Category: Wargames

Using Floor Tiles for Dungeons

So my 5 Leagues of the Borderlands campaign is ramping up. I’ve got a fair amount of terrain from my Frostgrave stuff, but one type of battle encounter revolves around dungeon delves. I’m sort of kicking myself in the butt as I had a lot of WotC dungeon tiles. However, moving across the world I had to think long and hard on stuff I was going to ship, and felt the boxes of tiles at the time would just be carrying around junk I’d never use. Sigh…

So I set about making up new tiles. I went down to the hardware store and picked up some laminate floor tiles on the cheap. I also bought some non-slip shelf liner to keep the tiles from skidding around. The tiles themselves had an adhesive backing, so it would be a snap to attach the shelf liner to the back.

I cut the tiles, scoring them with a utility knife and breaking them apart. Pretty easy going. The trick was to figure out what size tiles. I ended up having most being oversized at 9×9 inch. I also made a few rectangle rooms. The bigger rooms will allow for more maneuvering and shifting around to accommodate the corridor sections.

The corridors I made a standard 2” wide with sections between 6 and 9 inches long. I had a few smaller pieces I kept to add alcoves to break up some of the sections. Instead of making corridor Tees and angles, I made small 2×2” sections to give me a little more flexibility and will also use a few as stair tiles (writing on them with permanent markers). As the rooms are oversized, I can shift them around to accommodate the corridors. Plus I can use smaller corridor sections overlaid on the room tiles with stair sections to break up the rooms some with different height levels. Overall they look pretty good and weren’t too much of a chore to make up. Now to get some games in!

The Torchbearers: 5 Leagues from the Borderland Campaign

After establishing the threats to the Nentir Vale, the next step was to gather adventurers for my warband. I fully embraced the random generation charts but still ended up with a group of humans. Their backgrounds ranged from townsfolk, sturdy frontiersmen, and even a zealot. I also wanted to dabble in magic and chose one of my heroes to be a mystic.

For gear, I was able to wrangle up a few quality weapons and some simple enchanted items. I loved the idea of a rough and tumble barbarian with just enough charisma to gather a group under their leadership. So I chose Takari to be my warband leader wielding a bastard sword. I definitely wanted some ranged attackers and selected Kester, a tradesman-turned-adventurer, who opted to finally wield the crossbows he diligently made for years in the city. There was also Sigmund, the zealot monk on a mission to drive evil from the land. And lastly, Matilda, the strange mystic from the south was willing to join the company (although no one knows if it is to rid scourge from the region or for her own arcane purposes). To round out the warband, I had two additional human followers. Den, a simple man-at-arms henchman and Nip, an adept bowman, that were both willing to join the group. 

Falling under Takari’s oratory spell at a city tavern, she wove an enticing pitch to join under her banner. Rumors abound that the Nentir Vale was under siege from evil cultists and bandits. Howling beastmen were said to have come up from the coastal marshes. And the decades-long war to the west was drawing ever closer. The vale was ripe with opportunities of fame and fortune for those steely enough to take it. Takari’s Torchbearers were heroes of such mettle to grasp it.

The Threats: 5 Leagues from the Borderland Campaign

I had decided to map out my 5 Leagues campaign in the Nentir Vale. The campaign will have you trying to stave off 3 threats to the region determined randomly, two from within human realms and one external threat. I got to rolling and ended up with Whispers from Beyond and the Gnawing Horde. Feels like cultists and beastmen would be likely models for them. From the Foes Without, I rolled up the Curse of War. Seems the drums of war from the west has brought armies of a long conflict to the vale. 

I sketched out some locations and added a few camps for the different threats. While not written on the map, I ended up having a marsh near the Downs and a towering mountain on the King’s Road East as unexplored locations. There is still plenty of unnamed wilderness to fill in as the campaign goes along. I also ended up with another unexplored location of note, the Sword Barrows. A likely delve to adventure in soon.

I also decided to push for a shorter campaign with threat levels being 5, 4, and 3 instead of the default values. Expect this will be more attainable getting a final conclusion to the campaign instead of dragging it out too long. Hee. I’m not that hopeful I will be able to complete it anyways, but will give it the college try. 

Next time, onto my warband.

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5 Leagues from the Borderland Campaign: The Nentir Vale

While I’ve had the PDF version for a while, I finally got my mitts on the book version of 5 Leagues from the Borderland. Some time back I gushed over its sci-fi sibling, 5 Parsecs from Home. At some point of time I’ll get a review up, but for now documenting my campaign sounds like a bit of blogging fun. One departure from 5 Parsecs is that 5 Leagues from the Borderland (5 Leagues) has a defined map that encompasses the entire region my warband will adventure in.

I thought the Nentir Vale from 4E would be appropriate. Even better, I was able to dig up a sparse map from D&D Doodle, a favorite blog of mine. What I love about the map is it’s rather sparse with names and locations, but has a wonderful depiction of large terrain features, and will be a perfect start for filling in details. 

I’m going to leave much of it unlabeled for now and likely deviate from the proper Nentir Vale location names in the future. Luckily enough I rolled the perfect amount of starting settlements with 1 hamlet, 2 villages, and one town. The town serving with the market town characteristic will certainly be Fallcrest. Another village is also a market town, so I’m making that Hammerfast. The last village is supposed to be a small community that surrounds an extensive manor, which will be ideal for Harkenwold. The last settlement was determined to be a nomadic camp, which at first got me stumped some, but realized that Winterhaven would be a perfect name. I could completely see it being a camp that arises from wandering tribes on the periphery of the vale, seeking respite from the brutal winter season.

Expect more posts in the future as I go through the campaign. Gathering my warband will be my next task. Can’t wait!

Gates of Antares getting dropped from Warlord Games and becoming a fan-supported project

I like Bolt Action and the sci-fi offering, Beyond the Gates of Antares is also a fun game using a similar system. GoA always had a sort of uneven rollout. It was first announced as a Kickstarter which got pulled, and Rick Priestley (the game designer) worked with Alessio Cavatore to put out Bolt Action instead, which pretty much exploded. However it was proof of concept that the core GoA mechanics (random activation and pins) were solid, I think it resulted in Warlord giving a nod to Priestly to get GoA out to the gaming public.

You are likely climbing an uphill battle with trying to spark interest in a platoon level, sci-fi skirmish game, as 40K is the wargame leviathan. Even worse you’ve got most of your armies available initially as metal minis. Over time core units for GoA were released in plastic kits, and another boxed set for GoA was put out to lower the bar of entry for new players. There were a few campaign books put out and the model range slowly expanded. Yet GoA just never seemed to get much traction like Bolt Action did for people.

I heard some rumors for a while a new edition was on the horizon, which ended up being somewhat true. However I was surprised to hear Warlord Games dropped support for the game. I first thought there’d be some future for GoA as Skytrex would be taking over the model line from Warlord. However the announcement from the official GoA blog looks like the future for GoA will pretty much be a fan community game. The devs are working on it part time as a side “hobby.” So there is a new draft version of the rules out there and there might be new stuff in the pipe, but it’s pretty much a system with severely limited resources for developing future content. I expect it’ll flounder along for some time and have a few dedicated fans, but looks like GoA will be forever doomed to be that niche system.

It’s such a shame as so many bits of it are solid. Bolt Action has some pretty gamey mechanisms and for a WW2 game, they can accumulate to become rather jarring. I drifted away to Chain of Command simply because lmgs and machine guns were badly implemented in Bolt Action. Along with truncated ranges, it all pretty much flew in the face of historical tactics. So much so, folks didn’t even bother using LMGs and MMGs for a platoon game at all. But in a sci-fi game, rules like this are fine. It’s odd that all the parts a lot of stodgy wargamers grumble about in Bolt Action would be embraced in GoA as fun design choices.

So it’s a shame to hear GoA being dropped from Warlord. It’ll still be around, but I don’t see much growth for the game at all. Especially so for the sci-fi genre as you’ve got so many choices that get solid support with new models. Time will tell, but I don’t expect Gates of Antares to ever expand from that small circle of die hard fans.

Review: Zona Alfa

Occasionally I get a bug up my butt to try out odd skirmish genres. I was interested in painting up some modern military figures but wanted to steer away from historical/modern conflicts and Osprey’s Publishing, Zona Alfa popped up on my radar. It’s heavily laden with sci-fi trappings but wrapped up in primarily modern weaponry and technology. Taking some inspiration from the Stalker PC game (and in turn, the movie), it truly draws its theme from the sci-fi book, Roadside Picnic. 

A classic russian sci-fi story, Roadside Picnic has an unusual premise. Aliens arrived on earth, poked around, and then left, leaving behind remnants of their technology. Humans can’t deduce their actual purpose with most items breaking the laws of physics and beyond human comprehension. To draw from the book title, we are like ants crawling over the leftovers from aliens that happen to stop by earth for a short “picnic.”

The site of the alien landing becomes a secluded area, heavily guarded by the military. Only select personnel and researchers can enter it. Even more odd, the Zone is littered with physical anomalies that twist time and space. Segmented off from the public, individuals (Stalkers) sneak into the Zone, seeking strange tech to snatch up and sell on the black market. Throw in the PC game theme, you also have the Zone hit with radiation and horrible mutants. It becomes a fun setting to game in. 

The skirmish rules are for 2 players that draft up a squad of mercs and fight against each other within the Zone. Crews are commanded by one leader type and typically have 3 to 6 other figures. Each figure represents a single man of varying tactical experience. Troops are defined by a simple stat line to represent movement, combat ability, defense, and Will, a catch-all trait used for both morale and task resolution. A nice departure from most systems is that varying levels of troop quality are also reflected in the number of actions they can take during their turn. It’s not just simply a change in stat profiles. So that lowly rookie can only do one action during their turn, while a hardened veteran can undertake 3 actions at the same time.

Players roll off initiative and alternate activating figures of their choice. All actions can be repeated multiple times, making veterans able to maneuver and fire effectively, while that rookie (limited to just one action) needing more turns to do similar tasks on the battlefield. Actions cover a range of abilities, from movement, shooting, melee, aiming (to improve a following attack), and rally, to interacting with the environment (like filling gas into a vehicle, or opening a secured door). There is also a special action that allows models to go into overwatch/ambush. But this requires 2 actions meaning only more trained troops are able to hold off and interrupt the opponent’s turn if desired.

Gear and abilities are also reflected in troop quality. Every unit will be able to wield one ranged, one melee weapon, and at least one peice of gear. However, more trained units will be able to carry more gear (up to 3 items) and have abilities that can help with other specialized tasks or particular combat actions. Gear and weapons are based on WYSIWYG (what you see, is what you get) of the model.

Shooting is a pretty easy affair. A unit must be in range and LOS, with intervening cover affecting how easy they can be hit. Pistols top off at roughly a foot, while rifles reach up to 36” and given that most tables are 3 to 4 feet square, you can easily throw out a lot of effective fire. Rolls are made against the attacker’s combat ability, trying to roll equal to or under their value. This target number is adjusted due to cover, with each piece of intervening terrain lowering it. Successful hits then have the defender roll for saves, trying to roll equal to or less than their armor stat (which is adjusted by any weapon modifiers). The number of attacks are based on weapon profiles, with your typical rifle throwing out 3 shots. So expect a lot of dice for those automatic weapons.

Unsuccessful saves result in wounds which will drop your typical trooper. If saves are successful, the target makes a Will check (again trying to roll equal to or less than their stat). If successful, they are fine, otherwise they take a pin. Pins penalize initiative rolls for the following turn and lower the melee combat ability of the figure. Removing them is automatic, but requires expending an action per pin. 

Melee combat is simultaneous and each figure can use their weapon of choice, even ranged weapons. The catch is that an attacker can use any additional successful hits to cancel strikes from a defending model. So it certainly pays to be the aggressor and initiate that assault, rather than be the defender in melee.

Additionally the game has critical hits and failures. Regardless of the target number and modifiers, a 1 is always successful while a 10 is an automatic failure. There’s a simple rule implemented that rolling simultaneous 1s and 10s for a particular action cancel out this effect, just using the die results as normal. This can throw a wrench into the game as that 1 will also allow a figure to take one additional free action. Conversely rolling that 10 adds a pin to the model.

The game revolves around a larger campaign goal of accumulating 10,000 rubles, enough to have your leader retire from the stalker business. The concept of actual missions are pretty loose and the emphasis is to strive for a narrative experience. There are a few random tables, but sadly this part of the book is rather sparse. Each scenario however needs to have some specific objective and commonly you’ll find yourself settling for looting from a particular location on the tabletop. In addition to mission objectives will be Hot Spots which can spawn enemies. Once any hostiles from a Hot Spot or mission objective are cleared out, the location can be looted.

Post mission, crew members will gain experience that can be used to improve their stats and pick up new abilities. Loot gathered up can be sold and rubles can be spent to recruit new squad members and/or buy more gear. When creating your squad you also align yourself with one of 6 factions which can result in having allies, neutral parties, and enemies. Paired off on the table, you find your faction having an impact on how to approach the scenario. Allied squads work together to eliminate any hostiles and split the loot found (or try to make a Will test to break the alliance). Enemy factions will throw the scenario objective to the wayside and killing the enemy becomes the primary objective. While neutral parties can tackle the scenario and interact with the opposing crew as they see fit. Tagged with this faction system are discounts when purchasing types of equipment or free gear. It’s a nice wrinkle in these types of games.

The game can be ported to be a solo game pretty easily too. And there are optional rules out there to create co-op and solo games if desired. However it still revolves around a long campaign goal of hoarding enough rubles to make that 10,000 mark and retire. So while you can certainly play a one off game, it seems to offer a more full experience running an actual campaign to allow for advancement, getting loot, and more gear.

The Good – It’s a pretty fast and easy modern skirmish game revolving around light arms. The setting is certainly different and has room for more weirder hostiles if wanted. I like there is some gradation of troop abilities and equipment, but it’s not mired down in a long list of stat lines. The turn flow is fluid with alternating activations, and pins are a thing to think about. I also like that it’s based on d10 rolls, so you can get modifiers having an impact but it’s not as pronounced as you’d see with d6s.

The Bad – The rules are serviceable. But there are sparse areas that could use some tightening up. It seems to default back to that relaxed, reach a compromise with your opponent or roll a die, for determining odd situations quite heavily. It’s also unfortunate there are not more scenarios and detailed campaign rules. Even rules for implementing odd Zone anomalies seem tacked on and not fully developed.

The Verdict – Zona Alfa is a pretty fun set of rules. There are lots of bits I like in a skirmish wargame. You get a nice potential distribution of results using a d10 that allows for modifiers and slight tweaks from weapons and gear. There’s a good implementation of trained troops being able to do more on their activations. So what’s offered has some variety but not saddled down with extensive lists of gear, weapons, and units that just simply offer a different stat modifier. 

I also enjoy the critical hit and misses rule. I can see folks wanting a more structured range of outcomes, but for skirmish games I’ve grown to enjoy those occasional swings of fortune and disaster that lead to some memorable experiences. There is also room here to account for other actions models can take during their turn, opening up options for different scenarios. If you wanted to make the objective to retrieve a keycode, and in turn spend time trying to open a vault, while simultaneously disabling a bomb, the rules can account for this. That feels like what the designer was going for. To present a flexible ruleset that lets you play these fun scenarios while also offering a light arms skirmish engagement.

But this is also where the game falls flat. It’s a fun setting that strives for a narrative experience, but doesn’t have the meat in the rules to back up this design philosophy. I really wish there were another 6-8 pages for scenarios, expanded encounter tables, and/or hostile creature profiles. You have a slim number of pages with a few anemic tables, and most of the burden for creating scenarios is up to the player. I get having a simple campaign goal, but the lack of rules to offer diverse scenarios and a narrative campaign is glaringly absent. Especially as there are other games (5 Parsecs from Home) that have a wealth of tables to randomly make up a scenario that just feels like it’s telling a story and can lend itself to a longer, more engaging campaign.

What you get with Zona Alfa is a serviceable skirmish ruleset that’s a fun twist on modern combat settings. It is an interesting world that can provide a gritty, grounded merc experience, or lean more into fighting weird creatures, mutants, and radiation zombies. However it seems you’re expected to do all the heavy lifting to get into the world it describes. You get more of a framework of rules that will offer a few fun games, but not quite the breadth of material to build a string of missions and encounters for a fleshed out campaign, which seems a shame as the wargame parts are so enjoyable.

Review: Five Parsecs from Home

As I’ve gotten older and my schedule filling up with non-gaming activities, I’ve found my flexibility to game with other people waning. So over the past few years I’ve been leaning more towards games that have a solo component. It’s much easier to have a table set up where I can putter down to the basement for a few hours during the week, instead of trying to coordinate with folks on where and when to get a game in. For board games I’ve got loads of choices but for miniature wargames there hasn’t been many options. I stumbled on Modiphius Entertainment’s Five Parsec from Home and was eager to give this sci-fi skirmish game a shot.

It’s an interesting game as it leans heavily on roleplay elements. You create a crew of individuals, one of which will be the captain that much of the game revolves around. Each member will have a basic profile characterizing their movement, combat ability, how quick they react, and a general stat for non-combat events. There are options for different alien races and a bevy of gear and equipment, all of which is generated randomly on a series of charts and tables.

For the meat of the skirmish game itself, you play on a table somewhere between 2 to 3 feet square. A good amount of terrain will be needed to break up line of sight. You’ll have roughly 6 crew members matched against a random number of opponents (usually about 3-8). The game will have some manner of a win condition and is played over rounds. 

Each round you will roll for reaction, assigning each die roll to a crew member. You are trying to score equal to or less than a crew’s value. This allows you to act before your opponent. You can also have a crew member hold an action, interrupting the opposition’s turn with fire, or even just hold off till the end of the round. After initial quick reactions (if any), the opponent acts. Every figure activates once. Finally the player’s crew will have a turn with any remaining members activating if they haven’t done so.

An activation is a move and shooting or melee, just attack, or go on a full out sprint getting a little extra movement for the round. Ranged combat is dead simple using d6 and true line of sight. Close up, without cover hits on a 3+, 5+ to hit targets in the open at range, with most rolls needing a 6 to hit while in some manner of cover. The number of dice will match a weapon profile, adding the unit’s combat ability. Simple.

If a unit is hit another d6 roll is made adding the weapon’s damage value that is compared to the target’s toughness. Rolls equal or greater than the toughness will essentially take the model out of the fight. Otherwise they take a stun marker. Units with stun markers have limits on the actions they can take the following round (and then the stun marker is removed). But if a model gets 3 or more stun markers, they are removed from combat. Basically they are knocked out and removed as a casualty. Melee combat is resolved similarly but the opponent will get a chance to exchange blows.

Combat is brutal, quick, and easy to resolve. You’ll find yourself jockeying to get into position, hoping to get that quick reaction roll so you can provide overwatch while other members of your crew maneuver towards the objective. The opponent’s actions are governed by a simple AI that will dictate how aggressive they advance, adhere to cover, and what formations they will use on the table. The tactical rules are pretty bare bones and simple. What pairs wonderfully with this are the campaign rules.

See the game has a strong story theme. You are managing a starship crew and the resources needed to keep them going. You define a rough goal for the campaign picking from a list. This might be to earn so many credits, or as simple as playing a certain number of campaign turns. You measure resources as abstract credits. Each campaign turn you have to pay upkeep for your crew which increases if over 6 members. Your starship has a sort of mortgage that will increase until the debt is paid off. Damaged equipment needs to be repaired (or dumped as a loss) and injured crew members will need treatment.

Each campaign turn you’ll have crew members undertake different tasks. This might be to try to  barter for equipment, seek out information and opportunities for big scores, or recruit new crew members. Every campaign turn you will automatically get a job opportunity, but you really want to obtain patrons. Patrons offer more lucrative payouts and potentially other benefits for completing operations. Job opportunities dry up? Get too many local rivals? You can pack up and jump to another planet.

This leads to how the tactical game plays out. Each mission will have an outline of a random objective and forces you’ll be fighting. Objectives might be to obtain a specific item, get crew members across the opposite table edge, or simply eliminate the opposition. This is paired with a randomly determined group of enemies and other battlefield conditions. 

Complete the mission objective and you get a decent payday along with some loot. Fail a mission, you’ll get a few credits but it’ll mean losing a patron and a tighter budget for the next campaign turn. Crew members that survive will earn experience which can be used to improve their stats. Over the game you’ll have crew members develop, get better gear and weapons, and sadly, some will be removed as casualties. All of this is done through random charts that results in an evolving, narrative experience that makes the game shine. 

And the potential outcomes are so varied. You can gain rivals, suffer a planetary invasion, get information on a juicy job, or a snippet of data that leads to an extended quest where you’ll keep seeking out rumors until you get the MacGuffin, earning a big reward. Crew members can suffer a bout of PTSD and sit out a mission or two, gain a skill, or other noteworthy life event. There are a series of charts you’ll be rolling a d100 for, continually evolving the trials and tribulations for your crew.

It’s paired with light resource management. Aside from gear and equipment, you also have credits. This part reminds me some of the classic solo microgame, Barbarian Prince. You are ever striving to balance credits needed for maintaining your crew and ship, and spending them for better equipment and skills. A windfall job can help get you out of debt, paying off your ship. Or a mission can be disastrous, having crew members tied up in the medbay or with damaged gear, leaving the hard choice of either cutting them loose or spending more of your precious credits to get them on their feet again. As a solo experience, it’s a lot of fun. Best of all there are also other more narrative elements like luck and story points which can be spent to mitigate a bad die roll some. So if you think you’ve gotten hosed with a streak of bad luck, there are ways to counter it. But like credits, their supply is limited.

The Good – It offers a grand experience that borders on being a roleplaying game. There’s a lot of choices with a touch of resource management each turn of the campaign. It’s matched with a tactical wargame ruleset that is fast and engaging. With varied opposition, battlefield conditions, and objectives this randomness increases the replayability. Best of all the actual battles flow pretty quickly with just enough tactics to make it enjoyable without bogging the experience down with lots of simulationist rules. It’s great fun expanding the abilities and gear of your crew, ever on the hunt for that next big payout.

The book is colorful with pleasant art. While an index isn’t present, the rules are sectioned off in different colors making it easy to go through after some familiarity. Another huge plus is the game is miniature agnostic. Any figures will do and the game works well in 28mm or 15mm without having to turn rules into pretzels for ranges.

The Bad – The rules are pretty well laid out but it can take some time to fully grasp everything. There are a lot of procedural charts which are rolled on and the first few times can be difficult to navigate everything. You are going to have a fair amount of bookkeeping to keep track of gear, cash, and other game resources. Lastly, the actual rules for playing the wargame portion are pretty thin. Some fights can be blown through so quickly, it might border on being anticlimactic. I could see the argument that as a skirmish wargame ruleset, it would be too light for some tastes.

The Verdict – Five Parsecs from Home is a wonderful solo sci-fi game. You aren’t going to get a meaty tactical AI experience here like with Star Army 5150. But it’s enough for a quick, brutal gun fight with enough gear and abilities to keep it interesting. Plus I love the idea of units sticking to cover as much as possible, risking that mad dash across open ground to get to an objective. All the while hoping your mates can offer enough suppression to stave off any incoming fire.

It’s paired with an enjoyable campaign ruleset. You will have a few random events, but also each turn mull over the choices to send off crew members in hopes to achieve some task. Do you settle on taking the regular opportunity job? Or do you put time and resources into finding a patron that will offer more lucrative pay? Do you spend credits and time trying to repair equipment? Or let it go and see what a crew member can find on the local market? Lots of fun choices. Lastly, if you think you’ve garnered too many enemies and dried up your prospects, you can always fly to another planet to see what awaits.

The battles also have a fair number of core objectives you need to achieve to win. And on top of that are several profiles of enemies you’ll be fighting against. The variety is impressive for such a modest rulebook. For me that is the selling point. It’s not some deep story, but Five Parsecs from Home sells a narrative experience. Over time you’ll see your plucky crew of adventurers and mercs improve, get better gear, and slowly accrue riches and fame. I am pleasantly surprised how much is packed into the rules. Well worth checking out if you are looking for a solo, sci-fi, skirmish wargame.

Firestorm Armada…. I’m not dead yet!

Sadly when Spartan Games went under, one of my favorite space fleet battles systems also went the way of the dodo, Firestorm Armada. I heard some rumblings that Warcradle Studios picked up the properties of Spartan Games and wondered if the setting would ever see the light of day again. It appears that Firestorm Armada will be given a second chance.

They are doing an open beta and the rules and other files are available for free (for now). I find it interesting they are also embracing a hexagonal base too. Which looks like a good way to add some delineation of firing arcs. I liked the concept of the range bands for weapon systems and having more arcs of fire will allow for some deft maneuvering over the square bases of old.

Regardless, cool to see the game getting a second life and eager to see the models Warcradle Studios has in the pipe.

Packing Miniatures for Shipping

A while back I’ve moved and ended up relocating on the other side of the globe. I had quite a bit of trepidation moving all my miniatures. I use a fast and loose way of storing my figures in plastic boxes, layered on bubble wrap sheets. Good enough to keep the paint job protected but only if the box is kept upright. If I dump it on its side, the figures are going to shift around. Throw in a bunch of jostling of the box and you can expect figures to be clanking against each other (and on the inner sides of the container). I totally expected that my shipped stuff would be tossed around like a beach ball, and stacked sideways or upside down in a shipping container that would make any Tetris player proud.

So I had to try to work out a solution and stuck with bubble wrap. Cutting small sheets, I rolled each figure in wrap with a bit of tape to keep it in place. The key is to make sure it’s lightly snug and not wrapped too tightly. For plastic figures especially, you can inadvertently bend or snap off fragile parts like rifle barrels so don’t wrap too tight. Some figures can even be wrapped two to a sheet, particularly prone figures by having the bottom of their bases facing each other. I dumped them in hard plastic containers, sealed the tops in packaging tape, and was good to go.

It did take some time. Don’t expect to do this in a night. Set time aside to do it. At a leisurely pace, I was able to get about 300 figures completed in a week. I cranked out a lot of figures just watching TV an hour or so a night. You certainly want to get this on your to do list for early packing though. Vehicles and tanks were done similarly, but I made sure to remove turrets and wrap them separately.

How did they ship? Just fine. Granted you have to be prepared to snip tape and unwrap a ton of models (more things to do while watching movies). But I can say my figures, both metal and plastic, made it across the world in one piece.

So if you have the time, consider this a solution for packing your miniatures. While you can buy expensive cases that can keep your figures snugly packed individually in foam it can be costly. For a budget (and a ton of models), wrapping minis in bubble wrap is a cheaper workaround.

Game Nite – Board games in Saint Louis

I’ve gotten some more opportunities to check out the options of board game stores in Saint Louis. Another popular haunt, especially for wargamers, is Game Nite. They carry quite a large selection of board games and miniatures. GW is pretty popular as well as Infinity. But other games like those from Privateer Press are carried also, in addition to paints and modelling supplies.

They have an expansive collection of board games and card games. Interestingly they also offer shelf space for used games. I imagine it’s more of a consignment system, but they allow for folks to unload older games. It seems worth giving them a gander too, as most of the offerings are near mint or lightly played. A great way to pick up on stuff that wanes in light of the ever-changing BGG hotness of the month.

There are also a fair number of tables for in store gaming. Not only are tables set up for miniature wargaming, but there are several tables for card and board games too. Both the weekends and weeknights look to be popular times to visit. I do believe that priority is given to people wanting to run organized events, so plan ahead accordingly if wanting to run a game for just your friends.

They also have a decent sized game library. Combined with ample table space, you’ve got plenty of opportunities to try new games out. Or potentially consider trying a game out before buying it. Pretty nice aspect of the store.

Game Nite is a good place to visit for board and card games (even for the miniature wargamer too), and certainly worth checking out their calendar of events to see if anything tickles your fancy.