Friday, December 19, 2014

Fantasy Sculpts painted up

Some more Fantasy figure sculpted by your truly. They had been sitting on my desk for far too long and I wanted to get them off, so I skipped the last few steps of "finishing" the last few details on the models. This is why they look a bit rought at places - which wouldn´t happen if they´d go into production, but these are private models done for my entertainment-

On the left, a Skeleton mage, the spear and forearm stolen from a GW kit, the rest sculpted from scratch.  I´m thinking about making the flames blue instead of green to increase the contrast with the bones and grey cape.

On the right, my High Elf sword master interpretation - a slight redesign of the armor to improve freedom of movement by shortening both the armor kilt and the helmet and removing some decoration. Again, sculpted from scratch.

Hope you enjoy!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Winter Offensive - Part 2

The great winter painting offensive is rolling on!

A few more Taliban, lighting not ideal and not entirely satisfied with the folks, especially with the guy on the right, where I messed up with green on green, very similar shades, not enough contrast between pouches and jacket.

Also ventures back into the realms of fantasy and repainted a few more High Elf swordmasters to modern standards. You can see that one of them was painted using a black primer with pre-shading, the other three guys are plain grey primer.

And with a bit less direct lighting, stolen from the Taliban pic:

More is already on the way, WIP in the background.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Code Red - Dev Diary 12: List Building II

Hey folks,

I´m a few days late with the Dev Diary as I was busy and not very motivated to write another entry last week - including the weekend.
So today we´re covering list building with some more in-depth details.

Let´s take a look at some entries from the Taliban list to get a better idea how the system works.
First of all, every faction has some degree of flavor built into it, encouraging you to use them according to their doctrine or preferred way of fighting. Modern US Forces will get cheaper fire support, Russians will probably get cheaper mechanized forces and artillery and so on – always depending on the theatre of course.

The Taliban list takes a special position here as a list that doesn´t get much of a bonus, but has a huge amount of choices and flexibility. Taliban units are not cheap (in fact, some units might even be more expensive than comparable units from other lists), but they have a large arsenal that can be combined into a multitude of force compositions, enabling clever players to use synergies and adapt their list to meet the challenge ahead.
Before we delve deeper into the example:  The list is still work in progress and being tested, not the final product.

The basic building block of the Taliban list is the Cell, currently available in three sizes:  Small cell (3), medium cell (5) and large cell (7).
Each cell has options to choose from, like adding leaders, support weapons and other shenanigans.  Next to the options there are restrictions and limits.

 Small Cell

3x Local Taliban with Assault Rifles     (30pt)

 + RPK  (Magazine LMG)                     (10pt)
 + PKM (MMG)                                     (20pt)  (not available with RPG-7)
 + RPG-7                                                (40pt)  (not available with PKM)
 + Ammo for RPG-7                              (20pt)
 + Weapon Team                                    (10pt)
 + Upgrade to Hardcore Fighters           (10pt)
 + Upgrade to Foreign Fighters             (21pt)   
 + Leader (additional figure)                 (35pt)    (1 per 150pt*)
 + Ambush Card                                    (10pt)    (max. 2 per Cell)

By choosing and customizing our cells we can now create a variety of different infantry groups, ranging from standard infantry groups over MG-teams to RPG-cells and so on.
Being a tactically advanced and versatile irregular force, the Taliban also have options to upgrade their troops to a higher standard by making them Hardcore Fighters or even Foreign Fighters (Cechens, Syrians, Arabs, Pakistanis,  etc.) – this doesn´t come cheap but will boost the effectiveness of your core force. Combine this with a cheap screen of irregulars to suck up the enemy firepower and you can devastate modern western forces.

Taliban also have the capability to add  area denial options in the form of IEDs to their list. IEDs can have a huge impact on battles as we experienced in several test games – Western Forces think twice before heading into a minefield. You can (and should) combine your regular IEDs with some dummies to increase the uncertainty, it´s a cheap option that always pays off. And there are Suiciders carrying IEDs as well…
The Afghan Insurgents also have access to some limited Fire support either in direct fire mode (like DShK HMGs, RPGs and SPGs) or indirectly via mortars and improvised, unguided rockets, which can be combined with disguised locals to correct shots.

Speaking of locals:  The Taliban list also sports Rules of Engagements that apply to their opponents. These can be a real pain in the ass, if your opponents troops have to confirm the hostility of their opponents first, while you can shoot as you like. There are different sets of RoE, from PID checks to Fire support restrictions of different intensity.

Furthermore, there are reinforcements. You can choose from several lists and customize the kind and intensity of reinforcements, from a trickle of Hardcore Foreign fighters to waves of locals. As outlined in the DD on this topic, there are some trade-offs here.

Being Insurgents, the Taliban are also masters of the ambush – so they do have access to Ambush cards, both when setting up their list and during the game (getting new cards).
And there is another advantage of their guerilla nature: The enemy does have some restrictions on the objectives you will be confronted with. Some objectives are simply not available against guerillas.

The only things Taliban do not have are heavy fire support (large artillery and airstrikes) and heavy vehicles (not even armed technicals, as the use of those is suicidal with all the air assets flying around).

All in all, the Taliban have multitude of options that are not available to other combatants per se – this is their inherent bonus: flexibility and the ability to adapt.
You can create any kind of scenario.  Small number local insurgents in urban environments imposing heavy Rules of Engagement on their opponent,  Human Wave Tactics with lots of reinforcements (beware your command dice though!), Hardcore Foreign Fighters fighting in a remote area using all sorts of ugly tricks,  IED-ridden environments becoming the showground of an ambush, and so on…

 I hope this adds some more insights into the list building, please leave your questions in the comment section if there are any. 


Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Winter Offensive - Part 1

Been painting some more Insurgents to reduce my stash of unpainted figures:

And a lot of painting still ahead for the rest of the winter months:

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Code Red - Dev Diary 11: List Building

Hello again,

I´ve been struggling with myself if I should write another DD today or not. I haven´t had much time this week and progress has been slow. But I decided I can´t break the schedule that easily, so this one will be a shorty.

We´re moving on to the scenario generator. My vision has already been outlined in one of the very early conceptual DDs. I want to design a system that combines the best aspects of point based gaming and scenarios.

The point-based system is very well suited to pick-up games, each player brings along his list, you set up the table and just go and play. I feel like this aspect is very popular with many gamers and certainly an mechanism that most of the "big" gaming systems out there have in common.

What people don´t like about this approach and why scenarios are so popular is that you´ll almost never see the kind of balanced engagements that standard point systems produce in reality, so they´ll always feel rather artificial. More often than not, one side has an inherent advantage over the other, either more material, better equipment or training, etc.

As outlined earlier, I can´t imagine any good reason why these two aspects can´t be combined into a single game mechanism. Scenarios are usually balanced by giving the inferior side easier objectives or by restrictions to the superior side (like rules of engagement and such).
Why can´t we give these point values as well?

This is the basic idea we used for list building. A list contains troops, support, objectives, circumstances, etc., all valued with a certain point value. As with your usual Warhammer, FoG- or Battlegroup-game, you set up your list by combining these in any fashion allowed by the restrictions of the list until you hit your scenario point value.

Now two people can bring along their list and a scenario is born. The trick is that you will chose the objective for your opponent when building your list, so you cannot min-max your list according to YOUR objective (as this one will be set by your opponent). It also means that objectives that are more difficult to fulfil for your opponent will be more expensive, so you will have less troops available to defend it and reach your own objective.

 The exact details and balancing the system are still work in progress, the basic idea so far seems to work. It´s a daunting task to get all the tiny details right, especially regarding the objectives - things can go wrong from time to time and we have to test more thoroughly to erase all the glitches that can be set up with this system, but I´m confident that given enough time we can work out a good and solid framework for people to design their own scenarios as a standard game.

More details next week, I hope you are not too disappointed with this rather shallow entry :/