The Raft Lookout

Welcome to another installment of the Lookout, my overview of things that caught my eye.

First, a boardgame. The Hunt is a two-player wargame dealing with the WW2 operation leading to the Battle of the River Plate: the hunt for the German “pocket battleship” Graf Spee. The game’s production is currently crowdfunded on the platform gamefound, but the goal has already been reached, so it will be produced. The game looks very good and I’ve heard good things about a previous game by the same designer. I like that it is card driven and that the German player’s movement is hidden from the British player, which should provide for a dramatic cat-and-mouse game. It is also inexpensive, so I decided to back it. If you are also interested, there are still nine days left to back The Hunt:

Staying with the naval topic, Sam Mustafa has published a new set of naval miniature wargaming rules called Nimitz. They promise to deliver a quick and uncomplicated game of surface actions, but also include a campaign system that deals with planes, submarines, searching and similar, more complex stuff. As I think that, with naval wargames, a campaign context is much more important than with land wargames, I’m certainly intrigued by an integrated campaign system. I got the rules two weeks ago, but only had a very superficial look into them. The first impression was that they are a bit more granular than David Manley’s Find, Fix and Strike, which might make them more suitable for smaller actions. Although Sam Mustafa has provided ship lists for the most important fleets, there are none for the Spanish Civil War, so I’ll devise them myself. I’ll also paint up more of my Navwar WW2 ships – I went a bit on an ordering spree in December, as they are just so cheap, so I have a lot of them lying unpainted in a box…

Sellswords & Spellslingers is one of my favourites and also one of my most played games. However, although I have played a campaign or two, many of my recent games have been one-off affairs. Recently, Ganesha Games have published two campaigns for Sellswords: a short one, containing six scenarios, called Night of the Assassins, and a much more elaborate one, Close Quarter Battles. The latter is set in a city that sounds very much like Lankhmar, which is a welcome coincidence as I have recently been in the mood for some Fritz Leiber stories. It seems to have a narrative that offers more choice to the players than the usual linear campaigns that are the standard for those kind of games. I bought the book in the hope that I will be able to rope some of my mates into playing the campaign – between them, Sigur and Virago have enough fantasy buildings to recreate the City of Sevenscore Thousand Smokes with ease…

The Battle for Ringsend

For the last two months, I have been running a play-by-email game for four friends. It was a kind of Kriegsspiel insofar as the players had limited information, but the map and the rules were more akin to board games. After my last experiences with Kriegsspiel, I wanted to have better structured rules – I thought it would make it easier and quicker to write orders and to process those orders. This worked out only partially: As the rules were written a bit hastily, there were many loopholes and inconsistencies and I had to modify them along the way. I’m very grateful for the player’s patience!

My set-up.

The game was set in a fantasy world I called “Ringsend”, with four kingdoms vying for control: The Wood Elves, the Dwarves, the Orcs and the Humans. However, the humans really were undead – the human leader was a necromancer and I gave him some special abilities to integrate his enemy’s losses into his army. Well, it sounded like a good idea at the time. Unfortunately, I really didn’t think it through properly and it caused some frustration with the players (after one turn, another player took over). I also changed the special abilitiy several times to find a balanced mechanic.

The other special abilities were rather predictable: the Elves were quick, the Dwarves had advanced siege equipment and the Orcs couldn’t be too sure how many of their troops would turn up at a battle.

Players could also assemble heroes and give them tasks, such a retrieving an artefact or trying to assassinate an enemy leader.

The Battle of Ilsig

At the start of the game, the Elves and Dwarves quickly expanded while the Orcs and Humans took some time to get off their feet. Virago, the Elf player, was very methodical in his approach and managed to occupy the most locations. He also forged alliances with the Orcs and the Dwarves. Dwarves and Elves soon began a campaign against the Humans, while there was some skirmishing between Orcs and Humans. The campaign culminated in a big and chaotic battle at the town of Ilsig, which covered the entrance to the Necromancer’s fortress. The battle was a lot of fun for me as a game master, as the Orcs unexpecetly pitched in, but as they were not allied with the Dwarves, those suddenly began to fight against each other.

The Necromancer managed to get the help of a dragon, but had little chance against the combined might of Elves and Dwarves. He sent two assassination parties to the Elvish court, but neither of them succeeded. In the end, his fortress was overrun. His realm was destroyed, but, like any good villian, he himself escaped on the back of the dragon…

As the Elves and Dwarves quite liked their alliance and did not want to break the peace, we decided to end the game here.

This is the end score (numbers indicating locations occupied):

Elves: 12

Dwarves: 10

Orcs: 4

Humans/Necromancer: 0

The final positions.

The Dwarves had a number of well placed armies and a surprise strike against the Elves would have been interesing. But alas, the players prefer peace!

It was great fun running the game and I hope the players also enjoyed it, even if the rules were shaky and rather fluid sometimes. But the narrative turned out great, and at least for me, that’s the main thing.

I’m already planning another such game – this time in a sci-fi setting. Let’s see how it works!

Missin’ in Action 2019

After last year’s success, we had another gaming event with friends. This time, the weather was friendly and we could set up in the garden.

The main attraction was a game I had been working on for quite a while (not continously, though): namely a tavern brawl based on the old Brewhouse Bash rules from White Dwarf #223. I collected figures in brawling poses, which were harder to find than I thought, and built some terrain. The main headache proved to be the playing surface. After several aborted experiments I had to make a last-minute compromise and take a sheet of unpainted PVC floor coating. It looks ok, I guess.

Here are some impressions from the game:


The game was simple fun. We had eight player, but it still moved along at a good pace. Austrians of a certain age grew up with Bud Spencer & Terrence Hill movies and the game conveyed the feeling of those comic scuffles pretty well.

Afterwards, we played two parallel games of Sellswords & Spellslingers, which is aways a fun game, especially for events such as these.

Thanks to all the players, it was great to spend an afternoon and evening gaming with friends!

Building a Wizard’s Tower

One of the scenarios in the Sellswords & Spellslingers book demands a wizard’s tower. While there are several available to buy (from the plain Ziterdes keep to the formidable Tabletop World spire), I decided to scratch build my own.

The starting point was a box of pringles. I glued it unto another cardboard roll to, as I wanted to have it protrude from a rocky outcrop. The basis was provided by an old single record.


For the rocky outcrop, I used blue foam and chunks of tree bark. The basis for a small secondary tower was formed by an empty toilet roll.


The next step was to fill the holes and cracks with modelling clay (of the air-drying kind) and filler. I also made adoor for the small tower was made out of wood and a parapet for the top platform.


I then added some details. First, cardboard brickwork to break up the surface of the tower. Second, an oriel made from yet another cardboard roll. Third, the door and windows. I bought those from Thomarillion, as I didn’t trust myself to scratch build nice enough ones. And last, I made protrusions beneath the parapet. They will later carry the Gargoyles, which I also ordered from Thomarillion.


I then started to cover the whole structure with DAS air-drying modelling clay, an idea I got from Tony Harwood, who regularly uses this technique with great success.


Before applying the modelling clay, I covered the surface with PVA glue, as the clay shrinks and may otherwise come off when dry. Looking good so far!


The roofs were made out of cardboard cones, with small bits of cardboard for the tiles. This is a boring and mind-numbing work, but fortunately I’m used to it from other project and those roofs were actually rather small in comparison to some others I’ve made. The base was covered with sand and grit and PVA glue.


Now there was only the painting to be done… and, after a couple of days, I had my final result – the wizard’s tower!