Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Hill Giant Steading Playtest

Peg and I traveled to our old stomping grounds in Rochester, MN to help playtest a convention game based on the D&D classic module: Steading of the Hill Giant Chief.  Nine pre-generated characters in the 12th-16th level range entered the Steading using the TSR Battle System: Skirmish rules.

Our host used the rubber exercise mats with 1" grooves cut in them to hold in place the walls and features of the Steading, printed and mounted on cardstock.  We were greeted by a covered enclosure and elements were gradually revealed as we advanced.

Part way through the game.  The guard tower was moved to
accommodate melee.

Infinite options with the grid 'n grooves system, looking very
much like stone floors.

Entering the main hall and seeing giants and more giants and a few Ogres.

Close-up of the party around the big fire.  Guests include Stone
giants and a Cloud giant.

Fighting our way in from the right as the chieftain bugs out.

Another view of the Steading and the courtyard full of Dire Wolves.

One last view of the potential.  Many of the rooms were inhabited
but you had to go in first.

After five hours together, which included background info, a quick explanation of the combat system and us being a little late, the GM declared the "good guys" victorious.  The Hill Giant Chieftain and his consort had retreated to the lower levels which were never part of the planned game.  The players got a good time with lots of laughs and the GM got ideas of things to pre-plan in anticipation of likely player ideas, particularly as it pertains to spells.  We could easily shave an hour off the play time with more things pre-generated or planned.

Dinner at Applebee's afterwards for most players completed a fine and enjoyable day.  As the giants might say, "Rock on!"

Monday, May 30, 2016


As seen elsewhere there are great blog postings on the Battle of Weissenfells.  Der Alte Fritz relates the planning and blow by blow description here: and the French commander Bill Protz relates a story-like version here.  So I'm just going to share the eye candy pictures and my perspective as a brigadier.

This was my first "Mega-BAR" game and given they only happen every few years, it was not to be missed.  Played with 25/28mm figures on a 28x18' table (runways between each 6' of depth) and well over 3000 figures made for a remarkable spectacle.  And fun game.  Click on the pictures to "big-up."

One of the villages anchoring the right side of the Prussian position.

Part (just part) of the host assembled.

Looking towards our objective on the Prussian left.

Did I mention three game tables, all 28x6' and all in play?

Surging forward with Prussian back table in sight.

On the Prussian back table, the last village held by  them.

My Irish, Scots, Bavarians and Germans in French employ
advance with regular French support.

Did I mention... yeah, I guess I did.

Der Alte Fritz himself moves cuirassiers against me.

My Bavarians calmly await with their opening volley.  We emptied
many saddles and repulsed this particular attack.
Words aren't really necessary from here on.  Just enjoy the spectacle!

We few, we happy few, we band of brothers.

And so it came to an end.  While we had not completely attained our objective at the designated ending time I feel confident the village would have fallen.  With seven battalions (one fresh) and two guns against three battalions (one fresh) we would have prevailed.  My new brigade also captured four Prussian guns.  Bear with my pleasure, I usually get hammered by the Prussians.  But quasi bragging aside the main thing is that it was a SPECTACULAR experience.  Good humor abounded and everyone took the imbalanced scenario, based on Aspern-Essling in the Napoleonic Wars in stride.  The Prussians, in the role of the French, were significantly out-numbered on our side of the river.


Sunday, May 22, 2016


May 15th the group continued their quest for a decent set of ancients rules by playing "To the Strongest."  The Macedonians took on the Spartans (and a few friends) in a six player game.

First some details about "To the Strongest."  This is a diceless game.  Yes, heresy for certain, but not without merit.  A deck of cards is used with the face cards removed.  You must activate each unit by flipping a card.  You may activate the unit again by drawing a higher card.  Units are assigned a combat value so you hit by drawing that number or higher.  Players are free to move from unit to unit till they fail an activation, at which time your turn is over.  In our game each side had three "divisions" so three divisions went before the other side could draw activation cards.  This meant that five of us watched while one played in our playtest, but with more experience and a deck per division it would go at a quick pace.

Early moves as the Spartans seize the initiative.

Macedonians await and blow their first movement activation.

The chits on the missile armed units represent ammo supply.

This shows how the cards play.  After moving them all one might
go back to the three and flip for it, then the five, etc.

Both sides have "deep" units so pikes vs. long spears is okay.

Battle for the ruined temple of [pick your god or goddess]

Once hit you draw a card to negate the hit.  Small units go away fast.

Not that the winning was important, but each side had a break point from units or commanders lost.  For the 2nd game in a row Alexander the Pretty-Good got killed.  Leonidas also went down with his 300, but I think he survived.  The Macedonians broke at some point.

Bottom line, although this particular game played deadly slow I think with a bit more experience and more decks to allow for playing at your own speed we'd have a good game.  I prefer dice for the randomness but if we shuffle the dice a lot to prevent card counters it will work.  I'm willing to go it again, with a bit more enthusiasm than for the last one.  Thanks Brent and Paul and Bob for providing the well-painted minis.