All posts by gribblin

Shaltari, Salute and my first painted model


DSCF3831Well, it’s been a week since those of us here at the floating citadel went on our outing to Salute.  As had already been stated we all enjoyed the show and (some of us anyway) spent more money than intended.  My own bank account was somewhat lighter by the end of the day.  There was the usual displays and shopping opportunities, participation games and people dressed up as Imperial Storm Troopers.

For me the most influential event of the day was a participation game of Dropzone Commander.  Our regular readers will remember the excitement that this game created after last years Salute.  Despite two of my co-writers buying into the game when it was first released, I decided to wait until I’d played a demo game.  Unfortunately due to one thing or another one hadn’t happened, so last Saturday was the first time I got to see the game in action.  My overall impression…I see why so many people have been raving about it.  It is game unlike anything I have played before, being based on a 10mm scale sci-fi world with the emphasis on dropships, battlegroups and rapid insertion & extraction.  The game is fast pace, easy to pick up and yet very tactical.  Myself and nBreaker were playing the Scourge, and enjoyed the sheer destruction (between us and the UCM we took down 3 rather large builds, not bad for a beginner game), eventually wining by a single tank and dropship.

The game was fun enough for me to part with some money, and I bought the Shaltari Large Army deal with case.  Being Salute and a special event day the rulebook was included for free with any Large or Mega army so woohoo!  Then came lunch, and looking over my purchase whilst eating a sandwich I noticed that there was too much in the box…I been given a Mega deal by mistake.  Being a nice guy I went back to them and told the folks at Hawk Wargames.  The situation was resolved to our mutual satisfaction and I am the proud owner of a Shaltari Mega Army, so a big thumbs up to the guys at Hawk Wargames for their customer service!  I will be buying more in the future…just give me time to paint everything else first.

One and off this week I have started painting the miniatures, and above is the first one that is finished; a Shaltari Warspear fighter.  I look forward to my first game with my associates here at 6 Inch Move.

Star Trek Fleet Captains


DSCF3775Sticking with my theme of Star Trek games from my last post a couple of weeks ago I thought I’d talk about the latest addition to my gaming collection; Star Trek Fleet Captains by Wizkids.  I came across this game a few weeks ago whilst sailing around aimlessly on the internet, it grabbed my like a well placed tractor beam and I duly sent the appropriate subspace communique and latinum deposit to purchase it.  It came last weekend and like a kid a Christmas I very quickly unwrapped it and started making “pew-pew” phaser noises with my new little ships.

So what’s in the box?  You get everything you need to up to a 4 player game.  You have two fleets; Federation & Klingon, each containing 12 ships.  The Federation come in a grey plastic, the Klingons green.  I have since started painting the miniatures, and so they no longer look like they do in the box, but here’s some pictures.

DSCF3759DSCF3772The Federation fleet consists of a wide variety of vessels all of which should be familiar to fans of the show and are named; Enterprise E, Enterprise A, Excelsior, Voyager, Defiant, Venture, Yosemite, Prometheus, Yeager, Sutherland, Reliant & Equinox.

The Klingon fleet has less variety in the models (as Klingons seem somehow unable to come up with as many ship designs as Humans & Vulcans – must be something to do with all that bloodwine).  But they’re all from the shows; 1 Negh’var, 2 Vor’cha, 4 K’tinga, 3 Birds-of-Prey and 2 Raptors, and are also named from ships in the show – the Negh’var, the Rotarran, the Bortas etc.  Each ship in the game is unique and has its own stats on both a ship card and on its base.  The ship’s stats are Weapons, Sensors, Engines and Shields.  In each case the number is the bonus to a D6 roll that the ship gets, with engines also being how far it moves in game.  The wonderful little Heroclix bases allow you to alter where you allocate power by twisting the bottom of the base around.  Each ship has 12 different power settings with different numbers on each of the 4 stats.  They are also colour coded (blue, white, yellow & red).  Blue is used when cloaked, white for undamaged, yellow when your ship has taken 1 damage and red when your ship has taken 2 damage.  After 3 damage your ship is destroyed.

DSCF3766Each ship also has a stats card with all of the power settings on it.  The card will also have any special rules the ship has (e.g. both the Enterprises have the Nine Lives special rule – when ever it was going to be destroyed roll 2D6 and if you roll a 12 its not destroyed and placed at your command post [deployment zone])  which adds some nice flavour to the game.  The ships also have a Size Stat, and 3 mission stats – Science, Influence and Combat that are used to determine the number & types of missions you get in the game.

In addition to the ships you also get 50 location tiles, 200 command cards, 50 encounter cards, 76 mission cards and a whole bunch of tokens.

So how does the game play?  Well after reading through the rules I have managed to play (and lose) a game.  Your victory goal is to collect victory points (VP) and all players decide before the game starts to the limit from 6-38.  The first player (or team if playing a 4 player game) to reach that number wins. The rules recommend starting off with 10 VP as a standard game.  Once the VP is decided, you then lay out the ‘board’.  This uses the location tiles and are placed out in a hex-board like fashion.  DSCF3776Again the rules recommend a 5×5 pattern for the board.  The tiles are placed face down and are only revealed if when a ship moves to it or scans it from an adjacent tile.  Some tiles have a ‘types’ such as star & planet classes as well as special effects.  They all have a size showing how much movement it takes to cross the tile and an encounter number which is the chance of having an encounter when you first move into the tile.  The encounters are a mix of god and bad events that can happen to your ship.  Some grant you VP if you survive/succeed, others are just one-off events.  Once you’ve placed the tiles you shuffle the Ship Cards and draw ships equal to the VP of the game based upon their Size.  For example the Enterprise E has a Size of 6, whilst the Equinox has a Size of 1.  If you exceed the VP, you replace the card and draw again until you get to the VP.  As said each ship has 3 mission stats; Science, Influence and Combat, and once your fleet is selected you add up all of these to give you a total number of mission cards, then you draw the appropriate number of mission cards to create your mission deck.  You then draw the top 3 mission cards and place them at your command post as your current missions.

DSCF3779Whenever you complete a mission or discard one, draw another.  Completing missions gains you VP (unsurprisingly).  You also gain VP from some encounters and, for the more aggressive players amongst you, you gain 1 VP for each enemy ship you destroy.

Once you’ve sorted out the mission cards you organise your Command Deck.  This deck contains cards that provide your ships with bonuses, or your enemy’s with negatives and can be played as the situation dictates.  This deck contains 40 cards chosen from 10 sub-decks available to each faction.  These sub-decks each contain 10 cards and are themed (Captain Kirk Deck, Klingon High Council Deck, Science of War Deck etc.), so you get to choose 4 sub-decks to make your Command Deck.  You always have 4 cards in your hand, replacing each card when you use one.DSCF3782

Now that that’s the set up out of the way, its game time.  The game uses an ‘I go, you go’ system in which each player can move all of their ships, adjust power once on each of their ships, play command cards and use up to 3 action points.  Actions include cloaking, combat, influence, reinforcement, repair, scan & transporter actions.  The game has a very strategic theme to it.  Due to the size of the board you cannot make a line of ships that your opponent cannot push through, so you really need to think about where your ships go, what power settings you put them on and where to gain influence and build colonies.  Many missions (especially science ones) require you to pass Sensor checks which means you need to put more power in the sensors, but this reduces your shields & weapons, making you move vulnerable to attack.  So you have to think about where you’re going and what you’re doing.  The ships can be grouped into fleets so you can put science vessels with a combat vessel to protect them.  In short, once the game gets going there are a lot of ways to win depending upon your fleet; building starbases, completing missions, turning your opponent’s ships into space dust.  And if you’re annoyed you didn’t get your favourite ship out, when one or yours is destroyed you can replace it with reinforcements.  Cloaking is fun with your ships being replaced by tokens and allowing you to place echoes to fool your opponent.  With the missions being tailored to your ships, each player is going to be after different things and with the abilities of your ships being different, it requires you to take on different gaming styles to win.  This all combines to give the game a lot of replay-ability so you’re not going to get board with it any time soon.

My thoughts on the game…9.5 out of 10.  A fantastic miniatures-board game.  The miniatures are nicely made, with a decent amount of detail and are good reproductions of the ships from Star Trek.  The cards are thick and of a good quality.  The images used on them are taken from all 5 TV series (not including the animated OS) as well as all the films from the Motion Picture to Nemesis.  The game play is fun and creative, not overly complicated yet allowing you to play out different styles & strategies, as well as forcing you to think tactically.  The rule book is nicely made, and the rules themselves are very comprehensive and full of examples, leaving little for uncertainty about what it means.

To be honest this game ticks all of the boxes; its classic sci-fi theme, miniatures that can be painted for those miniature gamers, a changeable board for the board gamers, plenty of strategy, uncertainty as to what your opponent is doing and multiple ways to win.  A game I’d recommend to fans of the show as well as miniature and board gamers alike.  What would I improve upon or like to see different? . . . urm . . . just trying to think of something . . . well for some reason there’s no Captain Sisko card, despite there being Kirk, Picard & Janeway (no Archer I can understand as the game is set more in the NG time), and with Odo & Quark in there.  More expansions.  They’ve done a Romulan one (which I’ll probably get next month), and Wizkids Heroclix already do Cardassian and Dominion ships so it shouldn’t be too difficult to come up with a Cardi/Dom expansion.  My only real disappointment is no Borg . . . guess you can’t have everything. . . that and how they’d work in game I have no idea.  All-in-all worth getting.

Make it so! Star Trek Deck Building Game


DSCF3713Whilst in my local gaming shop last week a delivery of a new game (that I was blissfully unaware of) arrived; Star Trek Deck Building Game by Bandai.  Being a fan of the show in all its incarnations I gleefully pulled out my wallet to purchase a copy of the Premiere Edition for The Next Generation Series (they also have the Original Series and a Borg themed addition to the Next Gen).  I remember the days of my youth playing the customisable card game and felt like giving this a go.

DSCF3714So what do you get for your money? Well it all comes in a nice looking box that is about twice the size it needs to be to hold all of the contents, so if they are planning expansions it’s a good act of foresight, if not…why the big box?  As for the inside; you have 300 cards to play with, all of which are of a good quality and contain footage from the show, 5 D20s that are used to monitor damage, and the rule book.  The premise of the game to use the cards in the box to build up a deck to beat your opponent.  There are three ways to play the game

1) Exploration: This is the ‘default mode’ of the game where the objective is to amass a total of 400 Mission Points to win.  This is done by completing Missions, surviving Events and taking down enemy starships.

2) Klingon Civil War: Based upon a series of episodes within the Next Gen, the Klingon Civil War game is a team game (2 vs. 2) where the aim is to collect 200+ mission points and have more allied starships than the other team.

3) Borg Invasion: Rather unusual, this version of the game is a collective (pun intended) game in which 2-5 players team up to defeat the Borg that are drawn from the deck.  Each player has a Federation starship with its own special ability, and you have to have enough Speed and Attack to complete defeat the Locutus Event.  It should be noted that each Borg cube is stronger than any single starship (unsurprisingly) and that the longer the game goes on, the tougher the cubes get.  This is also the only version of the game in which players can be knocked out.

DSCF3716Last week I got to try out the game with my friend ZombiePirate and we started off with the basic Exploration game to get a feel of things.  When we played it, both myself and ZP found the game mechanic a little strange at first.  Basically all players start off with the same 10 cards in a Starter Deck plus one very basic starship (Constellation Class if anyone was wondering).  There are two other decks in play: the Space Deck and the Starbase Deck.  The Space Deck contains all of the Missions, Events and Starships that you’ll encounter, whilst the Starbase Deck has all of the Characters and Manoeuvres etc.  You start by drawing and hand of 5 cards from your starter deck and can play any number of these to your play area, know as the Bridge (very Trekkie).  Some of these cards generate XP which allows you to ‘buy’ cards from the Starbase Deck, others will provide various bonuses to your ship.  You can then perform 1 Explore (i.e. turn over a card from the Space Deck) and see what happens.  Many will give you an additional Explore.  If it is an Event or Mission you have to see if you can meet the requirements to succeed, if you do, you keep the card and add it to your victory points, if not then Mission cards are left in play for players to attempt in later turns, whilst other cards are placed back in the deck.  Obviously you as a player aim to amass a decent enough deck to complete as many missions as you can before your opponent(s).  What we found a little confusing at first was that you only have a hand of 5 cards each turn, regardless of how many cards are in your deck.  You do however have the option of getting rid of cards, to reduce your deck size and make the better ones come around more often.

When you encounter a Starship from the Space Deck you can choose to either Diplomacy it (i.e. have a Speed & Diplomacy rating higher than it) or battle it.  To win a fight you have to equal or exceed its Defence with your Attack.  When fighting another player (which can happen if you turn over a War! Card) you only have the option of battle.  Once you’ve played everything you want to play your turn is over and then play goes to the next player.

That’s the basic info for the game, so what are my thoughts?  Lets start with some negatives.  Not being a big card game player (Magic the Gathering is all I’ve really played since I turned 20) I found the game mechanic a little strange and it took a while for both myself and ZP to get use to it.  Once you do though, it is simple enough.  I also thing that the rulebook (though nicely made) could have done with a few more explanations.  I appreciate that I haven’t looked at the online FAQs yet, so some of my questions may have answers on there, it was just that there were a few occasions where something comes up and you just kind of look and think “urm…I think it’s like this”, but this may change as I play it more.  My only other real negative comment is that other than ending your turn there are now real consequences for having your ship blown up (except in the Borg Invasion were you get assimilated and are out of the game).  This I suppose can be a good thing though as you can draw some rather powerful starships out of the Space Deck (Vor’cha attack cruiser, D’deridex warbirds and of course the USS Enterprise-D) which blast your puny little starter ship into atoms before you can say “lock phasers”.  As you get better ships though, your survival chances improve.  Another oddity I noticed is that you have starships for the Federation, Klingons, Romulans, Ferengi and Cardassians and characters for all of them except for the Cardassians…no spoonheads.  In game this doesn’t matter as the races can mix & match, but it would have been nice to see.

Positives.  The game has a lot of strategy in it.  You really have to think about which cards to pick up and not just grab everything that you can as you’ll end up with a hand full of crap half the time.  You also have to learn to deal with the hand you draw and sometimes it is not in the best interest to draw cards from the Space Deck.  This I think gives it much replayability.  The fact that there are 3 game modes to choose from also adds to this.  The game is for 2-5 players and depending on the game mode, it can be a free-for-all or team matches, so you can involve more than just one friend and can have a group enjoying the game.  One of the things we’ve found as a group here at 6 Inch is that sometimes gaming can get too competitive, and this can ruin the fun element.  With the option of playing in teams you get a different dynamic on the night.  I like how the aim of the game is not to blow each other up.  It’s to explore the galaxy, boldly going where no man has gone before (insert which ever version of theme music you like).  It’s not a game of ‘kill or be killed’ but rather ‘how am I going to overcome this challenge?’  From an aesthetic point of view the cards look great and are of a good quality, as I said earlier most are shots from the TV show which adds a lot to it.  Having the different races and their ships in the game allows you to mix & match or try to stick to a single race (there are plenty of characters from the Federation, Klingons, Romulans and Ferengi to chose from), and most of your favourites from Next Gen are there.  The cards staring everyone’s favourite omnipotent being Q, are entertaining.  They can really screw things up a bit and usually favour the player who is currently losing… though not all of the time.

Overall I’d say 7 out of 10.  If you’re into Star Trek and card games, you’ll probably enjoy this game.  Will I be buying the other edition with more Borg…most likely.  Set course for the nearest retailer, Warp 6.  ENGAGE!

Warhammer Terrain – part 1


I have gamed for many years and although I have more painted miniatures than some here at 6 Inch, one thing that I have neglected over the years is my terrain.  Most of it I have had for some time and yet all it has been is boring, grey plastic.  I have decided that this cannot be so any longer and as a sort of new years’ resolution I aim to have at least one painted example of every terrain in the random terrain generator of the Warhammer Fantasy rulebook.  Most of this can also be used other games of a fantasy genre and some things (like hills & trees) are obviously universal.  So here are some pictures of what I have managed to paint in the past week; a house/chapel, watchtower and Sinister Statue.  Enjoy.

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Left 4 Dead Zombies – just in time for the Apocalypse


Having had the models since Salute earlier this year it has taken me long enough to paint them, but they’re done now and just in time for the 21st December 2012 and the end of the world! (Seriously though if the world ends tomorrow I owe A LOT of people drinks lol) That’s enough chatter, here are some pictures of my Left 4 Dead 2 special zombies.  Enjoy.

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Blazing Sun Reinforcements


In an effort to show up ZombiePirate and his lack of painted models (I jest friend), I’ve finished painting some reinforcements for my Blazing Sun fleet; an Assault Carrier and a Mechanical Squid.  I finished them last night and I’m particularly fond of the cuttlefish inspired paint scheme on the squid.  Captain Emo will be pleased.

Empire of the Blazing Sun Sets Sail


Hi all those out there in internetland.  My local gaming club has been showing an increasing interest in Dystopian Wars, which is good news for me as I’ve become a fan of the steam punk naval game.  There is however one problem…too many Kingdom of Britannia players (including myself).  In an effort to redress the balance I decided to get a second fleet, and as you’ll have guessed by the title it’s the Japanese Empire of the Blazing Sun.  I’ve finished painting the basic naval starter box and thought I’d show off the pics.  After a trawl of the web (was that a naval pun?) I came across someone who’d painted the blazing sun motif on the side of their ships and I liked it.  However being different I went for a metallic purple on a black background rather than the red-on-white that is traditional.  I think it gives them a more sinister stealth ship kind of look, that and it allows me to call my commander Captain Emo.

Farewell 5th Edition


On Sunday I joined my local wargaming club for one last round of 5th Edition 40k.  They had arranged 3 separate Apocalypse games for those who have had enough disposable income over the years to assemble large armies; Imperial vs Orks, Imperial vs Chaos and Imperial vs Tyranid.  3 guesses which game I was playing in.  One of the criticisms leveled at Apocalypse is that it’s a game of “who brings the most wins”.  Well the games that the club run are a little more organised than that.  In the game I played there were 2 Tyranid players (myself and an ally) and on the opposing Imperial team 4 players with a mixture of Imperial Guard, Marines and Sisters of Battle.  Despite the unevenness in players, both sides had between 18,000-20,000 points (it does get hard to tell in games that are that BIG).  Amongst the usual squads of troops and the endless hoards of Termagants there was also 3 Paladin Titans, 2 Hierophant titans (Fluffy had a friend! – Fluffy is the name of my Bio-titan in case you were wondering), a number of Baneblades and their several variants, and who knows how many other types of tanks.  There was also a massage mobile fortress/land ship thing that someone had made.  I didn’t get a picture of it but it was about 20″ long, 12″ wide and sported one hell of a demolisher type cannon.

The organizers of the event have designated that each side had 30 minutes per turn.  Because all the people on our table are veterans of more than one Apocalypse game (and were of a sensible disposition) we were allowed to monitor our own times.  The organizers had set objectives for each side; in our case we designated one HQ (my main Tyrant) as the key Hive Node that we had to protect, we also had to protect 2 bio-stores in our deployment zone and we wound gain one objective point for every 30 enemy killed.  We found out that our opponents had to capture two downed Rhinos that had data nodes, kill our Hive Node and hold the line.

The game was one of the most fun games I have ever had the pleasure of playing.  There were mass explosions everywhere.  Fluffy had a fantastic time; he blow off the turret of a Baneblade, downed a few Lemon Russ’, took out a Stormwind, and the best was when 6 Penitent Engines appeared in our rear and charged him.  He had a wonderful game of ‘whack-a-mole’ as 4 were down in a matter of seconds whilst the other 2 were damaged.  Almost the entirety of the Sister’s army deployed in our rear and managed to cut down a load of gaunts and finished off the Hive Node – points to them.  The ‘barrage balloon’ spore mines took out 3 Valkyries and a pair of Carnifexes took down a Paladin Titan.  There were battle cannon explosions and Warriors & Gaunts dying everywhere.  Both my Trygon & Mawloc were shot to pieces after deep striking into the heart of the enemy.  There were Genestealers taking down Baneblades and Exorcists whilst a lucky Ravener  survived being stomped on by a titan.  The two bio-titans advanced as one whilst the Swarmlord formed a Living Fortress (that’s an Apocalypse formation consisting of at least 3 Tyrants and 5 Tyrant Guard).  With this mass having no trouble cutting up the Imperial centre, Fluffy turned around to deal with the Sisters as the last of my reinforcements came crashing in (Wing Tyrant, Gargoyles and plenty more Genestealers).

The game climaxed with the Swarmlord’s unit hitting that big landship and ripping it open.  The thing suffered a cataclysmic explosion and its engine core went nuclear!!!!  As the mushroom cloud lifted all that was left within 2 feet was what you see below.

It killed Tyrant Guard, tanks, Marines, Lictors, Genestealers…pretty much everything within 24″ except the Swarmlord, a Paladin titan and for some reason 2 Sisters who must have had the Emperor with them as they walked out of the blast.  At this point we ran out of time and called the game.  It had been 4 turns of fun and at the end a Tyranid victory had been attained – we’d managed to kill more than enough Imperials and had certainly crossed their lines.  As for the other two games going on; Orks beat Imperials and Imperials beat Chaos.

As the mushroom cloud cleared and the fallout began we all agreed that that game had been one of the best any of us had ever played and that the climatic nuclear explosion was a fitting end for 5th Edition.

Left 4 Dead Witch & Tank Miniatures


I found these miniatures amongst the Hesslefree range at Salute all those months ago.  With moving house and just general life, I haven’t been able to paint them up until now.  I do have the miniatures for the other special zombies from that most fantastic of “lets just have a laugh and shoot hundreds of zombies” game that I love so much (seriously I have wasted many an afternoon racking up kills on Left 4 Dead), and I will no doubt display them when they’re done.  For now here’s a look at the Witch and the Tank.  Now all I need to do is come up with game rules for them…