Pimp My Board Game

a pursuit of fruitless endeavors and endless refinements

Category: General (Page 1 of 15)

Dropzone Commander: 2017 Fall Campaign

Today we had our first game of our Dropzone Commander 2017 Fall Campaign at Funtastic Games.  It was 999 point Skirmish-sized game with 6 players in attendance.  Before I left, I had a few minutes and decided to try out a quick proof of concept I’d been thinking of: a pimped out spinner for Indirect Fire deviation (and anything else that needs a random direction).

I started with a cheap spinner, an extra flight stand base from the now defunct Planetfall game by the also defunct Spartan Games. The ship is an Athena Air Superiority fighter that had some miscast issues.

As this was just a test to see if the thing worked, I wasn’t really trying to make things permanent.  Cutting off the arrows from spinner piece and supergluing it to the flight base position.  Then I cut off the flight peg holder on the Planetfall base and used blutac to keep the big spinner base connected.

And done.

This took all of about 5 minutes and seemed to work out well. Not really practical but painted up and clearing that base down to size would make it a bit better.  I have some other junk pieces so I might play around with this a bit more.  This might make a cool bunker with a spinning gun mount on top.

Now for the Dropzone game.  With 6 players we rolled off for map placement and opponent.  Today, I had the honor of playing a new recruit to Dropzone, Jayme, and he was running PHR.  I had really played against PHR before. Early on in our learning of Dropzone, we tried all the factions in their starter form and just couldn’t get PHR to work.

Stephen, the campaign host, started us off for the campaign with the following opening:

…transmission intercept…
Forward Intelligence units have discovered that a UCM ship will be airdropping vital supplies and equipment at 1330.
All available units to mobilize to deployment zone to intercept. The enemy cannot be allowed to retrieve this shipment.

We were also going to try out some of V2.0 rules:

* disembark and shoot for a -2 penalty
* flyers are at peg height, not 6″

With that, we were ready to begin.  We were playing the Ground Control scenario.  This was the first time I’d tried this scenario and it is probably the closest to a normal tabletop wargame than most of the other Dropzone scenarios.  It has units directly deployed to the map (like most minis games) and no objective, focal, or intel points.  The game map is split into four quarters and awards scenario VPs to the player that controls each quarter at the end of round 6 (which is the end of the game).  Control is determined by having the most points in units in a given quarter, with infantry gaining double points if they are in a building.

This type of scenario made for a pretty slow opening as a lot of the usual scenario tactics call for running out as fast as possible and grabbing objective points before your opponent. Since nothing is determined until the last round, the game has a bit more “dance” to it before units really engage.  After the first turn, I had pushed my Anti-Air (AA) unit to the left-center while my big Thunderstorm hovercraft at the bottom rumbled to line up on one of the long sight lines.  The rest of my units made for the center and used buildings as cover.  My opponent did similar as everything he had was in dropships and he didn’t want to commit to the ground game quite yet.

After I set up down one of the less open firing lanes I realized my massive hovercraft only had an 18″ firing range (that’s what I get for pillaging Scourge tech).  Hanging out in the back will make 25% of my army basically useless as I can’t even shoot far off buildings.  I really suck at this big hovercraft.

So, after failing with my hovercraft, I then started playing like all the other scenarios and threw my infantry into some buildings thinking they’d be safe there. That also turned out to be a mistake as my opponent had some good building demolishing and so these safe-havens I jumped into were turning out to be death traps.  I decided to load up the battered infantry once more into their APCs and Lifthawk dropship and head for safer skies.

my opponent’s AA walkers are conspicuously not there anymore…

I decided to turn my attention to his AA walkers and after they almost melted my infantry dropship (precariously hovering with all my troop transports in tow).  My Typhoons (yay! new unit) used their long range to chip away at one of the AA walkers and then after winning the initiative roll, I closed the game and threw all I could at them to take them off the board.  To add insult to injury, my attack choppers are in the same battle group as my AA trucks and they ended up taking down my opponent’s dropship as well, wiping out an entire unit activation.

With no more AA options on his side, my opponent got desperate and threw down two infantry squads to serve as proxy AA and try to bring down my loaded up Lifthawk.  I was able to repair my dropship back up to 2 damage points to give a little bit of a boost but I didn’t see this coming.  Pretty risky but if he can bring down my dropship with all those troops, it’ll be a major blow to my ability to later control these different areas of the map.  My luck wins out and his infantry aren’t able to land a hit (mainly due to the penalty gained from disembarking and firing in the same turn, a v2.0 rule we implemented).

The risk of that gambit hits home when my air units start lighting up the exposed infantry.  I open up and after two turns of fire, the PHR infantry are down to one base with one guy standing.  They finally hop into a remaining transport and run for cover in the buildings.

With Round 5 ending, my opponent pushes his remaining infantry squad into a small building in my starting quarter of the map via an underground monorail. I can’t pass up the opportunity to finally put this big hovercraft to use so I pull back from that main firing corridor to shoot at the little building and hopefully drop it, killing all the infantry inside. I do 8 damage and need 2 more to drop it.  For a point comparison, my 265 point hovercraft with 4 shots at the highest power of any gun in the game did the same amount of building damage as my opponent’s little Railgun-toting APCs (60 points total).  The dice were not in my favor on that.  I was able to follow up with about six weaker attacks from my Skulltaker but only landed one more damage.

Turn 6 started and I lost initiative but had a dirty trick up my sleeve.  I was able to pull a command card that allowed me to interrupt my opponent’s activation and take a single activation beforehand.  He activated his infantry in the nearly collapsed building and I interrupted it with a final salvo of from my Thunderstorm command hovercraft. This time, I landed the hits and dropped the building on them.  I finished by moving my commander back into that quarter, sealing the point control for that one.

After that blow, my opponent did some quick math and realized that he didn’t have enough points on the board to control three quarters of the map and since he was also behind in kill points, a tie would still equal a loss so we called the game.

It was a fun game and it was nice to see some really effective PHR units.  My new Typhoons were definite MVPs in this as they basically could own the map after I took out the threatening AA walkers. I tend to find that this is the case in this game with aerial gunships are in play and that was my biggest fear in building this list- that my AA wouldn’t be enough to overpower a strong gunship that could then just obliterate my ground units with abandon.  Luckily, I was on the dealing side of that situation.

We have another game set up in November and we’re going to escalate to 1250 points.  Time to start working on my next list!

Dropzone Commander: Typhoons Reporting for Duty

Even with the busy week, I was able to burn through my painting regiment to finish up my new Dropzone Commander Typhoons.

As with all my Resistance Army, they never can really find matching anything.  The most common is usually a black urban paint scheme but this time I opted for a desert themed scheme for one of the Typhoons.

I really rushed through these and it caused some issues with paint flecking. The weather also turned so the lower temperatures may have messed with the setting up of the primers too.

Overall, I’m happy with them.  They are painted and will go in my army this Sunday and will word for tabletop use.

I’m still debating on my actual list.  I think I’m set on this list:

My concern is it doesn’t have enough anti-air and it doesn’t max out the activation groups.  The lack of anti-air might not be that big of a problem since we’re playing a pretty small game (999 point Skirmish) but still, I’d like to have a little more balance.  Instead, I have a lot of anti-tank, some building demo, and a ton of squads.  The Fighters are pretty much a staple for most Resistance lists but I also have a group of fast-flying Berserkers with a Skulltaker for support and a group of Freeriders.

It should be a fun time regardless and I’ll plan on writing up how it went sometime next week.

Back to the Grind

Having finally finished up my Gen Con 50 reports, I jumped back into prepping some miniatures.  I started with a Knight Model for the Batman Miniature Game.

I have a few Suicide Squad starter figures that need to be put together but this Green Arrow figure I picked up is one of my favorite sculpts so I decided to work on him instead.  I got smart this time and busted out my dusty jewelers clamp because I remembered that Knight Models loves complicated three-point poses and rarely do they all match up easily.  I used a little green stuff to fix the angle on the bow arm and it all worked out in the end.

For basing, the new metal miniatures come with the much improved solid base instead of the slotted rubble bases that always required greenstuff to fill in and sculpt.  It was always a pain and I never felt like I could get the effect right.  The left image above in grey is an old base I obviously used greenstuff on.  The right is the new base that I’ll customize to fit the dynamic scenery that Green Arrow stands on.

And here he is in all his glory.  He should be pretty fun to paint up.

This upcoming weekend, I have a Dropzone Commander game coming up at Funtastic Games so that means another “drop everything and finish up some models” week for me.

I’m tackling the new-ish Typhoon attack helicopters this time.  Only two models so it shouldn’t be too bad.

Ah but I spoke too soon.  These models are part of their dual packaging wave where each model comes with all the other gun iterations.  This package can double as the older Cyclone attack choppers or the new Typhoons.  I still really like the Cyclones so I don’t want to commit this models to only one choice so that means magnets.

It took me awhile to find my 2mm magnets and get everything set up but after that, it went as good as could be expected.  No real major issues but I wonder if I’m going to have to add a second magnet to those wings to help hold them in place.   Maybe after this weekend.  I’ve got to get these guys into the garage to prime up.  I’ll post my progress at the end of the week.

Gen Con 50 Recap Day 4

See Recap Day 1 or Recap Day 2 or Recap Day 3

The last day of the Con was here and my big Loopin’ Chewie Tournament was in the morning.  I say “big” because it had apparently sold out all 36 slots.  Last year I had four people show up so this was going to be interesting.

I only brought 6 games of Loopin’ Chewie so I’d have to run the event in two heats.  Maybe next year I’ll run them in separate event heats like X-wing does so that no one has to feel like they are waiting.

I still wasn’t sure what to expect with a sold out event of this size as it was a Sunday and a cheap event so a lot of people might just ditch anyway.  But nope. I had most everyone show up and those seats that were empty quickly filled up with friends of the other participants.  The main reason for the sell out? X-wing.  A group of X-wing tournament players had seen the event listing and all wanted to join in.  Apparently this group had started to play Loopin’ Chewie at some of the bigger X-wing tournament events around the country and found that it was a great way to blow off steam and de-stress during the long tournament runs.

It was a great group of gamers, from young kids who love the game, to a family that came from German where Loopin’ Louie is almost a national past time, and of course the X-wing tournament players.

I can’t thank the participants enough for being great sports and really getting into the game.  I had some diabolical setups for the participants as we ran two main heats of the normal game. To make sure the game didn’t just end quickly for anyone in the first round, we used the “standard” tournament rules (as I understand them) from Alan Moon’s Gathering of Friends event (which used to feature standard Loopin’ Louie tournaments and maybe still does).

In essence, you will play multiple rounds of Loopin’ Chewie where the goal is to be the last player left with a Storm Trooper token in their player zone.  Each time you win one of these mini-rounds, you start the game again but start with one less token.  All players keep playing mini-rounds until one player wins the game starting with only one token.  That player is the winner of the round and will move on to Round 2 of the tournament.

Round 2 ran the same way with the 12 qualifiers from the two round 1 heats playing again.  This round ran in the same fashion, be the player to win the game with only one token at the start.

At the end of Round 2, we had four semi-finalist.  Now I started to make things interesting.  Each of these finalists would pair off for Round 3 and now have two games of Loopin’ Chewie running simultaneously.  The rules revert back to the simpler “last man standing” to keep things moving.

At the end of the Semis, we had two players remaining. For this final round, I upped the ante one more time to really determine the Loopin’ Chewie Champion: 3 games running simultaneously.  This set up had the two “book end” games running just like in the semi-final round but added a third center game that used a piece from the special 6 player adapter mod created by Robert McFadden.  Again, the round was just “last man standing” and it created a pretty epic finale with the winner coming down the last token for each player.

It was a great event and a lot of fun and I can’t wait to run it again next year.

Sunday is usually the lightest day for me but this year it seemed pretty busy with the tournament in the morning and an afternoon event.  In between, I was able to check out a few last things in the exhibition hall.

This pimped out version of the recently Kickstarted Fabled Realms was on display but I didn’t have time to play it.

I was really happy to see oversized Magic: the Gathering back at the Con.  I hadn’t seen this since my very first Gen Con back in 2007.

The Matagot booth was always popular, especially at the Meeple Circus demo tables.  I didn’t get a chance to play but was able to watch enough of a game to see that I was definitely interested in picking it up.  At its heart, it’s a timed dexterity game where you are trying to stack your meeple pieces in certain positions to score points.

Finally, I made it over to my afternoon event, a full game demo of Rayguns and Rocketships.

This is a nice tactical miniatures board game which plays like an updated four player Broadsides and Boarding Parties.  You crew a ship and have scenario goals to earn victory points.  Once one player reaches a certain victory point amount, the game finishes out the round and the highest score wins.

You have two tactical boards, one is the space board that has each player’s starship which can shoot each other to damage their tactical ship board.  The ship board contains your crew and must be moved about and interacted with to move your ship and fire guns. You can also be boarded and attacked directly.  The game has a lot of freedom to it and was very swashbucklery.  I wouldn’t mind porting a lot of the rules over to my copy of Broadsides and Boarding Parties as this really is a great system for that classic game.  The game itself is also well made and fun enough to pick up on its own as well.

So that concludes my Gen Con 50 experience.  It was a great convention and easily one of the top 3 in my eleven years going.  It’s sad that the popularity has outgrown it’s venue and our success at this convention will be up to the housing lottery but maybe we’ll find a more consistent way to attend in the future.

I came home with more swag than usual as I picked up several promo sets like the Sparky Super Dog promo for the upcoming Flick ’em Up: Dead of Winter, Adrenaline and Santorini Dice Tower promo cards, out of print Evolution promos and two event promos, one for Rayguns and Rocketships and the other for A Song of Ice and Fire minis game. I talked to the guys at Win Go Games about what it takes to publish and they gave me a sample box filled with a lot of their production samples.  Then there is the Flip Ships game and miniature portal terrain I picked up.

Lastly I picked my Gen Con 50 dice and dice bag.  The one shown above is the oversized edition (followed by the last ten years of the standard ones) but I also picked up the standard sized one for this year and another “commemorative set” as a nice bookend to my 2007-2017 Gen Con attendance.

Gen Con 50 Recap Day 3

See Recap Day 1 or Recap Day 2

Just like Friday, my friend and I cleared Saturday morning to run over to the Mythic Games booth and try out the other scenario.  This scenario is supposed to show the games non-fantasy options and be less narrative and focused more on strategy.

In this scenario, the English have secured a cargo of goods and gold and are transporting it back to the safety of their village.  The French have caught them in the open and are looking to destroy the English or prevent them from getting any of the cargo back to the village.  Just like in the Werewolf scenario, this game will last six rounds.

A couple of new units were introduced in this scenario as well as some tactical game options.  My English group was comprised of archers and mounted archers with a Man-at-Arms group waiting for me at the village.  I could also raise archer stakes to help block movement and give me a little defense bonus if thing get into melee. The French was mainly comprised of a bunch of knights on horseback and some Man-at-arms units.

This scenario did not play out as great as the Werewolf scenario as I decided to quickly make a bunch of archer stakes around my forces to block off the incoming knights.  I focused mainly on the border to my North as I thought the knights to my West would take too long to get to me.  I also was able to pick up a Priest figure that was in the open near the town and move one of my cargo wagons closer to home.  I don’t automatically win if I get to town as I have to hold it there until the end of the sixth round but I figured I might as well get going.

After my turn I was thinking I had this game in the bag. My opponent was wondering the same thing and thought this was maybe a little weighted too much in favor of the English.  He plugged along anyway and started with his knights on my left.

Neither of us really had a good feel for how the pacing of the game works or the power of certain units but my friend started pushing through with his knights and crossed over to me quickly.  I failed to completely surround my rear flank with archer stakes and those knights made me pay dearly for that error.

The knights came about the bottom side of my rear and completely wiped out my archers in that space, then freely moved in and repeated that process until they were out of action cubes.  Unfortunately, this round gave us a ton of action cubes and those French tore through my entire caravan, killing absolutely every unit I had on the board (or knocking them out to reinforce later) except my lone Man-at-Arms and newly acquired Priest.

We were both shocked at the effectiveness of those knights.  I would say that maybe it was dice luck but my units don’t have much defense and the French knights rolled a ton of attack dice.  The end result was basically game over in one turn.  We had came all this way so we decided to play it out and the French quickly took my remaining units in the next turn.   Realistically, that is probably how this battle should go if a group of knights are able to break through an archer line but it was pretty crazy to see it happen so easily in a game.  I did make a pretty huge error and would not repeat that mistake but we weren’t able to redo the game in this setting to see if that was the main issue with making this scenario so swingy.

We did stick around to ask the demo giver if that was a pretty typical game or if he’d seen anyone lose that fast.  He gave us probably an even more disturbing answer in that “no” it was not the fastest game he’s seen and in fact, the English side tends to win quickly.  He went on to say that he’s seen games end on the first turn without the French even getting a chance to play as the English archers go first and if the action cubes are decent for the round and you get some good rolls, you can remove most of the knight units and the French won’t have anything to attack you with.

I’m really glad to have seen this potential “ugly” side of the game as I was really excited about it but now I feel like I have a fuller picture of the game’s potential.  Even though that particular scenario feels unbalanced or least extremely unforgiving, I think it shows that the game will be dependent on the strength of the scenarios.  It also looks like you can set up your own non-narrative clashes pretty easily and totally remove the unbalanced set up but making mirror matches or maybe even a “grab any 8 units” Age of Sigmar style game set up.  Archers vs Knights have a very rock, paper, scissor feel in that they kill each other in different ways so in a symmetrical game set up (for the win condition), the need for combined arms sounds necessary and may prevent a situation where taking all of one unit outclasses other build options.  Or worse-case scenario, the narrative scenarios are just better and you only consider the game in that regard.  Either way, I’m still very much excited for the game and can’t wait for it to hit Kickstarter to see all the other game options the system has available.

Saturday was pretty open for me so I was able to check our more of the dealer hall and the next place I stopped was at Fantasy Flight’s booth to see their new Star Wars: Legion game.  Legion is a new 32mm tabletop miniatures game and looked fantastic.

As usual, FFG had some amazing board set ups and it made the game look fantastic.  The game is a squad based miniatures game that is scenario dependent and flexible in game size.  The game takes place in roughly the same Star Wars timeline as their X-wing and Armada games but with a bit more emphasis on the original trilogy for the first core set.

A lot of the typical troops are in the core set with Storm Troopers and Rebel Troopers.  You also have an AT-RT for the Rebels and Speeder Bikes for the Empire.  Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker heroes round out the set.

The heroes act as your commander and set up an interesting gameplay element.  Like Armada, games take place over six rounds.  Each round players will play a command card to determine initiative.  These command cards come in two types, a generic command card that is available to everyone when building your deck and your commander specific command cards which are unique and offer interesting extra options when played.  The command card designates not only initiative but how many units you can specifically activate during the round, usually with faster initiative cards giving you less unit activations.

After specifying your specific unit activations based on the command card played, you take the rest of your activation tokens (specific to each unit you have in play) and they go into a bag to be randomly drawn during the game, simulating a fog of war effect.  Games seem to play in about the same time scale as Armada and other large force minis games but it looks great and I can’t wait to see where the game goes.

Wandering around some more, I sat down and played a shortened version of Z-Man’s new Valletta.  It’s an interesting territory control game/deck builder.  As much as I liked Dominion, I’m really glad designers are looking at the deck building system and applying it to a not-strictly deck builder archetype.  Clank! is a great example of that and Valletta seems to straddle the line very well. It is definitely more deck-buildery than Clank! but it was a fun game.  I lost horribly.

This curious set piece mountain-climbing game, Mountaineers caught my eye.  It was an interesting 3D board that rotates during the round and seemed a bit involved with picking your the routes of your team and potentially sabotaging others.  The art is a little off to me and needs a bit more polish but the game itself seemed interesting.

If you could stand the half-naked dude demo giver, the Arena Rex booth had a great setup of their gladiatorial combat game.

Leder Games had their Vast miniatures up for display and fully painted.  They look great and it’ll be nice to have them on the board when they arrive (sounds like that won’t happen until early 2018 though).  I also sat down to talk with the designer as they had their sister version of the Vast game that takes place in a huge mansion.  It sounded like the new roles in that game will be available to swap in and out of the Crystal Cavern game so that can be an interesting option.

Pretzel Games had an oversized copy of their new Flick ’em Up: Dead of Winter.  I ended up pre-ordering this before the convention so I didn’t really stay very long.  I saw that they were also selling an oversized copy of Flick ’em Up.  I’m not sure what I’d do with an oversized copy of the game except run events at a Conventions.  I do like oversized versions of games and want to build my own but something about this game just doesn’t do it.  I think I may be a little concerned because I like the expansions as well and those aren’t available.  It’s a Catch 22 since they likely won’t make the large-sized expansions unless the large base game sells but I wouldn’t want to buy in unless the expansions were guaranteed as well.

After walking the dealer hall, it was time for my last event of the day.  This year I decided to take a painting seminar.  Since I’ve been painting up my black and white Walking Dead game, I wanted to try out a technique that I’ll need to use for these miniatures: painting non-metallic metals.  This is basically a technique of using non-metallic paint to simulate metallic reflections. The technique is pretty hard but I was hoping this class would get me started.

In looking for some images to show as an example, I stumbled this great blog post from Razza Mini Painting, showing off the technique:

image from Razza Mini Painting

Pretty incredible technique when done well. Unfortunately, I have a long way to go.

I was hoping the teacher would start on something simple like a weapon or just stay with the helmet but he wanted to touch on the different aspects of the mini like the scale skirt vs the helmet vs the breast plate.  In the end we had to rush because he overreached on his time allowance.  I was able to learn a bit (mainly that the technique is damned tough to pull off) so it wasn’t a total waste.  Ironically, I learned more sitting down and talking to one of the Privateer Press painters in the exhibition hall- they have a booth set up just outside their exhibit area dedicated to a staff painter that will be painting a model while fielding questions to whoever is sitting nearby.  I likely learned better in that environment because the class I took was a bit more advanced for my actual skillset and there wasn’t a lot of opportunity to ask basic questions.

We ended up skipping the BGG Board Game room Saturday night and just hung out until we crashed.  I had a little bit of work to do to prepare for my morning tournament event so it was a pretty chill evening.

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