Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Gaming Judge Dredd on the Table Top

Judge Dredd is a fictional character who appears in British comic books published by Rebellion Developments, as well as in a number of movie and video game adaptations. He was created by writer John Wagner and artist Carlos Ezquerra, and first appeared in the second issue of 2000AD ( March 1977), a weekly science-fiction anthology. He is that magazine's longest-running character.
Joseph Dredd is a law enforcement officer in the dystopian future city of Mega City One in North America. He is a "Street Judge", empowered to summarily arrest, convict, sentence, and execute criminals. I have been following his exploits in comics, books, films and games (but not computer games) ever since he made his debut appearance. I still subscribe to 2000AD, which will celebrate its 2000th edition next month... and yes, I have every issue! In this article I'm going to take a look at the Judge Dredd boardgames and tabletop games that have appeared in the past 39 years.

BOARDGAMES
 Games Workshop produced a boardgame based on the comic strip in 1982. In the game players, who represented Judges, attempted to arrest perps that had committed crimes in different locations in Mega City One. A key feature of the game was the different action cards that were collected during play; generally these cards were used when trying to arrest perps although some cards could also be played against other players to hinder their progress. The winner of the game was the Judge who collected the most points arresting perps. Players could sabotage each other's arrest attempts. Additionally, there were many amusing card combinations such as arresting Judge Death for selling old comics, as the Old Comic Selling crime card featured a 2000AD cover with Judge Death on it. The game used characters, locations and artwork from the comic but is now out of print. I played this game many times with my gaming colleagues and it was always great fun to play. The Judges were represented by 15mm scale plastic figures in different colours - blue, green, orange, purple, red and yellow.

In 1987, Games Workshop published a second Dredd-inspired boardgame, Block Mania. In this game for two players, players took on the role of rival neighbouring blocks at war. This was a heavier game than the earlier Dredd boardgame, focused on tactical combat, in which players controlled these residents as they used whatever means they could to vandalize and destroy their opponent's block. Later the same year, Games Workshop released the Mega Mania expansion for the game, allowing the game to be played by up to four players. I played both games with my gaming group but it was not as popular as the boardgame shown above. It took a lot longer to play, especially with four players and it used a lot of counters. It certainly wasn't a bad game. Whenever I played it, I always took control of the Sammy Fox Block, simply because no one else wanted to control a block named after the large-breasted "page three" model. I had no such qualms, as I quite liked Sam.

ROLE-PLAYING GAMES
Games Workshop produced Judge Dredd: the Role-Playing Game in 1985. This was a great game with rules that were fast and fun to play. It was also very popular at the time and spawned numerous scenario packs. Many articles and scenarios were also printed in the White Dwarf magazine. This was back in the time when White Dwarf was a true gaming magazine and not a propaganda rag for Games Workshop products only. Citadel Miniatures, who back then, were a separate company from Games Workshop produced a huge range of 25mm scale metal figures for the game. I collected most of them and still have them, although I no longer have any use for them. I ran a hugely successful campaign using this system. Myself and a team of five other players all played Judges of Mega City One in countless scenarios. The most popular scenario, which is still remembered by all who took part in it was one I designed called "Red Christmas". I still have all of my notes for it and I'd love to share it with you some time, although I'd have to change the NPC stats to something more appropriate or leave them out. What made this particular scenario so memorable were the names of the victims and would-be victims that I used. Believe me, once you see them it will forever make you hear the song, White Christmas in a totally new light! Even now, it brings a smile to my face. :-)

Mongoose Publishing released The Judge Dredd Role-Playing Game in 2002. It used the d20 system, made popular with the Advanced Dungeons and Dragons game. I never took to this system at all. Even though this was for Judge Dredd, I refused to use it. By now my gaming group had dwindled to myself and two other players, Dave and Rob. We were all keen to try out this game, but not with the d20 system. So, I converted the game to the Feng Shui game engine. These rules emphasised cinematic action over realism and were hugely popular with myself and my players. We were familiar with them and they worked very effectively for Judge Dredd. It was a lot of work on my part to convert so much but it was well worth it. Mongoose printed a few scenarios for the game but most of the ones I played were ones that I had designed. They also published a few supplements under the headings of The Rookies Guide to... Subjects included the Justice Department, Psi-Talents, Block Wars and Criminal Organisations.

TABLETOP SKIRMISH WARGAMES 
In 2005, Mongoose Publishing brought out a tabletop skirmish game called  Gangs of Mega City One, often referred to as GOMC1. The game features Judges being called in when a gang challenges another gang that is too tough to fight. A wide range of miniatures have been released including box sets for an Ape Gang and an Undercity Gang. A Robot Gang was also produced but was released as two blister packs instead of a box set. Only one expansion set has been released, called Death on the Streets. This expansion introduced many new rules including usage of the new gangs and the ability to bring Judge Dredd himself into a fight. In this game, players took control of a gang. Their objectives were to avoid being arrested, defeat other gangs, gain new properties to add to their turf and gain new recruits, weapons and equipment. At any time, a gang could duck a confrontation and call in the Judges. The game was very reminiscent of Games Workshop's Necromunda skirmish game. I ran a short campaign using these rules. My gang, the Slayers, came out on top. Yay me!

This game went out of print shortly thereafter but was replaced by the Judge Dredd Miniatures Game, which was published free in many stages as the company sought feedback from fans and players. In 2013 it was released as a hardback rulebook. Later that year, an expansion was released called Blood on the Streets. Miniatures continue to be manufactured at a slow pace. The figures produced for the JDMG are the same as the ones produced for GOMC1 but have been repackaged and greatly expanded on. The biggest difference between the two games is that in JDMG players can now play Judges, and not just from Mega City One. Justice forces from around the world can be fielded with those from Brit City and the Sov Block being the most popular after the MC1 Judges. I am steadily building up my collection of these figures and my goal is to own them all. I have big plans for this game - plans that I can finally realise. It has been a long held dream of mine to run a Judge Dredd campaign using 3D scenery. Up until now this has been my biggest stumbling block. I suppose I could have made some buildings from my World Works Games card sets but I preferred to concentrate on my contemporary scenery instead. Now that I have just received a massive amount of scenery in my Battle Systems Urban Terrain sets I can recreate part of Mega City One in 3D. Although designed for a contemporary setting, these sets will still work in a sci-fi setting. Better still, Battle Systems will be producing a new sci-fi terrain set later this year, which will be compatible with the Urban Terrain sets. Oh, boy! I can't wait. I plan on running a campaign using a force of MC1 Judges, who will all be named after my blogging friends. There is also the possibility of running a play-by-blog scenario to run alongside my tabletop campaign. I'll keep you informed of my progress. First of all, I have a lot of figures to get painted. These are exciting times!

Bryan ©2016

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Sails of Glory: Game Review

Sails of Glory: Gaming in the age of Sail

To play a game of Sails of Glory, you will need a flat surface, roughly 36 inches by 36 inches square. You won’t need terrain, as naval warfare tends to happened on the open sea (the most terrain you might need would be the odd wreck... if the scenario is set in shallow waters... or perhaps a coastline: so you can include some gun batteries, beach assaults, Pirate raids and smuggling excursions.... à la mode Poldark style).
 
Mark the boundaries of the playing area, however, as ships leaving the board are deemed to be out of the game. You can purchase a Sails of Glory play mat, which is simply gorgeous: its amazing, very good quality... is well made, and will enhance the feel of your games no end. It makes play a little bit easier too, because of the fine lines ingrained into the map: this will help you no end when it comes to determining the all important wind direction when sailing your miniature ships.
The down side of this is, the map ain`t cheap. It’s actually bloody expensive; selling for roughly £32, which is just over half the price of the game itself  (the game sells for about £59 quid). You don’t need it, but if you DO invest in the map... if the idea of playing naval battles in the age of sail appeals to you, if you can recover from the pain of opening the wallet that wide, you will not regret it. I can`t emphasise enough just how beautiful this map is, nor how much better your games will look if played upon one of these sleek beauties. But all importantly, I reiterate YOU DONT NEED TO BUY THIS OPTIONAL EXTRA.
A Plain Blue cloth, or sheet will suffice just fine to represent the playing area.

Once you crack open the box, marvel at all the
fine and wonderful `toys` contained inside (you won’t be disappointed, this baby has an elegance to it which feels mature and graceful, like an expensive vintage wine),  then you will no doubt eventually have a crack at the rules book. Here you will be delighted to learn the game is broken down into four parts: very basic, intermediate, leading all the way up to advanced, then with lots of optional extras at the end. Best still, it offers some truly excellent rules for playing the game solo. This means you can theoretically have the box open, read the rules, and be playing within an hour.


What is so addictive about this game is the way you actually feel like you are the real captain of your very own ship and crew. Each of the four (each unique) ships that come with the core game, controls and runs very differently from the next one. You literally have to micro manage your crew, the sails.... and wow navigating obstacles (if you include shallow waters, jagged rocks, wrecks and coastline) plays a big part, and wind speed and direction don’t help you at all hahaha.
Playing solo when you first get this core set and play your first tentative game or five... don’t bother (at first) playing one of the scenarios that comes with the game (you can always make your own scenarios as well), just play about with a single ship, and try sailing it round a sandbank, or round a wrecked ship, through a narrow channel up an estuary... or oh GOD, try tacking and coming about before crashing into the cliffs, or smashing headlong into another ship. Its amazingly good fun just learning how to man and steer your ship without mishap: how do you set your sails, where do you allocate your crew, when do you load the cannons for a broadside... and what kind of shot do you loads them with? It’s all super fun; and the first time I got my ships out and tried all this, I never even got round to trying out one of the simple basic scenarios. Before I knew it, the afternoon sun was vanishing behind the hills, and I had somehow lost four hours of time, and this was just messing about trying to steer my bloody ship through an estuary mouth, up the spit, and then... oh GOD...  trying to turn the thing about and head back the way I had come.... back out to sea. This all had me sweating buckets... these old sailing ships steer like bricks on ice, and the wind has the most annoyingly frustrating way of changing speed and direction just when you are in the middle of a most complicated, intricate manoeuvre - such as turning the damn thing round to make it go in a different direction haha.

Then you have the more advanced combat stuff, like boarding parties, taking enemy ships as prizes of war, allocating your crew to sails, putting out fires on deck (sluicing down the sails to prevent fires breaking out), fixing ropes and clearing the deck for broadsides against the enemy, and all this with a diminishing crew, as casualties mount up from enemy fire. I love the way the solo scenario rules (mostly all free to find on line) take care of enemy ship movement for you. That moment of sheer panic when you realise you`ve slipped right into the raking path of a French 72 gun privateer man o war, and grit your teeth, waiting for incoming... that’s when the casualties and damage soon mounts up.
What’s clever about the game is the lack of dice throwing. Instead you have hundreds of counters which go into cups, and without looking you pull the counters from the cups (like you would roll dice) and lay them out beside your ship(s) This will indicate the casualties and the type of damage done to your precious warship.... sails, mast, deck, hull, anchor, fires, crew, and so on. And you will take the damage counters and put them on the relevant sections of your thick card ship rosters. So there is no paper work. All this is cleverly taken care of for you, by the use of rosters and counters. Wonderful ain`t it.



Once it is determined how the wind will influence the ship, the player’s select a manoeuvre card (or cards) from their card deck (each ship has its own unique deck of cards). If the attitude measure points to the orange or green boarders of their Ship miniature, the player can select any manoeuvre cards that has a blue dot. If the attitude measure points to the red, only manoeuvre cards with the red dot can be used. If the attitude points between two different colours, the player can always use either of the two, but it is their choice.

Once the manoeuvre card is selected, it is placed face-down on their Ship Log until it is their phase to move. At which point the card is used as a template for actually moving the ship on the battle mat. All very clever stuff really: unique in fact. Each ship card of course, has different instructions of movement depending on the speed the ship, the set of the sails, and wind direction and speed (most of this is covered in increasing depth, throughout the advanced rules, which you can add in at your own pace and leisure... everything is optional: allowing you to cherry pick what you want in your games and what you simply wish to ignore).





The base box set... the core game, comes with four ships, each pre-painted to an impressively lovely standard: but still leaving room for keen modellers to add more detail of their own if they like), and each of the ships has two completely separate rosters, so effectively each ship model comes with two names and two entirely different sets of fighting statistics. This gives you 8 models just in the base game alone. Additional ships (complete with stats for two variations)) can be purchased separately, from between $15 and 20 pounds a time, not bad really as these pre assembled and pre painted models are truly exquisite.


I give this game a solid 10 out of 10 on components, aesthetic beauty, and for the box (all the game components fits away nicely in the sturdy box between games... and each additional ship purchase also comes with its own box, for storage between play). I give a 10 out of 10 for ease of play: and for re-playability 10 out of 10... which hardly seems enough here: suffice to say, if you enjoy naval games of this sort, well...  there`s potential here to play and expand and enjoy your gaming for years to come. Just be warned though, it may well make you want to get out all your old Hornblower, Alexander Kent, and Master and Commander books and start reading like mad.. not to mention watching the DVD`s.

The game is well supported (another 10 out of 10), and the official forum “The Anchorage” is informative, friendly, and helpful to new players joining the ranks.

All in all Ares games have proven that the Italians are a force to be reckoned with, within the gaming industry. I eagerly await their new Sails of Glory kickstarter: which rumour has it, will be all about Pirates and Privateering.


I wanted to write a battle report for this game, but in the end I decided a quick review was probably needed first, to whet the appetite, and gauge interest... with a promise of more to come, if anyone is interested in seeing this game in closer detail, actually in action and put through its paces on the high seas. Let me know if so.


I hope you enjoyed this mini review.
Article by Stephen Gilbert




Friday, 19 August 2016

Keeping it Real:

Nicely Laid Out Terrain from a Club Game of  WWII Bolt Action:
I read it all the time! I see it all the time too: I read about it and I observe it said over and over again, many times.. ad infinitum: “The terrain and the modelling are as important as the game itself.”  Actually I take exception to that statement as, who has the right to set the standard of what is good and what isn’t. I once actually watched one guy (an older fella, approaching his sixties) painstakingly painted his entire army. He had come along one week to the club I used to attend, with a mind to taking up wargaming: something he had wanted to do all his life, and now his wife had died, he wanted something to immerse in. It took him months, meticulously learning how it was done, and he painted his horses, and his artillery train, all his little generals and staff officers, command elements, and line infantry, dragoon mounted foot, all the flags.. individually, and wow, he stuck at it; and over the winter he managed to paint it all (I had helped him to pick and choose his collection in September, and by the following summer, wow, he has finished the lot: about 400 figures I think). He looked so proud of himself. The Summer came and he was excited, and bought his finished army to the club hoping to get a game or two....... because, this guy, eager not to be a burden on anyone, had even taken the time to find out the popular rulebook and supplement manuals used by the club, for the era he had chosen to collect in (Black Powder Napoleonics): and then he purchased that set of rules and learned them as thoroughly as he could, without actually playing.
The Proud Collection
But then something happened I hadn’t expected. It had not even occurred to me all the time I had watched this lovely elderly gentleman work away on his models. I had encouraged him throughout and was so proud of him for sticking to it. But at the club the guys looked at his collection with what I can only describe as petty disdain. And for the first time I saw it... they were comparing their own amazingly painted works of art to his first time at it, barely average miniatures, with no ink wash, no fine line detailing,  face shadow or dry brushing to speak of, and I l-i-t-e-r-a-l-l-y could see it going through their minds: “I`m not putting MY miniatures on a table near THOSE” I even heard a whispered joke about: “Put your men too close to that lot, and they may come down with a virus or something.”  Suffice to say, this poor man could not find a willing opponent to play with, as everyone avoided playing against him like he (or rather, his collection) had the plague. After some weeks, he just stopped coming to the club. And my heart broke for him. Next club meeting, I stood up and told the guys what I thought of them and where they could stick their club, and I took my stuff and walked away, and never went back again.
Every gamer should try attend at least one of these big game conventions every year if they can: it will open your eyes to so much within the hobby.
I went back found the man, and I played games with him for a while, twice a week. It would make his day. It wasn’t really my subject, but I had a blast with this man, because he was so lovely and the games ended up being amazing fun. In the end I found him an opponent (someone else who had just gotten into wargaming, and wasn’t sure what to go for). I introduced them to one another. It turned out both their wife’s had gone, but their women had known each other through local social community activities. So the new guy (Bob) decided he would collect Napoleonic French (as Jake had been collecting mostly English) and Jake and Bob became close friends, and found a deep passion for the joys of gaming, and a new friendship that was obviously going to last for life.

Super Dungeon Explore: it really is a super game.

They did an amazingly lovely thing for me, even though I had, by now, stopped playing and left them both to it... the next Christmas, they both chipped in and bought me Super Dungeon Explore, which is how I ended up owning my very own boxed set, and developed such an intense love for chibi/anime gaming. It was so sweet of them and so very appreciated, and they should not have, but I thought it was lovely of them, and every time I get the game out and enjoy playing it, I think of those two lovely gentlemen. I still go visit them sometimes for “a game of Napoleon and Welly” as they both seem to call it hehe.
 Pulp Fiction Narrative Adventure: Our Heroine Actress is just being told "And ACTION" as the camera man prepares to shoot. But suddenly an Intruder makes an unwelcome appearance though the jungle tree line.
 

But anyway, I`ve done it again, like a Bill Connolly sketch, I`ve gone all round the houses to get back to the point where I began. “The terrain and the modelling are as important as the game itself.”   Assuming you set out wanting to make your games look amazing, and let’s face it, sometimes it IS nice (especially if you are a solo gamer) to spend time to make your table top endeavours look absolutely amazing to the eye.
A Solo Girl Gamer
 The solo gamer is unfettered by the problems facing the more gregarious hobbyist.  The man (or nowadays,  woman too) who has to consider an opponent, or multiple club opponents all the time, barely has time to think outside the box, as he is struggling just to make the club meetings, or the scheduled weekly game with his good friend Joe Blogs: all his attention is focussed on making regular time, and making sure he has what’s needed, for the next game session.
A Club Game Laid Out and Ready For the Evening`s Game.
However, the soloist has all the time in the world. He or she can play, scheme, cogitate, and get lost in intricate details and minutia that simply isn’t usually possible for the ordinary non soloist to achieve.. probably due to time restraint alone (a strange thing happens to the human mind when it is forced to meet time tables, like weekly meets: give a man responsibility he feels beholden to commit to and fulfil, and he will actually tend to get less done than if he can work at his own pace. Any good wife will work this one out for herself in time, I am told by Hil, hehe).
But there are two types of hobbyist, and it’s actually fairly easy to see which of these categories you fall in. Your work space. Does your work space look like this:
If you are now wincing in pain as it’s a little close to the bone, then you probably recognise something of yourself here. The scruffy hobbyist is far less likely to get things done in an orderly fashion: “I have A B C and D to complete for the next game, so I need to get on with it” this type of gamer usually works in a tidy space and yes he does make his personal goals the majority of the time. The hobbyist who works in a clutter is more likely to have piles of unpainted lead, cupboards and boxes full of half finished projects and collections he simply lost steam with, half way through. He usually never makes social functions (like club games) and is content to wallow in non productivity *grins*  Nothing wrong there, just you won’t achieve much is all.
Make a tidy work space. KEEP it tidy. You are far more likely that way, to feel motivated to complete the task in hand, whatever that personally may be for you.. only you know that one. Work systematically. Set yourself goals, and try achieving them. The rewards will bring in dividends for you.
The Ideal Game Board... no clutter, neat and tidy. Conducive to PLAY.
Doesn’t take much to make your own hobby more fulfilling for yourself. It can be as simple as being inspired by something you read on a blog.
Article by Tarot.



Tuesday, 16 August 2016

The Joys of Starting a New Project.


 
The Joys of Starting a New Project.
There can be few things in life... within the hobby, quite so exciting, quite so emotionally rewarding and thrillingly sublime, as starting a new project: a new genre, and an entirely new era. From the conception of the idea in our heads, the first fertile sparks of imagination, the growing seeds of interest, and then the eventual overwhelming wave of euphoria which crashes through our senses, as our minds become flooded with the deep driving desire to pursue this new passion with feverous ardour. Of course, this is the dangerous stage! So keen are we to `make a start` that without thinking, with excited shaking hands and dangerously vulnerable credit card (wielded in our childlike hobbyist hands) we can all too easily go off the rails at this stage... buy the first thing we see, and regret our hasty impetuousness a little while later. What we actually need to be doing is working out: “What scale do I want to do this in... do they even make figures and terrain for this thing.. in the scale I want to collect and play in?” If it’s a historical subject we need to s-l-o-w down and think very clearly. It’s all well and good wanting to buy a couple of those amazing King Tigers for your half imagined World War Two Games, all those table top battles playing out in your head, and scenes from the classic movie “The Battle of the Bulge” replaying in your head, as Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel surveys his new tank command and all those super Jagdpanzer IV`s and Tiger II`s! But hey, that’s no good to you at all unless you plan to play games set in December 1944 until the end of the war several months later in 45. Soooo collecting models just because they fit firmly in your head as `mega cool` at the time, might not necessarily be the most sensible choice you can make.  Or if you really want to play a game of Doctor Who set squarely in the time of the 3rd Doctor, it probably wouldn`t be such a good idea to buy an Amy Pond miniature to be his assistant.
 No, once the euphoria of choosing a new subject has been made, the initial excitement... not exactly worn off.... but contained in manageable `padded` cells of controlled confinement; this is probably the time to think, think, then think again, about how exactly you want to go about making a start on your new hobby project.
...and that’s another thing (to digress just for a tiny second. I promise to be good and not go on and on), probably one of the main reasons why we tend, as gamers and collectors, to have such `butterfly` minds is because starting a new project, or buying an entirely new game, is such fun: extremely exciting and addictively attractive. We want that rush... that high... over and over, and so we buy more and more stuff. Doesn’t even matter if it gets used, or the project actually sees fruition and gets finished, it’s that initial  RUSH we are looking for: and boy oh boy, there sure are enough game companies out there only too happy to oblige us and take our money. But I put it to you, if you actually go about this right, you CAN enjoy that rush in a different and far wiser way. Buy a project, but enjoy that project, enjoy the long term approach, and plan your purchases wisely. Think to yourself, I need this and I need that, because then I have enough of these guys to do this with them! So effectively, you watch your regiments of soldiers grow, maturely, from section, to platoon, to company, to battalion. Or in fantasy terms, you collect the base set... paint it all up and play lots of games with it. THEN you buy the first expansion and you add that to what you already have, because now you can play this... and this with the (by now) slightly bigger collection. See? adding as you go. So this way you get to enjoy the rush of each new purchase you buy, which enhances your game as you go along (and even more importantly, you stick to a project and see it finished, enjoying every mile stone along the way). Don`t just BUY EVERYTHING in one go, or you sure as `eggs is eggs` will soon be looking for an entirely new `quick fix` rush, which will see your once wonderful collection lost in the sad crash pile of yesterdays interests.
See, told you I would make the digress short *grins*
For me, this new project thing has never been more relevant (to me) than it is right now. Long ago, I collected for one of my driving long term passions. The French Indian War and The American War of Independence. Both these wars pretty much bled into one another: so as one ended... the other one started... out of the ashes of the one before it. Another interesting consequence of all this world continental history is that, out of this rose the French Revolution, and ultimately the decades long bloodbath that would become known as the Napoleonic Wars.
Anyway, I always wanted to do this as part of the hobby, inspired and egged on by films such as: “North West Passage” and  “The Last of the Mohicans” and  “Revolution”  and “The Patriot”...  and to an extent, the old 60`s black and white TV series like “Roger`s Rangers” and “Davy Crocket”. But I made a big mistake. Thinking I could play bigger and better games if I collected 15mm miniatures, I went ahead and did just this. I collected four entire armies: British (and Hessian), Colonial Americans, French, and Native Indians..... and know what, I painted them all in their entirety (with an amazing amount of help from Hils). Took us both an entire summer, and then all the proceeding winter, and up to Easter the following year, but WE DID IT. Played quite a few games with them too, but my poor heart was sinking fast. I knew in my heart of hearts the scale was wrong, the second I put them on the table and played the first game... too small. I was losing personality and the sheer grandeur that was meant to be there. 18th century wargaming and skirmish is all about colour, pomp, glory, trumpets and drums, larger than life personalities, and..... all this was lost. 15mm is fine, utterly grand (they call it `the grand old scale` after all) if you want to play mass battles all the time, depicted from a bird’s eye view.
But try to recreate the ballroom scenes, the flowing dresses of the beautiful women, the servants in their finery: the coaches in their dashing silver and gold leaf, and the huntsmen in their dashing livery: all this was sadly lost to me, at that poor diminutive scale. And I wished, oh how I wished I had done all this in 28mm scale, the scale I knew in my uttermost soul that I should have collected in. But all was not lost, my daughter`s boyfriend was absolutely crazy about this era.. especially the French Indian War (i.e. Last of the Mohicans) and when I passed the lot over to him, he thought he had died and gone to gaming heaven. To my absolute delight, he has continued to enjoy this gift since the day he received it.. and they must be one of the most played with collections since the existence of metal hehe.
Well, now its two years down the road: and the thought of collecting this genre has once again been filling my head (did the thought ever truly go away I wonder): but doing it RIGHT this time round. But how?
Well, going against all that I said about collecting a bit at a time; I have recently been utterly glamoured by something tantalising, which I accidentally spied on line a while ago. I hold by my earlier words about collecting a bit at a time: but I also know myself very well, and I know I possess great willpower. If I decide to do something, I stick at that thing until I have achieved my goal... and probably far, far beyond that point too. When I was a kid, I saw a band playing and I wanted to be those guys on stage. We all did, all my friends and me. Difference is, they all went home and forgot about it. I saved for a guitar (by working all summer holidays while I was off school)... and I bought myself that guitar: and then I sat  in my bedroom - day after day, hour after hour, week after week, after month after year, after year.... slogging, until I got to be good (I ended up as a pro session musician in my later life). So in the same vein, I know that, if I buy something for my games, I will finished the project and I will enjoy playing games with those finished miniatures, and carve myself my own tiny slice of gaming heaven.
Warlord Games is the culprit. They sell two box games: one box for each side, and the boxes are complete... I mean e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g you could possibly want to play my desired period in history (as well as all my precious “what if” scenarios playing around in my mind). Two boxes *gulp* pretty pricey. But currently on at a very special low discount price. And so I asked `her` the all important question. First I took her up breakfast in bed (naturally... I was in full grovel mode), and then I complemented her on her hair (good call, she had just had it dyed... pheeew), and when I deemed the time right, I struck with all the precision of a gilded rose, upon a feathered pillow of a maiden`s boudoir. 
“I saw something amazing earlier” I began.
“mmhmmm?”  she never once broke eye contact with her food.
“Yeah I saw this amazing deal on Warlord Games website.” I started to feel my rhythm now and was preparing to launch into full spiel.
But she broke my stride and cut right to the chase. She simply asked: “How much?”
“Well” I began, slightly put off by this, and began that universal sucking in sound normally reserved for the elite guild of dodgy motor car mechanics, when you go to ask how much the car will cost to get fixed.
“...we`re looking at... my entire Christmas present as a super early package.” I hastily added: “and my Birthday present too.”
She looked up from her food, and stared me in the eye, with those big green speckled pools of hers: “How much” she asked again; and I told her, expecting to see the condemned look of  `no` slip across her brow, like a dark heavy laden cloud of fated doom.
“Okay” she said. And looked back to her food.
Stunned silence, and “THANK YOUUUuuuu” traipsing out of my mouth, and a dozen promises of things I will do which (and I have no doubt) she will remember in fine detail... in triplicate, as the coming few weeks come to pass.


But yeah I`m walking on a cloud today, planning my purchase and watching you tube videos all about it: unboxing, reviews, batreps, the lot, and the more I study, the more I long to get started.
This, to me, is not a new subject. But a fine tuning and adjustment, to get back on track, with a hobby subject I lost sight of for a couple of years.


And I`m utterly delighted to have found my way again, on  (what could oh so easily have been) the thorny path of regret. Only for me, It’s become a sweet case of wooohoooo - ROCK ON GAMING!!!!!
Article by Stephen Gilbert.

Saturday, 13 August 2016

The Death of a Prince


What Really Happened to the French Prince Imperial, Louis Eugene Napoleon.

Louis was the last surviving legitimate Bonaparte heir to the throne of France. This made him the nostalgic hope of some, and the embarrassment and fear of others. Just like in England a century earlier, Bonnie Prince Charlie had become a dangerous pretender for the throne of Scotland, and the feared Jacobite enemy of the English monarchy: and we all know where that led to, yep... a short, messy campaign fought on both Scottish and British soil, culminating in the bloodbath that future generations came to know as The Battle of Culloden.
So Louis Eugene, the last true blood descendant of Napoleon Bonaparte was loved by the hopeful few, who would have liked nothing more than to see this young, likable man become another French national hero of the people, while the rest of France sat back in silent fear, wondering if anyone would notice if this rakish young fool might meet with an accident... a very permanent one.
Eventually (for his own safety) Louis was exiled to England, where he flourished, did okay at university (nothing outstanding but he cut rather a fine dash among the social elite and noble high society). Louis thrived at Military Academy though didn’t exactly excel at anything academically; he was the heart-throb and hope of many an eligible young lady of the Ball (each of whose parents would have had kittens had their daughters gotten themselves seriously mixed up with such a potentially dangerous political upstart... however rich he might be). In time, Louis became more British than French, and if anything, tried desperately to play down his Bonaparte connections . But it was too late. In assimilating his home as England, suddenly this made his well being a poignantly British problem... diplomatically speaking. Should anything happen to this young, not terribly wise or overly bright, foolhardy brave, yet dashing, promising aristo`... the eyes of France (and the world for that matter) would fall heavily and critically on Queen Victoria`s Mighty Empire. It could even start a war! Did England have Louis `bumped off ` to be rid, finally, of the last Bonaparte, they might easily have said?
When the Zulu War was declared in 1879 the Prince was passionately keen to be with his (academy) comrades in action, and despite his mother's objections, he obtained permission from Queen Victoria and the Duke of Cambridge... the Commander-in-Chief of the British army... to go out to South Africa with the British reinforcements as a "special observer".
Inside, Lord Chelmsford, the overall British commander in Zululand, must have uttered a silent groan of “oh God, why meeee?” for sure as `eggs is eggs` Fredric Augustus Thesiger The Lord of Chelmsford, was now responsible for the young man`s safety.
Young Louis arrived in Cape Town early in 1879, and sailed on to Durban where he disembarked. He was attached to the staff of Lord Chelmsford as an extra aide-de-camp (where it was hoped he couldn’t get himself into too much trouble). Louis stayed in Durban for nearly a month, and then went to Pietermaritzburg, where he spent even further days. By now he was bored out off his skull, and desperately keen to see some real action.
Full of enthusiasm, he was warned by Lieutenant Arthur Brigge, a close friend, (Quote)  "...to avoid running unnecessary risks. I reminded him of the Empress at home and his political party in France." Chelmsford, mindful of his duty, attached the Prince to the staff of Colonel Richard Harrison of the Royal Engineers, where it was felt he could be active but safe.
Harrison was responsible for the British column's transport and for reconnaissance of the forward route on the way to Ulundi, the Zulu capital. While Harrison was happy enough by the presence of Louis, he was told by Chelmsford that the Prince must be accompanied at all times by a strong escort. Lieutenant Carey, a French speaker and British subject from Guernsey, was given particular charge of Louis.
The Prince took part in several reconnaissance missions, though on one occasion, Louis` eagerness for action almost led him into an early ambush: because he exceeded orders in a party led by Colonel Redvers Buller. Despite this, on the evening of May 31, 1879, Harrison (tired of the young fellows “nag nag” pestering), finally agreed to allow Louis to scout in a forward party, scheduled to leave in the morning... in the mistaken belief that the path ahead was free of Zulu skirmishers, so almost totally safe.

On the morning of June 1, the small troop set out, earlier than intended, and without the full escort (largely owing to Louis's impatience). Led by Carey, the scouts rode deep into Zululand... and by noon the troop was halted at a temporarily deserted kraal while Louis and Carey made some sketches of the terrain, and used part of the thatch to make a fire.
As they were preparing to leave, about 40 Zulus fired upon them and rushed toward them screaming. The Prince's horse dashed off before he could mount... causing the Prince to cling to a holster on the saddle - after about a hundred yards a strap broke, and the Prince fell beneath his horse and his right arm was trampled. He leapt up, drawing his revolver with his left hand, and started to run - but he could not escape: the Zulus were faster, and had him surrounded in no time.


The Prince was speared in the thigh and then in his left shoulder. But he tried to fight on, using the assegai he had pulled from his leg, but, weakened by his wounds, he sank to the ground and was overwhelmed. The Prince's body was recovered the following day and brought down from Zululand to the coast, and back to England on board a British troopship.
The Prince's death caused an international sensation. A report of his death headlined the Illustrated London News, dated 28 June 1879. His funeral took place with practically state honours. Queen Victoria herself attended the funeral, along with the Princesses Beatrice and Alice... where they stayed on to comfort the Empress Eugenie: while the Prince of Wales and the Duke of Edinburgh were among the pall-bearers. The Prince Imperial's body was placed on the gun-carriage, accompanied by the crash of guns positioned all around.
A great procession of troops and mourners followed in their wake.
With his death, the last possible legitimate hope of the Bonapartists was now effectively gone forever.
Now, here is MY “what if” version of what really happened... or at the very least, could have happened: with a (tasteful) tiny bit of Steampunk thrown in for good measure.
The Set of rules I used for playing this game through can to be found at the end of this battle report. Please feel free to use any part of these rules you see fit.

Sergeant Carey, Prince Louis (+ his faithful pooch), and a small British detachment of scouts, have almost reached their destination. The blazing heat has made them hot and irritable, and they dismount for a moment... drinking deep from their water bottles, aware the deserted kraal and its few old abandoned buildings is in sight in the distance (where they will soon be able to refill their bottles in the cool waters of the sunken well).
Prince Louis looks ahead at the wobbling mirage like horizon. He is eager to be off and without even realising it, he is soon meandering in that direction, getting further and further away from his companions, who remain temporarily oblivious of the fact. His dog follows silently behind, sniffing the svelte... lost in happy doggie smell heaven.
What was going through Louis` mind? Why did he walk off without his horse? Was he such an excitable young man that he simply forgot for a moment, as the desire for this new excitement took over his rationale (which, as we know, is a very real problem with youth)? Hot, bothered, bored out of his skull with the almost agoraphobic vastness of the endless wilderness. There in front of him was..... well it must have looked like a veritable city to the Prince, after the stoically dull journey. Perhaps the adrenalin rush which coursed through his veins at that moment was overcome with a sudden curiosity to see more! Like a child`s first sight of a Fun-Fare or a Circus. Eyes become blinkered and focussed only on that one... single... tantalizing sight, so seductively calling to the heart. The mind is temporarily cast aside as passion wins out.
Rising from the grassland like ghost, a lone Zulu stands, aims his stolen rifle, and fires a shot. The echo breaks the baking hot silence of the early afternoon.






2 chances of a hit (2 card for a `fraction` of a unit firing)... 2 cards are laid out. The Prince places a save card over each one. The first save card is a 1: not enough to block the Zulu shooter`s card which is a 5. So one wound is inflicted on the Prince. The second save card is a Joker: nothing can beat a joker and the Zulu`s chance at inflicting a second wound is negated by the Prince. But the wound knocks the Prince clean off his feet and he crashes onto his back, the world about him spinning. Blood pumps from a nasty graze on his skull.  

Jasper the dog starts to bark furiously.


With an effort, he staggers back onto his feet and takes careful aim with his loaded army service revolver. A large group of Zulus are already advancing on him fast.


    I often measure by hand without using a ruler at all. I`m well used to estimating distances, and pretty accurately at this stage.




Sergeant Carey and his men jump up immediately, but suddenly notice the Prince is not with them. He is a few hundred yards ahead..... and alone.


Sergeant Carey looks to his men, looks to the Prince, a small silhouette in the distance. He allows his eyes to move to the left and to the right. Zulus! He spies Zulus moving like the wind, and closing in swiftly on the Prince`s solitary position.


No time to think. Time to make a decision. Now! Too late to reach the Prince, the Zulus are almost on him. The sergeant calls out: “Lads, shoot those bloody black men. Make each shot count, the Prince`s life depends on it!”




Meanwhile: unbeknownst either to Sergeant Corey`s scouting troop or to the ambushing Zulu war party...  Royal Engineer Chief - Lieutenant John Chard... 24th Foot, South Wales Borderers and his batman Dan Lynch, 24th Foot: private 2nd class, were already at the settlement Sergeant Corey was heading towards. The kraal which Sergeant Corey was hoping to make repairs on for Lord Chemsford`s column (when it got here) was long gone, fallen to pieces in this damnable heat and dry rot, but Chard was here for another, altogether different purpose! One of Her majesty`s (God bless her) mighty Hardlove Heavy Steam Chargers had broken down a week earlier, right slap bang in the middle of the settlement. The crew had long since legged it, but Chard had been ordered to ride out with a small patrol (so as to cause as little attention as possible), and fix and retrieve the armoured fighting vehicle as speedily as possible. Chard has wasted no time in riding out, and indeed, he only took a single man as his escort... a rather slow and wet behind the ears young soldier. But Chard must have seen something in this young man, for of all the Battalion to pick from, he chose this lone, fresh from the barracks, untrained trooper.
Chard had been here two days now, and had been working round the clock to get this AFV back in working service. He liked engines: he felt at times that he understood them better than people. This engine was being a pig though, but he was confident he could make it work properly again.... if you ever could call these new fangled contraptions reliable. Make it work properly? Did they ever run smoothly? But Chard liked machines. He liked building bridges even more: or defences for the army. Anything he could work with his hands, this was his province.. his vocation, he called it.
He knew there were Zulus about. They had been hanging close for a day and a night now. Indeed, they had stolen close and made off with their horses only last night. But Chard wasn’t worried. The tank must have made a hell of a noise when it drove straight through Zululand, and these savages would be very slow to come too close to something so obviously sent from the Gods of evil.... or whatever they called their own Devils and Demons. Chard would soon have the machine working again, and then they would have a clunky, noisy, long rattle boned ride home.
A shot rang out! Followed by other shots. “Lynch, with me, if you please.” And the pair trotted round the side of a building and looked out over the makeshift wall, no doubt left behind by the last inhabitants of this old deserted settlement.
Sergeant Corey`s lads fired a volley into the flank of the advancing Zulus, but the range was extreme and a single Zulu fell to the ground, twitched, then lay still.
The Zulu save cards were incredible, managing to negate every shot fired, except one, a Joker (Joker cards don’t work for the enemy.. only for the heroes. So the card counted as a 0).



The lone Zulu sniper took aim and fired again! A soldier screamed in pain, and went down like a stone. He writhed on the ground, dark blood pumping from a nasty thigh wound.

At precisely this moment the loosely picketed horses (until now happy to remain standing dutifully by) decided to bolt onto the horizon.

This forced a moral check on the patrol. 3 rolled: -1 for officer casualty (I deemed that surrounded by Zulus, almost a dozen to one, with no way to reach the Prince and help him: this counted as officer down): -2 casualty to unit this turn: -1 for being outnumbered 2 to 1: this turned the morale dice of 3 into a final result of = -1:


The unit looked regretfully over their shoulders at the Prince desperately fighting for his life, alone and beleaguered... then turned tail and broke. They dragged their fallen wounded trooper with them, and ran from the field.

The Prince fires wildly, turning all the time... BANG!..... BANG!!!! BANG!!!!! His shots go wide..... a fierce thrust to his thigh, and he goes down on one knee.... his revolver clicks empty!!!!! His sword is knocked out of his grip and falls somewhere in the long grass. Pulling the assegai from his leg with a horrifying sucking sound, the Prince waves the Zulu weapon round his head as he tries desperately to defend himself.


His dog barks frantically but stays close to its master. “Go Jasper... GO now, there`s a good boy!” The dog looks up at him and for the moment, master and hound lock eyes.
Then the Zulus are on him in a mass horde of bodies.


Still the bold Prince refuses to give up the fight, and kicks and bites and punches... even as the blades strike down at him over and over again. Eventually he weakens and the last thing to be seen is the Zulus triumphantly wetting their spears in his blood.
The cry of "Izulu!" fills the air.
***
“Poor devil, whoever he is.” Lieutenant Chard looked away after a while, silently cursing the Zulu and all their kind.
“An officer perhaps, Sir?” Dan Lynch offered.
Chard looked at the boy sharply: “Well of course he was a bloody offi....” Chard shook his head and unbuttoned the top hole on his crimson tunic. When he was done, the anger had subsided.  He looked at Lynch and smiled weakly. “He was an officer, son. Did you not notice his blue uniform. The blue and gold... of the Natal horse, I think?”
“Sorry Sir!” Lynch`s simple, sing song Welsh lilt was full of embarrassment.
Chard let his eyes drift one more time, back out at the carnage... and suddenly his blood ran cold.  “Look out, they`ve spotted us.... move soldier, they`re preparing to charge us... runnnn boy!”


“Run where Sir?” Lynch followed his officer as he disappeared round the corner of the nearest building.


Chard Sped towards the Tank. He prayed Lynch was following him. He needed that boy to help operate that blasted contraption... now, if he could just get it to start. He was sure it would. He had just finished work on the last valve and was about to try the engine, when he had heard the first sounds of gun fire. He crossed his fingers as he raced across the courtyard. Lynch was close on his heels.


“Come on, get IN boy!”
"But Sir, w..w..what if it won’t start... Sir?”
"Just get in... now soldier!”
The Zulus rounded the corner of the building. But had spread out to form their classic horns of the bull, hoping to pincer their foe on three sides.. then envelop them entirely in one fluid movement; a tried and tested tactic which usually proved deadly to their enemies.
The great metal beast whined and spluttered, shuddered and stalled. The Zulus rushed forward.
The Tank burst into life with asthmatic reluctance, and foul thick black smoke belched from its rear end.
... and the Zulu advanced crying "Izulu!"
The beast finally roared into full wakefulness, and shuddered on its tracks.... the screech of metal on metal filled the air as Chard maneuvered the beast to get a decent aim.
A gout of flame emitted from the barrel of the behemoth, followed by a loud BOOM! And Zulus fell dead in its path.. blown apart by the thunderous massive energy of the gun`s explosive 5pdr blast.

Three cards (the same draw counts for all surrounding targets): the Zulus failed to save with even one card, and each Zulu took 3 hits... one hit is enough to kill, but three hits each is enough to blow each man to pieces.
Chard swiveled the Tank menacingly at the Zulu horns coming into view round the sides of the buildings. But seeing what this mighty living beast could do and how it had devoured and torn their comrades to shreds ... the Zulus turned tail, and... run!
Chard sighed with relief. Thank the Lord, the Zulus were totally unaware just how long it would have taken Private Lynch to load a fresh shell, ready to fire again.
The remaining half dozen Zulus flee the board!
Afterthoughts.
Yet again, another good result for IGRADIC. They really are a beautifully streamline set of rules which help you tell a story without the rules ever getting in the way. Not only do they assist a good game, but they give the results you would expect and hope to see... just like watching a good film or gripping episode of your favourite tv show.
Incidentally, when Chard and Lynch went to recover the body, I throw for Prince Louis Eugene Napoleon on the IGRACIC table, checking the result on the most unfavourable column I could find (Impossible) and asked myself the question: “could the Prince possibly still be alive”  then I rolled 2 D6 and I rolled a 3: WOW.  That`s an Okay result. Alive it is. In a coma, and near death with probably over a dozen wounds, but somehow, hanging onto life by a mere thread. This man was still alive.


The nearby Witt family (Dutch, neutral Christian missionaries... who are left alone by the Zulus) would be called, and they would administer to the wounded Prince, no doubt stabilizing and ultimately saving his life. He would be gravely ill for a very long time, most of it in a deep coma (effectively, out of the game for a long while to come). But he was ALIVE... by some miracle.
Jasper returned to the kraal a day and a night later. The poor thing was half starved but otherwise, totally unharmed. They say it never stopped wagging its tail for a full week.


Stoic heroes of the hour.

Sergeant Corey and his detachment were later court marshalled for cowardice in the face of the enemy (Chard and Lynch gave evidence against them). Corey was disgraced, stripped of rank.. then faced execution from a military firing squad. One Private was hanged, and another was imprisoned for eight years. The soldier wounded in the thigh made a full recovery, and returned to active duty a few months later. His mates all said: `he should have got a medal.`


The cook house and portable ovens of the kraal.
They say that, the tender care and (in the latter stages) the wonderfully delicious dishes made by Coco, the maid servant, were more than part responsible for the young Prince`s eventual recovery.
I hope you enjoyed this little wargame skirmish of mine. If you would like more, please check out the short story recently added to the bottom of  “The Horns of the Buffalo ” (located along the top of the blog page).
IGRADIC  

Victorian, Pulp, & Sci-Fi Gaming

Rules For Solo Role Playing & Wargaming:


I wanted something like this all my growing up years of gaming: all through my teens, early adulthood, and into my first greying hairs. I wracked my brains (giving myself even more white wool in my rapidly thinning locks) and tried to come up with a simple, yet workable system for playing solo rpg and wargames. I never imagined back then that proper solo role playing was even possible - until one fateful happy day, I discovered Mythic.

But this unique Mythic games engine thing didn't quite work for me in the way I wanted – far too many rules. But Oh golly yes... without having read this neat innovation to the hobby, I still probably wouldn't have had a clue where to start my own solo system. I guess all pioneers get copied endlessly, and this is no exception. But what I have done is totally altered the concept, made it my own; made the whole thing short and easy to learn - and came up with the In Game Random Action Decision Indicative Calculator: or IGRADIC for short!

Once I got started, I found my direction quickly; the rules fell into place and were written pretty much over night. Then by play testing I found the system worked, and the rest was easy. I did originally write this just for myself (and other solitaire gamers) to enjoy. But I discovered the system works just fine as a standard player to player game as well.


Morale test
Things can make your models less keen to fight. An entire unit is affected by the morale rules, whatever their type. A unit is a group of figures all belonging to the same outfit.
Roll 1d6 when:
·     The unit takes a casualty or sees its leader killed/captured.
·     After declaring a charge, but before actually moving towards the enemy.
·     If the unit is surprised by a (sizable) previously unknown enemy.
·     If the unit is trying to rally.
Add or subtract the following factors:
-1 for each leader casualty this turn within sight, and/or if under fire from the enemy capable of causing casualties.
-2 for each figure lost as a casualty this turn within the unit.
-1 visibly outnumbered at least 2 to 1 in melee, or/and if infantry engaged against Cavalry.
-1 having been demoralized by an enemy unit within 10" this turn.
+1 having a stirring speech from a friendly leader this turn.
+2 Cavalry who are all ready in a fanatical state.
+1 if the unit is cavalry being led by a Brave Officer.
+1 for each non engaged friendly unit within 10" maximum: plus 2.
Stirring speeches and enemy demoralization replaces all movement on any given turn.
A stirring speech is a charismatic sermon intended to boost morale made by a friendly leader to the men under his command.
A unit demoralizes an enemy unit when it stands within plain sight of its foe and publically taunts them with withering words, dance or/and chant... or abuse and threats of immanent retribution.
Then check the result by this table:


Result

Score

Outcome






6+          If the Unit is Cavalry: morale becomes fanatical – unit must charge/fight nearest enemy and must continue fighting/pursuing enemy until morale stabilizes.
                       
3+        Morale is fine - carry on as desired.
0-2       Unit may not move closer to any enemy forces. It has to pass                
          a morale test next turn to move closer to the enemy.
Under 0       Unit must immediately move away from the enemy as quickly as possible. It must pass a morale test next turn to stop running away.


Ranged Weapons

Uses a normal pack of playing cards: every 3 figures from the same unit draw 2 cards. Fractions below three also draw 2 cards (except Multi-Shot figures, which always draw 4 cards). Heroes, leaders, etc draw 3 cards: example, a single figure would still draw 2 cards; so would 2 or 3 men. A 4 man unit plus a hero would thus draw 7 cards: 2 for the first three figures and another 2 for the additional forth figure, and 3 more for the hero.
  • Heavy Blaster/Laser/Rifle: Range: 18 inches.
  • Musket: Range: 14 inches.
  • Bow/Sling: Range: 12 inches.
  • Blaster/Pistol/Revolver: Range 8 inches.
  • Multi-shot Weapon (Machine Gun, Pulse Laser etc): 14 inches; Draw the top 4 cards from the deck for each Multi-Shot armed figure firing.
  • Artillery: Range: 40 inches; Draw the top 3 cards from the deck per gun firing. The target and all adjacent miniatures take the same hits as the 3 card initial draw. If a picture card is drawn, the gun is out of ammunition or power (any remaining cards for the weapon still to be drawn are lost this turn). The weapon is resupplied on the subsequent turn.
  • Thrown Explosives or Grenade (one per unit): Draw 1 card (ignore picture cards and draw again), the number drawn must be between 1 and 6 to land on target: anything over this represents shot deviation or a failure to explode (1d6, 1,2 left: 3,4 right: 5,6 overshoot). Pull a card from the deck and divide by 2 (round down) for the distance of deviation; a picture card drawn means the shot fails to go off at all. Anyone within 3 inches of the explosion must draw 2 cards (unless behind substantial cover) to see whether they take any hits.                                                               
"Self " side (the good guys) hit in ranged combat when Hearts and Diamonds are drawn.
Bad Guys and Monsters hit when Clubs are drawn from the pack but picture cards are discarded.

Save Cards

Every time a hit card is drawn (numbered and picture cards apply: except to Bad Guys and Monsters), the target unit may attempt to negate the hit by drawing a card and placing it half over the hit card. If the save card (any suit) equals or exceeds the hit card, the attack for that hit card is ignored. Targets that are in cover against ranged weapons draw 2 save cards at a time against each attack. Targets over half range also draw 1 additional save card.

Movement

At the beginning of each turn, the sides involved each draw 1 card (the side representing "self" may draw 2 cards and use the highest one shown). Highest number goes first that turn. Draw fresh cards if the numbers are tied.

Next: both sides draw 1 card for every 3 figures (or/and fractions) in play. If only picture cards are drawn; no actions may be made by that side on this turn. The cards represent the number of actions (card points) that side may use during the turn Actions include movement: making ranged attacks: moving and making ranged attacks: melee: or Other Actions.

Beyond this, accurate sequence of play is left pretty open.

Human movement is usually 6 inches per turn (4 inches if slow). Very fast humans may move 8 inches per turn. Mounted figures, large animals move 12 inches per turn. Vehicles can move up to 20 inches a turn, and can accelerate/ decelerate 5 inches a turn. If a vehicle wants to make an immediate stop, it will skid 1 inch for every 4 inches of its current speed that turn. Passengers in a vehicle may place an additional save card against ranged attacks (counts as cover). A vehicle has 1 to 10 hit points (car 3: lorry 5: armoured car 10 etc). Ranged attacks against a vehicle must be nominated at the passengers or the vehicle - and declared before taking the shoot.
Card Points: A side may move one of his/her own figures or shoot at a cost of 1 card point. A side may move and make ranged attacks with a figure for 2 card points. A side may make a melee attack with a figure by adding 1 card point. Moving a figure over difficult terrain (opening a door and entering a room, moving over a wall or debris, swimming or wading through water, moving through trees, moving uphill, etc) costs 2 card points. To move over difficult terrain and make a ranged attack costs 3 card points.... and so on: from this you can work out the card cost of any action.
Other ACTIONS: represents a figure attempting something outside the rules. Attempting to pick a lock on a door, disabling a trap, climbing a ladder, tying up a prisoner, starting an engine, saddling a horse, getting dressed, writing a letter, jumping safely across a wide gap, etc etc etc. For sake of argument, assume all Other Actions cost 1 card point. Some Other Actions may need to be resolved (to determine success) using the IGRADIC table as well.
Casualties: no unit or single (except NCO`s, Leaders, Officers and Heroes) may inflict more casualties from ranged attacks, than the number of figures making the attack.
Units of men must try to stay within 5 inches of at least one other member of the same unit at all times. The Games Host must keep an eye open to ensure this discipline is always maintained where humanly possible. Single figure units also exist: e.g. a single armed guard with a multi shot pulse blaster. A henchman patrolling the grounds at night, etc.

Melee

This is similar to drawing cards for ranged attacks. The exact weapon type used is not important... the number of cards a figure or group of figures represents is what counts. When large close combat fights take place (with multiple base to base combatants), pool all the attack cards together... and lay them out in a line.
  • Every 3 Cavalry draw 3 cards in melee.
  • Every 3 Infantry or Artillery & Crew draw 1 card in melee.
  • Every 3 Veteran Infantry draw 2 cards in melee.
  • Every 3 Weak Monsters draws 1 card in Melee
  • Every 3 Monsters draw 2 cards in Melee
  • Every 1 Tough Monster draws 3 cards in Melee
  • Every 1 Elite Monster draws 4 cards in Melee               
  • Every 1 Huge Monsters draws 5 cards in Melee


Combat Classing Your Collection
Weak Monsters might include: Goblins/Native Tribesmen/Gangsters/Zombies.    
Monsters might include Federation Security/Chaotic Fanatics/Gorillas/ Hungry Wolves/ Horrifying Living Skeletons/Lost Dwarf Nation/Mythical Atlantis Elves.                 
Tough Monsters might include Ogres/Living Trees/Raptors/Cthulhu Monstrosities.  
Elite Monsters might include Trolls/Elephants/Giants    <-- Clubs & Spades to hit  
Huge monsters might include T-Rex/King Kong/Demons   <-- clubs & spades to hit                                                    

"Self " side hit when Hearts and Diamonds are drawn. Bad guys & Monsters hit when Clubs (Clubs & Spades if elite or huge) are drawn from the pack but picture cards are discarded.

In Melee, every 3 men get the number of cards indicated above. Fractions below three draw card like 3 men units do. In addition, Heroes draw 3 cards in melee. Side Kicks, Generals, Leaders (NCO`s), and Bad Guy Bosses draw 2 cards in melee.

Every time a hit card is drawn (numbered or picture cards apply), the target unit may attempt to negate the melee hit by drawing a card and placing it half over the hit card. If the save card (any suit) equals or exceeds the hit card, the attack for that hit card is ignored. Hits always remove 1 figure or one artillery crew... when all artillery crew are removed as casualties, the gun is inoperable. Should you need to give an artillery piece a hit rating during a scenario: give a gun 3 hit points.

Once hits and saves have been calculated, the good guys ("Self") always get to choose which enemy or enemies receive hits.
When it is a bad guy dealing out the hits (i.e. the enemy the solo player is trying to win against) then the good guys ("Self") always chooses which own figures receive hits... in any combination he/she likes. Shuffle the pack of cards often.

Get into the habit of doing this, to keep the game interesting. Every 3 men and of course fractions (or 1 artillery and crew) in cover get 1 extra attack card in melee.

In Addition: targets of melee attacks that are in cover occupying a building, or who are uphill of the enemy; and on the first turn of a melee if they are defending a wall, hedge, or in trees, etc. draw an additional save card each melee.

                                          Five of Diamonds & Jokers

A Five of Diamonds always represents a fumble. It represents an automatic catastrophic failure or/and fumble. A Joker always represents a glorious success or/and lucky break. Only good guys get to use the joker card.

Hit Points for Heroes, Leaders, Bad Guys & Monsters

I suggest "Self " main characters start a game with 4 or 5 hits each: officers and side-kicks 3 each.

Bad Guy main characters 3.
Ordinary Human Bad Guys/Henchmen/Soldiers/Guards/Civilians 1 hit point each                              
Weak Monsters  1 hit point each                                                                                   
Monsters  2 hit points each                                                                                                  
Tough Monsters 3 hit points each                                                                                          
Elite Monsters  5 hit points each                                                                                             
Huge monsters 6 hit points each                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              
When an individual figure is hit due to ranged attacks or melee the owning player should mark the figure in some way to show it has been damaged. When hits take a figure to `0` the piece is removed from play      
     
In Game Random Action Decision Indicative Calculator

The IGRADIC table is your friend, and will (if treated right) make all those awkward decisions for you without disrupting the flow of the game in any way. Once you decide an action you need to resolve: quickly determine the difficulty level you wish to apply, throw a couple of dice, and read off the result (there are only ever four outcomes so it's not confusing). Determining what happens using the result of the IGRADIC table - well that's up to you to decide using your imagination and how you think the game should go.

The following table is a catch all to cover any situation the solo player wishes to resolve quickly and smoothly. Use it wisely, use it often... but also know when not to use it and simply apply common sense instead.

Select Difficulty, Roll 2D6           Perfect     Okay     Fail           Massive Fail

Impossible - but you just never know   N/A      2-3        4-5                  6-12

Very Unlikely - but this is fiction           2         3-4        5-7                  8-12

Below Average - go for it                      2-3       4-5       6-8                   9-12

Average - fifty-fifty                                2-4       5-7       8-10                11-12

Above Average – easy                           2-5      6-8        9-11                   12

A Dead Certainty - in your sleep           2-6      7-9       10-11                  12

Impossible To Fail - no contest             2-7      8-10      11-12                 N/A
  • Perfect: The action has succeeded so well the game character gets a positive bonus to the result. If the action being rolled is to entangle a dangerous animal in a net, a "Perfect" result not only achieve this but would also bring the beast crashing to the ground in stunned confusion. Maybe the action was to listen in secretly to a conversation. A "Perfect" roll not only means the conversation was successfully overheard, but the listener also hears something unexpected and highly valuable the scenario... perhaps a vital clue to the main campaign plot itself.
  • Okay: The action succeeds - no more, no less.
  • Fail: There are no adverse effects to a fail result other than the failed action itself.
  • Massive Fail: The opposite of a "Perfect" roll. The failure is so catastrophic that an additional penalty is incurred by the character's attempted action. Catching his whip onto a tree branch above the deep pit, "Inuit Jones" attempts to swing safely across to the other side of the fiery chasm... but he gets unlucky and fumbles the attempt. With a loud *snap* the branch breaks off the tree, and suddenly the character finds himself plummeting - falling right towards the lava filled pit of destruction!

Plot Aid Campaign Card Deck (Normal Playing Cards)

Once every so often (perhaps once or twice a game session), shuffle a normal playing card deck and pull three cards. Or if you simply want scenario ideas, use the cards in the same way to generate a set of random event ideas to spice up your scenarios.
Like thus:

The first card drawn is called "Self" and is always drawn for the good guys... the solo gamers’ personal favourite 'side'.

The second card drawn is "Influence" goes to the left of the "Self" Card already drawn, and represents recent events (leading up to the present), plus it indicates the growing schemes and machinations of the enemy.

The third card "Manoeuvres" also represents the enemy (or enemies); goes to the right of the central "Self" card and indicates current or very near future events. Combined with "Influence" and "Self" the three cards should suggest a current viable plot for the solo gamer to play out, either in his ongoing campaign, or on the current games table.     
  

HEARTS
  • Ace: An important card, whose in game meaning is often affected by the environment of the previous or following (enemy) card. With another hearts card it implies new or rekindled love, friendship, and affection (maybe even the return of an absent character); with diamonds it represents money and news of distant friends.. with festivities, and social or domestic rejoicing; with, spades or clubs it stands for disagreements, misunderstandings, contention, or misfortune. Individually, it stands for the home, appointed office, safe place, etc.
  • King: The game is currently dominated by a well meaning man, with strong affections, possibly an emotional man, and given to rash judgments, possessing more zeal than discretion.
  • Queen: The game sees a woman take centre stage: fair, loving and lovable, domesticated, prudent, and faithful; possibly overbearing and persuasive.
  • Jack: Represents information and good/bad judgement from a friend, or as a fair person's thoughts. The enemy cards placed previously and directly after this card are indicative of the good or bad nature of this card interpretation.
  • Ten: A sign of good fortune. It implies a good heart, happiness, and the prospect of temporary security. It counteracts bad cards and confirms good things in the vicinity.
  • Nine: The wish card. It is the sign of riches, and of high social position accompanied by influence and esteem. It may be affected by the enemy bad cards.
  • Eight: The pleasures of the table, convivial society. An important gathering. Another meaning implies love and the prospect of relationship or even possible marriage between game characters.
  • Seven: A faithless, inconstant friend who may prove an enemy.
  • Six: A friend or contact with a confiding nature, liberal, open-handed, and quite possibly easy prey for swindlers; courtship, and being approached by devious enemies.
  • Five: Causeless jealousy in a person of weak, unsettled character.
  • Four: Lack of trust.
  • Three: A dire warning card (perhaps a warning from a mysterious stranger, a scrawled manuscript thrust under a door, or a second hand witness to an overheard conversation).
  • Two: Unlooked for (short term) prosperity... maybe a new benefactor, a lucrative payment, a newly appointed (and favourably looked upon) officer.

DIAMONDS
  • Ace: Treasure. Missing item. A clue.
  • King: Fresh reliable news.
  • Queen: Flirtatious woman... one used to having admirers. A friend or loved one may wander in this direction.
  • Jack: A near friend or contact will put his/her own interests first.
  • Ten: The potential threat of kidnap, innocent victims known to the card drawer.
  • Nine: Lack of strength, loss of faith, loss of belief in self. Low ebb. Disappointment.
  • Eight: Chequered Past surfacing. The past surfacing to cause potential harm.
  • Seven: Bad Gossip and slander. A Set up.
  • Six: Former friend, lover or partner suddenly surfacing, making things uncomfortable.
  • Five: Unexpected news. Business success, a lucky break.
  • Four: Breach of confidence. Troubles caused by inconstant friends, vexations and disagreements.
  • Three: Legal and domestic quarrels. Temper or fight.
  • Two: An unsatisfactory love affair, awakening opposition from relatives or friends.

CLUBS
  • Ace: Wealth, a peaceful home, industry, and general prosperity.
  • King: A dark, shadowy, mysterious man enters play.
  • Queen: A dark, exotic, beautiful and mysterious woman enters play.
  • Jack: A new friend or ally.
  • Ten: Stolen riches.
  • Nine: Friction through opposition to the wishes of friends, colleagues, or associates.
  • Eight: Love of money, and a weak passion for speculating or gambling.
  • Seven: Great happiness and momentary good fortune (short term goal achieved) - but with a price to pay.
  • Six: Loss of income, blackmail, unpaid gambling debts, swindlers.
  • Five: An advantageous proposition.
  • Four: Falsehood and double-dealing.
  • Three: Real trust. Leap of faith.
  • Two: Care is needed to avert disappointment, and to avoid opposition.

SPADES
  • Ace: Ill-chosen friend(s).
  • King: An attack against a friend, friends, or self.
  • Queen: Bribery.
  • Jack: Weak, and unwillingness of others to help do the right thing.
  • Ten: An evil omen; grief or imprisonment. Has power to detract from good signified by the "Self" card.
  • Nine: An ill-fated card, meaning sickness, losses, troubles, and dissensions.
  • Eight: A warning with regard to any enterprise in hand, this card means evil; also opposition from friends. Bad choices; walking into a trap.
  • Seven: Sorrow caused by the loss of a dear friend.
  • Six: Rest after toil. Respite. Going into hiding.
  • Five: Temporary happiness, and a choice between personal desire and doing what's right.
  • Four: Illness, recovering from a wound. Temporarily out of action.
  • Three: A journey. New adventure.
  • Two: A removal, or possibly death.
                                               © 2016, Stephen A Gilbert.