on a level 3 hill raining LRMs on anything with range, Steve showed up, so we cracked up the grill (with a quick tank change three minutes in) and had some lunch with the girls. 

The round right before my Assassin (L) went ka-blewey!
Despite Millie's pleas to play campfire outside, we moved back inside for a quick session of CoC.   Two quick facts (1) the group is now in Cairo and (2) I'm waaaay behind on the campaign log.

Steve (and Nate, and Josh) missed the last session, so we took less than an hour to fill in some holes from the previous sessions investigation.  I'll titling this vignette "Why Bob Shouldn't Have Slugged Francois."  We also determined that Brian's new character (again) would be Francois and he could build the ex-French Foreign Legion however he wished.

The girls had come inside from their camping/bike riding adventure, and Maja wanted to play Dungeon Roll "The Dice in the Chest."    Despite Steve racking up a sizable lead, I managed to go 8 levels into the dungeon on the very last turn of the game to win

Millie ran off to watch Ninja Turtles, but Maja stayed, so we now had four players for the rest of the night!

Steve then broke out Tiny Epic Defenders.  I'm usually not giant fans of the cooperative game (I'm not a super-competitive guy either, but the set-up and build-up for the last 15 minutes of panic that most games provide isn't worth it.

Tiny Epic Defenders is quick and simple enough that by the end of turn 2, most players can see the oncoming storm threatening the capital city. 

Our four player group wasn't a well-oiled machine, but we kept everything at bay. When the big bad, The Kraken, showed up, we didn't panic. In fact, at the end of the turn we were halfway to killing it.

Then every bad card for the outlying regions were pulled, destroying three of the regions, and laying waste to the capital, before we even had a chance to respond.

Still, we all had fun.

Next Steve pulled out Harbour, a resource trading game.  While Steve explained the rules to Brian and Maja, I dealt with a Mrs Viscount bringing home groceries.   While the resource acquisition seemed a bit confusing to somehow missing the first ten minutes, we had some fun accumulating resources.  Maja enjoyed going to the Inn for "milkshakes," and that's the story we're sticking to.

Maja took over and broke out Zombie Dice.  We attempted a record for futility going through three rounds without rolling a brain.  After everyone carefully harvesting two or three brains every round like a baby climbing stairs for the first time (and me rolling seven shotgun blasts in one round.  Four on an obvious misroll, and three more on the reroll), Steve came out on top.

Finally, with things getting dark, Maja whipped out the most cutthroat game of all for us to play:  Connect 4!
Connect 4
As to be expected, a team of two grown men defeated the father-five year old daughter duo, but not without some tight moments.

For a gaming throwdown, I think we did enough gaming of all sorts.   Sure, we didn't get Car Wars in (One game of Car Wars would take the place of all those games, and no Maja to help/play), but the map was used to play everything upon after Battletech.  We need to invade Steve's place after a long absence, and Car Wars might be the game of choice.

Of course, the whole game day was to be a belated celebration of my birthday, so Brian was nice enough to add an item to my expanding gnome collection.

The variety of the "My Little Gnomies" collection is enough to make me venture into a Five Below to see if they have any others in stock. 
 The only casualty of the day was after the fellas left.  We cooked up hamburgers on the grill for the family (and enough for the week's lunches) and as I walked the ever annoying Pokey, Pippen our canine poop machine, pulled herself up to the back of the counter to enjoy the cooling burgers.

Anyone want a free dog?

Monday, April 27, 2015

(Kickstarter) Ral Partha Chaos Wars

There was a time in the distant past where I, as a grubby D&D playing teenager, dreamed of moving vast armies across my mother's dining room, and these visions did NOT include Citadel/Games Workshop models.  Everything originated from the Ral Partha catalog, both fantasy AND historical.

It looks like Iron Wind Metals are looking to re-ignite that nostalgic passion with their Ral Partha's Chaos Wars Kickstarter. 

These are the figures I looked at lovingly in the blisters at the store as a young man.  As much as some things change, one thing hasn't changed:  I can't justify their cost. 

Twenty buck (plus $6 S&H) for four elven archers with early 90's style sculpting?  Probably the cheapskate in me saying no, but I could be right about being wary of that. 

Starting at the $75 level (24 elves or 24 orcs) you start to see some value.  $140 nets you 48 figures.   For me it's a bad time to try to reignite some faraway nostalgia. 

Another thing that made me smile (and wince) were the inclusion of all the old war machine, siege model, and a number of big beasties as add-ons to the Kickstarter.  The $20 to $35 range for most of them don't make me flinch as much as the smaller figs, although I really wish I remembered how much the jabberwockey figure ($11) originally was, pre or post rallidium.

Apathy of the New Releases (May '15)

My Personal Want List

The Money-is-no-Object Want List
Victoriana RPG:  Lands of Liberty ..........................................................................  $24.99
Always interested in yet another take of North America in Steampunk times.

Osprey Publishing
Wars of Atlantis ........................................................................................................ $17.95

The Imaginary Store List
Alderac Entertainment Group

Atlas Games
ARS MAGICA: THRICE TOLD TALES ............................................................. $27.95

Battlefront Miniatures
Brown Water Navy ................................................................................................. $20.00
Nachtjager ............................................................................................................... $20.00
Colours of War  ....................................................................................................... $30.00

Bushiroad makes the Cardfight Vanguard, Future Card Buddyfight and the Weiss Schwarz TCG. lines that I've only seen stores with a vague interest at best.  Alliance lumping 9 different sets into one month's solicitations does no favor for the company.  To my untrained eye, the artwork all looks similar enought that the store buyer is (a) going to get overwhelmed and not order anything or (b) order the wrong boxes of a game, assuming they work with the other.

Catalyst Game Labs
Battletech: Combat Manual House Davion HC ...................................................... $29.99
Shadowrun Crossfire DBG:  Mission Expansion Pack 1 High Caliber Ops .......... $14.99
Shadowrun RPG: Crimson PB  ............................................................................... $12.95

38 different sets/singles of dice

Cubicle 7
THE ONE RING RPG: THE ADVENTURER’S COMPANION ....................... $39.99

Evil Hat Productions
The Dresden Files RPG:  v3 The Paranet Papers HC ........................................... $49.99

Fantasy Flight Games
The End of the World RPG:  Wrath of the Gods HC ............................................ $39.95
I caught some discussion of this on a couple of podcasts.  The whole line will consist of a universal rules system in the book, followed by all the campaign material for a particular end of the world scenario:  Godstorm, Zombies, Alien Invasion, etc...  The only issue I have for the line is that everytime you want a book for another campaign style, you're buying the rules again.

Star Wars RPG:  Age of Rebellion:  Strongholds of Resistance HC ...................... $39.95
Warhammer 40K  Forbidden Stars board game ...................................................... $99.95

Gale Force Nine
D&D Elemental Spell Deck (43 cards) ................................................................... $ 6.99

Games Workshop
Citadel Spray:  Khorne Red Spray ......................................................................... $18.00
Eighteen bucks for spray paint?
Warriors of Chaos  Archaon (HC) ......................................................................... $85.00
The focus of this month's trip to Overpriceville goes between some lingering Harlequins from last month and Warhammer Fantasy Khorne figures, who only remind me of Satan in the South Park Movie.

Goodman Games
Dungeon Crawl Classics #84 Peril on the Purple Planet Boxed Set. ..................... $59.99
Dungeon Crawl Classics #85 The Making of the Ghost Ring ............................... $14.99
Dungeon Crawl Classics #86  Hole in the Sky ...................................................... $ 9.99
Grimtooth's Ultimate Trap Collection ................................................................... $34.99

Icosa Entertainment
Pathfider:  Pure Steam Campaign Setting ............................................................. $34.99

IDW Publishing
Orphan Black Card Game ..................................................................................... $29.99
I know the show has some geek cred, but a game?
Trap! ..................................................................................................................... $ 5.99

Kobold Press
Pathfinder: Larger than Life - Giants.................................................................... $19.99
Pathfinder: Southlands HC .................................................................................. $49.99
Pathfinder: Southlands Bestiary .......................................................................... $29.95

Konami Digital Entertainment
Yu-Gi-Oh!  Arc-V Starters
Yu-Gi-Oh!  Starpack Arc-V Boosters
Yu-Gi-Oh!  Crossed Souls

Looney Labs
Cartoon Network Fluxx ...................................................................................... $15.00

Mayfair Games
Catan Traveller Edition ...................................................................................... $45.00
Forty-Five bucks for a portable version?  Assuming the case unfolds to be the flat surface for the board, it might be betters than lugging a small box in a carry-on.

Mongoose Publishing
Traveller RPG:  Character Pack ......................................................................... $ 9.99

Osprey Publishing
Bolt Action: Germany Strikes ............................................................................ $29.95
Armies of the Greek-Turkish War 1919-22 ....................................................... $17.95
Osprey Military History Calendar 2016 ............................................................. $16.00
After January 1st , it's never too early for next year's calendar season/

Paizo Publishing
PATHFINDER FLIP-MAT: MUSEUM .....................................................................$13.99
PATHFINDER: OCCULT ADVENTURES HC .......................................................$39.99
PATHFINDER PAWNS:  MONSTER CODEX BOX ..............................................$39.99
Reaper Miniatures
Another gigantic wave of Bones minis...

Warlord Games
Another wave of stuff without prices, except for Terminator Genisys, which is $80.00

Wizards of the Coast
Magic the Gathering Origins
Boosters, Decks, and Fat Packs for the set

Attack Wing Waves 11 and 9 (?) ............................................................................ $14.99-19.99

Saturday, April 25, 2015

The Four Immortals of Gnomekind

As the League of Gnomes does their tireless, but incredibly slow development of Gnome Wars and it's campaign world, let's visit my interpretation of a great concept by gnomie Kevin "of the Canadians":  The Four Immortals of Gnomekind. 

The four special characters in Gnome Wars, the Wizard, the Vampire, the Witch, and Santa, each represent a different corner of the gnome world.  Use D&D alignment, the four elements, or the witches of The Wizard of Oz as an example. 

If we're to use D&D alignment, the Wizard (or possibly Wizards) is Lawful Good and is the first modern immortal recorded in history.    Funny thing is, even among the earliest Swiss villages that kept records, every village history notes a magical gnome of great power, living on the outskirts.  It is has never been completely confirmed if there are more than one wizard, if they are underlings of the immortal, or simply a avatar of him. 

Regardless, the Wizard of the village was known to defend the village, educate the younger gnomes, and become final arbiter in the most difficult cases.  The Wizard's word was above law, which included a decree to never go beyond the outskirts of the village.

The Wizard is only the ultimate druid of the village, being able to befriend even the fiercest of creatures, control portions of the weather, and even help with the crops. 

Then Santa (Chaotic Good) arrived.  Boring gnomish philosophers and religionists consider the arrival of Santa as the creation of "Gnome Free Will" while Gnomish Doctors claim he was responsible for instilling "The Wanderlust" in the hearts of gnomekind.  The Wizard had such a hold on the gnomish people, that this effect only lasted for a short time, many gnomes returning to their home villages with horrible tales (possibly implanted by the magic of the Wizard).  Village wizards would again ban travel outside of the villages, sometimes breaking relations off between two villages separated by only a large hill.  At some point (possibly after the appearance of the other two Immortals), an unsteady truce was made between these two beings.  As a gift the Wizard, Santa gave him a large supply of clockwork gnomelings.  Whether this supply is infinite or simply immense, no one knows for sure.

Santa also introduced the tinkering gnomes still love to this day.  Certainly, gnomes were always inventors in some form, but Santa introduced the concepts of clockwork and steam power.

What few gnomes even realize is that Santa is a war-profiteer.  While it is true that he delivers toys to every good gnome girl and gnome boy every year (and a week later for the Russian gnomes), he spends most of the year in his workshop building Weapons of Mass Gnomination, which he sells under various aliases to all the nations of the world.  For him, chaos is truly good.

Legends of the Witch (Chaotic Evil) appeared as the Gnomans expanded into the lands of  the Hungers, Emos, Vandal, and Trespasser tribes.   This being could control and contort the forces of the Ebon Forest and would bribe and deceive the tribes to fight against each other for her own personal gain.  Gnoman legions constantly recorded battles with tribes being led by an acorn wielding demoness with demonic gourds of death! 

The fall of the Gnoman Empire was the pinnacle of the Witch's power, as she took over the Germanic lands and spread her influence in most dark corners of the Gnome World.

It's unsure when the Vampire (Lawful Evil) arrived in the Germanic lands.  While history states the muddled mess of German principalities, duchies, and baronies was formed before the arrival of evil, the opposite was true.  The Witch had "always" been there, but the Vampire(s) slowly consolidated power, forming these small governments in an effort to lessen the witch's influence.  While The Vampire warped tinkering into German industrialization, Santa's gift of free will allowed the Prussian states to fight the vampiric influence and unite the states under the German flag.  The Vampire still holds considerable sway, with War Ministers, noble courts, and kings of industry.  Santa does not push harder, as he profits from the war effort as well.

This was heavily expanded upon Kevin's initial work, which involved the Witch stealing an Encyclopedia Britannica, and all the pages scattering across the world, turning Gnomes into the ethnic groups they are.  His theory could explain why the Japanese are so close to aid the Germans at the drop of a hat in HMGS con games.
For me, I treat them essentially as Time Lords with multiple avatars.  No more than one of each character should be on the battlefield at a time, but they can appear anywhere in the Gnome World at a moment's time.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Bailing on Mepacon

Sad news, I won't be attending Mepacon tonight for my first playtest of the Gnomish Space Marines RPG.   Work and family affairs have screwed up my five hour window to run a game, and certainly destroyed the outside chance of running up there with Maja on Saturday night for the auction.  Hopefully, they post lots of pictures of the new facility in Scranton.

More importantly, this ends Maja and Millie's stranglehold on the kid's coloring contest.

I officially offered my services for the next Mepacon, November 13-15, in Scranton, working under the children's gaming track.   I forsee running Gnome Wars, The Village,  Heroquest(?) and helping out Friday night and all day Saturday.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

2015 Origins Awards Nominees Announced

Yesterday, the Academy of Adventure Gaming Arts and Design announced the nominees for this year's Origins Awards.

Here's the list of nominees and, if I had a vote, who I would vote for:

Best Board Game
The Battle of Five Armies-Ares Games
Cash n Guns 2nd Edition
Dead of Winter: A Crossroads Game
Sheriff of Nottingham
Sheriff looks nice, but I'll go with Cash n Guns 2nd Edition

Best Card Game
Among the Stars-Stronghold Games
Star Realms
Sushi Go!-Gamewright
Haven't heard of any of these, therefore I abstain.

Best Children’s, Family, & Party Game
Archer: The Danger Zone! Board Game- Cryptozoic Entertainment,
Gravwell: Escape from the 9th Dimension-Renegade Game Studios
The Hare and the Tortoise-Iello
Abstain again.

Best Collectible Card Game
Magic: the Gathering Khans of Tarkir- Wizards of the Coast
Pokemon XY Phantom Forces-The Pokemon Company Intl
Siege: Heart of Darkness-AEG
The Spoils-The Spoils USA
Khans is a pretty solid set...

Best Game Accessory
Battletech Lance Pack: Assault Lance- Catalyst Game Labs
Counter Ring-Crit Success LLC.
Pathfinder Battles: Reign of Winter Standard Booster 8 Ct. Brick-WizKids Games
Wings of Glory Mat-Ares Games
The resurgence of Lance sets in Battletech trumps  rings, mats, and pre-prainted minis.

Best Historical Board Game
Armada Invincible-Zvezda LLC
Heroes of Normandie-Iello
Last Chance for Victory-Multi-Man Publishing
1066, Tears to Many Mothers-Tristan Hall

Best Historical Miniature Figure/Line
D-Day Firefight-Osprey Games/Warlord
Early Crusade & Outremer-Gripping Beast
Rorke’s Drift-Warlord Games
Sails of Glory Series 2-Ares Games
101st Airborne-Collectors Battlefield
The Rorke's Drift stuff is beautiful and all-encompassing for what it is.

Best Historical Miniature Rules
Across A Deadly Field: Regimental Rules for Civic War Battles- Osprey Publishing
The Crescent & The Cross- Studio Tomahawk/Gripping Beast
Lion Rampant: Medieval Wargaming Rules- Osprey Publishing
On the Seven Seas: Wargaming Rules for the Age of Piracy and Adventures c. 1500-1730-Osprey
Sails of Glory-Ares Games
From the plethora of gaming rule Osprey is publishing now, Lion Rampant another winner.

Best Historical Miniature Rules Supplements
Battleground Europe- Osprey Publishing/Warlord
Battlegroup Barbarossa-Ironfist Publishing
D-Day: Battle of Carentan-Collectors Battlefield
Flames of War: Barbarossa- Battlefront Miniatures
Bolt Action: Tank War- Osprey Publishing
I got nothing here.  Abstain.

Best Miniature Figure Line
Archangel Raphael-Dark Age
Dungeons & Dragons: Attack Wing-WizKids Games
Imperial Knight-Games Workshop
Kukulkani Cabrakan-Dark Age
Nagash-Games Workshop
Attack Wing wins simply by not being overdone.

Best Miniature Figure Rules
Battletech: Alpha Strike Companion-Catalyst Game Labs
A Fistful of Kung Fu- Osprey Publishing
Golem Arcana-Harebrained Schemes
Marvel HeroClix: Guardians of the Galaxy Starter Set- WizKids Games
Warhammer 40,000- Games Workshop
A Fistful of Kung Fu wins because I refuse to vote for another HeroClix retread, a highway robbery overprice GW retread, or the new Battletech rules that I've seen no one use.

Best Role Playing Game
Atomic Robo: The Role playing Game- Evil Hat Productions, LLC
Dungeons & Dragons Players Handbook-Wizards of the Coast
Firefly Role-playing Game-Margaret Weiss Productions
ICONS: Superpowered Roleplaying: The Assembled Edition-Green Ronin
The Strange-Monte Cook Games LLC
I don't like 5e too much, but the Player's Handbook should win both fan favorite and peer awards.

Best Role Playing Supplement
D&D Monster Manual-Wizards of the Coast
Emerald City: Mutants & Masterminds- Green Ronin
Hobbit Tales: From The Green Dragon Inn-Cubicle 7
Mummy The Curse: Book of the Deceived-Onyx Path
The One Ring: Darkening of Mirkwood-Cubicle 7
The Strange: Bestiary-Monte Cook Games, LLC
As much as I was impressed by the PHB, the MM left me wanting more.  I haven't seen any of these books at cons or FLGS, so I will abstain.

While they took away the straight democratic voting of gamerdom years ago, they have left voting for the masses with a fan favorite award for each category.  The rest are voted on by the Academy of Adventure Gaming, so it's a peer based award that doesn't always award the big and ridiculously trendy games.

Of course, the whiners have already descended upon the news, claiming bias and decrying the omission of products.  Since I was informed yesterday that the "pay to play" rule (a company must submit product to the Academy to even be considered for a nomination) have been rescinded for awhile now, it's completely the ineptness of the Academy not knowing their own "industry" if something is missing.

If these are their choices, I liked it better when it was pay to play.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

(Kickstarter) Pine Tar Baseball 1884

My love of Dice Baseball is as strong as ever, even if I never have a chance to play. 

I usually balk, when it comes to sports games on Kickstarter.  Most are either over-complicated messes or under-produced pipe dream from the creators.  I think Pine Tar Baseball 1884 might hit the sweet spot of the bat.

You're not necessarily pledging for the rules (there's a link to them on the KS page for free), rather its the APBA-styled cards for each team.  Most at-bats are conducted with a single percentile roll, referencing the card stats for the batter and pitcher.   A few follow-up rolls (d10) may be required under special circumstances. 

The main thing that appealed to me was the fact that the full edition uses the eight National League and 13 American Association teams from 1884. 

Pledges run from $2 for the rules, and two teams on pdf, to a $36 (plus S&H) for the boxed set with all 21 teams, scoring sheets, playing pieces, and dice.

It's not Dice Baseball, but I'm not that biased to know that this looks to be a great game.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Gaming Hipsters

Over at Fustians so Sublimely Bad, there was a mixture of lamentation and revelry that he was becoming a gaming (geek) hipster, liking only the older and more unusual game.   By that general description, I would be a gaming hipster, which I am most certainly not.  So what would one actually be?

The first question that needs to be answered is "What is a hipster?"  While I know it could very well be a case of I know it when I see it, the actual term needs a harder definition.

Hipsters take old forgotten things and make them trendy within their own community, sometimes within their own person.   Lumberjack flannel, 1880's beards, retro bicycles, Pabst Blue Ribbon, hunting down some book, movie, or band "You've probably never heard of."  If you're an honest-to-God lumberjack or life-long alcoholic with poor beer choices, you are not a hipster.   Of course, there are wide degrees of this.  A quick search of Google I'd like to think that my sister and brother-in-law, Sean, are socially acclimated hipsters (they' into some unusual stuff, but they are not only self-aware of their status, they're socially conscious of it.) 

The gaming hipster is going to follow the same short guidelines,  a thirty something devotedly playing White Box D&D with no other influences is the best example I can come up with.  A twenty something rolling up a dralasite for a Star Frontiers game is another.  My brother-in-law Sean still owns his copy of Star Frontiers when he was a teenager.  For him, a SF game would just be a nostalgic trip down memory lane...  unless he coerced every gamer in Jamaica Plain to just play Star Frontiers.  That would be kind of eerie.

From my response to the blog post, I think the qualifying question to be a gaming hipster is, "Did you buy/play the game when it was still in print?"   If no, then you're a hipster. If you played the game/watched the movie when it was current, at best you're simply nostalgic, at worst you're a hardcore grognard, or just an old fart.

Our group was borderline hipster in college around '93-94 because we were fascinated by all things FGU and anything Gamescience had been carrying in their catalog since the early 80's. I say borderline because all of those items could still be ordered through distribution channels.

The guy in our group who was totally ga-ga about 1st edition Tunnels & Trolls and nothing further out of Flying Buffalo? Total gaming hipster.   Of course that was the same person whose convoluted mind spawned Burning Plastic (minis rules for green army men well before it was cool), and Agitator (the d12 role playing system).

The whole "you probably never heard of it" angle doesn't fly in gaming (and beer).  Ignorance of a world outside of D&D/40K/Magic/Budweiser products doesn't mean the person interested in Savage Worlds/Dirtside/microbrews and any non-Japanese CCG in product is off the hip lunatic fringe.

I've always been a bit retro in my styles (the joke in college was that I was the responsible adult, since I dressed like I was straight out of the forties, with lots of hats and twenty years of enjoyment of Sloe Gin Fizzes).   Ever since I got my first Wargames West catalog in 1990, I've had an understanding and appreciation for games that "aren't D&D."    If I had actually managed to buy and run Rus, the Russian RPG (of mud), or fully fleshed out a West African Recon campaign, or focused all my fantasy RPG attention post-1994 with the Arcaneum (the Bard Games Atlantis Trilogy), I may have been a hipster. 


Monday, April 20, 2015

(Kickstarter) Sisters of Serens on Indiegogo

Longing for the days Mordheim, ahem, I mean "fantasy" warbands to skirmish wargame with.  Does the concept of kickass nuns appeal to you?  Then Warband-Miniatures is right up your alley, with their Sisters of Serens campaign on Indiegogo.

I originally was going to poo-poo this idea for a number of reasons.  First off, the creators are in Spain (international shipping).  Second, it's $75 for a 10 person squad.   Third, it's a pretty obvious rip-off of the Sisters of Sigmar warband.  Heck even the "Moon Stone" marker looks like great Wyrdstone.

Here's why I was wrong to think this:
(1)  The $75 perk level AND EVERY OTHER pledge level includes FREE SHIPPING WORLDWIDE.  The ten or twenty bucks for S&H is already built in. 
(2)  The sculpts will be far superior to the GW Sisters line.  The  Matriarch and the Auger for Warband-Miniatures are in very dynamic poses especially when compared to these.

Okay, the GW one is still pretty sweet.
Since I'm screaming the oncoming storm of pre-Disney vacation poverty, I can't jump on this (and I haven't had a big interest in Mordheim in awhile), but with individual figures on eBay are fetching ten bucks and warbands are a hundred, this might be worth a shot.

Karaoke Night in America

Saturday, April 18, 2015

The Grand Columbia Station Soiree

Friday afternoon, my wife and I took half days at work, dressed as fine as we felt like and drove two hours to the outlying suburbs of Philly for our friends Scott and Bridget's wedding.  

We navigated turnpike traffic a slew of back roads that all started with "Old," and the gridlock of two lane roads that never get updated in the area, but we arrived at Columbia Station with minutes to spare.

And we were the good guys. Our friends, Wooly, Jenny, and their tagalong, Don, as well as Derek and his family, all showed up after the procession.  

Oh yeah, at least two fellas brought dice.  Enough for Battletech (or Risus).

The Viscount and the lucky fella
For an outdoor ceremony, with the low roar of traffic on 29 muffling the quiet minister (So long as Scott and Bridget could hear it, that's all the matters.) we went in the building for hor 'douvres and ultimately the meal.

A great time was had by all, the service was phenomenal, and food was extraordinary.   We didn't get home from the wedding (and picking up the kids) until 1:30am.  A few things that I've learned.
  • Sad news regarding The Encounter in Allentown and (the completely unrelated) liquidation of Dreamscape Comics.  One made me sad, the latter entirely grumpy (circumstances notwithstanding, I believe I knew more about the subjects Jeannie was having issues with that the support circle around the store, and I never got a call.
  • Wooly is finally attending a con for the first time in 15 years.  Sure, it's a sci-fi convention in Altoona, but it's a start.
  • Scott and Bridget will soon be moving into a new home, and another gaming room is in the works.  It's a little more accessible than the reception site, but it's still a drive to Trenton for Bob's game, perhaps a wee bit closer.
  • Sexy leprechauns like it in the caboose.  (There was a  real caboose onsite).
  • My wife has gotten too old to drink like she did when she was young.   (There's a reason I did the whole DD thing last night).
  • Apparently, we're planning a cruise with Wooly and Jenny for February 2016 (or 17, or perhaps the drunk people forgot about it already).
Congrats guys!  (And no, we didn't game... just talked shop).

The Viscount, Don, and Wooly

Friday, April 17, 2015

The Mike Lung Gallery #30 - Suitable for Framing

When I decided to give Mike his own personal gallery, I assumed it was just to show off his minis or new terrain.  I never realized there was a Van Gogh in the gnome mix!
I got this from him many moons ago after he had suffered a system outage at work.  While it looks like a unit of Swiss marching in formation to their deaths, in actually, it's a good representation of Swedish (yes Swedish) gnomes during the later stages of the Thirty Beers War.  The Swiss would still have halberd-dominated units. 
Here's a quick first look (thanks to Mike) of the Swedish Gnomes, specifically the 5th Tomten Rangers.

An NCO with a Halberd, a Scandinavian version of the alphorn, and a lantern for mining?  He might worth a few more points than a Swiss NCO.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

(Kickstarter) Critter Kingdoms: Anthro Animals Miniatures Line Expansion

I'm a bit disturbed that I Revisited Dark Sword Miniatures earlier this month and I completely missed ( one brought it to my attention) of their Critter Kingdoms: Anthro Animals Miniatures Line Expansion.

As of today, there are five days left to the Kickstarter.  They've easily made their initial goal and plowed through six stretch goals.  The pledge levels are pleasantly cut and dry ($2+ for a donation, $100 (+10 S&H) now nets you 18 figures.  Plus, they are offering two sampler packs as add-ons at over 40% off their retail price.
After going over finances with Mrs Viscount, not only is this not in the realm of possibilities, but I am resigned to keep my Car War Arenas KS where it is.  

 I will be doing a separate post covering the Mouse characters on this KS with individual pictures.   Those look too cool not to pick up after all this is done.

Two Free Sci-Fi Scenarios

After I pour through my emails at work in the morning, I take a few seconds to check the blog and my standard run of recreational reading (recently just TMP and Kickstarter).  As of late, if it doesn't say Car Wars on it, I haven't shown much interest, but this morning I barely caught a generic "2 free scenarios" at the bottom of the TMP Blogs of War section.

The Dog's Brush is a relatively new blog that covers Sci-Fi, WW2, and a little bit of Pulp gaming.  The scenarios are clean, with just enough complications to keep thing from immediately devolving into "both sides charge the other."    It did bring back a quick memory of cleaning up the workbench last weekend after the Isandlwana game and staring at the Legions of Steel/Warzone/Squats I have on the table.  The Battlemechs need to be painted first,but I think I can convince the fellas for some sci-fi minis action for our Memorial Day get-together.


Wednesday, April 15, 2015

My Little Taxes

It's Tax Day.  Make sure you don't fail your Tax Evasion roll!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

(Kickstarter) Car Wars Arenas Extras Continue to Swell

When I first mentioned the Car Wars Arenas Kickstarter I mentioned how I appreciated the simple, bare-bones approach to the project, as compared to the crazy-awesome bloat of the Ogre Designer's Edition.

I think I spoke too soon, and although I have some trepidation, it may be a good thing.

I have it on good tin-foil-based authority that Steve Jackson is personally adding a series of bonuses to convince me to upgrade my pledge for just Car Wars Arenas ($20 + 6 S&H) to a $40 or even higher level.  And it's almost working. 

Let's review the civilian (non-retail) options over the Duellist tier:

$40 - Elite Duellist:  two copies of Car Wars Arenas
$40 - Ace:  one copy of Car Wars Arenas and one copy of Car Wars Classic

This is were the getting gets good.  With this pledge level you get the product PLUS
* Uncle Al's Catalog from Hell pdf for free!
* The first four issues of Autoduel Quarterly (vol 1) in pdf for free!  Additional stretch goals have been set up to release further volumes (4 issues each.. it was quarterly you know) in pdf for free.
Both pledges have an additional S&H charge of $10.

The newest pledge level has my attention, and the only thing that has kept me from upgrading instantaneously has been the 10-day road trip to Disney World with the kids the week immediately after the Kickstarter finishes.    That there is beer/grillin' money for our house rental, and a possible admission fees for the Biggest Ball of Wax in North Carolina.

$65 - Pro Duelist: one copy of Car Wars Arenas, one copy of Car Wars Classic, all the stretch goals mentioned above, and one copy of Car Wars: The Freakin' Card Game!  ($10 S&H).   I haven't played Car Wars the Card Game since after my Senior prom, 1992.   Playing another nostalgia card on top of the already existing one.  Well played, Steve.   And remember, all Car Wars products on Warehouse 23 on sale for the rest of April, and those sales are being added to the campaign funds to calculate reaching stretch goals.

I have visions of my wife finishing Christmas shopping for me early this year with this campaign, but unless I celebrate Ultra-Orthodox Coptic Christmas in July, I know it would never arrive on time.  This ain't my first Kickstarter.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Battle of Isandlwana - Family Style

Each Easter I try my best to put together a "fun game" with the girls.   Two years ago, we pulled off an interesting Rorke's Drift, and last year we tackled Rogue Trader's classic Battle at the Farm.

This year I decided to tackle Isandlwana.  Using Colonial Campaigns: The Zulu War 1879 scenario book by Roy Jones and Mark Fastoso, Isandlwana can be a bit bookkeeping heavy, with a slew of victory points for numerous objectives.  It would have to be modified because my girls are 5 and 4.

And the British would be gnomes.
And the Zulus would be Easter candy.

Lt Colonel Millie and Chief Maja are ready to battle.
To complicate things a bit further, the scenario is recommended for 15mm figs using TSATF on a 4'x6".  My dining room table comes up a bit short, and everything would be in 28mm.

Order of Battle
Objective:  Prevent the Zulus from capturing the colours (Swiss Alphorn in this instance).  Prevent the Zulus from seizing the wagons.
4x Gnome Units (5 each plus 1 officer):  deploy on the firing line
1x Gnome Unit (5 plus 1 officer):  arriving turn three
1x Gnome Cavalry (4 plus 1 officer):  arriving turn three
1x St Bernard Medic (24 inches of movement during the end of turn, attempting to heal fallen gnome (5+ on d8) reduces 3 inches of movement
1x Swiss Alphorn:  The alphorn is not allowed to move, or attempt to escape back through the river and the drift, until Zulus had seized the wagons.

With the smaller units and two girls, I kept most of the rules for the scenario, except that no morale checks would need to be made.

Zululand Peeps
15x Zulu Units  (5 peeps each, no ranged weaponry, d8 melee):  each peep requires 2 hits to kill.  However, once hit twice, 5 unmarried jelly bean warriors jump out of it's carcass and continue the attack.  (no ranged weaponry, d6 melee).  Once the jelly bean unit was reduce to two or less, it could be removed from the table and a new peep would enter the following turn.

Gnome camps are swank set-ups
As the the Peeps came thundering across the plain, Lt Colonel Millie ordered and entire flank to retreat behind the encampment.  The rest opened fire and killed three peeps, allowing 15 unmarried Zulu jelly bean warriors to pop out! (I didn't tell the kids about the peep/jelly bean transformation rule).  
The Peeps turn into jelly beans?  When can we eat them?
The Gnome flank recovered from the obviously incorrect orders, but they did not turn around to fire.    The Gnome rifles took out two more peeps, as one four more emerged from the east and one was discovered on the hill behind the encampment (Maja insisted they were sneaky Peeps).
The Jelly Bean Unmarried Zulus reach the line.
The firing line took the full frontal assault of the Zulus.  Even with a St Bernard Medic, the line was decimated.  The chaos on the flank was finally resolved as they fired at the Zulus.
...and devastate it!
The Bunny cav and another infantry unit finally appeared.  The cavalry struck at the Peep behind the lines and began chasing the subsequent jelly beans.  The infantry rushed to fill the huge gaps on the line.

The cavalry arrive!
... and this when Millie retired from play.  Maja is the wargamer at heart (even with the events that followed), whereas Millie is happy moving a single figure around.  A reserve stockpile of troops, I mean candy, did not help things.  It would be up to me to salvage the game for the Gnomes.
With my firing line in shambles and TEN Peeps ready to descend on me, I did the proper British gnomish thing and demand the surrender of the Zulu.    Maja agreed, then I needed to explain what surrender meant.   She made a complete 180 in her negotiations, moving five of the Peeps to the side of the knoll.
Me:  Maja what are you doing with those guys?
Maja:  They don't want to fight.  The Peeps will stay there and watch the show.
And the other Peeps charged..
"The Peeps will stay there and watch the show."  A very confident commander.
Meanwhile, the Bunny Cav had a heck of a time clearing the rear of Zulus. They eventually killed all but one, and rushed to the front to bolster the lines. I had expected that one to regenerate into another (hopefully spectator) Peep, but Maja had other plans

With the shambles of two of my units still locked in melee.  My other two infantry squads unleashed hell on the charging Peeps, fully aware of the chaos that would cause.
The next wave comes.
That lone Zulu I left alive in the rear?  He managed to reach the wagons, a victory condition for Maja, but it also allowed my alphorn to begin its escape to the rear.   
Alas it was not the case, for while a two-man team, one being The Most Interesting Gnome in the World (tm), Bruce Carmezind, managed to retake the wagons, the Zulus finally broke the center and seized the alphorn! 
 Bruce Carmezind retakes the wagons.
I tried to save Alphorn player, but those Zulu jelly beans showed a savagery that would take aback any of the civilized confectioneries. 
The Jelly Beans kill the Sikhs and dash off with the Alphorn.
And with that the Zulus hoisted the alphorn above their heads (?) and ran through the camp. 
"Where did things go wrong?"
All in all, not a bad scenario.  Given the space restrictions I should have lowered the number of Peeps as I did the gnomes.  The childlike tactics (surprise!) offset each other.    Maja certainly had lots of fun (even if she ate her troops after the game), we'll go back to skirmish/story games with gnomes, mice, and ponies right after they finishing priming my Battlemechs for later this month. 

Sunday, April 12, 2015

OGRE: Operation 218

April has officially become Steve Jackson Games month, and I don't mind in the least.

Now, SJG has announced a partership with Your Move Games to release OGRE: Operation 218.

From the game's description on
Ogre: Operation 218 is a two-player game based on The Battle for Hill 218, with players fighting to control a hill by occupying bases on the opposite sides of it.

In the game, players must maintain supply lines and destroy enemy units to advance on the enemy home base, while ensuring that their own base is not taken. Air strikes can aid your assault or help defend your base, but spend them wisely as you only have two. The Ogre in Ogre: Operation 218 is a new card that takes two hits to destroy, costs an entire turn to play, and hits hard while having a few drawbacks.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

More Car Wars Arenas Goodness... and a Sale!

While I will vocally poo-poo Steve Jackson Games decision to charge separately for domestic shipping, the remainder of the Car Wars Arenas Kickstarter has been going swimmingly.    Not only was the goal reached with twenty days left in the campaign, but SJG has thrown a few bones at the Car Wars fans.

#1 - All Car Wars stuff at Warehouse 23 is 25% off for the rest of April!  Yes, almost everything there is in digital format (save the Car Wars T-Shirt) and they removed the Car Wars Classic boxed set from the web site, but when the pdfs vary between $2.24 and $5.99 and that includes some of the old boxed sets, it's a steal!

#2 - All sales from Car Wars stuff at Warehouse will be added to the total KS pledge for calculating stretch goals.  Promote their e-commerce site and help reach the goals for double sided maps faster?  Very fnord, SJG.  Very fnord

Friday, April 10, 2015

The Mike Lung Gallery #29 - I'm Split on These Fences

The workload on my job is increasing, but I'm still doing my best going through my old emails and pulling out some awesome stuff from fellow Gnomie Mike Lung. 

From all the way back in August 2014, Mike was working on split rail fences for his AWI anthromorphic idea mixing Brigade gnomes, ex-Eureka teddy bears, and some Alternative Armies Slaughterloo figs.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Uncle Al's Catalog from Hell Added to Kickstarter

While I didn't expect much fanfare with the Car Wars Arena Kickstarter, this was an unexpected and surprising announcement.

All pledges of $40 or more will get a pdf copy of the Uncle Albert's Catalog from Hell.  The mother of all Uncle Al catalogs has not been available until now!

They also tweaked the $40 pledge levels so that you can get the Car Wars Classic & Arenas boxed set OR two box sets of Arenas.  Not too shabby.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

The History of the Gnome World, Part 3 The Swiss

Despite British claims of commercial dominance, and German military might, the cradle of modern gnome culture is Switzerland Its ore-filled mountains, dense forests, and picturesque coastlines kept many a gnome at peace with his life.

There was a time where every Gnome in creation was patterned after the Swiss. Even with the Wanderlust, while there were changes to the colors they wore, or the shape of the belt buckle, all could be easily traced back to the forest and mountain valleys of the Swiss. This consistency in clothing and custom faded away far before the Gnomans took power, but it's something the stodgiest old Swiss gnome harps upon at the Old Gnome Home.

The Gnoman Empire
While the Gnoman Empire had a vise-like grip of influence in the region, as soon as the empire retracted, the pointed hats came back out and most traces of the Gnomans vanished.  The only influence that has remained was the reorganization of the villages into the modern system of cantons, and the Gladius Swiss officers wield when leading troops into battle.

The Peaceful Age
Peripheral villages slowly evolved into the French and Germans.  Swiss society turned inward and focused on their four loves:

1) Cheese
2) Beer
3) Mining
4) Tinkering

The End of the Peaceful Times: As we have learned from previous parts of the series, Gnomish Wizards in every enclave did all they could to keep the corruption of the outside world from their land, but if they could stop it from coming in, they could not stop the exodus of gnomes with a penchant for adventure. As gnomes began exploring distant lands, they adapted to the changes in terrain and climate, many times discarding the traditional dress for a new cultural identity. And in some cases, embracing the taint of corruption the wizards had desperately tried to avoid.

The Age of Exploration
The conservative Swiss were far behind on the race to explore the Gnome World.   Part of it had to do with the tame effect the Wanderlust seem to have on the centralized Swiss.   The other was the lack of a coastline that the British and French possessed.  It was not until the Thirty Beers War at the end of the Peaceful Times that they seized a number of petty principalities that feigned allegiance to a non-existent Gnoman Empire.    These ports allowed the Swiss cantons to expand their influence both through emigration and economic means. 

Nomepoleon:  The Swiss Cheese Civil War
As the shadow of Nomepoleon crossed the continent, the Swiss gnomes found themselves in direct conflict with... themselves.   Those willing to follow the rule of the tiny tyrant found resistance against the peace loving folk of the cantons.  While the front advanced further and further east, a guerrilla war raged in the mountains, with little progress and a tremendous amount of damage.

Age of Commerce
Post-Napoleon I, Franco-Swiss relations normalized, which allowed the Swiss to expand their exploration.  Despite claims to the contrary, the British were not the first "civilized" gnomes to reestablish contact with the Sikhs.   Small groups of Swiss envoys reached the Sikh lands and established diplomatic relations with them years before the British even decided to venture into the territory.  This relationship has blossomed into a steady alliance, outside of issues regarding beer.

Swiss mining prowess has allowed them to venture further into colonies and exploit their resources.   However, their alliance with the Sikhs has been one of the few successful examples of colonial diplomacy.  Most interactions with natives have turned violent at worst, or simply belligerent at best.

Swiss government is a confederation of cantons. Each canton operates independently, except in times of crisis. Representatives of each canton are chosen in a number of ways. Some are openly elected, some are hereditary, some are chosen from military or business groups. All have identical voting power when the parliament meets and equal standing within its halls.

Four industries drive the Swiss economy:

1) Cheese -  Swiss agriculture is not well known, unless you want exotic cheeses and chocolates.   The Kasemeisters are quite prolific with their production and utility.  It's rumored that only the Maestros Formaggio (Cheese Lords) can milk anything creature.

2) Beer - The art of brewing has created a peaceful environment.  Beer making is considered a family activity, so nothing larger than a regional beer collective can be found to produce it.

3) Tinkering - Tinkering has always existed and has become a gateway for the influence of Santa Claus in Swiss culture.

4) Mining-  Called "Trade Unionists" by conservatives, the miners are bridging the gap between the rural Swiss and the tinker minority.  Miners take great care in respecting the Earth as they mine, but there is a huge demand for the ores and gems the unearth.

Swiss Officer - fights with a gladius from Gnoman times.

Swiss NCO -  fight with a halberds as standard infantry did during the Thirty Beers War.

Swiss Rifles - gunpowder was an invention/gift from Santa Claus, and even the Wizards could not combat such an innovation that the Swiss adopted the weapon, albeit later than most nations.
Swiss Cheese Grenadiers - rural Swiss focus on Cheese, so it's no surprise that the gnomes who complete their mandatory service focus on kitchen patrol and Stinky Cheese.

Swiss Pickaxes and Miners - Mandatory military service has kept the young upstart miners from staging their own coup.
Swiss Cheesethrower - A recent addition from the minds of the Tinkers within the past few years.

Saint Bernard - An extension of the Wizard's power,gifted the the Swiss.  The Wizards have an affinity with woodland creatures, and this has been extended to the loyal Saint Bernard.  This has been occurring since before Gnoman times
Bicycle Tank:  was invented after the Nomepoleonic Wars and may have made an appearance during the Cry Me a River War.
Steam Tanks:   Swiss tinkers first introduced steam tanks during the last years of the Nomepoleonic Wars, and it has taken years of German engineer to improve on the first crude models.

The Four Winds Myth in Switzerland
The Wizard is the dominant influence
Santa Claus holds great sway over portions of military and the tinkers
Swiss Druids and Biermeisters may be influenced by the Witch
Only the most vile of the Swiss (and those are few and far between) pay heed to the Vampire.

Relations with Other Nations
Germans - in direct opposition, unless there is some overwhelming crisis that would force them to ally.  The result of these temporary alliances usually result in the Germans becoming more pure for a bit, and the Swiss fighting the taint of industrialization.
French- Friendly/Neutral
British - Outside of British dominance (shipping/exporting), the British deign respect and accolades to the Swiss.
Irish - Neutral/Hostile.  The Irish are mercenary,with their own culture and gods that are not associated with the Swiss
Highlanders -  Neutral/Hostile, but unlike the Irish, the Highlanders are gnomes.
Russians -  Russian gnomes are more mythical to the Swiss than anything else.  Being separated from the by Germany, only legends of the Nomepoleonic Wars are remembered.
Americans-  the subject of many financial dealings, regardless of what side you're on in America.
Japanese - The Swiss have butchered relations with the Yellow Peril and the German took advantage of it.
Sikhs - The loyal "little brown gnome brothers"