Quick painting Russians – Contrast highlights and single wash

I’ve been plugging away at my russians making pretty good progression on them. I have a lot of figures to paint however. One of the nation rules for russians is you can get a free inexperienced 12 man rifle squad. That’s in addition to the three other squads I’m painting up. I’ve got a horde of comrades to paint.

Sadly, don’t have the space and set up to use an air compressor. That’s certainly something I want to dabble around with in the future. For now I’m stuck with hand painting everything. So I wanted to see about cutting corners some given I’ve have 50+ infantry to paint up.

Rather than put a lot of time into drybrushing highlights, I ended up using high contrast highlighting. The trick is to pick a lighter hue paint color and just touch on the clothing and parts that would catch most of the light. So you end up painting the folds and not the creases of jackets and tunics, lighten the top shoulders, highlight pant material around bent knees, etc. It will look a little off putting with the stark contrast, but that’s the result you want.
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You will end up following the highlight contrast with a wash. This is another trick I used to speed up painting some by sticking with one basic wash for the entire miniature. I use Vallejo paints and inks mostly. So I’ve got a nice selection of shades. However, for my russians I stuck with a single sepia ink wash for the entire figure. It’s a nice general wash that adds some tone to the figure and looks good over everything. More importantly, it helps blend in the high contrast highlights I gave to the miniature.
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One important bit is to soak up some of the excess wash that pools on the mini (particularly the feet). I used a paper towel corner that I twisted into a sharp point. Dabbing the end onto areas that have a lot of wash will draw up much of the excess, but leave enough behind to bring out the detail.

Some touch ups on the base, drybrush the boots some with a light grey, and a final sealing with a matte spray. Done. You get a nice effect by mixing the wash over the two colors of the tunic and pants. It’s quick and helps give some texture to figures that have a full uniform of a single color. A great technique if needing to speed paint a bunch of miniatures.RussianFinal

Netrunner has a new player problem

netrunnerI enjoy Netrunner and have been teaching a slew of players for a while now. There is something that seems to hinder getting players into the game though. A key point is that despite it having a decent core set, it’s just not that approachable to new players. What is looming in the background is this wall of cards that almost seems insurmountable to decipher and break through. There is so much and the pool of cards so vast, it becomes a deterrent to trying to learn. Compounded with this perception is the requirement of having to purchase a big box set of cards to get into the game.

I like the base game. The core set gives a nice spread of different card factions and best of all, certain cards are still staples in competitive decks today. Also compared to Magic and other CCGs, Netrunner is a complete bargain to get into. But oddly Magic seems to have a smaller hump to get into the game.

It’s the draft events. For Magic, booster drafts are highly popular. Players throw in some cash to buy a few booster packs and then draft a deck from a combined set of cards. Some additional support is needed by having several basic land cards for players to add to their deck. However, for new players it’s a way to walk away from a tournament with a set of cards that comprise a playable deck. These are pretty newbie friendly tournaments that don’t require a large initial investment.

Netrunner could use something similar. There are some draft packs that are available, but the drafting environment isn’t that newbie friendly. Fantasy Flight also has dabbled with offering the 2015 Championship Decks. These are corp and runner decks that are pre-assembled. Offhand I think it’s a great product to get people into playing Netrunner but there are some hiccups. One is that the corp deck isn’t currently tournament legal. Secondly, (aside from an apparent misprint for the card cost) the runner deck offers an odd milling strategy. However the idea is pretty solid and leads into a concept of offering Core Deck packs.

Essentially these core deck packs are teaching decks focused on a single corp or runner faction. Ideally the agendas would be all in faction. New players could buy a pack and have everything they need to play. The deck might dabble some into the other factions and have a small spread of neutral cards (more on that later). The key would be to not stack 3 of a specific card type. Instead have two at the most. With cards bleeding over into other factions, the decks could serve as an incentive to pick up another starter packs aligned with that faction, or possibly get a core set. And if a new core set was available, even better.

The pickle of course would be the tokens. You might go the route of having 2-3 mini sheets of tokens for tags, brain damage, a few virus counters, 8 or so 1 credit makers, and another sheet of just 5 credit tokens. But an alternative might be to offer cards with slot trackers on them to keep track of tags, and credits. Encouraging players to use coins, beads, and other tokens to push around on these cards to keep record of their resources. This leads into another point though of enticing new players to finally jump in for a Core Set 2.0.

Cards in the current core set are subject to errata, while some decks are simply illegal (and not just by by tourney play). Combined with the encroaching rotation, it would be a great time to consider a new core set. Not everything needs to be changed. Just a sprinkling of some new cards possibly introducing cards with similar abilities to those being rotated out with the first two data pack cycles. This is something die hard Netrunner fans would be interested in picking up to round out decks. And if a player has nibbled by buying in though core deck packs, they can finally get a full set of tokens and expand their pool of cards. Having their hands on neutral agendas in the core set might also be an especially great draw.

Another plus is that they’ve got some redundant cards to allow for more people to play out of the box along with previously purchased decks packs. Along with these core decks, now you could easily have 4 to 6 people to jump into a new core box and play for a night. Mind that this is something you can’t really do now with the current box set.

There are some obstacles to these core deck packs, especially the hump of having a full set of rules and enough tokens to play. However it’s worth expanding on the idea of ready-to-play decks and offering alternatives to buying into Netrunner rather than just snagging a core set. Something to keep in mind, these core decks don’t have to be super competitive to the tournament scene in general, just competitive to other core deck packs.

You could have events where players just have to buy a runner and corp deck of their choice and still be able to play right off the bat. If wanting to participate in other similar events, they could pick up a deck or two of other factions to switch things up some if wanted. This would also allow them to lessen the initial learning curve with a smaller card pool, as they don’t have to jump into the game with a core box of 7 different factions. In the end something like this might make getting into Netrunner a little less formidable, and potentially more approachable to new players.

Frostgrave in winter: the well of dreams and sorrows

Between games we use a structured turn order where you have limited actions. You can’t go all out and hit up every magic shop and recruit all the soldiers you want. You have to make some hard choices and are limited to a single action (while your apprentice can help out running off to handle another task). First, I decided to choose an inn for my base of operations. The route my warband was going, I was going to need all the bodies I could get on the table and having an extra warband slot would help. Also this sweetened the idea of getting more expensive soldier followers in the future, as I had room at my inn base to let them heal up if they got seriously hurt.

I first began trying to summon a medium construct which initially failed horribly by my wizard, Elvira. Fortunately it appears that Morgana, the apprentice, had been taking her arcane studies seriously and managed to cast it. At least I’d be able to fill in one missing slot from my two wounded soldiers.

For my two choices of actions I hired a thug for 20 crowns and then had my apprentice see what they could wrangle up at the potion vendor. Making my random rolls, I opted to pick up a lowly healing potion for 50 crowns. Feeling a bit more prepared Elvira likely spent the next evening planning the next expedition into the ruins to follow up on rumors of a mystical well.

My opponent and I decided to play the Well of Dreams and Sorrows scenario. This time around random creatures could potentially show up. One change from the rules was we rolled for a random monster the first time any model approached within 1” of a treasure token rather than when it was picked it up. This broke up the tactic of players being able to secure the area first and then get the fastest model to haul the loot in case a creature wandered onto the board.

I set up my warband into two clusters and my archer with his prized bow of +1 shooting ready to clamber up a tall building ruin. I’d be facing off against a summoner and figured that having a few bodyguards within reach of my wizard would be helpful if the opposing wizard summoned a demon nearby. I went second and scurried about using telekinesis to drag some treasure farther away from my opponent, while my apprentice cast strength on a nearby thug.

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Elvira, escorted by her retinue of thugs and a stone construct, eagerly nabs some treasure.

My wizard, Elvira was behind a bit of cover but peeking out to cast telekinesis last turn meant she could be seen by a crossbowman that took a shot. They rolled high enough to take off a chunk of health but my wizard could take the hit, after all I could cast Heal (as well as drink a potion of healing if needed). Meanwhile my left flank moved forward to secure some treasure. Sure enough, my opponent began to summon imps to harass my warband and my soldiers got stuck in.

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‘A summoner. Why’d it have to be a summoner? I hate summoners.’

I huddled up my wizard behind a wall and then took a gamble. Across the board another crossbowman was perched atop a ruin. I had a chance for my archer to take a shot against him and my wizard was holding a healing potion. I figured if I could risk being a target for a wild shot for one turn, I could pull a pile of treasure towards me, and next turn quaff my healing potion. I had Elvira peer out to cast telekinesis again, and dragged another treasure to within reach. Both my thieves managed to grab some treasure and began to scramble out of the area.

Then things got all pear shaped. My opponent lined up my wizard in his sights and fired off a bolt… rolling a 20. So much for risking waiting a turn to drink a healing potion. My wizard dropped to the ground doubled over with a bolt through her chest.

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‘That crossbowman across the way can’t possibly hit me from hea-THUNK!’

The left side began to fold also. My apprentice was getting peppered with Steal Health. I had scooped up some treasure and successfully whisked it away using leap, however both of us had approached most of the treasure on the board. While for much of the piles, no one had quite rolled a 16+ but eventually that was going to happen. Sure enough an armored skeleton was rolled on the chart. Now the way all the warbands were spread out, I was in a better position. For both sides of the board my opponent had moved up their wizard and apprentice. I had a 1 in 4 chance of the skeleton stumbling out of the ruins on my edge of the board… which is exactly what happened.

Morgana the apprentice was just far away enough to be out of its grasp for a turn. I had a choice. Do I have my bowman fire off a shot, hoping to take it out and cast Leap on a thief to get treasure off the board? Or instead do I try to back off, run away, and keep my distance from the armored skeleton? I chose to cast Leap, my bowman missed, and the armored skeleton got into combat with my apprentice. Two turns later the skeleton cut my apprentice down and shambled towards another soldier. To add insult to injury, my opponent’s crossbowman finally took out my archer.

On the other side of the board, the summoner in the opposing warband rolled decent for summoning a demon, but decided to push the casting roll for a higher result. Now a minor demon was rampaging about rather than a lowly imp. His warhound and demon rushed my other thugs and construct to engage in a melee. After a few rounds the demon tore through my troops, but not after losing much of its health (and the warhound getting cut down).

On the left side of the board I decided I had enough, having my buffed up thug climb the ruined building and take out the enemy crossbowman. My opponent obliged and ended up getting another two thugs to join the fray. At least in that combat I made a lasting impression, cutting down the crossbowman and and two other thugs, only to be taken out by his health being sapped away from a Steal Health spell. The game ended on the sixth turn and all of my warband members being either killed or off the board with treasure. To add to my trouncing, the summoner teleported up to the edge of the well and was able to drink from it before the game ended.

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‘FOR WANDA! Er… Morgana!’

The proof was in the pudding. I only managed to cast 3 spells to my opponent’s 8. A horrible outing combined with falling behind in the league further, as I did not get enough experience to level up but a few. I took a risk and got trounced with my wizard, and the same could be said for my apprentice. I’m a bit eager to get all my soldiers out and about to secure treasure. I likely need to have a few linger, especially for those random creatures that might pop up.

Fortunately all of the warband recovered, except for my bowman that died taking this magic bow with him (and 300 gold crowns!). I also lost my potion of healing I picked up for my wizard, Elvira. For the most part I’ve been very lucky with losses and got a feeling I am pushing fate. Eventually I am going to get hit with much of my warband succumbing to their wounds. I need to try and curb my losses some in future games.

Treasure was a nice haul though. I gained a grimoire of Embed Enchantment, got a little cash, and couple of nice potions of Invisibility and Invulnerability. I bumped up my health and fighting stats. I might consider looking into buying and learning Enchant Armor. However I am only sitting on 350 crowns and am worried if I get hit with a really bad game, I might be wiped out budget wise if I pick up a grimoire as they cost 500 gold each.

The good news though was since my medium construct was still alive I could risk casting a few superfluous spells and was fortunate to successfully cast Write Scroll twice. I ended up with a scroll of Healing and of Elemental Bolt. At least with those scrolls combined with the potions, I can ensure I have some defense (and a little offense) for the next engagement.

Frostgrave in winter: the first expedition into the ruins

Our campaign kicked off a few weeks ago and the first expedition into the ruins by Bitches’ Brew was a complete disaster. I faced off against a chronomancer who cleverly used an old ork Mordheim gang for their warband. I started off with a gamble trying to summon a medium construct before the game which fizzled horribly despite having a casting number of 11. Fortunately it was an out of game spell, so my wizard’s head didn’t explode. However it pretty much set the tone for the game which went into a downward spiral from there.

I mostly flanked one edge of the table with my apprentice and had my wizard head off to the center to scoop up some treasure.
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My opponent got two warhounds which headed off my apprentice and a barbarian that managed to get into a scrum with my wizard. Fortunately my wizard had a man-at-arms and a thug within melee distance to get into the fight.
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Unfortunately for my apprentice, the thug accompanying her tried to make a grab for some treasure and left her high and dry.
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All the while those precious turns I was locked in melee, my opponent could cast freely. While he wasn’t doing many direct damage spells, leaping a few crossbowmen up to a tower to try and snipe off my soldiers wasn’t pleasant. I managed to take out his barbarian and a thug from the game, but not before his warhounds dragged down my enchanter.
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In return he took out my entire warband save for an archer and two thieves that got a haul of treasure off the board (thank god my leap spells worked at least). In the end he cast 8 spells to my 3. I fizzled a lot of 8-10 casting spells too and had a fair share of abysmal rolls.

My opponent was able to only get 3 piles of treasure off including a grimoire and several choice scrolls. I managed to snag a +1 shooting bow. As for my other treasure I eagerly rolled to see what loot I found and rolled… a 1, just a measly 160 gold crowns. Even the gods of fortune were mocking my warband.

The good news thankfully was that my wizard and apprentice survived the encounter with only bruises to their ego. I managed to escape with much of my warband intact except for some scrapes and bruises. However one of my archers and the man-at-arms were far too injured to make another go and would have to sit out the next battle. I decided to hole up in an inn and make it my base of operations as I planned out my next expedition.

While my opponent got almost 4 levels of experience, I only got one. I decided to double down on enchant construct and lower its casting cost by one to a base of 7. I limped away from the battle with a couple of painfully learned lessons. I need to keep one caster well out of combat. While I wasn’t worried too much about losing my wizard, the simple fact that I could not cast anything several turns locked in a fight killed my chance for getting that precious experience from casting spells. Tactically I was fairly solid, as my soldiers were within range from both spell casters for most of the game. But I slipped up when I forgot they could do an intercept move. When my wizard and apprentice were rushed, I could have had another soldier step up to cut off my opponent. Something I need to remember next time.

I never managed to get a decent shot off between my two archers (mostly due to horrible rolls). But they did provide a threat and kept a few soldiers scurrying for cover rather than rushing to treasure. At the very least they also occupied my opponent’s crossbowmen with a few volleys back and forth as they tried to pick each other off. My man-at-arms though performed well. I have to admit having high armored troops helps a lot. While he didn’t have much success landing blows, that few extra points in armor meant my opponent had to really roll high to get any serious damage through. I might see about getting an armor enchant spell to toughen up my soldiers some in the future.

Netrunner Click-Credit Trackers

I dig Netrunner. While I have reservations recommending it to folks, I certainly enjoy it. Lately I’ve lamented some on how much it has dominated my free time gaming. I find I’ve fallen down the rabbit hole of deckbuilding and picking up cards for the LCG.

While Netrunner is rather portable, it does require a lot of tokens and markers. I also end up teaching players a lot and while I like the play aids that come with the game, I thought it could be better designed to incorporate both a click tracker and a reminder of player actions on one card.

In addition to that, I thought about using cards to also track credits. Splitting them up into single and 5 credit values on two different cards seemed acceptable. So I went to work and whipped some up on a single sheet.

They are ugly, amatuer designed aids, but functional. The trackers also don’t completely solve the token issue. You’ll still need tokens for bad publicity, tags, recurring credits, virus counters, and advancement markers. But with a little creativity and some different denominations of coins, you could likely cut down on the number of markers you need to lug around using the trackers.

You can print them up on cardstock, or use paper and laminate them if wanting something to take a bit more wear and tear (or just sleeve them like I did). I think they work pretty well. You can find them in the downloads section and I hope folks find a use for them around the table.clicktrackera

Frostgrave in winter: Bitches’ Brew – the warband

FrostgraveWe’ll be starting our Frostgrave campaign soon. Last time I mentioned my enchanter wizard and the different spells in her spellbook. I thought I’d continue on with choices for how I filled out my warband. As always, I had to also pick up an apprentice for 200 gold. You are really severely limiting your warband by not having one. The other bonus is that they can offer group activation for another three models. However I see it more having her there for buffs and support over raw damage, as they don’t cast as well as their master. That leaves me with 300 gold to fill out my warband. Keeping with my wizard, I’m using a Reaper Bones mini to represent my apprentice.

For my soldier followers I am opting to use proxies. I think a few choice selections from my Saxon and Viking warbands for SAGA will do for now. I’m using primarily figures from Wargames Factory and Gripping Beast. They are each decent plastic kits with the Gripping Beast figures being pretty nice. Both sets are an exceedingly good value though and for practically disposable fodder in Frostgrave, not a bad choice as minis.

You need to get treasure off the board. Having some models that can squeeze out an extra inch of movement is helpful. So I have two thieves that will be my dedicated treasure haulers with their move of 7”. They are pretty pitiful in combat so I am intending to drag treasure towards them and have them work on getting loot off the table. Having two would cost me 40 gold.

Next up are a couple of bowmen. Getting hit by arrows is not fun. Unlike melee where you’ve got a chance to return a heavy blow back, being the recipient of ranged combat means you either get killed or have to hunker down and take arrows being shot at you. Also at a two foot range on a 3’ by 3’ board, a bow is nothing to sniff at. I could have gone the route of crossbowmen, but I wanted the flexibility of being able to move and shoot and right now I don’t expect to need heavy hitting bolts, my opponents likely are using lightly armored troops for now. So two archers are a good buy at the minimum, costing me another 100 gold.

The next purchase was a bit of a extravagance but I decided to pick up one man-at-arms. Not really a heavy hitting soldier but has a little more defense. Buffed up by my wizard or apprentice, they can offer a bodyguard of sorts if needed. Likely they won’t do much but having one within a few inches of my wizard will potentially sway off that odd soldier rushing in to fight my wizard in hand to hand. Getting one would set me back 80 gold.

Lastly, to have a few more bodies I ended up getting some cheap thugs. At 20 gold each they hit a little harder than a thief and can drag off some treasure. Ganged up they can also deal out some damage, so I expect them to flank along with my thieves or possibly work as a team together. Getting two would cost me another 40 gold.

Finally I am going cheap and using my enchanter school spells for all their worth. I plan on casting enchant construct for a medium construct before the game (and hope I am successful getting the spell off). A nice bit is that they stay around until destroyed, just like a hireling. Although the bad part is I have to roll for their fate just like a soldier if they are removed. I’m hoping to save a little cash in between games and be able to scrounge up for one or two heavy hitters. So it’ll be risky but allow me some more cash to replenish casualties, or pick up more expensive soldiers later.

The entire warband is 460 gold, leaving me 40 in my treasury. Going with a powerful enchanter wizard and her aspiring enchantress apprentice, I can easily see the hired thugs taking up a rough and tumble name. Likely it was something muttered jovially over a few mugs of ale, out of earshot from their employers. But I expect after a while the wizard took it up with some grudging endearment. So I’m eager to start up my campaign and see how Bitches’ Brew fares exploring the ruins of Frostgrave.

Review: Bolt Action – Armies of Germany 2nd edition

germanarmy2ndOne nice thing that Osprey and Warlord Games is doing with the new edition of Bolt Action is pretty much keeping all the older army books usable. No updates will be made to them. The exception though would be the german army. When Bolt Action first hit, the germans seemed to have gotten stuck with the first army book curse.

A hallmark of 40K was that with each new edition, there would be several new codex books released updating all the races. Commonly the first book would end up being ‘underpowered’ compared to the other armies that were released later. More cool ideas and better balancing (or imbalances) would come out after a new edition was released. Typically the first army book would have point costs and choices that seemed ideal on paper, but after a few years of essentially further playtesting from the community at large, later releases of army books would have better options and point costs more in line with their relative value on the tabletop. Sadly, this was viewed from many the same for Bolt Action regarding the germans.

I’ll start off and cover stuff that hasn’t much changed from the first edition. You still get a nice product that covers the german army and various units that were seen throughout the war. There is a brief historical overview of the conflicts and different theaters the german army participated in, then a breakdown of the force organization and options for a reinforced platoon, followed up by theater specific force lists. The layout follows the new format seen in the force lists of the 2nd edition book, which I think is a little easier to read and digest. I haven’t gotten too deep in the lists, but for the most part it seems the costs and unit options are the same as the first version.

The german army has a few new nation rules though. The replacement of fallen NCOs and Hitler’s buzzsaw (LMG and MMGs get an extra d6 shooting) are still in place. One big change is that all german officers get an extra die for giving orders to other units. In effect a 2nd Lt. acts like a 1st Lt., and a 1st Lt. pulls 3 dice like a captain, etc. which is a big change. With the right deployment you can get very effective turns activating several units within command range. I like this new rule for the german army and it’s something that somewhat reflects the discipline and leadership much of the army had in WW2.

The other new nation rule which is a little more flaky is Tiger Fear. Every enemy unit that sees a vehicle with this special rule acts as if it has an additional pin except for orders to fire on that vehicle. Now for a Panther or an actual Tiger, I could see this as a nice flavor rule. But this also applies to the Panzer IV which to me sort of pushes that into OP territory. You suddenly have a medium tank that can make it difficult for enemy units being able to advance and take objectives, simply by seeing it on the table. I expect Tiger Fear to be heavily house-ruled for many people.

You have a scattering of a few new units. Ambulance vehicles can now be chosen which operate as both a transport and as a medic unit, which is interesting. Additionally there is a special section at the end which covers units and vehicles that had night vision gear for those night fight games.

The Good – This is a fairly comprehensive book for players that want to field a german army for Bolt Action. You get a lot of options including several special units and theater lists that cover much of the war including a few that have some special rules for engagements at certain time periods (such as limited fuel for the end of the war, or unreliable new production panther tanks that were mid-war). I like that the german army also has a few extra nation-specific rules which can bolster their force some. As typical for these books there is a lot of great Osprey artwork and photographs, along with a comfortable layout to read the unit choices and costs.

The Bad – Aside from the few extra paragraphs for the nation specific rules, you aren’t going to find much different from the first edition. There are a few minor changes here and there (such as light infantry mortars no longer being able to fire smoke rounds). But essentially the point costs and unit selections are just about the same. On one hand you might be pleased with this, meaning you don’t have to alter up the composition of your platoons much. But on the other hand, if you think there were glaring imbalances with point costs for certain units, they are likely still there.

The Verdict – If you are a new Bolt Action player and fancy fielding a german platoon, this is a must buy. You get so many options and choices, along with lots of theater-specific lists to let you dabble in more historic TOE forces, it’s worth getting. It’s also an attractive book with a lot of material to offer a decent source of information for both painting and modelling, as well as a touch of history.

If you are an older player of german forces, this might be worth picking up. You could likely take a pencil to the older edition and mark down the few special rules and changes to some key units. Other than that, you could simply commit the new nation rules to memory and work with your old book. You aren’t going to find much here that is new or different from the first edition. In fact, I’d say embrace a more environmentally sound choice and possibly get the PDF version and alter the few special rules in your old print edition manually.

It’s an attractive book and the new nation rules are worth noting. However it’s likely not something you absolutely need to have a print version of if you’ve got the older edition (just use the new nation rules). Yet for new players, the 2nd edition is certainly something to buy if playing a german army. A pleasant book with some more material other than just unit profiles and force selectors to serve as an enjoyable light read for a german army enthusiast.

Wargaming supplies in Seoul: Neighbor Hobby

Scouring around for places to pick up paints and supplies I stumbled across likely the new Mecca for hobby supplies for me, Neighbor Hobby. It’s nestled away unassumingly in the lower floor of an office building. But despite it’s location, they have a pretty amazing stock of model kits of all sorts.
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There is a great selection of military models. Unfortunately for fans of Bolt Action, they carry only Tamiya 1/48 kits, but they seem to have a full selection from that line. As 1/72 and 1/76 scale kits go though, they have a great choice of tanks, soldiers, and terrain. With buildings I usually use 20 mm, even for 28mm stuff as it keeps a smaller footprint on the table and looks okay. I find true 28mm scale buildings just a little too big and even the smallest 2 story house seems to dwarf the rest of the table terrain. So having a lot of building model kits for sale was a pleasant surprise.
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Now for paints, brushes, and other supplies you are set. There is a great selection of paints from Testors, Tamiya, AK Interactive, MIG, as well as my go to for painting, Vallejo. It’s a wonderful amount of choices and stock for both brush and airbrush painters. They also carry a complete selection of Testors and Tamiya sprays. Well worth checking out.
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To get there isn’t too difficult. Take subway line 2 to Hongik University and get off exit number 3. You need to cross the street and footpath park and take a side street, then go right. Once you hit a main street go left and it will be in an office building.

Blue pin near the top marks the location.

Blue pin near the top marks the location.

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The entrance is actually a bit odd. Going behind the building from the parking lot you enter on the first floor. You will follow a long hall towards the elevator, and can find the shop directly.
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However if you enter the front of the building you are actually on the 2nd floor and have to take the lift down to the 1st floor.

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All in all Neighbor Hobby is a fantastic place to pick up military models, paints, and modeling supplies. It certainly is one of the top places to get wargaming model supplies in the city. It’s also in the same neighborhood as Rolling Dice so a great stop to get a double scoop of geek supplies while in Seoul.

Frostgrave in winter: the wizard

As I last mentioned I’ll be starting a Frostgrave campaign soon. I also sort of sketched out how we will play out the campaign some. So I sat down and tried to figure out how what wizard to play.

Given we are playing a campaign, that opens up a lot of potential spells to consider. Spells that would allow some greater mobility such as leap and teleport now are a lot more important since it’s all about getting the treasure. Also out of game spells have some more use with stuff happening between games to maintain the warband.

As miniatures go, I managed to snag some Reaper Bones. They are pretty cheap and have nice detail. They are somewhat a soft plastic and even with boiling and bending (followed by a good dunk into ice water), some parts will be a little droopy. However you do get some nice figures for the price. As spellcasters go Reaper also offers a plethora of choices.

I decided to used a female wizard and latched onto the idea of her being more a subtle caster rather than some fireball flinging figure of raw destruction. Taking that to heart I looked into the enchanter school of magic. Really for the most part I fell in love with the idea of creating constructs. I realized they were clunky and not too useful, but the concept of having a soldier that could just be summoned was pretty cool so animate construct was a must.
enchanter
The other spells in their school are pretty supplemental to a warband, adding a small bonus here and there to their profiles. I’ll picked up strength to add some teeth to my soldiers (especially the rather timid hitting medium construct). None of the other enchanter spells called out to me so much. The exception of course was telekinesis. I saw it not only as a way to ferry treasure to my thugs, but also scoot it away from my enemy’s warband.

I see enchanter as saving cash for picking up more and better followers, casting enchantments to provide more permanent buffs though magical gear, rather than using found treasure. The kicker of course is I have to hope that I can get grimoires as treasure and luck out rolling the spells I need. Unlikely, but I can always dream big.

I now needed to select a spell from my aligned schools. From witchcraft I chose fog as I wanted some area effect type of spell and figured being able to throw up something that would block LOS for those pesky archers would be helpful (not to mention spell slinging wizards). From the sigilist school I chose write scroll. It’s an out of game spell but a useful way to keep a heal or movement spell in my back pocket for when I absolutely needed to get a spell off.

Lastly I chose elemental bolt from the elementalist school for my final aligned spell. Just straight up damage and you can’t ignore that +8 shooting attack. It’s going to be a bit tough casting as an aligned school but I’ll just have to make due (and it might be something to scribe in a scroll).

For my final neutral schools I went with some low casting number spells. The penalty (especially with my apprentice) is pretty steep and most likely trying to cast a 12+ level spell just ain’t gonna happen. I chose the thaumaturgy spell, heal, as it’s always helpful trying to keep a wizard on their feet. From the summoner school I picked up leap which is just such a useful spell to cast. I’m hoping with the casting value of 8 for those spells I’ll have better luck getting them off.

It’s going to be a challenge going the route of more support for a main school over another that is raw damage. We’ll see how it works out but I am looking forward to seeing what other schools my opponents select and eager to see how our first game shakes out in the next few weeks.

Frostgrave in winter: establishing the campaign

FrostgraveSo after a small local gaming event (Alleycon 2016) folks I played with were keen to get a short campaign running. Nothing major, just 5 or so games to see how a longer, continuous game with wizard advancement would work for us. So much of the game is geared to having out-of-game spells, which have a role more in maintaining and supporting your warband over raw power on the table. I am eager to see how these type of spells impact the larger game, if you will.

As much as I enjoy Frostgrave and appreciate the approach of a fast and loose wargame, I felt we needed some better ground rules. There is some stuff open to abuse and I’ve got a crafty gaming group. If they see an advantage that they can game, they’ll pounce on it. So I thought it better to try and lay a groundwork for the campaign that we’d all agree with.

Modified campaign rules – Frostgrave seems to have a Mordheim problem with warband advancement. After a few losses, you are likely going to fall behind and never catch up as the rich just get richer. So I worked with some community stuff out there and whipped up a version we’ll be using for our game. One particular thing I like about the rules people have thrown together is that the campaign management actions are limited. You can’t buy just anything and you have to choose carefully how you spend your time preparing for the next battle. I dig that.

There are a couple of changes I made to my older version of the campaign rules, one was the game length. Now instead of likely 5 turns there is a 50% chance of having a turn 6. After that there is a 10% chance of the game getting further turns. I like this as there is certainly a time limit and you have to push to get things done, but if you need to squeeze out another turn of movement, you have a decent chance of getting one.

Rules for placing treasure – Some campaign changes revolve around rules for placing treasure. First off placing treasure can be abused. Models carrying treasure can exit any board edge and the official rules state you can place treasure at least 9″ from your table edge. To curb any abuse plopping treasure a couple of inches from the side edge, treasure also must be at least 6″ from a neutral table edge. This means that players are going to need at least 2 turns to get treasure off the table. Another change is that at least one treasure out of the three must be 12″ from the player’s table edge.

Choosing sides for deployment – A last change to ensure a more fair game is that players both set up the terrain and treasure first, then roll to determine deployment zones. Both roll off and the player that rolled the highest can decide to either go first, or decide which table edge they want to deploy from. So this makes for a fun choice. They can choose to get the initiative on the first turn, or instead opt for the side that they think gives them the best terrain layout. And since no one knows if what option is available, they will try to set up terrain and treasure so that no one has a distinct advantage (unless they want to gamble they can win the first roll and select where to deploy).

Winning the campaign – This likely isn’t a perfect system but we are working along keeping a running advancement total. This is determined by the sell value of treasure, gold crowns, and XP of the wizard, with base improvements (as per listed costs) also being added in. The player with the most advancement points wins. So it’s all about cash and XP basically. The tough choice was to include improving the warband, but I decided against it. Folks can hoard their cash if they want to, as spending crowns to get soldiers won’t help their advancement total. But having more bodies means you can likely get treasure off the board, so in a roundabout way, the advancement points lost (as spend gold) buying a thief likely pays in spades if you get more treasure during a game because of the follower. We’ll see how that works out.

Select scenarios – Mostly this is due to available terrain, but I also wanted us to have the same number and types of scenarios we would all play. The first and last games would be regular battles without any special rules or terrain. The three games in the middle of the campaign would be three specific scenarios that could be played in any order. The Living Museum, the Well of Dreams and Sorrows, and the Complex Temple were selected as they don’t require much of a special table layout (like the Library or Silent Tower) and something we could work with given our available models.

I’m looking forward to our winter campaign. I am hoping to get some battle reports written up but likely they will be simple recaps. I usually get so wrapped up while gaming I forget to take pictures. However I hope this will end up being a fun little series of posts to put up and document how my warband fares through the campaign.