Friday, July 25, 2014

Undead Mayhem


Last week I joined the Basement Generals for some Mayhem. The Baron knows I love me some HOTTs. He had me check out Mayhem because he thought I might appreciate some of its similarities to HOTTs. He was right. I found Mayhem similar to HOTTs in that:
    • Both rule sets are for gaming "Mass Fantasy Battles;"
    • Elements/Units are defined by battlefield behavior and tactical use;
    • Armies are built using points;
    • In the basic game armies and battlefields are small, but can be scaled up as desired;
    • Players build their armies within basic parameters - army lists are not prescribed;
    • Pips/Command Points are the basic command mechanism 
    • Pips/Command Points are the product of a die roll at the start of the turn;
    • Elements/Units conform/square up when they contact each other for combat;
    • Combat utilizes opposed die rolls with modifiers;
    • Strongholds (military architecture) are represented simply and abstractly;
      And there are others . . .

Mayhem differs from HOTTs in two significant (to me) ways. 

The first is the way that Command Points (CPs) in Mayhem are utilized as compared to Player Initiative Points (Pips) in HOTTs

Pips in HOTTs are used to move singe elements and groups, and to cast magic (individual spells are not used - magic is analogous to long-range indirect artillery fire). The turn sequence is easy but fixed: Player A moves, both players shoot, then both players resolve melee combat; then Player B moves, etc. Shooting and combat is automatic if within range or if in contact respectively. 

In Mayhem, there is no fixed turn sequence. During Player A's turn, CPs are used to move, shoot and melee with Units, in any order the player chooses. Units can even take multiple actions using the Overdrive mechanism, with an added CP cost, as long as the Player can pay the cost in CPs. Then it's Player B's turn. So the battlefield is more chaotic and unpredictable. . .

It's as if HOTTs and Piquet had a lovechild and named it Mayhem. The second point of difference continues the Piquet reference.  

HOTTs uses a single combat strength rating - albeit the number for distant combat (shooting) can be different than for close combat - plus the roll of a D6 to determine the combat results of a particular element. For example all "Spear" elements have the same rating, regardless of race, differences in armament or training. Per the Introduction in HOTTs 2.1: "We start from the assumptions that spell selection must not be a more important skill than generalship, that the results of magic or command decisions can be shown rather than the minutia of communication or spell casting, and that differences between troops of the same general class are relatively unimportant." 

I COMPLETELY buy into the HOTTs representation of magic use. The idea of spell lists and tracking magical strengths leaves me cold. Utterly cold. I can also rationalize the statement about  differences between troops of the same general class being relatively unimportant in that it makes for an elegantly less complex game, and the chances are high that the positives and the negatives of the different traits might actually balance out. Oh, then the opposed die roll creates more randomness! However, I understand that some players may want to actually "see" the differences in strength, morale, training, armor, or magical ability between their, say, Elven "Spears" and their Orcish counterparts.

This is where Mayhem adds a layer of granularity to the basic HOTTs model. With a more extensive point system, Mayhem models a unit using three basic qualities: Movement, Combat Quality and Ballisitic Armor Rating PLUS Traits, Abilities and Gear (TAG). LIke Piquet, Mayhem uses different die types - 4-sided up to 20-sided - instead of a simple numeric value to represent these qualities. The better the die-type, and in this game a lower number is almost always better than a high number in opposed rolls, the more it costs. Mayhem calls this the Versus system, and adds an innovative twist: whenever a player is called upon to make a die-roll, he must choose Danger or Default. The Default value of a die is half it's value, so the Default of a D10 is 5. Mayhem calls this "playing it safe." Danger is just rolling the die! So every die roll comes with this risk versus reward decision. Once you get the hang of it, it's kinda fun.

There are other differences and more opportunities to "add chrome" to your armies, and until we actually put armies on the table, my Undead, some of The Baron's Orcs and WOR humans and another of The Generals' Orcs, not all of the above was so apparent.

Here are a few shots from the game, taken with my phone in the midst of trying to "learn while we played" . . .





And here's a parting shot of the giant hole left in the Undead line when the Commanding General on his Zombie Dragon "died" (do Undead die?) to a combat result of mutual destruction to some nasty human pikes. . . only to be informed later the General had the "Damage" trait so hadn't actually died, after all! 


One of the reasons I don't generally like games that employ separate traits is that they are hard to remember! My bad for not checking the roster.

So do I like Mayhem? Yup. Even more after re-reading the rules post-game. We did some things wrong (of course) and some things are clearer now (the difference between Beat Back and Drive Back, for example).

Am I prepared to replace HOTTs with Mayhem? Not so fast there, my warm-blooded friend. More plays are needed, and loyalties die hard around here. . . you may still have to pry HOTTs out of my cold, UNdead fingers. . .

See ya!


Sunday, June 29, 2014

Wait for it. . .


Yup. The Forest Edge Strips are done! Over twenty-four feet of woodsy goodness completed.

What's next? I plan to make some "rough" wooded sections with boulders and cliffs. Then I have some more Jenkins figures to paint and varnish.

And there's some local talk about organizing some HOTTs games. . . that will most likely inspire some new armies.

See ya!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Happy Father's Day, Dad!

My dad probably won't see this post, but don't worry, I wished him a Happy Father's Day personally. While thinking about my father today, it occurred to me that if it wasn't for him, this blog wouldn't exist. No, not for the obvious reason - that without Dad, there would be no me - but because he introduced me to wargaming. Indirectly.

When I was a kid in the 60's and 70's, my father built models; classic cars at first and then WW2 aircraft. So I built models, too, and we built some together. In the 70's Dad began collecting WW2 "militaria," mostly Luftwaffe medals, badges and uniforms. So I got the WW2 bug, and then became interested in military history, in general. He didn't collect for long, but he met some interesting people while collecting, and I got to meet some of them, too.

One of these interesting people, seeing my wide-eyed interest in WW2, GAVE me 4 Avalon Hill boardgames.





I couldn't get into D-Day, but I played the others over and over well into my high school years. And the rest, as they say, is history. 

Thanks, Dad!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Not Leapster. . . Liebster!


"All" my friends have a Liebster Award . . . now I do, too! Thank you, Sean, for the nomination, here. Sean said I could just accept the award and not play by the rules, but of course, I'll play.

The rules are:
  • Link back to the blog that nominated you
  • Nominate 11 (or pick a number) other blogs with 200 or less followers
  • Answer a couple (or more) questions
So. . .

Link back to Sean: check.

Nominate other blogs with 200 or less followers: check. The first couple are good guys I've met in the "Analog World:"

Curio Clashes 
Essjam's World

Some other blogs I enjoy (and I have no idea if they've been "Liebstered" already): 

Lead Gardens - Big Toys and Hexes, not always at the same time
Here's No Great Matter - Ancients - Command and Colors: Ancients and Lost Battles, two games I like - plus other goodies
Chicago Skirmish Wargames - Inspiration while I contemplate skirmish gaming (and I lived outside of Chicago for a while as a kid)
Iron Mammoth's Studio - LOVE the model-making

And on to the questions. . . and check.

Why did you start blogging?

My blog is two years old now. I realized I wasn't gaming very much due to a geographical move and busy new job, but was still thinking - and building - about playing games. Seemed like a good way to "feel" involved in the "community" until I actually "went analog" again. Or maybe it just feeds my vanity : )

If you could change one thing about the wargaming hobby, what would it be?

There's too much choice - scales, periods, rules, models! Okay, so I wouldn't actually change this, but I have noted (along with others) that this golden age of choice has led to fragmentation within the hobby as we all decide which rules to play for which period, and then which scale of model we like. It's hard to get semi-like-minded individuals to agree on everything. And the abundance of choice also leads to decision paralysis as we decide - or don't decide - on the combination of factors that get us playing what we want to play - and then hope something shiny doesn't appear to dissuade us half-way down our chosen path. Or maybe it's just me. . .

What is best in life?

Love. It's that simple.

Fame or Fortune?

Fame has too big a down side. I think I could live with Fortune's downside.

What miniatures are you most proud of having painted?

My HOTT Undead Upgrades

How do you deal with burnout?

I don't. I don't burn out. Real life always interrupts before I approach burnout.

Why is a Raven like a writing desk?

This question became a learning opportunity as I couldn't figure it out. . . so Google took me to Wikipedia where I learned that Lewis Carroll first posed the question in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Carroll later admitted that the riddle had no intended answer when originally invented. So, we'll move on. . .

Star Wars or Star Trek?

Star Trek. I'll hazard no explanation.

If you could only buy from one miniature company from now on, which would it be?

For 15mm, Xyston. For 54mm, John Jenkins. For 28mm, Foundry, if I'm forced to choose, but this is where my rant on choice earlier starts to break down. . .

What is your favorite takeaway (take-out)?

Literally, I think the only two places that I have gotten take-out from in the last several months has been Subway and Five Guys' burgers. I'm losing my taste for fast food.

What do you like most (or least) about blogging?

I like the interaction with people. I hope I get an opportunity to meet some of these on-line characters someday : )

See ya!
 


Monday, May 26, 2014

Thank you, Veterans.

I hope everyone - at least those of you who reside in the US - had an enjoyable Memorial Day, and found a way to say "thank you" to someone for their service. 

We are finally getting Spring here in Minnesota so outdoor chores trumped game projects this weekend. I made a tiny bit of progress on the Forest Edge Strips. . . but I promised not to bother you again until they were completed. They're not, so I'll improvise a bit.

I had a birthday last week. Sort of a milestone. . . 55. My celebration plan was to leave work early enough to have dinner at 4:30 in the afternoon at some "fine eatery" that catered to "early bird specials" for the "senior set." But it was raining - hard - and the rain kinda makes my joints ache, and it just seemed like a lot of effort, after all. . . so I bagged it. Seems rather appropriate, now that I think about it.

Still improvising, here's a recent photo of Jack. 



He's two years old now. Compare his size relative to my hands in this post to see how he's grown.

Well, back to those Strips I am not mentioning. . .

See ya!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Really? Forest Edge Strips Again?


OK, here's a look at some of the final products. I added some "grass tufts" to help integrate the plastic foliage with the natural, and to provide a visual transition with the grass on the terrain squares.






I won't bother you with any more progress updates on the Strips until they're completed, at which point I hope to be able to share some pics of them in use in actual games.


See ya!

Sunday, May 4, 2014

I Got a New Book!




Yup. A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs. "That's hardly a new book," I hear you say. OK, A Princess of Mars was originally published in 1917, so the story is not new, but this book featuring illustrations by Michael Kaluta IS new. And handsome.

Frank Frazetta's Barsoom will always have a special place in my heart, as his illustrations in the Science Fiction Book Club editions provided my first "fevered" glimpse into the world of Burroughs' alternate-Mars. Even so, I found this new Kaluta edition a great way to re-experience the first - and arguably the best - of the "John Carter of Mars" novels.

There are some "marginal" - IMNSHO - re-hashings of Burroughs' Martian stories publishing now. John Carter's love interest, the "incomparable" Dejah Thoris, in particular, has been re-invented - though not "re-clothed," I note - for a new audience. I am not against updating per se, but I recommend instead this fine new presentation of the original "story that started them all."

Enjoy.