Gaming

Making of a Custom Scenario

When creating my rules for the map campaign one of the features I wanted to create was custom scenarios. Alas in the rush to play the map campaign before the new rule set for Warmachine and Hordes hits the shelves, I only mostly finished one new scenario: The Weapon Test!

Neutral Scenario!

Scenario Weapon Neutral

This was a testing location for prototype cannon similar to Victor’s Siege Mortar. The scenario is very simple when no one controls the special location. Starting on the second players second turn, the neutral flag can be dominated for 2 VP or controlled for 1 VP. Also the the huge base objective can be dominated or controlled for 1 VP. The first to 5 Vp wins. The the prototype siege mortar is current inoperable. It can’t be damaged but can be targeted. It does count as a model.

I wish I got more time to playtest but the idea is the two armies will mostly fight over the flag. With some contesting models having skirmishes by the objective.

Control Scenario!

Scenario Weapon Controlled

After the space has been captured in the map campaign and is under a players control lots of things change. The controlling player always goes first. The objective becomes friendly (not friendly faction) to the controlling player. Also it becomes active as a model in their army. The prototype siege mortar can attack each turn with it’s mortar and it’s auto cannons. The flag become friendly to the attacker.

Starting on the second players second turn, the enemy flag can be dominated for 2 VP or controlled for 1 VP. The friendly flag can be dominated for 1 VP. The enemy objective can be destroyed for 5 VP. The first to 5 Vp wins.

This version is very aggressive. First player can use the siege mortar to attack the second player and the second players is defending the only way for the second player to score victory points forcing the First player to contest and go for an assassination.

Assassination is not possible in the map campaign but retreating is possible. Early rounds many banners won’t have casters this scenario becomes a slug fest. We will see how it goes during the current map campaigns.

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Gaming

Warmahordes Map Campaign – Setup

The engines of war are spinning up and territory will begin being carved away by nations. Soon the clashing of great armies will resound across the country-side. No one will be safe from the terrors of war.

map campaign s1 start pt3

My first Warmachine and Hordes map campaign setup is complete and ready to get started. I’ll be running two campaigns; each out of a different FLGS. The map above is from the smaller crowd. Definitely has a few themes. Dragons, fire, and converting other to your side. Between Protectorate’s fire, Legions blight, and Cryx undead; we should some struggles over who is right and who is dead.

Everyone has built their banners and picked their starting locations. Time for round 1 to begin!

Fiction, Gaming

Story Time: The Ritual

Roblyn quietly sits upon the dirty stone floor. He studies the remnants of the ritual circle by candlelight. His dark eyes quickly follow his hand from the runes to a small journal. Notes and drawing scribbled across the page. Back to the runes again. His eyes stop briefly on a dark stain in the center. Roblyn thinks back to the young woman who was trapped within these runes hours before.

She had been the catalyst and the focus. Without her strength the spell would had been too weak.

Roblyn looks back to his journal. Quickly scratches a new note. His mind continues to ponder. The demon who trapped her in there used her to destroy the small village. It was collecting the life energy of the innocents here. There very souls were tortured. Roblyn had met some of the twisted creatures that were once the townsfolk.

She willing sacrificed herself to stop it.

Roblyn was sure now. His research was clear. If the ritual had been stop abruptly, it would have been disastrous. The energies held within the young women would have blighted the whole area for decades. And killed him and his traveling companions.

None of us could have saved her.

He looks over his shoulder to his companions. Resting after their ordeal with the demon. They were all too late to save the town but they had saved Roblyn from a demon back in the capital. They rushed into certain doom to help a stranger. Just like when they decided to come here. Strangers who needed help.

They are both foolish and brave.

Roblyn’s hand slides into his tunic. He finds a small piece of parchment and draws it out. The meticulous drawn faces of his wife and daughter smile back at him. He smiles sadly back.

How many more innocent lives will be lost?

Gaming

The Map Campaign Experiment

After Privateer Press announced their internal Warmachine and Hordes map campaign on 8/21/2015 I became infatuated with the idea of having one locally. But I had no idea what was involved in a map campaign. Most of the local war gaming experts either couldn’t explain it to me or explained in a way that made it sound very exclusive to players with tons of models and lots of experience.

After reading a few more articles of privateer press’ campaign I buckled down and started figuring out my own version of what a Warmahordes map campaign might look like. Using the clues Privateer Press gave us and whatever discussions I could pull from the meta began the creation of the rules document. Weeks of writing, two playtests, and probably too long over thinking it; I am at the point where I feel like I can run the first local campaign.

My focus while designing the rules was simple:

  1. The campaign should be accessible to any player that can create two 50 point character-restricted Steamroller lists.
  2. The options available for the campaign map should be tactical and meaningful to the outcome of the campaign.
  3. The rules should promote interesting asymmetrical battles

I may not have met all these guidelines perfectly and I feel there are some places that could be improved. I hope to discover any problem issues during the first campaign and then polish the rule set up before the second campaign.

One issue that we “fixed” before the first play test was Hordes players lack of warlock starting off. Warmachine players have access to jack marshals but Hordes players don’t have an equivalent. Lesser warlocks work but are very limited. I felt Hordes players would be left behind without something to help early on. The answer was tamed warbeasts.

Tamed Warbeast

A Tamed Warbeast can activate normally but cannot be part of a banner that includes a battlegroup. If a banner with a battlegroup adds a warbeast to play, the warbeast must be added to a valid battlegroup. If unable to add the warbeast to a battlegroup, the warbeast enters play wild. If the banner has no battlegroups, the warbeast enters play Tamed. A Tamed warbeast can be forced by models that have the ability to force them.

I made an interesting discovery while working on this rule. Models with the ability Beast Master can force friendly Faction warbeasts. Currently there are only four models that have Beast Master (sorry, Trollbloods) so the mix of Beast Master and Tamed Warbeast actually gives you the ability to basically fully functional warbeasts from the beginning. I like it as a fix for the problem without adding too many changes to Warmachine/Hordes basic rules.

If you’d like to check out the rules I’ll be using for round one, you check them out here. Map Campaign Rules

Gaming, Theory

An Argument for Playing Unpainted

A lot of my Cygnar army is currently unpainted and recently I came to the conclusion that may be okay. Not to say I will never paint my whole army only that I’m not in hurry to paint freshly constructed models. I can already hear the wave of “play it painted” advocates but hear me out.

I’m relatively new to miniature war games. I’ve only been playing Warmachine for the past three years and I’ve never played any other miniature war game before starting Warmachine. In the past, the only miniatures I would paint were the handful of player characters for role-playing games. During that time, the most heart breaking thing to happen to any mini was to have a fully paint, sealed, and based mini fall apart during play. The wizard’s staff hand pops off. The warrior’s shield falls to the table. The cleric would drop their holy symbol. Gluing the pieces back never fully hid the scars of the damage. These kinds of structural failures help to motivate me to learn about pinning and other useful construction techniques.

When I took the leap from RPGs to war gaming there was a push from more established players to get my army to fully painted as quickly as possibly. I enjoy painting models but I’m not a great painter and not a very quick one either. And aside from my painting issues, I was still learning the mechanics and deciding on which units I enjoyed running. I didn’t want to sink what little bit of hobby time I have into painting models I didn’t want to play. Also a part of me knew, “these models are going to be touched a lot and will fall apart if I’m not careful.” I wanted that eventuality to happen while they were still unpainted. At almost every tournament and convention I’ve attend there has been an instance of someone’s models falling apart during events. The most heart breaking moment is a tray with two fully painted lists crashing to the ground from elbow bumps. The more common are just arms falls off while moving a model. When those models are painted I feel my heart break just a little bit for the owner.

Three years later more than half of my Cygnar models are unpainted, bare metal even. While experimenting with new units I’ll construct them with hopefully enough glue, pins, and green stuff that they don’t fall apart just as I charge an enemy caster. After a few rounds of play testing and I feel comfortable they won’t fall part without extreme conditions, they will get put in the long line to be painted.

 

Gaming

Building a Game Master’s Notebook: The Binding!

Over the past sixteen years of being a game master, I’ve lost more material on my campaigns than I’ve been able to save. Charts, maps, NPC characters, and plots all lost to the void called time. One piece of advice I’ve heard over and over again is to build a game master’s notebook. A repository for all your devious plans and also a resource to call upon when you’ve hit a creative block.

I’m going to be building a new game master notebook from scratch for my Dungeon and Dragons 5th edition campaign.

Step One: pick a notebook
This decision seems to be really simple; just go grab any old three ring binder and start filling it with paper. That is exactly what I did when I built my very first GM notebook in 2000. Later, I moved digitally with piles of word documents saved on a flash drive. Now I have all my files for every game saved on cloud storage site. I’ve known other game master’s with GM notebooks to use dairies, sketchbooks, composition notebooks, computer problems, or phone apps. The options are endless and some work better for a particular game masters than for others.

All that being said I’m picking up a three ring binder. Going with the classic. Why? Its easy to transport, easy to organize, and the digital options I have been using are too cumbersome. With a bit of nostalgia thrown in there.

Step Two: getting organize
At this point add anything you’ll need to run a game: note paper, reference charts, maps, etc. These should be all the things you want on hand quickly during a game. Player using a custom class? Add it. Favorite random encounter table? Add it. Current adventure outline? Add it. Try not to add anything that you might need only things you will need.

I added blank lined paper, gird paper, and a few dividers to make notes and organize them into categories (NPC, locations, items). Then I added all my custom stuff for my current campaign. My reference sheet for the house rules. A list of weapons, armor, equipment, and services with average prices. A list of common monsters and generic enemies with stats. The map of the campaign area and, finally, a quick reference sheet for each PC’s stats. That covers most of the stuff I’d need to run the campaign.

Step Three: covering your weaknesses
No one is a prefect game master. Everyone has got something they don’t handle well during a game session. My biggest weakness as a game master is coming up with names on the spot. I really suck at it and all the Jeffery NPCs in my older campaigns will attest to that. To cover for my inability to improvise names, during my planning for a session, I make up names for all major and minor non-player characters the players might talk to and all locations that the players might go. I still keep a list of random names appropriate to the campaign in my notebook just in case my players talk to a random shopkeeper, go in a direction I wasn’t expecting, or – more likely – I got lazy with my planning.

It isn’t necessary to do try and cover your bases into your notebook but it isn’t bad idea to think about what you have a hard time doing as game master. If adding something (chart or reference) will help alleviate the problem then I recommend adding it to the notebook.

Step Four: start using the notebook during sessions
If you have never run with a game master’s notebook before, this might be the hardest part. Figuring out how it fits into your setup and game session routine. Even just remembering to use the notebook when it would be helpful. Heck you might find that it is sometimes hinders more than it helps in the beginning. After a few sessions you’ll get into a groove of referencing the notebook or taking your notes.

For me the notebook is front and center on the table. The screen wraps around the binder. Pens, pencils, and dice scattered between the screen and the binders edge. I take notes on a blank sheet per session and review my campaign outline. Comfortably flipping through monster and NPC stats. Checking maps.

Step Five: maintenance and upkeep
After a story arc or a short campaign I try to take time and review what has been added to the notebook. I clean out old notes. Check to see if a chart, table, NPC sheet, or map needs to be updated or if it is even necessary anymore. I do maintenance so when I sit down at the head of the table next time I don’t get confused with all the notes I made in the corner of sheets.

With my notebook completed, I’m ready to run my games and deal with most things the players throw at me.

Do you use a different kind of note taking strategy? How do you use it during and in between sessions?

Gaming, Review

The Witness by Thekla Inc.

I’ve been playing The Witness. A first person puzzle game along similar lines of The Talos Principle. The beautifully stylized island is colorful and engaging. The puzzles, although similar, are challenging and require experimentation and discovery to complete. Thekla use of space, angle, color, and lighting to great effect to create an atmosphere that feels expansive and familiar but still mysterious and magical. The Witness is another great step the in genre of first person puzzle games.

I recommend checking out The Witness to anyone interested in puzzles and environmental design.