play report

This is a solitaire scenario I created and played for The Lord of the Rings SBG and my first Small Table Game Day battle.

As a refresher, I play solitaire LotR using my own rules hack called Isildur’s Bane. Click here to get them. Also, I decided I would give it a shot and design and play some scenarios for different games using a 60x60cm table. That’s roughly 2’x2′. Of course I was thinking small skirmishes with a few models a side. This was, of course, not the case!

For this scenario I decided that a dwarf warband lead by Mardin, one of my favorite models, would go into goblin infested depths of Moria to reclaim some ancient treasure. The objective was behind the center column (from the dwarves’ point of view). They had 10 turns to get the treasure and take it back to their side of the table. As well as the time factor, there were two trapdoors on opposite corners of the table. From those, each turn after the first there would come 1D3 goblin reinforcements.

The lists were roughly equal:

The dwarves

5 archers
6 iron guards
4 teams of vault wardens
Points total:  310

The goblins

Goblin captain with shield
10 goblins with shield
10 goblins with bows
2 cave trolls, one with spear and chain
Points total: 307

Here you can see the table set up, both armies deploying on the platforms 5 inches from the borders, and the starting forces. For the game I used the rulebook, my own Isildur’s Bane hack, tape measure, a few D6, a single D3 for goblin reinforcements and some tiny dice for the trolls’ wounds and Mardin’s and the goblin captain’s Might and Wound scores (no bookkeeping for me). Deck of cards because of the solitaire rules and a new zone of control marker since I misplaced the other one ūüė¶

After deployment the armies advanced. One single change I did for the solitaire rules was that instead of creating groups every turn with figures 10cm from each other, I’d simply activate groups of similar figures. The table being so small, I could probably get away with very little groups with the original mechanism, so I simply decided all similar troops were a group for the whole battle. So I dealt one card for trolls, one for dwarf archers, one for goblins with shield, one for the goblins with spears (reinforcements), etc.

The first couple of charges were from and against the trolls. One of them was left with just one wound but amazingly finished the battle, while the other one fell after the first combat. Dwarves are very hard to scare with a simple Terror test.

After that the centre became a big Bloodbowl match, goblins going down easily, but dwarves falling here and there and hurting a lot more. For reinforcements I only rolled 2s and 3s, so there were between 4 and 6 new spearmen every turn!

After some turns Mardin managed to get to the goblin captain with a small escort, killed him and took the treasure with him. This was probably around turn 6 or 7 so time was almost up. The troll tried to catch Mardin running away with it and with his chain managed to hurt him. But the battlefield was too crowded for him to move easily around his own troops. At this time the dwarves had to start making Break tests, and they managed to pass them all being near Mardin (20cm is a lot in such a small table).

I kept drawing a red activation card for Mardin, even though he¬†was the only character. That was because maybe, just maybe, a red Joker might come up with something bad happening to him (using the random events optional rules from IB). The iron guards had a tough time during the battle when they got the Joker and couldn’t do anything for a whole turn. Goblins needed to roll 6s and then 5s to hurt the vault warden shield-bearers. The bastards killed 2 of them! Finally Mardin kept running away with the objective, while goblins chased him from every corner and the remaining dwarves kept blocking. It was turn 9 when he finally reached his table edge with the relics. Very close call for the sons of Durin.

Overall a really fun scenario, surprisingly balanced too. In a new battle I would probably send some goblin reinforcements to block the dwarves edge instead of attacking the battle line from behind, but of course the dwarves could deploy a few vault warden teams to cover that corner as well.

Here’s the end stage and the casualties. A crowded small table with lots of LotR flavor to it and a very good scenario, by chance of course. It could have gone horribly bad and end in the second turn, but I was a bit lucky (as well as knowing dwarves and goblins pretty well, game-wise).

Small Table Game Day 1 was a complete success, even if it was a solitaire battle. Got to play with a lot of models, a game I haven’t played in a while, a pretty cool original scenario from scratch, and great tense moments on the table (as well as pretty pics!). And now that I think about it, seems appropriate to open my STGDs with small size creatures like these.

These past few days I’ve been having a blast trying out Ganesha Games’ Flying Lead. I’ve created profiles for troops and weapons, made some new sci-fi scenery and put on the table figures that have not seen any action till now.

The first couple of games were played using Topo Solitario’s urban mat, which you can download freely from his site. I’ve also built the ISO containers from his site, and I’m putting together another set right now but this time I’ll beat them up a bit. For the rest of the scenery, the low walls and big plastic container are from AT-43, while the rest of the stuff (ruins, barricades) are GW’s.

I’ve found the vehicle rules a bit heavy to begin, so the squads we’re only infantry. My Snow Guard on one side and some U.N.A. troops on the other. During the games we added a few figures to make things interesting. The profiles I’ve created for the troops and their weapons are listed below. They were straight skirmishes, to the death. But let me tell you this game plays different every time, interesting no matter the scenario (or lack of).

Snow Guard

Sgt Athos – Personality
Points 92
Quality 3+ Combat 3
Laspistol, Leader

Crazy Argos
Points 63
Quality 4+ Combat 2
CQB Specialist, Fanatic, Laser Rifle

Breather Nikolas – Personality
Points 53
Quality 4+ Combat 2
Crack Shot/Marksman, Laser Rifle

Loud Petros
Points 54
Quality 4+ Combat 2
Eager, Laser Rifle

Scout Alexandros
Points 53
Quality 4+ Combat 2
Laser Rifle, Sprinter

Snow Guard weapons

Laser Rifle
Points:22 Combat +3, Range: Long

Points:16 Combat +2, Move & Shoot, Range: Short

U.N.A. Scouts

U.N.A. Leader – Personality
Points 98
Quality 3+ Combat 2
Laser Carbine, Leader

U.N.A. Steel Trooper
Points 62
Quality 4+ Combat 2
Fragmentation Grenades, Laser Carbine

U.N.A. Steel Trooper
Points 77
Quality 4+ Combat 2
Missile Launcher

U.N.A. Steel Trooper – Personality
Points 56
Quality 4+ Combat 2
Crack Shot/Marksman, Laser Carbine

U.N.A. weapons

Missile Launcher
Anti-Tank 7, Combat +2, Priming Needed, Range: Long

Laser Carbine
Auto Fire, Combat +2, Move & Shoot, Range: Medium

The warbands were made somewhat balanced. In the case of the U.N.A. there were several of the regular troopers (the ones with the grenades). The board was clear ground, the low walls were reinforced cover and everything else was hard cover. The first couple of games were played solo while the others were against my girlfriend (you can see the different colored dice and the D3 in one of the pics below, and the rules for solitaire SBH/FL can be found here).

I taught the game in a little while. It’s not the simplest game to teach, mainly because of the activation roll and all it implies. It’s something that can be only seen on the table. In fact, a lot of the subtleties of Flying Lead cannot be noted from reading the rules alone. It is not hard to teach, just a bit weirder than most. After the first few long distance turkey shots you will find yourself running for cover like a madman.

I played the Snow Guard and in the last few games I was outnumbered. The few times I split my leader from the group it was just a little while before he was running fast towards his troops. The activation bonus and the group orders are essential for any plan to work. Hide, give orders, and let the grunts do the work.

The first game was quite incredible. I activated and moved forward. My girlfriend failed and pretty much stayed still in her deployment zone. After that I activated Scout Alexandros, with his Sprinter rule that allows him to move twice the distance with one of his movement actions. He ran, took an aimed shot at the U.N.A. leader, gory death on a 6, triples the score, and the morale tests near the edge of the table took care of the rest of the U.N.A. troops. It was over in just 2 turns.

That’s when I noticed the Sprinter and the Eager. I really added those rules to the figures to add a bit of variety and character. Now if you check the profiles, the Sprinter guy costs the same points as the Marksman, and the Eager dude is actually more expensive! It was amazing how useful those rules were. Alexandros moving around like a madman, using cover the best possible way, while keeping Loud Petros near the Leader meant activating him on a 2+, almost always getting 3 actions to do as he pleased.

Cover is everything, even a low wall can save your ass, making the enemy’s shot harder and also keeping you alive (tieing any score by 1 or 2 points depending on the type of cover). On the last game, only the U.N.A. leader was still active and well protected, but had an Out of Action guy nearby. I took a run around the cover the guy was laying behind and took an awful aimed shot at the OOA guy on the floor. The roll was a 6, any hits are Lethal, and the leader had to roll Morale with a -3 because of being the last man standing. He came to his senses and rapidly abandoned the battlefield.

It’s one of those games that works perfect for the scale. You don’t need to play with just 3 figures a side because of a ton of special rules or record keeping, and you can probably play with 20 figs a side if you’ve got time and the rules well learned. But playing with 5-10 guys a side (and maybe a vehicle/walker) just hits the perfect spot. Some guys will do more, some will do less, your opponent will always be engaged. It’s not the same to see that enemy coming along in a game where he can move and shoot, than in FL where he can roll one, two, or three actions, which means completely different things. Moving around cover is vital, morale rolls due to seeing your friend blow up in pieces can win the game, and all fire can be used for suppression purposes if you order your guys around, not only the Overwatch or Speculative fire rules.

Overall an amazingly fun game, a lot more subtle and deep than it seems at first read, and with the basic mechanisms of SBH which means my girl won’t have to learn yet another system to play some fantasy and historical skirmishes.

A+ for Mr. Jones and Mr. Sfiligoi. Now go get this game (and no, they did not endorse this report)

I playtested Gruntz again! So after playing a couple of games with the setup I showed you in the last entry, I decided the table was a tad too big, so I updated the lists adding a few troops. In this game I also tried some rules of my own, which I’ll note in bold face and explain where necessary.

The updated lists were as follows:

Therians (New Israelis list)

Squad + Heavy Carbine + Micro Missile
Squad + Heavy Carbine
Golgoth Walker
Points total: 43

U.N.A. (Slammers list)

Squad + RPG
Fire Toad Walker
Points Total: 40

For the second U.N.A. squad I used a few Imperial Guard models from 40K and the leader was an Infinity model. They didn’t stand out much amongst the rest of the troops, specially since they spent the whole battle inside the vehicle. That’s the other thing. I remembered the Chimera tank in 40K is also a transport, so I let it carry a squad worth of troops. As far as the walkers, I created the stats. They are quite a mess but played well, and the points are probably totally wrong. The basic thinking is that the Fire Toad is a light walker, while the Golgoth is a medium. Here they are:

Wraith Golgoth
10 Points
Move 6 / ToHit 12 / Soak 16
Medium Sonic Cannon: 14 inches / 12 damage
Medium Nucleus Cannon: 12 inches / 14 damage / AP4
24 Hit Points

Fire Toad
7 Points
Move 5 / ToHit 10 / Soak 14
Light Laser: 12 inches / 14 damage / AP2
Light Laser: 12 inches / 14 damage / AP2
20 Hit Points

I treated them as vehicles, as you can see from the profiles.

Deployment and first turn. I put an objective marker for each force which was deployed. To capture it there should be a non suppressed enemy unit at 4 inches at the end of a turn with no enemy near it. The deployment zones were 10×15 inches and on opposite short sides of the table.

For the first couple of turns there was only movement. The U.N.A. sent the tank (with a unit inside) through the right, the other infantry unit and the commander down the center jumping from cover to cover and the Fire Toad walker running towards the left flank. The Therians covered their right flank and put up a defense up the hill for the coming tank.

In the third turn the tank opened fire against the Golgoth, and the first two rolls of the game were double sixes! It hit for 8 damage. In the 4th turn the tank moves and shoots again doing 4 more damage, but a heavy carbine and the Golgoth itself open fire against the U.N.A. vehicle and do some damage. The Golgoth shot both its weapons because it did not move during the phase. Meanwhile the Fire Toad found a nice defense nest where to protect the coming of troops from the flank with its objective safe far behind.

In the 5th turn the U.N.A. commander uses his faculty making everyone move again. The tank gets to move twice and open fire. An infantry unit moves 3 times, something not allowed by the regular “action assign” rules, but I considered it was legal this time because it was about the commander’s faculty. I have no real confirmation on that from the designer though. The Therians respond shooting with the Golgoth and damaging the tank. The commander also shoots the tank and activates his own faculty making all grunt squads fire twice. Somehow the little guys manage to damage the tank with a mix of anti-armor and small arms.

Sixth would be the last turn. The U.N.A. complete their original plan to great results. First the grunt squad go prone behind cover except the missile launcher which fires against protected gruntz and deals a wax result because the AP factor kills the light cover protection. The tank makes a double move towards the enemy objective, the squad inside disembarks and makes a move, reaching within 4 inches of the objective! The Therians go for a last-ditch effort. First the commander uses both his actions to remove the suppressed state of the gruntz and give another action to the Golgoth. Another thing I’m not sure he can do in the rules, but nothing seems to say he can’t. They try to shoot long distance to suppress the capturing unit. They miss! It’s up to the walker. He makes a move. Then shoots, trying to supress the invaders. He sadly misses too. He still has another move thanks to the commander. He ends up 5 inches from the objective!!

It wasn’t really a close game, but it was quite exciting specially in the end. The U.N.A. used their strongest for this scenario, which was mobility. The Therians failed to create a solid defence. Once again the ranges seemed a bit short for these figures and the table space. I tried fighting in a much much smaller surface after this game and they worked, but the battle seemed quite crowded. I think playing in this kind of big play space with longer ranges would be just perfect.

Another fun game, one of many. I’ve got a few more pics of games coming up soon. Can’t wait to see how this game develops.

Gruntz is a surprisingly fun and simple sci-fi rules set for 15mm figures written by Mr. Robin from Rottenlead fame. I’ll be the first to say the actual rules need a bit of tidying up, but they’re both very simple and solid. I just think there are some things inside the designer’s head that need better explaining in the text. Another thing is the number of 15mm figures I own: zero. No, I mean it, I have none. Not even a test figure. Not even a free sample. Not even a single figure thrown in one of those big online trades I like to make. Zero.

Now, figures and scales have never stopped me before, so after reading Gruntz for a couple of times I set up some scenery and dusted off my AT-43 figures for their very first combat action. Some scenery was not painted, and all figures were either unpainted (the tank) or painted by who-knows-who-in-what-slave-factory. It was a beautiful sight nevertheless. So hear kids. Badly painted figures are always a million times better than unpainted figures on the table. Learn that Warhammer crowd.

My girlfriend who only played a wargame once in her life was pretty confident about it and wanted to try it. Seems like I was showing my excitement about the nice rules and avoided me the solo experience. Anyway, I made a couple of forces using Therians, and U.N.A. troops with a Warhammer 40K Chimera tank. They passed for New Israelis and Slammers in the army lists. The forces were as follows:

Slammers (U.N.A. troops, played by me)

-Squad + RPG
Total points: 28

New Israelis (Therians)

-Squad with 2 heavy carbines and one micro missile
Total points: 26

The battle was quite straightforward but with some nice terrain to take cover. I placed a bunker near the NI’s deployment zone just because of the slight difference in points, and off we went with the game. We deployed and started moving around.

I have to say the distances are a bit clunky for bigger models (at least the coherency rules) but otherwise the game was perfectly played as written. The NIs deployed behind the bunker but at the last moment ran for a different cover, leaving the commander enter the big concrete defence. My guys ran straight into it wanting to take them out while the tank moved on the center of the board and my commander was using it as cover. Lots of shooting back and forth from the 3rd turn onwards.

Charging into cover isn’t on the rules, so we kind of improvised a bit. The commander in the bunker took quite a beating but single-handedly massacred the squad charging him. He survived with just one wound making my guys get Scared Shitless and run for a bit, so my own commander who was aiding the tank with some shooting had to intervene and fight it out with the enemy boss.

The tank kept hitting some enemies but no real harm since the cannon could only hurt one figure. Besides, the NIs squad had 3 armor-piercing weapons with them. While dealing with the NIs commander in the bunker, the tank lost patience and rammed straight into the enemy squad. It killed one of them but was left completely exposed so her guys just destroyed him and that increased their cover area. The missile launcher actually missed, it deviated back into the unit, killed a couple of its own guys, but in the end hurt the tank helping the tank busting effort.

The game was stuck with some long-range firing between the 2 remaining guys from my squad plus my commander, against quite a bunch of the enemy’s guys. In the end it was decided old west style, with only my commander and the NIs squad leader remaining. My guy had the lucky shot, game over.

A bunch of stuff happened in the game to ask the designer and already did. It was just tons of fun, and my gf was really having fun for the game’s sake and not just because we we’re hanging and doing something I really love. The game makes me want to create stat cards for a ton of troops and also paint up the random sci-fi models I’ve got in my collection like some Imperial Guard, some Drantakhs and other stuff.

And yeah, pics!


It’s been a while since I bought the Mines of Moria set for the Lord of the Rings game. It’s also been a while since I played these battles, but somehow never found the time to make this report.

Now, this set is aimed at new players. Something I’m most definitely not. The reasons for getting this beyond the obsessive collector syndrome are several. First, you get an amazing plastic Fellowship of the Ring. And to be honest, some of the models are the best representation of the characters so far. I specially like Gandalf, Sam, and Boromir. You also get some amazing scenery. The pillars are the weakest of all, but the rest of the little details plus Balin’s tomb are just amazing. Finally, you get 24 more gobbos. You can never have enough goblins, I tell ya. Oh yeah, you also get the freaking rulebook as well!!

Sadly, the scenarios are pretty lame. They are aimed at complete newbies, and I mean kids. The scenarios from the Battle of Macragge set were pretty cool, even playable solo. They were smart design. These from the Moria set are not. They do teach the rules to some extent, but the playing surface and general objectives are small and boring. There’s no chance in hell that the Fellowship player will lose any of the scenarios. That being said, I still played them all a couple of times. And here we go.

Scenario 1: Into the darkness.

This simple scenario sets the Fellowship against four (yeah, 4!) little goblins. The thing is to teach you how to move and shoot with your figures. The Fellowship has to cross the table and escape through the door. In my games the guys mostly just killed the little bastards and ran to safety, covering the hobbits. Not a chance to win for them really.

Scenario 2: Ambush!

This game sets Aragorn in a scouting round, facing a few goblins, and teaching you the close combat mechanics. Once again, a race towards the gates on the other side of the table. This time however the goblins get to stop Aragorn most of the time (the gaming area is so small) but he just keeps beating and killing them!

Scenario 3: Surrounded!

This time Aragorn is not with the Fellowship, and they’re surrounded by goblins. The objective is to introduce some special rules so the Light player has to seal the trapdoors shut to win the game. The goblins have to kill at least 4 Fellowship members to win (which is nigh impossible). Aragorn may or may not join the fight from the door, depending on a die roll every turn. In my game the goblins did quite well, hurting a few of the stronger characters but killing none sadly. Aragorn made the fight in the end to save the day.

Scenario 4: Balin’s tomb.

This is it! The “big game.” The Fellowship is surrounded and goblins keep coming from the trapdoors and the big gate. They keep coming every turn after you kill them, and there’s the imminent danger of a cave troll! The Fellowship wins if they kill the beast, and the goblins win if they kill 4 Fellowship members. As usual, protect the hobbits and you’ll be fine. In my game the goblins died a lot, but came back, and managed to kill the wizard! Then a double 6 was rolled and the cave troll made his entrance. It took two rounds and a few great rolls from Boromir and Gimli to take him down.

All in all it’s a pretty good starter set. It has the LotR rulebook in pocket format (that’s all you need to play the proper game), a nice Fellowship, some scenery, and a freaking cave troll! Oh yeah, and almost 30 little goblins to fill your horde. Game design wise maybe not the brightest product, but as usual with these plastic starters, well worth your bucks.

Update: I forgot I had some awful clips. Enjoy!

This is a tale of two battles. I set up two forces for a club game, but didn’t have enough time to adapt a proper scenario. So, 500 points forces using Legions of Middle-earth with the only objective of crushing the opposition.

Faramir lead a Gondorian force aided by Damrod, a Minas Tirith captain, and composed by a standard-bearer, 8 Citadel Guards with spear and 6 with long bows, 8 warriors of Minas Tirith with sword and 8 with spears, and 6 rangers with bows.

Lurtz’s horde had Ugluk, an uruk captain, an orc standard-bearer, 8 uruks with sword and shield, 10 with pikes, 7 uruk scouts, and 9 orc archers.

I played two games with these forces. First one solo at home in an “urban” setting, the other at the club in a more regular battlescape.

For the first battle I deployed all the wonderful cardboard buildings I’ve got built so far and some low walls. Deployed the armies and using my Isildur’s Bane rules hack had a go at it.

Armies maneuvered a bit, Gondorians gaining the first walls (which would be helpful against the uruk tide) and held there. Bowfire did nothing. I played about 5 or 6 turns but had to leave when the fighting was getting heavy. Having a cat in the house means I cannot leave the table laid and return to it, sadly, so I packed it all for Sunday (except the scenery). Here are some pics of that unfinished battle.

Next battle was at the club, La √öltima Fortaleza, where I can say I’m a regular now (wow, that’s a first). I played the Gondorians, and the other player had never played LotR. I taught him and I’m convinced he liked it enough to give it a serious try (meaning probably getting a plastics box and building a small force). Doesn’t get better than that, never mind the outcome of the battle.

The club’s scenery was just perfect for the kind of pitched battle we were going for. I deployed rangers on the left with Faramir, big block of swords and spears in the center with the standard-bearer and captain, and the Citadel archers on the right with Damrod. He had the uruk scouts on the right with the captain, another big block of swords and pikes in the center, and orc archers on the left.

I taught the rules fast, he got them in a minute, but left Heroic Actions out of the game for simplicity’s sake. However he saw how important initiative was once figures are in charge range and I explained that those special actions mess up with the initiative, creating a new layer of gameplay and planning.

I also assured him ranged combat in LotR isn’t useful at all, while at the same time my archers were doing heavy damage. I mean, they were being complete snipers, something I’ve never seen happen in the game! Rangers took good care of the uruk scouts, ultimately avoiding their destruction once the guys catch up with them. The other archers decimated the poor orc archers who, as usually, did no harm.

The center, however, was another story. Men tend to smash against uruks like waves on the rocks. And that’s what happened. My only advantage was that the sniping casualties would get him making Courage checks once the army got broken, but having 2 characters in there meant he didn’t have to check much. When my force broke, it was another thing entirely. After several rounds of combat where it was really not clear who would win (specially because every figure checks courage every turn, so you get unexpected casualties). In the end the uruks were outnumbering the Gondorians and it was easy to kill them.

Yeah, I lose, again! Thank god I’m a decent painter. Pics of the game below.

This game was played yesterday, in a new gaming club near my home. I’m happy to have such a nice place nearby, and this was my first visit to it (it was its second weekend). I knew there was going to be some Wings of War, but was quite shocked to see people playing in a big table with lots of beautiful airplanes (my past experience was with just cards).

The guy who brought the game had pretty much every plane of the WWI expansions, and I joined for the second game. There were 4 German planes vs 4 Allied. I played with a Belgian Camel (if I recall correctly). The game was 4 vs 4 and it was loads of fun.

Our biggest plane was the first to fall due to the explosion card, and another one of ours went down before the first German. Then an enemy was killed but I was very badly hurt, and could only endure a bit more. Finally the battle had 3 German planes against one Allied. Thankfully, this player was the owner of the game, and the most experienced by far.

Unbelievably he actually won. The last duel with the surviving German was epic, and the game mutates all the time when planes start going down. Below you can see a ton of pics of the game, in chronological order from deployment to the last duel.

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