All posts by Mark

Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay Combat (WFRP) – Advantage from non-combat skills

As I have discussed in a previous post on Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay combat one of the most important aspects is the gaining of points of Advantage. Each point of Advantage confers +10 on the Opposed Roll in combat and can directly lead to causing more damage. But in Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay combat Advantage isn’t gained by just winning opposed combat roles with melee skill, you can also gain it by other skills that might seem to have nothing to do with combat. I think Cubicle 7 have done this to encourage players to think about more than just combat skills – to have more well-rounded characters, and also to make combat more interesting. However, it can be difficult sometimes to remember which skills can be used to gain Advantage in combat. I thought it might be a good idea to summarize them in this post.

Non-Combat Skills that gain combat Advantage

This is not meant to provide a comprehensive coverage of all the rules related to these skills, but just to give an idea of what can be used in Combat instead of standard melee, ranged and dodge skills.

Most involve opposed tests which also grand +1 Advantage if successful.

Animal Training – can intimidate an enemy animal causing fear through an Opposed test vs Willpower and from then on can use that as a combat skill – a successful attack causes the animal to flee! Also if win the opposed test can +1 Advantage.

Charm – opposed Charm/Cool Test – causes enemies not to attack and gains +1 Advantage.

Charm Animal – like Charm but used against Animals!

Intimidate – opposed Intimidate/Cool test – causes Fear and can be used to defend or attack.

Intuition – not an opposed test, but used to build up Advantage during combat if not attacked to a maximum of your Intelligence Bonus.

Leadership – a successful test can be used to provide a bonus of +10 on Psychology tests to subordinates in combat. Also can be used to transfer Advantage to allies.

Lore – if appropriate a successful test can confer +1 Advantage if appropriate – for example Lore (Geology) would help if the fight is in a rocky cavern.

Outdoor Survival – if the combat is in the wilderness then a successful test can give a +1 Advantage in a similar way to Intuition.

Perform – a bit of a stretch perhaps, but perform skill could be used in combat to distract an opponent and therefore gain +1 Advantage – or even a weapon if you have Perform (Firebreathing).

Pray – can be used to gain +1 Advantage by meditating and focusing your mind. Not clear but I would assume you’re not attacking during this time? Perhaps up the GM to determine?

Sleight of Hand – up to the GM on whether they allow a possible gain of Advantage for this skill – maybe if the character makes a dagger appear from a hidden place they can get +1 Advantage?

A Note on Talents

It’s worth mentioning as well that a number of Talents are combat related and that they may be used in relation to advantage – however they’re not about making specific tests to gain Advantage in combat in the same way as Skills. As characters have few Talents it’s usually easier to keep track of what they have and what can help them in combat.

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.

Wargaming Operation Epsom – Creating a Map – Project ’44

The next step on my project to wargame Operation Epsom involves creating a map. You can view previous (and future) posts about this project by going to the Operation Epsom tag.

During my research I found some 1944 road maps that were quite detailed and which have also been used in books on the subject. However, there’s almost too much detail to get your head around in these and they lack useful info such as where were the front lines and forces.

Project 44 map - Operation EpsomBut recently I came across an amazing website called Project ’44 created by the Canadian Research and Mapping Association. Their aim is to recreate specifically the location of Canadian forces during the Normandy campaign, but they have also added other Allied and Axis units as well. The maps they have created include filters for units, front lines and different types of maps – including modern satellite images and original reconnaissance photos. I think this is going to be a real godsend for me when I start putting a map together. I am really looking forward to getting on with the next stage of that process now.

For anyone interested in the history of the Normandy campaign I would really recommend a visit to Project ’44.

Warhammer 40k Only War Mission – Read Carefully!

I played the Warhammer 40k Only War Mission but found out that my lack of care when reading the Mission briefing lead to a very skewed gaming experience!

I’m a newbie where Warhammer 40k is concerned, but this weekend I decided to give the rules a spin as a solo game. I played an army of old Space Marines vs Orks. They were mostly old models – beaky marines and metal Space Ork Raiders, and mostly unpainted so I won’t share any photos here. Points were low – about 430 per side, so this was a Combat Patrol game fitting on a small 44″ x 30″ board on the kitchen table (I really like the new recommended table sizes – makes having a game at home feel a lot more doable!).

rogue trader space marines

The Only War mission is the first mission described after the Core Rules in the 40k 9th Edition rulebook. The mission is obviously intended as a “play this first” mission for those new to the game, or as a standard game without too many complications. The main aim of the game is not to destroy the other army – although that may well help. But to capture Objective Markers. You get a Victory Point every turn you hold an Objective Marker – and there are 4 Objective Markers on the table in the mission. The game lasts until one side is destroyed or 5 rounds. So in theory the max Victory Points could be 21 (there’s one Victory Point up for grabs for killing the enemy’s Warlord).

space ork raidersThe Mission is carefully worded. Probably too carefully worded for my little brain. As I was playing solo I perhaps glossed over the details of rolling off to determine who went first and choosing the table side. As a result I looked at the bit about placing objective markers and decided the most logical option for each army was to place the objective markers in their own deployment zone and then to try and capture the enemies once the battle got going. My way of playing solo games is to usually just play each side as logically as possible. Come up with a core strategy perhaps and play each army according to that.

So each army started with two objective markers in their deployment zones and were able to lay claim to them on the first turn and then accrue victory points at a rate of 2 per turn for the rest of the game. Although there was some movement on this later. The Space Marines left their Warlord to hold an objective, while a squad went an captured one from the Orks. The other squad tried the same in the last turn – but failed. So the victory points ended up being even and the game was a draw.

It was fun, but I was left wondering why the Only War Mission was written to encourage such defensive play. I read the briefing again. There was no rule against placing objectives in deployment zones. But then I realised that my solo gamer head had missed something very important in the sequence of placing objectives and choosing deployment zones. Each player took it in turns to place objectives and THEN rolled off for a deployment zone.

So you would have to be very confident in your dice throwing to place any objectives in a deployment zone. As you might well give your enemy an advantage. I am sure there is a clever method of placing objective markers strategically – I don’t know what it is though. But for a newbie like me it’s clear that objectives should be fairly central on the board so that either army has a chance to get them no matter which side of the of the table you deploy.

I felt pretty stupid after reading that and realising my error. I will give the Warhammer 40k Only War Mission another go soon to see how it plays when it’s run properly. But I do wonder if things like this shouldn’t be highlighted a bit more in the Mission briefing? Things can get easily missed or mixed up with so many pre game roll offs!!

Short Story published in The Society of Misfit Stories

The Society of Misfit Stories Presents... (September 2021) I am very excited to announce that I have a fantasy short story published in the September issue of The Society of Misfit Stories.

The story is Helix Intercalculator – and it’s a story about a wizard and a priestess who come across some unsettling truths about the nature of their world.

If you would like to read a copy then it’s available via Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk, and I think from the publisher’s website as well.

Some more about this publication:

The Society of Misfit Stories is a home for those wonderful stories that are too long for most magazines but too short for stand-alone print books. Whether you call them short stories, novelettes, or novellas, these stories are all of a length that often struggles to find publication traditionally. Each issue offers a substantial volume of amazing speculative fiction for readers who enjoy spending time with a good tale.

 

Four Against Darkness Graph Paper 20 squares by 28 squares

Four Against Darkness coverI have been playing and enjoying a bit of Four Against Darkness – the solo dungeon delving game from Ganesha Games recently. It is quite a bit of fun. The idea is you have four adventures and then randomly generate a dungeon for them to explore, enemies to fight and treasure to loot. You do this by drawing the dungeon on a sheet of graph paper. In the Four Against Darkness book the recommended size of paper is 20 squares by 28 squares. However, the free download available from Ganesha Games is only 15 by 24 squares. I am not sure why this is, but I have created my own graph paper using Word. You can download a copy of the version I have created in PDF format by clicking the link below.

Four Against Darkness 20×28 Graph Paper

I hope that it provides a useful resource for the game. I really recommend Four Against Darkness – you can also play it as a co-op game too.

Wargaming Operation Epsom – How Big are the Forces?

In this second post on Wargaming Operation Epsom, I decided to explore the basics of what forces would be required to wargame the battle on a single wargames table. As discussed previously this is a battle that could fit onto a 6 foot wide table at a scale of 100m = 1”, the same scale as Fistful of Tows and some other WW2 rules. The frontage of the attack was 4.5 miles, just over 7 km.

My initial findings were that the British were attacking with 3 divisions. Now this seemed to be a lot fit into one battle on one table. However, having read further I realised that these three divisions weren’t all involved at the same time. In fact, the initial assault was by two brigades of the 15th (Scottish) Infantry Division, with support from independent Armoured Brigades and elements of the 11th Armoured Division. In effect therefore the battle would start with the British attacking with 6 infantry battalions plus supporting units and tank battalions. That feels much more doable on a six foot table – with each battalion having a foot of table as their frontage. At 6mm or 1/300 scale that would work really well I think. I am planning to use “platoon level” rules, where a stand or infantry represents a platoon. So that means an infantry company would be 3 stands, and a British infantry battalion would be 12 infantry stands plus other bits and bobs.

So slightly relieved by that time to press on and do some more research and start planning out what to do next for Wargaming Operation Epsom. I think that will involve looking at the layout of the terrain – how much of the battlefield will be included on the table and what features will be included – for instance would all the villages and roads be needed at this scale?

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