Tuesday, April 29

Activation Cards

At many of the show games for Gruntz I have been playing with the activation cards. They add a dynamic feel to the game with less of the I-GO-U-GO feel. They also allow for games with more than 2 players because the activation sequence is determined randomly by assigning cards, so players feel like they are involved rather than waiting their turn.

To support this play style I have been developing a dedicated deck of 62 cards for Gruntz. They are a smaller half poker card size, so ideal for the 15mm scale where you don't want to ruin the table by having a larger poker deck strewn across your terrain layout.

Here is a sample of the draft card back and a couple of the card fronts.  There are around 20 of the 62 cards that have some sort of special result for the unit which adds a bit more chaos to the battlefield. These abilities could be ignored if you just want to use the cards to determine activation sequence.

Using these rules result in a card being assigned face down to each unit on the table (or vehicle) and when they are turned face up you can determine which unit activates by the number on the card. The highest number activates first and then you work back down to the lowest.

They are heading off now for printing a draft proof set of cards and should be available to order in the next 6-8 weeks (once any final layout and rule tweaks are adjusted).




Monday, April 14

Gruntz 15mm and GZG booth at Salute 2014

A busy day at Salute for Gruntz.  A couple of fun games played and here are details of the GZG stand including the 15mm SCI-FI items and miniatures for Full Thrust.



Gruntz 15mm and GZG booth at Salute 2014

A busy day at Salute for Gruntz.  A couple of fun games played and here are details of the GZG stand including the 15mm SCI-FI items and miniatures for Full Thrust.



Wednesday, February 26

Stoke Rochford Hall - Gruntz and Aeronef

This last weekend was a full immersion Gruntz 15mm event at a fantastic British country pile called Stoke Rochford Hall.  There was a mix of Aeronef games (Victorian SCI-FI lighter than airships) and 15mm SCI-FI with the Gruntz rules.

I had some great feedback from players and a very relaxed game.  Rather than a typical show, where I hardly get time to take a breath, it was instead a calm environment where we were able to focus on the game undisturbed.

Brigade Models were at the event with a small trade stand, so it was very difficult to avoid spending money on new models!   Brigade have some great new 15mm vehicles and also an extensive growing line of 2mm terrain for their Aeronef and Land Ironclad games.

With regard to the  Gruntz  game we used the card activation which is perfect for larger groups when you have 4+ players around the table.  Players activated Squads and vehicles based on the card rank and any units assigned aces drawn (face down) are given a boon which is a small bonus to shooting, guard or speed depending on the suit of the card. Any jokers randomly assigned to a unit is bad luck because they will be activating last with a negative to most skill tests on their activation. This represents a breakdown in communication or minor mechanical failure which disrupts them.

For Gruntz I used some pre-prepared profile cards that helped with referencing the models.  Here is a sample set which I printed onto credit card plastic.  Being printed on plastic allows you to use a wipe board felt pen to mark damage and then wipe it off for re-use again after the game.  I am looking at producing a set soon and will be confirming details on what models and army lists to produce.  A nice feature of Gruntz is the flexibility to build your own vehicles, however there are certainly players that would appreciate some pre-made cards making it very quick to get in a game.

Here are a couple of photos of the plastic cards:




One key item of feedback from the players was the need for guidance in creating profile cards.  Several of the players used Skill4 and Shoot4 for vehicles and squads. This is a good base statistic, however a 5 in shoot is makes for a slightly quicker game because you are going to hit more often.  It really depends on how you want to play the game, however Skill5 and Shoot5 is about the optimum level for a fun game.  I personally like to mix it up by having the odd Skill4 and Shoot6 Gruntz squads mixed in as green or elite troops respectively.  If I had some civilian or basic untrained models on the table that were using pistols or basic weapons I may give them a Shoot3. They won't stand much chance against a well armoured and trained target but they might get away with a lucky hit or two, especially if they concentrate fire on one single target.  

It really depends on how you want to play but my key advice would be to avoid too many units on 4 or less and equally don't field a dozen squads at shoot6 because they at the veteran end.  However it does balance out because you will be able to field more units at the lower points cost for the Shoot score.  If in doubt pick Shoot5 and Skill5, especially for your first few games to get a good feel for a fun game!


Here are a couple of photos of the Stoke Rochford Hall. At night these railings looked spooky with that classic Hammer House of horror feel to them.  It was a great place to stay and ideal setting for the Victorian SCI-FI game Aeronef that was played along with Gruntz.




The Gruntz game on day1 of the event was a classic invasion and destroy the bridge on resource rich planet.  The bridge was spanning a river that was only flood once a year in a rare rainy season.  An alien lizard race (The Garn) were attempting to place demolition charges on the bridge.

The Garn from Khurasan are a race that use shielding tek rather than heavy armour and the personal shields perk was given to them to provide the extra amour soak.  It made them very tough as a Gruntz squad but not tough enough to survive an accidental "Snake Eyes" failure roll when placing on the demolition charges which ripped through he squad leaving only a couple left alive with their shields.

Here the Garn are trying to lay the demo-charges on the bridge supports.  Unfortunately the Drop Pod (from Clear Horizon) deviated away from the drop zone and landed on the centre of the bridge. They were then able to dish out some damage to the surrounding EHTC forces but were not in a good position to lay demo-charges which were needed on the supports below. You can see the drop pod on the bridge and the small amount of Garn that did drop in at the right place on the dry riverbed.




The defenders were mostly GZG models representing the East Hyadum Trade Company EHTC). The EHTC are like the early East India trade company, a British interest with a private army spanning several systems. I used GZG "NAC" troops painted in the traditional red colours and combined them with a mix of hi-mobility wheeled vehicles from GZG.

The Garn never managed to finish the job but they did disable the secondary objective of knocking out a power distribution centre. The building rules were used from Gruntz to provide a damage factor for the destruction of the objectives.   So a partial victory for the defenders who did a sterling job of keeping the Garn at bay.

It was a great event and now I have just one Month to go before the big Salute convention on the 12th April.  This is a single day event where I will have a couple of Gruntz terrain layouts for people to have a go on and people are welcome to bring forces of their own with pre-made profile cards.

Here are some further photos from the Stoke Rochford weekend.


















Tuesday, December 17

Full Thrust New Anglian vs Federal Stats Europa (British Vs French).

I had a fun game of Full Thrust from GZG at the local club on Friday.  I am still amazed at how satisfying it is to play Full Thrust, after many years my old fleet still feels fresh to play and involves some in depth tactical play. Sadly my great tactical ineptitude kicked in and I moved my missile firing vessels in far to closely which, presenting big easy targets for the NAC.  I had the FSE (Federal Stats Europa) fleet with some additional models from Zandris IV and Ninja Magic.  I simply did not have enough in FSE models to be able to match Steve's "New Anglian Confederation" (NAC) fleet so I had to drag out some additional models from my collection.  

For those interested, the game Gruntz was influenced by Full Thrust and the damage tracks and critical process was an inspiration for how I built the damage system in Gruntz. 

On my left flank I sent in a group of four Sub-Munition pack Hydra Class Destroyers which I had stated up as larger ships than the model would normally dictate. This was not really fair on Steve because he thought they were smaller vessels than I was representing with the small models. However I had limited models to use so they were the only thing close to size I could use.  It is worth discussing sizes with your opponent to avoid a surprise when a tiny approaching ship is actually supposed to be a carrier! 

Here is the Hydra class (represented by the small green group of 4 ships on the top left of the above photo).  Image from the http://fullthrust.star-ranger.com/FSEstats.htm web site where I pull most of my stats from for the game.  I drop them into a doc and print them. 

You can see the three submunition packs on the ship design (circle with black filled triangle on top). They are powerful one use only weapons, best used at a range of under 6" for the most devastating close range damage.  After using the one shot submunition packs,  the ships then fall back to using just beam weapons which are the circles with a two Class1 and one Class2 in the front arc only. Class1 beam weapons are the weakest with a range limit of 12". Class2 have 24" range. 




Early game my main FSE fleet splits. The moon and planet models provide a block to line of sight and I decide to split my forces. This is a mistake in the end round or two because I simply can't bring them to bear against the NAC fleet because they are too far from the main battle. 

Zandris IV models in the foreground. GZG FSE fleet (old style) in the background. 


Ninja Magic ships. This model in the foreground was my main flagship for my fleet. You can see the small fighter launch bay along the edge of the ship.  I used the following Littorio Class Battledreadnought statistic card to represent it. You can see the single triangle which represents one flight of onboard fighters which I can launch.  The image in the top centre are two missile launchers and the attached magazine of single use missiles.  The FSE fleet is very missile heavy, tending to be lighter armoured than the British New Anglian Confederation and better at longer range with missile launchers. Something I forgot for this game and got in too close! 


Steve's New Anglian Confed (NAC) fleet. These are from the earlier sculpt range from GZG. 

I used the yellow counters to note when a ship had fired each round. 

You can see my Lego Planet in use next to a sphere. These stone spheres are from a crystal shop on the Isle of Wight. The polished stone looks very moon like and you will find many of these stone orbs available on new age crystal web sites or ebay. These ones only cost me about £3 each and make easy drop on terrain. 

My single fighter group is launched from my main dreadnought. Fighters can move 12" a turn in any direction. 

Close up on my older FSE fleet. 

FSE heavies again. These earlier models from GZG tend to be smaller than the more recent re-sculpts on the GZG site. I must admit the newer ships do look nicer and I need to start investing in some of the new models again. 


War on Two Fronts - Battle Report

I used two  3ftx3ft boards at a recent club game with one as a planet-side board representing Kepler-62e and the the other is a moon board for Dactyl, Keplers orbiting moon. 

The East Hyadum Trade company expeditionary force (EHTC) is on an outpost base on Kepler-62e. Kepler-62e is a mineral resource rich planet although currently a desert planet after an enlargement phase of its nearest star heated the atmosphere. The EHTC also operate a transit and communication launch base on the orbiting moon "Dactyl".  The EHTC are under duress due to a localised landing of a Neo-Sov force who arrived from a deep space transit sleep to be dropped onto Kepler. Their aim was to overwhelm the small defences around the EHTC launch pad and forward command base "Bose".   The Neo-Sov forces have arrived from their home planet Mars (long since made habitable with atmosphere adjustment). 

Miniatures used were a mix of GZG NAC troopers (painted red to represent the EHTC British expeditionary forces). The NeoSov forces are Khurasan. 

Kepler-62e has a big oil resource, being a desert planet that had in the past been a lush forested environment.  The NeoSov government are unhappy with the EHTC getting an early planetary grab on this newly discovered resource and want to stamp their authority on a resource they could use to feed their massive factory zones on Mars. 

Scenario: 
The 1st Magellanic Pioneers representing the EHTC expeditionary force are led by Major Zac Flower-Smithe and are in retreat with a goal of evacuation to the small Dactyl moon.  Their position is in defilade but the incoming Neo-Sov forces have forced a retreat order.  An Ajax class dropship is on hand to take the retreating forces into orbit and for drop off on the dark side of the Dactyl moon. The Ajax dropship can carry 2 vehicles and 20 troops.  It will take 1 full activation to load a vehicle that is within 2" of the dropship.

Planetary communications have been blocked for the EHTC so they must reach orbit and land on Dactyl (the grey moon terrain base) to get a message out for resources and to report the incursion.   The Neosov objective is simply to focus on destruction of the local  EHTC forces because they are not aware of the second base on Dactyl and are confident they can wipe out the defending forces with only minimal losses.


Unknown to the EHTC their small orbiting base on the moon Dactyl is also just starting to face an assault by local alien fauna, awaking from its 3 Monthly breading cycle.  Things are about to get nasty for the scientific team still based on Dactyl.  The ground force may just get there in time to stop the alien assault, defend the Dactyl moonbase and get the message back to central services that the Neosov's are on the scene. 

The Gruntz alternative card based activation was used in the game which added a lot of tension because the order in which the defending forces could activate and retreat from battle was determined on the luck of the card draw.   You can see the cards dotted about in some of the photos. 

It was a very close game and we ran out of time to finish the second battle against the alien fauna on the moon.  The Drop ship sustained heavy damage from satchel charges tossed into engine intakes but it manage to limp into orbit with a small force of EHTC forces before losing an engine completely.  Some photos during the game follow with notes. 


An overview of the layouts. 

Late game the EHTC APC's (models from GZG) are nearing the launch pad for loading.  

One of the shields on the spider droids has been overloaded. 


Deploying from the GZG APC a squad of Neo-Sov troops (models by Khurasan). 

You can see the activation cards laid on the table for the card based turn sequence which adds a random chaotic battle feel to the game (also ideal for solo play). 




The drop ship makes it off after sustaining a few satchel charges to the air intake, it still managed to limp into orbit and land near the moonbase. 

The Neo-SoV drop in a drop pod carrying a sniper specialist walker (Art crime minis Valkyrie). Drop pod from ClearHorizon miniatures. 

Landing directly on the launch pad the transport roach VTOL (GZG) deploys some Neo-Sov forces directly into the action. 

Near the end game some for the Neosov forces make it to the launch pad and start to throw satchel charges into the intakes of the drop ship. 

The commander of the EHTC forces under heavy sniper fire finally becomes a casualty only a few yards from the drop ship. 

The red EHTC forces are approaching their escape zone.  The Neosov forces are only held back by a line of shielded Spider Droids (GZG Models). 

Drop Pod from Clear Horizon drops in a couple of Valkyrie walkers to harass the flank of the EHTC forces.  

Mortar deployed from APC. 


Monday, October 14

Drop Pods from Clear Horizon




Here are the nice new Drop Pods from Clear Horizon Miniatures in the US.   This is a photo heavy posting detailing a couple of progress shots before I got them on the table.



The models are resin and are multipart kits.  I had three of them and decided to complete one with the doors closed to show it in the dropping mode. The other two were completed with the doors down, so I needed to add the little hydraulic items which took some time to clean up.  Care was needed to put the hydraulic rods in with a small drop of glue in the holes on the drop pod body and the doors.

The casting was very crisp with amazing roof top detail and even a small thruster visible on the bottom (which is now hidden on mine).  To protect the doors from breaking I mounted them on 60mm diameter steel metal discs.  This adds a nice weight to the model and ensures that you don't get any doors knocked off by heavy handed friends placing the pod down.

I glued the models together on the steel base with the exception of the three legs that stick out because letting the doors drop to a natural position resting on the metal disc made it much easier to solidly glue everything together. I then added the hydraulic arms after for the doors as the last step.  The hardest part was adding the hydraulic struts inside the legs on the side which needed a little sanding and trimming to clip in neatly. They could also be left off if you have trouble with smaller parts because they are not easy to see on the complete model being mostly obscured inside the side leg.  I like the detail though, so I was happy to get them properly locked into position inside the leg strut. 

Straight into the fight with some Garn and a Monpoc big lizard beasty.


Khurasan troops deploy from the drop pod.

The unopened drop pod has landed badly after a deviation roll. 

For painting I used a technique where I airbrushed a based colour (Life Color Israeli Sand Grey) followed by an airbrush coat of AK Interactive Heavy Chipping Acrylic fluid.  I think I should have used their weathering fluid rather than heavy chipping because it started to flake a lot more than I thought when I applied water to it on a brush.  Using this chipping fluid is like the hairspray technique which airbrush modellers use. They normally decant the hairspray into their airbrushes before coating a model and AK have spotted a gap in the market by providing something similar to hairspray which can be rubbed off a model with water. 

I wanted my drop pods to look very weathered and worn out from multiple drops.  I also liked the idea of making them white like traditional modern space ships and sci-fi.  It was a bit of an experiment with a pale white weathered scheme and heavy chipping. Both the pale white and the chipping were techniques I don't normally use so I was interested in the final result from a learning perspective. 

In retrospect I think I could have used a darker base colour before applying the chipping fluid. This would have given the weathering a bigger contrast when the top layer of white was rubbed off.  To add contrast and colour I instead used the Lifecolor rust box set to apply grades of rusting to the edges and worn areas. There were also several washes applied using GW and Lifecolor Tenscrom inks. This added contrast in the darker recesses. 

Decals were from my collection of Gundam decals and they went on very smoothly after I applied the Gloss varnish (after the chipping was complete).  You have to seal the chipping stage with a solid gloss varnish airbrushed on or you will find the paint continues to flake as you add layers of inks and other paint.  The gloss also makes the decals go one very easily, staying flat and washes go very easily into the detail when applied onto gloss. You just have to remember that the model is going to look a little different when the flat dull matt varnish is finally applied. 

AK Interactive Heavy Chipping fluid for Airbrushing.
  1. Apply a primer coat. I used Tamiya fine Grey primer in a can.
  2. Apply a based coat. I used Israeli Sand Grey from Lifecolor (You could use a dark brown).
  3. Spray on AK Heavy Chipping fluid.
  4. Let the AK fluid dry and then spray on a layer of white. I used a white from Lifecolor Air. 
  5. Let everything dry for an hour or two.   
  6. Moisten a brush (I used size 2). Then rub the brush onto areas you want to weather.
  7. The result is paint pealing off revealing the base colour below. 
  8. You MUST then seal the model with a gloss or similar varnish to prevent further loss of paint.


Showing what the chipping looks like using water to rub off the AK Heavy Chipping

Final stages adding silver pencil rubbed onto the rusty edges.
Here is the statistic card and rules for the Drop Pod in the Gruntz game.