Sunday, July 12, 2015

Blood on the Sand

We played a first game of Habet, Hoc Habet! yesterday at The Panzer Depot in Kirkland, WA. Phil Bardsley's grandson Zach was in town and wanted to game, so we decided to do something simple and quick—without, of course, factoring in our ignorance of the rules. I'd given the rules a read and thought I had the gist, but actually playing the game disabused me of that illusion.

We played "cut-throat" with each taking a single gladiator and fighting all against all. We used my big 35/40mm Jugula figures from Gripping Beast. I made some quick gladiator stat sheets yesterday morning using Adobe InDesign. We each chose a gladiator and rolled 4 x D3 to get a total of points we could use to customize our gladiators. Phil chose a Secutor, Zach chose a Retiarius, and I chose a Thracian.

For simplicity sake, the stats for the gladiators were pretty equal. Where they differed was in the weaponry. I quickly filled out the armor and weapons stats for the gladiators. The Thracian and Secutor are both sword armed, but the Secutor has a large shield and the Thracian a regular shield. Both also have full helmets, leg and arm armor. The Retiarius is mostly unarmored and has a trident and net. The net is a bit of a novelty and works a little differently than other weapons.

Habet, Hoc Habet! uses playing cards to determine the order of actions in a turn. Each gladiator got three cards and the order of play goes by ranking of the card (King - 2) and by suite (Spades-Hearts-Clubs-Diamonds) in case of ties in the ranking. Aces are an extra card that lets the holding player interrupt any action and play a free action of their own (Phil got two aces on the first turn). Jokers let the holding player re-roll and die.

Phil moved first and went after Zach's Retiarius. Zach moved towards Phil. I hung back waiting to see what would happen. Phil attacked first, but Zach's Retiarius managed to block the strike with his net. I thought at the time that the net took damage in blocking a sword cut, but I later thought I was wrong and returned the net to undamaged. I've since learned that I was right after all: nets used to block cutting weapons, like swords, receive damage equal to the hit points they block. In Phil's case, he did six points of damage to a net worth 8 points. Also, the net blocking the sword, should have deprived Phil's Secutor of his sword, which was moot after the next actions.

Zach struck at Phil next. In a very bad sequence of poor die rolls, Phil failed to block the trident thrust, which landed on his Secutor's right arm, which was armored. But then, he failed to make the saving roll to count the armor in defense. Zach managed to inflict 5 points of damage on the Secutor's right arm, which could take only 4. The attack deprived the Secutor of the use of his right arm, effectively disarming him. I've since learned that it also counts as a MIGHTY BLOW, which does more nastiness. At this point, Phil and his Secutor were hors de combat.

Now was my time to strike and I went after Zach's Retiarius. I managed to hit and Zach managed to block with his trident (his net having been damaged by Phil's Secutor). I rolled a natural "0" for my strike, which calls for a roll on the Critical hit chart. The result was that I would do double damage and cause damage to any blocking weapon/shield. The attack destroyed the Retiarius' trident, but I failed to do any further damage to the Retiarius.

Next turn, I managed to strike first but rolled a natural "1" on my to hit roll, which means a fumble. The result of that was a permanent -3 from any damage points from my sword.  In response, Zach successfully netted my Thracian. In his next action, Zach wanted to attack but had no weapon, his trident being destroyed blocking my sword last turn. Instead he picked up a rock (they are, apparently plentiful in the arena) and tried to bash me. But rocks have a low damage potential and my Thracian was pretty well armored. Bash away though he tried, he couldn't do any damage.

Being netted, I could do nothing until I cut my way out with my -3 damage sword. I tried again and again, but failed to do any damage. A sword does 1 x D6 damage (now a -3 for me) and I got no possible strength bonus because I was netted. I slashed and slashed but could not cut my way out of the net.

At this point, we were at a stand-still. Zach's Retiarius could bash away to no avail at my Thracian, who could not cut himself out of the net.

My initial thoughts on Habet, Hoc Habet! were a bit morose. The game seemed awkward and didn't work as I expected, but on reflection, that may be more a matter of fumbling through rules without having a good sense of the game flow. I sat down earlier today and started writing out a flow chart of the turn sequence, especially that attack sequence, and I have a better appreciation for how the game works. It needs a second game or two to get a real sense of it. I also want to complete my remaining gladiators, so we have more types to choose from.

I also got to wondering whether the rules might not be adaptable to my Bronze Age skirmish figures. I'm still waiting for Ganesha Games to release it's ancients skirmish game and I rather fear I may be waiting for a long time. Ganesha seems to be putting a lot of their effort into other projects.

Friday, July 3, 2015

BTGOA: The Force Thickens

I'm just about finished with my Algoryn force for Warlord Games' Beyond the Gates of Antares. Over the past few months I've managed to bang out three regular AI squads, one AI assault squad, one AI infiltration squad, a command squad, a mag light support weapon and crew, and an x-launcher and crew. At this point I only have some spotter and targeting drones to complete, which I would do if it weren't so hot right now.

A little support from my friends

I have two support weapons and crews complete. The light mag support weapon is a kind of sci-fi version of an MMG. It has a rate of fire of 3 and a +2 strike value (the amount that a target's "resist" value is reduced).

Light mag support weapon
The x-launcher is a sci-fi mortar. It uses overhead fire and the weapon has a blast effect.

Each support weapon comes with just two crew.  Like in Bolt Action, the weapon's effectiveness degrades as crew is lost. However, in Bolt Action, support weapons usually have three crew, so BTGOA weapons may poop out sooner.

The only missing support weapon is the plasma cannon. John hasn't gotten them in at The Panzer Depot. There was one mis-marked pack, but it's contents were the mag light support weapon. I'll have to wait until John gets another in. From the beta rules for BTGOA, it looks like there are other support weapons that Warlord hasn't released figures for, like a light plasma support.

The squaddies

I now have three regular Algoryn armored infantry (AI) squads. The Algoryn AI aren't bad. Their mag weapons are pretty effective and their +1 reflex armor, combined with their normal "resist" value of 6, gives them a 70% chance (1-7 on a D10) to survive a hit (reduced, however, by the weapon's strike value).

Each AI squad is five figures: one leader with a mag pistol, three squaddies with mag guns, and one squaddie with a micro x-launcher, which is a hand-held version of the support weapon, except that it can use direct fire at effective and long ranges (up to 30"). The leader figure also carries an x-slinger, which is a very short range version of the x-launcher.

AI advance!
The command squad is three figures all armed with plasma carbines. Plasma carbines have a slightly shorter extreme range than mag guns, but a +2 strike value. They can alternately shoot "scatter" at an increased rate of fire (RF=2), but their strike value goes down to +0. The command squad also includes a targeting drone, which increases their chance to hit.

Command squad
Targeting drones are part of some unit's composition (support weapons, command squads, and special types).

My favorite new unit is the assault squad. These have mag repeaters, which means a higher rate of fire than a mag gun, but no extreme range and a strike value of +0. What makes the assault squad tough is the "d-spinners" that they use for close combat. The weapon has two attacks (two dice per figure) at a +2 strike value, but it also distorts the effect of weapons used against them, giving a +2 to their "resist" value in close combat.

D-spinners ready
Chicks in reflex armor

The background story for BTGOA says that Algoryn infiltration squads are made up of women fighters only. They're not much different in games terms than a standard Algoryn AI squad, except that they have MAG repeaters for weapons, like the assault squad, and include two targeting drones (which increase their hit probability).

Infiltration squad w/o drones
I gave them darker blue armor with metallic blue chest and shoulder plates. I also gave them pink unit patches. Their armor is less bulky than for the male squaddies. It's kind of the sci-fi equivalent of a chick-in-chainmail that you find in fantasy figures. The armor is more form fitting and shows off their rear ends better than standard armor.

Lt. Shapley Bottoms leads the troops
I try pretty hard not to be stupid every day, but some days are better than others. It wasn't until I got to painting the weapons for the unit that I noticed I had assembled one figure with its weapon held upside down and backwards. Well, crap.

Kids, don't hold your MAG repeater like this at home
What's next?

I still need to get a plasma cannon to complete my Algoryn force. After that, I'll likely start some Concord troops as an opposing force. There are apparently people who play/have played/will play BTGOA at The Panzer Depot, but I haven't crossed paths with them. I do have plans to get a small sample game in later this month with Phil Bardsley, when we'll also give my 35/40mm gladiators their baptism of sand.

The BTGOA rules haven't been released and are only available in a free PDF, which has been supplemented with several smaller PDFs with additional rules. The rumor I hear from John Kennedy is that Warlord Games will release BTGOA in December this year. They've been working hard on having an initial release available of multiple races/polities for the system. So far, Algoryn, Concord, and Boromites are available, but previews from the Warlord website shows more in the works.