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.

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. Check out the Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 4th Edition Rulebook for details of how all the crunch works.

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.

Amazon.co.uk | Amazon.com

Warhammer Fantasy Role Play (WFRP) 4e Character sheets

I have added a page to this site that provides a resource for those looking for character sheets for WFRP 4e. 

I think I might also write a post in the near future about the character generation process as well – it’s a little bit convoluted, so having a checklist of what you need to do might be quite useful!

 

Good Habits for Wargamers (and Writers)

Atomic Habits coverI’m writing about good habits for wargamers today. And also related to that good habits in other areas of life as well.

I think of habits as being something that is fairly unconscious – something you don’t have to write down and plan for. You just do them. A bit like brushing your teeth every morning and evening. That type of thing. I came across the book Atomic Habits by James Clear recently (after listening to an episode of Henry Hyde’s excellent podcast. I’m only part way through the book so far, but it’s certainly resonating with me.

Habits not Motivation

James Clear says that if you want to get things done, motivation isn’t enough. You can aspire to write a novel, or paint a wargames army, get fit, lose weight, etc etc. But unless you have good habits you will never get there. You have to be able to do the work even when you don’t feel like it.

I certainly feel like that about writing and wargame hobbying. I am really bad at getting into a habit of writing every day. Having read the book I’ve realised it’s because I have an aspiration to write lots of books and be a “writer”, but in practical terms I’m not sitting down and doing it enough. I don’t currently have a real habit of writing on a daily basis. I’m trying to correct that at the moment by setting aside time in my daily schedule, but it’s still a bit stop start.

My Wargames Hobby Habits

My habits are now pretty ingrained when it comes to working on my wargames hobby, and in particular painting miniatures. I paint for about an hour every morning, before anyone else gets up. What helps I think is that I set-up the environment to make sure its easy to do it. I don’t have a dedicated painting area – instead using the kitchen table. What I do is bring down all my painting stuff the night before, just before going to bed. I leave my painting box and miniatures case on the table (unpacked though), and then I set it up in the morning while waiting for the kettle to boil for my tea.

As well as making it easy and having the environment right – nice and quiet, and I can listen to an audiobook or podcast at the same time. I think I’m also putting this habit next to another habit I really like – having a cup of tea in the morning. James Clear in Atomic Habits calls this habit stacking. It works really well.

Now I just have to figure out how to get the same good habit for writing everyday as well …

Reopening Alt Hist for business

alt hist issue 10 coverI took the decision last week to get Alt Hist back on the road. I paused publication back in 2017 because it was just stopping me doing anything else.

Alt Hist is a short story magazine I set-up to publish historical fiction, historical fantasy and alternate history fiction. I really enjoyed publishing it and had the pleasure of putting out some great stories over the 10 issues of its initial life.

But at the time I found that I just didn’t have the time to focus on my own writing. Reading and making decisions on submissions took a lot of time, as did actually editing the stories for publication,  I ended up doing little else in my spare time!

Now however, I have had another think. I am pretty sure I can be more efficient about the submission process and also editing.

So if you’re interested in historical fiction and alternate history I encourage you to take a look!

Cubicle 7 announce free adventure for Soulbound

I’m a big fan of WFRP, but not sure yet if I will dip my toe into the world of Age of Sigmar roleplaying with Soulbound. I enjoy the Age of Sigmar miniatures game and the figures are great, but I’m not sure if I can get into the lore and setting as much as with the Old World of WFRP. However, Cubicle 7 have just put out a free adventure. So I may well take a read of that and then decide!

Download Crash and Burn for free from their webstore here or from DrivethruRPG here.

Following the cataclysmic events of the Necroquake, the newly reclaimed city of Brightspear is in desperate need of supplies and support. A huge Kharadron fleet has been assembled to bring provisions, would-be settlers, and enterprising merchants to the new city. Joining the expedition are a group of unlikely heroes — Soulbound, mortal beings chosen by the gods to defend the Mortal Realms. But even they may be no match for the trials that are to come…

Crash and Burn is an exciting introductory adventure that takes a party of Soulbound on an arduous journey across Aqshy — the Realm of Fire. The party set out from the bustling metropolis of Hammerhal Aqsha as part of a massive fleet of Kharadron airships tasked with delivering vital supplies to the newly reclaimed city of Brightspear. But the forces of Chaos will not let them pass so easily, and the party will have to contend with Tzeentchian horrors and other vile creatures if they hope to reach Brightspear alive.

Solo Wargaming: Some Useful Books

If you’re contemplating solo wargaming then there is a wealth of information online – some good and interesting. But if  like me you’d rather get to grips with a subject by reading a good book then there’s also some available too. There are rules books that contain some options for solo wargaming – and indeed some games have been specifically designed for solo or cooperative games in mind – I’ll cover those in another post. But if you want some rules-agnostic ideas, then here’s some good books to have a look at.

Donald Featherstone’s Solo Wargamingdonald-featherstone-solo-wargaming

This the granddaddy of books on solo wargaming – a classic by a well-known legend of Wargaming. I have bought the kindle republishing of this by John Curry and found it an interesting read. I have started exploring some of the ideas in the book, which are inspiring, fun and relatively simple. However, this book won’t provide a concise system for solo wargaming – it’s written in a rather meandering conversational style, which is very charming, but also a bit frustrating if you’re wanting to use it as a resource. Also some of the ideas are a bit tricky to apply nowadays – who has loads of matchboxes kicking around for instance!

But I would heartily recommend reading it – and it’s fairly cheaply available.

Donald Featherstone’s Battle Notes for Wargamers Solo Wargaming Editiondonald-featherstone-battle-notes-for-wargamers-solo-wargaming-edition

Another one from the Don – I’ve not read this one – it’s only available in Paperback and I have only just come across it – it’s been reissued by John Curry as well – so perhaps there will be a kindle version at some point as well? From what I can tell it provides 15 historical battle scenarios of actual battles, together with notes on how to play solo. That sounds like a great resource to me.

Has anyone else read it?

The Solo Wargaming Guide by William SylvesterSolo-Wargaming-Guide-william-sylvester.

This is a more modern book – I think by an American author. From what I have read it seems to be a good resource of different solo methods:

Features methodologies for campaigns (mobilization, weather, logistics, morale, alliances, revolts, sieges, and mutinies), sea campaigns, integrating fantasy, tactical actions (terrain, weather, commander’s competency, concealment, ambushes, and minefields), and air warfare.

It’s in Paperback only though and I haven’t got it – again it would be great to see something as an eBook. I simply don’t have the space to collect loads of printed books!

The Partizan Press Guide to Solo Wargaming by Stuart AsquithThe-Partizan-Press-Guide-to-Solo-Wargaming-by-Stuart-Asquith

Previously published as the Military Modelling Guide to Solo Wargaming, this has been taken on by Partizan. Unfortunately, this is also only available as a printed book, but again it does look really useful. I have read on various forums that it is a useful resource. Certainly one for my wish-list!

Well I hope that was useful to somebody. If you know of any other books, or have comments about these, please add in the comments section below.