Dice Superstitions

Over at the awesome Laughing Ferret blog a conversation has been developing about dice rolling and wargamer superstions. Starting here and in response to my comment there (where i discussed an aptly eeerie run of fortune a player had in the Conspiracy X rpg i was running) it continues in a more focussed post 

As my reply would be another fairly lengthy one i thought it better to put into a blogpost:

While fairly rational (though open-minded) on reflection i do have my share of irrational eccentricities.

If i’m using my own dice then I don’t like other people rolling the same dice i’m using that day, not even before the game. And sometimes if someone does pick them up to look at them and especially if they roll them, i tend to then carry those dice in my hand a while to kind of re-imprint them or something along those lines.

Most of my dice i’m happy to let others borrow (when i’m not using those particular dice) but not my favourites or any that have been assigned to particular forces, characters or NPCs, though in some cases that might be less superstition and more just possessiveness.

When i’m needing an improvement in rolls or to make an uncommon roll i’ll often hold one or more of the dice (when playing buckets-of-dice games like Warhammer 40,000 i usually pick out a few at random or favourite ones from the set) and fidget with them. Not sure if this is meant to improve the luck or just fidgety behaviour 🙂

I also sometimes leave/stack my dice sitting with the highest number facing upwards.

I’ve started themeing my dice lately, i got custom chessex dice for my Warhammer 40,000 Tyranid army and intend to do the same for my Warhammer Vampire Counts and i picked out an appropriate dice for each of my war rocket fleets (most of the fleets i let others use too along with the dice i associate with them but not my Imperials and the red, purple and gold d10 i use with them) but this isn’t about them rolling better, it’s just cool 🙂 and i would keep using the themed dice over others no matter how badly they roll.

Rerolls i almost always use the same dice while others have said over at Laughing Ferret they use a different dice for the reroll.

Certainly i’ve mentioned in several of my war rocket reports people swapping dice when they start rolling poorly, something i’ve done on a few occassions (particularly as a player in warhammer fanatsy rpg when my rolls were miserable for weeks and my character was swiftly approaching death) but this isn’t something i do much.

And of course there was the case of Woz and his odd rolling technique that worked surprisingly well in his first game of War Rocket with my transparent grey d10.. but deserted him entirely in the multiplayer game where his son joined in. And then the second game where he rolled 4 10’s in a row with his brand new dice blasting my fleet to smithereens.

I also have thought in the past that when i’m more confidant and concetrating on the result i want to get, or the result i want my opponent to get, that this seems to more often occur… but then that could just be confirmation bias.

And of course statisticly there are going to be clusters and runs in small sets that even out into a nice bell curve in sufficient numbers. It’s interesting in a passtime structured around a framework of maths and probability like wargaming and roleplaying games how easilly we can fall into such habits and thinking from small numbers of events, though proper scepticism means we shouldn’t discount the notions that attitude and intent can effect seemingly random events untill we test them. Proper scepticism is neutral to all claims and tests them to find what is so.

Another thought occurs to me.. maybe there’s a skill element to dice rolling rather than it being purely random, (there can be to coin flipping, bored at school i found i could rather reliably flip a coin to get a desired result after some practice)… it could be unconcious and therfore the psychological element could still be a factor. I wonder if the results from hand-rolling on a table would be very different from using  a dice-tower?

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Sale and New Products at Hydra Miniatures

Today is the start of a sale at Hydra Miniatures running until December 2. So it’s a great time to pick up anything your local game store  doesn’t have (if you are lucky enough to have one and they have the sense and class to stock Hydra’s products, and if not then this sale is definately for you!).

They also have some new releases, the exquisite Valkeeri ground forces of the Retro Raygun range now have some heavier firepower!
Watch out Ace, these women are not to be trifled with!

And they have the start of a whole new 15mm scifi range called Xeno 15 too.

A Glimpse into the FUTURE! Retro Raygun, the Companion Game to War Rocket

Hydra Miniatures, the people behind War Rocket, do not just leave the world of the Galacteers in that one scale.

Their miniatures line has another scale where Valkeeri and Galacteers may be found. Retro Raygun. So that you can use your favourite infantry rules to represent the Rocket Crews, Dashing Heroes, Menacing Troops and Fearsome Creatures of your War Rocket games for when you want to play out what happens when the rockets are on the ground or during those boarding actions and Princess Rescues.

The Retro Raygun miniature line though has some surprises, while it doesn’t yet have the Imperial, Space Pirate and Zenithian factions represented (hopefully future releases)  it has two other groups that may indicate future releases for War Rocket. The magnificently retro Robot Legion and in the Space Alien category we find the Slishians, tentacled non-humanoids.

Hydra also have a lovely other line called Primal Dawn with stone age dinosaur-people, bipedal ant-like creatures and walking plant-things which, other than being great for fnatasy-pre-history gaming would make wonderful native dangers on the many worlds that your Rockets might travel to, fight over and crashland upon.

But the people behind such a fantastic set of rules as War Rocket aren’t going to leave you jury-rigging the engines of other game systems and guesstimating the characteristics of each of the factions for long. They are working on a rules set for Retro Raygun and you can see images from some of the playtesting of a scenario that pits an invading force of Robots against a defended Galacteer position here on Comander Mudpie’s excellent blog.

I have a handful of Retro Raygun miniatures currently, my favourite that i have so far is the pointing Valkeeri leader, and Queen Mechanika of the Robot Legion is very much on my must-have list.

The elegant simplicity and sheer joy of War Rocket leaves me confidant that the Retro Raygun rules will be good. And the quality of the miniatures, as well as the lovely small portrait pics we have in the War Rocket rulebook, assure me that i will love the Zenithian and Imperial lines if/when they are released (Fingers crossed for a few more female miniatures for the Galacteers and some for the Imperium too.. I am of course hoping especially for a feisty Imperial Princess. Zenithians all being artificial clones may not have any sort of gender).

So if you want your Galacteers to fight their way through enemy-patrolled corridors to rescue that Princess, If you want your Valkeeri rocket to deploy troops to capture and enslave those weak but unavoidably essential human males from the town below, if you want to play out the details of the boarding actions and ground combats in the War Rocket universe or just want a miniature to represent your favourite Rocket Captain then the Retro Raygun line is there for you, and the official rules are coming.

Kaboom! Explosions Rock Sleeping Dragon

Another saturday battle report from my local game store the Sleeping Dragon.

Today i was given a lift to the store by Taphyl whose brother Brylan had played in a previous report using the Space Pirates. Before we left for the store I showed off some of my animation cels and we discussed the history of Filmation cartoons, then once at the store we commandeered the war room and prepared for battle.

Taphyl and i a couple years back both got into Monsterpocalypse and we have a great gaming dynamic, with fun being first and foremost at the gaming experience often giving each other advice as we get the hang of new rules with a friendliness that builds into developing close-matched skills and some of the best and most hard-fought fun games that always end in smiles. Not that any of my other war rocket opponents have been anything but truly great sports having a fun time, and the game lends itself to that atmosphere, but Taphyl deserves the extra credit as he often goes that extra step of good sportsmanship.

So we set up both my planets and the moon… it’s is a time where another world in the Draco system is close in it’s orbit with Dormientes Draco, and the battles for this MucGuffinite-rich world are intensifying.

Taphyl is quite interested in the Galacteers but as he was trying out the game with one of my small forces (The Galacteers being my sweethearts and so not for lending) he opted to try the Valkeeri.

Forces were a class 2 and three class 1 rockets each.
The rules as ever were a breeze to explain and we launched into action. My dice started off at a high point as the game began with order phases going my way and first blood for once was not one of my scorpions but instead a Valkeeri Class 1 Siren! Things continued my way when the Class2 Fury was destroyed. Having learned from the many turns in previous games where my Raptor ended up moving about to no effect i started often letting it stay still a turn so as to get a delayed action phase for the next turn which at least was giving me chances to hit.. ah but the dice rolls began to desert me and the single hit from the Raptor wasn’t resulting in damage. The tide of battle turned and first one and then another Scorpion fell to the Valkeeri as they gained initiative, as Taphyl better mastered their movement and range and as both our rolls went poorly (Taphyl even changed dice only for the new dice to fare worse than the first rolling a string of 2s where the other had got into a run of rolling 6s! And later would try my Valkeeri-themed pink and black swirl dice) but mine ended up missing more than Taphyl. I was sure i was headed for another loss though the battle went through a number of turns of stalemate with neither of us managing to get the rolls we needed to destroy the other and then a stun result on a Siren sealed the fate of the Valkeeri as one Siren and then the other fell to the might of the Imperium! All in all a great game.

Jimmy and Stewart had arrived while we were playing so once they finished a game of Yu-Gi-Oh we decided to then have a four-way free-for-all game. And worth noting during the game Jason managed to make it so he watched it play through, getting very excited about building a Galacteer force soon.
It was my Imperials, Taphyl with the Valkeeri, Jimmy using Space Pirates and Stewart with the Zenithians. Each with a class 2 and 3 class 1s.
Terrain was again the two planets and the moon.

I decided to shake things up a bit and so victory would be measured by the construction points worth of foe you defeated, but we also decided to use some of the advanced rules: boarding, ramming and shooting/ramming to stun. And if you boarded an enemy class2 rocket it was worth double its value. We also decided that if two people shot at the same target the one that put more hit counters on the foe would be the one to make the damage roll, to decide if it was a shoot-to-stun and that points for destruction would be split about 2/3rds to the one who put more hits on and the remaining 3rd to the assisting attacker. And in the order phase all 4 of us are rolling to determine in what order our rockets are moving.

For the first couple turns we all moved in from the four corners heading straight towards the centre, then the Zenithian class 1s headed towards me and the class 2 towards Jimmy’s pirates. But as i turned to intercept these Nth dimensional invaders the Valkeeri whizzed around the planet to blast at me! The Class2 that decided to move in behind the pirates was swiftly turned on and blasted to smithereens. Again i decided to try and use a delayed action, to ensure my Raptor would get to strike the tricky Valkeeri but the amazonian she-devil commander had other plans.. and rushed her class2 Fury headlong to crash into my Raptor! As it did so the three Sirens positioned themselves to blast into the Raptors sides and two of my Scorpions swept about to return fire into the Fury while the third’s pilot i imagine slammed his fist repeatedly into the elegant control console at being unable to reach the firefight. So, i asked Taphyl… are you shooting to stun or to kill?… He ummed and ahhh’d uncertain till the last moment considering his odds as 7 hit counters were placed! 2 for the ramming collision as the Fury crashed into the nose of the Raptor right beside it’s nose-cone spike, 2 for the shots of the Fury firing as it rammed and 3 from the 3 Sirens… while i had 5 counters being placed on his Fury, 2 from my side of the collision, 1 from the Raptors return fire and 2 from the Scorpions that could make it… stun.. or.. kill?

I can see the inside of the Rocket now, as the Valkeeri gunnery officer asks her Commander..
“Commander, shall we fire to disable or destroy the Imperial craft?”..
The Commander narrows her eyes as the Fury bears down on the Raptor at ever increasing speed.. again with a sense of the increasing urgency the gunnery officer asks again,
“Commander do we disable or destroy?”
But the Valkeeri commander holds silence as the red and gold of the Raptor is swiftly filling the view through the 3 oval bubble shaped viewports..
“Commander?” cries the alarmed officer and at the last possible effective moment the Valkeeri commander snatches up the steller-radio and orders to her patrol fleet,
“DESTROY! DESTROY! DESTROY!”

And the Imperium replies in kind…. we roll our dice…

KA-BOOM!

Both rockets are instantly annihilated in a huge catastrophic combination of high-speed collision and atomic fire. Such an awesome cinematic moment! We take a couple minutes to cheer and discuss tumbling debris. But I also point out now.. now there is only one Class 2 remaining on the field, the Class 2 Stiletto of Jimmy’s Space Pirates. If anyone is to claim the extra points from boarding an enemy rocket it will have to be his. The Zenithian Saucers try and escape back towards their corner, My Scorpions try and grab whatever targets they can manage as the order phase allows, the pirates sweep into the conflict and the Valkeeri press their attacks on my Scorpions.

In the bitter fighting to follow a Scorpion is blasted by Zenithian beams and the Valkeeri lose some Sirens as all sides start throwing shots in with each others attacks… One Scorpion looking under threat decides to make a beeline right for the Stiletto at the back of the field. Jimmy notes that he will be able to return fire (but with their 180 degree fire arcs it’s rare for the pirates to be unable to) however his attention is taken up by the Valkeeri who decide to take up the attack instead. The pirate rocket is stunned.. The Valkeeri get the initiative and so it will be the Valkeeri getting to attempt to board the rocket as only one rocket at a time may board a stunned rocket… i muse, not really entertaining the notion seriously, that i could try and prevent the rockets capture by shooting the stunned Stiletto while the Valkeeri are trying to board it, but Taphyl encourages me to do so, so my other Scorpion rushes across and while the poor Valkeeri are attempting to cut through the outer hatch with their lasers, or perhaps are just inside beginning the firefight with the pirates within, the atomic light of Imperial wrath lances through the drifting pirate craft leaving any survivors thankful they have their EVA suits on as the rockets precious atmosphere is vented into the cold void of space.

The remaining Pirates are not dettered however and wreak vengeance on Taphyl’s Valkeeri and my Imperial forces. While the remaining Zenithian saucer has been hanging back on delayed action letting the rest of the carnage whittle down it’s foes… but in the end once more the dreaded pirates are triumphant! One by one we fall to the Daggers of the scurvy star-dogs. Not only do they have the field but have destroyed such a wide array of everyone elses forces that Jimmy is the clear victor in points too!

Then we all shook hands and packed up, chatting and discussing the colour schemes we each intended for our fleets as we went our separate ways.

A particularly fun game. The huge collision and explosion between the Fury and the Raptor was truly memorable.

Wicked Space Princesses (and a Queen)

This post is about the classic scifi archetype of the female villain, the strong-willed determined cunning woman, who ends up turning good. Warning, this will include spoilers.

Perhaps the first example i saw was Princess Ardala of the 80’s Buck Rogers, though i’m not sure if in my childhood i ever caught the finale of season 1 where we finally see the Princess joining forces with Buck against a common enemy.


In many ways she was the main romantic character in the show. While intially there was plenty of romantic tension between Buck and Wilma as the show went on that tended to become less of a focus while it remained a significant sub-plot to the episodes Ardala was in. Though we cannot forget the importance of Wilma as a strong competant woman character through the many versions of Buck Rogers… until season 2 of the 80s alas where she stoped being a strong ray-gun weilding fighter-pilot officer in command of others and became pretty much just bridge crew in a skirt. Ardala didn’t return for season 2 either and the show became more of a buddy-piece with the new character Hawk, but crucially this also followed the villain-turned-hero model, though Hawk wasn’t part of a tyrannical state who learned the value of ethics, rather he was a victim of racist (or speciesist) genocide exacting vengeance on members of the species that killed his people who through Bucks actions learned that there were good people amongst the humans too.. so for it’s flaws season 2 of Buck Rogers does have it’s value.

One thing i liked was the frequency that Princess Ardala changes outfits, often in several different outfits accross the one episode and different outfits each episode she was in which is a fairly significant investment in wardrobe budget for a tv show, but hey, if you are Princess of an all-conquering empire in command of a gigantic battlecruiser filled with the latest in fightercraft wouldn’t you splurge on clothes too? Here’s another of the many outfits.

Another of the 80’s versions of the Evil-Princess-who-turns-good was of course Princess Aura from the 80’s film version of Falsh Gordon

But of course the character of Princess Aura is far from new, so here’s the original 30’s version


This seems heroic, but she’s just trying to get what she wants..

Though eventually she does end up amongst the friends of the heros.. and it’s not because of loving Flash Gordon, rather it’s Prince Barin she ends up with. Again it’s also not just the villainess who turns from villain to hero, the planet Mongo is filled with people at each others throats and out for their own survival and gain but many of them, because of the actions of the Earthlings, learn the value of friendship and do the evil-to-good switch.

And here’s the first film version, note her steely resolve while the man beside her is far less composed.


Also of note in this show is Dale Arden who sure is usualy saved by Flash and co but gets her moments such as in the second film serial Flash Gordons Trip To Mars where not only does she insist on joining the adventure but also at one point she lauches and flies a rocket shooting the enemy on the ground to save Flash and co.

Dale Arden, Rocketeer. Flying to the rescue!

Of course it’s not always Princesses. Rocky Jones faced Queen Cleolanthe, a tyrant who kept her people in controlled ignorance of the wide interstellar world beyond their own planet.


In her last story we get to see her attitude softening in the face of others compassion helping her people escape from total destruction and giving hope that the now homeless people still will have a future.

While none of the few episodes i’ve watched of the 50’s Flash Gordon show so far have this archetype the episode Deadline At Noon tells us much of the way that science fiction was playing a part in the rising equality of women. Halfway through the episode our heros of the far future travel back in time to the time period the show was made in.. and they make a point of discussing the lot of women in that time, really the present day the show was made and broadcast in, as the final punchline in a discussion of the primitive state of the era. Those who’d like to see that scene can skip 13 minutes in on youtube and it can be watched and downloaded here

But my favourite is perhaps back to Princess Aura, but the 70s Animated version. So much so i bought one of the animation cels that the cartoon was made with (actually i bought several from the show but i paid the most for Aura).

Yes i own this Mua-Ha-Ha-Haaaaaaa

Yes this archetype is usualy quite sensual but they aren’t a shrew to be tamed and conquered by the hero the way many strong women have been portrayed as. They are not conquered by the hero, Aura doesn’t end up with Flash, she turns her attention to Prince Barin when he shows how much he cares for her. Ardala remains in command of a battlecruiser, she simply has worked with Buck Rogers and the forces of Earth. Cleolanthe may have lost her planet but not her throne or her people. These women retain their strength and their power.

These days most stories give us villains that are never redeemed, sometimes the heros give them a chance but they refuse and fall to their deaths or otherwise die by their own devices, other times they are portrayed like mad dogs who can only be put down and the hero kills them. It’s rare that instead we get stories that show the possibility of redemption, but truly what victory is more complete, the total destruction of your enemy or having your enemy change their heart and become your friend? As far as i’m concerned that is a much more impressive achievement.

The MacGuffinite Blood Crystals of the Plain of Hotz

“So this is what they have come to this world for.” Princess Taegan held aloft the fist-sized blood red luminous radioactive crystal that was retrieved from one of the wrecked Space Pirate rockets destroyed during the recent battle of four fleets, “They have found a deposit of MacGuffinite on the moon of Dormientes Draco!”

Once more the world of Dormientes Draco was the scene of atomic battle… in other words again i went down to my local gaming store the Sleeping Dragon to play war rocket.

I had hoped to show my friend Jason the game after hearing that he’d been looking at the miniatures in the Sleeping Dragon but alas he didn’t show up today (but then again he’s even less a morning person than i am so i’ll likely catch up with him later on). Many of the locals were caught up in a card game tournament so i once more faced store owner Warwick.

Warwick once again went with the Space Pirates, though this time instead of using my small force of pirates he used his own old Battlefleet Gothic miniatures. Their round bases turned out not to be an obstacle because… he had a hex game mat!

It turns out that when he got the War Rocket stock he also got a Hotz mat with a lovely martian red landscape. And so i quickly read through the small adjustments in the rules for playing on a hex mat and away we went!

We didnt want to fuss with any of the scenarios with uneven points values so we went for the Mining mission. The objective, to get 5 units of precious minerals off your own table edge before your opponent.

Forces:
1 class 3
2 class 2s
3 class 1s
Imperial forces of Princess Taegan vs the Space Pirates of Captain Woz

Terrain:
Three crater-mines with docking ports
Two clouds

Warwick suggested a swift off-the-cuff mechanic for moving the clouds so we treated them as blocking all shooting but no impediment to movement, a bit of a departure from normal nebula rules. We would roll a 6 sided dice for the wind direction in that area at the end of the special actions phase (Warwick suggested the wind was a complex vortex so we rolled separately for each cloud) and then a d8 for the distance the cloud moved. We also decided to go long-edge to long-edge of the table just because it was more comfortable with the position of the table in the room 🙂

Warwick also bought himself a dice from his own stock in a nice black and red to suit his fleet colours and then we began. First to move on was of course my Class 3 Gryphon which i brought in on the centre followed by the pirate Class 3 and then i lost the roll-off so i brought my Raptors in going for the mine on my right flank while Warwick brought his on more centrally, then i sent one scorpion with the Raptors and the other two went for the left flank mine. Warwick concentrated his class 1 Daggers in a group that raced forward towards my Scorpion pair…

In a couple turns and the shooting started.. I had positioned one scorpion at a mine entrance and another was beside it to support it.. the Daggers swept around out of my fire arc and… one stun and another a roll of a 10 and kaboom again i lost a scorpion in the first round of fire in a game! But what was worse was the run that traditionally unlucky Warwick was to have! As he lined up my stunned Scorpion and… another 10! Then on the right flank the pirate Class 2 Stiletto’s were facing the two Raptors and the remaining Scorpion but because of positioning the Scorpion couldn’t be shot so he fired on the unpainted Raptor… Another 10! Three 10’s.. in a row! As my Gryphon was slowly pulling into range the Stiletto’s danced about to stay far enough away to keep firing with minimal shots back meanwhile the pirate Class 3 and two of the class 1s were swiftly loading their cargo bays with the precious radioactive MacGuffinite, or in their scoundrel slang Blood Crystals.. The other Dagger flew around heading towards the vulnerable back of my slow ponderous Gryphon, the only direction this rocket doesn’t have a gun pointing from.. but the swirling clouds (often eerily moving in just the kind of spiral one would expect from a swirling vortex) had a change of heart and the cloud nearby moved to block the vulnerable arc of the Gryphon!

Given the option of firing on my remaining Raptor or my remaining Scorpion he quite sensibly went for the more manoeuvrable and speedy rocket… Another 10!!!!!!!!!!!!

Four 10s in a row!

But this time my forces found their mark and first a Stiletto was stunned and then destroyed. And the cloud kept pace with the gryphon floating alongside it as if caught in it’s wake. The Dagger and Stiletto danced around the rightmost mine as the Raptor dueled them for initiative and the Gryphon kept forcing their movement to stay out of it’s longer range and near-enclosing fire arcs. Alas with the Scorpions all destroyed i had no hope of intercepting the escaping class 3 heavy with it’s load of MacGuffinite before it would escape.. even then i’d have needed a lucky roll to destroy it but 10s seemed to be in vogue over the plain of Hotz but alas it was already too far away so i focussed on trying to take down the remaining pirates to make them pay dearly for their delaying action.

Thanks to the slide movement option available in the hex movement rules my Raptor was able to fly over the mine and into position for a shot. Being a standard Raptor not an upgraded one unlike most class 2s it has a firepower of only 1, the same as a single Scorpion, which meant i’d need a good roll to put down this scurvy star-dog… and now it was time for my dice to roll a 10! The remaining dagger soared out of range to follow it’s compatriots and the pirate class 3 crossed the table edge with the remaining MacGuffinite to win them the game, and even in points of rockets lost they won too, but i was happy being able to do some damage to them before they won.

In hindsight i think i shouldn’t have split my forces so much, i don’t think the Imperial rockets work so well on their own and often need to cooperate in order to ensure they can hit back at least some of the time. Though what can you do against 4 10s in a row? The hexmat play was fun with it’s own quirks, i’m not sure i have a favourite yet between hex and non-hex but both are definitely enjoyable. The Hotz mat certainly looked great and i always liked martian landscapes so i may have to invest in one of those myself. I may have to figure out how to make some Imperial-looking buildings or find some to buy as well as some nice gun emplacements to try the princess-rescuing mission soon. As for the Gryphon, well so far it’s power was in it’s fearsome presence and potential more than it’s direct action. Being so slow and so always moving first it meant that it was more of a block of space where the enemy didn’t want to be but didn’t do any damage itself. I will need to use it some more to get the full measure of it put it is definitely useful in that alone.. though any one of those 10s would have destroyed even it’s mighty armor.

Shane is building a Zenithian force starting with the squadron pack full of class 1 and 2 saucers, i’m looking forward to a larger game against the saucermen, those speedy class 2s are pretty terrifying despite their fragility so i’ll have to be sure i hit them enough to start diluting their firepower. Should be fun.

Images of Imperial reinforcements fill propaganda news-streams

Imperial reinforcements ready for their coating of atom-ray refracting paints and electro-coated precious metals

I managed to use my webcam to take some (as usual blurrry) pics of the expansion for my Imperial fleet.

Here you can see the comparative sizes of the four different classes of rocket.

The designers did a great job of ensuring each faction has a unifying theme and style while ensuring each rocket class has it’s own character.

An ominous view for any of the Empires enemies!

Once painted up, even with a very basic paintjob, the class 3 Gryphons and the Class 4 Manticore will be stunning pieces.

The top view shows how truly huge and imposing these rockets are!

For the photos i perched them on the nearest large book i had at hand, which turns out to be rather appropriate. The influence in design is undeniable (after all what hasn’t been influenced by Alex Raymonds art? Scifi and comics still show his influence today!) but still the Imperial rockets have a distinct style that merges several influences together into a single unified look.

The full size of the reinforcement fleets are revealed!

This doesn’t include the already painted 3 class 1s and class 2 as well as an undercoated but not yet painted class 2.

Mua-Ha-Hahaaaaa

Astute Rocketeers will have noticed the gleaming skull-mask. I picked it up for a song coming up to halloween. It seems very imperial, beautiful, fierce, frightening and golden. I picture this as the facemask of the helmets of Imperial police, elite guards or special forces. And doesn’t it look happy!

Princess Taegan’s fleet.

I still haven’t glued the turret on yet but have it blu-tacked facing backwards. I have to make a definate decision on that soon.

Let those who oppose the will of Marduk tremble!

Why the Empire?

A question that occassionally is asked of me is why i tend to play villainous sides in wargames. Especially when in real life i’m often counted amongst the goodies.

Why play the tyrannous dictatorial Empire?

Well usually there’s a series of reasons. Being a Goth i often found the bad guys in toys, cartoons and films as i grew up more suited my aesthetic style.

Then there’s the amount of attachment one can feel to your troops.. playing the good guys and losing can feel bad, one friend who played Eldar in Warhammer 40,000 once talked about how much it hurt to lose every soldier knowing they were a dying race. So losing not just the game but every casualty can hurt (this may well have been the point H. G. Wells was trying to make when he pretty much invented the wargaming hobby!). But when playing the bad guys it isn’t so bad if you lose and you don’t have to care so much about each casualty (especially playing things like Tyranids in warhammer 40,000 and the Vampire Counts in warhammer).  Of course it could be said that it’s as bad when i win but as i play for fun (though i try not to get wiped out, the most fun game being a close game after all) i don’t tend to crush my enemies all that often.

It’s also true that the good guys tend to be the most popular but it can be hard to have good reasons for the fight if everyone is a good guy (this is often true of warhammer 40,000 where space marine players are very common and they aren’t really the type (and nor is the universe around them) to go on manouvers with non-lethal weapons to train against other marines very much (though that said there is an awesome training mock-warfare sequence in Graham McNeils Priests Of Mars warhammer 40,000 novel). But when you play a neutral or villainous faction there’s always a reason for a fight with any other faction or the same faction. At the end of the day someone’s gotta play the baddies 🙂 otherwise there can’t be the good vs bad clash.

But with War Rocket it’s a bit different. The other factors come into it and a very large part was that the Imperial rockets totally hooked me visually. But it also presented a golden opportunity. One of the things i love in the story of Flash Gordon and many sim ilar stories is how villainous characters like Princess Aura and Valten become heroes. So while the Galacteers match more my real-world views (i do human-rights activism where i can) with the Imperials with my own character of Princess Taegan i can play the villain on the edge of becoming a hero, i can enjoy the melodrama of evil cackling and also enjoy allying with the Galacteers to fight against a Zenithian invasion. I get to have fun with, and make subversive and seditious fun of, evil tyranny while playing with the ‘romance with the enemy’ adventure story and redemption of the villain as they are turned into a hero by another hero’s example story that seems like so many things to have become rare in our modern mythology.

So on that note… In the name of Emperor Marduk, ATTACK!

New Construction at Imperial Star-port

The fleet of Princess Taegan is growing swiftly with a huge construction project underway.

My local game store The Sleeping Dragon just got in a nice big mass of War Rocket stock so i rushed in and fell upon the shelves like a starving viper-bat.

Everything was tempting, eventually i want to get a decent sized fleet of every faction. But for now my wallet screamed at me to focus on my beloved Imperial fleet. So first thing grabbed.. the Class 3 Gryphon. Then an Imperial Squadron to get my fleet size up tremendously. Then i noticed they had a class 4 Manticore, into the pile that went followed by another Gryphon. A Valkeeri class 3 was tempting me, my goodness that’s a beautiful machine seeing it in the resin, but i managed to resist because beside the War Rocket stock was some Retro Raygun stock! No Queen Mechanika alas but some of the girls were there and i snapped up Galacteer Jane Hunter and the pointing Valkeeri leader. I’m hoping that Imperial Retro Raygun miniatures will come out whe the rules are released, otherwise i’m going to have to choose between Valkeeri and Robot Legion till they do (though i’ll be buying a few of them anyway).

So i already have assembled one of my Gryphons and the Manticore. I drilled the holes for the stands a bit deeper to get a fairly good fit without having to glue or pin them. Though i haven’t glued on yet the Manticore Turret, i’m still trying to choose between pointing it forward, backward or at a diagonal angle. I contemplated using a magnet to attach it as i’ve done that on lots of my Warhammer 40,000 Tyranids  but it’s such a small part it might get easilly lost so i think gluing in place will be in order.

These are awesome miniatures and i really am looking forward to painting them. The local store is having a big card-game release thing this saturday though so there’s no saturday game report this week.

Four Fleets Clash at Sleeping Dragon

Chapter Three: The Battle of Four Fleets

Where we left our story last week… The Imperial rockets of the fleet of Princess Taegan, daughter of Emperor Marduk, had fought skirmish after skirmish with several groups of those scurvy scoundrels stalking the space lanes, the Space Pirates, around the planet Dormientes Draco as well as brief clashes with Zenithians. A battle between Valkeeri and Zenithians was also observed in this sector of space.

This week we tune in to discover another Space Pirate captain trying to raid this world….

So i turn up for the regular saturday gaming at the Sleeping Dragon my local game store. I was hoping to play against Jimmy, Stewart and/or Will again and there had been talk of a possible four player game with them but alas they didn’t show up today.  I was starting to fear i wouldn’t get a game in this week however as luck would have it the store owner Warwick came in so Warwick got his chance to try the game i’ve been raving about.

Based solely off the concept he went with the Space Pirates, though i think he’d be playing the Imperium if i wasn’t as he was quite taken with the Imperial ships. We set up the table and planet and it’s moon for a simple shoot out like the other games i’ve gone with so far for teaching others (and learning myself) the basics. For once the first salvo didn’t take out one of my Scorpions, however swiftly Warwick developed a unique dice rolling method involving a unique pattern of shaking and a most vigorous roll onto the table and…. got a destroy result with every single roll from that moment on! I’ve never seen anyone be so lucky with my grey d10! Could there be something to the superstitions of these scurrilous star scallywags? Surely not! I definitely need to work more on defensive positioning of my ships in turns where i will be moving last to try and get at least one hit in in return but nothing would have helped much against those perfect rolls! Amusingly Warwick i’m told usually has terrible fortunes with dice so this was quite the turnaround for his luck. There were also some great moments where i positioned well for an attack… only to find myself a fraction out of range! Despite the solid loss i really enjoyed this game. Unlike other games that tended to have most rockets moving in a much more free flowing way I found myself flying my scorpions in tight formation (if only i’d turned the outer ones facing in each direction i might have got a hit back at a key moment) and Warwick certainly was making the most of keeping his rockets in close lines with overlapping fire arcs which worked well and looked great. I will have to decide on colours for my space pirates as they prove so popular with people wanting to learn the game. It will be fantastic playing this with everything painted.

Then it was time for a four-way game. Allying with my Imperial fleet was that very same pirate captain who’d just defeated me! What could drive the Imperium and the Space Pirates together? An alliance between the interstellar amazons the Valkeeri and those Invaders from another dimension the Zenithians! So it was Warwick and I versus Hadrian and Sam!

With 4 players we grabbed some cotton wool for some impromptu nebula terrain to add to the planetary (a cloud of debri, blasted metal scattered atoms and frozen crystals of atmosphere from the destroyed rockets of previous battles perhaps?) and launched right in. Sam hadn’t played any wargame at all before so took a tiny smidge of explaining as we went but as usual war rocket is a game anyone can learn in minutes. First blood went to the Space Pirates as they rushed in blasting at aValkeeri Siren and adding it’s wreckage to the nebula. However this wasn’t the first shot the pirates fired, despite the trend of the game just minutes prior Warwick’s special rolling technique had lost some of it’s charm! The Fury and remaining Sirens retaliated and the Pirate commander in his Stiletto was no more. The Zenithians rushed to try and reach where the battle was heating up on the other side of Dormientes Draco while there was a terrible clash as the Fury rushed to blast the Imperial Raptor point-blank only to be flanked on the one side by the Imperial Scorpions and on the other by the Space Pirate class 1’s the Daggers. Blasts flew in every direction (and i nearly ran out of counters! I must get some more for bigger games!) but the heavy armour of the Raptor saw it through while the Fury was sundered by the slashing atom rays directed upon it from all sides! However it wasn’t all our way, one of the Daggers too was destroyed by Zenithian beams! We only had minutes of time left so we hastened the next turn. The Space Pirates tried to get around the planet… or were they running away, perhaps with their captain dead each scurvy space-dog realised they had a much bigger share of their stash back at their secret base and were rushing back to secure it? Or were they unwilling to face the Saucer-men? The Imperial rockets held firm, braced for incoming fire and picked out their targets while the Sirens rushed in firing from close range… and with the casualty rate even it was all down to the last rolls.. and Sam in his first wargame ever won the day for the Valkeeri-Zenithian alliance as one of my Scorpions was blasted from the stars!

Another great game and it was time for the store to close and me to get some lunch. definitely my weakpoint in games is tying to get return shots in the turns where i lose the roll-off in the order phase. That and the firepower advantage other class 2’s have compared to my Raptors (i see why the war rocket book mentions it’s common to add a second gun to the raptor using the custom rocket rules, once we start using the advanced rules i think most and maybe all my Raptors will be the 17 point upgraded ones) So far luck has played a sizable factor but the games thus far have been small using just a class 2 and 3 class 1’s each side. With larger games things should even out a little more. The Sleeping Dragon is getting in some stock in the next week or two and i’ll definitely be adding a class 3 Gryphon and whatever else they get in that  i can afford to my Imperial fleet (hopefully more Scorpions and Raptors) and hopefully others will have enjoyed it enough to get their own fleets started. I should get onto painting my second Raptor too and i need to figure out how I want to paint my planet and moon.

I’m interested in seeing how games including class 3 and 4 rockets change. The greater fire arcs of the Gryphon but it’s slow speed and lack of rear-facing weaponry will mean i will need to have at least some class 1 or 2 rockets behind it to intercept attempts to attack it’s weak point. I should find out in a couple of weeks time.

Be sure to catch our next thrilling instalment at this theatre next week!