Sunday, April 20, 2014

Battles & Beer!

This  weekend we enjoyed our bi-monthly Battles&Beer Saturday at the Karwansaray premises.

The day definitely an American flavour since we played Muskets & Tomahawks and Blackpowder AWI. Jasper showed his concept for big games with few figures by using single stands for entire battallions. It worked very well and gave us a lot of units on a relatively huge table.

It was gorgeous weather, so a perfect day to shut ourselves indoors with out tin soldiers!

The American Rebels scored a smashing victory on the unlucky British.

We concluded the day with bock beer and delicious food.

Witchfinder General next time!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Building simple wargaming houses

There are some lovely wargaming buildings around. One of my favorites are the Conflix houses. Pretty, compact and not unreasonably  priced they are very attractive. However, a village will still set you back a few hundred Euros and they are a bit hard to come by. So I decided to try and build something similar myself. 

The inspiration for the project was a building by Conflix, called the Merchant's House if I am not mistaken. Below a picture of the original. 

I decided on the cheapest of materials available to me. Foamboard (left to me in huge quantities by the marketing department of a past employer), coffee stirrers, packing netting and cornflakes packaging. 

The parts were drawn and cut. Sizes were somewhat estimated using the figures next to the building. Use really sharp knives and a metal ruler to cut foamboard and discard the knife as soon as the tearing begins. 

The parts were glued together with a hot glue gun. I drew the timber scheme on the house with a permanent marker and then glued the timbering in place with PVA glue. Timbers were made from coffee stirrers and cut with a pair of pliers for speed. Sawing and sanding would of course produce a better result, but I was aiming for simple and fast. 

The windows were made from pieces of netting, glued underneath the window sills. Rooftiles were cut from an old cornflakes pack and glued separately on the roof. Not very fast I hear you think, but it is the only way to produce  the battered look of the original. 

The chimney is simply cut from a piece of styrofoam. Be sure to coat it with PVA Glue before spray-coating it or it will melt completely. 

The entire house was then primed black and painted with acrylics. I avoided details that would give away the scale, like a door post sign or a rain barrel, so the house would work equally well in 20mm and 28mm scale. This was the result: 

Sunday, April 6, 2014

The making of The Raid: how a scenario is born.. Part 3: The Building

On with the show. Now the scenario and rules have taken shape, further building can continue! 

Roofs will be detachable. Doors and gates must be able to open and close. The buildings must allow for a lot of cover, given the lethality of missiles in the Ronin rules. And where would a ninja sneak if there is nothing to hide behind? Besides that, the building should look distinctly Japanese! This calls for a maximum of clichés and the watching of some samurai movies while making a list: shoji doors, tatami floor coverings, cherry blossom trees in a Zen garden, a little arched bridge, curved roof ornaments and Buddha statues in some of the rooms. A Chinese food-and-novelty shop proved a treasure trove!

The building was undertaken in my proven fashion. Sturdy foamboard outer walls with small windows detailed with balsa and basewood timber would hold the roof made of cardboard. 

I decided on rooftiles instead of thatch: the owner of the manor is supposed to be rich and powerful enough to warrant assassination after all! There are lots of expensive and laborious ways to make rooftiles but being a stingy and lazy peasant I chose corrugated cardboard, cut in strips and glued in layers overlapping each other. Once painted this is remarkably effective. The top of the outer wall would be likewise tiled.

Interior walls will have to be double-walled to enable the sliding shoji doors to move into the walls. All interior doors and doors opening into the courtyard and garden have to follow this pattern. As shoji doors are relatively easy to break through, opening them would signify a broken or opened door, needed to either look or walk into a room. The doors are made from plasticard, as they would have to be moved around a lot and need to be resistant to friction and sliding. 

I make extensive use of printed paper to decorate the rooms and walls. Wall panneling, floor planks and stuff like paintings and screens are all googled, printed and glued. Be aware that the usual printer paper is too thin to take glue well (see the regrettable result on the floor in the picture below) so take thick paper to print on when you have to glue large surfaces like floors.

Rooms get foamboard lids resting on the interior walls to prevent the attacker (and up to a point the defender) from finding out what is in them too soon.

Wooden gates and exterior doors, reinforced to enhance the fortified nature of the manor, are made of glued basewood (praise the Heavens for coffee stirrers!) and move on dollhouse hinges.The same technique is applied to the double front gate and the rear garden door.

The garden presented me with a challenge in that it would need a pond. So different ground levels were built using thick cardboard and construction paste. The garden would then lay higher than the courtyard, but as these two spaces are separated by one wing of the manor this is not disturbing. Grass would be flocked around the pond, cherry trees fit into the garden (and can be replaced with bare winter trees) and fine gravel is glued onto the paths in (hopefully very Zen-like) patterns. The roof gets some simple ornaments. The building is then painted. I try to use as much cheap acryls as possible. 

The lanterns are beads from a huge box with all kind of beads I bought years ago.

All that remains is the interior detailing. I always add a lot of prints for interior and exterior decoration. All are found on the Internet. Used are several different wood patterns, Japanese art and such. Japanese rooms were sparsely furnished in any case and as this is essentially a wargaming table enough room should be available for moving figures around. So tatami floor coverings and some ornaments (Buddhas, a wire Bonsai on a plasticard table or a vase made of a large bead) made up the furniture.  Added to these was a scratchbuilt rack of bows and arrows and some wooden boxes, some of which could contain an arquebus, powder and shot.

I also made modern furniture so I can use the manor for modern games as well. Below is the Oyabun's office. Mind the aquarium! All items are largely made from plasticard (old gift cards and credit cards) and plastic sprue or tubing. 

The local Chinese store also produced a lot of useful stuff. The screens are again prints. 

A rack of bows from the bit box and some balsa wood. 

The garden. Mind the loose cherry trees. They can be replaced by bare winter trees for winter games. 

And the courtyard. Park your horse or BMW here (depending on the game played). 

 I need to add a sword rack because it looks so darn Japanese and for any players that like a less bloody scenario in which the ninja steal something instead of kill someone. Whether they do so with or without violence, I am not able to predict. But I have my suspicions….

Let the Raid begin!


Thanks to Peter's generous donation I was able to add this Ancestral Sword Rack and Offspringly Firearms Locker! 

Saturday, March 29, 2014

The Making of the Raid Pt 2: The scenario

A scenario for Ronin

The assassination of the chief occupant of a large fortified manor or, if you are feeling less bloodthirsty, the stealing of a precious object like an ancestral sword or idol.

The house should be large, full of separate interior and exterior spaces that –in case of the interior ones- can be blinded to one or both players.

Attacker: six rank 3 ninjas, armed with katana and shuriken. They may share among them 2 rope-and-grapplehooks, 3 smoke grenades and 1 blowpipe with poisoned darts.

Defender: 1 rank 3 Daimyo (the target) with katana, 10 unarmoured samurai with katana, (9 rank 3, 1 rank 4) and about six to ten rank 1 civilians: servants and the Daimyo’s family, with no or improvised weapons.

The raid may be executed in night or in daytime (attackers choice).

At the start of the game the defender allocates all figures to spaces of the manor, represented by dice. He does this by throwing a die for each figure into a room that he wants the figure to be in and blinding the room. The Daimyo has a green die, his samurai red ones (yellow for the rank 4) and the civilians white ones. He may distribute his figures as he sees fit during daytime, but at nighttime he is limited to rooms inside the house, apart from two sentries that he may post near the main gate, the rear (garden) gate and in the square at the front of the house.

The daimyo and his wife get a room for themselves. The samurai must occupy at least two other rooms. Every room containing samurai must contain at least one civilian.

Figures placed in exterior spaces are immediately represented by the models, as they can be seen by the attacker. Figures in interior spaces are represented by the initially invisible dice in the blinded spaces and are only represented by models when revealed.

When entering an interior space, the attacker may remove the blind. Figures will then be substituted for the dice. The Defender may remove blinds at any time. The dice scores tell him the state of awareness of its inhabitants:

                        Awake  asleep
Daytime            1-5       6
Nighttime          6          1-5

Awake inhabitants will immediately notice the entering ninja. Sleeping inhabitants will only do so on a roll of 6 and will then awake. Awakening figures may use an Attack chip or an Action to sound the alarm.  Awake rolls will be made by each sleeping figure for each turn ninja(s) move into, through or in the same space. Running ninjas add a +1 to an Awake roll. Ninjas doing nothing will not trigger awake rolls. Awake rolls MAY be made by the defender every time noise occurs for every figure in the manor.

The attacker then chooses one or more directions of attack. He may attack from one or several sides, starting at least one normal move outside the manor’s walls. The game then begins.

Noise and Confusion:
Ninja will usually be able to move silently. However, using grenades, forcing walls or shoji doors, shouts of alarm, falling off a roof or wall and sounds of combat will make a lot of noise and trigger Awake rolls. Using grappling hooks to climb walls or roofs may result in a noisy fumble. Using a grappling requires a ranged attack. Any result of 1 is a fumble and is classified as noise.

All these awake rolls will receive a +4 modifier within one space, +3 within 2, +2 within 3 etcetera. Any result of 6 is always an Awakening. Awake inhabitants will always hear the noise and may act accordingly.

Due to the mazelike nature of the manor, mere noise will not tell the inhabitants exactly what is going on. However, the defender may unblind spaces and start activating and moving awake inhabitants either toward (samurai) or away (civilians) from the noise, via the shortest route.  This will of course alert the attacker to their actions and vicinity and perhaps the location of the target.

These are the awake guardians of the garden and the courtyard. A sentry makes a daytime awake roll at the start of the game as soon as the defender may want to activate him (and therefore may be asleep on a roll of 6).

As long as they do not hear Noise, they move randomly on a scatter die + D6 inches, They may not move inside the building or outside the walls but "deflect" against the walls. A guard always faces in the direction he walks in and has a 90 degrees field of vision.

Sneak attacks
Sneaking up on a guard from behind and killing him gives the attacker one freely enhanced attack (for one Attack chip only) against a target that may not enhance his defence. A grievous wound or better results in a soundless subdue and the guard is out for the game. A light wound or less causes noise and enables the guard to raise the alarm.

Killing sleeping inhabitants works the same. However it makes a little noise. All surviving sleepers in the same space will get another Awake roll +1. Effects are invoked instantly.  

Special weapons

Smoke grenade:
A ninja may drop or throw a smoke grenade while moving (max 6") at any point of his move. Throwing requires a ranged attack of at least 7. Place a 5" smoke cloud over the area. Ninja may move freely through this cloud. Samurai may move as desired, but in a random direction. Bumping into each other ends the move for both figures for this turn. The cloud dissipates at the end of the turn.

Blow pipe
One ninja wields a blowpipe with poisoned darts. Range 12",  -3 against all armoured opponents. Any result of a wound is a Critical Wound. May not move and fire. May only fire once per turn.

Victory conditions
Succeeding in the mission yields victory to the Attacker. Failing does so to the Defender. Play the scenario twice, switching sides the second time, to determine who wins the game. 

Victory conditions:
A succesfull assassination (or theft) yields the Attacker 6 points. A killed ninja yields the Defender 1 point. This enables a draw.

Weapon caskets:
The Defender may place a weapon casket in two rooms. These caskets contain one yumi with arrows or one teppo with powder and shot. Emptying a casket takes a turn. The teppo needs to be loaded as well.

Only 5 ninja attack the building from outside. One samurai is in reality an infiltrator and may  reveal himself as a ninja. He is controlled by the Defender as long as he is "asleep" and until the ninja player takes over once he is awakened and activated by the Defender.

Thanks go to Ivo and Gerco for playtesting and improving the rules. 

Friday, March 7, 2014

The making of The Raid: how a scenario is born... Part 1

Anyone who has ever written a game scenario before knows that is a very grateful job, usually quite an amount of work and also a bit like cooking: you play it a lot faster than you cook it up!

For me researching and writing scenarios is an essential and enjoyable part of the hobby. Usually it also involves building and painting stuff, as I have yet to write the first scenario for which I already have all the terrain, figures and props. In most cases, acquiring a single prop item is the spark that sets of the whole creative process. So my ideas usually start small and unexpectedly.

My biggest (and so far only) failure in wargaming projects ever was my uber-ambitious 20mm Samurai Twin Army Project. After acquiring nearly a thousand figures and about 8 years I had to admit, looking at about two dozen painted ones, that I was beat. So when I came upon an advert for the then still to be published ruleset Ronin I knew life was giving me a second chance!

The cover of two bedraggled samurai fighting on a mountain path set the creative juices flowing. The set looked good and I –always a sucker for a good deal- pre-ordered the book and a bag of 28mm miniatures. While I was still painting these ideas blossomed (cherry-blossomed actually) for terrain and buildings and alongside the painting I built a Shinto shrine and the classic Tori gate. Perhaps vague memories of Shogun were stirred at that time. Who knows? In any case, at Crisis Antwerp the good people of Karwansaray Publishing treated me on their great samurai demo. Even during play I instinctively knew I had to buy some more ninja's and Japanese civilians. One never knows... about 2 minutes after finishing the demo game, I bagged the last Perry ninja set at the show, which surely must have been a favourable sign.

In the car on the way home from Antwerp I pondered a game featuring a ninja raid (the Ronin book has a scenario for one) and an idea started forming in my head of building terrain on a more grand scale. Bit by bit I could already see a large Japanese fortified manor looming in the distance.

I like to make stuff with my hands and not for the first time I started painting figures, drawing sketches and building stuff before the game itself was properly thought out. Sketches developed from doodles in the margins of work notes to full drawings and schematics for building the walls, shoji doors etc. Being busy with work related studies for a while and finding myself without time to build and paint I amused myself with thinking out construction of roofs and doors, layout plans and specific rules for the game to add to the standard raid scenario. Ordering stuff of course takes only a moment so some cherry blossom trees made their way to me from somewhere in South East Asia. One cannot play a medieval Japanese skirmish game without those. Don’t you agree? I thought you would.

The Ronin book scenario was quite straightforward. A small group of ninja attacks a larger group of something else and must steal or assassinate something. A decent start, but obviously more flavour needed to be added. Anything worth tinkering with is worth tinkering with A LOT in my book so I started to use the gaming table with the walled manor that was already forming in my head as a stage for dozing sentries, crashing-through-doors rules, climbing-walls rules, and distant weapon caches that needed to be reached to have anything more than a katana at your disposal. Now a more cinematographic (47 Ronin, anyone?) approach became possible.

Of course the game had to be tactically interesting and this means the players need choices. After all, when you can’t make the wrong choice, then where’s the excitement?

From this grew the idea that the Ninja player initially should not know where their victim is exactly. So the “Manor”-player, the Defender, must be able to hide the target. This means that the manor must facilitate this. So apart from a detachable roof that enables play inside the manor model each major room should have a lid below the roof to hide its contents from the ninja player. The Defender knows what is underneath it. The Ninja player finds out only when his figures enter the room.

But of course this should not deteriorate in a trap-the-ninja game too easily. So randomness was introduced for the Defender. He throws dice into each room for every figure in it and the score determines whether the figures are awake and alert or asleep. And even he may only look once the ninja enter. Imagine his surprise when everybody is asleep and the ninja sneak by….

Being asleep of course demands the possibility for awakening. Noise is introduced as a factor. For the Ninja to avoid, for the Defender to exploit. Shouts, shots, explosions, fighting and crashing through carpentry all risk waking everybody up. Dice rolls and scores introduce chance. The slumbering samurai may be a sound sleeper, or may wake up at the sound of any silent footfall.

With the scenario taking shape the demands that would have to be met by the building became clearer. Foamboard was acquired and the first shapes of walls and groundplate were cut. For storage purposes I usually build large buildings in two stackable parts so it will fit into a large box. The local super market provides these. So building can commence!

To be continued....

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Dystopian Wars fleet and armoured battlegroup for sale!

The miniatures are well-painted in a bronze-green-copper theme, finished in matt varnish and magnetised to stay in a metal container. Turrets of a number of models are magnetised as well. Drones (tiny flyers) are on elevated flight stands.

Shipping and handling is not included in the price. S&H is actual cost from the Netherlands. 

The fleet consists of:

1 x Prometheus Dreadnought
1 x Aristotle battleship
3 x Plato Cruisers
3 x Zeno Armoured cruisers
6 x Plutarch destroyers
6 x Diogenes frigates
6x Galen escorts
6 x Thales corvettes
1 x Pericles carrier + drones
1 x Epicurus Sky fortress + drones
1 x Daedalus large flyer
4 x Icarus medium flyers
6 x Pytheus small flyers (unpainted, primed only)
6x Ptolemy bombers
1 x Callimachus Orb (walking)
2 x Callimachus Orb (waterlined)

Price 350 Euros

The armoured battlegroup consists of:
1 x Herodotus Mobile Airfield (unpainted, primed only)
1 x Heavy Walker Model
3 x Bombard Models
6 x Medium Walker Models
10 x Small Tank Tokens

Price 65 Euros


Fleet and Armoured Battlegroup can be bought as one deal for 395 Euros.  

You will then get a 1st edition rulebook, counters and an Antarctica fleet book. On top of that you get as a bonus AN ENTIRE ISLAND (picture below) in scale to go with it. Only with an all/in/one buy! 

Serious responses can be sent to