Saturday, 2 May 2015

Lego, Grids, and Smugglers

I've never had the desire to paint miniatures, and unpainted ones seemed very unattractive, so I never really used them until the mid 90s when I bought some old painted miniatures from a friend. When we started playing in late 2009 I dug them out as a way of it being clear to the children what was going on, which worked well - especially as I had a lot of Orc miniatures which doubled for every villainous humanoid tribe in the Caves of Chaos.

I soon ran out of appropriate miniatures, and even when I had one I'd waste a minute finding it, so we switched to using miniatures for PCs, tokens for monsters. This was originally out of necessity (an Orc miniature is NOT an appropriate substitute for a T-Rex!) but was soon embraced whole heartedly. The party was attacked the other night by a horde of giant Hornets, and I felt no shame or regret at not having 20+ giant hornet miniatures!

I went through the obligatory phase of trying out grid based combat and discovered like countless hordes before me how it transformed the game overnight from "What does your character do now?" to "Your turn to move your character." I knew what problem it was trying to solve, as I had experienced the problem, but that was not the solution! The realisation that the grid could be used purely for drawing on a freehand map, and miniatures used purely for communicating who was where, was a revelation that made me feel quite sheepish.

Our homegrown battlemat has gone through various incarnations, all involving transpaseal - those rolls of plastic you get from WHSmiths (or your local equivalent) on squared backing paper. I went through several of these, with varying size grids, until I realised you can see the squares through the plastic already. I now have two large sections attached together which cover the whole table, and a black dot every three squares to mark 10'.

When we played Star Frontiers we had no SciFi miniatures, so we used counters until someone co-opted the Lego.

The party prepares to exit their Explorer
The next campaign was Marvel Super Heroes FASERIP, and we have loads of them in Lego so that was a no-brainer.

So anyway, here's some shots of Mazak, Elanor, Osran, Khazem and Flairin recently storming the Smugglers' Ship. For this session we knew the plan, and we have loads of Pirates*, so we had to use them:

The party approach the ship in a boat, having created a distraction on the other side. The smuggler in the lookout hasn't noticed anything.

The battle is underway, one smuggler down already. Mazak is still in the boat, Khazem has summoned a monster, Osran is standing on the hatch to stop it from opening, Cap'n Hardask has come out of his cabin, and his Monkey is sat on top of the cabin. The d6 show the wounded people - ignore the other dice, they were an idea for tracking bonuses I dropped from the system! You can see why soon after this I went for colour coded dice for tracking wounds (red for PCs, green for monsters). The lookout is climbing down.

Cap'n Hardask is down, and one of the smugglers (the lookout!) is trying to make good his escape in the boat. All the PCs are wounded except Flairin, and Elanor is incapacitated and wounded 10.

The smugglers are all rounded up, Osran is healing Elanor, Khazem is looting the dead, and Flairin is making friends with the Monkey! The lookout is now one of the prisoners, so you can see he has surrendered and climbed back on board :-)

*I should actually clarify that they were Smugglers not Pirates as this was an important plot point when they got convicted of Piracy and the players ended up having to clear their names!

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