Wargaming Operation Epsom – some ideas

I am currently reading Max Hasting’s Overlord book. It’s very well written and has also sparked some ideas for WW2 wargaming – particular micro armour/6mm style games. One of the big set-piece operations of the Normandy campaign was Operation Epsom. It was one of the many attempts to take Caen by outflanking it. The attack failed ultimately, although some ground was gained.

The information that Max Hastings provided about it included the fact that the attack frontage for the three British divisions involved was 4.5 miles. That equates to 7.24 km or 7,240 metres. Now there are WW2 wargames rules where the ground scale is 100m = 1″ on the tabletop (such as Fistful of Tows). That means you could fit the attack onto a standard 6′ wargames table. 7240 metres equals 72.42″ at this scale.

Now most wargames even with 1/300/6mm tanks assume that you’re playing with say a regiment or a brigade – not 3 divisions! I am intrigued to see how a wargame of this size might work on a standard 6′ table. I am going to explore possibilities further and will blog again soon about wargaming Operation Epsom.

Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay Starter Set Review

I thought it was about time to write up my Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay Starter Set Review.

I got the starter set for the 4th edition of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay a while ago and gave it a read at the time, but there is nothing like using the materials to actually get a good idea of how good they are and what they contain. Having now run most of the main adventures from the Adventure Book using a mix of pregen and rolled up PCs, and I have also started using the Ubersreik material to plan out a sandbox campaign, so I now have a good enough understanding to provide a reasonable review for others.

What’s in the Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay Starter Set?

First let’s see what you actually get! This is from Cubicle7’s site:

With over a hundred pages of adventures, rules, and setting, as well as maps, handouts, custom dice from Q WORKSHOP, Advantage tokens, rules references, ready-made Characters, a simple GM Screen, and more, this boxed set is the perfect starting point for anyone interested in WFRP.

The Adventure Book invites players of all experience levels into the rich, roleplaying playground of Ubersreik. For beginners, the starter adventure, Making the Rounds, introduces the harsh realities of life in the troubled fortress-town and takes you step-by-step through the rules. For more experienced hands, there are 10 scenarios aimed to expand your WFRP games, offering new locations, new characters, and new horrors to uncover. Coming in at 40 pages, The Adventure Book is the ideal launching point for any new campaign, and can keep your WFRP group busy for several months.

The 64-page A Guide to Ubersreik highlights the bloody history and recent invasion of Ubersreik, examines more than 70 locations in the troubled town, details the surrounding fiefdoms, and introduces a wide array of antagonist cults at large in the area. In addition, each entry comes with two adventure hooks, meaning every location, character, and political pitfall the book presents has examples of how to use them on your games of WFRP.

The quality of the materials is great. The dice are very useful and well designed, and the punch out Advantage Tokens are a must for this game. You can also use the box lids as a makeshift GMs screen – they have a map and some basic rules on the inside. Also there are some useful handouts for players: rumours, basic info on how to play, information about the Empire, which is good if players are new to Warhammer, and also a players and GMs map of Ubersreik and the surrounding area.

The Adventure Book

The Adventure Book contains introductory adventures to get your party started if you are new to Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, or roleplaying in general. The first part of it involves the PCs getting involved in a big fight, which provides a great way to introduce some of the basic combat rules. They are then accused of a crime they did not commit (in true WFRP fashion!) and are press-ganged into joining the Ubersreik Watch. After that a number of adventures are presented that the PCs can get involved in. There’s no particular order to these, but the idea is to start of with some fairly minor events and then gradually increase the complexity and threat. There’s quite a lot of opportunity for GMs to treat this as a sandbox. I was a little disappointed with this as I would have thought that a new GM might want something a bit more structured. I thought that with the intriguing political situation, the PCs would be thrust into a thrilling conflict of intrigue, but it’s not like that. You could though use the information in The Guide to Ubersreik booklet to introduce such a campaign.

The adventures included are OK in my opinion. There’s some interesting NPCs there and situations, but I didn’t feel that any of them really grabbed my attention. Maybe it’s my failing as a GM, but I felt that they could have been a bit better. Some of the extra adventures presented near the end might prove to be more attending – the littlest Waarghh! looks fun for instance.

The Guide to Ubersreik

For me this is the more useful resource in the medium to long term. I doubt I would run the adventures again, but the background material for Ubersreik is very rich and contains loads of plot hooks – perfect in fact for the sandbox campaign that I have planned out and am about to start soon. There is some great detail on the political situation, which hints at what is happening more and prompts some ideas for a GM. To me it feels like this was designed to give GMs ideas for their own campaigns – which has been the result for me at least.

I was a bit disappointed not to see the political situation in Ubersreik developed further in the adventures provided, perhaps a missed opportunity to provide an opening campaign, but I can see why the writers perhaps didn’t want to inhibit a GMs own plans either. I have also heard that there is some link with the wider Enemy Within campaign as well with regards to the Emperor taking over Ubersreik – so maybe that will make things clearer.

A Note on the Pregen Characters

For my group we used two of the pregen characters, while the other player rolled their own. Unfortunately, as released it’s not clear how much starting XP and advances the pregens have. They’re not full character sheets and miss off some skills. This has now been rectified with an update to the PDF. But that update was some time after I had started running the adventure. I did guess though that the pregens were quite overpowered, so allowed the other PC some extra XP.

Upping the level of the pregens feels like a curious decision. I would have expected them to be starting characters, but they’re actually a bit overpowered. The lack of explanation also makes them hard to run if you have the full rules or are thinking of taking the adventure further.

On a positive note the pregens do come with a load of back story and also ways to link them with other members of the party, which I liked. The gatefold character sheets look very good as well. There are even mini-adventures in the Adventure booklet for each of the pregens as well,

Conclusion

For your money the Starter Set is a great resource. Although I think you would need to get the main rulebook pretty soon after if you liked the game. The biggest negative is the lack of detail on XP and advances for the pregens. The main positives are the great background material for Ubersreik and all the plot hooks.

Great value for money in my opinion.

You can get the Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay Starter set from Cubicle7, Amazon, and most other RPG retailers.

I hope you enjoyed my Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay Starter Set Review!

Combat HQ 2nd Edition Review

Combat HQ 2nd Edition CoverCombat HQ by Jim Bambra combines a number of interesting game mechanics to produce a satisfying simulation of battalion level WW2 warfare while also providing a lot of fun.

I use 6mm for my games, but it can easily support up to 20mm figures – or maybe even 28mm at a stretch. Each infantry stand or vehicle represents a a platoon and it’s designed for games of battalion sized battlegroups with supporting units. One of the key features are the rules that simulate command – with alternating activations and the possibility of command failure adding to the realism of the game and also providing a challenge to each player on how to use limited command resources. These rules rely on dice chains that can be a bit complicated to get your head around to start with, but are simple enough once you get going and provide an interesting game mechanic.

The other mechanics such as movement and combat also provide a realistic yet easy to understand means to simulate combat. There’s some similarities with dice pool games such as Blitzkrieg Commander – for instance different units or tanks might receive different amounts of d6 to roll – then there’s a target number of hitting on 4+ for example – which is then opposed by the target rolling a dice pool to resist – so very much like Blitzkrieg Commander and other Warmaster style rulesets.

My one criticism is that this book does not come with extensive army lists – but I believe these will be available in a separate volume. You do get stats for the 3 starter missions though for late war UK, US and German forces. The previous edition featured army lists for a wide range of WW2 theatres and armies. The follow on book, Total War includes extensive additional rules and some army lists. However, unlike the 1st edition, only Late War Western European theatre is included – so no Soviets, and no mid or early war stuff, which is a bit disappointing. I am assuming that new supplements will introduce lists for these theatres, but it is a shame that everything isn’t included in one book.

However, despite these gripes Combat HQ is a great system with some innovative rules as well as borrowing some familiar mechanics from other rulesets. For the WW2 wargamer it is well worth getting!

You can order it from Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk

It’s also now available on Wargames Vault.

The author, Jim Bambra, has a great website called Wargames Design, which is a great resource.

I have a blog post about a scenario using a version of the Combat HQ rules, Armour Battles here.

Flames of War Hit the Beach Starter Set Wargaming hobby project

One of the wargaming hobby projects that I was working on over the summer and autumn was to get the Flames of War starter set Hit the Beach finished. I am glad to say that I now have everything painted and based (apart from the V1 rocket which seemed to be a bit of a weird addition to the set!)

Here’s some photos of the finished minis (in box). I now need to give them a go with the Flames of War rules. I am also thinking that they would be good for other WW2 rules that I have – e.g. Blitzkrieg Commander, Command Decision and Combat HQ. I haven’t settled yet on which WW2 ruleset I want to use. I also have WW2 in 6mm as well so trying to work out what to use for what at present!

Flames of War Tanks and Guns Hit the Beach

Flames of War Hit the Beach infantry

Hit the Beach is a great little starter set for Flames of War value wise. The set provides loads of tanks and enough infantry for a good game. The sides do seem a bit unbalanced. For instance, there are lots of tanks and not much infantry for the US. Also the V1 rocket just seems a weird thing to include – some more useful scenery would have been better in my opinion. I did enjoy painting up the figures and they look pretty cool I think. I am coming round to 15mm as a scale after painting these up.

You can get Hit the Beach quite cheaply from Amazon. Flames of War Hit the Beach - contents

Flames of War Hit the Beach

Warhammer Fan Fiction: Time Bomb by Mark Lord

I recently had a go at writing a short story inspired by the Old World setting of Warhammer Fantasy Role Play (WFRP). Please let me know what you think in the Comments. My first piece of Warhammer Fan Fiction!

Time Bomb by Mark Lord – Warhammer Fan Fiction

Berta looked down at the note again.

I am not paying for this terrible pile of bricks. Workmanship is poor. The whole thing is crooked. The joints don’t fit. The doors don’t shut properly. The arrow slits face the wrong way. And the murder holes are too narrow.

And then she read the last line. The one that really hurt.

I can’t believe Berta Hadrasdotir claims she is a Dwarf. The Gatehouse looks like it was built by a goblin.

Those words made her angry even now. Even after she had realised that her anger was misplaced. She wished she had misplaced that bomb. She looked up at the sun as she walked briskly down the hill towards the town of Alfensburg. But it was obscured by clouds. Not unusual in this part of the Drakenswald. She couldn’t remember the last time it hadn’t been cloudy or rained. She rummaged in the pouch on her belt. She had a sand timer that would measure an hour. She reckoned that was about how much time she had before the fuse burnt out. If she turned the sand timer now, she could keep track of how long she had left. The trick though was to keep the timer level as she walked down into the town.

She turned it anyway and carried on thinking about that problem as she walked. She carried the timer in front of her looking at the tiny grains of sand as they slipped from the top of the glass to the bottom through a very narrow gap. Already the sand at the bottom seemed to be filling up. She knew that was just her anxiety playing tricks on her. Her legs started walking just that little bit quicker.

As she thought about the problem of the timer, something else sprung to mind. The list of ingredients for Herda’s cake. Her daughter was desperate to make a cake for her dad. Okri had been injured during a cave-in at the mine. His leg had been broken in two places, and although he would heal, he was grouchier than a hill troll. Herda had set her heart on making a carrot cake with icing to cheer him up. But they needed ingredients from town. Berta checked in her pouch again and her pockets. No list in there. She was terrible at cooking herself and left that to others – Okri had passed his cooking skills onto Herda. She couldn’t turn back now. She was already ten minutes away from camp—she would waste another twenty minutes going there and back. Eggs? Flour? Carrots? That would do wouldn’t it.

Berta repeated the words “It will be fine,” to herself under her breath, but there was sweat on her brow. I need to be fitter, she thought, not used to this fast walking.

The trees of the Drakenwald began to open out. There were some fields along the path and some small farms. A boy herding some goats in a field waved to her. She raised her hand to wave back and knocked the sand-timer. The hour-glass nearly slipped from her hands, but she held on. Her heart jumped and began thumping more loudly and her hands felt greasy. By Grimnir, she needed to have a plan for this timer.

She looked down at her coat. She was wearing the work clothes she used when building. There was a leather tie that was used for holding a harness in place when working high up on the scaffold. Human builders thought such safety measures were an extravagance. But Berta and the other dwarfs knew that far more human builders died from accidents than dwarfs. She was more than happy with that extravagance. She could tie the sand timer to the leather tie. If she stayed upright so would the timer.

Good. That was one less thing to worry about. Now she just had the big thing. Oh, and the shopping list. But the big thing was more important. She would sort that out first. And then she could go shopping couldn’t she. She would be so relieved at not blowing up the Graf that she wouldn’t mind buying the whole of the grocer-shop’s supplies if that would keep Herda happy. She might need a mule to carry the stuff as well.

The path became more of a road now. There was a village half a mile from the walls of Alfensburg. A good tavern there as well. Often Berta and her work crew would stop on the way back after a day’s work. You built up a thirst cutting and hauling stone around. The door of the tavern was open. A sign with a picture of a swan towering over a fat little halfling hung outside. A couple of her crew were there. Gromli and Tromli. They had finished the work yesterday and were taking it easy today. They nodded at her.

“Coming in, Berta, for a pint? Ale’s nice and warm,” said Tromli.

She shook her head vigorously. “No, I have to stop a … I have business in town,” she corrected herself.

“We’ll still be here when you’re on your way back,” said Gromli.

“Don’t spend all your coins. We’ve not been paid for the gatehouse yet,” she said as she strode past.

“Eh what?” called Gromli after her. “Wait up Berta. What’s the hurry? They owe us, don’t they?”

Berta didn’t answer that. She would have had to turn around and slow her pace. They certainly did owe her and her crew. A few of the materials like the wood and the iron fittings had been paid for. But the stone had been quarried from the dwarf’s own works in the hills, and their labour hadn’t been charged for yet. They were owed a lot of money by the Graf for building him such a fine new gatehouse for Alfensburg.

But if she blew up the Graf and the gatehouse then there was no way that they were going to get that money.

Above the fir trees of the thinning Drakenwald she could see that gatehouse. She felt pride when she saw it. It was a fine construction. Solid and well-built. They had spent a year building it. That was quite fast—especially considering the special extra features. And then that beastman attack had not helped. They really messed up the scaffolding when they tried to charge into the town that night through the gap in the walls.

That’s probably when it started, the tension with the Graf. She had shouted at him the next morning about not leaving enough guards in place. He had come back with an accusation that the temporary palisade had not been strong enough. But she knew it had. They had spent three weeks just setting the foundations with proper cement for the palisade, and then another two weeks lashing the wooden stakes together. That was a good palisade. And there was a ditch dug by the Graf’s serfs. But a good wall was no good unless it was guarded well.

After that raid there were always complaints. On both sides she had to admit. The Graf would complain about how long the work was taking, even though they had got back onto schedule. Or his steward would come to her and question all the receipts for materials. He was a slimy individual. And she grew irritated with how often her crew were stopped and searched by the guards. Sigmar’s love of dwarven kind did not extend to Alfensburg. They were Ulricans here and had decided that if Ulric’s rival Sigmar loved dwarfs then they would take a dislike to them. She had made her views known to the Graf personally about that.

Then yesterday they had laid down their trowels after putting the finishing touches to the last piece of stonework. All was perfect. Solid and sound. Just how Berta liked it.

She had sent Tromli to let the Graf’s steward know that the construction was complete. She was hoping for him to rush down and tell her what a great job they had done, and that despite all the issues between them all forgotten, and here’s your payment.

Tromli returned and passed on the steward’s message that the Graf was busy and would come another day. She had shrugged and looked at the ground and pushed a bit of dirt around with her boot when she heard that. She knew in her heart that she was sad that the Graf wasn’t excited to see the finished gatehouse. But she didn’t let that show to her crew. “Come on lads, you all deserve a pint. And yes, for once it’s on me!”

They had celebrated that night—not at the Swan and Halfling, but back at the mining camp in the hills. To say it was a mining camp did it a disservice. Dwarfs had mined there for ten years now and the homes and storehouses of the dwarf community were solid stone and timber buildings. Not permanent like a hold (or that gatehouse), but better than any human construction.

Despite having a sore head, the next morning Berta had gone in alone to see the gatehouse again and to enquire if the Graf had seen it yet. The palisade was still being guarded by the Graf’s soldiers—that would need pulling down once the guard had been shown their new quarters. She nodded at them as she passed, as she always did every day. But something felt different that morning. No-one wanted to make eye contact with her.

Her jaw dropped when she saw it. Someone had stuck a dagger into her new gate. The dagger had been used to pin the note to the gate. A double insult to her work. The words just made it worse. The Graf’s crest was stamped in black ink at the top of the paper. Although it was not signed and not pressed in wax with his personal seal.

She had all she needed on the building site still. They hadn’t taken away their tools yet, just in case. She was an alchemist as well as a builder and found the ingredients she needed to make saltpetre quickly enough. At that moment she didn’t know how she was going to deliver her special reply to the Graf. But she certainly wanted him to get the message loud and clear. She always felt a nice big bomb helped to clear up any misunderstandings. She was in the site workshop next to the palisade when the steward came. He announced himself with a cough outside, which was lucky as that avoided him coming in and seeing what she was making. She rushed out, her anger at the note forgotten in her excitement at working on her revenge.

“Yes, well,” he said, as if expecting Berta’s quizzical look to be different. “Ahem. I see you are still busy. Have you actually finished the gatehouse?”

She nodded. “Yes of course.”

“Well the Graf would like to inspect it. He wants to brief his captain of the guard on it and show the burghers what their taxes have been spent on for the last year. He will come this afternoon to view it. Will you be there to show him everything?”

Berta nodded. “Of course. That would be perfect. At what time exactly? I need to return to the camp first.”

“At five o’clock. Is that acceptable?”

“Oh yes quite. That makes it just the right length.”

“Excuse me?”

“Length of time to get to the camp and back again, that’s all.”

The steward nodded and left. His news was perfect. An opportunity to repay her grudge against the Graf. The bomb would damage the gatehouse, but not destroy it. The structure was excellent. And she would place the bomb near the ground underneath the arch. She could even shield the structure of the gatehouse itself and ensure that the blast went outwards to harm people. She had enough fuse for a four-hour timed explosion. That would give her plenty of time to walk back to the camp. She had no intention of coming back again at five. Shortly afterwards to see the results would do well enough. It was important to know that a grudge had been satisfied. Some dwarf holds retained whole books of grudges, but she had plenty of space in her own head to store hers. And besides, she was the type of dwarf who liked to get payment as soon as it was due. In this case it looked like she wouldn’t be collecting on what was owed for finishing the gatehouse.

She was panting hard but felt relieved as the walls and fabulous new gatehouse of Alfensburg came into view. Pennons flew from the towers. Looked like the Graf had sent someone to put the bunting out. There was a large gathering already inside and outside the gate. Townsfolk milled about chatting. Stallholders had set-up to sell food and drink. A small band of musicians were paying and passing round a hat for contributions. The bomb was likely to kill and injure a lot more people than just the Graf and his cronies. And he wasn’t even to blame.

She had realised it only when she got back to the camp. She had gone through the contracts and all the letters and receipts again. She wanted to check what their rights were if the gatehouse was destroyed before payment was made. She knew whoever was left of the Graf’s household would be in little mood to pay out after the explosion. They may even point a finger at her. But even so it was always good to know what your rights were. If there was a chance of still claiming payment, then she would. It would be worth sticking around. If not, then she would suggest to her crew and her family that it might be time to move on.

She didn’t rush to look through the papers. She had lunch with Herda and Okri first. She had noticed that Okri seemed down as well, and afterwards said to Herda quietly that she could make her father one of her cakes that he liked so much. She didn’t think that would result in her being given a shopping list. As she read through it, she was reminded of another list that she had been given a while ago. The list was on the Graf’s letterhead but, like the note pinned to the gate insulting her work, not signed, or sealed by the Graf. And she knew not written by him, because the person who wrote it told her as much.

The Graf’s steward had given her the list. A list of the materials they had bought for the construction. He wanted to have confirmation of what had and hadn’t been used. The implication had been that Berta didn’t need it all and would use it for other projects or sell it. At the time she put it down to the normal tension between both parties. She rushed off to look for it in her files.

Soon she was surrounded by boxes and scroll-boxes. She needed to sort out her filing system. That was something Okri could help her with now that he wasn’t moving around very much. Would give him something to do. She must remember to talk to him about that, but not today.

She found the list finally and drew the note from the gate out of her pocket. She had crumpled it up in anger and had to lay it flat on a table next to the materials list the steward had given her. The handwriting was the same.

The steward had been undermining her. He was obsessed with money. More than likely he was stealing from the Graf and wanted to pin the blame on her. She remembered a conversation they had early on at the start of the project. He took her to one side and suggested she add on twenty percent to the cost of everything. She had refused. She thought he meant to be kind to her in a strange way—to facilitate her making more money, but she had taken it as a minor insult on her honour—not enough for a grudge, but she never liked the man after that.

Whatever his motive the insult against her work was not from the Graf himself. Indeed, it looked like a carnival had been arranged to celebrate the new gatehouse. Alfensburg needed better defences and the gatehouse was supposed to be the first part of that. Berta was hopeful up until yesterday that they would get a contract to do the rest of the walls as well—that would take years, but it would be very lucrative and would give Alfensburg the ability to fend off any beastmen raids—as long as they were guarded well as she kept on reminding the Graf and his captains.

But now she had to stop the bomb killing them and wrecking the gatehouse. But she had time. She looked down at the sand timer. It was still upright. She untied it. About a quarter of the sand left to go. She had plenty of time.

She walked through the crowd. People got in her way. They were idling as if there was nothing to worry about. Did they want to get blown to pieces? Suddenly a man in robes was in front of her. The steward. He smiled. He looked pleased with himself.

“Back just in time, I see.”

She would dearly love to send him flying with a good right hook. But she didn’t have time for distractions. She could deal with him later. She side-stepped past him, but there was a shout as she knocked against a man carrying a tray of drinks through the crowd. She was covered in ale. It was crappy human ale at that. Nasty stuff. She coughed and spluttered as the ale ran down her face and got in her eyes and mouth. She breathed the stench of malt through her nostrils and felt like retching.

The man carrying the tray was shouting at her. She didn’t hold back from thumping him hard in the gut and he bent in half at the waist in pain. She pushed him away and forced her way through the crowd. She was stopped again. Someone put her a hand on her shoulder and pulled her to a halt. She spun around spitting with anger. The next second she was apologising as she saw the Graf looking down on her, with the steward just behind him. The man was tall even for a human, and also aging. His grey hair was long and straggled underneath a fine broad hat. He was wearing his best clothes. Silks and furs. Gold and jewels glittered from around his neck and on his fingers.

The Graf looked stern. His mouth tended to always look cruel. But to her surprise it broke into a smile. “Getting into the party spirit I see! Where are the rest of your work crew? They should all be celebrating with us this afternoon. My steward said you had gone back to get them.”

“Umm, they’re on their way. Some of them just stopped off at a tavern. Could you excuse me for a minute? I need to get something from the gatehouse. Just some last final additions.”

She didn’t wait for a reply. Soon she was inside one of the towers. She unlocked the manhole cover that took her to the tunnel that went under the gate. There was a sally port that opened in the ground on the outside of the gate. That’s where she had placed the bomb. The bomb would be strong enough to blow through the concealed trapdoor and hit anyone underneath the gatehouse. It would have destroyed the tunnel as well. So, while the rest of the gatehouse would have been left standing the gate and the sally tunnel would have been ruined.

But the bomb wasn’t there. But there was another note.

Berta. I was watching you and saw that you placed the bomb. I have it in safekeeping now. You will remit to me half the payment for the gatehouse. You know who I am. Although you have no evidence to frame me, so don’t even try. And I can always use your nice big bomb whenever I choose. So, watch out! Enjoy the carnival!

This note was on plain paper and the handwriting was different. Almost a scrawl as if someone had tried to obscure their handwriting on purpose by using a different hand or writing upside down.

Berta took the piece of paper. Fine. The steward had won that day. But she would take that piece of paper and take it back to the dwarf camp and bind it into a book. Time to create her own book of grudges.

 

THE END

Death on the Reik PDF Published!

Cubicle 7 have just announced the publication of the PDF for the second instalment of the Enemy Within campaign, Death on the Reik.

Death on the ReikAs well as the normal edition there’s also a funky collector’s edition. See the covers of that one below.

Here’s some more information from the publisher’s site:

Welcome to Death on the Reik, part two of the revised and updated Director’s Cut of the Enemy Within, one of the most highly regarded roleplaying campaigns ever written! Created by legendary WFRP writer, Graeme Davis, one of the original writers of the campaign, the Director’s Cut provides additional material to create an enhanced experience that maintains all the mood and paranoia of the original.

Death on the ReikThe adventure carries on from where Enemy in Shadows left off, taking your unlikely heroes on a grand adventure up and down the remarkable Reik, the largest river in the Old World and trade route to the heart of the Empire.

Death on the ReikDeath in the Reik includes a selection of ‘Grognard Boxes’ that add entirely new ways to play through the adventures, ensuring even those who have played the Enemy Within campaign before will find Death on the Reik new and exciting.

The Enemy Within is the campaign all roleplaying game enthusiasts should play at least once in their lives, making Death on the Reik an essential purchase for all gamers.

Available from Cubicle 7 and from DriveThruRPG.

You might also be interested in my post about the influence of Call of Cthulhu on the original adventure.

Wargaming Mindfulness

What is Wargaming Mindfulness you may ask? Surely new age hippy nonsense like meditation, mindfulness and zen have no place in the wargaming hobby?

Well whatever your inclinations to such things and whatever you call it, I think talking about how we approach the wargaming hobby is relevant. I’m not going to suggest a meditation programme for wargaming, that would be a bit weird. But I do want to write about how to approach this hobby in a way that is positive and doesn’t lead to frustration.

What is Mindfulness?

Firstly it’s a good idea to just say what mindfulness is. Mindfulness in its simplest terms is being present in the moment. You can use meditation to help you be mindful, but it’s not essential. If you’re mindful you appreciate the time and place you are in without constantly dwelling on the past or worrying about the future. Mindfulness can be beneficial to mental health and help reduce stress and anxiety. And remember mental health doesn’t cover only serious disorders. Everyone goes through times of low moods at some point or another at the very least. Mental health issues are at least as prevalent as physical health issues.

Causes of Wargaming Anxiety

So if mindfulness might help with anxiety and stress, what are the potential causes of those in the Wargaming hobby. Could you be suffering from any of these:

  • Too much lead! The size of your lead or plastic mountain of figures to paint seems never ending. That could be a good thing perhaps, but if it leaves you with despair about ever finishing it then it’s not!
  • Switching between projects. Again that could be good if it helps keep you motivated by bringing variety. But if it’s not intentional then it might mean you’re distracted easily and can’t settle on anything. The result is you get frustrated when you don’t actually finish anything.
  • The new shiny. You see a new product advertised, read an article or listen to a podcast that discusses a certain game or wargaming period  and think “I want to get into that. It sounds great!” So you end up buying it … and then it sits on the shelf for a long time. As well as costing you money it also contributes to the size of the painting mountain never to be finished.

There could well be other causes of wargaming hobby stress – maybe the stress caused by a new Warhammer edition that renders your carefully collected army useless, or concern about what others think about your painting skills. But I guess you probably get the idea.

How to approach the Wargaming Hobby Mindfully

So how might you go about being more mindful in terms of your wargame hobby?

It’s hard to be honest. I often switch between projects – not just because I fancy variety, but because my mental attention gets sparked by something new, and I end up not finishing what I should have been doing. Then several months later I think why didn’t I finish that project, I could be gaming with it by now!

Well actually approaching other parts of your life mindfully can help. I would recommend meditation as a good way of coping with stress.

I think it does help to have a plan as well. Not a plan of how to paint everything you have, but at least a plan of what you are going to paint over the next few months. You can work some variety into that plan as well, so you don’t end up painting 100 of the same figure!

I also keep a Painting Diary to see what I painted each month. When I look back at it I can see what I achieved and perhaps see where I started a project I never finished and then plan to get back on track.

You could avoid news of new products etc to avoid temptation.

But perhaps the main thing is just to take pleasure in the thing you are doing at the moment – don’t be thinking too much about what you want to do after you have finished this project, but enjoy getting done what you are doing. If the hobbying is a bit dull and you start dreaming of a new figure to paint then maybe listen to an audio book at the same time to distract you from planning the next project in your head!

I hope this article has helped. Let me know if you have any other ideas for how to avoid wargaming hobby frustration!

Sacrosanct & Other Stories Review

I just finished listening to Sacrosanct & Other Stories on the Black Library audio app. It was one of the fiction books they were offering for 99p, so it seemed like a good deal. I enjoyed listening to it, so I thought I would write up a brief book review.

Sacrosanct & Other Stories Review

Sacrosanct & Other Stories ReviewSacrosanct & Other Stories is an anthology of short stories all set in the Mortal Realms of the Age of Sigmar Warhammer game,

The stories cover lots of different protagonists, from Stormcast Eternals, to witch-hunters, to Sylvaneth and ending with a longer story featuring Fyreslayers.

The stories are all fun to read/listen to and have a great story. I would say that my favourite ones were the stories that featured more characters and dialogue and less fighting. Long narrative descriptions of combat get a bit boring after a while. Being a Warhammer book you expect quite a bit of fighting, but if it’s constant and the primary focus it’s a bit dull! The story by Gav Thorpe about the Sylvaneth falls into the too much battle category unfortunately and left me a bit cold.

The narration on the audio book was excellent. The narrator, John Banks, really captured the feel of the setting and brought each character to life.

If I had to pick out favourites I think that I would recommend the opening story Sacrosanct and also Callis and Toll – The Old Ways. That story made me want to read more about this pair of witch-hunters.

Here’s the official blurb for the book from the Black Library site:

DESCRIPTION
Within this book you will find Sacrosanct, a fantastic new novella from C L Werner…

A restless menace threatens the town of Wyrmditt. Stirred from his grave by fell magic, Sabrodt, the Shrouded King, seeks dominion over the kingdom he failed to claim in life. So great is the terror inflicted upon the lands by Sabrodt and his nighthaunts that Sigmar, God-King, sends a retinue of his warriors most skilled in the art of Azyrite magic to liberate the town. The Stormcast Eternals of the Sacrosanct Chamber are warrior-wizards, imbued with arcane knowledge and the power to wield the energies of the storm in battle. Leading the retinue is Knight-Incantor Arnhault, a formidable mage who has studied the histories of Sabrodt’s kingdom. But the fight against the Shrouded King will challenge Arnhault’s mettle like none other – especially when he discovers that the Undead knows more about his past than he does.

Also within this book is a host of awesome short stories giving you a flavour of the many warring armies that exist with the worlds of Warhammer Age of Sigmar.

CONTENTS
The Dance of the Skulls by David Annandale
Great Red by David Guymer
The Sands of Grief & The Volturung Road by Guy Haley
Callis & Toll: The Old Ways by Nick Horth
A Dirge of Dust and Steel, Auction of Blood & The Prisoner of the Black Sun by Josh Reynolds
Wrathspring by Andy Clark
Sacrosanct, Shiprats & The Witch Takers by C L Werner
Plus an extract from Blacktalon: First Mark by Andy Clark

I hope you enjoyed this review of Sacrosanct & Other Stories. You can purchase it in various formats from Amazon.

Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay Combat (WFRP) Made Simple

Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay (WFRP) combat rules for 4th edition have got a lot of stick for being overly complicated and crunchy. I think they are to a certain extent. Certainly there’s lots of added complexity if you want to include it. But at their heart the rules are quite simple. I hope that this blog post will make the combat rules a bit easier to understand. I’m going to present the simplest version of the rules – so don’t expect all the ins and outs and options! If you are starting playing WFRP 4e I would recommend not including all the rules as they can slow things down and add complication while you’re learning the system.

Initiative in Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay Combat

Many Tabletop RPGs use Initiative to determine who goes when during combat. Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 4th edition is no exception. They give you three choices on how to determine Initiative. To avoid complication Initiative order can be determined by simply ranking in order of Initiative attribute for each PC, NPC or Monster.

Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay Melee Combat

Each participant in combat takes a turn based on their Initiative rank as above.

The heart of the Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay combat system in 4th Edition is the Opposed Test. For Melee combat you roll against your opponents skill and whoever does better wins and inflicts damage.

All Tests on skill in WFRP 4e are made using a d100 with the aim to roll lower than your skill. You compare the 10s dice against your skill to determine the number of Success Levels. So if your skill is 45 and you roll 21, that’s a Success Level of +2. If you rolled 61 it would be -2, and if you rolled 46 that would be -0 (44 would be +0).

In combat your opponent rolls and you each compare your Success levels. The one with better Success Level wins. Normally you attack using a Melee skill and your opponent defends using a Melee or Dodge skill. There are other possibilities – but they fall out of the scope of this guide.

For example:

Ulric rolls 21 against the Melee skill of 42. That’s a Success Level of +2. The goblin he faces rolls 65 against her Melee skill of 33. A Success Level of -3.

You then add the Success Levels together – so that would be +5 in favour of Ulric. Ulric wins the combat and the damage inflicted is 5 plus Ulric’s Strength Bonus, plus the Weapon’s Damage. You then deduct the goblin’s Toughness Bonus and Armour Points (if any).

So in this case the calculation might be:

+5 (Success Levels)
+4 (Weapon damage)
+3 (Ulric’s Strength Bonus)
-3 (Goblin’s Toughness Bonus)
Total = 9 Wounds of damage!

The goblin would then get to attack (assuming it has lower Initiative and has not attacked already!) There would be another Opposed Test – but this time Ulric gets +10 if using the Advantage rules.

Probably this calculation is the thing that makes things slowest in combat as you’ve got some maths to do here.

Advantage Rules

One of the most controversial aspects of combat in Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 4th editions is Advantage. I won’t go into all the ins and outs, but in simple terms every time you win a Test you get 1 Advantage that then gives you +10 in your next test. That means your Success Levels will get better, you should win more Tests and do more damage. Advantage is meant to simulate the balance tilting  in one combatants favour. The Advantage system can make things quite swingy, so some gamers have tried to limit it or houserule the effects. I have found it OK as written.

Advantage is lost if you lose a test or take damage – so if someone shoots you with a bow , which you can’t oppose, all that carefully accrued Advantage goes.

Tracking Advantage adds some complication, so to start with you could elect to ignore this rule. But making a note on piece of paper for each combatant or using coins, chits etc is vital to keep track of Advantage.

For more about which non-combat skills allow a character to gain Advantage see this blog post.

Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay Ranged Combat

For Ranged Combat things are simpler as you just roll on your skill. It is possible to defend sometimes, but again here’s not the place to go into that.

You add your Success Level in your Ranged skill to your weapons damage and then deduct your opponents Toughness Bonus and Armour Points. They take that many Wounds.

Critical Hits

If you roll a double (e.g. 22) and win the Opposed Test you do a critical. You roll on the Critical Hit tables. If you roll double and fail a  test you fumble instead. If you are defending and roll a double and less than your skill you can inflict a Critical to the attacker as well. There’s also other rules that can influence Critical Hits.

Wounds and Damage

Suffice to say getting to 0 Wounds puts you out of the combat. There’s more complication in various conditions inflicted on you, but for simplicity let’s ignore that for now – the PC or NPC on 0 Wounds is effectively out of play.

Adding Complexity

There’s loads more complexity to add. There are modifiers that can be applied – for instance if outnumbered, or if opponents are bigger or smaller. Many weapons have special rules. There are Conditions to take account of. And also non-combat skills like Intimidate and Leadership can be used instead of Melee or Ranged skills. I would avoid these in your first few sessions. Probably starting off with the Advantage rules is enough for now.

Conclusion

That’s it. There’s loads more on combat you can include. This is really just touching the surface. My plan with this guide was to provide a really simplified version of the rules as written.

If you’re interested in getting into Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay then you can buy the current edition from Cubicle 7 or the PDF from DriveThruRPG.

I have some other Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 4th edition on this site as well, so have a look at that as well.

Holiday with the Orcs – Free on Kindle until Saturday

Holiday with the Orcs will be free on Kindle until Saturday, 13th June. This is likely to be the last free promo I run for this title – so get it now!

Prince Hardlee has arranged a holiday in the Orkranian highlands. The mountains are supposed to be lovely at this time of year. But there is the added attraction of his favourite actress, half-elven Maegana Vulpon, who is vacationing at the temple of eternal youth in Nstaad. But the King, Hardlee’s father, does not approve of the relationship choices of his only son and heir, forcing the Prince to travel in disguise. There are also traitors about—an uncle who with eyes on the throne has learnt of the Prince’s destination and dispatched a band of cutthroats. Other dangers lurk in the Orkranian highlands. Orc raiders covet the wealth of the village of Nstaad. The Dwarf miners who work there have uncovered deposits of gold, and the Orc chief Grim Bearit wants that gold. Can a mixed band of princely retainers, halfling inn-keepers, dwarven miners, elven priests and actors resist the Orc raid?

For lovers of old-style fantasy and Oldhammer everywhere.

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