Friday, April 4, 2014

Anticipating "Next"...?

"Settle down there, Gloryblaze - have a Snickers."
As the seasons change, so too do the editions of these various games we play.  In many cases, we (as fans) can react poorly to these changes, especially with Dungeons & Dragons.  There's just something timeless about D&D, and no one wants to see something they have fond memories of change into something they can't recognize.

Yet when looking back, only one edition of Dungeons & Dragons suffered from this stigma - indeed, 2nd Edition was a very welcome addition to the brand, and 3rd Edition was the grand revision everything needed to bring it in line with a new millennium.  3.5 Edition was not something I cared for, but I simply used all those books I somehow acquired for my 3.0 games.  This was the same thing that 2nd Edition haters did when it rolled around - indeed, 2nd Edition was pretty much designed to work with the 1st Edition material.

Now, recently we've changed our ideas on edition grinds.  For Dungeons & Dragons, we see pretty much every individual edition as standing on it's own merits.  Now, granted I haven't ran a 4th Edition game yet - but I do intend to.  The club is worming it's way through all the ancient material right now in an attempt to play every Dungeons & Dragons game / setting, but we'll get there eventually.

So, what does that mean for us and for 5th Edition, gleefully being called "Next"?

The basic setting of 5th Edition seems to be the Forgotten Realms, and this is what we are looking at this summer:
  • Basic Introductory Set (July 15) - 19.95
  • Player's Handbook (August 19) - 49.95
So it looks like the hardcovers are going to be as expensive as GW books, and we all know that's a count against them.  $150 US for the three basic manuals.  The difference is that these books will last a lot longer for the club than any publication GW has ever done.  Case in point - we played 1st Edition most recently, and I have the original 1979-81 publications.  We all know it's going to be a while before we crawl though all the games we want to, but without GW stuff on the schedule it's going to go a lot quicker.

Personally, I'll probably pick up 5th Edition when a setting I like is published for it.  I don't really care for the Forgotten Realms post-3rd Edition because of how the setting has changed, but we're going to play through the TSR/WotC material from 1st to 3rd Edition - it's the bomb.  Yet, like we have Dark Sun for 4th Edition, "Next" will probably be a short(ish) stop on our long journey across the planes by focusing on a setting that's different from most of the other realms the 'gate leads to.  We'll see what offerings pour forth in 2015.

So where do you stand on "Next"?  Looking forward to  it?  Will adding it over-saturate our schedule with Dungeons & Dragons games?  Is that a good idea?  Would you like to see more D&D and less GW in RPG, and perhaps battle games as well?

Obviously we have a while to iron out the kinks that have developed since the "embargo".  There are a LOT of holes in the current schedule.  So while we wait, sound off on the comments here, on Facebook or where ever else you may be.  See you on Game Day!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Land on the Island of Lies!

It's finally here - the fabled Clan Strife has begun.  Check out the campaign page for the full story of Spring Dragon Island, and decide where you stand in the coming conflict.  So far, 3/4 of the Great Clans have staked a claim on the infamous island...and now, the struggle for supremacy begins.

We're keeping it relatively simple since we've not really put Ronin through the ringer yet, but we've spent the past few weeks taking an extensive look at the system.  Though the more expansive campaign system we're working on didn't make it into this season's skirmish game, expect to see more in the future.  After all - we've got plenty of models now!

We've been waiting long enough, so it's time to get those katana cracka-lackin'.  Or whatever.  We'll be rolling out rules on the Clan Strife blog during the season, so new units will become available - though it not all the clans will get special rules in time for this game.  That's fine - the campaign is to get you used to the Ronin ruleset, the baseline if you will.

Sharpen your wits and blades.  It's time to bring your warriors to the Island of Lies.  Yet, be forewarned - all is not as it seems upon Spring Dragon Island...

Monday, March 17, 2014

Wargate Campaign Rules vs. Rulebooks

It may seem as if the world is shaking, but for some of us the tremors have already passed.  We've embargoed GW for the same reason you'd break up with an abusive significant other.  We had an intervention and now GW is locked up in rehab.  Now, we're starting to realize that since we have so many intelligent folks with a lot of gaming experience between them there's no reason we should slave ourselves to the shoddy workmanship of certain game companies any longer.

So, this post is short and sweet.  Basically, we realized we don't have to use anyone's rules if they appear imbalanced or simply boring.  So, we've added an "official rules" section you'll be able to find by tag and collected on a new State of Play, aptly titled Wargate Rules.  Check those out to the right.

We've stated to catalog our "house" rules here for ease of use by our club chapters, and general accessibility for everyone.  Previously we kept this material in Battles Books, but those are limited to the physical copies each club possesses.  All house rules currently in effect will be placed on the new State of Play when it's season rolls around, so there will be some nice additions in there in a year or two.

We're not sure how far we want to take rules development - we certainly have always wanted to play games, rather than make our own.  Currently, our ambition extends to modifying existing systems to please our club members.  Our game rules are just as good as anything "tested" by billion-dollar companies. never know what the future might hold.  Just don't panic when the world starts to shake - it will probably be ok.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The Halls of Moria Campaign Log

Halls of Moria
Wargate Season 1, 2014

Over the centuries since it fell to Evil, there have been many parties of intrepid adventurers who traveled to the Black Pit for one reason or another.  Almost none were ever heard from again.  Yet, many brave souls who heard the tale of the treasures of the dwarves assembled expeditions, heedless of the warnings of older and wiser folk.

And so it is that Khalid of Arkhuin has come, Master of the Easterling Dragon Warriors.  Following the recovery of the Dragon Sword, the Easterling warriors attempt to find purchase in the lands of the west.  With him come hordes of orcs from Mordor itself, terrorizing the land as they go.  This is to say nothing of the goblins already living in Moria.  So strong an evil force massing in an evil place has caused great alarm among the Free Peoples.

The wise among men know of the threat of the Black Pit.  Both the King of Rohan and the Chieftain of the Dunedain have sent warriors to assess the threat of the army moving to Moria.  Unseen by most, the wizard Gandalf Stormcrow lurks nearby as well.  Yet when they arrive at the mountain, these forces of the Free People find it's much worse than they could have imagined.

All that remains is to escape the Black Pit, by any means necessary.  Oh, and grab some treasure on the way out - if you can.  Just don't stop to look behind you...

Campaign Design
Halls of Moria is a dungeon scenario campaign, played on a constricted field.  The entire campaign takes place in the delves of Moria, and as such the scenarios played will be set-up according to the rules outline below.  16 games will be played for the season, the new standard for 2 month campaigns.

The overall winner of the campaign will be the player with the most Influence at the end of the campaign.  The modifier to this will be a flat 4% Influence bonus per Treasure Obtained.  The winner will be crowned the Wargate's Guardian (or Ravager!) of Middle-Earth for 2014!

Dungeon Scenarios
The following procedure is used for the Wargate's dungeon scenarios.

The Vast Halls
Preparing the table for battle.
  • Determine battle parameters.  The battle chart gives the # chambers and the size of the table here at the Wargate.  Chapters are free to decide what points value and # of chambers they wish to use.
  • A number of large chambers are placed on the battlefield corresponding to the number indicated in the battle. (Generally 1 or 2 per 2 feet of gaming table, or 1 per 100 points of soldiers).
  • These Chambers must be placed at least 6" from all other Chambers and table edges.  Players roll for first pick and alternate placement of Chambers until the requisite number is reached.
  • A number of entrance corridors are placed along the sides of the map corresponding to the number indicated in the battle.  Generally, place 1 entrance corridor per 2 feet of game table, or 250 points of soldiers.
  • These must be placed at least 12" from each other, and from any table edge other than the one they are indicated to be on.
  • Each chamber will have D3+1 corridor entrances (doors or open portals).  Each of these leads to a corridor section.  Each section must connect to another Chamber if possible, but both Chambers must have the correct number of doors.  A connection is only not possible when  all other Chambers have no exits available.  Up to two entrances can be placed on the same wall of a Chamber, but they must be 4" apart.  As much corridor as needed can be used to connect rooms far from one another, as long as it doesn't intersect another Chamber.
  • Unused exits end in dead ends.

Treasures & Traps
Objectives in the Dungeon.
  • The contents of each chamber is unknown until a model enters the room.
  • At the beginning of a turn that you have models in an unchecked chamber, make an Exploration roll on a D6.
  • On a 1-3, nothing happens.  Otherwise, roll on the Treasures & Traps table.  Once the Exploration roll is made for a Chamber, no further Exploration rolls may be made for that Chamber.
  • Treasures & Traps (2d6)
    • (2 or 3) - Falling Rocks
      • Model and all those within 6" are hit with a Str 6 hit.
    • (4 to 6) - Pit Trap
      • Model must make a to hit roll as if he were shooting.  Failure means he's fallen down into a pit and takes a S4 hit.  The model must be helped out of the pit by another model, who must start and end his Move phase in contact with the model in the pit.  At the end of the Move phase, stand the model in the pit upright next to the pit.  He may act normally from here on, but cannot Move this turn.
    • (7 or 8) - Spear Trap***
      • Model takes an S4 hit.
    • (9 or 10) - Treasure Chest
      • Place a Treasure chest in the center of the room.  A model may pick it up by moving into contact with it and remaining there for the rest of the Move phase.  A model carrying a Treasure chest moves at half rate, but two models can carry a Treasure chest at full movement rate.  Forces in possession of a Treasure chest at the end of a game are awarded 1 Treasure for each chest recovered.
    • (11) - 2 Treasure Chests
    • (12) - Artifact
      • An Artifact counts as a Treasure but is light enough to be carried by one model at full movement rate.

Starting and Scoring the Dungeon Scenarios
Setting up the table. 
  • Players Roll to Select Deployment Zone.
    • Player chooses a side and may deploy his forces up to 8" from any Entrance Corridors on his side.
  • Player who selected Deployment Zone deploys a warband first.  
  • Players roll for their mission, which is kept secret.  It is shared with a moderator at the start of the game.  If no moderator is available, simply roll one scenario for both warbands without any secrets.
  • Objectives (2d6) 
    • (2 to 5) - Retrieve the Treasure 
    • (6 to 8) - Secure the Ruins 
    • (9 or 10) - Explore the Halls 
    • (11 or 12) - Defeat the Enemy 
  • Victory Points are tallied as thus: 
    • Enemy Leader Wounded
      • 1 Point (2 in Defeat the Enemy)
    • Enemy Leader Killed
      • 3 Points (5 in Defeat the Enemy)
    • Heroes Put Out of Action
      • 1 Point each (2 Points each in Defeat the Enemy)
    • Treasures Obtained
      • 1 Point each (2 Points each in Retrieve the Treasure)
    • Exploration Rolls
      • 1 Point each, successful or not (2 Points each in Explore the Halls)
    • Capturing a Chamber
      • A hero in a Chamber captures it if there are no enemy models in it at the end of the game.  
      • 1 Point each (2 Points each in Secure the Ruins)

Campaign Updates

  1. (1/5/14) - Many battles were fought near the entrances to the upper levels.  Good forces dealt a serious blow to the orcs and goblins defending these levels, but Dunedain from the Grey Company made the best progress in capturing ground.  The Delving Dwarves managed to not only repel a goblin assault, but recovered treasure as well.  The large orc raiding force (from the East!) took the most damage in these sorties, and requires more time to reorganize.
  2. (1/12/14) - Rangers of Middle-Earth see themselves involved with several skirmishes with the forces of darkness in the upper levels.  Though they stand fast in many places, hordes of goblins and ranks of Easterlings force withdrawals in others.  Another treasure was obtained by Zkud and his goblins, but the committal of more forces to the side of good swings the struggle in their favor.
  3. (1/19/14) - All is quiet in the northern caverns as a dark pall settles over both man and goblin alike.  However, the dwarves and elves moving through the southern reaches of Moria clash several times, with only the Delving Dwarves coming out ahead.
  4. (1/26/14) - Goblins move out to attack several enclaves at once.  In the North, the Dunedain of the Grey Company push aside the Moria goblins attempting to halt their search of the upper chambers.  The elves and dwarves in the southern quarter suffer staggering losses, but the Wilderness Warriors are able to save a few of their kin from marauding goblins.
  5. (2/2/14) - Great heroes of good find themselves fighting a horde of Easterlings in the north chambers, and the Dragon Warriors fight hard, recovering an artifact.  However, the Easterlings become scattered in the chambers, and the heroes are able to recover that artifact and remove it to the surface.
  6. (2/9/14) - In the northern chambers, the forces of Good are able to win several critical positions within the catacombs!  Moria goblins from Gundabad bring trolls to the north, which cause consternation amongst magic-users.  Rohirrim join Grey Company to push out the Easterlings and Mordor orcs.
  7. (2/16/14) - A strange stillness falls over the battlefield...could it be a portent of things to come?

The Forces of Good secure victory!

Racking up an impressive number of wins, the Good team can rejoice once more!  They managed to secure 5 treasures, and ended with a total score of 3.66!  The Evil team didn't fare as well - but they are sure to be back in force, looking for revenge!

Best Overall Score goes to Steven of the Texas Chapter!  With his Delving Dwarves, he racked up a large tally of wins, and more importantly - treasures!  Now, he'll hold the title for the Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Game:

Guardian of Middle-Earth 

- until the next campaign.  

Congratulations to Steven, we hope you had fun participating!

Thanks also to all the players who visited Middle-Earth this season.  We'll be doing more in this location soon, so don't think the green fields of the Shire are safe.  After all, this is the Wargate...