Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Introductory to Miniature Painting, Lesson 1

We've started an irregular class at the Wargate designed to teach novice painters how to begin in the hobby from the ground up.  These introductory lessons will impart all the necessary techniques needed to begin painting gaming miniatures, and we've had a pretty decent turnout so far!  Today's article also begins a new section of the website:  the Painting Log!

Some of our Gatekeepers hard at work during the class.

Lesson 1 - Base Coating and Flow Control

We began today on a set of old archers for medieval battles.  The models were cleaned and basecoated, and provided to the students to practice on.  They are old sculpts, and very "open" as it were.  Not a lot of hard to reach places and very straightforward color areas.

The most important thing you will learn painting miniatures is that the water on your brush tip can drastically affect how your paint behaves.  It is very important to learn this at the very beginning to avoid silly mistakes that almost all of us make when first starting.  It was a very simple session, designed so the students could practice applying the paint more than anything else.

The entire class painted one (or two, if slightly more experienced) of these archers to practice basecoating.  Flow control (using the water on the brush) was the watchword of the day, as all the students had to do was follow an easy, step-by-step order for applying each color.  Here, the class learned that sometimes light colors go on thin over darker base coats, and that multiple layers of thin coats of paint are how to achieve opaqueness in the color.

Hey bro, do you even camera?

Forgive our blurry, out-of-focus progress picture.  We'll have more updates on the class as it progresses, and we'll see what our students generate for some awesome games!  You can bet you'll be seeing these archers again...this time, finished and based by our staff.  The picture will be much better, I promise.

Introduction to Miniature Painting is held on Monday nights at 6pm.  The weather here might actually stop our progress, so the classes are informal affairs and attendance is not required.  We're going to make sure we have the best materials for you to practice with and learn the ins and outs of painting miniatures.

In addition, there will be some nifty opportunities coming up for painters around the Wargate, and if you're a brush for hire in the Ada area let us know.  We will soon announce we're looking for contractors to paint an endless stream of models, so get a jump-start on it!  That's it for today, and I'll see you for the next lesson soon!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Texas Regiment Takes Action in X-Wing!

The Smith reports from Texas Regiment, embedded right in the middle of the ongoing Rebellion...

The  summer X-Wing campaign heats up as we cover our second and third week of competition. We began our week two game day with a bar-b-que of bratwurst and burgers.  Afterwards we discussed many things concerning our club.  Topics included: 2015 Game Schedule, Possibility of adding Flames of War, X-Wing/Star Wars RPG joint campaigns and battles, and our next game for 2014.

The Empire maintains a firm grasp on the Karthakk system.  Boba Fett has now entered the Geonosis system with Ten Numb in hot pursuit.  Horton Salm and Gray Squad double back to take the offensive against the Empire.  Vader feels a desire for revenge from the Rebels and is impressed.  He senses the Gray Squadron long before engaging them.  Horton Salm proves the Force is truly with the Gray Squad as they blast their way to victory.

Surrounded by Rebels is the last place Darth Vader expected to be today.

Deeper into the Geonosis system Ten Numb has his eyes on the Slave-One.  The Blue Squad quickly dispatches the Imperial escort and completely destroys the Slave-Ones' shields.  Once again Boba Fett manages to escape Rebel capture.  Having expended a large amount of his payload in the battle he quickly makes his way to the planet Geonosis.

Yet another crafty escape by the bounty hunter Boba Fett.

On our third week of the X-Wing campaign we crafted and painted a 3'x3' game board.  Afterwards we discussed the further delays of Robotech RPG Tactics.  Decided to fill our fall game spot previously set aside for this new game with one voted for by the members.  We fought 2 more exciting battles on our newly-crafted larger battlefield, ending this game day with a fish fry to rival the gods.  Young Country caught fresh catfish from Lake Texoma.  It was served with fries, hush puppies, baked beans, and pie.  Now on to the action of week three.

The planet Geonosis, the setting of our week three battles.

Ten Numb has his target in sight leaving the atmosphere of the planet Geonosis.  A grueling and epic battle ensues.  One by one the Rebels fall to the might of this fearsome bounty hunter.  Boba Fett cannot be denied as he shreds the Blue Squad.  This victory earns the Slave-One safe passage out of the Geonosis system and one step closer to Jabba's Palace.  The Rebels are no closer to rescuing Han Solo in this part of the campaign.

Boba Fett has no problem destroying  the Rebels and leaving for the Tatoo system.

Horton Salm stays on the offensive as they engage the Sigma Squad. T he Gray Squad find that The Force is more powerful than the Dark Side as they scrore another victory against the dreaded Darth Vader.  This win grants the rebels control over the Geonosis system.  This part of the campaign is tied with the Rebels and Empire each controlling one system.

Darth Vader was unwilling to speak with the media following his second loss.

The battles were intense and the feasts amazing.  A huge Thank You! to our favorite wookie Chewy, Young Country, and their entire family for the hospitality, fellowship and giving the The Wargate a permanent home in Texas.

Battle Reports
Week 2

Battle 3 - Sigma Squad vs. Gray Squad
                Points: 100
                Victory: Gray Squad

Battle 4 - Boba Fett vs. Blue Squad
               Victory: Blue Squad

Week 3

Battle 5 - Boba Fett vs. Blue Squad
               Victory: Boba Fett!

Battle 6 - Sigma Squad vs. Gray Squad
               Vicorty : Blue Squad          

Texas Regiment is pioneering next year's new games on the Wargate Global Schedule!  Lots of great sci-fi and steampunk action coming our way, as well as a proper historical game.We'll have an official announcement soon regarding said Schedule.  In the meantime, they will continue to fight the good fights of the Galactic Civil War! 

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Head Into the Megaverse with Delta Front!

It's been a while since we had enough momentum to start a 2nd Schedule.  It feels good, even amidst all this new stuff and crazy activity, to be stepping up the game.  This next Tuesday, Palladium takes over the 2nd Schedule for a huge event that will last into 2016!

Into the Megaverse, Act I:  Delta Front is meant as an introduction to the Palladium system.  However, the awesome thing about this campaign will be it's inclusiveness.  In our inaugural sessions, we dive into the world of Ninjas & Superspies as imagined by our Gatekeepers.  These characters start out as international spies, but the campaign will develop into a great deal more - we have some serious surprises and events in store!  You can check out the Delta Front campaign page for the lowdown on the setting and scenarios, just click on the State of Play to the right.

We have a great many ways to incorporate far flung Wargate Regiments (formerly known as Wargate Chapters) into our narrative and establish their own within the world.  From Facebook posts and forum threads that players can interact with in their own time all the way to joining the Home Regiment for the live sessions via intarwebz masheens!  We'll be able to integrate your group in any (or all) of the following ways:
  1. Online Operations
    • Every week there will be a new scenario posted to a special RPG Play-by-Post thread.  Each Regiment will have a different objective within the scenario.
  2. Facebook Leads
    • Clues and Bonuses will be available to those following us on Facebook, including spontaneous bonus scenarios with a live GM on chat!
  3. Video Conference during Live Session
    • For the hardcore - get your mic, cam and conference software ready!  Tuesday nights at 6pm CST are live sessions!
For each Regiment that completes their operation, the group playing during the live sessions will receive various bonuses and penalties for the rest of the agency working toward their immediate goals.  Each operation will be posted on Wednesday, and will run until Monday night.  Tuesdays are live sessions, and the following Wednesdays your Regiments new assignment will be posted.  If you'd like your Regiment to participate, simply contact me in any fashion necessary and we'll get it set up.

So, let's get some participation going!  The first scenario begins with the live session this Tuesday (8.19.2014), and the operations for Regiments begin the following Wednesday.  Make sure your Regiment is signed up by this Sunday to make sure you have your custom operation ready to go!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Can You Lend Me a Han?

Today's report is just in from a long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.  Star Wars is coming in force to the Wargate, and X-Wing by Fantasy Flight Games is pretty much single-handedly responsible for overturning the club's aversion to Star Wars!  The Smith lays out how they have begun their journey into the Force, submitted from our Texas Chapter!

Imperial Navy: Sigma Squadron ambushes Rebel forces in the Karthakk System
This week began our summer game season at the Texas Chapter.  Enthusiasm couldn't be higher as we breeze our way through the rules and begin the campaign.  The four game pre-season consisted of only battles using the core set miniatures.  We began with two battles with basic rules, then moved on to play two with the advanced rules.  

Our Campaign begins in the Karthakk System on the outer rim of the galaxy, during the Shadow of the Empire time period.  Boba Fett stops on Lok to pick up a heavy payload of seismic and proximity mines as he makes his way to Jabba's Palace on Tatooine.  The Rebel Alliance has activated Blue Squadron (led by Ten Numb) to pursue the Slave One.  The Gray Squadron led by Horton Salm quickly volunteered to accompany Ten.  Unbeknownst to Boba Fett (or the Rebels), the Emperor has sent the dreaded Sigma Squadron led by none other than Darth Vader himself to snuff out the Rebel threat.  Ten and the Rebels will have their hands full for sure!

We enjoyed learning the rules, the strategic aspect, and the competitive nature of the game.

Imperial Forces
  • Steven (Bounty Hunter)
    • Boba Fett in Slave-1
    • 2 TIE Fighters
  • Vincent (Sigma Squadron)
    • Darth Vader in TIE Advanced
    • TIE Phantom
    • 2 TIE Fighters
Alliance Forces
  • The Smith (Blue Squadron)
    • Ten Numb in B-Wing
    • E-Wing
    • Y-Wing
Lok: Home of the Nym Crime Syndicate
Battle Reports

Battle 1
Sigma Squadron (Tie Adavnce, Tie Phantom, Tie Fighters x2) vs. Blue Squadron (B-wing, E-wing, Y-wing)

Point Value: 100

Sigma Squadron employs cloaking technology as it delivers a crushing defeat to the rebels as they lose the opening battle of the Campaign.

Victory: Sigma Squadron

Battle 2
Blue Squadron (B-wing, E-wing, Y-wing) vs. Boba Fett (Slave One, Tie Fighterx2)

Point Value: 100

Ten Numb and Blue Squadron re-group after narrowly escaping Darth Vader's grasp. The Rebel's hold on and are able to pull a win out after Boba Fett flee's the battlefield in an attempt to deliver his bounty to Jabba.

Victory: Blue Squadron

Texas Chapter is go for lightspeed!  Next year will bring a multi-chapter X-Wing campaign that will also dovetail with a narrative established in a concurrent Star Wars D20 roleplaying game and the Star Wars Miniatures battle game.  Thanks to the Smith for updating us on the chapter's progress into this awesome new miniature game that brings starfighters back to the fore!  We'll be seeing you in a lot of familiar places, like Hoth and Tatooine...as well as some places you've probably never heard of before.  Until then...

Stay on target!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Little Wars Adelaide

Today's article is a photo-fest brought to you by our own Drew Stearman, our correspondent from Australia.  A little over a week ago, Drew attended a convention in his home of Adelaide, South Australia and took lots of photos for us to check out the proceedings!  Big thanks to Drew for sending us these!

Little Wars Adelaide Australia Convention

Hello fellow gamers!

This is a short article of my experience (everyone loves XP) on the Little Wars convention, held on the 12th of July 2014 in little ole Adelaide.  Little Wars is run by a Melbourne group which have decided to branch out to Adelaide to build a better gaming environment.  My experience started well, the door man was very welcoming and polite (even had a few jokes for us).

Name tags were supplied to promote talking and interaction (we all know that gaming communitys can be very clique-y and shy).  The community hall was busy and a hive of activity.  People looked like they where socialising and having fun.  Majority of the gaming tables I visited acknowledged my interested and explained what the hell was going on.  There was a good mix of vendors and plenty of bargains to be bought.

Special notes of interest before i leave you to see for yourself from the photos taken:
  • (Matthew thecampaignermagazine.com) The campaigner magazine taking great photos of the event.
  • Warmachine press gangers putting on a massive game of warmahordes.
  • Dr Who local gamers with life size darleks.
  • S.A Colonial re-enacters.
  • The hobby matrix laser cut terrain. (Support your Local)
  • Carwars made from converted matchbox cars.
  • People with smiles having fun. 
Thanks, Little Wars.  Hope to see you again next year!

- Drew

Friday, July 18, 2014

Rulebook Ruminations: Dungeons & Dragons Basic

Earlier this month, the Dungeons & Dragons Basic Rules for what is essentially 5th Edition is up for download at the Wizards of the Coast website.  Seems like a great time to talk about the actual rules we are using right now at the Wargate, which happens to be a copy of 1981's Basic Rules.  There's a lot of material that today's gamers might find interesting, and I know not everyone is familiar with some of this old stuff.  So in today's rumination, I'm going to run down a list of some of the old rules you may not be familiar with.

Our copy of D&D Basic that is currently being run at the Wargate is none other than the 1981 printing of the red book above.  We also have the "blue" book and introductory boxed set, but this current campaign focuses on a different set of modules than what I want to run using only that box.  To that end, we have the Basic, Expert, and Companion sets from this era, with the Rules Cyclopedia to top it off.  The gist of it is - you only get access to each set when you level up.  So at the beginning of the campaign, this Basic rulebook is literally all you have to start with.

Ability scores with a straight 3d6 roll, straight down the list.  No rolling and placing scores in the Ability you like most - the only customization you can do at this point is that some classes can reduce certain Abilities to gain a point in their Prime Requisite, at a 2 to 1 ratio.  So you get what you get.  Makes the scores a lot more relevant, and it makes rolling them much more exciting a prospect.

Next, there are only 7 classes.  Four of these - Fighter, Thief, Cleric and Magic-User - are human.  The remaining three - Dwarf, Elf and Halfling - are races.  So there you go - one of the biggest differences lie in the streamlining of choices, especially prevalent at the Basic level.  One way this manifests is in how the demihumans are presented, which are as entirely separate classes.  

One thing about older versions of D&D is that each class has a different value of XP needed to advance a level.  A Fighter needs 2,000 points to advance to level 2, but a Magic-User needs 2,500 XP.  Likewise, a Cleric needs 1,500, and an Elf needs 3,000.  Why the disparity?

There are no skills / proficiencies is Basic.  However, each of the classes has a lot of things only its' members can do, and for certain classes (especially demihumans) they come loaded for bear on these special skills.  Elves are basically what would come to be known in later editions as Fighter/Mages, and since they combine the abilities of both require the most XP to advance a level.

Spells are very simple and limited.  Most don't have overthought rules, and simply apply to "groups" of monsters when cast.  The silliest thing I've seen are Killer Bees put to Sleep, which wouldn't happen under more advanced rules.  Actually, that's not bad considering how stripped down Basic is compared to 3e and everything that came after.

A very basic equipment list will help complete you character, but the old layout makes you suffer.  It's a good thing it's a small manual.  Combat and weapon information is in 3 different places - it's almost as if they didn't know people would need to reference a weapons' damage, weight and cost at the same time.

Encounters and adventures are explained well - in fact this is one of the better examples in all of RPG-dom.  The breakdown of Turns and Rounds keep the "game" aspect quite clear.  All in all, Basic is still one of my favorite manuals, and has been indispensable throughout my tenure as Dungeon Master.

The game is balanced very differently from it's descendants.  There is a complete lack of Thac0 and saving throw progression throughout, although some rules for higher level characters are presented.  Still, it won't be until you hit 4th level that it will get easier to hit monsters.

Yet, monster HD scaling is absolutely on par with later editions.  Monsters get Thac0 and save bonuses right out of the gate, so be warned - a 3 HD monster has Thac0 17, while a 3rd level Fighter languishes at 19.  They have the same amount of hit points (on average) but that 10% attack difference means that the monster will hit more often.  At 3rd level, don't expect to be able to take more than 3 dice of damage (that's why they are called Hit Dice)!

Basic treasure tables do actually contain quite a bit, but the amount of magical items described might be fewer than you expect.  However, it does cover a lot of the basics, from magical weapons and armor to potions, scrolls, rings, staves and even more esoteric kit.  Very strange magical items are not included, but there's more than enough here to get your adventurers started.

So, the delay in posting has been in part due to the release of the new rules, which I started devouring immediately upon release.  I followed and partook in the playtest, and have a vested interest in D&D Next.  I was going to do a comparison piece, but it really deserves it's own review.  I would take this task gladly, but we're going to be in Mystara for quite some time to come.  Suffice it to say, I actually like this new version.

At first glance, the new D&D seems to combine design aspects from both 3e and 4e.  I like a lot of what I see, but I'm going to hold off a full opinion until I get my hands on a Player's Handbook and Dungeon Master's Guide.  I've been reading those since 1991, and I know what goes in them.  Oh well, I guess we have to wait even longer.

I don't think we'll notice the wait, though.  We have tons of stuff to work through, and by the time we're done in Mystara all this new stuff will be out.  Who knows?  Maybe we'll jump ahead to 5e.  Until then, good luck gamers!  See you on Game Day!