Friday, February 17, 2017

What have I been doing all winter?

Dang… going on another 2 months of not posting anything. Why? I could toss down the usual “holidays, bad cold, work, yadda yadda…” and it’s all true but I’ve also been lazy. My brain is thinking “what am I even blogging about and what do my blog posts even add to the hobby and community?” and 2017 has had a few shifts in how my mind works for many reasons.

I have not been getting out into the woods and that poses a problem to me. I like to be in the woods. Small fire, cold day, hot cup of coffee, some meat, silence…. things I love. I live in the city and do not have a back yard even. If I did I could do this in a back yard.

I got pretty unhealthy the past few years. I was closer to 400 pounds than anyone needs to be. I joined Weight Watchers and I am now closer to 300 pounds. I’ve got a ways to go but, so far, it’s been good. My wife, Gretchen, is a huge inspiration and my partner in this journey of getting healthier. As it should be we are a team and doing this together. By the end of 2017 I hope to be at my fighting weight of 250. Then I will reassess my needs and get into some more physical things like martial arts (always a favorite of mine) and more hiking.

A lot of things have helped me lose the weight I have lost already. Gretchen, WW meetings and accountability, my own will. The weakest link in that is my will and one that I found that really helped me was a re-embracing of my warrior nature.*

*I could go on and on about “warrior” culture and the spectrum that term calls up. Many will disagree with my opinions and have their own opinions. For me “being a warrior” is closer to literal. My military service is over but I still feel the need to serve and protect. I am not a police officer either, my charges being my family and my work. After that comes my community. Order of care for me is: Me, My Family, My Work, My Community.

I caught the History Channel show The Selection. In A nutshell – 30 civilians go through an abridged version of BUDs (Seal training). They can drop whenever, it is not a competition. It brought me back to my days in the Navy and my regrets about not trying out for BUDs again after my first failed attempt. I recognized I’ve kind of been wallowing in that failure for a long time. I used to be really fit and capable but I’ve kind of let it go since my failure. I’ve had a go at other things since – SCA heavy fighting, Aikido, Kendo. I just really let it all go though. The show had actual BUDs instructors instructing civies as though it were real training. People dropped left and right but what really lit a fire was the dynamic of instruction and it brought me back to my own experiences.

 The instructors were hard. No kid gloves, they lit into students like you would imagine. When one was failing or gave up they gave very honest and calculated advice and uplifting words. When a student was succeeding they’d try to make sure they didn’t get to big in the head. When one failed the real-world advice would come out.

You did good. What we are putting you through is very difficult. Take what you learned here and use it in life. You know your limitations now just take it one more step next time. Good job.”

 My favorite exchange was:
I am in Hell Instructor.”
No you are not. Hell is a construct of the human mind. You are here, right now, in reality. You have choices.”

Enough about my hubris and struggles. What does this equate to? Am I going to slow my wargaming roll? Nope, not at all. Wargaming, for me, is many things. It exercises my mind in both a sporting and martial aspect. It keeps my “craft” busy with the painting and modeling. It allows me access to people I normally would not be around socially, their beliefs and opinions and the variations therein are important to me. Also I learn from them. What I am exposed to, if processed properly, will make me a better person.

After Ambuscade there was an inadvertent long break from gaming for both I and Spencer (organizer of Ambuscade). Many reasons – as noted above we had holidays, weather, and work. On top of that add political turmoil and the resulting protests. Getting around town and hauling 100s of figures about was getting kind of hard among the shoppers, protesters, and ice.

 Spencer solved that by organizing a few games in his basement and a “big” 6 person game of Lion Rampant using his Celtic Dark Age figures and my Viking Dark Age figures. Came out to over 100 28mm figures per side and we had a rousing battle with the Irish pulling out a last round win. Very fun and exciting.

It’s “get ready for Enfilade season” too and that’s lit a fire under my ass. I’m hosting a game named “Fight for York” using Saga. 4 players, Vikings vs. Normans in a winter terrain, based off the historical accounts of William the Conqueror’s Harrying of the North. All I have to do to get ready for it is finish painting up some Bretons and get some terrain squared away. Other than that it’s all about squaring away the funding for the trip and it’s a go. No Saga Tournament from me this year, I do hope someone else takes up the mantle and hosts one.

Speaking of Saga, Saga is my favorite game I am actively playing.  It was the final nail in the “I’m going to be doing this a lot” coffin in that I played some other historical wargames in the past but Saga was the one that made me get the t-shirt. I do like other games but the ones I actively play now I have some pretty big issues with some parts. Of course, what I am actively into right now (meaning I play them regularly and can muster an army to play from my own collection) is 80% skirmish games and 25mm, the only non-skirmish game I am playing is Warlord’s Pike and Shotte.

Speaking of Pike and Shotte I did pick up a copy of Pikeman’s Lament and am looking forward to a first game of that.

I am interested in other eras and rule-sets but right now, pre Enfilade 2017, I am sticking with what I have. I do hope to explore some other games at Enfilade though.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Happy Holidays 2016

It’s less than a week before Xmas and Solstice is right on us. Just wanted to get this post out to wish anyone reading this a Happy Holidays and I hope 2017 brings you satisfaction with your endeavors.

2016 was a decent year for me. The usual fumbles but also many wins. The fumbles always involve money for me but I am ignorant on finances so that’s the usual.

2016 Wins In War Gaming-
1) I finished a playable English Civil War collection of models. Scots Covenanters – small unit for Pike and Shotte, big unit for Skirmish Level rule sets. I will add to it in 2017.
2) I learned a lot at Enfilade this year, 2016 being my second Enfilade.
3) My war game group expanded.
4) I learned a lot about the hobby of historical wargaming in general. The ins and outs, why stuff is done the way it is, the history of the hobby (in general and locally).

2016 Wins in non-war gaming:
1) Oakland Raiders made it to the playoffs for the first time in 14 years.

 Gift-giving is a thing in my circle and I am hoping to get some new Kolinsky sable brushes. If not I’ll just buy them next month.

Some people call them New Year Resolutions – I like to make myself an oath, a “Viking” tradition for some of them (though I do not follow the modern Asatru religion, I like the traditions). I did not make one last year so I am due. I always try to take my oaths seriously and not be frivolous. I also tend to make them based off self-improvement or knowledge/skill that I lack. I will make this one official here:

In the name of all the delicious things that may fall from the ginger beard of Thor I, Gabe “Rollo” Martin swear to take either Laughing Crowe’s shoe making class or get into Trackers Earth Black Smithing class in 2017.

The pragmatic aspect in holding me back in these is money, as is the usual. The shoe class is $400 and the black smithing class is $1000. I’m not getting a new car in 2017 as rent went up for me in the style of high Portland rent (the city’s problem du jour) but I will try to swing the $400 or $1000. Not sure how but I will try.

Why those and not “world peace” or “to be a better citizen”? Oaths like that are bullshit in my opinion. I like to be useful more than anything else. To me usefulness is the key to both good citizenry and relationships. Why shoes or black smithing though? Why not get better at my weak spots in war gaming (which would be terrain craft)? Well, being useful to me also means being a jack of all trades. I have spent a lot of time at the historical war gaming craft the past few years so it’s time to step back out of that box (just one step!!) and get back into some other skills.

Also, being a child of the Cold War, I fully admit to my paranoia and pre-occupation to the apocalypse. I know, a real disaster looks nothing like Mad Max or The Walking Dead. The whole, “When the shit hits the fan the only valuables left will be beans and bullets…” thing is a total crock. BUT… I still follow that and part of my preps is to have skills like making a Viking turn shoe or hammering out some nails.

I have black smithed before and I have even made a pair of turn shoes (and failed) but it’s always been a try it on my own thing. In 2017 I’d like the most formal training I can get in either.

Next thing I’d like to do is get better at sewing. I know the basics and can hand sew real good but being able to understand patterns and measurements and turn out clothing items on a machine would be a great skill to have and would even be a “legacy” skill for me as my Mom was a professional seamstress.

Looks like I want to be proficient at dressing someone in a sturdy and reasonable outfit – under clothes, shirt, pants, cap, belt and buckle, shoes… 

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Ambuscade! 2016

Winter is Coming!! Now that that is out of the way let’s talk about a little event we had last weekend called Ambuscade!

Last Summer Spencer had mentioned he wanted to hold a Saga Tournament and that idea evolved into a historical war gaming event. As he moved forward with the idea he made contact with Victor Cina and a few others in the local Portland historical scene. What got planned was Ambuscade! An all-day historical war gaming day.

He planned 2 periods with up to 8 tables per period. His hope was to fill around 6 tables per period for a total of 12 games and some extra room for more in case it happened. The venue was Guardian Games in the upstairs big room that can fit 50 people or so, “tavern” service in the Critical Sip downstairs so 21 and over only.

Many tables were filled but we did not get the full 12-16 games.

I had showed up before 11:00 Saturday to set up and socialize a bit, Bryan and Spencer were the first ones there. I was running a Saga – Feast for Crows game: a four warband game that is usually played with 4 point (smaller) warbands but I like it better with a good 6 point (standard) warband. Plus, we could handle the longer run time of a 6 point game as we had 4 hours per period.

I set up my game at my table as other game-runners came in. *Andy showed up and set up his Check Your 6 game, looked like a WWII dogfight type scenario. A Flames of War all tanks table got set up that looked like a bunch of fun.

*Andy D. was there but Victor C. is the one that set up the Check Your 6 game. My bad!!

My Saga – Feast for Crows game ended up being me (Normans), Brian (Anglo-Saxons), Bill (Scots), and Jeff (Vikings). Jeff was new to Saga so he used my Viking miniatures in a pretty standard set up (Warlord, Hersir x6, Hersir x6, Bondi x8, Bondi x8, and the infamous Old Men With Bows).

My table was set up with a winter aesthetic (my favorite). I used my winter ground Fat Mat, some of my home-brewed birch trees, some winter flocked pines (Xmas time is a great time to get a few packs of those), some rough/rocky ground with snow details, and some frozen ponds.  Play commenced and the un-official Viking-Norman Alliance was crushed by the Anglo-Saxons and Scots. The ultimate winner (by slaughter points) was Brian’s Anglo-Saxons. The game was fun and there was some teeter-totting but by round 4 losing the game was a forgone conclusion for my Normans and it was about not offering points to the Scots anymore. Those defensive dice the Scots get and the mitigating of fatigue was just too much for my Normans who lost the opportunity for a decisive strike and crumbled in the ensuing drawn-out fight.

Mainly, I sent in my knights a bit early and left them and my Warlord exposed to a Scots counter… and counter they did and took me right out.

Looks great for the Normans but looks can be deceiving. 

There was a lot of participation in the other games of the first period too.

The second period offered up Spencer’s Sudanese battle (Brits vs. Bujah tribes in 54mm) using the newish Men Who Would Be Kings rule book – another Mersey offering via Osprey books. Same base mechanic as the x Rampants with enough difference to differentiate the time period. Also in the period was a beautiful looking game, ziggurats and everything, of In Her Majesty’s Service.

In between Periods many went to get sandwiches at the famous Bunk Sandwiches (notably the best Cubano sandwiches in the US … so says a few Food Channel shows) and all throughout the day, while gaming, Grognards went down to the Critical Sip to buy a beer or some other refreshment.

I played in Spencer’s Sudanese battle game using 54mm figures. This would be my second time at this scenario. I played Brits with Spencer while Bill and Jeff played the Bujah tribsemen. The scenario victory conditions for the Brits are simple – go 5 rounds of play without taking a casualty. As we have found in 2 games that is a really hard thing to do. It’s fun trying though.

Spencer and I both made a break for the buildings for cover as the Bujah were hot on our tails. I was able to get 2 squads into and next to a building and formed up to deliver volley fire. Spencer’s squads had a bit more difficulty but finally, a round after me, was able to get a squad into a building. All went well and promising for our heroic British rifles but the sun set on luck and some bad rolls turned into a route of our boys in khaki with my last unit fighting to the last man in the back alley behind the buildings.

All the games of the second period wrapped up and clean up was had. It was barely passed 1800 and Spencer had the room reserved until 2100 so he asked me, “Want to get a game of Saga in?”

“Sure.” I answered. I loaned him my Vikings as I had brought my brand new Norse Gael warband that I had not played yet.

We set it up with a few Grognards left lingering about. Warbands were 6 points and the scenario was Challenge. I opened it with an immediate attack on his warlord with mine leaving 2 points of damage on him. He answered with moving Viks forward limiting my choices of action. I answered with some Challenges, the mainstay of Norse Gael Saga Board Abilities. There was some stumbling there as it is a new mechanic for both of us. The game went back and forth culminating with Spencer’s lone Viking Warlord making a last ditch attack on mine and Norse Gaels winning by just a point or so.

We cleaned up and got out of there just before our time was up in the room at 9:00 pm. I had spent a whole day wargaming and it was great!

EDIT: Beja not Buja.
These People

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Getting back into some Dungeons and Dragons

I got a text from my old-buddy Dan (Otis) last week. He wants to “get the band back together” and game, role playing games – like Dungeons and Dragons. It’s been a long time.

 I gamed with him for years in the 90s and 00s. Actually we met through gaming. I had just gotten out of the Navy in 1993 and came home to Vancouver, WA (literally north of Portland across the river). The first thing I did other than enroll at the local community college was go to my old Friendly Local Comic (and games) Shop – Pegasus Comics owned by Dark Horse. I got caught up with the comic guy there who I had not seen in 4 years. We talked about the comics I missed while I was gone and I put up a 3x5 card on the cork board saying I wanted to get back into some gaming.

Dan answered the card (the only one to do so) and we started to game and have been friends ever since. My first “adult” friend that was not from school or military. We became roommates in The Slaughterhouse, I was a groomsman in his wedding, and we’ve run the gamut of camaraderie. He is a brother to me.

Mathew, my other brother in gaming, moved into The Slaughterhouse after the other guy moved out. We SCAed and gamed, the 3 of us, together for years through all the ups and downs. I was also in Mathew’s wedding as a Groomsman.

Mathew and Dan were in my wedding too. 

The 3 of us wanting to RPG, probably Dungeons and Dragons, needed a Dungeon Master so I got ahold of Jason. We met randomly through a Dungeons and Dragons game in the early 00s and Jason stuck it out with me in many iterations of RPGing. Jason was a Doomhound with Dan and Mathew. Jason was a Blue Ribbon Company Plank Owner and part of the BRC mythology. I kind of “quit” RPGing in 2008-2009 as a lot of things fell apart for me then and I was putting it all back together and rebuilding my social life. Jason was the one who came to me and said, “It’s been over a year man… you should play again.”

We are now looking at playing 5ed Dungeons and Dragons, something I have not touched yet. Just me, Dan, and Mathew with Jason running the table as DM.

Having been role playing, mostly Dungeons and Dragons, since 1979, I feel I’ve done a lot. Maybe not to others but, for me, I’ve hit all the tropes and marks a D&D player could. Run long campaigns, played good guys and bad, role played, roll played, munched, anti-munched, had fun and not had fun. I have met and played with the best and worst. I have had opinions poo-poo’ed and have had the vindication and new iterations of an old system I was critical of improved with my poo-poo’ed opinions. I have sat at a table with every stereotype of Dungeons and Dragons nerd. Stinking fat-beards to candy-scented strippers.

All that under my belt, a few years ago I delved into historical wargaming and it is now 100% of what I play. I have other interests but historicals is what I do now. My hobby budgeting (time and money) is all in that direction.

My hope is that I can put some of that budget aside for Dungeons and Dragons in 2017. I’m pretty settled into my historical wargaming experience and exploring more avenues in that hobby. I love all the people I have met and have not had a horrible experience in 3 years of historicals. Enfilade is a yearly pilgrimage now. I LOVE Enfilade. I love listening to the old Grognards and look forward to becoming one myself someday. It is the first place, in a very long time, that I have felt accepted and I have something to offer.

That said, my first love would be role playing games and Dungeons and Dragons. It’s been a tough relationship over the decades that have defined me in many different ways. I’ve made and lost friends, I’ve been beaten up and beat up people over it, and I’ve had money well spent and money wasted. I learned a lot about math and English. It got me reading fiction outside of comic books. How my favored aesthetic of a woman, being a male heterosexual, was influenced by some of the art in those old AD&D books.

If all goes as planned you’ll hear about it here and I hope it goes well in 2017.

Happy Thanksgiving to you.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The Walking Dead – Comic and TV (probably light spoilers, I try to keep it clean)

I am a huge fan of The Walking Dead comic book. In the comic world it is legendary for quite a few things, mostly meta. The joke is, “You can open a comic book store and keep it running just off Walking Dead sales.” Maybe closer to true in the 00s and into the 10s, not sure about now. I know, as Sunday Guy at Guapo, good sale days for me always included someone coming in and buying 3-4 trades of TWD.

Robert Kirkman is a true American success story. Worked hard, did some stuff, and produced first few issues of The Walking Dead in his little apartment in Kentucky in 2003, yadda yadda. Now he’s a media mogul. Comics, TV, movies, novels… he’s got his fingers in it all. Image gave him a seat at the big boy table and then gave him his own imprint Skybound.

The Walking Dead trade paper backs have, consistently, been best sellers at comic retailers. I have not looked it up in the past 2 years or so but it still chugging along. I do always hear it is the most reprinted comic book out there.

Though I have not made a life-changing amount of money my own TWD sales (I’ve sold my collection up to issue 100) has made me a good amount of money. Doing the math that investment was better than gold. I started with issue #21 and bought the monthlies faithfully up to today (issue #156). 23-100 at $1.99 each (discounted due to my box subscriptions) is 68 issues for $135. Over the past 2 years I’ve sold them for over $800. I’ve then turned around and replaced them with hard covers for my own library. That’s close to $12 an issue, pretty good growth from $2. I wish I could do that with more adult investments.*
*This has topped out though. TWD comics has gained as much as it will in my opinion.

On top of all that it’s the only comic I read monthly, other titles I let build up so I have a few issues to read at a time. TWD? Nope. I buy it, I rush home, I pour a glass of milk, I read the damn thing.

What I like about the comic book story-wise:
1) Hit or miss, Kirkman is pretty calculated with his story. He considers audience emotions and psychology. He’ll lead along a trope and then flip it.
2) Pacing. Some say it got slow in some arches and I agree. It’s always come back though. 3 issues cover a day, then we get a 3 month time jump, yadda yadda.
3) Development – communities and such. Early on we were sweating a bottle of fresh water. Now are sweating making sure the trade route between the communities is clear and whether both boats are capable of fishing or trade.
4) Our protagonists, we find out later, have been through the worst. By the time they are introduced to Alexandria they find out they are bad-asses and very capable. By the time the war is over they are legendary. People talk about them behind their backs in a mythical way. Urban Legends are born around them.
5) All the bad-assery aside there are still many threats to their safety (and now whole communities rely on them) and plenty of interpersonal drama and problems. Plenty of story to go.

The Walking Dead TV on AMC, I have different feelings for.

I like how a comic book could be adapted for TV and it was good writing and a good show. Apparently and incredibly popular show. A really popular show about zombies and survivors as a matter of fact, things that I enjoy very much. Like the Avengers movies there are scenes in TWD-TV that I saw in TWD-Comic that brought tears to my eyes as it was a favorite panel brought to life on screen. I’ve had an excellent time watching TWD on my fall and winter Sunday nights. I even have a ritual kind of like when I read the comic – I have a cigarette and pour a glass of water. Sometimes I will have candy while watching but I’ve been dumping that habit. Cigarette and water though – seems fitting.

I advocate for the show when people say things like, “They always run into some bad survivor group… they never get a stable home… they never meet new “good” people…” and I say that these things will happen. And then they do. They follow the comic storyline with some differences for rating affect (Daryl).

Watching the most recent episode (the big Who Did Negan Kill season opener) I really began to turn my opinion on the show. Like Game of Thrones I felt tedium and boredom creep in. It did not help that last season ended with the Who Did Negan Kill cliff-hanger. I want to unpack that a bit here:

So, in February, after a big build-up on meeting Negan and already going through this in the comic… and a first half of a season that was useless anyways (and I recommend people skip the first half of season 6 all the time, and people have, and people have thanked me) we end up with the story-changing scene of our protagonists on their knees and the “big kill” where Negan kills a very popular character in gruesome detail. We see Negan swing and even react when he hits someone with Lucille and <end scene>.

We then go through 8 months of wondering who that was.

Come last Sunday we find out who it was. That gory scene was NOT MY PROBLEM at all. I’m not that freaked out by violence and gore. My problem was was that a whole 1 hour episode was built around that. Scene after scene of Negan explaining to Rick that Rick is now his man. Negan breaking down Rick and then turning on the rest of Team Rick. Rick and Team Rick all crying, bleeding, and being sad. Now, I get it, what was happening was sad and horrifying. I got that LAST YEAR when we showed it for 30 minutes. 10 minutes in to this new episode (and we have not yet seen who got killed BTW) we are still being shown how scared and sad Rick and everyone was. I was solid on that. 60 minutes in I was bored and did not care anymore as we got zero forward progression. Just sadness and misery.

On top of all that it felt a bit pandering, a little too engineered and not organic at all. Like a new bar opening and billing itself as a dive bar. The Walking Dead just spent 8 months showing me 90 minutes of misery and sadness. As an ex-friend once said, “They are shitting in your brain.”

Unlike many others though I will not say “I am done…”.  I have said that with Game of Thrones and other shows but I never make a big production of it. I just quit watching and if asked I answer honestly. I’ve never identified as an advocate of those shows though and TWD is part of my identity and fandom. I am not the targeted TV audience nor have I ever been. I am now seeing the comic audience and TV audience, though with some cross-over, are not the same. I’m going to keep going but maybe not the event TV it was for me. Maybe I’ll catch up later when I can marathon (and fast forward) through hours of the series.

The comic book is awesome though so any loss is not a sting. I got the original still. The time jump? Carl being all grown up and getting chicks. Negan a good guy? People saying, “I heard Rick and Andrea beat a gang of cannibals to death with Rick’s chopped off hand!”. Psychological evolution in a zombie – post apocalyptic world and whole sociological orders based off that.

Monday, October 24, 2016

October - On the Bench WIPs

Been busy with lot's of things - work, family, turn of the season... all that grown up stuff. Work does this thing (I am a file clerk at a law firm) now where if I plan to be someplace at a specific time Mon-Fri night, something will happen and I will be late. Last second request for files, processing, bus crash.... things like that. Same thing for my breaks and lunches, I break at 10, 12, and 3 and no one will talk to me all day nor will deliveries transpire except at 10, 12, or 3. It's frustrating but, well, work and stuff.

Have you seen Netflix's Luke Cage? It's awesome and I am enjoying it very much - except the whole hero's journey trope... wounded and defenseless, loss of powers, 2-3 episodes worth.

Have you seen the first episode of The Walking Dead season 7? They show who Negin kills! Problem is though, that whole episode was almost in real time and was 90% Rick being sweaty and sad. Reading the comic book and the show paralleling that story line mostly I know what's coming. Most show detractors complain about the lack of said things which I find funny but I've got to admit that the show sure does drag out the sad and miserable while the comic is a bit more balanced. In the comic we move forward - water was a problem... solved. Shelter was a problem... solved. That cannibal group was a problem... solved. Moving forward and taking on new challenges. The TV show? Really slow at that.
Rick Grimes comicbook - Yeah, it was rough, but I still function well and kick a little ass.

Rick Grimes TV - I'm sad and dirty. Watch me cry or be wounded for hours on end on TV. I need a shower and some editing.

Also playing lots of Fall Out 4 still but getting to the point I want to throw myself into another video game but just have not found the one yet. Ultimately, would like a hybrid of Skyrim and Fall Out 4. We'll see.

Got my core of my English Civil War Scots Covenanters done. Not a TON of figures in 28mm. over 100, but plenty to table a good army. Giving myself a rest on those until next year and after a few games of skirmish-level X Rampant with them as well as full on Pike and Shotte games. No good pictures of the whole battalion yet. The list of what I did (grouped in how I will deploy them on the table for P&S):
x12 pike
x24 musket

x12 pike
x24 musket

x12 Lancers
x12 Lancers

Saker and crew
Saker and crew
Frame gun and crew
Frame gun and crew
Frame gun and crew
Frame gun and crew

x2 Mounted commander
x2 foot commander

That's well over 120 28mm minis (how do you count horses and cannons?) that I painted this year for my Covenanters. So I'm taking a break on all that grey and going to finish off some other painting goals I have.

For Saga, my "want to finish" list is:
1) Norse Gaels
2) Scots

I've talked about both on this blog some. My Norse Gaels came from the impetus of me wanting to play a faction from Saga's Northern Fury book. I had a bunch of painted (very simply) Norse warriors sitting around that I tried to sell at Enfilade with absolutely no success. So, I pulled all the axe wielders out, which ended up being a lot, and was able to put up a decent Norse Gael warband via Saga ruleset. COOL!

Not my best paint job but as Ol' Bob said recently I'm a player-painter; I only paint so I can play. That's absolutely true.

All figures are Old Glory Norse line except the Warlord and Bannerman which were extras from my Scots packs from Old Glory.

Norse Gael Warriors

Warlord and Bannerman

All I need to do on my Norse Gaels is add a little grass to the bases and they are done.

My Saga Scots have not been touched, other than a game, all year. All primed, based, and shaded they now need paint (except for levies and a warrior unit).

I am hosting a Feast For Crows scenario Saga game on December 3rd for an all-day event called Ambuscade. I hope to have a few pieces of terrain done (winter stuff) as well as able to field four 6 point warbands for the game (Vikings, Normans, Scots, and... some more Normans). If players come with their own warband that will be fine. If it works out I will do the same thing at Enfilade next spring.

Anyways, thinking about winding down the painting projects this winter after Ambuscade and pick it back up in January. I have a lead mountain but no idea what I want to paint next. 

Have some good games and hope to see some of you at Ambuscade December 3rd.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Saga - Pagan Rus, after game report

Well, that was a fluke of a win.

Friday night game, at Spencer's. My Pagan Rus and his Irish, Crescent and Cross scenario Blood Bath - warbands clash and kills are scored, winner has 3 more points after 6 rounds than opponent.

Pagan Rus:
x8 Hearthguad (Varjasis)
x8 Hearthguad (Varjasis)
x8 Warrior (militia)
x8 Warrior (militia)
All units with a banner

x6 Hearthguard with Dane Axes
x9 Warrior
x9 Warrior
x9 Warrior
x5 Warrior as Warlord bodyguard
all units equipped with javelins except the Dane-Axed Hearthguard

Some of my winter terrain laid out (small stream was just aesthetic, pieces by War Kraft) and units deployed, I went first.

Part of my strategy for the Pagans was to move them forward, in force (all of them) and try to engage the opponent immediately. The challenge was that depended on Saga Dice for activations. I got them moved forward with combinations of dice and Warlord Determinations but I was not able to get them into melee. This was the first mistake I made.

The Irish went, closed, and pelted the Rus with javelins killing 3 Varjasis by end of round 1.

Round 2: I make my big move and make contact. I lose all my melees and a few more figures and am forced to move back, leaving one of my Varjazis units isolate on my left flank by the frozen pond. I think I killed one Irish.

The Irish pelt me with an endless wave of javelins again.  I lose 5 more Varjazis.

Round 3: I try to engage again and am only repelled once again. Irish lines held out strong and I lose more figures to javelins.

The Irish counter attack adds more dead in my ranks. I'm losing the game. Really looking at giving up and starting over. Spencer even asked if I wanted to start over and rethink the game.

"Nope, only 3 rounds left so let's play it out." I thought.

Round 4: I opened with the Winter ability, movement for all is S, shooting for all is S. This was me popping smoke and moving back. Great Winter, "signature ability" of the Pagan Rus, is what I was trying to avoid using. It sucks and is the impetus to Pagan Rus ruining games. In this case I move back and it buys me a round of not getting pelted by javelins.

Round 5: Fully frustrated in the game not coming together for me in any way I decided to sacrifice my Warlord and move my remaining units even further back. What would this do? Hopefully burn up Irish Saga Dice to get into a position to take me out.

I move all units back and my Warlord forward into the Irish line. I make sure my remaining units are out o M range of my Warlord and all Irish units are within M of my Warlord. I unleash Eastern Anger with 2 uncommon dice.

What it does:
Resolve shooting attacks on all units within M of the Warlord. 6 attack dice. ALL UNITS including the Warlord.

The book even says, "You won't use this one often" but, you know what? I've used this one 3 or 4 times of the 5 or 6 games I've played with the Pagan Rus. Quite frankly it's the only effective "punch" I've found on the Saga Board if one were to look for such things.

A bit on my frustration with Pagan Rus - the board abilities are not congruent with each other. You've got a lot of abilities that affect all units and absolutely no way to mitigate it.

Back to Eastern Anger, it is a game quantification of a bunch of steppes-folk riding by and taking a shot at everyone on the board.

My thought on this was, "Well, let's end this game spectacularly and move on and chalk up the experience." Well, it worked really good and my Warlord killed 6-8 Irish and even laid out some fatigue** for destroying units in proximity of other units.

The Irish countered, very logically, with Javelin and melee attacks against my Warlord to seal the win after the "Death Blossom" and... some how... my Warlord survived all the attacks. Bad dice rolls for the Irish, good dice rolls for the Pagan Rus Warlord who's name is now Voislav the Strong.

Bottom of round 5 I've actually tied the score. I'm still rolling 6 Saga Dice, and my Voislav is in the Irish ranks. I think to myself, "I think I have a chance".

Round 6: I roll my Saga Dice and am able to put all my dice on:
Endless Wastes - remove a figure per fatigue
another Eastern Anger
Standing like Bears - reduce attack dice for increase in armor
For the Kaghan - gain attack dice if your armor is higher than opponents
*Biting Like Wolves - really complicated in perspective... if all units have a fatigue than gain 3 hits AND if no hits scored on you you get hits in amount of current armor rating.

I used them in that order too. Endless Wastes netted me 3 more kills. Eastern Anger whittled the Irish lines down to a unit of 4 warriors, a Warlord, and a single Irish warrior on my right flank. Voislav then activated with his Determination and charged the Irish Warlord (Pride), activated the mythical trifecta of Standing Like Bears - For the Khagan - Biting Like Wolves with the Irish Warlord exhausted due to being close to so many units getting taken out by Eastern Anger. Dice were rolled, no hits scored on Voislav, 7 hits scored on the Irish Warlord. Not enough to soak or save he falls in battle to Voislav's blade.

Final score was 26 to 18, Pagan Rus win the game with a desperate ploy of Voislav the Strong. Purely luck and not a strategy I recommend.

My thoughts:
Pagan Rus board is really hard to use. None of the "feared" abilities are really useful in any real game of Saga. Any damage you do to your opponent will also be done to you. There is very little to negate that except luck.
Board abilities are REALLY situational and hard to predict.
Cold Winds is only effective if a war band has one or 2 shooting units, not all units.
You need to engage immediately.
Irish are REALLY susceptible to shooting attacks.

I leave you with this picture:

*Edit 10/3/2016: I was wrong about Biting Like Wolves - If ENEMY units have at least 1 fatigue... not ALL units.

** Edit 10/3/16: We played fatigue from lost units wrong. This happens in melee only. This was pointed out by a forum poster on Studio Tomahawk's forum board. Talking wiht Spencer about this this did not change the outcome much as the real issue was Eastern Anger killing 4-8 minis per unit in 2 turns.