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With Hot Lead and Cold Steel
by Jim W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/20/2024 14:08:10

With Hot Lead and Cold Steel (WHLCS) is a set of rules written by Arthur van der Ster, published by Osprey Publishing, covering miniatures wargaming during the American Civil War (ACW) with regiments as the smallest maneuver element. Total force composition ranges from two brigades on the small end to a corps or more on the high end.*

What I liked:

  • WHLCS is pretty comprehensive without being cumbersome. All of the basics are here in about 80 pages: infantry, artillery, cavalry; generals and their personalities; shooting, melee, morale; simple scenario design. I don't have a lot of in-depth knowledge of the period nor experience with ACW miniatures rules in general. However, this looks to be somewhere in the middle of the scale between beer & pretzels and hard-core simulation. Purists might find issue. As a neophyte, I see a fun game here, a gateway to more detailed games for those so inclined. The scaffolding looks simple and stable enough to incorporate ideas from other rulesets and support kit bashing.
  • Osprey Publishing has a reputation for releasing miniatures rules into the wild and letting them sink or swim on their own. However, the designer has independently provided decent support for the game. In addition to a handful of scenarios in the book itself, the designer provides references to other, third-party scenario publications that were adapted to WHLCS. It might take some work to incorporate these scenarios, but the references are appreciated. The designer also has a YouTube channel with a few tutorial videos and has been active in some of the niche fora that support the miniatures wargaming hobby.
  • Like many miniature wargames, the designer has a preferred scale and figure basing, but simple conversions are provided for other scales and the rules are designed to adapt to whatever standard you can get to the table.

This is a focused set of rules, so you won't find a lot of background on the ACW. Rules need to be tight, however, and there are some omissions and ambiguities in WHLCS. There is an FAQ, readily available with a search, that answers many questions. Unfortunately, the rules addendum is behind a private Facebook group.

Overall, thumbs up for a lightweight set of rules that can be read in an afternoon and enable a tabletop simulation that can be played in a few hours.

*The Aide de Camp rules are not designed for use with fewer than two brigades. However, you could game out an action with a single brigade on each side with a slight tweak to this rule, say 1d3 ADC points to be divvied up amongst the subordinate regiments. Perfect example of the adaptability of the ruleset.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
With Hot Lead and Cold Steel
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Vampires: A Hunter’s Guide
by Donald [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/01/2024 21:50:20

Bought this thinking there was a miniature wargame. instead got a bunch of flavor text



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Vampires: A Hunter’s Guide
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Hard City
by Scott [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/20/2023 23:02:17

A truly excellent game. Would highly recommend it to anyone interested in running a game with a noir theme. Mechanics are simple yet deeply thematic and quite elegant. Can’t recommend it enough.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Hard City
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Frostgrave: The Frostgrave Folio
by Christopher S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/10/2023 02:28:20

Frostgrave Folio:this is the rules managerie of Frostgrave.What do I mean by that?: it's multiple books folded into one.

The good: There's a lot of material to look through: campaigns, re-works (some of which are folded into rhe main rules now), even base upgrades!

The bad: really nothing, being from multiple sources it isnt as cohesive or organized as well as the other books. To be honest it was hard to find something to criticize.

The great: The Captain: swiss army knife of Felstad, and a great way to fold even more character into your warband. There are a few quirks to iron out if you're using one in the new edition. The best part if this book for me is that anyone can get some use out of it.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Frostgrave: The Frostgrave Folio
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Frostgrave: Blood Legacy
by Christopher S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/10/2023 02:13:04

Blood Legacy: at face value it's a book aboit Vampires and Giants, and to be honest it feels a bit different than the other Frostgrave material.

The good: this book gives you options for making a Vampire Wizard, or a Giant Wizard. With spell trees to boot.There are also rules for modifying your soldiers, it's flavorful and adds a bit of a twist.

The bad: many of the options and additions feel niche compared to the other Frostgrave books. These elements were added to provide a very distinct experience, rather than offering something to any playstyle.

The great: once again I find myself enamored with the soldiers and campaign sections. One of the soldiers is very situational, the others are specialized but still have that right combination of flavor and crunch. The campaigns are no joke: these will really test your resolve, but the rewards are equally as cool.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Frostgrave: Blood Legacy
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Frostgrave: The Maze of Malcor
by Christopher S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/10/2023 01:52:17

This Supplement is INSANE, containing almost the same amount of content as the main rulebook.

The added spell are a welcome addition to any group looking for a little added spice, in a way that feels really balanced. Some of these new spells are insanely cool: they are explained as being from schools which are a combination of the main spell families. While not the intent of the book, there are rules for making a wizard from one of these "lost schools", which us just icing on top of the frozen cake.

The campaign is excellent: very sneakily adding in warband options, and added layers that I wont spoil. This is not a book that you can just skim!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Frostgrave: The Maze of Malcor
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Frostgrave: Forgotten Pacts
by Christopher S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/10/2023 01:42:04

Forgotten Pacts adds a new level of complexity to Summoners and Sigilists, but in my opinion the new soldier types and campaign are the standouts. There is a bit of a typo (explained in the 2e rulebook) that the Mystic Brand spell cant be obtained via the loot table. A simple fix for this is allowing it to be taken by starting wizards (listed in the 2e rulebook);or,as my group has houseruled:allowing someone to swap a Sigilist Grimoire for one of Mystic Brand.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Frostgrave: Forgotten Pacts
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Hard City
by Seth T. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/05/2023 22:09:52

I have a video overview of Hard City that you can see here: https://youtu.be/VXvNYiSvHc0?si=jL_jySeWxbRO92Xr



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Hard City
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Those Dark Places: Industrial Science Fiction Roleplaying
by Maria P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/21/2023 16:27:38

Failed Ethos

TDP firstly posits itself as a narrative and roleplaying forward game, but I think it fails to be that when the margin for error is so broad and the margin for success so thin. The way stats work inherently mean that some players will simply not be able to accomplish certain tasks whatsoever, sometimes to the extent of not making particular sense, and create a sort of ambient lethality that does not necessitate the kind of investment in character a rules-lite, narrative-forward system inherently encourages. I initially planned on doing a one-off, but my players like their characters enough to carry them into another module, and the manner of "frequency" in which things happen invalidates the setting and genre immensely. TDP is passing okay in bite-sized vignettes, if you're okay with a game in which you will inherently always fail (not something I want to tell my players); the foundation of it crumbles apart in long-term prospects. I'm disappointed! I think the concept is incredibly cool, but perhaps wasn't playtested enough.

Combat Blues

I thought I could orient some interesting encounters in this, and when I tried to focus on combat, I found the rug swept out from underneath my feet. Dice generally aren't kind, but TDP stat allocations mean, again, that some characters statistically cannot land shots or effect combat in any way. I thought about allowing complimentary checks, but as it works strictly, it astounds me that it bothered with an initiative mechanic in the first place. Better, in my experience, to discourage combat entirely and accept that it won't function in the system. Lethal sitautions cannot be taken head on and an initiative tracker simply encourages players to do so. The best encounters I have had were ignoring this entirely; stray bullets start fires in server rooms or puncture the hull; players without combat capacity can instead rush to deal with new problems as they crop up; TDP really doesn't seem to have this in mind. Spoilers Ahead: The core book has an encounter that throws a wrench into the works: approximately 45+ enemies concentrated into one climatic situation. With the way things work, it simply didn't click in my head as to how that makes sense, and I had to discard it entirely. I'd considered simply saying that the crew's shotgun will splinter and excess damage will take down more, but it didn't necessarily click for me. If TDP ever becomes more, I think it would need some focus here. The D6 really betrays potential here.

Coyness in Text

I sort of felt bad showing my players the section that explains all the rules to them. A lot of this could be condensed to only a few pages, but unfortunately the text has a sort of sarcastic and coy voice that, while cute at first glance, sort of has a bad vibe to it. It also implicitly states that none of what the players are experiencing is real, which I think kneecaps things slightly. I ended up running with this to justify the constant horrors the crew was facing to springboard the story into something else, but taking it as presented really betrays character and player agency in a way that, again, undercuts the potential of TDP being a more narratively focused game. I wish it were more clinical and presented more straight-forwardly; players, and myself, got sort of lost in the mood the text was trying to present, which led to some mechanical misinterpretations.

Ultimately, I think TDP's core concept comes from a very heartfelt place, and it's a great stab at trying for something rules-lite in a horror scenario, but I think it's core ethos is simply betrayed by how it, generally, works and feels to play. With major homebrew changes - something I did with every consecutive session - it can start to feel a bit better to navigate. If that's not the kind of undertaking you want, you may be better off searching for other options. It's 1 roll or you're done, by TDP's standards, and I don't think that aligns with roleplay oriented players and GMs. It failed for my purposes, but it might work for yours if you're looking for bite-sized stories without too much investment, where wiping the crew is your ultimate goal.

TDP is great for short-term, low-investment emulations of your favorite horror films where you inevitably have your "final girl" (or guy), but I can't help but wonder how fun that must be to play in.



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Those Dark Places: Industrial Science Fiction Roleplaying
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Bug Hunts: Surviving and Combating the Alien Menace
by Zachary H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/30/2023 02:10:37

An excellant addition to any scifi treasure horde for any sci RPGs.

The only thing I was left to wonder is why haven't the star marines pitted the bugs against each other?

surely the crashing a xeno-parasite laden ship would be a valueable way to weaken the hive beasts or redirecting an infested asteroid to another bug planet. They might be bugs conflict would be inevitable if only over survival and rescources. Even hive-minds would be forced to fight over territory if nothing else.

And the Xeno-parasite in particular are a clear danger to every species.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Bug Hunts: Surviving and Combating the Alien Menace
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Sigil & Shadow
by Cain W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/25/2022 01:53:32

It's a better version of the World of Darkness\Chronicles of Darkness games. Totally free from all the weird little mechanics and backstory that might've got in the way of playing the folkloric monster you bought those games for. You can play as so many things in this game, and all of them can be tailored to your own idea of what those monsters\beings should be like; there's even a fun creative form of magic that's easier to understand and use than the one in Mage: the Awakening.

It's everything I ever wanted in an urban horror rpg. Really, the only thing missing is guidance on how to handle insanity, but I worked something out with my group in the end.

Amazing game!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Sigil & Shadow
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Paleomythic: A Roleplaying Game of Stone and Sorcery
by Pablo A. A. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/27/2022 18:57:24

Love this system. It is simple and elegant. Has effects for weapons and enough flexibility to add any equipment or monsters you may think of. I'm not sure about the crafting system but again, it is flexible enough.

A jewel that should be further developed by the publisher.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Paleomythic: A Roleplaying Game of Stone and Sorcery
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Those Dark Places: Industrial Science Fiction Roleplaying
by Philipp N. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/17/2021 02:28:51

Not Hard-Sci-Fi

I'm searching for a Sci-Fi-RPG "our time plus 50-150 years and only believable technical progress" and was pointed in the direction of this book. However we have FTL, some debateable changes to Earth (regarding a hard sci-fi setting) and artificial gravity. Since all official texts never state that it is Hard-Sci-Fi, I don't blame the book, the authors, or the publisher.

Gritty stories in space

I still love the book, the setting, the easy rules and the ideas put into text. Games like Eclipse Phase make a lot of effort to get even things like the economy right, but I never was able to build a thriller-like tension, and I think that's because the players get the big picture why they have to suffer through the horros of the setting. Those Dark Places delibrately puts the big picture to the higher-ups and doesn't even try to explain it. FTL works like "you set course, point the ship into the right direction and push the button. Then you go to sleep". You are months away from Earth and nobody on the ship would be able to repair or modify anything on the FTL drive, instant tension, even if everything goes well (also I found no FTL communication, so any distress call takes some years).

Conclusion

In the end I'm still looking for a written hard-sci-fi setting (because I'm lazy and don't want to research for one on my own), but if you are not picky this game easily allows you to just ignore FTL and artificial gravity, because that's something your characters wouldn't understand or work with anyway.

The game does what it itself promises very well, I don't regret buying it.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Those Dark Places: Industrial Science Fiction Roleplaying
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Lion Rampant
by David T. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/25/2021 10:49:54

Great rules, very playable. Purchased as part of a bundle of holding, so excellent value for money.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Lion Rampant
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On the Seven Seas: Wargames Rules for the Age of Piracy and Adventure c.1500–1730
by David T. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/25/2021 10:48:50

pirates, what's not to like? Purchased as part of a bundle of holding so excellent value for money.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
On the Seven Seas: Wargames Rules for the Age of Piracy and Adventure c.1500–1730
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