02 September 2017

Ghoul pack painted up and pictures of undead horde

Last undead models to be painted up (at least for now) are 20 plastic ghouls from Mantic Games. I trimmed away all the spikes from legs, torsos and arms and think this provide a better look.

These too were speed painted, using Black, Bone white and White primer followed by dark brown, red and purple washes for the skin tone. I really just wanted to paint the mass of undead as fast as possible. The paintjob quality is far from my usual work, but I think they look good enought on the table in larger groups.

Anyway, now I have a nice big horde of undead in my collection to be used for several different games!

 

27 August 2017

Champions of Midgaard review

Caroline and I found this game a couple of weeks ago in the gamestore - I looked at it and was not really sold. It was not until we watched some video reviews of it that convinced me to fork over some cash for it. Cash well spent!

This game is a very nice worker placement/resource management game with a heavy Viking theme. Someone jokingly wrote that this is what Lords of Waterdeep would be if Lords of Waterdeep had a theme. That may be stretching it (LoWD is a fantastic game), as in Champions of Midgaard a lot of focus is put on managing your little warband and their fighting of trolls, draugr and epic monsters to earn glory.

Each player takes on the role of a Viking leader, and receives a character board with special rules for your specific character and 8 slots to place warrior dice on. Your warband can never exceed 8 warriors, and you can always replenish casualties during the game, even if your warband is completely wiped out in a epic fight.

During each turn players take turns in placing their "workers" on various spaces in the Viking village, in order to hire warriors, gather supplies, hire boats to take you to faraway lands, hunt for meat in the forest, visit various traders and also set up expeditions to the nearby hills where you slay trolls and draugr that threaten the existence of the village. For killing monsters your warband earn glory and gold, at the end of the game the player with most glory wins. Glory is earned not only from killing monsters, but from collecting monster cards. Collecting sets of a specific monster card in all colors (for instance draugr: red/yellow/blue) earn you extra glory. You also get glory from additional objective cards that you can pick up in the Viking village - objectives that put gold, Viking warriors, meat and wood into play to earn you more glory as well.

Most of the game revolves around warrior dice, that represent 3 types of fighters that you can recruit for your warband, swordsmen, spearmen and berserkers (in the expansion there are archers). Each warrior type has its own "hit" and "shield" results, the swordsmen are the weakest but they are usually the easiest warrior to get. Spearmen are better at hitting and also defending, while berserkers are pure damage and no defense. 

During your turn you have to reserve a spot on the board with a worker in order to put together an expedition to slay a troll, draugr or epic monster. Trolls are special in that they appear each turn and have to be killed. The player killing the troll earns only glory and a piece of wood, but the remaining players get "blame tokens" which deduct glory points at the end of game. The blame tokens stack into devastating penalties depending on their number, and you can only get rid of a blame token by killing trolls. Each time you become the troll slayer during a turn you are allowed to discard a blame token.

Draugr give a bit of glory but also become the main source of gold rewards. Then you have the epic monsters which require you to hire/or buy a ship, load it up with food and warriors and sail off to faraway lands to fight. During these ship expeditions a random event occurs, which can inflict casualties by storm or loss of additional food. You will lose warrior dice if you cannot feed all your warriors before they arrive at their destination, and a weakened warband may have a difficult time to fight the epic monsters. Considering that ship expeditions yield the most glory points but also require the most preparation it is not a failure you will take easily.

To make things more interesting, many monsters are immune to specific warrior dice. A troll may be immune to berserkers for instance, which means you will not be able to fight it with berserker dice, and all berserker dice allocated to that fight become casualties at the beginning of the battle! This is not something that randomly occurs, the immunity is printed on the monster card - but it happens that one forgets and sends a mixed warband only to see some of the warriors be removed instantly when fighting begins.

The fighting with monsters is quite interesting in all its simplicity. Monsters have a wound and attack value printed on them. This means that to kill a monster you must score a number of hits equal to the wounds. Then you must, ideally, counter the monster attacks by rolling shield symbols during your attack action. Shields block one point of damage. All unblocked damage results in killed warriors. This is also why the super effective berserkers, often die, if not supported... Fighting continues until either the monster or the player wins the fight or when both sides end up dead.

Fortunately you will still earn glory and get rewards even if all your warriors happen to die during the encounter, I guess you worker/villager reports the success to the village elders.

The game is very easy to learn, fun to play and very fast paced. So far I've only played 2-3 player games, the game supports 4 players at the most.

Caroline and I both rate the game as a solid 8/10.

I've been looking at the expansions, and they look quite interesting. I may have to get them in the near future.


24 August 2017

Zombie horde painted up

I bought a box of Mantic Games zombies and Ghouls recently, to boost my collection of undead miniatures for various gaming ideas. I speedpainted the 39 zombies over the past 4 days, using the triple spray and drybrush technique I found online. It's a fast, simple and somewhat dirty way to paint up large numbers of zombies using mostly these steps (although I added some steps of my own):

1) Black primer undercoat
2) Dark flesh basecoat of the whole model
3) Bone white spray from a topdown angle to give the model preshade
4) Wash the mini generously with a dark brown wash
5) White primer highlight from a topdown angle
6) Wash the mini again with dark brown, sepia, red and green washes - mixing the ratio as you see fit to get some color variation.
7) Drybrush the skin areas with colors like Khaki, Light grey, light flesh and rotting flesh depending on the desired appearance.
8) Blood is a mix of black and red paint, black and red wash, and a glossy " 'ardcoat" finish to get the sticky look.

They don't qualify for extreme close inspecion, and I'm not really favoring drybrushing as a painting method. But for painting hordes of undead where detail does not really matter this was a way for me to actually build 39 models and paint them over the course of a sunday afternoon and 3 evenings this week.

Next project will be painting up 20 ghouls.


17 August 2017

Merchants & Marauders: Seas of glory review

I had been looking for this expansion to Merchants & Marauders forever when Caroline spotted it by accident in our LFGS and called me to confirm this was the game I had been ranting about!

Unbelievable, I remember writing an email to the publisher a couple of years ago asking about a reprint but no such reprint was planned. Needless to say I was super excited to get my hands on this product. The expansion does not add a new "a new expansion module" but rather several small enhancements that you are free to implement as you see fit. There are 8 modules in total, some of them are so simple that you will barely notice them, other are game variants, but mostly it adds some components that enhance the gameplay imo. 

Worth mentioning as number one is the expanded sideboard for your ship. It can now include crew morale/loyalty, contraband cargo hull along with new ship weapons and modifications and a favor track. The crew morale/loyalty track is great for pushing players to play more daringly and punishes you if you end up in the same port as you started in.  Favors are great for re-rolls and illegaly entering blockaded ports, while the contraband is a new type of resource that you may buy and ship to designated locations on the board to earn more victory points and gold.

The new ship weapons and modifications are also excellent, with the crow's nest being a favorite of mine.

There are tons of new tokens for the new modules. A "must use" feature is the storm token, and the wind gauge. Both add new rules to the board, the storm is pushed around by the wind on the board and add unpredicted danger that you want to avoid while the wind gauge add extra movement to ships traveling with the wind, and less movement to ships traveling against the wind. Simple but very thematic features both of them.

You also get new locations if you want to replace the printed special locations on the board with new ones. Then there is the Spanish treasure galleon which sails around generating gold each time it moves, which ultimately makes it a very tempting although dangerous target for a daring pirate captain. The pirates and players also get a new ship type, the brig which is something of a mix between a flute and a sloop.

The rules variants offered in the game also add for additional game modes for those that want a more challanging game - or simply a game that is less about winning by saving gold and more about actually trading and doing pirate raids.

All in all I'm super pleased with this expansion box, I may not use all the modules when we play the game but I use most. The expansion makes an enjoyable and great game even better.

Highly recommended to anyone already owning Merchants & Marauders if you can find this expansion!

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