Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Steve O'Hara Gallery #1

Since the name of the blog is Gaming with the Gnomies, it's foolish for me not to mention some Gnome Wars awesomeness, especially when it's my friend and former college roommate Steve.
I've gamed with Steve through college, through both Hackmaster campaigns post-college, and he's been with my Call of Cthulhu campaign since session two. 
Possibly even more impressive than that is he has been one of the consistent members of the "Man's Weekend" (aka Cold Wars)  and while he hasn't accumulated armies of mass destruction, he has picked up a good-sized collection of gnomes.
And now they're painted... 
German Peasant Infantry, Bier Stein Grenadier, and Rifleman

Russian Priest

Santa and a Mummy


French Soldiers
 Outside of some practice with the eyes, the minis are simply awesome and rival most of those who bring their own armies to a GW game at an HMGS con.   I failed to get specific pictures of them, but the French packs looking worn and weathered and the toys in Santa's bad are particularly top notch or beyond.

While Steve didn't paint this one himself, this is a T-Rex skull from Windsword Accessories , the same place the I got the Egyptian accessories.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Reaper Bones III Preview

As the days creep closer to next Reaper Kickstarter, someone has finally thrown us some "Bones."

It's funny cause it's true!  

Someone on the Reaper Boards posted a picture of the core set, the $100 pledge that historically has grown to a pile of rubberized plastic that most people will never get close to finishing.  The first thirty figures are...

Click to make larger
Not much interests me, save the dog and the pack mule, if I didn't head six metal ones from Brigade Games.  The rest are the run of the mill fantasy characters everyone BUT me goes ga-ga over.

I do have to laugh at the nay-sayers who complain about the quality of minis your getting for $100 and then link to the the recent Dark Sword KS.   Even as the minor Reaper complainer that I am, that's like comparing a boutique bag of rare Ethiopian limes with bushels of apples, and an entire truck of apples after that.  Remember, negative people, if they only reach a (reported) $20,000 initial goal (200 of these pledges effectively) they begin to go down the road of stretch goals to balloon the Core Set to possibly 100+ figs.

For me?  I'll see what add-ons are offered, even if I am at the distant end of the shipping cycle.

Update 7/7/2015:  The campaign is launched and I talk about the first hour here.

Everybody's Playing on the Weekend...

It was a rainy and dreary weekend in Northeast PA, perfect for catching up on laundry, some minis painting, and a little gaming.

Saturday and Sunday were both kids' birthday parties, gah!   Luckily, only Maja was invited to Saturday's, so I got an afternoon with Millie.  After cleaning the Master Bedroom to the screams of the vacuum, we got down to some painting.  Millie did a nice job on a Russian gnome, and the full Skittles treatment on a Leprechaun.  I finished the rehab on my Swiss 3rd Training Company and  re-base-coated two additional Swiss for that unit.  Once I put new flock on the new mdf bases (and find the missing St Bernard, that unit will be 100% complete.

After we cleaned up our projects from the dining room, I rolled out the "old" track and cars from the "The Race Game" we played last year.  The track was wrinkled, and I've lost two of my Dad's toy cars into the lead pile on the workbench, but a quick two lap race with a four-year old went splendidly.  She enjoyed rolling and counting the dice, and moving everyone's pieces (on her side of the table).  She ran a conservative race, forcing me to try to bump my way to the front.  That was not wise, as I consistently spun out right before a majestic success!  The rules adjustments I added made things worse (for me)

  • Movement was 2d6, instead of 1d6.
  • Spin-outs became 1-2 on a d6, instead of 1-5 on d20.   
  • If you spun out, you lost your turn, but still rolled a d6 on get back into the race.   A second fail was a continued spin-out and turned off engine.   A third fail meant the car flipped over.  A fourth?  The car burst into flames
Guess who failed four times with one of his cars?  

A preliminary Race before the 2015 Laurel Lakes 500, Sponsored by Shopkins
Sunday was the one millionth birthday we've been invited to for a one-year old, so I got a  "grown-up" playdate down in Allentown.  Although it was just Steve, Brian, and myself, there was much rejoicing (and microbrew beer consumption).  It looks like the three of us just needed some time outside of family/work obligations to hang out with like-minded crazy individuals.  I ran another mini- CoC episode of Masks using the New Adventures of Steven and Francois and then Steve broke out Axis and Allies: D-Day and his Germans swept over the board, creating a 2nd Dunkirk for some stranded Americans.

In between was more beer, more snacks, and a lengthy conversation about Kickstarters.    

If I'm the miserly Kickstarter pledge, Steve should be going to meeting in church basements to help deal with his addiction.  He has so many KS he has received or are still pending, that once he's alerted to one shipping, he will mark the box when it arrives, with the pledge level doller amount, and throw it into a closet without even opening it. When his wife needs a present for Fathers Day, Christmas, or his birthday, she goes to the closet, finds the appropriate value, and wraps it up.  

Steve's biggest boon he recently received were the stretch goals for for Fairytale Games: The Battle Royale, a fairy tale card game that exploded with stretch goals of forty miniatures.

This one is a perfect case of a man getting in over his head, as the minis are the first thing to arrive, the cards for the game are nowhere getting completed,  and the creator is working per diem jobs in his field to help finance simply shipping these items out.  

Guess who just found with Wizard of Oz Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Jack Pumpkinhead? 

Along with Beowulf (top center), Pinnochio (bottom center) and Quasimdo (bottom right)
I thought it strange that I completely missed such a crazy campaign. I chalked it up to me ignoring the card game concept and missing out on the minis.  Through further research I discovered that this campaign launched in June 2013, a full four months before I even pledged toward my first KS (Reaper Bones II).

The realistic portion of Steve admits that the cards that started his $65 pledge may never materialize, but these forty minis are a nice parting gift.  In fact, I may inquire as to how one could acquire individual figures (the 6-8 figure pack are way too random for my needs).

The other fantastic revelation on Sunday was that Steve had painted most of his his gnomes!    Pictures forthcoming with week (his man-cave lighting is horrid).  Outside of his eye work, the minis are beautiful, and even a bit inspiring.

Brian may come up on the weekend of the Fourth, but for now I anticipate a lot of Blogging, a lot of painting, and hopefully, the 2nd Annual Laurel Lakes 500 . 

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Coc #29: Masks of Nyarlathotep #9 Why Bob Should Not Have Punched Francois in the Face

April 1, 1925 - The Ritz,Cairo

It had been a long voyage for Steven O'Hara.  Plenty of time to lay about and heal up from all his wounds, firearm, motorcycle, and hypothermia related.  After two trips into icy English waters, he had welcomed the warm water that Egypt had to offer.

For the first few days, Cairo was just like London, if you never ventured outside the hotel and ignored the deluge of perspiration.    Dr Bob, his grad assistant Parks, and the belly dancer were doing all the leg work while O'Hara, Doc Millheim, and Joshua healed up.  Each night Bob would come back to the hotel more agitated than before, sometimes at Parks' incompetence, other times at things that he wouldn't relay to the group.  The invalids knew something was wrong when he brought back three mercenaries to talk over plans of raiding a few dig sites.  Bob was back to this near-rage status when the healthy group, plus the mercenaries, were to set out and investigate some of the distant exploratory sites the Carlysle Expedition originally poked around.  The French mercenary, Francois, was nowhere to be seen and the party left without him.

About two hours later, Francois appeared at the hotel invalids while they were having drinks after second breakfast.

"I knew you gentleman were having trouble with the French Embassy looking for a man.  I have connections there that have kept me in the country far longer than I should be allowed, so I paid them a visit.  I know where Walter Besart is."

The hot desert air had done great things to O'Hara, so a trip down the back alleys of Cairo with a mercenary did not seem as dangerous as his previous exploits.

As they found the Red Door on the Street of Scorpions, they opened to find a men's native clothier.   The proprietor was quite impressed by the potential scale but all three men talked around the question in the room: Where is Walter Besart?  The proprietor, Aboud, claimed no knowledge of such a man, and neither Investigator could pick up on the worry in his voice and casual glances to a curtained doorway.  Finally, a hacking cough was emitted from the curtain, and Francois pushed Aboud aside to see who, or what, was there.

The first thing that hit him was a pungent stench of stale hashish.  An emaciated shell of a man lay on a small bed with nothing more than a tiny nightstand with a well-used hash pipe atop it, covered in ash and residue.

If this was Walter Besart, his only lucid moments were his demands for more hashish to ease the pain, or opium if they had it.  Steven was completely out of his element:  Gin joints were one thing. Dirty hole in the wall speakeasies with rot gut produced a peculiar type of man.  He had no experience in the heavier, or at least more exotic drugs.   After much pestering by Besart, he acquiesced, and gave Francois the money to obtain the drug.  After an even longer time smoking the drug, Besart was finally ready to tell his tale with the Carlysles.

"Despite conflicting licenses, the primary dig site for the Carlysles was Dhashur, in the area of the Bent Pyramid.  One day, Jack Brady came to him and said that the rest of the group had entered the pyramid and vanished.  All the workers had fled from the site, and Besart and Brady couldn't decide what to do, so they drank. 

The next morning, the group appeared, very excited, but very secretive about their find.  Although he couldn't tell specifically why, Besart felt that they had... changed somehow.

That night an old Egyptian woman visited him.  She claimed her son had been one of the diggers, and that they all fled when the Europeans consorted with the Messenger of the Black Wind.    She declared that all of their souls were lost, save Brady and himself, and if he wanted proof of that, he should arrive at the collapsed pyramid on a certain night.

He snuck out of the camp on that night and witnessed Carlysle and hundreds of raving lunatics dancing in the midnight blackness.  The desert swirled around and unearth a giant monster that tore apart the cultists and an army of dark sphinxes awaiting their invisible master's command.  The grisly sight forced him to faint, and when he awoke it had been many months and some natives found him wandering the desert.  Only the hashish helps now..."

Next:  Episode #10:  "Never Look a Man in the Eye in Cairo"

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Random Notes and Rants

Just a few things about life, liberty, and the pursuit of Kickstarters.
  • My wife's van is driving us crazy.  Putting 70,000 miles on it in three years seems to have caused some wear and tear indicative of the infamous "Check Engine Light."  After another trip to the garage it's running phenomenally better, but what showed up after Maja's basketball practice?  That light is like a disowned member of the family.
  • Between birthday parties, Millie's preschool graduation, dance recitals, twice weekly basketball practices, and play practice, Maja is the shy social butterfly, and we have zero time for much else (the trips to garage also help us from doing anything else).  I finally cut my grass this week for the first time since Memorial Day.   June officially sucks.
  • The painting continues in the Kriget Rum.  Still dealing with the late start times, but we're making some headway. 
  • The foster puppies are officially big enough to be annoying, although they have figured out the number one step of getting housebroken. 
  • Golden Goblin has officially released the pdf for De Horrore Cosmico for backers.   Downloading it was quick and easy, and the ad for the Tales of the Caribbean Kickstarter makes me giddy.
  • RAFM got over 100 shipments out in the first week for their CoC 7th Edition Minis Kickstarter.  I give them another month before I can start painting up some more Pulp figs... and a shoggoth.
  • Cubicle 7 has launched their Kickstarter for World War Cthulhu: Cold War.  Almost fifty bucks after shipping & handling for something I'll never use?  I'll pass.
  • Flying Buffalo almost had me on it's Nuclear War 50th Anniversary Edition Kickstarter until I found out that it was $42 with shipping.  I've actually never owned a copy of Nuclear War, and a comprehensive edition (expansions included) is a great idea.  I may need to revisit this one before is concludes on August 3rd. 
  • After Steve introduced me to the Tiny Epic line of games, I'm intrigued by the Tiny Epic Kingdoms Heroes' Call and 2nd Edition Kickstarter.   Cheap point of entry and shipping is reasonable ($2 for one set in the US)
  • While I survive a painfully tedious and  boring week at work, I've continued listening to The Gaming Grunts recording of Masks.  It's been enjoyable in their one-hour lunch recordings, but I swear I know the French "Doctor" just by the tone of his voice and his speech mannerisms.  Does anyone know the location of where the grunts gamed from? 
  • Thanks to a "great" review on Ken and Robin Talk About Stuff about Horror Express, and the unfortunate passing of Christopher Lee, I managed to DVR the movie from TCM and watch it overnight in a fit of insomnia.   It is simply magnificent, something just a bit more bloody than I could find on Saturday afternoons when I was a kid.    Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing, with Spaniards playing the roles of Russians without changing their accents, and TELLY SAVALAS as a Cossack Captain. 
The Countess:  "I'll have you sent to Siberia!"
Captain: "Madam, we ARE in Siberia!"
  • Sunday is our next session of Masks.  I plan on some cool things happening, but nothing as cool as Cossack Captain Telly Savalas.
The next Golden Goblin Kickstarter..... 9/9/2015 .... Squee!

Friday, June 26, 2015

(Kickstarter) Dwarven Samurai Cavalry by Forelorn Hope

After successfully completing their Dwarven Samurai Kickstarter, Forelorn Hope Game has launched their second campaign, Samurai Dwarves Mounted on Ki-Rin

I would normally recommend poo-pooing sketch only Kickstarters, but the sculptor behind this is the one and only Bob Olley, so I don't forsee any problems.

The real test was the price, and I was pleasantly surprised.  A pledge for a unit of six is roughly $50 with shipping.   Compared to the Brigade Games Japanese Komodo Dragon Cav at $65.00, it's a bargain, but do remember that those Komodo Dragons are HUGE hunks of metal.  The Brigade gnomes are bigger, more metal, but are about fifty cents cheaper per fig. 

The Kickstarter ends July 26th.

OGRE Howitzer Battery

The great pile of lead (and plastic... and some resin...) has moved!!!

It took a late night (and too much iced tea... that's what my excuse for the shaky line work) but I finished the Howitzer Battery and Mobile Artillery Troop (PanEuro Set 6) for OGRE that I picked up at Cold Wars.

If they ever see the light of day on a battlefield, it will be for Battlech, but I do like these versus the the cumbersome Long Toms that look like mobile ballistic missile carriers, but have the range of a backyard catapult. 
Paint scheme is one of the Skye Rangers units under House Steiner. 
I realized that (beyond quality brushes + late night caffeine = still poor line painting) I should have picked up the other two boxes at Wally's Basement when I had the chance.    The fellow was selling them around retail and I could have easily haggled five bucks off the trio.  Checking these out on Warehouse 23, the Eisenfaust Mobile Howitzers are $12.95 apiece and the Arquebus Howitzers are $14.95 each!  If I can't find any on the convention circuit, I might be interested in snagging up some GEV and infantry from W23,

I also realized that I'm seven minis  (4 teddy bears 3 chupacabras) and five palm trees away from painting everything I purchased at Cold Wars!  None of those are on this week's docket, but it is a matter of pride to not just throw  more lead onto the pile. 

Next up on ViscountEric's Painting Bench: The mech's for the first faction of Battletech are creeping closer to completion, a couple gnome rehab, and some Mordheim (!) on deck...

Thursday, June 25, 2015

#SHOWtheGnome This June 27th

As a life-long, but semi-retired Yankees fan, I try not to think about the rest of the AL East in any form.

But it is former Yankees manager Buck Showalter.

On June 27th, the Baltimore Orioles will give away a Buck Showalter Garden Gnome to the first 25,000 fans 15 and over.

Gotta love the hashtag #SHOWtheGnome . 

I do question the positioning of the arms, as the rear view of the figure conveys a whole different message.

Apathy of the New Releases (July '15)

My Want List

My Money-is-No-Object Want List
Cubicle 7
YGGDRASILL RPG: UPPSALA ............................................................................ $24.95

Battle for Stalingrad .................................................................................................. $59.95
A complete wargame with miniatures (20mm?) for sixty bucks?  Yes, please.

My Imaginary Store List
Alderac Entertainment Group
Smash Up Munchkin ................................................................................................ $34.95
One of the third party Munchkin items being offered this month.

Atlas Games
BLOWING UP THE MOVIES ................................................................................ $15.00
Robin D. Laws, game designer by day,  cinema super-enthusiast by night, sets his analytic laser sights on action and thrills in a collection of essays sure to supercharge your tabletop roleplaying experience. As the countdown ticks and the bullets fly, Robin takes you inside the workings of 24 action movies, from the stone cold classic to the unjustifiably obscure, including Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon , Die Hard, Seven Samurai, and Star Wars. Each essay shows you how the film delivers,  and the lessons you can extract from it to enhance your own efforts as GM or player.
A very nice companion piece to the release of Feng Shui

Feng Shui HC ............................................................................................................ $49.95
Feng Shui 2 GM Screen ............................................................................................ $24.95

Catalyst Game Lab
SHADOWRUN RPG: BORROWED TIME PAPERBACK .................................... $12.95

Atomic-Age Cthulhu ................................................................................................ $15.95
Cthulhu Through the Ages ....................................................................................... $14.95

Cheapass Games
Give Me the Brain Super Deluxe Edition ................................................................ $25.00


Fantasy Flight Games
Star Wars Imperial Assaut:  Hired Guns Villan Pack .............................................. $12.95
Star Wars Imperial Assaut:  Stormtrooper Villan Pack ........................................... $14.95
Star Wars Imperial Assaut:  Wookie Warriors Ally Pack ....................................... $14.95
STAR WARS X-WING MINIATURES GAME: K-Wing Fighter ........................ $19.95
STAR WARS X-WING MINIATURES GAME: Hounds Tooth .......................... $39.95
STAR WARS X-WING MINIATURES GAME: Tie Punisher ............................. $19.95
Talisman The Harbinger ......................................................................................... $24.95

Gale Force 9
WWE Superstar Showdown ................................................................................... $49.95
What the hell is this?  An RPG?  A board game?  A co-operative (tag team) board game?  The description tells us NOTHING!

Games Workshop
Rant Mode .    GW is always late to appear in distributor's solicitation (aka it already shipped to GW accounts).  The ammount of crap this month is outstanding.

ASSASSINORUM: EXECUTION FORCE .......................................................... $125.00
I remember accidently watching this movie with a same sounding name in a hotel room years ago.  I've never been the same since.  Way overpriced, but I talked to the GW dittoheads at the FLGS and they are gaga over it.    There are plenty of miniatures boardgames in the $60-90 range than are better games and come with more stuff.

Citadel Brushes ....................................................................................................  $5.75 to $20.00
One day I'll break my code of honor and tell the dittoheads to go buy their brushes at Michael's for half the price and three times the lifespan... and the local hardware store for "large" brushes for vehicles.

40K: Imperial Knights Codex ............................................................................... $41.00
Most affordable thing this month, and that's saying something.
40K: Imperial Knights Warden ............................................................................. $157.00

Konami Digital Entertainment

Looney Labs
Batman Fluxx ...................................................................................................... $20.00

Mantic Entertainment
Kings of War 2nd Edition Rulebook ................................................................... $39.99

Mayfair Games
Isle of Skye ......................................................................................................... $37.00

Monte Cook Games
Numenera: Into the Night HC ............................................................................. $39.95

Osprey Publishing
Attila the Hun ...................................................................................................... $18.95
Bolt Action: German Strikes ............................................................................... $29.95

Paizo Publishing
PATHFINDER ACG: Monk Class Deck ................................................................ $19.99
                                                                 ............................................................... $24.95
PATHFINDER FLIP MAP: SLUM QUARTER ...................................................$14.99
PATHFINDER PLAYER COMPANION: OCCULT ORIGINS ..........................$14.99

Steve Jackson Games
Munchkin Dragons Trike Booster Pack ................................................................... $5.95

Munchkin: The Nightmare Before Christmas ......................................................... $24.95

Wizards of the Coast
D&D Out of the Abyss ............................................................................................ $49.95

Magic the Gathering: Battle for Zendrikar
Instant cash for the store

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The History of the Gnome World Part 5: The British

Note: This was originally published in April 2012 as a two part post.    I've completely revised this, adding a great deal to allow for a future article on the Ameribear Revolution. Yes, my friends, this where I am going to deviate off of prospective Brigade Games/Stout Gnomes gnomish history and allow for the introduction of non-gnome races to appear in the world.  There's no reason, outside of the business perspective, to not allow other figures into a game.  Since I'm not the business, the Teddy Bear references are house rules and not Gnome Wars canon (although, their cannons are pretty sweet.

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

The Gnoman Age
The Gnoman Empire greatest frontier was known as the Isle of Albion.  Despite dedicating many troops to "civilize" the land, it's numerous fey creatures and barbarian gnomes allowed them to control only half the island at their peak. 

The "Peaceful" Age
With the fall of the empire, many within the Legion wandered back to the capital city of Gnome.  Some made it, many were killed, others settled within the villages, and others continued to fight as a unit, defending the honor of a non-existent Emporer. 

The southern natives, (Albs to the Gnomans) and the northern highlander barbarians retreated back to their villages.  The half-breed fey and Leprechauns grew bored without constant battles against the Legions and migrated to Ireland. 

Although the Wanderlust did not take hold across gnomekind during this age, it did affect small pockets of gnomes.  During middle years of the age, a group of French gnomes known as the Britons crossed the Chanel #5, like all gnomish explorers, they were amazed to discover the land already populated with gnomes! They were a poor, weak folk who use subsistence farming and surface mining to survive. These unwashed were happy to see the Britons and willingly gave them whatever meager hospitality they could offer. Despite a dreary climate and horrible local food, the Britons set up shop, lumbering the primeval forest, and teaching the unwashed underground mining.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Thirty Beers War and the Spanish Armada
Britain's chief rivals in exploration were the French and Spanish.  The French would normally focus on the interior of the new lands and although there were frequent skirmishes, nothing escalated.    The Spanish controlled a number of warmer colonies with exotic races and piles of gold.  With that gold, they built a mighty armada of ships, which may have been superior to even the British fleet.   While the nations of the gnomish mainland got entangled in the Thirty Beers War, the British avoided such shenanigans.    When France joined the Anti-Brewers League, their infamous Red Count courted the British throne and convinced them to join the alliance, with only one nefarious mission:  Destroy the Spanish Armada. 

The British Crown commandeered as many ships from the merchant fleet that were around the home land, refit them for battle with just two or three large cannons, and they sailed with the British Navy to surprise the Armada.  The result was a crushing defeat for the Spanish, a loss of support for the Holy Gnoman states, and a power vacuum that even the expanded might of Britain could not fill for themselves.
British Marines seizing a pirate vessel
With the rapid expansion of Empire and the internal desire to withdraw back to their homeland kicking in, the British would sometimes would give governance to the local races, rather than the gnome colonists. It is little written, but some British interests were given to Teddy Bear loyalists, and tax revenues would sail back to Britain. The system worked until a) Teddy Bear and Gnome Pirates discovered the secret treasury on New Providence in the Azores. and b) the Teddy Bears in the colony of New Britain began an insurrection against the Teddy Bear overlords, who were far more draconian than the British ever were. The Picnic for Independence sparked off a series of revolts around the world, not only in the trade colonies, but spreading to Gnome homelands. When the dust settled, the cycle of gnomish civilization has seemed to stop on exploration, and the world has never been the same.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Britain is a Constitutional Monarchy sans Constitution.  Briton nobles and officers demanded to consul the King very early on and a special department in the Hall of Lords was given to them to parlay in, hence parliament.    Now a days, parliament conducts the day-to-day governance, while the Crown oversees diplomatic and military functions.

The world is Britain's economy.
1. Commerce -  Britain has influence on every corner of the globe.
2. Shipbuilding - Britain makes the finest ships, either sail or steam.
3. Colonizing -  Britain welcomes all nationalities of gnomes to aid them in establishing colonies, so long as they accept British rule.
4.  Cheese/Tinkering/Beer/Mining:  All the staples of traditional gnomes are still represented, although other nations consider the cheese tasteless, the tinkering full of oversized gears, the beer (ale) too warm, and the mining relegated to the Welsh.

The British Marine is the backbone of the British military, on land and on sea.

British Officer - Well trained, well educated, and in short supply.  Many British units rely on naval officers or even the Dog Handler NCOs to lead them. 
Dog Handler and Border Terriers:   Originally part of the ship's crew to keep vermin and ne'er do wells away, they have been attached to many a Marine detachment going ashore over the years and have become an essentially part of the unit. 

Drummer:  Drums are standard issues with larger units, although certain detachments are allowed to use fifes, bugles, or even native musical instruments.
Doctors/Nurses:  Part of the international allure of the British Marine for years was steadfast refusal to surrender, and their utter lack of any battlefield medical treatment.  As causalities are mounting from various colonial affairs, the Crown has designated Field Doctors and Nurses to some units, although this is still a rare occurrence in only the most dire of circumstances.
Field Doctor
Field Nurse
Regular Infantry:  Your standard infantry, but with the great advantage that their shot does not waver, even in the fiercest of seas.
British Marine
Cavalry and Artillery:  Britain has relied on naval and basic infantry to win their battles and conquer the world for hundreds of years.  British on horseback has largely been the avenue for the ceremonial Royal Horseguard and gentlemen on fox hunts.   As British colonies move inland, the Crown has quickly developed a cavalry program for officers, and are finding the finest riders within the enlisted ranks to fill the units.
Mock-up for the first cavalry officer to deserve one... eventually
Marines are quite familiar with ships cannons and mortars from harbor forts, but have not begun using modern machine guns.

British Highlanders:  Scotsmen south of the wall and loyal to the Crown may join the military as part of this native guard.  Many are given the responsibility of commanding Sikh units. In fact, they're even wimpy Sikhs, as they do check for morale, and with only one leader, could be easily dispatched.

We're Sikhs with Common Sense!
Sikhs:  Their numbers are vital part of the success of the British worldwide.   Their vast experience in land fighting, access to steam tanks, and superior experience with rockets and older gatling guns makes them indispensible when available.
Sikh Loyalists with a British Highlander Officer
Teddy Bears:  This furry race has proven its bravery to the Crown over and over again, but rarely do they receive the recognition they deserve.  Some are picked from the local population to guard their villages, others travel the world to ensure that British citizens (re: gnomes) are safe.

from boromirandkermit.wordpress.com
Teddy Bear Redcoats in a strange land.
The Four Myths in Britain
Santa is the dominant influence.  He greatly enjoys the military escalation and the recent Victorian industrialization.
The Witch holds sway over certain Albion Druids, but few others.
The Wizard is respected and admired, but few look to him unless it for the glory of the empire.
The Vampire is a growing influence in the dark alleys of London   Some say he sank his teeth into Britain long ago and is biding his time to seize power.
Britain's relations with the world 
Swiss:  Steady allies, if their interests intersect, but do not interfere with one another.
Germans:  Germans have industrialized their homeland impressively, but have scrambled to stake their claim in colonizing, threatening the status quo.  
French:  Very snooty, and constantly whining for help, although we often help them anyway.
Irish:  The Leprechauns are to be feared.  They are not gnome-kind. 
The Orangemen:  They are not gnome-kind, but they too fear the full force of the Leprechauns.  The enemy of our enemy is our distrustful ally.
Highlanders:  Neutral/Hostile.  They would be a great addition to the empire if they just accepted some education, started to wear pants, and stopped talking about "Freeeeedooooomm!" so much.
Russians: Not to be trusted, but our paths rarely cross.
Sikhs:  More than just a "loyal brown brother," the Sikhs are the backbone of our fight against the darkness. 
Japanese:  A lesser race of gnome that would do well to learn from the Sikhs.
Americans:  Money-grubbing imperialists (and that's saying a LOT!)  The Confederate's economy and navy are shared interests, particularly in the Caribbean.
Gnomans:  True Gnomans (not the fake ones from the Thirty Beers War, are to be honored and obeyed.  Their empire was the template that we have followed.  They are the true masters of the world, even to this day.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Old Glory Dwarf Britania

I'm always searching for alternative gnomes to fight all four corners of the globe and I believe I found another batch.

Dwarf Britannia is listed on the Old Glorys 25s website (not oldgloryminiatures website, as if multiple Old Glorys wasn't confusing enough.


Between the paint jobs, the proportions, and the fact that it's Old Glory , I'm assuming these guys are 20-22mm. There's few pictures of these figs online, but they do appear to be at least a head shorter.
Way too short to mix it up with a traditional Gnome Wars unit.  There is, however, a good option if you wish to play Zulus and don't mind Pygmy Zulus.   At $1.75 per mini in the bulk pack, I might not need to use chicks for each Zulu War Battle.

Monday, June 22, 2015

(Savage Showdown) #1 Searching the Lost Shrine of Tu'Lip

Ah, Father's Day.  The day you're supposed to force feed Dad bacon, give him a tie/golf clubs/power tools, and wait in line at a chain restaurant to feed steak... wrapped in bacon.  

I'm not that conventional type of guy.  For starters, I have the fortune of my wife needing to work the last five of the holidays, so I get to play single Dad with the girls.  

Every year, I try to keep our own traditions alive.  First breakfast down the road at the gas station/convenience store/ice cream shop/diner (I'm more of a scrapple guy anyway). Then we break out our "normal" tea party with the good china and a menu of grape juice, Herr's Barbecue Chips, and Tastycakes.  After that I banish them to the family room for a half hour of TV while I set up the annual game.  

Three modifications this year.  After breakfast, we hit the FLGS and I got... an iced tea, and the girls got random Heroclix.   We also added cranberry juice to the menu (my six-year old, Maja's, new favorite)  Finally, we're fostering six-week old puppies for a few more weeks, so I sent the kids  to play with and feed them while I set up. 

This year's game reflects a change from the big, quirky, and exciting games of yore.  The girls seemed to be interested in smaller games with fewer figures, so a skirmish game was in order.  Maja is also big into everything about Ancient Egypt that she can get her hands on (She watched the entire BBC Egypt mini-series with the same excitement someone her age should have for new My Little Ponies... or Ninja Turtles.  It's great! )

The game would be an amalgam of ideas I've stolen from everywhere, predominantly the gnomish treasure hunt game I played this past Cold Wars, the ever-evolving kids house rules I call TIARA, and my first attempt at using Savage Showdown mechanics, but not the playing cards.

Background:  Three groups of treasure seekers are scouring the backwater for ruins of what a partial translation calls the "Shrine of Tu'lip," and a structure built in the *mumblemumblecoughcough* Dynasty of Egypt.  

  • Millie the Archaeologist (Gnomish Sidekick/Sedan).  Run by Millie.  A very resourceful, yet stubborn woman
  • Lego Mi Eggolas the Elf (Gnomish Sidekick/Truck)  Run by Me.  Fame seeking Italian elf explorer.
  • A German/Irish adventurer by the name of Fritz O'Lay, "The Mexican" (Gnomish Federale Sidekick/Truck)  Run by Maja.  

Using a streamlined version of the con rules, on the table were eight possible treasure area, labelled
"T1" through "T8."    There were eight additional markers, face down on the table with a corresponding number.  Teams needed to race over to those markers, claim them, and then they could travel to the spot and dig up the treasure.

Each team got two actions each turn, one for each crew, usually Drive/Jump out to pick up the clue/treasure or Drive/Shoot somebody else.  We used glass beads to represent those actions so no one forgot to do something, or try to do more than they could

Once one person got hit four treasure spots, or the group hit six combined, it would be a race back to the bar and the end of the game.  First person back would win an additional treasure.

More hints than Blues Clues, More Treasure than Jack and the Neverland Pirates
The first two turns were rough, but it was The Mexican who got the first hint/treasure combo.  Treasures were on a random d8 roll, and only treasures 1-4 were unguarded.  

Maja: "Put in on my Mexican's back. He can carry anything."
Millie narrowly missed me in a deliberate game of chicken, but my elf sent his gnome sidekick out to recover treasure #2

"This picture will look great in The Times"
Millie drove her car like a drunken cat, but uncovered the big prize, a sarcophagus with a mummy inside!
"But it's Fathers Day, not Mummies Day?"
Maja and I weaved around each other like Friday night traffic in New Jersey, until she took a good angle and rammed me from behind.    Each car took damage, but I got the chance to drive off and away from the crazed Mexican.

Millie tried to cross the stream, but got stuck, so she jumped out of the driver's side and headed for the two clue at the far corner of the table.  The sidekick manged to jump into the seat, get the car out of the water and into a decent postion.

Run, Millie, Run!
The Mexican reached another treasure, but this time a giant scorpion was inside!

I broke out Savage Showdown and it was a tough fight.  After a flurry of missed attacks, the scorpion stung O'Lay, suffering physical and continual poison damage.  Shots five and six from his revolver finally hit true and the scorpion was defeated.

I killed it!
Fear not, faithful readers, all The Mexican needed to do to stop the ongoing poison was reach the truck and spend an action the following turn using the Giant Scorpion anti-venom in the glove box. Maja did, however, get another treasure out of the deal.

Millie hoarded the two hits from the far side of the board, so I dove after the two left around me. 
Fate was not pleasant that day, as I rolled an unfortunate 8 for treasure.   

Gnome, reading Hieroglyphics "Wait, these don't stand for Tu'lips.   This is the Shrine of Two Lips... of DEATH!!!"

(Cue skeleton horde and high priest/necromancer)

I'm in a tight spot!
The sidekicks weren't as powerful as heroes, but all were statistically superior to the skeletons.  My guy even got to fight them one-on-one, despite being surrounded.  Even though I got two, sheer numbers persevered and the sidekick fell.    

I went dead last the next round, so I assumed Lego the Elf stalled the engine of the truck and couldn't get it restarted before the skeleton horde pulled him out of the truck and dispatched him.

A zombie game with less rotting flesh!

With Millie distracted by what distracts four-year-olds, it was up to Maja to race back to the bar with her spoils.  She narrowly dodged two poorly cast spells from the necromancer and made it to the safe confines of the bar, and a drink of choice.
Senor, what is that coming over the hill
Everyone had fun, Maja got to play with the Egypt stuff she painted/helped paint, and we have a great set-up for the next game, as the treasure hunters (Millie and the Mexican) drink, pack their things, and get the heck out of Dodge, before something comes over the hill.  

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Good Parenting

A year out of high school, no one cares if they were ever on the honor roll, but someone will always listen to a cool story. 

Saturday, June 20, 2015

The Mike Lung Gallery #33

Despite having a lot on my plate, I'm still weeding out a ton of emails from my viscounteric gmail account.  For every dozen I delete, I find a few more of Mike's gems.

The 6th Regiment of Foot (Royal Bearwickshire Regiment)

The 23rd Regiment (Royal Welch Fuzziliers
Jaeger Musician

Friday, June 19, 2015

(Gnome Wars) The Cult of Urinitas

The Cult of Urinitas  by Gnomish Scholasticus Absurdus Michael Lung

Although the majority of gnomes pay reverence to the Four Immortals of Gnomekind it is well known that the gnomes have many other god, in particular,  gods of nature. One particularly insidious and repugnant cult of worship centers around the God Urinatius…the male gnomish god of peeing. His twin sister is Urina, the female Goddess of Peeing, the Keeper of Secrets and Goddess of Gossip, but that is another story.
The Cult at one of their secret rituals
Urinatius is also the God of the Void. The Void is a dark empty place that serves as a buffer between the material world and other worlds and planes. So Urinatius is also known as the Keeper of the Gates since through the Void he controls the gates to other planes. Strangely enough, the Void seems to fill up with impurities…the tortured souls of the dead. When he opens the gates, those impurities pour forth in a stream, emptying the void, and dumping dead into the material world. Symbolically, when a male gnome pees, he is also performing an act of worship to Urinatius and emptying his own void of impurities just like the god. He is also creating a symbolic golden arch that represents a Void gate. Under certain ritualized circumstance and conditions a follower of Urinatius can actual create a gateway into the Void. The golden arch therefore is one the most recognizable symbols of Urinatius. Usually, it is on a black background which symbolizes the void.
A high priest rallies his faithful towards violence.
Needless to say, all gnomes pee and pee often. So willing or not, they are all followers of Urinatius to some degree!) The normal act of peeing is also know by gnomes as peeweeing …a small or little act of homage to Urinatius. (Hence the word pee wee has come to mean small or tiny.) However, some particularly disgruntled gnomes worship Urinatius more directly. They believe that Urinatius is the key to purifying/voiding the world of its troubles. While these followers are secretive and wear hoods to hid their identity, they have been known to gather in large cult ceremonies. What goes on in those ceremonies is not fully known to this writer, but it is said to include much drinking and revelry. It is said that gnomes that can hold their drink without peeing first, gnomes that pee the furthest, and gnomes that pee the longest distance all are held with great respect and are blessed by the god. However, in particular dark festivals, the cultist perform the hideous Rite of Micturition and will pee directly on to a statue of their god which will surely open the gates to the void. In this case, being fleet of foot is also a blessing.
The followers of Urinatius a known to build statues of their god in secrecy throughout the lands. Often, they are built on some hidden mound or deep within a lost forest where the cultist can gather away from watchful eyes. But occasionally, statues are found in much more public places like town squares. Generally, no one dares to go near the statues at the risk of defiling it no matter how obscene or distasteful the statue is to look at. But there are those less thoughtful and careless (drunken highlanders in particular!) that have tempted the God! Woe be them.
The ultimate goal of the cultist is to find a way to help their god to completely empty the Void of impurities and in doing so cleanse the world of its evils and destroying their enemies by unleashing the walking dead. These cultist bide their time, secretly growing their ranks and building new places of worship waiting until the Void finally fills and is ready to burst.

Urinatius cultist tend to wear black robes with hoods that have a golden yellow arch on the front. They carry golden sickles or scythes as weapons and a symbol of their god. (they are also good to defend oneself from the one of the walking dead “gifts” from their god!) Symbols: Golden arch on a black background. Sometimes a yellow crescent moon. Running water is also a sign of Urinatius beckoning to his followers to pray! Holy Days: On rainy day it is said that Urinatius is peeing is love on the world! So rainy day following a night with a yellow crescent moon is particularly holy

Highlanders pee on Urinitas and must pay the price.