Just a quick post today to share some photos of some new units for my dwarf army. Astute readers may know that I have a long-running dwarf throng composed of figures from a wide variety of companies and manufacturers. I really enjoy blending different sculpts and designs together under a (somewhat) cohesive paint scheme.
First up is a unit of heavily armored dwarves. These figures are from MOM Miniatures, a boutique studio located in Spain. Vince and I went in on a group purchase last year to save on shipping costs.
These guys check all the boxes for me: heavy plate armor, expansive beards, and a variety of two-handed weapons. They’ll be right at home battering down the barricades of a goblin encampment, or marching in lockstep through a narrow canyon defile.
Up next is a dwarven sharpshooter, also from MOM Miniatures. This guy will serve as a ranger or maybe even an engineer-type role in my army. He’s on a slightly larger scenic base which makes him really stand out alongside the rank-and-file troops.
Lastly we have a real gem of a figure, and I can bear-ly contain my excitement to show it to you.
This dwarf bear rider is from Scibor Monstrous Miniatures, and it’s a hefty piece of resin!
I’ve adored Scibor’s delightfully chunky dwarf models for a long time, and just last year I painted up some figures for my army. The golden armor scheme really makes these guys pop on the battlefield, and I knew I wanted to try it out on this bear cavalry guy.
I’ve already got one bear rider on a polar bear in my army, so this guy’s mount got a more traditional boreal ursine paint job. And by that, I mean: it’s a brown bear.
There are tons of little details and design flourishes on this model, such as the severed orc head and the slash marks on the bear’s flank. But my inner 12-year-old wouldn’t let me write this post without pointing out that this bear model is, ahem, anatomically correct. A quick visual check confirms that Mr. Bear is a male.
So if, like me, you hadn’t yet checked “paint bear scrotum” off your miniatures painting bucket list, be sure to check out the lineup of bear cavalry from Scibor Monstrous Miniatures.
That’s it for now! These guys will march to the battlefield soon enough in a game of Age of Fantasy, or Saga, or Dragon Rampant, or … you get the idea.
Earlier this month we gathered in John’s garage war room to cross swords with Age of Fantasy, the rules-lite iteration of classic fantasy wargaming from One Page Rules.
Given how much we enjoyed last month’s outing with Grimdark Future: Firefight last month, it seemed like a logical progression to explore Age of Fantasy. As the name implies, Age of Fantasy is a slimmed-down ruleset that supports Warhammer-lite gameplay, with nifty army lists approximating all the major races and factions from the classic tabletop game. As a bonus, it also includes rules and army lists for most of the newer factions from Age of Sigmar, if that’s your cup o’ tea.
For our game, we set up a 2-vs-1 match whereupon John and Vince combined their human and dwarven forces to take on my bloodthirsty chaos army. This was my first time getting my entire chaos army on the table since I began piecing it together a year or two ago, and I was really chomping at the bit to lay it all out there on the table and bask in the blood-soaked glory.
Please indulge, if you will, these photos of my seething chaos battle line as it took to the field.
John’s human forces and Vincent’s dwarven milita were similarly arrayed, though I noted a concerning lack of skulls and spikes on their side of the board, as well as 100% more pegasus knights and bear riders.
We set up 5 objectives per the standard scenario in the rulebook. I wrote “rulebook” but One Page Rules is not joking about its name; the core rules for Age of Fantasy occupy less than two letter-sized pages, with the full rulebook encompassing scarcely more than a dozen.
The rules are spare, but they do a great job capturing the flavor and tone of a typical game of Warhammer. You’re still rolling dice and counting bonuses and removing casualties and cursing the gods when things go terribly awry, but Age of Fantasy seems to strip away a lot of the bloat that plagued most modern editions of Warhammer.
And so, amid the clatter of spears and the scrape of boiled leather, our game got underway. We opted to use the “Ebb and Flow” rules for the turn sequence, meaning we put a number of colored poker chits equal to the number of units in our armies into a sack, then took turns drawing a chit to determine unit activation order each turn. It was great fun, but it also set up some high stakes moments, because when one side sees several of their chits come up in a row, they know that means the opposing player will have a series of unopposed activations coming later in the turn.
With bloodlust in my eyes, I sent my forces surging forward.
Did I mention I had zero ranged combat in my army? It was all melee, so the only direction to go was forward.
On the right flank, a unit of Putrid Blightkings plodded through the muck, churning the soil beneath their steel-shod feet/hooves. They seized the first objective: a recently abandoned campsite with a roast pheasant still sizzling on the spit. This hapless game hen would become the focal point of absolutely insane butchery as the game unfolded.
With a little help from my chaos sorceress, I managed to goad my unit of Centigors into charging a unit of crossbowmen that had just finished unleashing their arrows into the flanks of my chaos knights. The Centigors thundered in amid a storm of hooves and spears, laying waste to the crossbowmen …
…before finding themselves on the receiving end of a devastating counter-charge from John’s winged pegasus knights!
Nothing like a good ol’ charge/counter-charge bloodbath.
As these maneuvers were playing out, we again remarked on how Age of Fantasy captured the spirit and general gameplay mechanics of classic Warhammer. Sure, we weren’t flipping through army books and cross-referencing arcane rule interactions, but the general spirit of the game definitely emerged as block of troops wheeled and charged and fell back.
By this point, we were about two turns into the game, and the chaos cavalry was advancing up the left flank to menace the dwarf handgunners. The center of the battlefield was dominated by several units of Vince’s heavily armored dwarves, backed up by a fearsome artillery piece.
Over at Waypoint Pheasant (the campfire objective marker featuring the oversized chicken tenders), John was making a determined defense with his block of 20 spearmen, led by the inimitable Grand Marshal Bartholomieu Begovic (standing tall on his ubiquitous supply crate).
The spearmen had a special ability that allowed them to inflict fierce casualties whenever they receive a charge, which really had me scratching my head about how to crack this particular nut.
Ultimately, I had to commit three units to the fight in order to pry John’s spearmen off this particular objective. The final sledgehammer came in the form of a devastating charge by my chariot, which circled around and took the hedgehog on its flank. (Age of Fantasy doesn’t have unit facings, so flank charges exist only in my imagination, but it seemed fitting here.)
The arrival of the chariot tipped things in my favor. A series of spectacularly poor morale rolls from John resulted in Marshal Begovic fleeing the field with the surviving spearmen! Discretion was the better part of valor, it seems, and our dear Marshal didn’t wish the get bloodstains on his pantaloons.
The Ebb and Flow activation rules we were using for this game continued to present unexpected and extremely fun decision points. Both sides had the opportunity to pull off “combo activations” to push the advantage. By the end of the second turn, repeated ativations by the chaos army had finally seized the initiative, culminating in this devastating charge by the chaos knights against the surviving members of a dwarf handgunner brigade.
The demise of the handgunners meant that there wasn’t much to stop the knights from rolling into the dwarves’ backfield, slaughtering the artillery crew and disrupting the reserves that were waiting to plug the gap in the main battleline.
We concluded that the game was in the bag for me, and the two allied players wisely decided to quit the field and retreat to their strongholds.
Age of Fantasy provided a great game worthy of the history books (for me, anyway, since I was the victor). It is a very playable, rules-lite game which seems like it can easily accommodate some very large armies without a lot of complexity or rulebook flipping.
The Ebb & Flow activation rules (optional in the Age of Fantasy rulebook) were absolutely electrifying. I understand they also form the core mechanics for games like Bolt Action and Warlords of Erehwon.
By the end of the game, we were already sketching out ideas for larger games featuring more gloriously painted miniatures from our collections. Stay tuned for more!
We’ve been dipping a toe into the wonderful, rules-lite world of One Page Rules lately, and I finally had an opportunity to take some photos and do a writeup.
One Page Rules publishes Grimdark Future, a fantastic fast-playing game inspired by Warhammer 40,000 (but minus the codex creep and insufferable meta that has come to characterize the actual game itself). Grimdark Future Firefight offers the same fast-playing rules in a skirmish-sized package. GF: Firefight is a great alternative to Necromunda or Kill Team.
We got together at John’s house last weekend to roll some dice and push some plastic, and both goals were accomplished in short order. I brought over my Infected City terrain (commissioned by the excellent Morti5 Studio) and we set up a 2-versus-2 battle featuring my Plague Marines and Paul’s Tyranids versus John’s Inquisitor & retinue and Daniel’s Ultramarines.
It was a classic good-versus-evil matchup! The (self) righteous defenders of the Imperium squared off against the oozing, slithering, skittering hordes of Nurgle and the Great Devourer.
List-building for GF: Firefight is extraordinarily simple. Just pick your guy, figure out what he’s armed with, and move on to the next figure. It’s very much a WYSIWYG approach without a lot of invisible wargear or gotcha strategems. Our warbands ranged in size from Paul’s Tyranids (just 3 frightful models) to John’s Inquisitorial horde (12ish models, as I recall).
We placed 5 objectives onto the battlefield, using some newly painted markers that John had just knocked out. They were little baby Tyranids, so we decided that the narrative plot hook involved the Tyranids seeking to retrieve some hatchlings from a plague-infected city. The forces of Nurgle were only too happy to run interference on this operation…
We quickly found out that my Plague Marines were extremely tough and hard to kill, by virtue of their high defense value and Regeneration ability that gave them a chance to shrug off wounds taken in battle. They began plodding forward, an inexorable green-armored wave of putrescence, while in their wake mobs of plague zombies fanned out to hold the seized objectives.
John and Daniel had the advantage in numbers, but they were plagued by poor dice rolls from the start. And they quickly found that they had to deal with the Death Guard as well as the fearsome, fast-moving Tyranid monsters led by Paul.
In truth, once the gigantic alien horrors fell upon them, there was no escape. There were just too many targets, and not enough guns.
Daniel had some success on the right flank, keeping my Plague Lord on the ropes for the entire game as he struggled to just stay alive. Fast-moving bikers looped around the flank and threatened our mission objectives. But again — once the Ultramarines drew the attention of Paul’s Tyranids, they were not long for this world.
During the final turn, John sent his newly painted Ordo Xeno Inquisitor into the fray, and it was everything we hoped for — he dealt fearsome damage and proved his worth as a servant of the Emperor. Then, of course, he got eaten.
All in all, it was a fun game that was surprisingly close once we added up the victory conditions at the end. Grimdark Future is just so darn fast and simple, both in terms of gameplay and list building. The alternating unit activation is such a modern mechanic, and it keeps all players engaged throughout the game. It’s definitely got me re-energized to play some grimdark games with my large collection of 40k models. Stay tuned for more!
The second day of our mini-game con kicked off with a morning session of Zona Alfa. Astute readers of this blog may recall my general infatuation with Stalker-inspired gaming, and that is what Zona Alfa delivers in spades. The game was released in January 2020 and Comrade’s Wargames got its grubby paws on an advance copy to read and review.
I was pleased to return to Zona Alfa for this session — and to incorporate some exciting elements from the new supplement Kontraband.
I designed our session as a cooperative scenario that tasked four groups of stalkers with traveling the length of the infamous Khimbruk Road deep in the anomalous Exclusion Zone. There were a several points of interest along the road, and each crew also had its own unique goal that they could work toward.
The road, as you might imagine, was fraught with both threats and potential rewards. Only the hardiest crews would survive to reap the benefits and return home with packs bulging with salvage.
Zona Alfa and Kontraband both use a system to generate random bad guys and loot when players interact with “points of interest” on the map. We had 7 such points of interest on our map, each corresponding to a particular Good Thing or (more likely) a Bad Thing.
The first firefight erupted when John sent his commandos tiptoeing up to a leaking chemical tank. Turns out it wasn’t just a chemical burn he was risking…
A swarm of nasty rad bugs surged out to attack the crews. Thirty years ago their descendants might have been locusts and cockroaches skittering around the irradiated ruins of the Zone, but today they were fearsome chitinous monstrosities that had to be dispatched with brutal prejudice.
While this was happening, Paul’s tunnel scavengers hoofed it to the roof of a nearby outpost and looted another objective marker — drawing the attention of a nearby band of raiders in the process! They popped out of cover and began pouring automatic weapons fire into the unlucky crew! We’re not alone, comrades!
Nearby, the crews noticed a swirling, pulsating energy field that seemed to warp the laws of physics. This could only be an Anomaly — one of the enigmatic hazards that frequently occur in the deepest reaches of the Zone. At great personal risk, the crews moved in to explore the Anomaly.
Well, they didn’t die! That much is certain. Will they sprout vestigial third limbs a few weeks from now? Perhaps. Only time will tell.
The crews continued to battle their way down the pockmarked asphalt of the Khimbruk Road. The presence of enemies ebbed and flowed as points of interest were searched and bad guys dispatched. Rad bugs continued to be an ever-present threat. Thankfully, Vince’s warband was comprised of medics led by a doctor, so there was a limited supply of first aid on hand to keep the injured on their feet.
By turn 6, the warbands had nearly crossed the entire length of the tabletop and had achieved their individual objectives. Remarkably, nobody died — though we had several close calls that required med-kits to patch up warriors in the heat of the moment.
Special props to Vincent’s sniper, who scaled a tower early on and provided pinpoint fire support throughout the game. I doubt the outcome would have been quite so favorable if not for the guardian angel watching over them from above.
As with our previous game, we planned lunch at the conclusion of the game. I had prepared a Russian-themed meal to reward the stalwart Zone explorers. Hearty dark rye bread, gigantic dill pickles, and cold salami — a fine spread to be eaten whilst squatting in the dirt at the end of the Khimbruk Road. Давайте есть, comrades!
Hullo dear reader! I’m back after an uncharacteristic pause on this here blog. It’s been a busy summer without a lot of time for gaming, I’m afraid. But now that the days are getting shorter and the autumn winds are picking up, I’m once again finding some time to chuck some dice and play with toy soldiers.
This month, my local game group had expected undertake an expedition to Olympia, Washington, to attend Enfilade, the annual game convention from the Northwest Historical Miniatures Gaming Society. Alas, the rise of the delta variant this summer convinced us to skip the convention. We had hoped to host a game or two, and it seemed a shame to let all of that prep work go to waste, and thus Majesticon was born!
For our inaugural event, we planned a modest weekend of games, with plenty of breaks in between to attend to other obligations. Four players participated, with a few more dropping by to hang out periodically through the weekend. John graciously hosted our games in his converted garage “War Room.”
Game 1 – Into the Haunted Woods
Saturday morning was the first session, and John had planned a two-part mini-campaign of Nightwatch, the monster hunting skirmish game from Patrick Todoroff (creator of Zona Alfa). In Nightwatch, players create warriors, rangers, alchemists, and wizards who band together to defeat evil denizens of the darkness. It is a narrative co-op game, which I’ve really come to appreciate in this era of meta-heavy, combo-centric games that reward absolute beatdowns of the opposing player.
The first session took place in a spooky forest, shown in the photo above. The players were tasked with journeying through this forest, dealing with any randomly occurring monsters, and sanctifying the three stone cairns placed on the tabletop.
Each player had one figure for this introductory game — not a lot, but good for a tutorial game as we learned the ropes.
The bad guys began to arrive almost immediately. Nightwatch uses a series of random tables to generate progressively more dangerous waves of enemies. The rulebook doesn’t describe them in specifics, but instead just characterizes their threat level and behavior … it’s up to you to find a suitable miniature from your collection. Is this mob of vermin a group of giant spiders, or bloodthirsty imps? This ensures that Nightwatch games can features a wide variety of monsters and assorted bad guys.
The baddies spawned from one of four portals placed around the periphery of the battlefield at the start of the game. Here they come!
For fun and cinematic glory, we decreed that each “vermin” unit would be represented by TWO (2) zombie models, to better represent the palpable fear felt by the characters as they journeyed through the haunted wood.
The bad guys did a good job of harassing the players as they explored the forest and sanctified the cairns. We got a good sense of the game mechanics, which equipped us well for game two!
Game 2 – Defend the Church!
After a quick break, we set up the battlefield for game two. Having reached their destination, the hunters had to defend a stone church against seemingly endless waves of foul demons and hellspawn. This session featured a much more dangerous array of enemies!
We were tickled pink to have a chance to build a tabletop battlefield featuring our collection of gorgeous hand-painted medieval village terrain. Much of what you see in these pictures comes from Tabletop World. This doesn’t even include Lawrence’s TTW collection — I’m convinced we could build an entire city with our shared batch of terrain!
One of the spawn points was located near an outhouse, and we were lucky that Vincent had a suitable array of models to represent the shambling horrors that poured forth from the foetid maw of the crapper. This was the catalyst for a number of toilet-themed jokes throughout the rest of the weekend. Don’t forget to wipe!
If game one was a walk in the park, game two was certainly a meatgrinder. The waves of enemies just kept coming! Each time a new group of bad guys spawned, John would roll randomly to see if they would 1) shamble toward the church and start attacking it or 2) come straight at the defenders! As the game picked up and the defenders began to get overwhelmed, the random rolls sent more and more monsters to attack the church.
Alas, despite our best efforts, the church was destroyed in an orgy of destruction and blasphemy. The defenders escaped with their lives, but just barely. A follow-up mission seems imminent, to reclaim the holy site from the terrible invaders.
All in all, Nightwatch was a blast to play. We agreed that the co-op mechanics provided a superb narrative framework. We all got big-time “Witcher” vibes from our two games.
Interlude – Lunch is Served!
What is a game convention without food? Luckily, John’s spouse served up a platter of delicious nachos, plus a carafe of hot coffee, to keep us fueled up and ready for more game action to come in the afternoon.
Game 3 – Goblin Slayer!
Our hunger sated, we gathered for another game in the afternoon. Vincent hosted the third session, a game of Open Combat set in the blood-drenched world of Goblin Slayer. Players each commanded a small 4-person team of warriors, and collectively we were tasked with defending a farm from relentless waves of goblins.
The game featured a wave mechanic where the groups of goblins, seemingly weak in their own, would return to the battlefield in their deployment area after being wiped out. There was no escape from the unstoppable green tide!
Through savage combat, magical mastery, and sheer force of will, the players gained the upper hand and managed to defeat several of the larger goblin champions in single combat. Slaying the big guys seemed to turn the tide in our favor, and the heroes prevailed in the scenario.
Open Combat was quick and easy to play, although we remarked that the rules struggled a bit with the big mobs of goblins. The game is definitely at its best when each player handles a small team of 5-10 figures.
All in all, day one of Majesticon was great fun! It’s been tough to get everyone together these days, so it was really nice to get some sustained game time (and hang out time!) with everybody.