Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Venturing back into Dungeons & Dragons

Like a lot of table top gaming nerds I started out playing Dungeons & Dragons.  I was 11 years old the first time I tried to run "The Keep on the Borderlands" using the basic D&D rules.  I was the DM and as what happens to most DMs I have been a DM/GM pretty much most of my gaming career.  Now 31 years later I am taking a much more experienced crew back to the Castellan's Keep on the Borderlands to explore the Caves of Chaos and the surrounding ares using the D&D 5E rules which seem to be the best set of rules since 2nd Edition AD&D.

I've already ran one session where my party ventured to the Borderlands and scouted out The Cave of the Unknown but were forced back to the Keep after being attacked by a Wolf pack at the cave entrance.

I've started working on a set of miniatures for the party.  Hopefully I'll have them ready to go for the next session.    

Monday, January 9, 2017

Giant Killer Robots!

I just stumbled across "Giant Killer Robots" a new game from Weta Workshop and it looks amazing!  I'm probably going to go broke.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Battletech Antallos 3040 Campaign (The best campaign I've had that I never blog about.)

 Well I've started my third Battletech campaign set on Antallos.  This time the campaign is set in 3040 during the time when a lot of lost tech was being discovered on the planet.

I think of Antallos as a planet in the Battletech Universe where someone is always fighting over something.  Usually smaller bands of pirates or mercenaries or treasure hunters fighting over Star League era resources left on the planet when the Star League collapsed.  That makes it a great place for a map based campaign for multiple forces.

We've set our 3040 campaign in Port Krin the closest thing to a capital city on Antallos.  I've divided the map into 74 or so neighborhoods and each faction is trying to take over neighborhoods in the city and build up businesses to help supplement their income to maintain their forces.  The trick is that we are not only fighting each other for control of the city.  Various NPC forces are also active in the city and player neighborhoods can even be raided by these NPC.  We are 7 or so turns into our campaign and we have yet to fight each other outside of the starter scenario.  Instead we have mostly been spreading out through NPC controlled neighborhoods fighting off other pirates and mercenaries.

Each of the four players in the campaign choose a force style based on their experience level.  Myself and the other player who have over 20-30 years experience playing Battletech built Pirate forces.  I call mine "The Scrap Dogs" and he calls his "The Blue Phantoms".  We started with a lot less money than the other two players and we can only deal with the Black Market to buy supplies, mechs, and parts to repair our mechs.  My daughter is playing an irregular mercenary force called "The Hunters of Horus".  Mercenary forces can deal with the Black Market or buy supplies, mechs, and parts from Military suppliers located in the Inner Sanctum which is a non contestable area at this time in the campaign.  My wife who has only played a few games of Battletech prior to this campaign choose to play a Draconis Combine force consisting mostly of units from The Legion of Vega who's background make them particularly suited for operating on a mostly pirate controlled planet.  She can requisition supplies, parts, and even mechs from the DCMS for free but these request can be denied based on her rank.  She can also deal with merchants from the Inner Sanctum and the Black Market to buys supplies like everyone else if she chooses.  Each force can also buy influence among their available markets to make finding things easier and cheaper.

To kick off the campaign we had a four way battle set outside of the city of Port Krin where we all fought over Star League era technology that had been scattered across the desert by a drop ship that was attacked by pirates.  

Immediately the Blue Phantoms and Scrap Dogs agreed not to fight each other and split the booty nearest our deployment zones.  We planned to engage the others only to keep their heads down.

 The Hunters of Horus and Legion of Vega however choose to fight it out causing some nasty damage to each other in the process.  As such even though they won slightly more of the booty than the pirate forces they had to spend quite a lot of it just to replace and repair their damaged units.

 Since the first engagement we have largely been fighting various NPC forces.  Here "Redcap" a Scrap Dog commando supported by two Savanna Master skimmers flanks a pirate Trebuchet.

Hunters of Horus mechs and tanks move through another part of the city defended by another mercenary company.

 A Draconis Rommel tank is and two Legion of Vega mechs engage pirates.

 The Scrap Dogs commander "Big Dog" in his Marauder is escorted by two Centruions "Slick" and "Rotgut"

 Scrap Dogs engage mercenaries in a ruined section of Port Krin.

A combined force of Blue Phantoms and Scrap Dogs attack The Carrion Crows an NPC pirate force defending the Carrion Pit neighborhood.  

The Draconis Legion of Vega Forces attempt to move into the North Slums of "The Lost" neighborhood only to be pushed back by The Lost Dogs an NPC pirate militia force defending that part of the city.

The Scrap Dogs and Blue Phantoms again fighting side by side against local forces.  I believe this time to capture a neighborhood for the Phantoms.

 The Hunters of Horus commander in the Black Knight fighting mercenaries.  

 Here is the campaign map on turn 5 I believe.  The Blue Phantoms are blue, the Scrap Dogs are yellow, the Legion of Vega are red, and the Hunters of Horus are green.  The flags represent our respective bases.  We all managed to blind pick neighborhoods that were fairly close to one an other to start the campaign.

 The Scrap Dogs have suffered the most NPC raids during the course of the campaign.  Here they are fighting off pirate raiders attacking one of their neighborhoods.

 The Blue Phantoms field a large number of Saladin hover tanks.  Here they have been wrecking havoc on a mercenary force.

 My wife has used her Rommel tanks quite extensively during the campaign.  Her Legion of Vega mechs act more as support for their heavy fire power.  

 Another shot of the Hunters of Horus in action against mercenary forces as they push into the middle part of the city.  The Hunters captured the blue Battlemaster in this engagement.  Quite a nice prize.

 Here the Legion of Vega manages to successfully invade the East Slums neighborhood of "The Lost" exacting some revenge against The Lost Dogs pirates.  The Draconis forces managed to capture a number of mechs and vehicles in this engagement as well.

 An entire company of Scrap Dogs attack the Talisea Raiders in the Portside neighborhood.  The "Dogs" were trying to secure the port to give them access to the southern parts of the city.  

The Scrap Dogs secure the port capturing some new assets but loosing a Whitworth mech in the fighting.  This was the last battle in the campaign so far.

At seven turns in we are starting to run out of room to avoid each other especially since we managed to deploy so close together.  I'm about to start a series of special scenarios like the one we fought to kick off the campaign as well as adding some other elements.  Once one of our forces secures Port Krin and becomes the new controller we will expand the campaign to the rest of the planet.  I should be adding more frequent updates from here on.    

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Battletech Renaissance Introduction

Amazingly I still frequently come across table top gamers who are completely convinced that "They don't make Battletech anymore".  Even on the interwebs.  Well I don't know who "They" are but in fact the opposite is true.  Not only are "they" still making Battletech but so are those guys over there and that other group of guys are making Battletech too.  There has never ever been so much Battletech being made by "them" and there has never been so many ways to play games in the Battletech universe.  It's true FASA died a long time ago but their banner games like Battletech and Shadowrun are still very much alive an better than ever.  There are both currently being produced by Catalyst Game Labs who are owned by Topps you know the Baseball trading card company.  Remember the awful gum that came with those cards. If you're a classic Battletech fan you probably do...  But I digress.  Battletech is most certainly still being produced.  

I really like the Battletech universe.  It is one of the most well conceived and well documented Science Fiction settings that has ever existed.  Don't believe me?  Check out sarna.net .  The Battletech Universe is insanely detailed.  No I'm not joking.  It rivals the Star Wars, Star Trek, and Warhammer 40k settings if it doesn't in fact surpass all of them.  It's hard to say.  However unlike those settings the Battletech Universe has no real heroes or at least not setting wide heroes.  Other than perhaps General Aleksander Kerensy.  The Universe is filled with stories of regular people.  Small time mercenaries, pirates, and state units.  In fact that seems to be the point of the setting.  You get to tell your own stories and not just languish in the shadow of greater heroes.

So just a quick synopsis of "those guys" still making Battletech.

Classic Battletech by Catalyst Games.

Alpha Strike by Catalyst Games

A Time of War by Catalyst Games which is basically the newest version of the Mechwarrior RPG.

Iron Wind Metals Battletech  Oh look Ral Partha isn't dead either.

Mechwarrior Online by Piranha Games

And two video games in development

Battletech by Harebrained Scemes

Mech Warrior 5 Mercenaries also by Piranha Games

So yeah.  "They" are still making Battletech.  I'll be doing a blog post on each of these products as time goes on.  Certainly not back to back because I'm not as familiar with all of them as I would like to be but they will each get some time on this blog.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Draconis Combine: The Legion of Vega (Battletech Factions Project)

We've started a project of building faction specific units for Battletech.  We want to start with three companies (12 mechs) for each of the major factions of the Inner Sphere.  Our plan is to make one elite company, one regular company, and one generic camouflage company.  We've started with the Draconis Combine (House Kurita) and so far we have finished a company of "The Legion of Vega".  My wife chose that company because of it's interesting background.  We are currently playing a campaign based in Port Krin on Antallos.  My wife painted this company using mechs from the Battletech Introductory boxed set.  The new version of the boxed set came with nicer figures than the first printing.  They are very clean and sharp in their detail.

I've nearly finished painting a Sword of Light company and I also have about half a company of Draconis mechs painted in an Urban camo.  I'm also hoping to have an armored company for each faction making a reinforced Battalion for each faction.

After we finish the Draconis units we are moving along to the Federated Suns (House Davion).  I already have a company of mechs started for that faction and another company on the paint table.

Eventually I would like to do major Periphery states, invasion era Clans, Mercenaries and Pirates.  In fact I have several small generic Pirate bands in the works.        

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Alpha Strike "The Battle of the Fruit Cake Factory"

 The Year is 3038.  Rumors of war have led the DCMS leadership to conduct several intelligence raids along the Federated Suns border.  Following up on intelligence about a secret weapons development lab on Bastrop a small DCMS Sword of Light unit has launched a raid.
 Draconis forces move across the rolling hills as they approach the Fed Suns base.  Two Rommel heavy tanks lead the charge followed by a Cyclopes, Cataphract, Raven, and Catapult.

 Federated Suns forces scramble to intercept the DCMS units.  A Dervish takes up position behind a warehouse looking for targets for it's long range missiles.  A Jagermech and two Partisan tanks move to protect the Davion left flank.  

 One of the DCMS tanks learns first hand the dangers of engaging a Davion firing line at long range.  The Jager, Partisans, and Rotunda Scout Car all score hits doing heavy damage to the Draconis tank's armor.

 The Draconis forces take up a position behind a low hill.  The damaged Rommel takes up a position providing full cover behind the rest of the forces.  The Federated Suns Dervish is caught in a hail of fire and brought down when the DCMS Catapult scores an ammo hit.  The Cyclopse takes several hits from the Fed Suns forces doing significant damage to it's armor.  The relatively short range Whitworth and Enforcer try not to get caught out in the open until the enemy closes.    

 The Sword of Light forces advance boldly across the open field.  A Partisan is destroyed by the Dracs and the Cataphract casually destroys the Fed Suns scout car attempting a flanking maneuver.

 The Draconis forces press their advantage having taken out three enemy units while suffering no losses.  The Fed Suns Enforcer finally decides to join the fray doing some damage to the fresh Kurita tank but it immediately regrets it loosing all of it's armor and a weapon in the process.

 The Davion Enforcer and Whitworth attack the DCMS Cyclops with support fire from the Jagermech.  The assault mech suffer major damage loosing it's armor and crippling it's movement.  The Enforcer is however easily destroyed by the return fire.  

 The Drac Cyclops retreates to a safer location.  The Whitworth destroys the damaged Kurita tank but takes a nasty hit from it's companion.  The Raven and Catapult finish off the Fed Suns Jagermech.  The battle is looking grim for the 1st Crucis Lancers of the Federated Suns.

 The DCMS Cyclops continues to retreat but the Whitworth jumps over a hanger to finish it off.  However the Draconis Raven and Rommel take the Whitworth down in retaliation for the loss of the Draconis assault mech.
The last Partisan is destroyed by the Kruita Cataphract leaving the outpost in the hands of the Draconis forces.  Unfortunately after an exhaustive search of the factory the Draconis forces find the the facility was in fact only producing "Bastrop Fruitcakes" and the 1st Crucis Lancer garrison units were stationed here to protect this important agricultural region from raiders.

Notes:  This was an Alpha Strike game played between myself as the Davion Forces and my Son and Wife as the Kurita forces.  This is the first time we used tanks and other non mech units.  We hope to work up to full combined arms battles in the future.  The Alpha Strike rules seem quite suited to this.  We've even been talking about doing a full campaign some time in the future.  I'm looking at the War of 3039 as a template.  

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Ziggurat of Happiness!

 Just got in a Ziggurat of Battlemechs in the form of the new Alpha Strike Lance packs.  I purchased all 8 lance packs and got an extra Striker lance to bring the total to 36 mechs or 3 companies.

I also picked up two of the new Shadowhawk 2H models based on the new artwork.  They look beautiful!

Here is the Command Lance painted up.  I picked up one of these and a Pursuit lance a few weeks ago.  These have really great detail.  In some ways better than the metal minis.  I would have to say that these mechs are some of the best plastic minis I have ever purchased.  They also had very little in the way of mold lines or flaws.  For table top purposes you can paint them straight out of the box.