Wednesday 21 December 2011

A stocking filler of an update (oh God, that's awful)

Dreadful post title aside, I've unexpectedly got a bit of free time tonight so here's an update on what I've been able to fit in amongst the drinking and terrified shopping that accompanies December.

As Kieron has mentioned at Cheaphammer, we're aiming to have a game of Very British Civil War, which as of last week neither of us had any models painted for, or any rules. Kieron's already done a sterling job whipping some rules up for us to try out, and in order to be ready to play on Thursday night I've basecoated a band of Local Defence Force chappies, the Handsworth Volunteers.

To be perfectly honest, the paint job here is extremely basic, doesn't do the models (a mix of Musketeer and Great War miniatures if memory serves, I actually bought these at Triples 2010) any justice whatsoever and will need more work doing to it for me to consider the models finished. But for the couple of hours I've spent on them, I'm pretty pleased, they'll certainly be usable for some playtesting this week. And this is after I painted the uniforms the wrong colour and started again!

In the first photo you might have spotted the back of a rooftop stairwell creeping into frame. This is a test piece for my next planned project (and one of my goals for the month, I've really wandered off track with that), the Sarissa Precision buildings. 

The extremely generous and helpful Andy (Loki of Loki's Great Hall and Terra Firma Studios fame) was kind enough not only to advise me what colours to use for painting brickwork, but also to go out and get some of the paint mixed up for me. I wanted to give this a try and the bricks on this piece seemed the ideal place to do it.

The results here are very nice, if I do say so myself. It was actually lucky that I got some advice here, because as I was warned, the paint looks too bright when it goes on, but dries to a nice realistic brick colour.

I'm now ready to tackle the buildings themselves, but there's a lot I want to do there and I want to have time to do it properly, so that's waiting until I'm away from work for Christmas (4 more sleeps!). Expect a post in detail about that when I get to it, which I'm looking forward to probably more than is healthy.

Because I wanted to work on the terrain but I'm not ready to do the buildings yet, I've got started on the furniture. I've got loads of this stuff (and I've just bought some more, it's a disease) and I've started most of it at once, but these bits are quite close to being ready:

That's a safe on the left, a photocopier on the right, and in the middle an office cupboard. What's worse, the fact that I took a photo of some furniture, or that you're now looking at it? 

For the cupboard, and the other wooden furniture, I'm trying to get a wood grain effect by deliberately drybrushing in a haphazard sort of way. It seems to have worked ok, we'll see how it looks when I have a lot of the stuff standing together.

Ideally, I'd have some thought to finish this post on, but since I don't know whether this will be my last post before Christmas I'm not ready for the well wishes yet....

... ah, let's go for it. Merry Christmas everybody!

Friday 16 December 2011

More Flashbang playtesting!

Very grainy iPhone picture of a SWAT team about to fail to storm a compound

As promised, I played another game of Flashbang on Thursday night, this time against Pete. I'd made a couple of rule changes since the previous game, mainly around simplifying the effect of noise on shooting - now it makes it easier to hit a target, rather than the over complicated attempt to evade that I used to have.

It went really well! We played a couple of games of a hostage rescue scenario. In both games I (playing as SWAT) lost, but both were close, and both were tense, as we tried to outmaneuver one another. As I discussed last time I gave Pete more time to read the plan board before we started, and he used this to good effect during the game.

The only things left to do to the rules now seem to be tweaks, which is very promising. I'll get to working on the actual faction details later.

Pete suggested that not using the rules for vehicles (I just placed them as terrain) would probably help the SWAT team, and I'm inclined to agree - with the ability to redeploy some or all of the team, they could affect an entry from two points at once, which would give them a much better chance of using their abilities. So that's what I want to try next time, which might be over Christmas. Kieron has written some rules for Very British Civil War which we're planning to try out on Thursday, so I doubt we'll also get to play Flashbang then.

For the VBCW game I'll need to get some models painted! I've worked on them today and have them just about basecoated, I'll probably only have time to finish that off before Thursday's game, but at least they'll be available...

I've also been working on Flashbang terrain, so at some point there'll be pictures of that too.

Friday 9 December 2011

Flashbang playtesting

As promised, I played a game of the newly-updated version of Flashbang last night at Wargamers FC. In case you're one of the lucky ones that I haven't yet bored to tears about Flashbang, it's a system I've written for close quarters battle. The initial idea was to allow games with SWAT teams, and to do all the exciting things you see in the movies - throwing stun grenades, rappelling through windows, fighting room to room - which in my opinion most existing games tend to gloss over.

To give a sense of tension, and ensure that players can't rely on just advancing towards the enemy in the open and firing at them, the game has a "noise" system. Certain actions, such as firing a gun, generate noise, which will bring you to the attention of your enemies.

I meant to take photos but forgot...
There are also a number of special abilities available to each group, but there's a trade off between using these or doing normal things like moving or shooting. The idea is that a good combination of abilities can work together to form a more effective strategy.

We played a basic battle scenario. I expect that (if and) when we're playing the game in anger we'll want to use the more complex scenarios I have ready, but for now I just wanted to test the mechanics.

I found a few issues - first, I should have thought more about the terrain setup at the start. As it was we had a sort of linear set up, but when writing the rules I was thinking more about models being able to completely hide themselves, and the two teams getting intermixed. That didn't really happen as we played.

Paul didn't make a lot of use of activities on his plan board - I would say this was for the simple reason that he didn't really know what he could do there, so he didn't realise that he could have combined things more. I think for the next game I'll take the SWAT role, as the Armed Criminals are a bit more straightforward, but I'll also make sure my opponent has time to read the abilities before we start.

Finally, I wasn't really happy that models with a lot of noise aren't in much danger. They struggle to hit their enemies, but that's about it. I'm going to try to work out how to account for your target's noise in shooting instead of the evasion rule I have at the moment, but I don't want things to get overly complicated.

I have another game organised with Pete for next week, so we'll see what he thinks of the rules. Simplicity is definitely the key, so I may need to streamline some areas even more.

Monday 5 December 2011

Rounding out the gang

It might be the festive season, but I'm still focused on Flashbang the whole time... I should probably finish getting presents for people at some point, but for now here's an update on the important stuff!

I did some more Flashbang tweaking. I've started the rules for Special Forces and OPFOR, and also tweaked the rules for SWAT and Armed Criminals. This is because the first playtest of the second version of the rules will be on Thursday at WFC against Paul, and those are the groups we'll be using.

Then last night it hit me that the tweaks meant I needed more criminals! So, to get them up to strength, I've quickly painted 4 hillbilly types, and a nice model from Hasslefree that is clearly "not" Shaun from Shaun of the Dead...

I also finished off the 4 hostages so that we'll have them available as objectives.

The four hillbillies will need highlighting, but they're ok to use on Thursday. "Not" Shaun is pretty much done; he's a really nice model with a great dynamic pose - I did a quick image search to get the right colours from the film to pain him up with. He'll fit right in once I get the zombies ready...

Watch this space for an update after the playtesting!