Monday, 28 September 2015

The Empire slaps back - Planning phase round 4.

Round 4 and things are starting to heat up.

The postings phase led to the first major shake-up with Del kern being removed from command of ground forces and replaced by Hallarn Yarn. This gives the People’s movement their first military command and takes one military command away from the Republicans.

Deals were made for this position involving a trading of clout from the People’s movement to the Luxon militia in exchange for an unopposed run at the Squadron Leader position.

X-3PO, a free protocol droid turned assassin was surprisingly promoted to the new “Head of Strategic Alliances” position, giving the Luxon Militia control over interactions with allied partners.

This left the Luxon militia in a position to gain two positions this round, but in a surprise move they back out of their unopposed run at the Squadron Leader job and instead gave it to Torryn Farr of the Republicans.

Wheels within Wheels……. 

Discussions were also had about podcasting these planning phases, as they are hilarious at times.

Oh, if anyone is interested. This is what the game board looks like during the planning phase. So many moving parts!

Imperial Phase

I place down my three “trap” cards, worlds where the first action hits imperial forces waiting in place and causes extra red and purple dice on rolls.

Intelligence update

Well, things are clearly heating up for the rebellion. The biggest news was that the Luxon blockade is over as the Empire has decided to invade and go after dissident elements.
The strategic map was covered in item updates, here’s a picture.

The key is as follows
Yellow – Diplomatic and intelligence missions
Purple – Ground Missions
Blue – Fighter missions
Green – Ground missions
Purple – Imperial actions

Conflict and problems were occurring across all sectors, from the Luxon invasion, the Nimbala breaking into civil war, Nadir and Zenith being blockaded and more. This was the first turn the rebels could not hope to deal with every issue, so difficult decisions had to be made.

The Plan

The Rebels wanted to cover a lot of ground, delay the Empire where they were strong and hit them where they were weak. So that formed the corner stone of their decisions for the rest of the phase. Tie the empire up, as a stand-up fight on all fronts will go badly for them fast.

The command team planned out every possible move, but that relied on everything going well…. As you will soon see, that was not the case.

Reminder, success points are as follows 1 for an advantage, 2 for a success and 5 for a triumph.

Oh, and Aurek team has been dispatched to investigate what the Empire is doing with the Crystals on Solitude X.

Strategic alliance Phase

The Alliance phase is new and uses the new alliance cards. There is only one action that the alliance commander can take, and that is negotiating with Alliance partners.
It is a social roll, and each “point” of success (uncancelled advantage = 1, Success = 2 and triumph = 5) allows the Alliance commander to activate one alliance partner during the round. They may take any action appropriate based on their alliance card (see below), but the Alliance Commander and the owner of the alliance leader must agree on that course of action. If they cannot agree, the alliance does not act (But may act later if they spend another point).

All alliance partners’ actions score half glory.
An average roll for Alliance Command (only one activation), so there is already a spanner in the works for the complex plan this turn. Making a quick decision the Alliance Commander decides the priority it to get the Wookies in the fight at Luxon.

The 2nd snag emerges as that is where the first imperial trap is waiting. So the Wookies walk right into an ambush laid by General Paulus of the Imperial Army. Not a good start and the wookies are rolling more negative dice than positives.  The Rebel commanders spend a fate point, a big call.
A miraculous roll and two successes, the Wookies successfully engage and blunt a part of the invasion of Luxon.

Logistics Phase

With a 2nd Special forces squad and a 3rd fighter squadron joining the alliance command from the last turns recruiting, pressure on Logistics Command to obtain the resources needed to fight has gone up dramatically.

Logistics command improves manufacturing,  now the alliance has one of each core resource available to purchase from in-house suppliers. A good start.

The rest of the management phase does not go well and the long term investments do not increase the overall income stream for the rebellion.

Smuggling goes smoothly, and for the first time the squadron escorting the smugglers does not suffer any casualties.  

Among other supplies, logistics also secures contracts to be able to buy Y-Wings and YT-class freighters. As the only fighters previously available for purchase were Z-95’s, this is a big upgrade. Still, with too much to do this turn, and not enough cash, the rebellion doesn’t buy any new fighters.

Intelligence Phase

Faced with a massive PR blitz from Imperial Intelligence in regards to the capture and death of Fleet Commodore Anto Salamon, Chief of Intelligence Nibb Nibb decided to hack the holonet on Talathen Prime during a news broadcast, and substitute his own message.

A difficult task, but Nibb Nibb is an expert hacker,  6 points of successes later and the Rebellion briefly seizes the airwaves to tell the truth of the Korvas raid and Salamon’s death.
With a lot of missions ahead this turn, Nibb Nibb gets Ged’Ruh to gather information to build up the intelligence pool. Ged fails to deliver any results, so Nibb Nibb cancels a planned mission for Sly and puts him on gathering intelligence, an excellent roll generates 8 intelligence points to be used this turn.

Diplomacy Phase

The Diplomatic core has been on a roll and that did not stop this turn.

Jah Dooza, Ithorian hippy and force sensitive was dispatched to Nimbala, to get to the bottom of the crisis. Rolling 11 points worth of successes the force just happened to drop him right where he needed to be. He encountered the Twi’Lek force user that had been sighted by him and Aurek team in the jungles of Axamar only a few months ago. A full report to command will be coming soon.

Gidd was sent to open a diplomatic station on the Chiss fortress world of Kronos. A modest success means that process will be successful, but no earl information was available.

Lianna Tell responded to a request to our new embassy on Cahn to help them with a problem. With 6 points of successes, it was quickly revealed that the “Devourer Cult” is not as malicious as the name sounds, but does have dissident elements within their faith they are having problems with. The cult has offered, that if the Rebellion helps them with their dissents, that they will help the Rebellion in turn.

This was another good round for the diplomatic team.

Fleet Command

After last turns stunning raid on Korvas, Fleet command opted for a more conservative option. A Victory Star Destroyer had been sighted near Samoth, in the process of deploying probe droids to scan the planet. As the Rebellion has few forces on Samoth, the plan was to hit this Star Destroyer hard and destroy it, in order to convince the Empire that Samoth was important to them.

Unfortunately, supplies of Starship fuel are low, so only 4 class sizes worth of ships are available for the mission. Due to “The Beast” bringing over his fleet, the Rebellion now has 4 CR-90 Corvettes and has sent them to do the job.

An excellent planning roll by Admiral Cracken sees the Empire losing initiative, unable to reinforce and without the majority of it’s fighter screen.

This should be a slam-dunk for the Rebel fleet, but this attack is occurring while Luxon is being bombed and Nadir and Zenith are blockaded.

Squadron Command

The post Blount era begins in fighter command with Torryn Farr taking over the planning duties for Squadron Command. I guess this means she won’t be getting to Echo base to say “Stand by ion control, fire” in our timeline.

However, the post-Blount era began poorly when X and Y-wings deployed from Zenith to interfere with the blockade ran straight into a prepared Imperial force. Another one of my “trap cards” was revealed and the planning roll was not good, giving the Empire 4 planning points to use to disadvantage the rebellion.

Lt Telsji commanded his squadron of Headhunters to Luxon to interfere in troop landings of the invasion. A close roll, but they will have the initiative and will deploy 2nd during this raid.

Ground Command

Del Kern has been demoted and is now a squad leader. Hallarn Yarn promised a new decisive era of tactics, but so far has failed to deliver.

Keel’s team has targeted the orbital base that has nearly finished construction around Selano. As the Imperial Fleet has moved away, it seems like a prime target. The goal is to break into the station, seize it and booby trap it to explode when recaptured if possible. A poor planning roll means the Empire will have extra reinforcements for the mission.
Del kerns team is deploying to Nimbala to target Czerka forces and fly the Rebellion flag. A modest roll means they will deploy 2nd.


Recruitment gained three successes, and wants to recruit Operatives, Ground Commanders and Aces.

Training got 10 points to spend on training skills

R&D got 12 points to spend on Fighter research. 

Intelligence spent 5 points to find out exactly what was going on with a series of shipments going through Axamar’s Tane station recently. This was revealed to be dozens of self-contained survival pods, miniature bases that can be dropped from low orbit and act as hidden supply caches in hostile terrain. They were destined for Nimbala, and records show that hundreds have been deployed over the last few months.    
Well, that’s the turn planned out. RPG session starts this week as the team investigates the mystery of Solitude X. Ice caves, strange crystals, Imperial secrets, silent monks and spy games await.

Monday, 21 September 2015

Round Three end phase - Talathen Sector Campaign

Our ¼ way break is over and the campaign resumes this week. I thought it best to leave the results from round 3 until we were ready to start round 4.
From this point on, all glory rewards and research points are increased by 25%. At turn 6 that will go to 50% and 75% for the last three turns.

The idea behind that is to ensure that no one is totally out of the chase for glory, and final victories mean more than early ones.
The map is updated on the right, Red for Rebels, Grey for Imperials, Pink for “the devourer cult” and Green for an unknown faction.

Mission reports

Luxon – Feeling frustrated at being at being unable to break the blockade over Luxon, fight command decided to conduct a flyover raid, in an attempt to show the flag and boost morale. What they didn’t count on was this being seen as an opportunity by civilians to follow the fighters through the blockade and escape.
Most of the civilian ships made it through the blockade, but the members of Red squadron, and their Z-95’s paid a high price. Fighter Commander Lt Blount died in this incident.
Zenith – Following up on a lead from a new pilot joining the rebellion, Special forces hit an old republic storage area to capture a squadron of mothballed Y-wings. This was a rousing success and the storage facility also included a small number of X-wings. 9 Y-wings and 3 X-wings were obtained for fighter command with no casualties incurred.
Korvas – A daring raid was conducted on the imperial space dock facilities on Korvas. Despite the Empire being ready for the attack, they were not ready for the approach speeds and cavalier attitude of the fleet. Although they lost on cr-90 and it’s commander Anto Salamon, they have prevented the Empire from being able to service Imperial class star destroyers in sector.
The Boneyard – Cresh squad special forces have been expanding operations in the boneyard and have received additional support from high command. An intelligence intercept allowed Cresh Squad to intercept the prison ship that was transporting Anto Salamon. An attempted rescue operation was repelled by elite zero-g trained Stormtroopers. Anto’s body was later displayed on an Imperial broadcast as the Empire gained a PR coup from branding him “the mastermind of the Korvas terrorist attacks”.  
Cahn – A diplomatic mission to Cahn has revealed the Devourer cult, despite its name, is open to discussion with the rebellion about combating the Empire. More information is required before a deal can be struck
Imperial Purge – A massive crackdown on the core worlds of Talathen Prime, Talathen VII and Korvas is underway. Rebels are being actively sought and rewards offered, this has eroded rebel support on Talathen, although the resounding victory on Korvas has undermined these efforts.
Nimbala – Something unusual is happening on Nimbala outside the rebellions view. Another force on Nimbala has begun undermining Czerka operations and conducting guerrilla warfare, Czerka’s share price for the Nimbala holding company is plummeting.
Mysterious contact – Someone hacked into the Rebellion secure channels and asked to discuss a shared interest in defeating the Empire. This individual eventually revealed himself as Professor Hodda, a Hutt exile who claims to be more concerned with science and legitimate business than most Hutts. He has offered to work with the Rebellion against the Hutt Cartel, Black Sun and Empire in return for defence related contracts.
Dealing with the Beast – As noted in the previous RPG report, Aurek Team was dispatched to meet and recruit the legendary “Beast of Luxon”, a famed naval officer with a sizeable following. His recruitment brings in a Nebulon-B frigate and two cr-90s to the fleet.


As we are introducing a new mechanic, alliances, recruitment went a little differently. Alliances are powerful characters who have a special bonus. Alliance characters are never “directly controlled” by the players, but they always have closer ties with one faction over the others.
Any actions by alliance partners generate half-glory. But they can do a lot more than a normal single character. The first two alliances represented, are Hodda and his business enterprise and the Wookie clan that was rescued on Nimbala in turn 2.
Professor Hodda went to the people’s movement for 13 clout. More concerned with the Hutts operations than the others, the People’s movement wished to keep the closest eye on the Hutt.
Attatark, Wookie chieftain went to the Republicans for 18 Clout. Always on the lookout for military assets, the Republicans did not hesitate to spend heavily to obtain an army of loyal wookies.

After the alliances were recruited, we moved on to the normal passage of recruitment. All blind bids.

X-3PO, A protocol droid reprogrammed into a Assassin Droid. X-3PO is a capable assassin and diplomat. Respecting such a dual threat, the Luxon Militia paid 21 clout to obtain his services.
Gaarkan, A Wookie warrior and brawler, good for smashing things and not much else. 15 clout to the People’s movement as the shore up their interests in Special forces
Salin Hoark, an excellent smuggler and light transport pilot. Continuing the complete lockout of smuggling operations, she went to the Basra Consortium for 10 clout

Tarn Mison, an average X-wing pilot but quite a good squadron leader. He also went to the Basra consortium for 10 clout.  With a vacant Fighter Command position following the death of Blount, are the Basra Consortium about to push for a military command?

Oleg Thrax, the Beast of Luxon, a great fleet officer with his own ship. Went to the Basra consortium for 21 clout in another military move. It’s worth noting that the basra consortium went into this round with a lot of clout to spend.
Horton Salm, in a surprise twist, the Basra consortium gave 17 clout to the Luxon militia in order to lock anyone else out of obtaining the service of legendary Y-wing ace Horton Salm. The Luxon militia paid 24 clout for him, of which only 7 came from their own supplies.
This left the Republicans with 13 Clout and the People’s movement with 14 as they did not make a similar deal in response.

Glory updates. 

After three rounds we have two divisions in Glory, the leading pair are virtually in a dead heat and well clear of the trailing two.

The Luxon Militia – 62 Glory
The Republicans – 61 Glory
The Peoples movement – 43 Glory
The Basra Consortium – 34 Glory

Nine rounds to go, and still a lot to play for.

Monday, 7 September 2015

A tribute to Nick Garden, my friend.

Nick picks up one of many tournament awards
It is with profound sadness that I write this post.

Nick Garden, a friend and former work colleague of mine passed away over the weekend. It was not expected and has come as a terrible shock to the Wellington gaming community and Nick's friends and colleagues. 

Nick was a unique presence, when you first met him he seemed like a bit of a grumpy sod. But you quickly realized that was just his way, softly spoken and a little bit curmudgeonly. But the grumpy exterior hid a guy who was thoughtful, patient, fair and with a wry sense of humour. 

Nick's top hat wearing swamp troll was a local icon. 
He was the kind of guy who would play hard but play fair, if you were learning a game, he would show extreme amounts of patience to walk you through it, and he would always offer sound advice and feedback afterwards. 

If you ever wanted to talk about any aspect of the hobby, Nick had ideas on everything. And he played everything, Nick had armies for dozens of games. 

For some of Nicks models, check out here

He was also a fair umpire and volunteered time to help with events and add to the community. A man who was greatly respected by his peers, for his passion for the hobby and his good nature. 

More important to me was the time we spent outside gaming. I worked with Nick for 18 months, on a programme of work that was at time frustrating and frantic, and the other times dull as dishwater. 

Without Nick and the rest of the "Ministry of Wargaming" crew to talk to at lunch, or chat with over internal messenger I would have been completely miserable there. Knowing that I had a lunch break to sit around with fellow geeks and relax for an hour kept me going, and I don't really know if that crew realized just how important those lunches were to me. 

Earlier this year, Nick devoted a lot of time to the ANZAC miniatures memorial, you can see the full work here. While this is a memorial to our fallen soliders on the cliffs of Gallipoli, from now on i'll have a hard time thinking about it without also thinking about Nick. 

A few words can never tell you the full story of a man, his life and the impact they have had on their friends. Nick was a great guy, and we will miss him, I guess that's all I really needed to say.

Gallipoli Memorial

Nick working on the diorama with Simon (Standing, top left of interior cutout) 

The last time I played Nick at Warmachine

Using cannons, why? because they were cool. 
Nick and I played about a dozen games of warmachine, this was the only time I ever won. 

US Civil War

Flames of War


Friday, 4 September 2015

Arkham Investigator - Beta testing a new boardgame

First off, i'd like to thank the designers of this game for making a beta available on Boardgame geek. If you find this article interesting, I highly recommend popping over there and downloading the demo set. 

So what is Arkham investigator?

Put simply it's a deduction game. One that can be played in a group or alone. In a lot of way's it is like an old school "fighting fantasy" book, asides from you a never told what the next entry will be and the choices are not binary. 

The backdrop of the game is HP Lovecrafts Arkham, a city any reader of this blog will be familiar with. You are graduate students at Miskatonic university investigating a series of unusual events in the city, with each event being a separate case. 

You are given a briefing of what the case is, a map of the city, the local newspaper and a phone directory. You must move from encounter to encounter solving the case.

This is the meat of the game, there are virtually no "mechanics" and no dice rolling whatsover. You read the encounter, make notes of each one, and then decide where to go next. The locations of the game are in the directory and each location pertains to an entry in the case file.

For example, say you come across a package that was dropped on the street. You see a mailing address on it, deciding that this is your best clue, you go to the directory and look up the address. That would inform you of what the next entry is. 

You can go to as many entries and locations as you feel you need to, but the game is a race against the clock and the goal is to solve the case perfectly. 

At the same time you are investigating, Professor Armitage, your mentor, is also solving the case, and he will do it perfectly. He ask you questions about the case when you feel you have solved it and your score is based on how long it took you to solve the case, and how many question you got right.

Armitage will then tell you exactly how the case was solved.

If this all sounds a little familiar, it is because the game borrows it's core system from a Sherlock Holmes game. 

Normally, i'm not kind to games that lift systems from other games and reskin them. But in all honesty, the system is a tiny part of the creative effort in this game. The real work is in world building and creating the cases and stories. 

How it played

Normally in co-op games, i try not to be too vocal, but I couldn't help myself this time. In future i'll dial down my insistence at doing things my way :)

We divided up responsibilities so that one player had the casebook and read the clues, one had the directory, another the map, and the fourth the "list of allies" page. Each turn we rotated the components clockwise, so that the same person was reading each time. 

The rules say the current "lead investigator" makes the final call for what passage to read, but that really didn't become an issue. We, after some banter and debate normally settled on one or two primary targets each turn. And decided as a group where to go. 

The bit that tripped us up was knowing when to stop. We felt we had a pretty clear idea of what had happened and the last two entries we went to added nothing much asides from making us feel we had gone on to far. I guess, that because the game doesn't have a fixed ending, knowing when to call it quits takes some experience. 

I'd also say that each case has very little replay value, so while the game will come with 10 cases or so, once you've played a case, it would be very difficult to replay it.

Still, it actually felt like we were solving a case and that clues were being followed. And while we didn't score the perfect 100 points on our first outing, 65 seemed like a good first effort. Especially as we missed out on a 25 point question that we had deduced from partial information, but gotten slightly incorrect.  

The team enjoyed the experience, and feel a second attempt would be warranted.

Although one of our players is a designer, and was critical of the fonts in some sections being quite difficult to read. I concur, while gothic fonts are probably timely to the game, they are a pain to read. 

Spoilers below, How our case went. (highlight page to read)

Don't read this if you wish to play game one. 

We started out by going to the crime scene. Big mistake, while criminology 101 might say going to the crime scene is the best plan for starting a case, that doesn't take into account that the victim was screaming "the trees are alive". We encountered a Dark young and freaked out.

As a first encounter, this had the team saying "well that escalated quickly", it was a little bit too much mythos in the face for a first entry, or first case for my liking. Dark Young are a big bad, revealing them in an entry that would be quite logically the first one read was a distraction. I would have preferred if it was hinted at, rather than shown so dramatically.

From there, we went to the hospital to talk to the victim, who was in bad shape with something cracking her open from the inside. We then went to the forensics guy, found the victims address, went to her place, and found the offenders address. Discovering the evil seeds and ritual blade. Finally, we went to the diner and missed the exchange but rushed to the train station. Feeling the last clue we spent was a waste, we then wanted to checkout the library about some goo, which also told us nothing new. So we called it closed.

What we thought was that the offender had attempted to put a seed in the victims chest, but had chickened out and redressed her. We got the order wrong, but were definitely on the right track, but those 25 points hurt our final score a lot. We got implantation, instead of extraction. So close. 

Saturday, 15 August 2015

A murder mystery in space - Talathen sector campaign RPG update.

Instead of the normal "mission report" style for RPG reports, i'll talk about this session a little differently. 

When we created the setting, I asked my players for four "events" they really wanted to see happen. They were

  • A massive tech breakthrough
  • A plague or epidemic to occur
  • The "second battle of the boneyard"
  • A classic "whodunnit" mystery
This roleplaying game session was the "whodunnit mystery" and borrowed from a few sources heavily, mostly "cluedo" and the Blakes 7 episode "Mission to Destiny"

I essentially took this episode and rewrote it for the setting. Major core elements of the story, the stun gas, an inside job, the dead pilot, a missing crew member and missing life rocket were shamelessly stolen. Where I changed the story was in the framing, instead of the crew stumbling on to a random ship in space, it was a preset meeting. And instead of a valuable commodity being the "MacGuffin" I made it a high ranking Luxon officer who had gone rogue and was contemplating joining the rebellion. 

I also added in considerably more complexity to the clues as well and removed the really obvious pointers in the story. So while I used the episode as the story core, i wanted to up the difficulty in the mystery and cut out a lot of short cuts (Personally, the letters written in blood clue in the original is so obvious I had to bin it as my players would see right through it)

The premise

Our crew were asked to meet with Oleg Thrax, hero of the first Battle of the boneyard and a major Luxon leader in exile. His camp lost the political struggle that allowed Kallista Vox to become the leader of the Luxon militia. In recent times, after viewing the successes of the rebellion, he decided he might return to help. Although well known for his ruthless military style and discipline, he is a hero in the sector and a man people can rally around. 

One of our player characters is Kallista's older brother, a combat surgeon and veteran solider. He was picked to represent the alliance as he knew Oleg personally, and Oleg hates diplomats and "soft" bureaucrats. 

The team was asked to rendezvous on Samoth, on a remote island. There they were asked by a protocol droid to enter a shuttle and be taken to pre-programmed coordinates. The shuttle was heavily modified and it's navigation and hyperspace systems were locked down and wielded shut. 

The Ship

The ship they were visiting was an unusual design I came up with. The left side of the ship is a massive deployable storage area and the engineering section and habitats. The right side is the entire command and services area, including the bridge, medbay, armoury and hangar. 

The ship was dead in space when the team arrived. Nominal lighting and power on, and not responding to communications, although the hangar doors were open.

Our force sensitive player got a terrible feeling about the hangar, so they docked at the auxiliary airlock on the left side of the ship

Stepping on-board I had the doctor roll medicine to detect the smell of "anaestathen gas" in the air. One triumph later, the good doctor smelled the gas, found an oxygen mask sotrage unit by the airlock and had handed them out. They then began to explore the dark and empty ship

The Crew (Cluedo)

Coming up with names for characters that people can remember is pretty tricky. So what I did was cheat. Each character wore an old luxon uniform, with branch of service in a coloured band on their shoulders, similar in style to star trek Voyager, as shown here. 

The names were borrowed directly from Cluedo, as we were doing a "whodunnit" it seemed perfect :) People remember names like Colonel Mustard a lot easier than normal Star War names.

The crew were as follows

Oleg Thrax, the Beast, the Hero of the Boneyard, Captain. 

Oleg is intended to be a recurring character, so he got a real name. He was found unconscious in his captains ready room with two puncture marks in his neck.
While everyone else was unconcious from the gas in the air, he was doubly drugged with an additional heavy duty drug that could only have come from med bay. Dr Vox examined him and decided that waking him up early might kill him. (And, with such a forceful personality in mind for this character, I did want him out of the picture while they investigated, and the offender really, really, didn't want him waking up early)

Commander Scarlet, Chief Flight officer and 2IC

Scarlet was a middle aged red headed women who was found asleep in her quarters in her bed. I described her as looking a lot like Beverly Crusher from Star Trek, but less "Professional and maternal" and more "Commanding and overtly sexual".

Lt Pink, Flight Officer

As a junior flight officer, the hue of his rank colours was a pinker red that the bright scarlet of his commanding officer. Pink was found on the flight deck, bludgeoned to death by a fire extinguisher. He had not fallen asleep during the gas attack, because Scarlet closed the vents as she didn't like the "breeze" on the flight deck.

Lt Colonel Mustard, Ship Security

Colonel Mustard was found in a very suspicious place and position. He was found, unconscious with a pillow, magazines and some vials of narcotics. His ID and security cards were missing.

Although initially a top suspect, it was revealed that his drug use for pain had become a problem, and that he occasionally "shot up" in private on his off hours. While his failure as a security officer allowed the offender to his security credentials, he was ruled out quickly as a "sad case" more than a criminal mastermind. 

Commander Green, Chief Engineer

Green was found inside an access panel in engineering unconscious. He was near where the gas bottle pumping gas into the air system was located. Green was an unusual chap, when revived he seemed strangely calm and matter of fact about things. He answered every question honestly,but in a way that left our investigators feeling uneasy. The rest of the crew suggested he was a loner and a recluse. 

Digging into his character revealed some giant traumas during the battle of the boneyard. Green was a recluse due to PTSD and his reclusive nature was due to losing his entire engineering crew there.

He remained a top candidate during the investigation, due to his access, detachment and where he was found. 

Dr White, Medical Officer

Dr White was found unconscious on the floor in medbay, which looked like it had been ransacked. When revived, Dr White proved herself to be quite an arrogant pretentious perfectionist and martinet. She claimed that medbay was not ransacked when she fell unconscious, and that she had passed out while searching for her rebreather when she smelled gas.

White pointed the finger first at Lime, who was missing and then Green because he was "weird". The team discarded her as a suspect, mostly due to the mistake made when injecting the commander, which she considered "sloppy and imperfect" and the team agreed. 

Lt Blue, Communications Officer

Lt Blue was found in her quarters on her bed fully clothed. Lt Commander Plum was found in her quarters sitting at a small dinner table by a half eaten meal. Lt Blue said that Plum and her were in a "discrete liaison" and were having dinner during their off hours. She said she felt very sleepy, but does not remember going to her bed.

As Communications Officer, she also mentioned some irregularities in the comms system that she hadn't reported to the Captain. She said that due to her relative lack of experience she had kept it quiet as she tried to figure it out, so as to not appear incompetent. 

Although the team did discover the Communications irregularities, they didn't dig deep enough to discover that it was her login that made the changes to the system. 

Blue was a reasonable suspect as, under pressure, she revealed that her relationship with a senior officer was for self-advancement. That, and she had the skills required to do the job. 

Lt Lime, Engineer

Lt Lime was the top suspect for the first half of the investigation for one major reason. He was missing, and an escape pod was missing. Lt lime had the skills to sabotage the ship, but the crew were adamant that he was "A fine young man".

Suspicion was removed when his body was found in the cargo hold under a tarpaulin (It's a tarp!), a short distance away from the door to engineer. A detailed scan of the area found tiny traces of blood and his injuries were consistent with a short range blaster bolt to the back of the neck.  

The Droid

Not long after Lime's body was discovered, the team began to suspect that there was a stowaway on-board, so decided to investigate the crawl spaces of the ventilation system. During this investigation, they found a small armed hover-droid floating through the vents.

This droid escaped capture for a while, moving all over the ship, before finally being cornered and destroyed. But not before it delivered a small package to the offender. 

Commander Plum, Third Officer

Commander Plum was a science officer by trade but also a generalist. In his role as third officer on the ship he manned the sensors on the bridge, and also acting as a backup medical officer.

He was found in Blues quarters and admitted feeling drowsy when Blue passed out, he placed her on the bed before passing out himself.

He admitted being in a relationship with Blue and mentioned that he was separated from his wife and family. A detailed study of the captains personnel files revealed that while he was separated from his wife, they were still close and that he kept in contact with his son.  

During the confusion involving the droid, Plum managed to get into the security room (which had been locked) and bolted himself in. 

How it was done

Plum was being blackmailed by the Empire. They had taken his estranged wife and his son and had threatened to kill them if he did not deliver the Captain to them.

He used his personal relationship with Blue to get superuser access to the communications system, and put a coded transmission to repeat the ships location on a sub-channel. 

He took White's rebreather from medbay while she was off duty and stored it in his work bag.

He then placed a sedative in Blue's drink and waited for her to pass out. So she was asleep before the gas was delivered. 

Knowing that enginnering was not on a 24 hour roster, he picked a time when both Lime and Green were off duty and placed the gas bottle in the air filtration system. He was surprised by Lime wearing a rebreather when he left engineering and, when Lime was talking to him, his droid his shot him. Lime then began to drag his body away.

The Green appeared from his quarters so Plum had to hide quickly. He hid Limes body in the cargo bay and followed Green to engineering but found him passed out in the ventilation shaft. 

Plum then found Mustard in the Storage Shed where he knew he would be and took his security pass.

From there he went to Med bay and got the drugs needed to dope up the Captain. Due to Mustard's drug use, White had moved their location so he had to search quickly to find them, making a mess in the process. 

From there he went to the bridge, finding Pink still conscious. Without a blaster of his own, he had to use the fire extinguisher to beat him to death. He then trashed the bridge controls. 

After that, he went to the captain's room. And while he was medically trained, his hands were shaking violently from the brutal murder he had committed, so he made a mistake giving him the strong sedative, leaving two marks on the Captains neck.

Knowing the player characters were on the way, he went to the armoury and grabbed explosives. He wired the hangar doors to explode when they closed once a ship docked.

Having some time, he changed uniforms in the shower/laundry to remove the blood spatter from killing pink.

Seeing that the player characters had not used the Hangar, he panicked and took his dirty uniform and placed it in the escape pod and fired it. he then returned the mask to medbay and quickly rushed to Blue's quarters to pass out from the gas. 


When the Captain woke up, he was not pleased. 

A fake "Imperial boarding action" was staged to convince him to leave the security room, where he was apprehended. The Beast wanted to execute him immediately, but negotiated with the characters to have him stand trial instead.

Oleg Drax agreed to join the rebellion on the condition that the people of Luxon receive a referendum on joining a New Republic or being independent if they win. He brings with him a Nebulon B frigate and two Corellian Corvettes.

Friday, 31 July 2015

"He was the best of us" - Round 3 Battles - Talathen Sector Campaign

The last few weeks have gone a bit slower than expected due to my players being ill, so it's been a while between updates. However, here are all three battle reports from the last two weeks. 

Korvas shipyard raid - Fleet action

The empire has been converting a civilian dry-dock into a military drydock. The implications for the rebellion were quite dire, as it would mean faster turn around time for Imperial ships, and therefore, more patrols in the sector. 

The drydock was also big enough to handle Imperial Class Star Destroyers, and Fleet Command wanted it blown up at all costs. The first attempt, a sabotage run was blown almost immediately as the empire were waiting for them and the operative was nearly captured. Throwing all caution to the wind, Fleet command threw everything they had, and everything they could borrow at the problem. 

As our sector fleet is quite small, everything was a Borrowed Assault Frigate from The Alliance Fleet Command, 3 Cr-90's and 8 stands of Z-95's. 

The objective was represented by the space station with 6 shields. That could take any amount of damage after that point, but would be destroyed on a single critical hit. 

Opposing them was one Victory Star destroyer, and 6 stands of tie fighters.

Sounds like a horrible mismatch right? The rebels were deeply suspicious of the table deployment, of the fact they had initiative when they didn't buy it, and the fact i'd asked one of them to bring his spare gladiator. 

The rebels came in fast, faster than I initially anticipated, and went straight for the objective. Then i revealed the hyperspace markers under the debris fields and deployed my gladiators behind them using hyperspace assault. 

A classic tactic, with one massive flaw. I brought them in too slow, so they got one round of shooting before the rebels darted away from them. 

However, in that one round I annihilated one Cr-90 and badly damaged the Assault Frigate. The Captain of the CR-90, Anto Salamon, went down with the ship and was presumed dead.

Although recent information suggests he was captured alive. Poor Imperials, Anto is known for being a pompous arrogant jerk and will no doubt regale them with stories of how the Rebellion will be diminished with his loss, as in his mind he "Was the best of us". 

Things look grim for the rebellion until turn 3, when the whole mission changed on a single dice roll. Taking his pile of red dice, Airen Cracken commanded the damaged assault Frigate to open up on the drydock. And in one volley of fire, all 6 shields went down. The Imperials were very concerned, until his second volley failed to produce the kill shot.

However, two CR-90's were rapidly moving into range, and a volley of turbolaser fire from those two ships produced the critical result needed for victory. 

Slow to respond and turn, the Imperial fleet could do nothing to stop the high speed rebel force from disengaging victoriously. 

This was probably the best mission of the campaign, as it felt like the rebels were doomed when the Gladiators appeared and ripped into them, but they stuck to the plan, kept on moving, and punched a whole through the defences, killed the target and fled with the loss of only one ship. 

Stealing Fighters - Ground command assault on Zenith Storage facility

This mission took place at a hidden hangar facility near the polar icecap of Zenith.

The Alliance received intelligence that a small number of Republic era fighters and other contraband was being stored in this hangar.

The plan was to infiltrate a special forces team into the base, clear the way of resistance and escort pilots to the fighters and have them escape with them.

This was our very first "two-part mission", as we also played out the escape from the planet using X-wing.

The same special forces team participated in this attack as the last Special forces report.

It's worth noting that the picture above is at turn 4 (I forgot to take pics earlier). By this time the rebels had got very busy and had gunnerd down a rather high number of Stormtroopers. 

Yep, 13 models taken out in the first 3 turns. That's some busy killing going on. 

The Special forces team split into two groups. Hallarn (Commander), Keel (Sniper) and Fenn (Himself) acted as a firebase, coming in from the north entrance on turn 1.

Gooda (Gunfighter) and Gaxx (Wookie) come in through the side entrance on turn 2, with the pilots following behind them on turn 3. 

Virtually every shot was a kill by the rebels, it was uncanny. I expected the sheer number of troopers to slow them down, but it really didn't. And while I managed to wound two characters, this mission never looked like it was going to be anything other than a rebel victory after turn 2.

I cam quite close to killing/badly wounding Fenn When he didn't take into account my officers moving the E-Webs and their double shots. But ended up 2 points short (The amount his new armour protected him by.....)

The conclusion from this battle is a minor rules change. Due to Rebel characters being able to heal themselves easily when the pressure is off, I am changing the "no reinforcement" option to "delayed reinforcements" for Imperial Assault.

The Rebels got all their pilots to their ships, picking up 9 Y-wings (including a couple of the version with locked forward turrets) and a surprising 3 X-wings. In Addition, the astromech droids assigned to the ships had been left installed and had all developed unusual personality quirks. (Each of the unique R droids for X-wing was unlocked as a unique card) 

Stealing Fighters - Space Combat with new fighter squadron

This mission wasn't for high stakes, it was like a "bonus round" for the first 3 rounds of the campaign (the first quarter if you would as the campaign will last 12 rounds............ oh wow...... John Cena reference).

The Rebels massively outgunned the Imperials, and the idea was a mini-competition to see who could kill the most Tie-fighters.

Each player got 2 identical ships from the following options, once one option was gone, a player had to pick another, and they picked in "reverse glory" order

  • Grey Squadron Y-wing with Ion Turret
  • Gold Squadron Y-wing with Ion Turret and Proton Torps
  • Rookie X-wing with Proton Torps
  • Gold Squadron Y-wings with blaster turrets locked in forward position. 
I preplanned the Tie Fighter squadrons moves before the game. Fly forward on turn 1, turn in on turn 2, and cross on turn 3, k -turn back on turn 4.

Very tidy formation playing if i do say so myself. 

Still, the idea was to give the guys a final "hit-out" for this section of the campaign, let them experience the new fighters (and cheer for making the Z-95's obsolete).

Final kill totals

Luxon Militia (X-wings)  - 3
Basra Consortion (Y-wing variant) - 3
People's movement  (Y-wing gold) - 2 
Republicans (Y Wing Grey) - 0

A 2 to 1 points differential in a game makes for a really funny and quite different experience. 

Round 3 will conclude with one and a half roleplaying session, followed by the end phase. Then the campaign will take a break for a month or so. 

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Mansions of Madness - The Monsters complete

Mansions of madness is a unique game. Its mix of dungeon crawling, horror themes, exploration and unique scenarios, make it a really different experience to other games, and I feel it is the Arkham series game that best captures the feeling of the short stories. Usually, you cannot win by fighting the monsters and the game is best played when the investigators hurriedly run around in a panic to desperatly stop the horror before it overwhelms them.

And as you know, I paint my boardgames just to make the gaming experience cooler. My mantra with boardgames is to paint them well enough that they look ok on the table, but simple enough that it doesn't take a lifetime to paint. After all, they are paying pieces first and foremost.

However, for this project I had an extra set of criteria. Monsters in mansions have little data cards that you are mean't to slide in and out when you deploy a new one, as each card has different stats and specials on it. I find sliding those cards a pain in the butt, so I wanted every single monster in a group to be virtually indistinguishable from the others. 

Note, I left the Mansions monsters box open and they got dusty. I'll sort that out at some point. 

Take these maniacs as the first example. Yep, they are in a slightly different body position. But I did my absolute best effort to make sure the models looked as close as possible, right down to the blood spatter. 

Also, another plug for GW's "blood for the blood god", it's simply the best "blood" material i've worked with in painting by miles. I love how it looks on the denim jeans, as that is how blood looks on jeans. 

The cultists were painted as identically as possible. Normally I mix up race in my models, as I don't like seeing a swarm of white dudes only in all my games. But the setting, and the concept of "matching" didn't really work this time around. 

The Shoggoth's got fully covered in a glossy sheen, but asides from that, they are basic black with a tiny bit of highlighting. The eyes are only real "painting" on the figures. It goes to show that even minimal effort can yeild fine looking models for table top play. You don't need a golden daemon sword quality figure for a boardgame to look a lot better. 

I'm so so on these guys, but i'm really happy with how the human heads turned out. The key idea for the monsters, along with "matching" was to make them colourful and easily differentiated from other monsters. This is why I went with quite a vibrant colour palette over the whole series. 

Of course, to balance out those bright colours, other figures got more homely looking schemes. The nightgaunt's in particular, are mentioned in the stories as being featureless. So i thought painting them a dull grey would work. 

The zombies were another large batch that needed to match. I used some of the GW corrosion technical paint to give them a dirty look as well. A hate how they are all waving like gormless fans though. It's not a pose I would have chosen for them. 

The wizard was my least favourite model in the range. He's just a bearded dude standing with his mouth open. I wanted him to be a little bit cooler, so I custom made some tentacles and put them growing out of his mouth. This way, instead of standing there gormlessly, he looks like he's about to explode and become a Dark Young. 

 Finally, my favourite models in the set, The Dark Young and the Crawling ones. The Dunwich Horror itself is an odd figure, the face and the tentacles are kinda cool. But the Dark young is such a nice figure, it feels very solid, as the plastic they use is a bit floppy on thinner parts like arms and weapons. He's just a big ball of awesome. 

The crawling ones had more effort put into them than many of the other figures, because i like them so much. I used wet-blending on the torso to tentacle section, so it looks like the humanoid torso is organically growing out of the sludge at the bottom.

Total paint time for these figures was low, and the key was making them functionally good, rather than works of art. Virtually anyone can paint to this level with a small amount of practice. So I say again, don't be dissuaded from painting your games, even an average to mediocre paintjob is 100 times better than bare plastic. 
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