This Post is Just a Wall of Text

I am afraid there will be no pretty pictures in this post. It is just a general update and some random musings. Things covered are what I did today, thoughts on Flames of War and thoughts on D&D 5e.

Things I Did Today

I finished drawing up my North Africa buildings, walls, another shipping container and four tech crates. The latter two items are all cut out and ready for assembly and painting too. In addition, I cut out three bits of MDF for some scrub patches for my North Africa battlefield.

The bad news is, none of these things are likely to get done this weekend, because I’m at my parent’s for lunch tomorrow (my uncle is over from Victoria). This is somewhat disappointing, but I’ve been going pretty hard on the hobby things, so an easy weekend is not unwelcome.

Other things to report here are that now that I have finally acquired a hot wire cutter, I hope to get some hills going soon. With this now in my possession, I think I might focus on getting the scrub, some rocky ground and a few hills done. That will be the quickest route to a small North Africa battlefield – I’ve really wanted to see my DAK in action 😀

Some Thoughts on Flames of War/WWII Gaming

I like Flames of War, but I haven’t played many games – only about half a dozen in the (over) three and a half years I have been building FoW forces. This disappoints me, I’d like to play more and get a better feel for the game. Luckily a mate who lives nearby is doing a North Africa force with me, so once I’ve the terrain together I’m hoping we can play often enough (i’d be happy with a game every 4-8weeks.

There are, however, some things I’ve noticed in the few games of FoW I’ve played, things that I didn’t have at the forefront of my mind, but when I stumbled on a couple of “Why I don’t like FoW” blog posts the other day, lept into my conscious. The primary criticisms focus on the game being a too much “Napoleonics but WWII”, the issue with distances (those arty pieces you have on the field realistically could be shooting from two-three tables away) and the wheel-to-wheel tanks issue (something I especially had noticed having Soviet forces).

All of these criticisms resonated with me. The first is interesting, because that is certainly what I consider Warhammer 40k to be – Napoleonics in spaaaaaace(!). I feel that it is less the case in FoW, but personally I fear it is really a systemic issue with “you go, I go” wargames. The “always your turn” mechanic that Infinity employs, or the order dice system of Bolt Action are excellent developments for tabletop gaming and, personally, I think greater deployment of these mechanisms or new incarnations of these sorts of ideas will really enrich wargaming further. As for the other two points, well, they are what they are. That all said, I’ve still had very enjoyable games of FoW, but it has left me wanting something more.

The result of this is that I hope to, in the new year, give I Ain’t Been Shot Mum! a go. The ideas behind the rules really intrigue me and I read good things, so I’d love to test it out myself. The best part is, of course, they don’t cost an arm and a leg!

Thoughts on Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition

Although my WordPress is a dedication to my passion for wargaming, I also enjoy tabletop RPGs – as you can see from an earlier post with our Pathfinder character models. Next year I will be running a D&D 5e campaign, and mate of mine might do the same. I’ve only just got the books and read through the first part of the Player’s Handbook, but I’ve some thoughts and observations I want to share.

The overarching comment is that I am really impressed with what Wizards of the Coast have produced. I think it really streamlines the game (bear in mind I am coming from 3.5e/Pathfinder and have no experience of 4e) and puts a great emphasis on roleplay.

Compared with 3.5e I notice a couple of quite significant changes that could be considered to cut down your choice and the customisation options for your character (this isn’t quite accurate, but I’ll get to that). The first is that prestige classes are now built into classes as “archetypes”. So instead of getting the feats you need, putting the necessary points into the right skills and getting to whatever level for the base attack bonus and saving throws you might need, it is all something that is unlocked normally through class progression. The good thing is this makes things a lot more straightforward and creates an inbuilt mechanism through which players decide how they want to specialise their character’s class. The bad, I feel, is that you can’t do whacky things where you’re playing a class that wouldn’t ordinarily prestige into something, but you do it anyway because you’re a high speed, low drag, T1 operator.

The second thing is that feats are now an optional thing. At the DM’s discretion players can take a feat when normally they would get +1 on an ability score (these are now built into the class tables and vary from class to class). The feat list is significantly shorter now too – although this is just the PBH, I’m sure more will pop up. So feats take a much, much less prominent place in character customisation and will force players’ to make the choice between a better stat, or a feat.

Balancing this out, players can now take backgrounds at character creation that give players an excellent guides on how their character manifests itself in the game – this is a great benefit for new players, unfamiliar with tabletop RPGs, but also handy for more experienced players. These backgrounds also have real ingame impact through bonuses on particular skills and so forth. Through this mechanism, and a much more detailed description chapter, the character creation system now has an inbuilt system of backstory creation and roleplay prompts, great for players of all levels of experience to guide their roleplay to ensure continuity.

The simplification of the class system, while a the same time adding much greater depth within each class (choices are often involved, e.g. fighter combat styles), set starting gear (starting gold and purchasing gear is opitional) and the greatly improved description chapter all mean that getting into the game, regardless of experience, is quicker and easier than ever. The focus also shifts to roleplay and interactions, rather than pouring over tomes to min/max your feat and skill combinations and so on. Oh, also, multiclassing no longer makes you a god. This a very welcome change.

The End

Anyway, this has been a bit of scatter brain post, but I hope you found something interesting in it. I’ll make sure to have lots of nice pictures next post (which may not be Friday because work Christmas lunch, which might turn into drinking to more than I usually do these days, i.e. more than a glass or two of wine).

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