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Saturday, February 25, 2017

February Sci Fi Month: Dog Fight Starship Edition

Games are supposed to be fun; that's why we call them games. I have found a fun game. Well, actually, the game found me. Dog Fight: Starship Edition ( is a collectable card game with a table top/miniature component.

I have recently joined a new small group at church and to my surprise, there is a game designer in the group! Michael Fox is the designer of Dog Fight: Starship Edition and he offered to come on over to my house and demonstrate the game. Involved in the play test was myself, Michael, Honorable Son #5 and new acquaintance Jim Abernathy. I loved the game.

The game is played on a hexagonal star map which is available for free as a downloadable PDF file from And did I mention that the rules are also free? Each player controls a star ship (I commanded the mighty, but slow, FAS Intrepid) and has a card for the ship that provides the movement, attack, hull strength and the amount of "energy" the ship starts with.

The Mighty FAS Intrepid

Players have cards that can customize their ship; e.g., special weapons, more armor, engineering crews to repair damage, etc. and a deck of cards that drives the actions and events in the game.

Players can have up to 10 cards in their hand that they "deploy" during "tiers" that allows the ships to attack, move or allows them to draw more cards or energy.

The USPV Inferno, commanded by Honorable Son #5

I downloaded the rules ahead of time and it took Michael about 10 minutes to review the basic game outline. Honorable Son #5, who is 9, was able to grasp the rules and concepts immediately and came close to winning the first game. The game is easy to learn but hard to master! With the combination of cards and the ability to customize your deck, each ship has tactics and techniques it can employ to defeat it's opponents.

Though the game is easy to learn, it is challenging and engaging for adults (do I move in close now and use my torpodos doubling the damage against that enemy ship . . . or should I hide behind that planet, repair my ship and launch the less powerful) missiles? Since the first game on 11/13/10, my son and I have played a 5 games. With two players, each game takes about 30 minutes. The game also has advanced rules (fighters, space stations) and optional rules that increase the difficulty of the game.

There is a great video review of the game here: Currently there are 6 one ship starter decks that are $8.00 US Dollars, 2 ship packs for $12.00 US Dollars and various other combinations available through the website. One aspect I like is the ability to build your own booster pack. Who wants to keeping on buying booster packs trying to get the one card you want?

The graphics are excellent, the game mechanics smooth, and it neatly combines with miniature gaming. What more could you ask for?

We played the game using miniatures from Games Workshop. The game can work with any miniatures set.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

February Sci Fi Month: Some great Characters

I don't particularly care for the story background of the Warhammer 40K "universe" but they sell some pretty good figures that are fun to paint. In fact, their Space Marines are the neatest (did I just use that word?) types of armored infantry out there - even with some of the silliness they add to the figures. Nothing like having robes and medallions hanging from your battle armor to get in the way and trip you up during a close quarters boarding action in vacuum . . . but I digress.
The Imperial Guard Infantry are the mass conscript, cannon fodder of the Imperium - not as cool or well paid as the Space Marines. But then again, the Space Marines have to have more skulls and silliness on their uniforms than the Imperial Guard.

First up, the boss. As Napoleon said, "There are no bad regiments, only bad colonels." Here's my colonel:

According to GW, this is Lord Castellan Ursarkar Creed and Sergeant Jerran Kell . . . yeah, whatever. I just call him The Colonel and the guy with the flag.

For The Colonel's jacket, I thought a good ole' fashioned brown jacket with U. S. Army Infantry blue would do the trick.

Why a flag on a futuristic battlefield? Well . . . I like flags.

To me this is another figure that screams "character". The lit cigar is a nice touch.

Now what mass conscript army on a planet who knows where wouldn't want a political officer along for the ride? This is GW's Commissar Yarrick, an old commissar brought out of retirement to help fight the Space Ork menace. In fact, he got the claw from a space ork (don't ask).

With his claw, Yarrick is also in charge of maintenance.

"I will move this rock with my claw!"

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

February Sci Fi Month: Well Someone Needs to be in Charge

Here is the company level leadership and snipers:

The officer has what is known as a "power fist". As a retired infantry officer, I'm not too interested in the enemy being close enough for me to use my power fist. On the other hand, me just knocking out the enemy at stand off range would probably be a boring game.

Another officer from the same blister pack with a power fist. I decided to give him a black jacket and hat for an Imperial Commissar look. That's a grenade launcher behind the commissar.

I based the snipers on Soviet Camouflage from World War II:

Subtle Note to Army Budget Cutters: Every unit needs the long term, experienced NCO.

Sarge with a power sword accompanied by the automatic grenade launcher. If you haven't figured it out yet, Warhammer 40K is a skirmish game!

Saturday, February 18, 2017

February Sci Fi Month: The Imperial Guard

In the Warhammer 40K Universe the motto of the Imperial Guard is "If we did not take at least 90% casualties then we were not trying hard enough!"

Now for the troops! The figures are from GW's Imperial Guard Cadian (Cadia is one of the planets) Kasrkin range. I can't remember why they are called Kasrkins but they are equivalent to a Grenadier Company from the Horse and Musket era. The best of the best with honors - sir!!! For my unit, they are the 6th Infantry (Regulars By God!), the greatest infantry regiment in the known universe:

Want to guess my Regimental Affiliation?

Trooper with flamer; good area weapon and pretty nifty in restricted places. To get the "burn" look at the end of the barrel I used a black wash and flesh wash.
Here is the plasma gun - very effective against armored targets. I like how it looks like a BIG GUN and the figure was fun to paint.

This soldier is carrying a meltagun. I forget the difference in game terms between the plasma gun and the meltagun; but, it looks cool. Reminds me of the squad machinegun - he's the guy I turn to if I need to put down a lot fire in a hurry.
Watching the back of the plasma gunner is a soldier with laser rifle.

Soldier with laser rifle. Another reason I like this range of figures is that they carry their weapons realistically and look like they know how to use them!
Here is what the troops look like from the back. Needs more skulls.
Just another bug hunt. By the way, Starship Troopers is one of the best military science fiction books ever written. The movie is one of the worst ever made - Danger! Danger! Will Robinson!

Yes - I like the plasma gun.
One last look at the some of the men of the 6th Infantry of the future:

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

February Sci Fi Month: The Awful Green Things from Outer Space

The crew of the exploration ship Znutar just wanted to cruise around the Galaxy, discovering strange new worlds and playing pool. But then their ship was invaded by the Awful Green Things . . . and suddenly they were fighting for their lives!

In this wacky two-player game, one player controls the Awful Green Things. They grow and multiply every turn – especially if they can gobble up a crew member! The other player commands the crew, frantically trying weapon after weapon (pool sticks, fire extinguishers, cans of Zgwortz) to find something that kills the monsters.

 The great starship the Znutar.

 The crew player places the crew members in their respective rooms. Most crew members have several rooms to choose from, but must be placed initially in one of these rooms (rather than in an arbitrary starting location). For example, Captain Yid can start in either of the two bridges. Weapons are also placed by the crew player in the appropriate pre-defined locations.

 Yikes! They are all over the escape boats!
A roll of a die indexed into a table determines the starting number and types of Awful Green Things from Outer Space. Another roll determines where in the ship the first Awful Green Thing from Outer Space is placed; the rest are placed in contiguous spaces, one to each space. Awful Green Things from Outer Space may not start in locations where crew members have been placed.

 Will Sarge save the Cook?
After setup is completed, the crew player must select one member of the crew to move into a location occupied by an Awful Green Thing from Outer Space. This is designated as the initial discovery of the infestation, which raises the alarm, causing the game to start. The Awful Green Things from Outer Space player takes the first turn.

 Marines are good in the fights.
Initially, 22 crew members face off against 11 or 12 Awful Green Things from Outer Space that range in size from immobile eggs to full adults. The Awful Green Things from Outer Space can grow to a maximum complement of 12 adults, 18 babies, 19 eggs and 22 fragments (pieces capable of regenerating). The crew can use weapons but cannot replace losses. The crew is almost always at a considerable disadvantage, owing both to the frequency with which The Awful Green Things from Outer Space grow to replace their losses, and to their own relative frailty.

The Awful Green Things from Outer Space do not like the Robot.  He goes through them like shredded lettuce.

This is still one of my all time favorite games.  Recently I was the The Awful Green Things from Outer Space and Honorable Son #5 (The Lifeguard) was the valiant crew of the Znutar. Though Honorable Son# 5, after much laughter and good times, lost control of the ship, he was successfully able to abandon ship with what was left of his crew and return home with a warning about the Awful Green Things from Outer Space.

This classic game by Tom Wham first appeared in Dragon Magazine in 1980, and has been a fan favorite ever since! There is a new edition that includes Tom's "Outside the Znutar" rules and counters, for going out the airlocks and fighting on the surface of the ship, and upgraded components: a mounted gameboard, heavy die-cut counters, and a full-color rulebook.

Think of this as the NCC 1701A Znutar.

Monday, February 13, 2017

February Sci Fi Month: Gaming Geeks do get the Girl!

On this Valentines Day I just wanted to pay my tribute to all of those wives and girlfriends who put up with support their favorite man in his hobby of choice.  I recently told my bride of 30 years how much I appreciated her giving me the time to work on my historically accurate representations in miniature of the warriors of our past.  "You mean your toys?" she replied.  (Sigh).  I love my wife.

 My Beautiful Bride with Honorable Son #4 (The greatest 18th century general I have ever faced) and Honorable Son #5 (The Lifeguard)

Honorable Son #1 (The Librarian) and his beautiful bride (The Future Doctor).  Honorable Son #1 showed me when he was 9 years old what happens when I charge my American Civil Infantry at his 6 batteries of artillery on the high ground.  He reminds me I was a major at the time.

Honorable Son #2 (The Lieutenant) and his beautiful bride (The future Lawyer).  Honorable Son #2 proved to me in Northern Africa that my Afrika Korps could pull Defeat from the jaws of Victory.

 Honorable Son #3 (The Engineer) and his beautiful bride (The Princess Bride).  Never turn your back on this man when he is commanding a battalion of Soviet Tanks comrade.

Congratulations to these gaming geeks and their beautiful brides!

Sunday, February 12, 2017

February Sci Fi Month: Engagement at Paulus' Star

"Contact!  Make that 4 Snake class frigates entering from Slither jump point. Lasers are charged and their torpedo flashes are trying to connect."

"Go to General Quarters!" Activate Electron screen. Weapons get a targeting solution on lead enemy frigate. Send all information to Davout command link signature Boone."
"Transponder identifies lead frigate as Star Scourge, followed by Vicious, Pestilence and Stinger. Marking targets now."

"All ships this is the Commodore.  Execute as planned.  Do not let those ships pass the alpha line. The Daniel Boone will take the lead on the right with Davout - Richthofen and Xerxes take the left.

 The Daniel Boone and Marshal Davout move to take on the Star Scourge, Vicious, Pestilence and Stinger.

  The Daniel Boone prepares to fire missiles and all laser cannons.

The Marshal Davout accelerates to catch up as the deployment of the Slither frigates had it further behind the Boone.

 The Richthofen (yes the one in red!)and the Xerxes advance in an attempt to flank the Slither ships.

The SAV Stinger turns toward the threat posed by Xerxes and Richthofen.

Surprise you slithering evil space snakes.  The Cruiser Squadron consisting of the Inazuma, Ochakov and Rodger Young fire up their reactors and become visible.

 The Boone takes multiple hits damaging its engines and torpedo batteries.
 More hits and damage as the Davout tries to draw the fire and block the now critically damaged Boone.  The speed of the Slither frigates in close action is making the difference,
The Davout blocks a salvo of missiles from the Star Scourge with anti-missile defenses and gets some good, but not decisive laser hits on the Pestilence.

 Ships are engaged on the other flank as the Vicious and the Stinger mix it up with Xerxes and Richthofen.  Missiles and laser fire are exchanged but no serious hits on either side.
 Pweh, Pweh. Laser bolts and explosions!

"Das soll dock wohl ein Scherz sein!" states the captain of the Richthofen.

 Contact!  Enemy battleship SAV Doomfist!

The Boone explodes under concentrated laser cannon fire.

 The Richthofen attempts to slow down the Doomfist but is overwhelmed by its defenses and firepower.
"Entschuldigen Sie. Wo sind die Kreuser, die uns helfen sollen?"

 Now that systems are fully charged, the cruiser Inazuma heads to assist the Davout and Xerxes.

 The Inazuma kamon adorns the side of the ship.
The Rodger Young and Ochakov move as fast as their cruiser reactors will allow them - but go too fast and they may overshoot the enemy battleship when it is time to maneuver.

 The Davout and Xerxes counterattack.

 The quick action of the Davout and Xerxes allows the Richthofen to make its escape.
 BOOM!  The SAV Pestilence never saw it coming from the Inazuma.
 The counterattack continues on the right flank as the Davout, Xerxes and Inazuma hammer the Star Scourge.

 The cruisers start to move in on the Doomfist.

 The Richthofen continues to move out of the danger zone (hey, I need those victory points!)
 The SAV Stinger hits the wounded Ochakov while it returns fire along with the Rodger Young on the Doomfist.
 The Stinger swiftly turns to engage the Davout and Xerxes . . .

  . . . and that does not work out for the Stinger so well.

 With the loss of it's escorts, the Doomfist has too many targets and is taking multiple hits from the Rodger Young and the Inazuma.

 And in for the kill . . .

 One last attempt on the Ochakov by the Vicious.
 The Star Scourge attempts to run from Davout and Xerxes.
 The Vicious runs into a situation it cannot handle.

 The SAV Vicious makes a run for right into the targeting array of the the Richthofen.
Cool.  A green explosion and that's the game!

 The valiant Richthofen.

 Inazuma sends additional damage control teams to the Ochakov.

The Commodore's flagship.

Our space battle was fought with the oldie but goodie Star Frontiers: Knight Hawks.  Star Frontiers was published by TSR Games, the same folks that brought you the original Dungeons and Dragons.  Designed as a Sci Fi Dungeons and Dragons, the best part for me was when they added Star Frontiers: Knight Hawks which provided rules for a fast moving boardgame of ship to ship space combat.  

No knowledge of Star Frontiers is needed as it was a standalone game with basic rules, advanced rules, a campaign set of rules, maps, counters, etc.  It does require some record keeping for damage but it is not burdensome and is an extremely fun game to play with miniatures.
 Campaign Map.
Counters and hex map for the game.