Sunday, December 30, 2012

On the Workbench: WH40K Chimera!

This evening I have assembled an Imperial Guard Chimera (by Game Workshops), primed it and pre-shaded it. Still a lot remains to be done to bring this humble APC up to spec.

The Space Cockroach's Scrapyard

My name is Omer G. Joel, AKA The Space Cockroach, and I have a problem with gamer Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD).

The idea for this "section" (actually a Label) - The Scrapyard - of my blog comes from Beedo's Dreams in the Lich House blog: like him, I suffer from the "problem" of having too many ideas running around my head but only one life and a few games to actually put them to use. As I do not wish to ruin the campaign I'm working on (ACKS: The Dark Project), I'll simply post these ideas in The Space Cockroach's Scrapyard (after all, cockroaches and scrap go well together!) and let them sit there until an opportuinity arrises to utilize them.

So watch this space for all kind of crazy gaming ideas shelved for a rainy day!

Now with Labels!

I've added Labels (AKA Tags) to all of my posts on this blog for your browsing comfort and joy! Look at the bottom right side of the blog for the Label list.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

The Space Cockroach's post-Hanukah Sale #5: Modern Chechens

Well, I have done some winter cleaning in my large 15mm miniature collection. Turns out there are many minis I no longer need, and will be happy to sell to other wargamers who'll make much more use of them.

Here is a platoon of brand-new Eureka Miniatures 15mm Ultra-Modern Chechens, new in the original blister packs! I'm selling it for $20 including shipping by airmail anywhere in the world in a padded envelope. If you want registered airmail, please add another $5.

If you wish to buy, please contact me at golan2072 -at- gmail -dot- com

The Space Cockroach's post-Hanukah Sale #4: Modern US

Well, I have done some winter cleaning in my large 15mm miniature collection. Turns out there are many minis I no longer need, and will be happy to sell to other wargamers who'll make much more use of them.

Here is a 15mm ultra-modern US force (21 troops by Rebel Minis and 3 Hummers and 1 M3 Bradley by Irishserb). I'm selling it for $40 including shipping by airmail anywhere in the world in a padded envelope. If you want registered airmail, please add another $5.

For more details, please contact me at golan2072 -at- gmail -dot- com

Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Space Cockroach's post-Hanukah Sale #3: Robots!

Well, I have done some winter cleaning in my large 15mm miniature collection. Turns out there are many minis I no longer need, and will be happy to sell to other wargamers who'll make much more use of them.

Here is a large force of Automatons. Most are primed and pre-shaded, with the exception of their fliers, who are unassembled and unprimed. I'm selling the entire force for $35 including worldwide air-mail shipping in a padded envelope.

If you wish to buy, please contact me at golan2072 -at- gmail -dot- com

The Space Cockroach's post-Hanukah Sale #2

Well, I have done some winter cleaning in my large 15mm miniature collection. Turns out there are many minis I no longer need, and will be happy to sell to other wargamers who'll make much more use of them.

All prices include world-wide airmail shipping in a padded envelope.

If you wish to buy, please contact me at golan2072 -at- gmail -dot- com.

Here is a Rebel Minis 15mm Merka-5 Tank, assembled and primed. I'm selling it for $15.

Here are various "anarchists": Rebel Minis Post-Apocalyptic Survivors and Bikers, all assembled and primed. I'm selling the entire force for $20.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Epic (6mm) Space Marine Lot - now for only $30!


I am selling a large lot of Epic-scale (6mm) Space Marines. Price is now only $30 for the whole lot including standard airmail shipping worldwide in a padded box. Please add $10 if you want shipping by registered airmail. Payment by PayPal. Please contact me at golan2072 -at- gmail -dot- com if interested.

What I have:
71x plastic Rhinos
12x plastic Land Raiders
7x plastic Land Speeders
60x assorted bases of plastic Space Marines Infantry and Command
3x metal Whirlwinds
2x plastic Whirlwinds
3x metal Hunters, unassembled

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Large Epic-scale Space Marines Lot for Sale!


I am selling a large lot of Epic-scale (6mm) Space Marines. Price is $130 for the whole lot including registered airmail shipping worldwide in a padded box. Payment by PayPal. Please contact me at golan2072 -at- if interested.

What I have:
71x plastic Rhinos
12x plastic Land Raiders
7x plastic Land Speeders
60x assorted bases of plastic Space Marines Infantry and Command
3x metal Whirlwinds
2x plastic Whirlwinds
3x metal Hunters, unassembled

Friday, December 21, 2012

The Space Cockroach's post-Hanukah Sale: VDV Platoon


Well, I have done some winter cleaning in my large 15mm miniature collection. Turns out there are many minis I no longer need, and will be happy to sell to other wargamers who'll make much more use of them.

I'll start with a mechanized Soviet Motor Rifle Platoon, circa 1980 (could be used to represent many Eastern European forces even at much later dates):

3x 15mm BTR-70s (made by QRF)
23x 15mm Motor Rifle Infantry (made by QRF)

All are painted and ready for play.

Cost is $40 for everything together including shipping by airmail anywhere in the world in a padded envelope.

For purchase or further details, please contact me - golan2072 -AT-

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Mandatory Lizard Interlude

The sun was shining (so much for the Israeli "winter") and the lizards came out to bask and prey on insects. These are wild Starred Agamas (Laudakia Stellio Stellio) I photographed today around mid-day on the wall of the Weizmann Institute of Science in the main street of Rehovot, Israel where I live.

ACKS: The Dark Project - Duchy Map

I've named all the duchal seats (and thus also the duchies who, as a rule, use the same names) on the ACKS: The Dark Project map. Also made a few minor fixes to the map itself. Next step would be to roll up an economy at the duchal level!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

ACKS: The Dark Project - Initial Campaign-level Math

Let's do some basic math for my ACKS: The Dark Project.

The City is the largest urban settlement in the campaign area. In terms of realm size, The City and its rival city-states are Principalities, with 18-65 or so 24-mile hexes each. The City is ruled by a Prince (a title which fits the ACKS domain system better than a lowly Baron, IMHO) and so are its rivals.

The City has a realm of 47 24-mile hexes, a sizeable Principality; its main rival, Blackbrook, has 44 hexes; Cyric has 35 hexes; and Bohn has 27 hexes. Everything else on the map is no man's land, either badlands between the city-states' realms or wilderness into which the forces of Chaos creep.

The Thief world is a relatively advanced one, technologically speaking, but also a world well past its age of Imperial glory. So I'd use the default average population density, especially since not all hexes in a realm are proper farmland - most realms have many hexes of mountains and woods, which, while providing rich resources (such as timber, metal and coal) in many cases, have a much smaller population than typical farmland. So, on average, it's 50 people per square mile, 300 families per 6-mile hex and 5,000 families per 24-mile hex.

Also note that most of these people do not live in the countryside but rather in the city-states themselves.

So the base population sizes would be:
The City - 250,000 families, 1,250,000 people total (I bumped this to 250,000 because this is the most developed realm in the setting)
Blackbrook - 220,000 families, 1,100,000 people total
Cyric - 175,000 families, 875,000 people total
Bohn - 135,000 families, 675,000 people total

However, urban demographics greatly vary from the ACKS norm, as this is a world of city-states, and advanced ones at that. So The City and Blackbrook realms go 2 rows downward on the Urban Population table AND 2 rows downward on the Largest Settlement table. The other two cities go 1 row downward on the Urban Population table and 1 row downward on the Largest Settlement table

So how does the urban population look like (in families)?
The City - 250,000 families total, 125,000 urban families total, 62,500 of whom living in the largest settlement (The City) which is a Metropolis and a Class I market.
Blackbrook - 220,000 families total, 50,000 urban families total, 30,000 of them live in the largest settlement (Blackbrook) which is a Metropolis and a Class I market.
Cyric - 175,000 families total,  35,000 urban families total, 12,000 of them live in the largest city (Cyric) which is a Large City and a Class II market.
Bohn - 135,000 families total,  27,000 urban families total, 10,000 of them live in the largest city (Bohn) which is a Large City and a Class II market.

Yes, The City is HUGE.

Now, on to realm subdivision into Duchies:

The City is a Principality.  The Prince himself rules only The City directly - it is wealthier than any Duchy under his command and enough of a hassle to manage all by itself. All his lands outside The City are divided between the five Dukes.

Blackbrook also has five Duchies.

Cyric has four Duchies.

And Bohn has three duchies.

Generally speaking, each Duchy is dominated by a City of about 3,000-4,000 families, a Class III market.

So here's an updated work-in-progress Campaign Map:

ACKS: The Dark Project - Preliminary Campaign Map

I've made a preliminary campaign map for ACKS: The Dark Project in Hexographer. It still lacks many of the details (such as borders, smaller towns and settlements, dungeons and so on) but it does show the general lay of the land.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Late to the D&D 4E Bandwagon - First Impressions

Heh... I am very late to the bandwagon. Four years have passed since Dungeons and Dragons 4th Edition has come out, and I have finally played it. First and foremost, I must say that I'm "on the fence" in regard to editions - while I still like ACKS and D&D 3.5E better than 4E, I don't think that 4E is a bad edition. In fact, it has its own strengths (as well as weaknesses).

So far I played in three sessions of D&D 4E, two of them in a short, abortive game with friends, and one in a local mini-convention (Nexus-Con in Rishon Lezion). In the campaign with friends we made our own characters, which took us two-thirds of a session (more on that later); in the convention we had very well-presented pregens with very effectively laid-out character sheets. All in all, I think I have about 12 or so hours and 4-5 encounters of 4E play experience under my belt, compared to hours over hours of 3.xE and even more 2E experience.

So what do I think of 4E? Let's see:

The Good

1) The skill system. In the hand of a competent (or even half-competent) DM, the 4E skill system is versatile, very easy to use and intuitive, especially when compared to the very long skill lists of 3.xE. Everyone has the same small number of skills, with different modifiers; the skill modifiers are 1/2 of your level + ability modifier + 5 if you are trained. No fiddly skill-point allocation. As the skill list is simple and it's very clear what every skill does, all while you can creatively apply any skill for a multitude of purposes, it seems very easy to adjudicate.

2) The At-Will/Encounter/Daily Power system and Healing Surges. While, unfortunately, most powers are combat-specific (more on that later), the amount of accounting needed for actual combat powers is smaller than in 3.xE, and the "15-minute adventuring day" issue is greatly mitigated. A big battle in 3.5E, taking a few minutes of actual in-game time, can burn through many of your spells, powers and HP, forcing you to go to rest minutes after getting up from the previous rest. In 4E, you might have burnt your Dailies, but you'll still have your Encounter and At-Will Powers ready for the next battle; and with healing surges, you'll be able to go through a lot more battles per day than in 3.xE without spending too many precious spells. Also, the fact that Clerics don't really have to choose between healing spells and other spells is liberating; you can even have a very good adventure without needing the mandatory Cleric to fork out healing. Oh, and Fighters can do a lot more than just "I hit him with my axe". Oh, and you no longer have low-level spellcasters pin-pricking enemies with puny daggers once they run out of spells; they all have a few low-grade at-will spells.

3) When using pregens and well laid-out character sheets, the game seems very friendly to newcomers. While character creation is very long and somewhat tiresome, once you have a character on a well-detailed character sheet, it's very easy to use. I have seen a lot less page-flipping in 4E than in 3.xE.

4) Static defences. This is a Heresy, I know, but this makes some sense from a game-design PoV - a magic attack is an attack like any other and the attacker (caster) rolls to-hit rather than the defender a saving throw.

The Bad

1) Character Generation complexity. Well, honestly, this is quite typical for games such as D&D 4E where you get tons of chargen options and specific powers. The first time we made characters for 4E, it took us two or three hours to get all characters ready and all their powers copied to index cards. We probably copied also stuff we didn't need on the index cards, though. However, compare that to the 10-30 minutes necessary to generate an ACKS character (roll 6 stats, choose class, record attack roll and saving throws, choose proficiencies and buy gear) or the 5 minutes necessary to generate a character in Classic Traveller. Well, that's a good reason why characters don't die easily in D&D 4E, die much more easily in ACKS and die even more easily in Classic Traveller - after all, if all you need to roll up a character are 5 or so minutes, it isn't so much of a setback to the game to have one eaten by acid-blooded arachnids...

2) Combat grind. Combat takes a long time - seemingly as long as in 3.5E and maybe even longer - and both monsters and heroes have high HP, so it takes a lot of time to kill one even with Encounter Powers. The fastest kill in the convention game was does with a Daily - a Fireball - killing several enemy archers in one hit in a particularly satisfying manner. Other than that, people die slowly.

3) Everything seems to be very combat-oriented. Almost all powers are combat-specific and anything done out of combat uses the good, though quite sketchy, skill system. I don't recall seeing any exploration-oriented spells in 4E, but I might have just missed them due to the combat-heavy nature of the convention game.

Bottom Line
Well, it doesn't seem like a bad game. Not necessarily 100% my cup of tea but could be a nice option to try. I wonder, should I get my grubby hands on the three 4E core-books, or should I rather stick with ACKS (or wait for D&D 5next)?

Friday, December 7, 2012

Stalingrad 2072 - Post-Apocalyptic T-34s

I've converted three Zvezda 1:100 plastic T-34 tank models into something more futuristic/post-apocalyptic for my Stalingrad 2072 project, using bits from Ground Zero Games and

Here is a work-in-progress:

Sunday, December 2, 2012

ACKS: Dark Project - Map Work-in-Progress

I've overlayed a 40x30 hex grid over part of the Thief map. This will give me a rough estimate of what should be in every hex in the ACKS campaign map. So here we go:

From here I will proceed to an ACKS-style campaign hex map.

ACKS: The Dark Project - Setting Concept

How ould a Thief: Dark Project inspired setting for the Adventurer Conqueror King System (ACKS) look like? In a sense, apart from a certain difference in technology and societal trappings, many of the basic concepts of ACKS actually fit very well with the Thief world. The world is full of the relics of the past, both the recent past (the Old City) and the distant past (Karath Din - The Lost City); the forces of Law fight to preserve civilization in face of a never-ending tide of Chaos, while Chaos sneaks through the cracks in the rotten civilized society. Nobles maintain their own men-at-arms, indeed sometimes armies, and the rule of swords reigns rather than the rule of law; beasts and beastment dwell at the thresholds off civilization, raedy to devour the wary.

So how would the camapign look like? Here are ten basic concepts:

1) After Karath Din - the old civilization - fell to an onslaught of Nature, Chaos reigned and men lived as animals in bestial savagery, worshiping the Trickster. But then, 1,600 years ago, the Master Builder fashioned the First Hammer out of stone and wood, and led Humanity in rebellion against the Trickster and the Forces of Chaos. Once free of the barbarian past, the victorious Men built a new Empire out of the ashes of the old, building The City, one of the principal cities of the Empire, on the ruins of Karath Din. Eventually, 700 years ago, the Empire fell due to infighting between its Princes, and city-states arose from its ashes. This is the world of the present - fragmented and, thus, somewhat weak in face of Chaos.

2) The Order of the Hammer (AKA the Hammerites) sternly guards against the forces of Chaos led by the Trickster. Though staunch and sometimes fanatic in their struggle against Chaos, the Order of the Hammer is now quite ossified and concerned with tradition and with stern punishment of criminals and heretics more than with actual struggle against the Trickster. However, the Hammerites hold a significant military might and also benefits from its technological mastery. Lawful Clerics and Paladins are all Hammerites (probably using slightly different classes than in the core rulebook, more similar to Dwarven Craftpriests).

3) Civilization, as a whole, is crumbling under the onslaught of Chaos. Fragmented into wrring city-states, the civilized lands are besiged by wilderness and chaos on all sides. Chaos also seeps through the cracks of civilization and festers in its rotten heart.There are many Chaotic gods, but chief amongst them is the Trickster, also known as the Woodsy Lord. Chaos stands for the savagery of untamed nature, for bestial inhumanity. Where Law is not present in force, Chaos invades, be that vines undermining unattended buildings or the dead rising in vile mockery of the Builder's humanity. Pagans work to bring about the reign of the Woodsy Lord and his Beastesses and Nymphs, and the end of civilizaed life. Chaotic priests will probably use a different class than Cleric (maybe the Shaman from the ACKs Player's Companion?).

4) The Keepers are True Neutral and belive that either extreme, be that of Law or of Chaos, is a threat to humanity. As long as Balance is kept, humanity flourishes. If the scales are tipped, then the Keepers intervene to restore Balance. Keepers probably use the Thief and Assassin classes, but some might use something more along the lines of a Nightblade.

5) There are two main groups of magic-users in and around the City. The first is the Brotherhood of the Hand, a mostly-Neutral mage guild; the Brotherhood follows an Elementalist tradition, and most of its mages take the Elementalist proficiency; while mighty, they usually keep to themselves. The second is Necromancy - quasi-Chaotic meddling in life and death, usually to call forth undead and unnaturaly prolong the Necromancer's life. While illegal, and punishable by death if caught by the Hammers, they thrive inside the cracks of civilization. They usually take the Black Lore of Karath Din (AKA Black Lore of Zahar) as their first proficiency. Ironically, both traditions originate from the lost civilization of Karath Din.

6) The Fey frolick in the wilds. There are two kinds of Fey - the Seelie Court (who are Neutral) and the Unseelie Court (who are Chaotic). Both have a habit of kidnapping human babies from their cribs and replacing them with Fey babies. These Changelings - Fey raised by human parents - are represented by the various Elf classes in ACKS and the Players' Companion. Their social status is quite low in the City, and some of the more fanatical Hammerites hate them (and they get -2 to Reaction and Loyalty rolls from Lawful humans if their Elven origion is known), but they have mighty magicks at their disposal.

7) While some elements of the City might seem modern, on the most basic level this is a profoundly feudal society. Lords - from the lowliest noble to the mightiest Earl (the term I use instead of "Baron" for the City's ruler to avoid confusion with other noble ranks) - have the right to bear arms in public and raise their own men-at-arms and even armies if they so desire. The Order of teh Hammer is also heavily armed. And so are the various criminals in the City, usually posing as men-at-arms of various "nobles" of the type of Ramirez.

8) The City's underworld is ruled by the Wardens - mighty crime-lords, usually holding a formal noble title of one kind or another, who fight each other for their share of loot. Independent thieves might encounter trouble from the Guilds and Wardens who, naturally enough, do not like competition by independents.

9) Some areas of technology are far more advanced than in 'vanilla' ACKS, though most follow the ACKS norms. Steam-powered generators power elevators, pumps and forges, as well as electric lights. These technological comforts, however, are relatively expensive, so even the average noble - or, indeed, the current-day Hammer cathedral - uses torches instead of electric lights on many occasions. Electric alarm systems are also common, though often primitive and relatively easy to tamper with.

10) Beasts of all kinds, eincluding beast-men, roam the wilds and even invade the less-well-guarded parts of civilization. The most common are Giant Spiders, Cray-Men and Burricks. In wilder areas, where Chaos holds sway, civilization is besiged by Spider-Beasts, Bug-Beasts, Snake-Beasts, Rat-Men (who are NOT lycanthropes in this world but rather Beastment who replace Orcs), Goblyns, Bugbears, Ogres, Ape-Men and Tree-Beasts. Undead abound in all Sinkholes of Chaos, even inside civilization, and include Zombies, Greater Zombies (who are more similar to the Zombies in Thief: Dark Project), Haunts (powerful undead swordsmen and archers), Fire-Shadows, Apparitions and Ghouls.

What do you all think of this?

Monday, November 26, 2012

ACKS: The Dark Project - Mapping Inspiration

By the way I found a resource for inspiration for my campaign map:

Their "city region" map provided above is, on a rough estimate, about the size of an ACKS Campaign Map. How did I calculate this? The City is almost directly to the north from Cyric, and the site says that Cyric is 12 days of foot travel from the City. A day of foot travel by a lightly encumbered person on a road in ACKS is about 24 miles (actually 27 miles, but let's say that it's about 24 miles for the sake of simplicity, factoring in more rest periods and taking care to avoid highwaymen). So, Cyric is 12 24-mile hexes to the south of The City. That's about one quarter to one third of the entire map length from north to south, so the map is about 36-48 hexes long.Quite similar to an ACKS Campaign Map!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

ACKS: The Dark Project - Introduction

One of my favourite computer games ever was, and still is, Thief: The Dark Project. This game was highly immersive and evocative with advanced AI for its time and what was then a relatively new approach to first-person gaming: stealth instead of blasting your way around to the objective. But the best thing about Thief: The Dark Project, I'd say, was not its game mechanics per se but its setting.

The game was set in a huge city, medieval in most aspects, but with certain steampunk elements (such as complex pumps, turbines, elevators and even electric lights). Inside this setting, mundane for the most part on its surface, were several strong fantasy elements as well - undead, elementals, mages, giant lizards (Burricks), giant spiders, spellcasting clerics, shapechanging wood nymphs - and a mighty Chaotic god as the antagonist!

Technology and society were, for the most part, somewhere between medieval and Renaissance - and combatants wore leather chainmail and wielded swords, warhammers, maces and bows, with no firearms to be seen (although some gunpowder did exist in the game in the form of clockwork mines and explosive barrels). Nobles lorded over the toiling masses and lived in fancy manors - complete with large amounts of lootable treasure; the church - the Order of the Hammer - had immense power and an army of their own (as well as a technological advantage over everyone else); and each and every faction had its own men-at-arms, just like in the olde days.

The sequel, Thief: The Metal Age, was far more Victorian in tone and flavour, turning towards a more 'proper' Steampunk setting rather than Thief: The Dark Project's steam-medievalism; still, guards brandish swords, maces, bows and crossbows, but the scenery is far more modern in look and feel. Personally I liked Thief: The Dark Project's feel and atmosphere better...

The last game so far in the Thief series, Thief: Deadly Shadows, returned to the first game's medieval feel and even reduced the amount of electric lights in the City. While it suffered from relatively small areas with load screens in between, it was still a good game. However, many of Thief: The Dark Project's cool fantasy elements, namely Burricks, Chaos beasts and Craymen, were absent and replaced by fish-men and possessed insane-asylum inmates.

Why am I telling you all this? Because I think that the world of Thief: The Dark Project can be a mighty source of inspiration for tabletop fantasy RPG games. Namely, I intend to base the setting of my next Adventurer Conqueror King System (ACKS) on the world of Thief!

There will be modifications, of course, as I want to optimize the setting for fantasy adventures and fit it to the ACKS rules, as well as inject some new ideas into it. But the main ideas of Thief will fit well with the ACKS rules, I think, especially since you even have rules for running a thieves' guild in ACKS!

Stay tuned for more in the coming days!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

WH40K - Building an Imperial Guard Army

Turns out that the vast majority of the local gaming community here in Israel ("vast" being a relative term - the entire community has less than 100 wargamers in the entire country) play either Warhammer Fantasy Battles, Warhammer 40,000 or WarMachine/Hordes. A few also play Epic: Armageddon and one or two play Infinity. No historical wargamers here - apparently they had enough ultramodern military experience in the IDF (which is a conscript army for the most part).

So, since I want to have the maximum number of opponents, I'd rather play some WH40K or Epic. Both are cool games!

I'm starting an Imperial Guard force. I really like their fluff - ordinary men and women facing untold alien and demonic horrors with nothing but lasguns and flak-vests. Very heroic! Plus, I get to play with a lot of tanks and artillery. Above you can see my partially-assembled regular Guardsmen. I've built them with Cadian legs and chests (and sometimes arms) and Catachan heads (and sometimes arms) for a look resembling the Colonial Marines from the film Aliens (AKA Alien 2).

Here is a Tentative 495pts list for this force:

CCS, 70pts - Role: Command and Sniper support (sits back and commands/shoots)
Company Commander
Veteran w/VOX
3 Veterans w/Sniper Rifles

TROOPS A: Infantry Platoon
PCS, 105pts - Role: Seizing far objectives
Platoon Commander
Guardsman w/Vox
3 Guardsmen with Flamers

Infantry 'Blob' (Squads A+B), 150pts - Role: Seizing near objectives, anti-infantry
2 Sergeants
Guardsman w/Vox
2 Guardsmen w/Grenade Launchers
15 Guardsmen

TROOPS B: Veteran Squad, 130pts - Role: AT Support
Veteran Sergeant
Veteran w/Vox
3 Veterans w/Plasma
Autocannon Team
3 Veterans

ELITE: Ratling Squad, 40pts - Role: Snipers
4 Ratlings

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Expanding the Blog

I've made a decision - instead of posting my D&D, Traveller and wargaming ideas in separate blogs, I'll post all of them here in one blog, for maximum richness of content. So welcome to the Space Cockroach's full-spectrum gaming blog!

Friday, November 16, 2012

The Space Cockroach and the current War in Gaza

Israel, the country I live in, is currently engaged in a brushfire war (which could escalate into a full-scale war) with Hamas in and around the Gaza Strip. For the last several years, Hamas and other, smaller groups were launching rockets from Gaza into southern Israel, with relatively little physical effect (they rarely hit anything) but a big psychological effect putting a lot of fear into the locals' lives. A few days ago, Israel killed the Hamas military leader by the way of precision airstrike, prompting Hamas to launch rockets at Israel en-masse. Israel, of course, responded in force. BIG force - a lot of aerial bombardment of the Gaza Strip.

So far 3 Israeli civilians and 28 Palestinians - mostly civilians - have been killed in the current round of the conflict.

This evening, the Israeli government has decided to call 75,000 reserve soldiers into active duty. This probably means ground war.

I wanted to reassure you that I live in Rehovot, outside the range of most Hamas rockets, and study in Tel-Aviv; therefore, I'm in the area which is rarely hit. I'm also not in the IDF or its Reserve. So I'll be fine, I think...

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Work begins on USE ME 6mm!

In the last year and a half (or so) I have been working as a freelancer for Alternative Armies (, writing new rulesets and booklets for their USE ME (Ultra-Simple Engine for Miniature Engagements) 15mm wargaming rules. My latest work, to be published soon, is Valiesk - a war-torn fictional baltic island perfect as a setting for Ultra-Modern miniature gaming.

Now I am starting work on a new USE ME project - this time adapting the USE ME rules to the 6mm scale and to strategic-level wargaming. While in standard USE ME 1 figure or vehicle mini was, respectively, 1 soldier or vehicle on the battlefield, in this version each base on 6mm infantry will represent a whole infantry platoon, and a single vehicle miniature will represent a squadron of vehicles (say, 2-5 tanks). the scale will be, roughly speaking, 1cm=100m. So your average 120cm (4ft) table will represent 12km of battlefield...

Combat will be appropriately abstract. Pure infantry (without heavy support weapons) will only be able to attack in Assaults (i.e. "Melee"), representing infantry engagements at rifle range (circa 100m). Infantry with heavy weapons will have a range of 2cm; tanks, usually 8-12cm. Bigger guns (artillery) will have an even longer range. Damage will be abstract - an infantry platoon will be either Supressed (instead of Winged), Struck or Dispersed (instead of killed) - when an infantry unit is "destroyed", this will not necessarily mean that each and every soldier dies in battle, but rather that this unit no longer functions as a significant fightring force due to casualties, morale loss and lack of cohesion. A Supressed unit could Regroup by rolling its ELAN or less on one die; one attempt of this takes one action.

Most artillery will find its place on the tabletop; aircraft will fly over it. Only orbital support and strategic bombers will not be represented on the tabletop itself.

The rules will cover 6mm engagements in both WWII, Ultra-Modern and Sci-Fi.

Input, thoughts and ideas will be welcome! :)

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Armoured Cars on the Move!

I've finished painting four armoured cars to serve the Fascist faction ("White Legion") in my Novi Stalingrad 2072 15mm wargaming campaign. These cars are HOF Light Tanks from, EXCELLENT models and a great fun to work with, as with all other HOF minis.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

March of the Red Mech Cavalry

Here is a 15mm Red Mech Cavalry squad for my Novi Stalingrad 2072 wargaming campaign. The minis are Kremlin Miniatures Rising Sun MANITOUs.

Is it Infantry or is it a Vehicle?

Here is a comparison of my Red "Cavalry" walker with an unpainted Red Warrior for Novi Stalingrad 2072. Do you think that the walker is big enough to be classified as an (unarmoured) Light Vehicle under the USE ME rules, or would it simply be Armoured Infantry with high ELAN and a Heavy Weapon?

By the way, what do you think of the walker's basing? It is supposed to be snow on mud/rubble.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Proletarian - to Suit!

Here are my work-in-progress 15mm "Cavalry" powered suits for the Commune (Neo-Soviets) of my Novi Stalingrad 2072 wargaming settingn (using USE ME Post-Apoc rules). The figures are, ironically, Neo-Japanese walkers by Kremlin Miniatures, as these look more "Soviet", IMHO, than their Neo-Soviet ones. Anyhow, these are highly recommended figures and a joy to paint!

I still need to base them, add red star decals (bought from QRF), and spray them with a matte sealer.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

1st Gunners Wargaming give away competition

Dan of the Gunners Wargaming is having a give-away contest on his site!

Read about it HERE!

Friday, April 20, 2012

LotFP Hardcover and Adventures Project - IndieGoGo

Check this out! Crowdfunding campaign for Lamentations of the Flame Princess old-school D&D-ish rules in hadcover. Also if funded enough there will be up to 12 adventures from different authors!

Friday, March 23, 2012

USE ME Eldrich Horror is up for pre-order!

The Ultra-Simple Engine for Miniature Engagements against Eldrich Horror, or, in short, USE ME ELDRICH HORROR, is up for pre-order on the site!

And who is its proud author? ME!

This is a rules-light, fast-play ruleset based on the old USE ME SCI FI rules by Gavin Syme, now re-designed for epic battles of hardy investigators against Lovecraftian horrors from beyond space and time. It includes rules for all the genre's essential elements, from sanity checks through artefact research to tentacles - and vile sorcery! The default setting is the 1930's England, but it could be easily used for modern gaming as well.

As the author of this work, I highly recommend it; it has been fun to write, and it will be fun to play!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Infinite Stars Issue #3 Released!

I'm happy to announce that the third issue of Infinite Stars, a free electronic fanzine for Stars Without Number, Traveller and other science-fiction role-playing games, is now out. You can download it from the Infinite Stars Cooperative web-page.

The next issue is due on May 15th, 2012. Feel welcome to submit content!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Dragon Encounter!

No, not the fire-breathing type, but rather the cute lizard type. These two are Painted Dragons (Laudakia Stellio AKA Roughtail Rock Agama), closely related to both Bearded Dragons and Water Dragons and distantly related to Iguanas and Chameleons. These particular specimen dig their lairs between the stones of the outer wall of Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel.


Thursday, March 1, 2012

UM011 USE ME Cyberpunk is in the works!

I'm happy to say that I've submitted my final draft of the USE ME Cyberpunk rules to Gavin Syme of Alternative Armies/ fame. It is slated to be published in April 2012!

Please check Gavin's blog for more information!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

A Review of Crypts and Things by D101 Games

I've pre-ordered Crypts & Things by D101 Games and this week I got the brand-new soft-cover print edition by mail. After reading it cover to cover, I must say that I'm impressed with it and that I do not regret the money I've spent on its pre-order. So here I will review this book in detail.

What is Crypts & Things?
Crypts and Things (C&T) is an adaptation of the Sword & Wizardry: Core (S&W) RPG rules to the Sword & Sorcery genre. In other words, it takes many of the mechanics and most of the concepts of old-school D&D and changes them to fit the basic assumptions of Conan, Elric, Fahfrd and the Grey Mouser. This means you get one sleek, rules-light pack of rules to play Sword & Sorcery role-playing games with, all built to the right flavour.

It also means that, at its very core, it's still old-school D&D, close in its lineage to the original 1974 edition (plus the 1975 Supplement I). But Crypts & Things takes that D&D DNA and evolves it to fit the genre and some modern sensibilities.

The physical book is very satisfying to look at. The cover is full-colour and looks great, while the interior illustrations are all black-and-white but very atmospheric. Writing style is good and genre-appropriate and the amounts of errata is, as far as I can tell, small and very tolerable. There is also an index at the back of the book, which is something that each and every RPG publication should have.

Things I like in C&T
Crypts and Things uses the base S&W combat mechanics and single saving throws, but adds a new dimension of skills without adding too much complication. Generally speaking, if the Referee has decided that you need to roll the dice to do something which is neither combat nor spoellcasting, you just make a saving throw (with some bonuses based on class, circumstances and so on) to see if you succeed. Sleek and simple. This handles anything from barbarian tracking to thief skills.

Yes, I said Barbarians and Thieves; C&T has both classes (in addition to Fighters and Magicians), and both are well-designed: the Thief is more martial and thus useful even in generic combat; everyone may backstab or sneak; and the Barbarian, who is a nature/wilderness-oriented warrior, fights a bit less effectively than the Fighter, but has several interesting abilities and may wear armour. All in all, I like these implementations better than most old-school and d20 interpretations of these class concepts.

The M-U and the Cleric have been merged into the Magician class. Magicians cast spells like M-Us, and have three "colours" of spells - White (healing/divination/protection; easy to cast), Grey (illusion/transmutation; fatiguing to cast) and Black (damaging spells, summoning, charms; casting it can cause madness). This fits the genre - as most S&S "priests" are actually sorcerers - and also the OD&D Catholic-style cleric doesn't fir the genre too well. Oh, and Magicians may wear leather armour and use any weapon, though they face a -1 penalty to damage with most weapons.

Fighters have also been improved, adding Fighting Styles which make Fighter A different from Fighter B without using too many mechanics (as D20 does).

I mentioned above Madness; indeed, C&T has a sanity system, which is quite simple and straightforward, using saving throws to resist madness (cased by casting Black Magic or by witnessing sanity-wrecking stuff in the game-world) and using a temporary (and regenerating) Sanity score equal to your Wisdom; particularly bad things can damage your Wisdom permanently, and when you reach Wisdom 0 you become a mad NPC.

Hit Points have been tweaked. For most monsters and non-important NPCs, hit points work as in S&W as a measure of physical health. For heroes and villains (i.e. PCs and major NPCs), however, hit points represent fatigue and thus can fully heal overnight. However, once you run out of hit points, you start losing your REAL life-force - represented by your Constitution, and then you can easily pass out or even die. Some effects (like preparing Black Magic spells without a sacrifice) may also directly damages your Constitution score. Constitution heals slowly, and all healing spells only affect Constitution and not hit points.

The C&T Encumbrance system is very simple: you carry weight in pounds, but most sundry equipment (i.e. most stuff other than your weapon and armour) in abstracted into 10 pounds, so you really only have to track your arms and armour. I prefer the LotFP encumbrance system better, though.

The monsters have been chosen with care to fit the genre, and demons - called "Others" in this book - dominate the list. Which is a good thing, as the Summon Monster spells actually summon demons in-game rather than a random Orc. The monster illustrations, while scarce, are EXCELLENT and highly atmospheric and so is the monster flavour text.

Things I dislike in C&T
Strangely enough, while C&T is based on Swords & Sorcery literature, the Law vs. Chaos conflict common in a lot of these stories (and especially in the Elric ones) is only implied; there are no alignments and no Protection from Chaos; instead the term "Evil" is used, though there is no such universal alignment. I'd prefer to fight (and summon!) Chaos beasts like Elric does!

While the idea of the Life Even Table is wonderful, having each character roll 3 out of merely 20 options is very limited and puts a sharp limit on variety. Something more varied would be desirable.

Also, the spell descriptions themselves (unlike the spell lists) do not list which "colour" is each spell, forcing you to go back to the spell lists to reference.

Personally speaking, I don't like the implied Zarth setting very much, though I don't have it as well; I just prefer to set up my own setting.

I also dislike the fact that most monsters lack illustrations.

Oh, and the typical OD&D problem: each coin weights 0.1 pounds, which is A LOT. Realistically speaking, it should probably be closer to 0.01 pounds.

The Verdict
All in all, this seems like a VERY enjoyable game to play, especially since I'm now in a Sword & Sorcery mood after reading a lot of Elric stuff as of late. Any D&D fan who is also a fan of the Sword & Sorcery genre should give it a try.

I rate it at 4.5/5 points!