Monday, February 22, 2010

An epic map of Westeros

I don't own the edition of A Clash of Kings that featured this epic fold-out map of King's Landing, the largest city in George R.R. Martin's Westeros, but I ran across a decent high-res photo of the map on Awful Books (which criticizes not the content, but the presentation of various books. Eh.).

I'm hosting the image here on the outside chance that it disappears from Awful Books, because I love this rendering of King's Landing and plan to use it in my own games one day.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Puzzles: The one part of old-school gaming I could do without

Last night's Dark Ages game with Chgowiz featured some problem-solving as we tried to deal with an enchanted wizard's tower that refused to let us go in a straight line and kept buffeting us with wind whenever we tried to walk down the hall toward our destination. We eventually triumphed, but only after a ton of dice rolling and frustration.

The episode highlights a part of old-school gaming (and new-school gaming, I guess, but it's emphasized much more in old-school play) that doesn't appeal to me at all: puzzle solving.

For a style of play that focuses so much on real-life concerns—ration tracking, paying hirelings and taxes, orienteering in the wilderness—there's just nothing real-life about granular puzzle solving. It seems out of place in an otherwise coherent fantasy medieval setting.

Perhaps it was because last night's puzzling situation didn't yield much by way of a payoff. I guess I'd be fine if the puzzle led directly to a treasure room or a magic sword or something. But in last night's case, we "beat" the puzzle by rolling fistfuls of dice, then blundered into another room where two players died and the rest of us got our clothes burned off.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Wargaming on the cheap: 1/72 plastic soldiers

A couple weeks ago I picked up a big pile of 1/72 scale plastic medieval soldiers and cavalry on eBay for $5. I've dabbled in 1/72 scale figs before, primarily for WWII wargaming, but these guys look pretty sharp (and the price was definitely right). Check out my preliminary color schemes above. I could drop another $30, I think, and get all the miniatures I'll ever need.Link

So that's got me thinking about rulesets for medieval wargaming. I don't necessarily want to do full-on ancients, because I'm not interested in the historical stuff whatsoever. That rules out De Bellis Antiquitatis, but I'm still keen to take a look at Hordes of the Things, the fantasy spinoff ruleset.

But really, I think my search is at an end, because I just found out yesterday that Games Workshop's Warmaster rulebook is available free on the Web. While the magic stuff and esoteric races probably won't hold much interest for me right now, I think Warmaster's core mechanic is fantastic. It really reflects the ebb and flow of battle on a strategic scale, and it doesn't bog down with tactical minutia (which is better handled by other rule systems). Instead, it's a clean-flowing game that simulates the movement of hundreds of troops on a battlefield.

Plus it's free.

And while it's designed for 10mm scale gaming, I'm guessing it'll scale up just fine for 1/72 (which is 20mm in scale). And I've got a fair collection of terrain for my kitchen table.

What I'd really like to do is use this ruleset to play out some grand battles in George R.R. Martin's Song of Ice and Fire setting—his books were full of such clashes. To that end, I'll be painting up my 1/72 dudes in generic-looking paint schemes that might pass for the noble Houses of Martin's Westeros.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Grenadier's Fighting Men take the paint pretty well

I finally started painting up the box of Grenadier Fighting Men I picked up at last year's gaming auction. It wasn't without pitfall, I'm afraid; I snapped the frail lead leg off the first guy I picked up. But the next three fellows ended up looking like they walked right out of the old AD&D Dungeon Masters Guide.

My favorite part? The beards. They're all different. Not sure why, but that just tickles me.

Here's hoping I can avoid destroying the rest of these miniatures. They really are quite soft.

Curious what the originals look like? Here's a pic of the boxed set as it appeared when I bought it four months ago.