Antares – Another army building app

Because of my habit of writing programs whenever something can be automated, I made an army building app for Beyond the Gates of Antares.

There are a few already – ArmyBuilder, BattleScribe, Quartermaster are the top ones – but they all require manual input. I did a bunch of work on the BattleScribe version of the Antares rules. But then updates were made to the army lists, and I’m really bad at spotting detailed changes, and I I didn’t want to do the updates anymore and…

I figured out how to parse the freely available Warlord PDFs into a semi-usable XML file, then built a small web interface to interact with that file. There’s no validation, you can add a million of everything, you can add a units between factions, you can do whatever the hell you want. The important part is that it’s automatically generated, so can be more easily kept up to date.

Here’s a link to the app: http://geeksong.com/Antares/

And here’s a link to the GitHub repo for it: https://github.com/rythos42/AntaresArmy Should you be a developer and be interested in expanding my work, I’m open to discussion and pull requests!

Paper – …resume?

I’ve been doing a ton of reading on papercraft. I’ve always loved origami – I grew up folding paper dinosaurs, and more recently learned how to fold a Firefly. But it wasn’t until the epiphany of the folding terrain that I realized how much more there is to this hobby than I had expected. There are a lot of people making paper terrain, paper models, entirely paper games. I threw my name into the hat because I could, because I wanted to make terrain for myself, and because I wanted to see if there was a long tail I could make a couple bucks from.

One book I read was specifically about folding for visual design. Brochures, pamphlets, marketing material (I think that’s just 3 ways of saying the same thing…). I’ve recently been told I’ll be laid off in December, and my brain leapt to a foldable resume!

Here’s a draft:

IMAG2694.jpg

There are a number of design goals to be met:

  • Keep the most important information most visible — name, contact, work experience, education
  • Have space to put some less important information, but make it visually less important — other contact info, interests
  • Have fun!
  • Allow colour.
  • Ensure that it looked good while entirely unfolded.
  • Ensure that it looked good while folded.
  • It had to be understandable still!
  • There is a flow to how people read things, and that needed to be respected (in Western culture, it’s usually left->right, top->bottom)

The draft picture is 1 of 4 that I designed while trying to find the right layout. After I was happy with the layout, I threw on some scribbles trying to see if I had enough space to fit all the information I wanted to include.

Here’s what I came up with, this is my first coloured draft:

IMAG2693.jpg

There is another version after that I didn’t photograph, but it’s pretty close. You can see how I met my design goals:

  • My name is front and very prominent, with contact information just below it. The contact information stands out in person because of the little icons that help orient what that section is about.
  • Work experience and education are next, as they are some of the most important pieces of information on a resume. I’ve left out a bunch of jobs, leaving only 2, because these are the 2 that will get me the work I want. I’ve got space to dedicate a good paragraph to what I did at each job.
  • I’ve included some call-out words that are also big and slightly colourful (but not to much) to give a reader some idea of a few values that I bring to my work.
  • In the back panel, there is a section for my interests (which is more readable in the final — it’s stuck in the corner here due to a mistake in my layout that didn’t get caught until this nearly final stage! This is what design is about!) and a section for a bunch of technologies I’ve worked with.
  • I really love the fake sticky note. There are 4 of them on the paper, and they are instructions for a reader on how to make the resume fold! I wanted someone to be intrigued by what they had, maybe print it and cut it out and fold it themselves. I plan on bringing them folded to interviews, but if an interviewer took the time to put it together, that’s someone I’m more interested in talking with!
  • Even better, most of the sticky note instructions hide when it’s folded! They are on the center fold, which is perpendicular to the camera in the photo!
  • I think it looks great folded.
  • It looks a little funny unfolded, but not so funny that it isn’t usable. The reading-layout is weird, because my eyes are drawn to the big teal sections which are in the middle of the page, then to the big yellow sticky on the right, and then to my name. This isn’t a bad reading order (it would be bad if you were drawn to Interests or Keywords first!), but it is odd to notice.

I haven’t done anything with it yet, but here’s hoping it’s well received when I do put it out into the world!

Paper – AFLogistics Building First and Second Floors

It’s been a long while since I wrote. I may have written about the baby, and the baby takes up a lot of time. One of the things I like about this new paper building hobby is that I can do it in whatever chunks of time I have available to me. Baby is asleep for 15 minutes? Add another layer of texture. Baby is eating with mom? Take some photos.

It’s slow going, but I’m happy to announce that I have 2 new products available for purchase!

The first floor has a door, while the second floor has no door and has tabs that fit into the first floor to keep it relatively stable.

I initially started designing these to play Gates of Antares with, but GW has since announced the impending release of a new Necromunda so now I’m thinking about gantries and ladders and walkways, because that’s what makes Necromunda awesome!

I now have 3 products available for sale on Geeksong Paper!

Blog Comments and Batter Drones

I noticed the other day that comments on old posts were closed, which is not a situation I want to be in — I’d like people to be able to comment on anything, at any time in the past! I just found the setting that was messing with that and turned it off, so hopefully its fixed now!

I needed more batter drones for big games of Antares. One of our guys bought an army online that had some drones done up like this —

IMAG2548.jpg

It’s the metal spotter drones (of which I have a million extras) and the phalanges from the subverter matrix. Cut off the drone wings, glue on the phalanges, and be very, very patient.

 

The price of Wet Coast GT this weekend went down by half, because the TO decided to make it a one-day event. Unfortunately, with summer finally here in Vancouver, the event isn’t getting as much love as it should. So if you’re in the area and want to play a big megabattle, and get some swag, come on up to Vancouver (or down to us, or sideways)!

I’m still really hoping I get to go. My brand new daughter is still in the hospital, and isn’t allowed to leave until she shows she can survive outside of a medical environment. She just has to figure out “eating” and she gets to come home (she’s premature). If she does that before this weekend, it’s all hands on deck at home as we struggle to figure out what life looks like in this new world order!

If I do get to WCGT, I’m planning to bring my good camera and I’ll see about getting some quality photos up here next week. I think I also need to replace my phone camera lens, if possible – it’s become very hazy.

Inquisitor

I’m selling some models. I went to put these guys into a box to ship them across the world, but while doing so I discovered I was feeling a little nostalgic.

IMAG2574.jpg IMAG2575.jpg IMAG2576.jpg IMAG2577.jpg IMAG2578.jpg

I worked at GW when Inquisitor was released, and it was an exciting time. This brand new game, fresh out of Specialist after a long many years. 54mm models, continuation of the 40k storyline, some super crunchy rules, it was all amazing. I wrote a 6-scenario campaign while I waited for the game to be released – I have no idea what happened to those stories and ideas.

In the end, I played a single game.

“Crunchy” meant “way to bloody complicated to follow”. Shooting a gun was an exercise in accounting. My story was cool, but not cool enough to draw people to it. I remember one of the staff members (or maybe a particularly excited customer) built up a giant castle in the store with an inner courtyard and ladders and levels and it was all 54mm scale and huge and it was amazing.

I was still in love with Necromunda at the time, so my little band had to have a converted wyrd. I took the daemonhost torso and I think the guardsman legs and carefully cut and green stuffed them together. I gave him a punk rock look (because I loved punk as much as Necromunda) and a book of spells and claimed he was being trained by the Eisenhorn look-alike.

I don’t remember how it happened, but I ended up with these 4 models and I think 3 others in the end which I was less attached to and have sold a while back. Staff members did a draft pick of the models to see who got what, and I think I got a couple extra because I said I was totally willing to paint a million models to get more. I think I bought one or two as well, I had to have.

The nice thing about having a blog is that I can reminisce about the past like this. 🙂 Bye models, enjoy your new life!

 

 

P.S. While I have a tournament coming up, in a few weeks where I’m playing Antares, things got immeasurably slower and faster around here, as my wife unexpectedly gave birth last Wednesday! I mean, we knew we were having a baby, but baby is about 2 months early. >.> So while you may have come to expect a leisurely pace of posting around here, I’m afraid it may get even more leisurely from here on in!

Antares – Strike on Kar’a Nine Rulebook

I promised a number of reviews of the Strike on Kar’a Nine box set, and have yet to make good on those promises. 🙁 Most of my promises are out to seed, hopefully growing into full-bloom promises, but a bunch of them aren’t in my hands. 2-3 of them I still control.

  • I wanted to review the demo scenarios, but each time I offer a demo game the other person declines. I don’t …think I’m scary. But Blood Bowl takes up so much of my clubs mind frame that it’s hard to unseat it sometimes.
  • I wanted to paint and review the new Algoryn plastics. They’ve been primed on my desk for a while, but I keep buying new Concord models! We have a tournament in July and I’m trying to prep!
  • This review.

This is not as positive a review as the last one. The K9 box is amazing, but the mini rulebook has some flaws. We’ll go into detail shortly, but the flaws can be overcome. Here’s some photos first.

IMAG2524.jpg

Here it is, compared to the big hard cover rulebook. It is smaller, which is everything you want in a mini rulebook!

IMAG2520.jpg

It also contains an index, which the big rulebook does not. There was a PDF published online of this index, so while you didn’t get the benefit of it directly in your book, you could always print it out and stick the paper in it somewhere.

IMAG2521.jpg

This is the last numbered page. Page 63. The good news, is that the book contains every single page from the main rulebook up to page 63. Even better, the page numbers are identical! This is great, because unlike in Malifaux where you had to say “pg 12 mini, page 20 big”, with this book you can just refer to the page and not worry about it.

IMAG2522.jpgIMAG2523.jpg

The last pages and back of the book are also a reference sheet for weapons and for various game charts, also very nice.

What Isn’t Good?

So here’s the thing. While this book is great for the price you paid for it (remember, I calculated the box at about a $112 discount!), it can’t replace the big rulebook. Which is what you want from a mini-book, you want to not have to carry the big-book. If you have the big-book handy, pick it up and flip to page 63. Now observe all of the things in that big rulebook that are after page 63. Here’s an itemized list:

  • 73 pages of rules for ammo, equipment, vehicles, drones, weapons, armour. This is the really important one.
  • 19 pages of scenarios. You can get by without these, but I would argue that you shouldn’t. The basic scenarios should be included, really.
  • 38 pages of army lists. After the release of this book, Warlord put up the army lists as free PDFs online, which is amazing and means missing these 38 pages isn’t as important. Also, we always had ArmyBuilder and BattleScribe as options. Less important to lose.
  • 55 pages of fluff. Missing the fluff isn’t great, since I think fluff helps draw people into the game. But to me, it’s less critical to have lost. If you want to read it, buy the big-book or buy the PDF for the big-book.

 

Those first 73 pages really hurt. I went to look up the rules for jump packs and couldn’t find them. I recently started a project to add some of these rules to the BattleScribe lists. Things like the rules for Scoot Ammo, and AG Chutes can be put onto printable army lists no problem. The special rules for every weapon, however, is going to be a real pain since there are a lot of them. By the time I’m done, Antares army lists will be 3-4 pages even when summarized.

This is a huge project, and I’m sure to miss things. My plan is to only add the things I notice are missing (ie, Concord), and the things people ask for. I can’t do a full pass, it’s to much.

What Else Isn’t Good?

There’s another big gap here that won’t be covered by army lists — the rules for things like Disruptors, Grenades, the basic rules for vehicles and the basic rules for probes are included in those 73 pages.

My club has said that the rules of this game are good, but that the rulebook is poorly laid out and this is a great example. Rules like the the basic rules for vehicles and probes should not be in with the detailed and specific rules for the individual tanks and probes. The first main section should contain every basic rule you need to play the game. If they’d done this, these rules would be in the mini rulebook! The second main section of the big rulebook should contain every special rule, and while I wouldn’t agree to leave them out of this book, at least the main rules would be complete.

 

There’s More?

There’s another small issue. I had heard this on Facebook, so it might not actually be a real problem — more like a theorycrafted problem than one that’s been witnessed. But someone buying this box could imagine they had a complete and useful rulebook, only to have the experience I had of building a list with X-Launchers in it, and finding they didn’t have the rules for any of the special ammo for it. I would imagine that would be frustrating.

I would point that person at the paragraph below this one, to try to make them feel better.

But There’s Some Good Right?

I have to end on a good note. Because despite my issues with this book, the box itself with all of the stuff that’s inside it is such a phenomenal deal that you can’t pass it up. However, I would re-calculate the discount I added up at the end of that last article, to remove the rulebook because this book is not a drop in replacement for it. Making the Kar’a Nine box a mere $63 off the total contents. Bonkers, because then you get most of a rulebook as a bonus.

 

Raspberry Pi – Stupid Beginner Electronics

I’ve been doing all the drone stuff, which is a lot of electronics. I have some knowledge, like really basic stuff, but I’ve never really played with hobby electronics stuff in the past. My dad and I built a computer from parts, and from there my interest has always been in software. I like typing, and I’ve always felt like I could make a computer do anything. With hardware, I’ve let the magic smoke out more times than my wallet is happy with!

I bought a Raspberry Pi a month ago, because we’re looking at building some race timers for the drones, because…why not. But now that I have this thing, I started looking at other fun things I could do.

One of the things in my head has been to try to teach electronics to some of my wife’s little-cousins and nephews and nieces (she has a few). So I’ve been thinking about how to do that, and it starts with an easy project like…

IMAG2489.jpg

Attach some wires to a breadboard, put a resistor (180Ohm) and an LED in. Write some code to turn the light on and off, because I want to show both sides – hardware and software. Here’s the code, in Python, which I’ve never written anything in before yesterday:

import RPi.GPIO as gpio
import sys
gpio.setmode(gpio.BCM)
gpio.setwarnings(False)
gpio.setup(18, gpio.OUT)
if sys.argv[1] == “on”:
gpio.output(18, gpio.HIGH)
else:
gpio.output(18, gpio.LOW)

I started doing some reading on how to explain electricity and electronics to kids. It’s not an easy concept, and analogies can help. Some people think of it like a water-pipe – it all has to be connected in a loop to work, water flows through the pipes. But resistance is weird, and voltage as an analogy to the force of the water is weird.

I wondered if using “force” as a starting point was a better idea: hold out your hand, and I press against it. This is voltage. When I press harder, that’s more voltage. When you try to stop me, that’s resistance. Amperage gets lost here though, but I was thinking about moving to objects-in-hands – this brick (cause I’ll totally have a brick handy) is more amperage than this feather?

One article I read suggested not trying to teach the concepts until you’ve done through the examples, and lots of different examples. Probably a better idea, since you don’t need to know how many amps are running from the Pi to know that it will power that light. You do need to know to put a resistor in the circuit with an LED though, I’ve read you can blow out your Pi that way!

Antares – “Race for the Vermillion Star”, and campaign app.

We’ve been playing Blood Bowl for a long while now. There are a few reasons I think why it has had success: small model count, utilizing models people had already, there were a good number of people who already knew how to play when we started so the community was easy to build, the league structure that our commissioner built up, the games RPG-like elements, and lastly: a good app to track it all.

I can’t do much about a lot of that stuff, but the last 3 we can build. I partnered with a friend who wanted to do a map-based campaign to write some rules, and I set about writing an app. This is what has been taking up all of my free time for a few months, and I’m ready to show off the “first draft”.

Goals

I had a few goals going into this project.

  • Simple, but not too simple.
  • Each game has to have meaning, within the context of the greater campaign.
  • Ensure that no one misses a game because of a lack of opponent.
  • Make it easy to join, and easy to leave. I’ve seen to many map campaigns die because 3/8 people stop being interested.
  • Allow scheming. Everyone in my club is connected through WhatsApp, so we should be able to get some devious moves going on.
  • Allow a narrative to be written. 40k has taken some flak in our group from “forge the narrative”, but it doesn’t have to be so serious. A story is as simple as “we all need to kill Chris because he has a movement 10 gutter runner!” That’s a story, and although it isn’t one that will sell novels, it’s worth writing about.

How I met those goals:

  • Maps are pretty simple. I also had a couple friends go over the app to ensure it was somewhat user-friendly. This was a good idea, as I hadn’t “killed my darlings”, as they say in the writing trade. 🙂
  • We added a point-system whereby players gain 1 point for winning a game, and points for playing games at the end of themonth. Points can be spent on things like attacking anywhere (instead of adjacent map spaces), placing extra terrain on the table and gaining a few extra points on the table. (but not too many).
  • I’ve currently missed on “no one misses a game”. I wanted to include rules to allow in-faction fighting, but not necessarily encourage it. We left those out for now, with plans to include them should we notice a problem.
  • The campaign is entirely faction based. In other campaign systems, you hold sections of the map personally. In this game, you hold them with your faction. This means that players can drop out if they lose interest, and join if they think it’s interesting, without needing to allocate or de-allocate sections. The trade-off is that players may feel less ownership, which could lead to a lack of interest.
  • There is a front page news feed that displays information from campaign-creators, as well as players who fill in their entries.

Rules

While I was writing the app, myself and another person were working on a set of campaign rules that would fit with my goals and would also be fun to play. This was the result. This document drove all of the “game-like” aspects of the campaign (the game outside of the game), which strives to give the reason why someone would play in a campaign at all. It’s gone through a lot of revisions, and I expect it will see a few more once it actually hits the pavement.

Video games start with a design document, which outlines what the goals of the project are, and a little bit of what someone could expect when they play the game (which hasn’t been written at that point!). I think of these rules as my design document for the app – the game must be playable with just the document, and the app has to facilitate that play.

Photos

I’m deliberately not posting a link, because it’s not ready for public use right now. I want to run a full campaign through it locally, and make a few more user-friendly features before I offer it up to others.

These pictures are all from my development copy of the app, so some of the text will be gibberish. 🙂

The app has been designed to be game-system-agnostic. It tracks wins and losses and the map, but doesn’t tell you how to drive those games. You just could as easily play Backgammon.

At the front page, there is a news feed. This comes from 3 places: sites administrators can post news, campaign-creators can add news, and players can add a narrative to their games. Only the news from the campaigns you’re a member of will be shown here.

News

On the left, there are a few buttons. Clicking the “Campaigns” button opens a side bar that shows a list of all campaigns in the app. Here you can Create a Campaign, as well as click on an existing one to look at it.

CampaignList

 

Entering a game

To join one, you’ll click on a campaign in the sidebar and it will bring you to a screen similar to this. I’ve already Joined this campaign, otherwise there would be a Join button at the top. Campaign administrators have a gear button to give them some extra options. Regular players click on the map to select which section they wish to attack. They can only attack sections adjacent to their existing territories.

At the top, there is also information about:

  • Phases. This is a generic term to denote a period of time. We’ll come back to this.
  • Materials. You gain materials for winning games. They can be spent in game on some special things. You can also give materials to your faction-mates!
  • Mandatory attacks. Each phase, each player in a campaign must attack a certain number of times. This is to motivate people to play at least one game per phase!
  • Optional attacks. Each phase, each player is allowed to attack a few more times. We limit this, to ensure that someone with infinite free time doesn’t steamroll.
  • VPs. Who is winning!

InProgress

After you click a territory, you come to this entry page. Here you’ll fill in how many points you got, and how many materials you used, as well as the same information for any opponents you played in the game. You can also fill in a narrative for your game, if you want.

Lastly, you’ll Save it (if you want to come back to fill in information later) or Finish it (if you’re completely done).

CreateEntry

 

Creating a campaign

If you click Create Campaign, you’ll be brought to this simple entry form. Give your campaign a name, enter whether it is a Simple campaign (no map, no meta-game features) or a Map campaign. I have thoughts of adding some other options here as well – a tournament is one possibility.

CreateCampaign

You will also add as many factions as there are in your campaign here, and they will be automatically assigned a colour. When you’re done, click Save or Generate Map.

CreateCampaign-more

A map is generated automatically for you, but you still need to place your factions on the map so they have a starting point. It is a simple drag-and-drop interface to give factions their start sectors.

GenerateMap

When you’re all done, you Save your campaign!

The Future

I’ve got thoughts, but most of them have to wait until we actually get this campaign going and I get real people running through the system.

  • I’m not happy with how the “in progress campaign” screen looks. The map is large and unwieldy, and looks awkward. I keep looking at Google Maps for inspiration, but they get to use a map that fills their entire screen. The map isn’t “out of place”, because it’s the reason you’re on the page!
  • Clark wanted me to add tournament support, and I don’t see why I shouldn’t be able to.
  • User customization of things like number of squares, size of the map, colours, themes, etc.
  • Whether to monetize some of it. I look at the Roll20 app and think that I’m not that far away from having something that might be worth a few bucks to some people.
  • The public…

But for now, it’s going to be about running through the stuff I have with real people who are actively trying to use the system!

 

 

Necromunda – Orlocks

Some folks in the club started talking about Necromunda again, and I love that game so I got involved. Once again though, I have the choice between my Orlocks (who have been my first love) and my Cawdor (who I never loved, but who look way better). I sent out a link to my last old models post, to give people an idea of what my Orlocks actually looked like. Someone was disappointed that there were actually no photos of Orlocks in that link, so in order to procrastinate painting some more I thought I’d take some photos! I don’t remember exactly when I painted these. It was after the Dark Elves for sure, but before I worked at GW and learned a lot about thinning paints. 🙂

P1310753

After I finished painting them, these 4 juves were in every gang list I made. They were cheap, and as long as you didn’t get into close combat they were almost as effective as a ganger. I tended to run them in pairs so they could support each other if they got into combat. I also really love the models!

P1310756

Gangers have always felt kind of interchangeable to me. Sure, these guys all have different weapons, but in the end you just put them on the table and hope that the weapon you’re holding is good enough to hurt the person standing across from you.

P1310758

I love this leader model too, although I’m disappointed that the new Community Edition rules don’t allow his meltagun in the initial gang. If I run Orlocks, I’m going to convert something I think. Boltgun/sword is a good combo for a leader. I’m surprised to find the stubber merely primed, since the rest of the gang is actually painted and I ran him in every list I made until I picked up a plasma gun (see further down).

P1310760

These guys have a variety of stories. The pit slave on the left is likely a model that doesn’t belong to me, I think it’s actually Gavin’s. The dude next from the left is a conversion I made from a tank commander body and some plastic legs and a bolt pistol and flamer and I used him either as a scum or mercenary (I forget which). Gavin had the exact same conversion and I thought it was so cool I made my own. The next model in is a pyromancer, whenever I ran him he didn’t do to much. And lastly the guy on the far right I think ran as a telekinetic because I thought they seemed cool. He’s just an Empire wizard model from that era, I think.

P1310761

After a large number of games, I got tired of running the same weapons over and over again and bought some Catachans to get some more weapons. I don’t really like them as Orlock replacements, as the Orlock models are a lot less “beefy”. Still, they aren’t bad.

P1310762

Lastly, and this is also disappointing, two special edition models I grabbed at some point. It’s Scabs from the Kal Jericho comics and a PDF trooper, I think. The disappointing part is that I can’t find Kal!! Likely he was at Gavin’s at some point and now he has my Kal and I have his pit slave. Poor trade. 😛

 

As for the photography, there’s something missing from these photos. They don’t have the “luminescent” quality that I think they should have. Possibly my lights were poorly angled or not strong enough. I like the last photo, but not the other five.

Antares @ CHOP!

For the number of people talking about Antares locally, there still isn’t the representation I was expecting at our Sunday gaming club. I arrived late, around 1:30pm (we open at noon) and one guy was sitting with his army set out, and a table set out, waiting for an opponent. I looked around and saw 2 Antares people playing Blood Bowl, and 2 watching another game, one of whom I found out was waiting for his BB game! One issue we have with growing this game is that Blood Bowl is a commitment in our league, so if you fall behind on games you have to prioritize it over other games!

I got asked if I wanted to play BB, but I only brought Antares, so I played 3 games of it! 😀 This post won’t be a battle report, because I kind of hate (reading) them, but read on because it’ll turn into a mini-review of scenario #4 “Tunnels” from the Xilos supplement.

First Game

I played the poor guy sitting with his army out. The trouble is, that he’s a guy that others have been complaining about. Not that he’s a bad guy, but he plays this wicked fast Boromite army that’s in your face turn 2 and it’s quite daunting to have to deal with 2 rock rider units, the rock rider character, 3 units of lavamites and 3 X-launchers. The lavamites are quite good.

We played one of the scenarios I wrote for the scenario competition a while back (still no links, since maybe it’ll be published one day, that’d be nice!). It was the only scenario I didn’t get a chance to play test before I submitted it, mainly because I didn’t have time and I was more confident that it would be good. And oh man, was it ever.

I was trying to write a game that scored more like Malifaux, with VPs accruing at the end of every turn. This allows you to “lock in” points so you can forget about those points and focus on how to get other ones. It has a interesting “flowy” feeling to it, since you don’t have to be focused on the entire board at once. “This one, then this one, then this one” sort of feeling, if that makes any sense at all!

Until you get flanked by lavamites. Rapid sprinting at you, and rolling 1s for their Ag tests so they move 25″. I played a denied flank, leaving a Strike Squad dangling to bait him and trying to push more force up a single side, while he spread out evenly. It was on the verge of working, except that because his entire army is so fast and so strong there’s no flank to deny, it’s just a flank taken. He ran forward, grabbed the points and just kept running. The only thing that saved me from getting completely destroyed was on turn 3 about half his (Co 9) army failed a Command Check, then failed again to remove their Down orders!

I lost this one 6-4, but am super happy with the scenario!

Second Game, Xilos #4

imag2423.jpg

My dudes, cramped in a tunnel. The scenario description recommends 750, and I heartily agree!

I’ve had it as a goal of mine to play through every scenario in the Xilos book. I usually buy books like these and then read and forget them – “scenarios are hard”, “lets just line them up and smash each other”. After my stint in Malifaux, I’ve learned that scenarios are the best to play a wargame. The Xilos book has been a source of some very excellent ideas, but I’m afraid to say, some less good implementations.

imag2424.jpg

My opponent “broke through” first, so got to place a unit ahead…and then cramped the rest of his army. The caverns he’s standing on are the ones placed before the game starts.

The first scenario was so asymmetrical I think I would have been annoyed if it hadn’t been explained in the scenario summary that this was the case. Xilos #4 is one sided, and I don’t think it was intended to be so. It feels like the writer had a really good idea…and then wrote something different down. It’s a game where you place tunnel sections on the board, tunneling out your map as you go. Very cool idea and I was really excited to try it out, but the rules have this terrible conflux:

  • You must always place your first tunnel section at a right angle to the table edge.
  • You must always place subsequent tunnel sections heading directly towards the table center line (used in one part of the rules) or “your target”. (a phrase used in another part of the the rules without explanation of what my target might be?).

When you combine these two, if you both don’t place your first tunnel section directly in line with the initial canerns, you will very likely, never meet. (when you place a tunnel, roll a D10, if you roll a 10 you can place a cavern that can be placed to adjust your tunnel course slightly). If you do place your tunnel section directly inline with your opponent, I think you end up with a very uninteresting game with a long tunnel where only 1 unit from each side can shoot at anything.

This game my opponent placed in line with the existing tunnels and I placed off-center to see what would happen. It wasn’t until turn 6 (out of 8) that I rolled a 10 and managed to place a connecting piece that the game got any sort of interesting. He almost won without interacting with me at all, but we got to turn 8 and he won 3-2.

imag2425.jpg

We finally met. If he’d sprinted at this point, across into the far cavern, he’d have auto-won.

imag2426.jpg

The state of the game at this point. We ended up “just moving” most of our armies, without drawing dice because everything at the back couldn’t do anything but keep up. Saved a lot of time!

imag2427.jpg

I moved into the battleground cavern to block his movement and shot up his guys a lot.

imag2428.jpg

Don’t cross the streams!

imag2429.jpg

The end. I couldn’t run into the left-most cavern in this photo to contest it and tie the game up. He won 3-2.

Third Game, Xilos #4

We re-racked and tried again with a small rules variation – you can place a tunnel section at any right angle – so you can choose to change course as you wish.

This was much more interesting. We both placed our initial sections off-center from the middle, but only slightly so that a single tunnel section could be used to break into the main cavern whenever we wanted. I pushed to 2/3s of the way up, and he pushed to half way and that was the winning move for me. I managed to bottleneck him in his single line and he didn’t have time to break in again while I sprinted to the far end of the cavern to win automatically 4-0.

imag2430.jpg

I broke in at two points, allowing me to Ambush with the left-most squad and keep his army pinned in his tunnel. I sprinted a squad across the biggest cavern to hold 4 at once and auto-win.

Not a Fourth Game

We thought about other variations that could work to make this more interesting. I initially wanted to be able to use Orders dice to place another tunnel section during your turn, but since the game was so cramped and movement-heavy already, I worried that spending any dice not moving would bog the game down.

My opponent suggested that you could put D3 pins on a unit to place another section. This was an interesting idea that I hadn’t considered,  your troops getting tired from digging so much! In my Antares scenario designs I haven’t thought about pins as a “resource”, and I’m super happy that he made me think about them that way!

What I wanted was to be able to build more interesting tunnels – with the current rules it looks like the optimal placement is two off-center lines that could break in at any point, giving you flexibility but also protection. But that you had to break in at the 2/3s mark no matter what, in order to prevent your opponent from stealing the game like I did. If you place additional sections during your turn, you could push hard in one direction and still be able to defend if you needed to.

 

And that’s about it!