Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Miniatures Wargaming

Wargaming with miniatures is pretty much where I started from with gaming. Initially with soft plastic figures from Airfix and Matchbox, then moving to include other soft plastic miniatures companies like Atlantic. Which is something that I've discussed before when I started my blog.

I also moved to using metal miniatures in the late 70s, with the first company that I really used being Miniature Figurines of Southampton, Minifigs for short, one of the longest established British miniatures companys. I've still got many of the old figures that I bought way back when, some of which were never painted.

These days I've moved away from 25mm figures for most periods and games though I will admit to having a frequent desire to add new periods and ranges to the 25mm part of my collection I am being reasonably successfull in just adding to the fantasy and medieval groups that I use mainly for roleplaying and probably some game of Warhammer Fantasy Battle.

The biggest frustration is not having time to really get on with my figure painting as I feel the need to reduce my unpainted lead and plastic to single figures which will take some time. At the moment my main projects are a 15mm Fantasy Arab and Eagle Rider armies from Peter Pig, some assorted 25mm fantasy figures and a 25mm Warhammer Lizardman army.

It is most likely that I will end up gaming again soon using the Hordes of the Things and De Bellis Antiquitatis rules from WRG as these are simple fast play rules that I can use on a small table with each side only having a limited number of elements and small amounts of terrain to deal with. I'm also looking at playing some SF games with the Dirtside and Stargrunt II rules from Ground Zero Games with the 15mm Stargrunt range of minis appealing as I can mix it with my existing 15mm SF figures for Laserburn. I think that the Stargrunt rules with the greater emphasis on command and control appeal more these days, but I'm sure I'll play through Laserburn too.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Which Science Fiction writer are you?

Another of these internet quizzes which I occasionally waste time on.

I am:
William Gibson
The chief instigator of the "cyberpunk" wave of the 1980s, his razzle-dazzle futuristic intrigues were, for a while, the most imitated work in science fiction.

Which science fiction writer are you?

Not too bad a choice I suppose as I'm nearly a contemporary of the Cyberpunk authors and Gibson has been an author I've read heavily.

Saturday, January 27, 2007


Well it looks like despite a long period of avoidance I'm getting sucked into the world of Warhammer Fantasy both with the RPG and the Fantasy Battles game, which will be referred to as WFRP and WFB from now on. I think some of my resistance has been due to Games Workshop's habit of talking about it as the Games Workshop hobby rather than the gaming hobby and the RPG being out of print. The setting being more early renaissance than the more feudal period of many fantasy games.

With the miniatures game I have been slow to buy in as I have quite a number of other miniatures rulesets including Reaper and Hordes of the Things for fantasy gaming. The quality of their figures is good, but the prices seem to be going through a phase of rapid increase.

Now I'm going through the WFB rules though it is the 6th edition rather than the latest 7th edition. From what I understand the rule changes between editions have been incremental rather than wholesale.

The WFB rules are quite traditional using an "I go, you go" turn sequence where one character completes all their actions before the other player goes. In each player's turn there is a sequence of phases with only the final close combat phase involving both players. The mechanics of rolling D6 with a target number to beat is very traditional with similar mechanics described in Donald Featherstone's rules from the early 1960s. Generally the rules look to be readily playable with a fairly consistent approach to the mechanics which has added to their ability to support new players starting.

Monday, January 08, 2007

En Garde!

En Garde! is a RPG set amongst the French military in the era of the Three Muskeeteers, which is one of the first games I remember to have a substantial element of social interaction as part of the requirements. As the first edition was published in 1975 it is definitely one of the first RPG to look at this, most other games at the time were much more from wargaming perspectives, particularly D&D and its imitators where morale is the main psychological factor considered.

I have rarely done what this game is really good for, which is extended campaigns having generated far more characters than I ever played (not unusual with a lot of games systems) and used the duelling rules quite often even for other games when it seemed more appropriate than those games core ruleset (neither Traveller or D&D gives a particularly good feel for that intense one on one combat like a duel).

The requirement for characters to keep a diary of events makes it particularly suitable for play by mail or play by post games and the continuing support has been from the pbm community and now the online community. There have been variations in setting used from the fictional Paris of the original to London or Rome. There are active games in many languages and the official site lists them.

Friday, January 05, 2007

More RPG that I have encountered

Time to try and wrap up the theme of different RPG soon, but I thought that there were a few more to mention that I have played or in one case wanted to play that haven't been covered.

Chivalry and Sorcery was always one of the most detailed RPG in its period and did try to set a game actually in the middle ages with pretty much historical magic and attitudes. I didn't play much of it preferring D&D then RQ for the more fantastic approach. From what I remember the rules were very detailed and this meant that character generation was a lengthy process and actually playing was quite slow, but this may be my memory playing tricks on me.

Warhammer FRP is a game that I love the setting of, as the old World and new World in Warhammer contain plenty of interesting stuff, with my own personal preference being for the new World of Lustria with its many lizardmen and their aztec/mayan styling. Warhammer I've read and created characters for, but never actually played till now when I've signed up for a PbP game at Warhammer FRP has many legendary scenarios which I've tried hard not to learn too much about as it would only spoil playing in them, such as the Enemy within.

Pendragon is a game I'mfairly surprised that I haven't played as it is based on Arthurian myth which I have been interested in since I was little (probably not unusual in a Briton). This game has a very different approach to most RPG in that significant time can pass in a session with characters aging and their descendants continuing the quest if needs be. The game is based on Chaosium's BRP system so would not be unfamiliar to me as a player of Runequest and Call of Cthulhu, but with some additions to deal with the out of adventure development and social interactions.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Baron Munchhausen

The extraordinary adventures of Baron Munchausen. This makes my list of most important RPGs because it was the first really freeform game I played. It is one of the few games I know that can readily be played without any reference to the rulebook. Of course if you visit Critical Miss they will worship at the feet of James Wallis the designer of Baron Muchausen and author of the famous Warhammer FRP scenario The Enemy Within.

Mechanically it is one of the most simple games I have come across, with each player having a pool of tokens (usually coins) that are used to reward the player with the best story and in the challenge mechanism. This game must be the purest storytelling game possible with each player assuming an identity as a nobleman and in turn reciting their tale on a topic given to them by the person on their left who was last to buy a round of drinks. While telling their story a player can be challenged by another who wagers a coin which can be won or lost by the active player being able to incorporate that challenge into their story. This continues round the table until all the players have told their stories and the players vote with their remaining coins to produce a winner. Who then buys the next round.

I think this is a great game both for its simplicity of rules and emphasis on storytelling, together with what at least for British gamers is the opportunity to combine RPG with drinking.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Other RPG I have known

Having bought and played many RPG as well as those listed in my top five most important ones I thought I would discuss some of the other ones I enjoyed too. Originally I was going to call this post "Other RPG I have loved", but decided that not all of these are truly ones that I've loved, even if I would still call them.

As well as Traveller I played Metamorphosis Alpha heavily, which in its first edition days had a ruleset similar to early D&D, but I always liked the setting trope for MA with the lost starship. This has had a number of new editions which I haven't bought and I have to admit the more detailed setting for the latest edition is actually something I'm not so keen on as I prefer to make my own details of the setting and have tried different reasons why the starship Warden lost its way and the organisation aboard collapsed.

Toon is a game that I still like for its emphasis on fun and that the rules are there as guidelines rather than to be obeyed in all circumstances. I didn't play it that much as I got Paranoia not that long after and I preferred the darker humour with the game.

Bushido was a game that I played a lot less than I wanted to, largely as by this point we had already been playing D&D, Runequest and Traveller for years and yet another game system did not appeal to the players despite the appeal of Japan as a setting. The mythic Japan is far closer to the historical model than the setting of Rokugan used for D&D's Oriental Adventures. It is a hell of a long time since I looked at it though I still have my copy tucked away in my collection.

Bunnies and Burrows was one of the first RPG I actually bought in the original FGU edition. I always had a certain amount of difficulty getting players compared to D&D as to teenage boys (as my group was at the time), but this did have a lot of ideas that were new for a published RPG: martial arts, a skill system and most unusually for a RPG at that point no human characters. In fact pretty much all the characters would be rabbits, thought the stats would allow other species IIRC.