Getting Started

In an effort to introduce more people to the hobbies that I enjoy, particularly wargames, I will be offering a series of articles on how to get started. I have wasted an awful lot of time and energy over the years collecting things I didn't need or were of no particular use. Hopefully these articles will help the budding hobbyist in avoiding some of the pitfalls I encountered lo those many moons ago.

Purchasing Your Supplies

The first hurdle to cross in starting any new hobby are your start-up costs. There will likely be initial expenditures that cause the hobby to appear more pricey than it really is. However, most of your initial supplies will last a long time and provide you with a constant source of enjoyment. Here are the starters:

The rulebook for the game and the army book for your faction. Most game systems have a core rulebook that explains how the game itself is played. It will likely include "fluff" or background to the setting, lots of pictures of the models, and guides to getting started. Beyond this, there will likely be an army book that details your individual force with in-depth rules and tactica for playing them. Some companies, like Privateer Press, include basic army rules in the core book. I love collecting army books and rulebooks since they look great on my shelf and provide many hours of reading enjoyment.

The paints come next. I recommend buying high guality paints and brushes. You don't want to spend a lot of money on your models only to ruin them with a bottle of nasty, grainy paint. Spend a few extra bucks and buy Games Workshop, Privateer Press Paint, Vallejo, or Reaper. They are worth it. Also invest in a good quality can of spray primer. Make sure it is formulated for miniatures and use it properly. Again, undercoating your models on a windy, rainy day will ruin the work you put into assembling them. For brushes, buy them long and pointy.

Hobby tools are also important. For working with plastic models you will need to purchase what are called "sprue cutters." They are metal clippers that help you remove the models from their frame in order to put them together. I also use a razor blade to remove any molding lines. The one I prefer is a simple box cutter with snap-off blades. An Exacto knife is useful for getting into hard to reach places. A set of small files is also handy, particularly for metal models. You will also need a nice halogen desk lamp to illuminate your painting area. I like the goose neck variety.

Finally, you are ready for the models themselves. This is where most people take a step back and go no further. The price tag can seem a bit daunting as these will be a lot more expensive than the toys you remember as a kid. The problem is that wargames miniatures are made of two of the most expensive and volatile commodities in the world: oil and metal. Further, each model was designed and sculpted by hand or over a three year process on a computer. These are not easy products to fashion. However, once you have them, they are yours forever. I keep my models in a display case in my living room and they give me great joy whenever I walk past them. The difference between these models and a movie ticket or other transitory entertainment experience is that you are left with something substantial- something real that you can hold on to or even sell for more than what you initially paid for. Go on ebay sometime and see what a pro-painted army can bring in.

How to Purchase

You have several options for purchasing your supplies:

The Friendly Local Game Store: This should be your first stop. A local store provides a place to play and meet other hobbyists. The owner can suggest which products you might need, and it is the best place to browse for that model you didn't know you wanted. You will likely pay full price here, but supporting the FLGS is worth it.

The Company Web Store: I only use this option when no other supplier has what I am looking for. Some websites have exclusives that can't be found anywhere else. The problem with this is that you are paying a premium and do little to support your local community

The Independent web store: There are many great companies that provide discounts on a wide variety of products. If you are on a tight budget, this is the place to go. You can usually find a 20% discount pretty easily in order to maximise your savings. Some websites also provide a "bits" service which means that they will sell you only the parts you need from a bigger kit. For instance, the $20 Commander kit from GW has a ton of options you don't really need. You can get a stripped down version without the options for a good deal less.

Ebay: For some super deals, this is the place to go. Buyer beware, however. I have purchased some items here that were not quite as advertised. For hard to find items or out of print stuff, this may be your only option.

Final Thoughts

Watch your budget! Chances are that you won't be able to paint more than about one unit a month anyway, so don't go crazy buying tons of models you don't need right away. I am currently working through my backlog and it will likely take me three months to do so. In the meantime I am on a purchasing embargo. Paint what you have first! Once you have your initial purchases out of the way you can budget about $50 a month for new stuff and still have plenty to work on.


Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Special Rules

4. Special Rules
  • Field: Cover 1
  • Ditch or Fence: Cover 2
  • Forest or Wooden Building: Cover 3
  • Brick Building: Cover 4
  • Bunker: Cover 5
  • Anything that gives cover is also difficult to move through.


3. Activations

Beginning of Activation
  • Half of the models that are lying down in the unit (rounding down) stand up and may activate as normal. If a medic is present in the unit, one extra model stands back up. All others are removed from play.
  • Issue all orders (see below).
  • A squad with a leader may issue a number of orders equal to the rank of the leader. An order does not take the place of an action, though a leader giving orders does not add his POW to the squad's attack. Orders marked with an asterisk require a radio to be present in the unit. A model with a radio may never add his POW to the unit's attack.
  • Take Cover: Chosen Unit adds +2 Cover until they attack again.
  • Combine Fire*: Unit combines fire with nearest squad within Band 1 (add total POW together). Both combining units receive two blast markers.
  • Cover Fire: Target Unit gains +2 Blast Markers, this unit may only move during its activation.
  • Regroup: Remove 2 blast markers from this unit.
  • Bombardment*: Artillery, Navy, or Airplanes may activate in the player's next turn
  • Bunker Buster*: When Artillery, Navy, or airplanes next activate, they do no damage. Instead reduce an area of cover by 4 points.
  • All units may spend one action to move half a range band
  • Difficult terrain halves all movement
  • Players may decide that certain terrain is impassible for certain units
  • After each movement activation, the unit receives 1 blast marker.
  • Each weapon must have clear line of sight to the target. Friendly infantry does not block line of sight.
  • If shooting through cover or ruins, the target gets +2 cover.
  • Units may only attack other units within the range band of their weapon.
  • All units do damage equal to the combined POW of their weapons.
  • Subtract one point of POW for every blast marker on the attacking unit.
  • Target takes damage equal to the POW of the attacking unit minus armor, minus cover.
  • Lay down a soldier for every point of damage the unit takes or mark that many wounds off of a vehicle.
  • A unit that takes damage also receives a blast marker every time it is shot at, even if no wounds are caused.
  • Wounded models (lying down) do not add their POW to the attack.

Unit Descriptions

How Units Work:
  • Can attack with listed weapon
  • Give Command Effects as free actions.
  • Commanders give 3 orders, Lieutenants give 2 orders, Sergeants give 1 order.
  • Leaders must be part of a squad
  • Can attack with listed weapons
  • Receive Command Effects
  • Examples: Combat Squad, Scouts, Snipers, MPs, Intelligence, Medics
  • May perform two actions when activated: move, shoot. Some have passive abilities
  • Can attack with listed weapons
  • May receive Command Effects
  • Examples: Tanks, Transports
  • May perform four actions: move, shoot. Vehicles fire all weapons when they fire and may split their shooting among different targets.
  • Must receive an order to activate
  • All movement is free. May only attack up to range band 1
  • May only attack once at the end of their activation and must return to the airbase on their next activation.
  • Must receive an order to activate
  • May move once or fire twice
  • May draw line of sight from a spotting team
  • Must receive an order from commander to activate
  • Does not need line of sight, but may only attack terrain features.
  • Each ship activates once
  • Enemy activates twice after Navy activates
Type                          Range          POW              Special
Knife                          Close           1                             
Training                     Close           2
Grenade                     Close/1        3                    -2 Cover/ AP at Close Range, +2 Blast
Pistol                         Close/1        1
Shotgun                      Close/1        1                    -1 Cover
Flame Thrower          Close/1        4                     Ignore Cover, +4 Blast
Rifle                           1/2               1
Sniper Rifle                1/2/3           1                     Ignore Cover, +2 Blast, Pick Target 
Heavy Rifle                1/2/3           3                     AA Mount
Bazooka                     1/2/3            5                     Armor Piercing, +1 Blast
Missile                       2/3/4/5        6                     +2 Blast
Shell                           2/3/4/5        10                   Armor Piercing, +3 Blast

Eample Stats:
Type                          Wounds      AV                Arms              
20x Combat Unit (73) 20               1                    Rifle, may add 1 heavy weapon per 20
May throw a grenade once per game. May have a Sergeant

10x Marines (53)        10               1                    Training, Rifle, may add 1 heavy weapon
May throw a grenade once per game. May have a Sergeant

10x Airborne (50)       10               1                    Training, Rifle or Shotgun
May be fired by an airplane instead of its weapons, landing within 1 range band.
May have a Sergeant

2x Sniper Team (16)   2                 1+4Cover      Training, Sniper Rifle or heavy AA rifle
May deploy in enemy area

1x Medic (3)               1                 1                    Pistol
May not be targeted directly. Must be deployed with a unit.

5x Command Unit (40) 5                 2                    Pistol, Rifle
Must include Lieutenant or Commander(+10)

Transport (38)              5                 3                    Heavy Rifle
May carry an infantry unit, which may freely embark or disembark at the beginning of its turn

Artillery  (55 or 51)     5/5 (crew)  3/1               2x Heavy AA Rifle or Shell
Mixed unit

Light Tank (76 or 75)   10                6                   2x Heavy Rifles and/or Bazooka
Ignores weapons without AP
May include a sergeant (+10)

Heavy Tank (131)         15                10                2x Heavy Rifles and Shell
Ignores weapons without AP
May include a sergeant (+10) or a Lieutenant (+20)

Airplane (47)                5                  3                   Missile and 2x Heavy AA Rifles
Ignores weapons without AA

Boat  (47)                      5                  3                   4x Heavy Rifles
Transport, may have sergeant (+10)

Light Ship (290)          100              15                 2x Missile, 2x Shell, 6x Heavy AA Rifles
Ignores weapons without AP
May have sergeant (+10) or Lieutenant (+20)

Heavy Ship (420)        200            15                4x Missile, 4x Shell, 10x Heavy AA Rifles
May have Lieutenant (+20) or Commander (+30)

  • The points cost of each unit is calculated by adding up all of its stats, POW (of best basic weapon), wounds, and armor.
  • Leaders add points equal to their number of orders x10.
  • Vehicles add points equal to their wounds, plus armor x10, plus POW of all weapons.
  • The combat squad listed above would cost 73 points (20 wounds, 20 armor, 20 POW for Rifles, 3 POW for heavy weapon, 10 for sergeant). The marine unit would cost 43 (10 wounds, 10 armor, 20 Training, 3 heavy weapon).

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Super Battle Awesome Rules

Super Battle Awesome Rules

I always wanted a set of rules I could use with my green army men when I was a kid. Now that I have played a bunch of other wargames, I thought I would take a stab at my own. Enjoy!

1. Set Up.
  • Buy as many Green Army Men as possible along with tanks, howitzers, airplanes, and ships
  • Buy as many Tan Army Men (or the gray guys) along with tanks, howitzers, airplanes, and ships.
  • Designate a battle area in your home or yard that is as large as possible.
  • Decide on a range band. All ranges for movement and shooting are measured in range bands. These can be any measurement you like, from 6 inches (playing on a dining room table) to 6 feet or more (playing all over the house). In the first example, your longest range shooting (range band 5) would be done at 30 inches. In the second example, your longest range shooting would be done at 30 feet. For your first game, get some yard sticks and set the range band at 3 feet.
  • Designate a few important areas along with your opponent. If you have airplanes, you will need to designate an airfield. If you have navies you will need to designate the ocean. Elevated areas should be designated as difficult (mountainous areas) or clear (rolling hills). Other surfaces should get the same treatment, either classified as difficult or clear. Just because an area of floor looks clear does not mean it is not difficult. You may decide that particular area is experiencing some bad weather and should therefore be classified as difficult. Each area should also be classified as "Friendly," "Neutral," or "Enemy" in relation to your own forces. For every friendly area you claim, your opponent receives one as well.
  • Set Terrain. If you want any areas to have special terrain, mark them appropriately. Determine what counts as a building, a wall, or a swamp for example. Players should have an equal number of terrain pieces
  • Write up your armies. You may assemble your forces how ever you like. Some examples follow at the end of the rules. Keep your armies as simple as possible. The Super Battle Awesome Rules lend themselves to tons of customization. However, once you start to make the game too complex you may as well play something that comes with a 200 page rulebook, scenarios, and sweet models. Make a note of how many guys are in each infantry unit and what class each tank is in. Write down any special squad info as well, such as "Medic," "Commander," or "Sniper." Players should have equal points values in their armies.
  • Designate command structure. Nominate your Commander, Lieutenants, and Sergeants.
  • Begin placing units. Roll a die or flip a coin to determine who goes first. Players alternate placing units until all are on the playing surface. Whoever placed first gets the first turn.
  • Players alternate taking actions with their units until one side is destroyed or a player concedes. Players may wish to also agree on a victory condition, such as seizing the airfield or killing the enemy commander

Players take turns activating each of their units.
A unit may be activated in consecutive turns.
Remember that whenever a unit finishes its activation it receives a blast token.
Feel free to play all over the house!
I will be testing this ruleset shortly.
Let me know if you do the same!