Thursday, January 21, 2016

EotD: "The Hunt for Jack the Ripper" and more

Lately my interest in Empire of the Dead has been rekindled, and Wednesday evening I had a chance to play a game with my friend Chris. This was a special game for a number of reasons, and also means that this is a rather long post:

  • First time I would try out 221B Alliance
  • Debut of my now 4x4 London Docks board
  • Playtest of a new home brewed scenario The Hunt for Jack the Ripper
  • Playtest of some house rules 
221b Alliance
So where to start? Well I am a massive Sherlock Holmes fan, so when Simon Quinton (Brummie Thug) put up his EotD minis for sale I took the opportunity to get the 221B Alliance. The figures are wonderful, full of character, but not all of them really suited for the game. Despite this I decided to include Mycroft in faction. His rules makes him rather bad, but I love the mini and he is just so much a part of this faction.

London Docks board
Some time last year I expanded my London Docks board so that it now measures the 4x4 board size that the rulebook recommends - and I must admit that this table size gives a better game. I managed to get some garden floor board which when cut up looks very much like piers. The board looks fantastic with the extra size and elements, and it more than ever looks like a dock.

I am always looking at new games and rulesets and in the Autumn I came across Pulp Alley. After reading the rules I was intrigued by the idea of plot point markers and how I could use them in Empire of the Dead, but until recently had not really put my thoughts down on paper. The output was a home brewed scenario where each faction is trying to hunt down Jack the Ripper via a series of clues (plot point markers) placed around the board. The clues can be small pieces of terrain or other minis. Once in base contact with the clue, the mini has to spend an action in order to make a Bravado check, if successful the mini has managed to secure the clue and can place another plot point marker on the board. When a faction has secured two clues Jack the Ripper (the major plot point marker) is placed on the board. Jack then has to be defeated in order to win the game. Securing plot point markers give 10 shilling for each, while defeating Jack the Ripper earns you 25 shillings.

House rules
Combat/Melee rules
It is no secret that the one major beef that people have with the Empire of the Dead rules is the combat/melee rules. So once again Chris and I had set ourselves the task of trying to make them better. In the end we ended up with the following:

  • Some weapons have a Cbt bonus and/or Str bonus (taken from Broken Legions)
  • You add your Cbt score to your roll - a modified roll of 10 is a hit
  • Each opponent then sees how many hits he has and the opponent with the Initiative can match the die. Each hit you have rolled can be used to either negate a hit from your opponent or to stay as a hit. (taken from Pulp Alley)
All weapons have been adjusted, primarily the combat weapons but we have also removed the "Ignores armor" from all of the ranged weapons with the exception of the Crossbow. The Crossbow has also gotten a better range and higher Str - making an actually choice to take with a character.

Cover and Hide is simplified:
  • Target in Soft Cover -1
  • Target in Hard Cover* -1
  • Target Hiding -1
  • Target Prone -1
* Defender adds +1 to his Fort

Influence is one the most underused aspects of the game, so we decided to make them more useful. You start the game with 2 Influence and further Influence can be purchased at the beginning of the first game.

  • Invoke an Unusual Occurrence
  • Negate a Wound
  • Re-roll a die roll
  • Roll an extra die for a single roll, keeping the best
Leader actions
We have also introduced 3 actions only usable by your faction's leader. These have been taken from Broken Legions and Across the Dead Earth, but we think the fit the game/setting. Each use of a leader action requires a successful Bravado check.

  • Order; friendly subordinate model within 12” and los or 6” and no los gains an extra action.
  • ”Take him down!”; A maximum of three friendly subordinate models within 6” gains +1 to their next Marksmanship roll at a specific target.
  • ”Follow me!”; A maximum of three friendly subordinate models within 6” activate at the same time as the leader. Each model finishes before another model makes his actions.
The game: The Hunt for Jack the Ripper
Onto the game itself. As mentioned I fielded the 221B Alliance, while Chris wanted to try the melee heavy Lycaons.

221B Alliance
Sir Henry Baskerville
3 x Police Constables

3 x Wolfskin

The game began with both of us placing a plot point marker on the table (there are specific rules for the placement), Chris chose a dunk civilian mini while a chose a small bench - the dunk was a witness and the bench held some physical evidence.


The first two round were spend moving from the piers and onto the mainland - the crazy move of 7" that Red has was a real advantage, while Watson's and Mycroft's move of 3" was a severe hindrance.

Red failed her Bravado check with the dunk and instead the Beastlord would provide the intimidation needed - another plot point marker in the form of another mini was placed. With two more minis than Chris I decided to split my forces and sent Watson and a PC out on the right flank, to try and secure that area and be in a good position for the new mini plot point marker. 

Sir Henry and the Wolfskins exchanged bullets and bolts and managed to close down some alleys. One of my PCs got to the bench and secured the plot point -  I placed a hansom cab this time. Mycroft despite his bad move ended up being the unlikely objective grabber. 

Further shots were exchanged and I lost a PC, while Chris lost a Wolfskin. In one of the maintenance phases Red invoked her Unusual Occurrence "The Wild Hunt" and two wolves entered one of the board edges.

Another PC was lost in the maintenance phase and Red moved into base contact with the new civilian plot point marker. This prevented Holmes from shooting at her - I decided that this would be an unlikely action for Holmes to take. Instead he lined up for a charge in the next round. 

Chris then used his Beastlord to give an Order to Red and managed to secure the plot point - he now had two and Jack the Ripper would appear. He cheekily placed him on a cart right next to Holmes meaning that they were engaged in combat. Red then activated normally and charged Holmes. So the Great Detective had his hands full.

I ended up playing on the defensive and used my melee hits to negate Red's and Jack the Ripper's hits, but still had to use Influence to negate wounds. Watson shot at the oncoming wolves while Sir Henry was proving rather efficient with his hunting rifle and put a Wolfskin on Down.

In the next round I tried to get the last of my PCs to help Holmes, but he ended up being charged by the Beastlord. Mycroft secured the last plot point marker on the table to earn my faction some extra shillings. When the Combat phase came around I decided to take a gamble - I had won the initiative so I knew I would do the dice matching. So I decided to fight Jack the Ripper first. Both Holmes and Jack hit twice and I decided that all hits would go through. The gamble paid off as Holmes killed Jack the Ripper, unfortunately Holmes sustained a Down and was swiftly Removed from Play by Red. The Beastlord made minced meat out of the PC, but no matter I had taken Jack the Ripper down and therefore scored an extra 25 shillings.

Scenario and house rule thoughts
The short version is that everything actually worked. The scenario is different from those in the rule book and with new plot point markers appearing the game changes several times which I like. 

Influence is now something that is actually used in the game and swung the game in my favour as Holmes remained on the board. We only ended up using the Order special action, but it worked nicely, and I suspect that the other two options will also work. 

Cover is so delightfully simple now - you either have cover or you don't and Hard Cover gives you +1 to Fortitude. Hide adds to your Cover and Chris used that successfully on many occasions.

Most importantly was the combat/melee rules, and they worked. The dice matching adds a tactical element to the game that it does not have now - do you play it safe and use your hits to negate incoming hits or do you go for the all out attack.

Both or us agreed that it had been a fun and exiting game, so we decided to start a campaign and rolled to see what had happened to our faction members. 

Monday, January 18, 2016

Broken Legions - Dacians

In Broken Legions the Dacians represent the opportunity to field Strigoi (vampire) and ghouls alongside falx wielding warriors and Dacian nobles. As a huge fan of classical gothic monsters the Dacians warband was something I wanted to do from the start.

I first started with the Dacian Falxmen from Warlord Games - this gives you more than enough basic parts to create both the regular warriors, falxmen and the chieftain. I had some old Westwind Vampire Wars nosferatu which I thought would be well suited for the Strigoi that is available for the warband. Some of the always useful Mantic Games Ghouls were set aside for... well ghouls. This meant that I only needed some cap wearing men to take the role of Dacian Nobles - and an enquiry on lead to me getting the different parts that I needed.

With the exception of the Dacian Nobles everything has been in place since the beginning of December, but the birth of my second girl put a brief damper on my hobby time. Early January I got the nobles bits and I was ready to start assembly. 

The paint job was finished over the weekend - three days of painting all in all. The Warlord Games Dacians are not that detailed but represent great value and Dacians are not easy to come by, so the painting is fairly basic - base coats and Army Painter Soft Tone shading. I have tried to use the same colours on the minis to try and give them a more uniform look without making them look like Roman troops.

I am having a bit of a rekindled interest in Empire of the Dead, so when these will go on the table I am not sure, but I am looking forward to it. The Dacians are probably also the last warband I will create for Broken Legions until the final book is released.

Anyway onto the pictures.

 The entire warband

Chieftain and Strigoi

 Dacian Nobles




Saturday, January 9, 2016

SALE: 1812 - Retreat from Moscow miniatures


I have decided to put all my 1812 - Retreat from Moscow miniatures up for sale. As mentioned in my previous post I have no one to play the game with any more,  so I have made the decision to sell all of it.

The miniatures have all been painted by myself to what I have been told is an excellent tabletop standard. I am very pleased with the look of the minis myself. All the miniatures are of the extremely high quality that Perry Miniatures, Murawski, Westwind and Front Rank provide - they have been a joy to paint.

All of the minis have been painted according the the images provided by the producer. And where that has not been possible I have looked at other blogs for inspiration.

The basing for each mini has been made with a mix of white paint, glue, baking soda and a bit of water. It is really sturdy and really looks like snow.

Here is a picture of all the minis:

Here is a list of what my Retreat from Moscow collection contains:


Perry Miniatures:
FN 168 (metal)
FN 169 (metal)
FN 170 (metal)
FN 171 (metal)
FN 172 (metal)
FN 173 (metal)
FN 174 (metal)
FN 175 (metal)
FN 189 (metal)
FN 190 (metal)
FN 193 (metal)
6 x Cuirassier from the plastic box set

Eureka Miniatures:
Marshal Ney

Murawski Miniatures:


Perry Miniatures (all metal):
RN 40
RN 42
RN 47
RN 48
RN 57
RN 58
Rn 71 x 2

Front Rank (all metal):
2 x RN 48
2 x RN 49
RN 54
General Platov

Westwind Productions (all metal):
1 x
2 x

The price is £350 for the lot.

Postage within the EU will be around £40.

Here is everything you'll need to play Napoleons Retreat from Moscow. I will provide you with my own ruleset based on Muskets and Tomahawks - this will not be a badly layout word-fil, but a full layout pdf.

Let me know if you interested, you can contact me via the comments field or more directly via email - kaspar.olesen

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Looking back at 2015 - and 2016 plans

I normally don't make any plans for what I want to do in a wargaming sense, but this year 2016 has so many rulesets that I look forward to that I will have to prioritise. But first a look at 2015.

2015 started out with me having two main games - Empire of the Dead and my own reworking of the Muskets & Tomahawks ruleset for a Retreat from Moscow Napoleonic game.

1812 - Retreat from Moscow
The Retreat from Moscow game was not finished by the start of the year but by March we were ready to play our first game. This was a project that I was very keen on, but neither of my regular playing buddies were particular interested in historical wargaming, so I provided everything; minis for both sides, terrain and the board. My friend were nice enough that they played the game with me, but when they would rather play something else, the game is doomed to fail.

Empire of the Dead
My interest in Empire of the Dead goes up and down. I love the minis and the background/setting, but the lack of interest from Westwind to continue to develop the game, let alone provide rules for their Requiem kickstarter prevents this game from really ever kicking off. We continued to have fun though - in particular my friend Michael and I. It seems that we more easily can accept the flaws of the system - the melee rules for instance.

SAGA The Crescent and the Cross
During the Summer I decided to start another project on my own - this time checking with my friends whether they would like to play. The project was SAGA The Crescent and the Cross and I bought minis and the rules for £200, spend another £30 on different materials to make terrain only to find out that I did not like the game! So I decided to sell everything - there were a lot of takers, but unfortunately mishandling of the parcel to the UK meant everything was smashed and the buyer  got his money back. With the broken armies back in Denmark with me, I started the mammoth task of repairing everything - in the end only 6 arab footmen were so damaged that they proved impossible to mend. When I put them up for sale again, they were sold within 24 hours to Germany. I made a deal with the buyer to meet at the border so this time there were no postal service involved.

Across the Dead Earth
In the Autumn two of my friends and I decided to try out Across the Dead Earth, but besides me painting the minis and getting some cars for terrain, nothing more came of it. I lost interest and with me out of it, my friends did not want to continue. So if anyone is looking for 3 painted gangs and the rulebook cheaply let me know.

Other projects
The start of November I was lucky enough to become part of the playtesters for Broken Legions - the upcoming Osprey Games title. This was an enjoyable experience and has provided me with a game where I can play ancients without having to have a huge army. November was also the month were I discovered another upcoming Osprey Games title - The Men Who Would Be Kings, so this meant that I would finally give in to trying out colonial wargaming. I persuaded my friend Frank that this should be a joint venture and showed him the Pathans from Studio Miniatures - he was sold on the idea. By the end of the year several other upcoming projects caught my eye, and the ones I will be investing in will be covered below.

Overall I have painted close to 300 minis, made 3 gaming tables and increased the size of my favorite board The London Docks, so that it is now a 4x4.


Empire of the Dead
I will continue to play Empire of the Dead in 2016 - my minis collection for Victorian Gothic Horror is vast and I really enjoy the look of game on the gaming board. I will keep my fingers crossed that the game will see some development from Westwind, but will otherwise try and incorporate some of the excellent ideas that Pulp Alley provides for story-driven scenarios.

Broken Legions
Broken Legions is another game that I will continue to play - I love the setting and the rules and nice. Hopefully the full release of the rules in the Summer will iron out some of the minor issues I have with them. Presently I am painting a Dacian warband which will hopefully see action on the gaming table.

The Men Who Would Be Kings
While we wait for the release of the rules, I have been making my own version of them based on the Lion Rampant rules. I have also been reading about the North West Frontier and getting some classic DVDs.

Ready for painting are my Artizan Design British/Indian army minis that I got for Christmas - so once my Dacians have been painted I will start painting these. Frank has already started painting his Pathans and hopefully we will be ready for a game in March.

I have been converting my 1812 - Retreat from Moscow board, so that it is usable for both the North West Frontier and Broken Legions.

The pictures of Studio Tomahawks' upcoming wargaming rules looks so good that I can no longer ignore them. This combined with Foundry's Darkest Africa minis means that I will probably give in and get this game as well.

Blood Eagle
Another game that is yet to be released but has already gathered a following is Blood Eagle - Viking skirmish rules based on the "engine" of In Her Majesty's Name and by the same authors. With my dislike for SAGA I hope that this will provide me with a good ruleset to get a cool looking viking warband together.

Other projects
I still have the Frostgrave ruleset, two sets of wizards, the Frostgrave Soldiers and the Nickstarter Cultist and campaign book. While we had a lot of fun in the two games that we have played, the setting and minis does nothing for me. A lot of my enjoyment of a game is liking the setting and minis, so when that does not happen my interest drops.

My biggest project to date 1812 - Retreat from Moscow is something I have stopped playing for the reasons I listed above. The minis are the best I have ever painted and look superb on the gaming table, but that alone does not help when you don't have anyone to play with, so I am looking to sell all of it. If interested let me know.

No doubt my head will  be turned towards other projects, but hopefully I will be able to resist. The amount of new rules that 2016 will bring means that I have to put a halt to new projects. With a new baby there will be less time to play and too many projects means that I will probably end up not giving a ruleset a proper run before settling on something else.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Broken Legions - Lost Treasures of the Gods variant

What a month December 2015 turned out to be. a fortnight before time I became a father for the second time - my second girl. With my other girl being 10 years old I had happily forgotten the lack of sleep that comes with having a baby in the house. This together with a vicious virus that gave me colic attacks put a damper on my hobby and gaming time.

So yesterday I had arranged a game with my friend Frank - another try out of the Broken Legions rules. I have started to assemble a Dacian warband, but they have not been painted yet and I never play with unpainted figures. This meant that the Roman Soldiers of the Eagle were pitted against the Germanic Barbarians.

The standard table size for the game is 3x3, but I really think it works better on a 4x4. I had setup the table before Frank arrived, but once we decided to play the  Lost Treasure of the Gods - with our own variations - we altered the layout. The story was that nine pillars in an ancient temple ruin carried clues to an artefact, which meant that each pillar had to be searched by each warband. On a 7+ roll of a d10 the searching warband would gain 1 VP. The table layout meant that the area in and around the pillars would become the main warzone.

Roman - Soldiers of the Eagle

Primus Pilum
Praetorian x 2

Legionaries x 5
Baleares Slingers x 3

Germanic Barbarians

Champions x 3

Fanatics x 3
Wulfkins x 3

In the first round we more or less just moved men forward. The Romans stayed in two groups, while my Germans moved forward more at random.

By the end of the second round the Romans were able to get into position to search some of pillars, while being primed for getting into shield walls - something which the Romans get a defensive bonus from. The Fanatics and Wulfkins from my Germans benefit from Charging, so I tried to get into some good positions - this can be risky since you have to roll a d5 and add your Agility to see how many inches you can Charge, A good rule we think, since it means that you can never be sure to reach your target if you're not close enough.

The third round meant another round with the Romans winning initiative - the special Spy rule that the Frumentarii has really made a difference in the game. This meant that Frank was able to get must of his men into a shield wall while I charged into them with my Fanatics and Wulfkins. One of my Champions called out the Primus Pilum for a challenge meaning that they would engange in single combat for the first round.

The following rounds saw the tide change from side to side - always the mark of a good game for me. But in the end my Germans came away victorious - having killed all of the Romans heroes and half the henchmen. My dice rolling was at times incredibly good while Frank rolled really poorly - an example is the warpaint that I had given my Fanatics - once wounded you get to roll a d10 on a 10 you ignore the wound - this saved two of my Fanatics. We had made some rules changes so that the special Thrust! rule of the Gladius was more balanced and the Fate rolls that allow heroes to survive was less powerful. This all seemed to work quite well. Each of the two warbands have different playing styles but are well balanced.

It was a highly enjoyable game and something which we will continue to play in the future. The rules we play by are not the finished article and there are some things that need tweaking, but the basics are solid. We have yet to play the campaign rules but will try that in the future.

Here are some photos from the game.