Monday, 8 February 2016

Here's to Swimming with Bow Legged Women...




I must admit, I had a bit of a weird weekend. I spent most of it flaked-out on the sofa, with a horrid head cold, watching kids TV with my kids. This meant big-time viewing of kids TV shows, such as; Adventure Time, Regular Show and at one point the Sponge Bob movie. So I guess not all bad. Anyway, due to this I spent very little of the time I had planned working on the artwork that I wanted to work on this weekend. This was until Sunday evening when I felt a little better and came-up with these two new designs.

The first new design is inspired by one of my favourite movies and books, Jaws



Spending the latter half of the 70's and early 80's as a kid being brought up in a small beach/fishing village, Jaws had a really big impact on me and my friends - we spent a lot of time playing 'Jaws' in the bay where I lived. This game was nice and simple. You would swim underwater, 'sneaking' up on an unsuspecting swimmer, and grab their legs, giving them a quick dunking. Sounds almost harmless, however you generally spent most of the day telling this person about the sharks in the area and humming the Jaws theme. Simple times.    

The second new design is another design inspired by cartoons and my childhood, this one is from when I was a little older; He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. 


There is very little to say about this one, other than in its simplicity lays its beauty. That and Orko is awesome!











Artwork ©Simon Breeze 2016













Friday, 5 February 2016

Dungeons & X-Wings



This week has been a bit of a mixed bag of gaming, we had a crack at an Epic sized Blockade Run with X-Wing and tackled the second quest in the Dungeon Saga campaign we are playing.

X-Wing was the first game of the week, where we used a 3x6 area to play the Blockade Run mission. The side 'running the blockade' was a 400 point mix of Scum and Rebels.


On the other end of the table holding the blockade we had some rather nasty Imperial forces.


The idea of a game of Blockade Run is for one side to escort several smaller shuttles, in this game we used four, off of the far table edge before the side holding the blockade destroys half or more of the shuttles, two for this game, before they can be escorted off of the table edge.


With this game the Imperial side holding the blockade had a smaller force than the 'runners' of 300 points. However, as the Imperial TIEs were pinged off of the table, they would keep returning at the far end as Academy Pilot TIEs (the lower skilled TIE pilots in the game).


The game was also a bit of an experiment to gauge how a Blockade Run would work on this scale, to figure out the tweaks such as how long the game would take, did we need more or less points, smaller playing area, maybe more shields on the shuttles? That sort of thing.


In the end we ran out of time to bring the game to any firm conclusion as to who had won/lost. However, we did learn a lot: This game would have worked better with a smaller play area, a 3x3 over a 6x3. This would have applied some pressure to both sides and increased the pace (it was turn three before a single shot was fired, and turn four before the first ship was shot down). The reduction in play area would also force consideration to slightly smaller forces on both sides as well. The second bump in the road we identified was that the four shuttles being escorted through the blockade each packed six shields and six hull points, this made them very difficult for Imperial TIE Fighters to shoot down. However, it would be conceivable that this number of shields and hull points would be fine for Rebel force to attack with their fire power packing a bigger punch via X-Wing fighters over the more 'lighter' shooting Imperial TIE fighters.

In conclusion, an awesome game and with these few tweaks next time this mission will be a real blast!

Also this week we managed to squeeze in the second quest for our campaign with Mantic Games Dungeon Saga. The second quest has our heroes adventuring through the Necromancers dungeon and encountering their first large monster - a Zombie Troll! 


The quest guidelines suggested the Heroes should split up into two teams, and whilst one distracts and fights the troll, the other group make a dash to complete the quest - by finding the exit to this section of the dungeon.


This idea worked fine to begin with until one of the two entrances into the main room became blocked by an armoured zombie that simply refused to die, preventing the first group of Heroes from progressing any further. Then the second entrance became blocked by the zombie troll holding up the second group of Heroes!

That is How You Roll Combat Dice! 
Time running out for the Heroes to complete the quest, Danor the Human Wizard, as with a previous game and also being the weakest, became singled out by the DM's minions (Dungeon Master) and started quickly losing health points - if he was removed from play, the game was up for the Heroes. The pressure was on the plucky band of Heroes to pull something special out of the bag. So, in a desperate move both Orlaf the Barbarian and Madriga the Elven Ranger used their once a game special skills to clear the way for the Heroes to progress - a gamble that paid off and saved the Heroes bacon!


With a mad dash for the exit by Orlaf the Barbarian and some luck by Danor the Wizard using his a potion of healing, the Heroes managed to live long enough to defeat the Zombie Troll (Trolls have the evil Regeneration rule that means that even if you smush them to hell they can still get back up and fight) and make it to the exit in the final turn of the game - thus completing the quest by the skin of their teeth!

This second quest demanded a much more tactical approach than the last, and throughout the whole game there was a considerable amount of pressure on the Heroes. The next quest has the gang facing some new minions in the shape of ghosts and the first 'boss' type character in the form of a Elshara the Elven Banshee.  

In conclusion, really loved this quest and as a group we are really loving Dungeon Saga. So-much-so that one of the group has already picked up the expansion set that allows you to build your own characters and quests - so we are all very much looking forward to going a bit bonkers with our own stories and characters! 










    





Saturday, 30 January 2016

The Best Pilot in the Galaxy!



It's the New Year, well for a few more days, and so it's time to start getting some fresh new designs into my RedBubble store. I've started the year off with some cool new Star Wars inspired designs, I think this comes from playing too much X-Wing recently and watch far too much Star Wars....

...Only joking, you can never play too much X-Wing and watch too much Star Wars! 

Here are the designs on some awesome t-shirts:


 Black Leader (Poe Dameron)
Black Leader (Poe Dameron)

Blue Leader (Poe Dameron)

Red Five (Luke Skywalker)

Red Three (Biggs Darklighter)

Red Two (Wedge Antillies)

Scum (Bounty Hunters)

My fave has to be the Black Leader and Blue Leader designs, they turned out looking awesome, the contrast in the colours really sells the design for me. However, having said that, I really do like the Scum design as well.... I think my personal t-shirt collection is about to grow by six new additions! 












Artwork ©Simon Breeze 2016







Thursday, 28 January 2016

THE REALM OF DUNGEON SAGA: THE DWARF KING'S QUEST




Last night I did something I haven't done for a while now, and that is play a fantasy dungeon crawler! For those that don't know what a dungeon crawler is, it is simply a game that has a number of Heroes battling through a dungeon full of monsters controlled by a Dungeon Master. The Heroes are attempting to complete several quests, and the Dungeon Master is trying to stop them. Generally you get a wizard, a Barbarian, a Dwarf and an Elf questing and battling against goblins, orcs, skeletons, monsters and all types of weird and wonderful fantasy creatures. The dungeon crawler that I played, along with several friends from a gaming group I'm apart of, was Dungeon Saga, by Mantic Games.

As an introduction, here is the official word on Dungeon Saga from Mantic:



DUNGEON SAGA: THE DWARF KING'S QUEST

Over a thousand years ago, Valandor, the greatest known hero, fell in battle - fighting to protect the lives of those around him. From shore to shore, all owe thanks to his wondrous legacy. Now, sacred sites across the land have been defiled by the disgraced wizard Mortibris, who along with his vile undead minions will stop at nothing to obtain the secrets of Valandor’s power. Only the bravest heroes dare oppose him. Thrown together from the far corners of the realm, they step boldly into the depths, ready to face whatever foul evil awaits them…

Hero, your quest begins here!

Embark on a fantasy adventure for up to five players with Dungeon Saga: Dwarf King's Quest. With highly detailed game-pieces and learn-as-you-play rules, this set contains everything you need to transform your tabletop into a deep and immersive world of heroes and monsters. Play a single game in just 30 minutes, or combine the carefully composed adventures for countless hours of classic quest gameplay. When the fate of the world hangs in the balance, which part will you play in the epic Dungeon Saga?

Epic, story-driven campaign
Classic quest atmosphere
Easy rules you can learn as you play
Characters that develop as the adventure unfolds
Beautifully illustrated 3D dungeons with doors, barrels, bookcases and more!
26 detailed and fully assembled miniatures in coloured plastic
Evocative ‘ancient tome’ packaging in a protective sleeve

One player takes the part of the evil dungeon overlord with the forces of evil at his command, and the others divide the mighty heroes between them. Each hero has strengths and weaknesses and teamwork is the key: The mighty barbarian can slaughter many foes at a time, yet he is lightly armoured and vulnerable to strong enemies. The Dwarf, on the other hand, is steadier as his thick armour can resist most attacks. The Elf is not as skilled a fighter as either of these, instead preferring to stay at a distance where her finely-honed archery skills can best be used. Finally, there is the wizard -the others may laugh at his lack of fighting skill, yet it is often his magic that carries the day. If the others can keep him alive, that is.

This core set will be supported with a raft of expansion products as time goes on, adding new challenges and game modes to your Dungeon Saga. The first of these will be Adventurer's Companion which will add an AI system for solo and fully co-operative play, the ability to create unique characters from scratch using any model in your collection, the tools you need to design your own dungeons and much more!

Okay, so that's the official word on the game, how does it live up to that in real life?

There was a lot of excitement for this game, from myself and the guys I game with. Having pre-ordered my copy of Dungeon Saga, having a bit of a wait for a week or two-ish for the release, then getting the email from Mantic saying it's been dispatched to it arriving on my door step just added to my excitement and expectation. And, boy. Was I not disappointed when that box arrived.


One of the AWESOME things right away is the box. It's a  giant book! You slide the cover off, and inside is a giant book! So, nerd dreams coming true already and I've not even opened the flippin' thing yet.

Popping the cover, yes it opens up like a giant book, the inside is just as impressive. One thing that struck me, once the 'new print smell' had passed was that this is an 'out of the box' game. No miniatures need building, the dungeon furniture is all ready to rock, the board and tokens just need popping out of their card holders, and in addition to this; for every thing that is shrink wrapped you are provided a seal/reseal clip bang to store it in (this includes the board sections). Not only that, there is a separate card deck already sorted for the introduction quests you play so you don't even have to sort the cards until you have played a few quests. So far, I've got a full-on nerd going!

Next was to have a look at the miniatures, every one in the set is awesome, I love them. They come unpainted, but that is a plus for me as I really enjoy the painting side of the hobby, and not so much the sticking together. 

Dungeon Wondering Minions of the Overlord

Our Four Brave Heroes

The Evil Villains
   
As you can see from the above photos, the miniatures that come with the game are fantastic, and they really feel the part when you play the game. 

Aesthetics out of the way, how does Dungeon Saga play?

The game mechanics are very simple and intuitive, this is perfect as it lends the game a fast pace, a shallow learning curve and the players to focus on playing and not flicking through endless books trying to figure out how to perform a simple task. 

On to game night; pizzas loaded, Coke and Haribo all set. Rules digested (mostly), roles chosen. On with the quest!

We decided to play the first three adventures, Adventure A and B (the introduction quests) and Adventure One (The first full quest). One of the other decisions we made was to start right away playing as a campaign, the outcome of each quest feeding into the next one.



Each adventure has dialogue for the Overlord (the DM ), objectives, set-up, a map, tactical thoughts (a guide for first time playing this adventure which comes in real handy for the Heroes) and all the elements you need to play and complete each adventure. 


The first adventure we played was Adventure A, an introduction adventure that used a small dungeon a small, specific set of Overlord cards and minions and only two of our Heroes; the Dwarf and the Barbarian.


The adventure went as expected, yes we got a few of the rules wrong - but that always happens with new games. The Dwarf and the Barbarian fought their way through the Skeleton Warrior guards, and made it unscathed to the dungeon exit - their objective for the adventure. The simple mechanics/rules really kicked in in this first game, the speed of fighting, for example, getting quicker with each turn. One of the things we really liked was that the Skeleton Warriors when attacked will either be smashed to bones or rendered to dust. If they are smashed to bones, the Overlord can raise them back to life in the following turn - awesome!

The second adventure was Adventure B, this one once again was a reduced dungeon with a specific set of cards and only two of the Heroes. This time, however, the Heroes were the Elf and the Wizard.


 This adventure didn't go as well as the first, unless you are the evil Overlord that is. Where as the first adventure had the two 'fighty' Heroes (the Dwarf and the Barbarian). This one had the two 'specialist' Heroes (the Elf and the Wizard). This meant that in the right situation these two Heroes are devastating and with one simple action could swing an entire game. In the wrong place at the wrong time though, they are very quickly dispatched by the Overlords minions. 

  
And that is exactly what happened, our Heroes be defeated by this adventure. The Wizard, wondering off by himself, became trapped and surrounded by Skeleton Warriors and Archers. The Elf, the more fighty of the two, became trapped in a different room fighting even more of the undead. This led the the untimely end of our Wizard - a victory condition for the Overlord.

Undeterred from their quest, all four Heroes continued on, and taking the lessons that they had learned, entered the first dungeon for their big adventure to begin....

  
 Adventure One, proved to be a challenge. We were still getting our heads around the rules and figuring out just how to get the best from each Hero, and that only comes with practice. 


Due to a misunderstanding of how the timing worked and just how that played into the victory objectives led to an awesome game of the Skeleton and Zombie hordes Vs the Heroes. Sadly, as much fun as we were having, we all failed to complete the adventures victory conditions. 

A quick re-read and clarification of the rules and how to apply them, a quick dungeon re-set, and we were off again re-playing Adventure One. This time the the game worked like a charm and although a bit less fighty, much more fun and a victory as well - for the Heroes.


Conclusions!

Pros: A beautiful game, lots of fun, quick to learn and play, challenging, engaging... Well, let's just call it what it is - BRILLIANT!

Cons: Some of the wording of the rules could be a little clearer, not a biggy as we soon figured out what the intent was. Also, with this comment you have to take into account that this is part one in a three part game (and I'm sure more are coming as well). Throughout the books you will find several comments to this effect, on the cards there are values and comments that play no part in the adventures included with this set. This is not a problem, I just means that the next expansion will bolt seamlessly into this one - which is what you want.

Summary: I love this game, and I can easily see Dungeon Saga becoming a solid part of my gaming group, of which all who played enjoyed the game just as much as I did. 

That's it for now, we're already set for the next adventure, which I will post here soon!








  







Wednesday, 27 January 2016

X-Wing: Imperial Ambush!



This weeks gaming night was an epic battle of X-Wing, and not just epic in terms of the gaming definition. But epic in the term of flippin' HUGE! Yes, just when a 300 point battle of X-Wing wouldn't do. Lets have a 600 points a side battle. To give guys who don't play an idea of the scale, X-Wing is designed to play at 100 points a side, 300 points for what is called a large 'Epic' battle. So we absolutely tipped the scales with a tubby Jabba the Hut there with the volume of ships and bonkers on the table.

The game plan was a simple one; use a 6x3 table, Rebels on one side, Imperials on the other side both supported by a faction of Scum (Bounty Hunters). Each force would then have a one ship from the Huge class. This huge ship will be the sudden death objective, once the huge ship on one side is destroyed the destroyers win. We applied all of the usual set up rules, and with six guys playing we split the points at 200 each for fleet selection; three guys a side, 200 points each. A grand total of 1200 points of X-Wing awesome ready to battle.




When it came to picking a 'Huge' class ship, for the rebels, they went with the Gr-75 Medium Transport (the one from Empire that escapes from Hoth with some X-Wings supported by the big boobie Ion gun):


When it came to the Imperials ship; well, let's just say they went a little more aggressive with the monster that is the Imperial Raider (This thing is designed to do a lot of killing and blowing stuff up. Hey, it's the Empire. It's what they do.):


Set up took a bit of time (of which we defo underestimated), but after many minutes of scrabbling for cards, drinking Yazoo and lots of humming of the Imperial March we were ready for battle.


Turn one kicked off with a bang! Not that anyone went 'Bang!', just that Boba Fett misjudged the distance between his ship and and some space debris. This left the coolest bounty hunter in the galaxy giving a floating junk pile a bit of a 'kiss' with the hull of Slave One and taking a Critical Hit for his troubles as well (I'm sure there was a space slug in there that attacked him) - so not the best start for the Rebel team.

As with most games of X-Wing, despite the size of this one, there was lots of moving, a little shooting, and not much damage in the first turn of any game. Other than Boba Fett's little fender-bender (bad-ass bounty hunter my butt, can't even fly in a straight line), only a few ships lost some shields, including the Imperial Raider. Maybe things weren't looking so bad for the Rebels after all.




Turn two started to get a bit bonkers - quickly. I started to get flashes of the scene in Return of the Jedi when the Rebels are ambushed by the Imperials at the Battle of the Death Star. The volume of miniature ships and all the moving parts in this game just became a little overwhelming at times, and I know I wasn't the only one to lose track of things during play. One thing that remained consistent from turn one however, was the pilot skills of the Bounty Hunters and their universal ability to hit things. Notably asteroids and debris. Of the four IG 2000 ships in play, piloted by the four IG-88s, half of them ended up on either an asteroid or caught in debris - so much for their superior logic circuits. I like to think that they copied Boba Fett, maybe under the logic that he was doing something super-bounty hunter sneaky. They were wrong.

 On a side note: Boba has this rep, and it is so not deserved. Look at the films, Boba gets handed Han in Empire, and then dies like a total loser in Jedi. Maybe we should accept that he cannot actually fly a spaceship either. Anyway.... 


The shooting for turn two cranked up a notch from turn one, with the Imperial Raider showing what it is made of by hammering the Hounds Tooth with to within an inch of its life with a barrage of Turbo Lasers stripping shields like they were nothing. The Hounds Tooth was not the only Rebel ship to take a pounding from the Imperial forces. Several fighters took some powerful hits, including Wedge who lost all shields to a savage attack combo from the Imperial Raider and some nasty dark power influence from Darth Vader.



Though the shooting wasn't all one sided with the Rebels hitting the Imperial Raider and a few TIEs giving them some damage and shield losses as well - I had to add that bit, as being part of the Rebel team because I wanted to make it look like we didn't get a right kick in the butt so early in the game.   


Turn three is where things got really interesting, so-much-so that by the end of turn three the game was in a place for only one more game turn and the result could go either way.

Both sides closed to each other leaving very little room to breath, the room was heating up like the tropics and, as already said, there were moments where the game had to many moving parts to keep track - things were getting tense!

The Imperials relentlessly hammered the Rebel forces, blowing shields and stripping hull points left-right and center. Several ships coming dangerously close to being destroyed and removed from play. The Rebel Transporter took some of its first few hits costing the great grey whale of a ship several of its shields. The Rebels answered with almost the equal aggression, raking the Imperial Raider with a wave of laser fire, breaching the ships hull, and taking out one of the Advanced TIEs flying a lose escort as well.

Then disaster!

Several ships from the Imperial fleet were called away by the Emperor to aid another Imperial ship in distress in another part of the galaxy, leaving the Imperial fleet in very depleted state and hurting.


The fortunes of gaming, especially in a fast paced game such as X-Wing, can change quickly. With a burst of energy, the Imperial Raider was back up to full power and had it's sights on the prize - the Rebel Transporter. With the smaller force, could the brave boys and girls of the Empire win the day?



Turn four - the final turn of the game!

This turn went by in a blur, it ended with a big bang and started with a crunch. The crunch being three of the four IG2000 ships causing a pile-up as they bummped into one another - it must have been a glitch in their programming?


The Rebel Transporter took a serious pounding from several Imperial ships causing it to lose all shields and take damage to the hull, engine damage, and with its escort ship out of range to be any help; the Imperial Raider loomed into range....

...and promptly murdered and obliterated the Bright Hope from the space lanes. Although it was at cost to the Imperials as they lost another TIE advanced and a large amount of damage to the remaining fleet - the Raider included - again, a bit of face saving there for the Rebels at the end.




All-in-all a very cool game, and despite the nose bleed of keeping up with everything, would jump at the chance to play a battle this size again in the future.  

The pros: AWESOME fun and very challenging, and how often do you see that many cool miniatures in a game of X-Wing. 

The cons: Far to many moving parts to keep track of, I guess that's why it is suggested to stick to a battle half the size of this one. So, more planning next time, and more Yazoo as well.

A well deserved victory to the Imperial Forces, and I must get me one of them Raiders - they are a fantastic miniature and little short of monster when stacked with the right cards.


Next time is a little bit of dungeon crawling with, Dungeon Saga from Mantic.