Algoryn AI Unit

I’ve been making slow and steady progress on my Algoryns for GoA. Thankfully for my wallet, Warlord has released plastic kits for rank and file units. They offer quite a few poses and aren’t too difficult to assemble.

Out of the box you get a command unit with choices to arm them with a mag gun, mag repeater, or a mag pistol (with a X-sling option), while the rest of the sprue provides mag rifles and a couple of micro-X launchers. You also get a spotter drone along with bases for all the figures. Overall they piece together pretty well. My only complaint is that it can be a little tricky to figure out the ‘proper’ way to assemble the chest and back pieces, as the heads have a lot of play on the chest peice (and lack of assembly directions or pics of the figure’s rear).

I went with a super simple painting scheme. I’m still not too keen on it and likely will retouch the chest pieces some. I’m using a stark highlight of orange over base coat like what I used for my Russians, but even after drybrushing it doesn’t seem to pop much. It’s a very subtle effect which doesn’t photograph well (using a crappy phone camera doesn’t help much either).

I’m also on the fence some with the micro-X launchers. Likey retouch them up again with some OSL effects on the weapons to give them some life. Regardless, they’ve been languishing too long on sprues, packed away. Glad to finally get some of the figures assembled and a coat of paint on them.

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New Fiasco in the works

Bully Pulpit games has offered a sneak peek into a new version of Fiasco. Now Fiasco is a game I like but it can be a little bumpy to get the most out of your first few games.

One thing that might be daunting is how wide open game elements can be. It’s interesting that the designer has thought about reining potential outcomes in some, and offering more concrete scenarios. I dig the idea that of sets of cards represent everything you need to play.

For uninitiated folks this might be a fun way to jump into the game and not have to wrack your brain over details of relationships and needs. As a product, it’s an interesting idea how to sell new content. You buy a pack of cards that can have everything in a playset. Even more interesting, you can mix and match playset elements, making games unique and add some replay.

It appears to be striving for a more structured, and a little more approachable, play experience. I always felt Fiasco was a solid introduction to RPGs for people that dabbled in gaming. You didn’t need to worry about character generation and learning any game mechanics like hit points, abilities, or skills. You could just think up a character and play out a scene. However it still could be too cerebral for some folks to get. This new version might offer an easier introduction (and faster playthrough) to the game.

I imagine the idea of cards and more structured game elements will put some off. There is still a huge number of free playsets available, even one done by yours truly though. Regardless glad to see Fiasco getting a potential face lift and maybe another release for more people to enjoy in the near future.

Card Caddy deck boxes

Occasionally I am out and about doing gaming stuff in public. For a lot of my board games that use cards, it’s helpful having decks stack up neatly in discard and draw piles. This is especially so when handling sleeved cards as sometimes these piles can be a little slippery, where an accidental knock can spill out your cards all over the place. And while deck boxes are great for transport, they can’t serve any additional purpose on the table.

Enter the Card Caddy. It’s an inventive design where a protective deck box can be opened up into two sections. Even better, the separate sections can be linked together with each half capable of holding a full stack of cards.

I picked up a few different caddys. A couple of standard card size packs, and double-decker ones which are designed to hold larger decks of sleeved cards. The pic here shows a double-decker caddy and a single deck as a comparison (the blue colored caddy). Both can accept sleeved cards but I’ve found the single size box won’t hold many sleeved cards. I found the double-decker box can comfortably hold about 50 or so double sleeved cards (figure about 80 regular sleeved cards).

They lock together by sliding each half in grooved slots. It’s pretty easy to take apart, but I found the double-decker a bit more tricky to assemble. Nothing that’s a deal breaker but it certainly takes a lighter touch compared to the single deck box. The deck boxes are sturdy and feel like they could take some light punishment and still protect the cards.

I’m glad I picked them up. If I had my druthers I would have skipped getting a single deck box and just gone with the double-decker. Most of my games lean towards larger decks and typically use sleeved cards. Regardless though, they are a nice product and a great way to transport and have a storage solution on the table to help keep everything stacked nicely.

28mm Plastic Soldier Co. Russian 45mm AT-gun teams

I’ve been a long time fan of playing Bolt Action in 20mm. However I figured if I ever jumped into a local gaming scene I might be in a bit of a pickle using minis at that scale. I had a hankering to field a Russian force and decided to do it in the ‘proper scale’ of Bolt Action using 28mm figures.

There are lots of choices out there for models and I went with some cheaper plastic sets. Looking to round out options I wanted to try and get some different unit choices. One of which was a small AT gun team. I’ve freely admitted my love of Plastic Soldier Co. before and used their models extensively for my British and German 20mm platoons. For Russians, PSC makes kits both in 15mm and 28mm, so I was in luck.

The 45mm AT-gun team kits have parts to make 2 guns and a total of 8 crew members. It’s a very flexible kit for light AT guns, as there are barrels to make a 43mm M-1937 and a 45mm M-42 AT gun. Yet, the box name is somewhat a misnomer as there are barrels to also make a 76mm M-1943 (OB-25) regimental gun which could be used as a light howitzer. PSCRusAT2

I went ahead and made a M-42 45mm AT gun (pictured left below) and a light howitzer (pictured right below). While the M-42 was made throughout the war, it was certainly phased out as German tank armor was improving. If going the min/max route most folks would likely spend the points for a ZiS-3. But if focusing on an early war platoon, this kit is a great resource.PSCRussATA

The details on troops are a little muddied but not bad for digital sculpts. Another small quibble is there is no instruction sheet/diagram for assembly of the guns (but not too difficult to work out). Assembly was pretty easy but the barrels and trail supports had to be sanded down some to fit within the gun frame.

PSCRusAT1

PSCRussATCrew

Despite my small niggles, overall it’s a great kit for the value and wonderful for wargaming. A good buy if looking for early-mid war AT options for Russians in 28mm.

Chain of Command – Making jump off points

I picked up Chain of Command and been digging it. Likely later I’ll get some thoughts on the rules written down. For now I’m busy modeling some 28mm Africa platoons and other bits I’ll likely use for the game.

CoC has a mini-game of sorts at the beginning where the table is cordoned off in areas allowing for forward deployment using markers. Some markers will end up becoming staples on the table once the battle starts. Right now I have some paper disks you can download for patrol markers. But I decided to whip up some simple markers to represent jump off points.

I picked up a 1/48 oil drum and jerry can set from Tamiya to use for modelling the markers. They have a lot of small bits which are well detailed (almost too much so for my purposes). A bonus is it also includes stowage for axis and allied vehicles which I’ll likely use on other kits. All in all, a decent spread of stuff to add to terrain and vehicles.

I traced out circles on plasticard and cut them out with scissors. Using some sandpaper, I buffed the rough edges to even them out some. Being plasticard, I could use model cement to glue oil drums and fuel cans directly to the card.

After priming, I used a base coat of gray and olive drab to the respective axis and allied jump off markers. A wash of sepia ink gave them a little more depth and all I had to do was dress up the bases a bit more. In addition to a flat green and a dabble of flock, I also painted the edges of the bases with different shades of brown. My intention is that each color will be used by one player, just in case there’s a little confusion as to which model drum represents which nation.

The end result looks pretty decent. I have lots of spare weapons and other bits I can add later if I want to. Likely I’ll chalk that up on my possible-but-not-likely list. I’d rather put more modelling effort into armies instead of terrain and markers. Still they look pretty nice and blend a little more into the battlefield over paper tokens. Now I need to try and get some CoC games in!

Netrunner: Terminal Most Wanted List

Unless you’ve been living under a rock in the Netrunner community, you’ve likely heard that Fantasy Flight is pulling the plug on the game. I won’t go on much about this other than I suspect that this wasn’t the planned outcome for the game under FFG’s reign. However it sort of leaves an interesting situation on what cards to use going forward.

One aspect is rotation. Aside from getting a few problematic cards out of the pool, rotation in the game would also facilitate release of new product. Since FFG could basically ignore a few expansions due to rotation, this could allow for similar cards in function but be designed to work with newer cards. You didn’t have to worry about some weird combo with a card from the Genesis Cycle, which also means you could flex card design muscle some exploring other combinations with new cards. That’s no longer an issue. The card pool is static now.

Another huge issue is the revised core set which removed cards from the game. Now some were underachievers but a few of these cards likely were a tad overpowered. I could see some not necessarily being broken, but severely limiting the design space for new cards. Every criminal console created after the core set had to compare to desperado and typically they failed to size up to it.

My Netrunner gang is tiny and I’ve been struggling to figure out how to go forward. With no further cards being released for the game, the idea of adhering to rotation is silly. Likewise abandoning older cards that were retired from the revised core and others on the recent MWL list also seemed not worthwhile. I have a pal that just jumped into the game and is buying stuff from a bunch of scattered expansions. Think it daft to tell him he can’t play with certain cards because they were banned.

On the flip side you have to recognize that some cards can/are broken and need to be restricted in some way. Getting rolled over from someone using a power deck isn’t fun. So I’ve been leaning towards using some type of Most Wanted List for our group.

I think going back to the idea of Universal Influence is a good way to move forward. Rather than restricting or banning cards, just implement a larger influence penalty. However I went a step further and really increased the cost for several cards. Essentially if a card was on the restricted list before, they now have 3 universal influence, and if banned they have an additional cost of 5 influence. Most cards removed from the game were also added to the 5 universal influence list. A first core cards had no additional cost and I also slipped some into the list adding one additional influence.

Most of the 1 universal influence cards are really there to nudge people into playing with other cards. Jackson Howard will likely be a staple for every deck, so having a little influence penalty might make people look for alternatives. Akamatsu Memchip is another example. Although it was removed from the game I’m not sure if it’s something worth throwing onto the 3 or 5 influence list, but it should have an increased cost just to push people into trying other hardware options.

The other pickle was to figure out what to do with IDs that were dropped from the game. I decided to give them a penalty to their influence totals. You could play Noise, but expect a small ding to your available influence. Not sure how this will work and it might have to be altered some in the future. I suspect Noise’s ability might have to be changed to once per turn instead.

I compiled this into a Terminal Most Wanted List which you can find in the downloads section. Very likely I’ll be tweaking this and keeping an ear to the ground on what cards folks are grousing in the newer expansions that need to be tinkered some with their costs. I’ll be sure to share how this MWL fares with the folks I play with.