Saturday, 3 December 2016

Playing 'Scythe'

I recently got the chance to have a game of this recently successfully KS-ed 'Scythe'.

If the art doesn't draw you attention, you can quit reading now
The setting is quite unusual, and that's appealing itself. It's some kind of weird war in the 1920's Eastern Europe. The factions in fact are the Polania Republic, the Rusviet Union, the Crimean Khanate... You get this, add Mechs and... what could possibly go wrong?

My pal will play the Crimean Khanate (yellow), I'll play the Nordic Kingdom (blue)
So, what's this all about? You will have to conquer (and retain!) several territories in order to get control of their natural resources, which will allow you to build stuff, improve your forces, etc.
You will move your workers and your special character along the board; if you are successful, you may deploy more workers or even military units, i.e., mechs.
Depending on your actions, you will increase factors like your Power (military power), your Popularity or, well, your money! These things are important as you will have to meet some requirements to complete missions or to fulfil some objectives (e.g., complete all your possible upgrades, deploy all 4 mechs, build all 4 buildings, have 18 popularity...). When any of the players fulfils six objectives, the game ends and the player with the greatest fortune wins the war, having obtained the most profitable situation from the new peace settings.

Let's have a look at the reference cards. Be aware they look complex on a first view, but once you get the baiscs it's no big deal at all. You will have a faction mat with the specifics of your unique skills. Besides, you'll have a player mat, randomly assigned, in which your production requirements are explained. This system avoids repetition, as a single faction can receive different player mats in different games, making each game different even if you play the same guys.

This will need some explanation...
In the upper pic you can see what I mean. The upper mat is about the Nordic Kingdom. You can see my Mechs ready to be deployed and my special stuff. Below, the player mat, different every game. This settles which actions will I be able to perform each turn and the related costs for upgrading/building/whatever. The more you upgrade, the cheaper will other stuff become.

You can see the player mat is divided into four sections, each one depicting stuff up and below. Those are the actions you can perform. Each turn you will have to pick any of those sections (always a different section than your previous turn) and then you can choose to perform any of the actions allowed there (the upper, the lower, both, none). Those actions can involve moving (up to X units), paying money for upgrading, paying resources for getting a mech or a building...
Workers can collect resources depending on the territory (wood, oil, metal... even more workers on villages). Mechs can combat and characters can combat and perform special actions.

Best way to explain is playing. Let's go.

Crimean workers collect food and recruit another worker
Nordic workers collect oil and wood
Way too far from each other
 When you have enough resources, you can produce a mech. Not only the mech is a miltary unit that can conquer territories (disbanding enemy workers given the case), but it also unlocks special features. So you may want to think which mech you deploy first, as each one provides different stuff for the cause.

Crimeans deploy their first mech
Few turns later the Nordics do so
At the beginning of the game you get two mission cards. Victory points are achieved by accomplishing one of them. You keep them secret until you meet the requirements. So you have to take the proper decisions during your turns in order to fulfil the specific goals. In my case I chose to go for this one:

Become a despised warmonger. Sweet
"Have 3 or less popularity, at least 13 power, and at least 2 mechs". Sooo. Popularity: Check. Power: Check. Produce a second mech... Check. Mission accomplished.

1 out of 6 goals. To victory!
The Crimeans managed to relocate a mech and a worker to get my back:

Hmm. This might get interesting
Most definitely interesting
Mech combat! Yaaay!
Combat depends on no dice rolls. It's all strategy and resource allocation, just like the rest of the game. Each player has a combat card (randomly taken from the card deck) with a value on it. When fighting, both players use a dial with scores from 0 to 7. Those are the Power points you are willing to use in the combat. You may want to add the points from the combat card. That's it. Both players reveal their points and the higher score wins.

Nordics: 2 points from the card, 5 from the dial. Total of 7. Crimeans: 5 card points, 4 dial points. Total of 9
So the Nordic mech is sent to the HQ tile and the Crimeans can set a Star on the mat:

We're even... for now!
Nordics try to cut Crimeans their way
Third mech is produced...
Crimean character advances while Nordics produce the fourth mech
Second star for the blue team!
Bad pic, but you may see a lot of yellow workers in the back
So another star for the Crimeans, having a full operative worker force
However, Nordics trade their resources and get the last upgrade. This is escalating quickly
In addition to that, Nordics get 16 Power points, another star for them

Enough! Crimeans force the battle to stop the Nordic rising
This time I took no risks and put everything I got on the combat
Another star for winning a combat. Woah, this all happened in just a fistful of turns
The Nordic character raids the enemy position and steals food
The Nordic mech takes the initiative and attacks the Crimean tank
Blue victory, sixt star positioned, the game ends!
I'd like to state some things at this point. Don't get the wrong impression at all, the game was quite balanced the whole way from the beginning to the end. Both of us could have achieved the goals, but I was rather focused on getting one done before I went for another. My pal was on the edge of getting a few of them, and he would most probably have two or three done in a couple of turns more. However, seeing your rival getting stars adds serious pressure and might lead you to rushing and losing the point.
Anyway, the object of the game is not only winning stars. Besides, we both had to check our money, the territories under control and the resources we each owned. The victory was for the Nordic Kingdom in the end, so the Vikings from ther distant North set their rule over the Tartars of Crimea!

Exhilarating game. That's how I'd define this. Scythe is quite different from the other board games we regularly play. You could say it's clearly an Eurogame, of course everything was decided on resources and the way of managing them. Right. But there's something about it that makes the difference. It may be the ambientation or more likely the confrontation style, but this more like a combat Catan. You have to take different factors under consideration, like the popularity or the size of your military forces. It's not just a matter of 'having this gives me that', there's much more depth here (for example, having the full worker force helps you to collect resources, but moving them all to the proper places is a logistic nightmare, and an overpopulation of workers will for sure affect your popularity and make some other endeavours more difficult).
I havent told about the 'Encounters' system, special events happening when your character gets on certain tiles. Another way of adding colourful stuff to the way of developing your strategy.
We didn't get to control the central tile of the board, the ominous Factory. It apparently has some particularly tasty effects on the balance of the game.

We certainly enjoyed this pretty much, but I get the impression that this is a game better served for four or five players. Interaction between multiple factions is quite a centerpiece of the whole system. So we need to enlist some more people for more games! :D

P.S.: BTW, seriously PLEASE go check the man behind the art's web:
You cannot miss it. Jaw dropping

Sunday, 27 November 2016

Muties! (Pt. 9, end of project) And OSW anniversary!

Two in one :)
First things first, let's talk about minis, which is what brought you here. The last step in my 'not Goblins but mutants instead' project was the mini of the alleged Great Goblin.

Sorry. There's nothing 'Great' about this concept for a Goblin. In fact, there's no Goblin at all in this pic
I left this one for the end as I was trying to make something slightly different than the other muties, but still in the same fashion. The mini itself is quite good and imposing, I just had to take the most of it. I thought I had two choices: either having a brute carrying a heavy weapon of some kind or making the boss this band was lacking. I suddenly understood the kind of mini I was meant to do.

They were needing this. In case you are too young, please google 'Master Blaster'
I discarded some ideas, like a gladiatorial-like helmet or even having the Master sat on Blaster's neck. Nothing too blatant, a gas mask would fit in the theme but still giving a different look.

Down, down, down, to Goblin Barter Town
I hadn't used the little Goblin scribe on top of that weird catapult-like device. The trunk of that... thing would give a nasty look to this bloke:

Just for the sake of using the piece

That in fact gave me the idea for the rest of the path to follow. The tiny scribe was going to be the real ruler of this mutant mob. But, as just said, I wasn't going to simply put him on the big fella, that would have been predictable.

I'm many things but predictable
Now I miss one of those roll makers to provide some greenstuff wiring here. Anyway, being myself a resourceful junker, I found that I could use simple thread as well and that, in fact, it looked good.

Messy, ugly, chaotic... looked good
That was it. Let's see how this big fat mess looks painted. Black priming and the same skin recipe used for his little cousins.

Don't go f%&king messing with the tiny midget
According to my numbers, you owe me money. Bad thing, hmmm
Now that I see the bare back, I think I should have added some more augmetics and stuff
Anyway, I think it works on the whole
So with this I can declare the tribe of horrors finished! Ain't they pretty?

Peter Jackson didn't see this coming
Well, given that I put the Dwarves to good use back in the day and I've also used the not-Goblins, I can say that getting that box was a good idea :D. I still have all the scenery untouched, but I hope I can find some use for that too... For the moment I just rejoice in the mutant clan.
Ahhh, there's something good about closing a project... That sense of easiness that mainly means... you can focus on the next thing on your list! :P

That brings me to the other subject I wanted to talk about. Today it's Old School Workshop's 4th anniversary!! Weee! Another whole year of posting has been fulfilled. Woah. Four years since I first started posting. 351.528 hits is a number I really need some time to assimilate. Don't know how many of those are bots, but I don't care, at least they are tasteful bots; until the day Skynet becoming self-aware arrives, you are welcome too. Wouldn't like anyone throwing speciesism charges on this blog solely for that.
US, Spain, UK, France and Germany keep on coping the top 5 visitors and, as of today, 178 Oldscholars are enlisted for this adventure. I've always stated that I don't blog for numbers, but of course having a look at those is enormously encouraging. Thank you all, people. All those who spend a minute having a look at my latest stupid project; special thanks to all who bother to comment, but those who simply stop by too. Appreciated.
Now for the fifth year! Lots more of silliness ahead. Thanks for being there sharing this with me!

Saturday, 19 November 2016

Interlude: a Secret Santa out of time

I'm not inventing the wheel if I say that one of the many rewarding things about the hobby is building a community and having the chance to meet some wonderful people. Well, I don't think I even need to write about that. Many of you have already done it, way much better than I ever could. But let me tell you about my latest experience.
A group of my regular local partners in crime decided to set up a Secret Santa. Yeah, it was like August, but we can make Santa come whenever we decide :D. This week we all had received our respective mini, so we can go public at last.

Rules were easy. Just pick any infantry-size mini you have at home lost in oblivion. Paint it and send it (but in the return address we all agreed to use the name of the organizing pal, so the real sender would be kept anonymous).

Let me tell you first about what I did. The guy I was supposed to give the mini away is a huge fan of Napoleonics. His main (almost only) target minis are Napoleonics or maybe ACW. Ouch. I don't own any of those. I fear the day I truly make my way into historical games.
But I remembered I had something I could certainly use for the challenge. A mini of old that could at least shorten the gap between my regular stuff and Waterloo.

Spanish XIX Century soldier. Painted about twenty something years ago
OK. So many things were wrong about this paintjob, and at so many levels, that I wouldn't know where to start. So I stripped it and begun all over.

I tried to source the mini, as I honestly didn't remember where it came from. Unfortunately my only clue was under the base.

Armed Forces Day. Burgos, 1983
So apparently this was a special limited release for the occasion. No trace of manufacturer and all my Google attempts have failed so far. Anyway, about the soldier itself, the base states 'Batallones de Cazadores 1848', so 'Chasseurs Battalions' (light infantry, essentially riflemen; short story long, originally designed to operate in a more independent way than the rigid XVIII Century formations, hence the term Cazador/Chasseur/Jaeger -i.e., 'hunter').

Well, OK. When I first painted it, looong time ago, I had little idea of uniforms of the era. I painted the guy in a much later fashion. For this time, now that the internet had been invented, research was much easier. I used the prints from the works of the Count of Clonard, so these were the proper uniforms:

Going to war in a fashion
OK, let's go then! Black priming and then first thing I usually paint is the face:

I've been wanting to pee for hours now. Still two hours for shift change
Then the uniform:

Trying to find the correct tones of blue
I had to improvise some greenstuff work. The plume and the backpack, as I never got them in the original mini.

Should I leave it green?
So I finally came to this result:

So this is it, a grenadier from a Batallón de Cazadores by 1848. Unfortunately I cannot be more precise about the Regiment/Battalion of origin. Anyway, I enjoyed pretty much painting such a different mini. Different scale, different style, different ambientation... I was taken out of my comfort zone... just to discover that I felt quite comfortable actually! Exhilarating experience by itself.
But of course this isn't all. The point here is sharing and bringing geeks together :D As far as I know my pal is happy with the mini, so that's quite rewarding too :)

Let's see what I got from my Secret Santa! No less than...

Ragnar Blackmane in all his oldschool glory
I love the mini, for so many reasons! Besides, Ragnar Blackmane is a real must in any collection and I didn't have him. So I'm really pleased, my Secret Santa made a 100% accurate decision on the mini and the paintjob. Thanks, man! :)
The only setback is that... I (still) don't have any Space Wolves! I foresee some space Vikings in my future... (ahhh) :P

Here you can see the rest of the minis involved. A little bit of everything!

You can see it's all very eclectic! Within the group there are some master painters and some people who have taken a brush for the first time in their lives (quite meritory performance!). The experience has been great, I think we all as a group are really satisfied, so I guess we will be repeating the experience sometime in the future...