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: https://gamefound.com/projects/saltandpepper/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…

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!

Missin’ in Action 2018

Two years ago, we had organised a summer gaming event for friends out in the countryside. A month or so ago, K. and I decided spontaneously to do another such event under the title of Missin’ in Action 2018, this time however at our new house (which is in an area of town formerly called Missindorf, hence the name). The idea was to gather friends and host one or two miniature games out in the garden.

Unfortunately, the weather did not agree and we had to move it inside. Fortunately, people turned up nonetheless.

I chose Sellswords & Spellslingers¬†as the event’s game and decided to have two rounds of games. The first was played with six people, of which only three had played it before. The rules are, however, easy to grasp and, being cooperative, work very well to introduce people into miniatures gaming. We played the ‘Healer’ mission from the rule-book and had to rescue the wise woman. My wizard teleported our archer onto the rooftop of the healer’s hut, where he skillfully covered the rescue operation, led by our intrepid halfling Leader riding his pig.

After a short break, reinforcements arrived in the form of Virago and his two kids. For the second round of games, we split a 6’x4′ table into two areas: One with a village in the middle, where one group played the ‘Defend the Village’ scenario, and another with swampy wastelands, where the other group played the ‘Through the Badlands’ scenario. The border between the two playing areas was demarcated by a river, with the added incentive that, if the group crossing the badlands made it to the ford, it could enter the other game and help defend the village.

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The poor heroes defending the village drew a Brain Devourer as their main enemy and struggled hard to bring him down. Meanwhile, Virago’s elven family shot their way through the lizardmen and orcs standing in our way. My dwarven wizard helped to speed the journey by teleporting people ahead, but in the end it was the elves who did the hard work, killing one monster after another with their arrows. We even managed to reach the village, but before the elves could get off a shot, the Brain Devourer was brought down by the brave dwarven fighter.

This was a really great afternoon! I’ve definitely learned from last time’s mistakes: back then, I cramped all players into one game, which ground to a slow crawl as the rules were unable to cope with such an amount of players. Playing two scenario in parallel proved to be a good solution for a large group that nonetheless wants to share a gaming experience. Each game took less than 90 minutes, so it was pretty relaxed and there was plenty of time to chat. It seems that everyone, kids and adults alike, enjoyed the games and had fun. I’m definitely planning on doing this again next year!

A Weekend of Gaming

I’m very happy that I had several great opportunities for gaming during the last days. The opening was two games of Zombicide I had with an old friend from Germany, who stayed for a couple of days at our place. Not only did we have a great time in general, but we also had two very dramatic games, one of which we even managed to win! He enjoyed the game a lot and I hope we will have another opportunity for gaming soon.

On Friday, I went to the club for a game of Kugelhagel. Kugelhagel are German rules for miniature wargames during the 19th century. They have a very active community around here, so naturally I was curious. We played a game set during the ACW, using the impressive collection of Gand-Alf, who also explained the rules. He was a patient and enthusiastic host and we had a great evening.

I’m not completely convinced by the rules: Although I like the activation system (card driven), I find movement a bit too free-wheeling, leading to some strange situations. I guess this irks me more with a period I know a bit about, such as the ACW. But the game is a great option for multi-player club games – I find it more engaging than Black Powder, as I prefer the card driven activation to IGO-UGO.

Yesterday, another friend came to play Sellswords & Spellslingers. He was interested in the character creation process, so we made a small party of adventurers. While I created two equally strong heroes, he decided to take a different approach and made one hero (a barbarian) and three minions (archers with negative traits). We had a great time playing the first scenario and managed to escape from the Orcs. While the archers did very well, the poor barbarian was knocked out pretty soon and had to be dragged to safety by my halfling girl. The shame!

S&S

Finally, today I continued with playtesting scenarios for Sharp Practice. As K. was away, I played against myself. At first, the scenario did not look very interesting – basically, one side has to storm a fieldwork fitted with artillery. The game, however, turned out to be extremely tense and dramatic, which again shows how great a set of rules Sharp Practice is. There are enough decisions to make it interesting and the game flows along in a way that creates a very immersive narrative.