Tuesday, 14 January 2020

My new upcycled Waltrop Box

a wooden box

Happy new year!

Going through my children's old toys I found a wooden box which they don’t need any more.

I repainted it, using paints with fancy names like "Lucy in the Sky" and "Cape Town Blue", and glued a map of Waltrop on it.

my new upcycled Waltrop box

I use the box to store some things we need for our Dragon Rampant games: three dice made out of bones to roll for leader traits, a tactical assault & coherency template which was produced by Gale Force 9 in 2008 and a 3" blast template, an object we need when we play with my cousin, because he likes to be very precise with unit coherency.

3 roman bone dice and 2 templates

Unfortunately after painting and varnishing the box the lid bent. I have been trying to straighten it for some time now but it only got worse.

Also, I’m very eager to make a wooden box like this from scratch one day …

Tuesday, 10 December 2019

CONflict 2019

CONflict 2019

On the 22nd of June Krüger and I took the train to Langenfeld to go to the wargaming convention CONflict. The train was filled with visitors of the Kirchentag, the German Protestant Church Assembly, that took place in Dortmund that week.

We were picked up by my cousin at a forsaken train station. He drove us to a building at the edge of the city, next to some fields.

On the parking lot we met Alex, a friend from Wesel, an amazing painter and very relaxed gamer. He was smoking a cigarette. There was a strange picture on the package, looking like an illustration from the Call of Cthulhu monster manual. I made a bad joke. I said that in a year Alex would look like the thing on his cigarette package, a piece of meat with a hole in it, if he wouldn’t quit smoking. "In a year?", he asked.

The CONflict is mostly about presentation games. There were a lot of excellent tables and maybe three vendors. More Terrain, GeBoom and somebody selling books. I already knew some people from the Tactica in Hamburg and other gaming conventions.

I think we were the only visitors. We played three games.

The first game was Shootout in Dingstown. It's a game I had played in Hamburg with Jörg earlier this year. A German skirmish game by Axel Jansen. It’s great fun. I wrote about it here. In February we had to rob a bank. Now the scenario was about kidnaping a doctor.

When my cousin almost managed to do so with his gang of gunslinging women, one of Alex's lawmen accidentally shot the doctor and thus ended the game.

About 20 years ago my cousin and I came across a website called The Dortmund Amateur Wargamers when we started to search the internet for 28mm miniatures and strategy games like DBA and HotT.

We are from Dortmund and were surprised that such a club existed in our home town. The question came up: what is a professional wargaming club? My cousin sent them an email, but they never responded. To my surprise the table next to the Dingstown table was run by members of The Dortmund Amateur Wargamers.

They were preparing a large ECW game using paper miniatures and rules from the book 'Wargame the English Civil War' by Peter Dennis. We asked if we could join the game for an hour.

A friendly man in his 60s explained what kind of scissors he had used to cut out the 2000 paper soldiers on the table. Tailor’s scissors, if I remember well. We also found out that the Dortmund Amateur Wargamers lost access to their website and that most of them had moved away from Dortmund, but not too far away. We slowly moved around some units on the table, rolled some dice and then left for a lunch break …

In the afternoon we played a 40K game which was presented by a member of the club Kurpfalz Feldherren. He had recycled parts of a Frostgrave table, I had seen at the Tactica in Hamburg this year, to make a beautiful table looking like the scenery common in the 90s. He used the second edition of Warhammer 40K as a ruleset.

Alex and my cousin played the forces of the emperor, space marines and imperial army, Krüger and I played tyranids. They had to take a scientist out of a frozen fortress and we had to prevent this. There was a lot of power gaming going on in our group. At one point Alex said: guys, this is a convention game, not a tournament!

The last turn was a battle of PSI abilities. Nevertheless I enjoyed the game.

I hope to visit the CONflict again next year, maybe I can even go for two days, to try out more gaming tables.

And maybe one day I will meet the guys responsible for the excellent website Major General Tremorden Rederring’s Colonial-era Wargames Page, but I think I have to travel to Texas for that …

Tuesday, 26 November 2019


playing Warhammer 40K with Krüger, Hendrik and Joaquín

On the 8th of October, coming out of our tax advisor's office, two weeks after my mother’s death, I noticed that the shop which used to be called GAMES WORKSHOP was now called WARHAMMER. I was curious, walked over to take a closer look, found out that the shop was closed and studied the painted miniatures behind the window.

A young man came over, holding a little box in his hands.

"Damn. It’s closed", he said.

"Yes", I said. "Strange."

"I was looking for somebody to play 40K with", he said.

"What army do you play?"

"Space Marines. Salamanders."

"Those are the Space Marines that live in the jungle?"

„In the jungle? I don’t know. They are all equipped with flame throwers. I have them here in my box.“

"I sometimes play 40K with a friend. He used to live in Berlin, but unfortunately he moved to Dortmund recently. Are the rules very important to you? We play the 5th edition. It was written by Alessio Cavatore. It’s my favourite."

"The new edition is very beginner-friendly. I like that."

"If you would like to play with us, please contact me. I have a blog. It’s called Herr Zinnlings Arbeitszimmer. I have some 40K battle reports on it. So you can see how we play. It’s a bit old school, though."

"Damn. I’m angry that the shop is closed. I came all the way from Aplerbeck to play 40K."

"Yes. I mean. Really. Please contact me if you want to play with us. There’s a contact form on my blog."

"Schlimmling? What kind of name is that?"

"Äh. No. Zinnling. Herr Zinnling’s Arbeitszimmer."

"But you live in Berlin?"

"Yes. But I’m in Dortmund often. My mother died two weeks ago."

"I’m reall pissed off about this. I came all the way from Aplerbeck and now the shop is closed."

Ok. This didn’t work. He probably thought I was some kind of human spam bot, lurking in front of GW shops, ähh … AoS shops, to advertise my blog.

Instead I went to Krüger’s house with my two sons and we played 40K. We had a great time. We played Space Marines vs Orks. Both sides were able to secure one objective, if I remember well, and the game ended in a tie. It was the boys' first game of 40K.

Tuesday, 9 July 2019

Some help needed writing an RPG adventure for 3 kids

cookie island

I'm on a small island in the Aegean sea. It's a volcano and looks like this cookie. We are here for three weeks because of my wife's work. She is teaching screenwriters how to pitch their scripts.

Between 1 PM and 5 PM it's so hot, you shouldn't go outside. After that I go to a pool with the kids. It's next to a cliff, ten meters above the sea. There's not much there to protect you from falling down, besides a cable and a rusty shower. On the other side: a wall, a fence, some beautiful flowers, red and pink. Behind that: the noisy street and a hotel.

The water is heated by the volcano and leaves thick orange stains on clothes and googles. The music is loud and cheap, but somehow relaxing. While my children are swimming in the pool or floating around in safety buoys, I'm drinking some kind of mocha - έναν ελληνικό γλυκό παρακαλώ - which the waiter prepares with great care, and look at another island which is slowly but entirely being removed with excavators, trucks and ships. This fills me with melancholy because I’m conservative at heart.

I'm sitting next to the pool and read Principia Apocrypha and Gurps Light. (I forgot how complicated role playing games are, if you are out of practice.) I want to write a simple cavern adventure, taking place in ancient Greece, so we have something to do while we hide from the sun.

Maybe you have some ideas?

(For encounters, treasures, traps, etc.)

I will post the adventure later on this blog.

I can also send a bottle of Soumada or a little minotaur from the tourist shop to the first person who figures out which island we are on.


To make it easier for you: Here is a model of the island which I found on a cupboard in the local primary school.

Tuesday, 18 June 2019

The Village / Dragon Rampant Battle Report

The topics I mostly write about on my blog are "Krüger", "Beyond the Pillars of Heracles" and "battle reports".

Krüger is one of my best friends who lived in Berlin for a long time, studying philosophy. We have played many tabletop games and we also played Badminton regularly, talking incessantly about strategy games during the breaks.

chicken truck

Unfortunately, Krüger moved to Dortmund at the end of March. A few weeks before he left we wrote a scenario for Dragon Rampant, D3+2 Objectives, which we also tested several times.

This blog post is about the last game we played when Krüger still lived in Berlin. It was the 16th game of our campaign "Beyond the Pillars of Heracles", taking place on the imaginary island Waltrop. As objective markers we used some mud huts, I recently finished.

The Greeks, who had landed on the northwestern coast of Waltrop some time ago, had put the orc tribes, living there, under a lot of pressure and now made a move to attack one of their villages (hexagon 20 on the campaign map). Heracleides the Great commanded the Greek army himself.

Krüger played the orcs defending the village with this army list:

Elite Foot (Leader) / 2 Bellicose Foot / Light Foot / Heavy Riders / Light Riders (Short Range Missiles)

I played the Greek attackers:

Elite Foot (Leader + Enchanted Weapon) / 2 Heavy Foot / Light Missiles / Light Riders (Short Range Missiles) / Scouts

Both generals got the trait Boneshaker as the result of a roll on the leader traits table.

initial deployment

This map shows the initial deployment of both armies. Krüger wrote the following battle report which I translated from German to English. (Orcs speak German, of course.) I took the pictures and drew the maps.


My goblins (light foot) were supposed to protect my right flank and the objective on my right side, a mud hut. I placed a unit of boar riders (heavy riders) on the other side of the mud hut and close to the second mud hut on my side of the table. This way they could secure one of these objectives later or just go forward to attack.

It was my intention to attack mainly from the centre and from my left flank, so I placed two large orc warbands (bellicose foot) and the orc boss (elite foot) in the centre. On my left, a unit of goblin wolf riders (light riders) was ready to threaten the objective on my opponent’s side.

The Greek used their light riders in a similar way, to threaten the objective on my right side. Both objectives on their side of the table were protected by units of hoplites (heavy foot).

ancient greeks vs orcs

Their centre was rather weak. It had scouts and light missiles. Heracleides, the general, (elite foot) stood in the back to protect it.

The First Turns

During the first turns not much happened. The orc boss and the boar riders moved forward. The goblin spears formed a shieldwall in front of the mud hut, while the Greek light riders moved towards them. On my left flank the two orc warbands moved forward very slowly, so the goblin wolf riders rode towards the Hoplites alone.

greek hoplites

During their first turns, the Greek Hoplites formed shieldwalls next to the mud huts on their side. Their scouts and light shooters sent arrows in the direction of the advancing orcs which made me loose two boar riders.

The orc boss got close enough to attack the scouts and destroyed them in two turns.

The boar riders moved to the right to defend the goblin spears against the Greek light riders and to protect the objective on my right flank.

On my left flank the goblin wolf riders broke under the arrows of the Greek bows.

Now most units were close enough to move into close combat and the eventful middle phase of our game began.

The middle Phase of our Game

Turn 6

The Greeks prepared themselves for the onslaught of the orcs and fired a last volley of arrows at them, but in vain.

ancient greeks vs orcs

On my right flank the boar riders attacked the Greek light riders. Although the orcs slew two Greeks and only suffered one loss themselves, they broke and fled towards the woods. Then the goblin spears attacked the Greek riders. Both units suffered one loss. To my great disappointment the cowardly goblins broke.

greek archers

Meanwhile the orc boss attacked the Greek light shooters, three archers lost their life, but my general also suffered a wound. The retreating archers were attacked by one of my orc warbands and broke.

ancient greeks vs orcs

Turn 7

Heracleides seized his chance and attacked the orc boss. The orc was wounded twice and Heracleides lost a man. This loss broke Heracleides’ moral and made him flee in the direction of the attacker’s table edge.

All the orc units rallied. The orc warband on my left angrily assaulted the Greek Hoplites who received them in a "Wall of Spears" formation. One Hoplite and two orcs died, but the orcs broke again.

Meanwhile the goblin wolf riders rode back to protect the mud hut in the centre on my side and the boar riders rode towards my general in order to help him.

Turn 8

Heracleides and his men rallied. The Greek light horse rode towards the objective in my centre, to attack the goblin riders I had just moved there.

My second orc warband also had to make a wild charge towards the hoplites on my left side. Their fate was even worse. They suffered three losses and were destroyed immediately.

orc boss

Now the orc boss attacked Heracleides, but wasn’t lucky. He lost another strength point.

The End

Heracleides seized his chance, attacked the orc boss and killed him. What followed was a streak of bad luck. Each of my units had to test courage because I had lost my general. The result was that all my mounted units - the wolf riders and the boar riders - were removed from the table.

Until this happened the orcs had a real chance to win the game, but now their losses were too big. The Greeks won the game and now occupy the village in hexagon 20 on the campaign map.

campaign map


Until turn 6 it looked very well for my orcs. I couldn’t wrap things up though, as I failed so many courage tests. Even then I had a chance to win. I had troops, able to occupy the objectives on my side and troops going for the objectives on the opponent’s side, while the Greek light cavalry was no real threat, being too far away from my objectives. The end came a bit sudden. The last two turns I lost too many troops.

The game was exciting and full of action until the end. It was lots of fun. I think our scenario works well and lets you play games that are undecided and exciting until the end.

Friday, 17 May 2019

D3+2 Objectives / a scenario for Dragon Rampant


I made a lot of mud huts this year to use them as objectives in our games of Dragon Rampant. I think tabletop games which are about taking objectives are fun because they are often undecided until the end.

mud hut village

Krüger and I wrote this scenario for Dragon Rampant. (It's an adaptation of a scenario from a popular Science Fiction wargame which we have played a lot.) Please try it and let us know if it works and how it could be improved ...


Before choosing Attackers and Defenders, starting with the winner of a roll-off, the players alternately place D3+2 objectives on the tabletop. These objectives may not be in impassable terrain, nor within 12" of a table edge or another objective.

The Defender chooses one of the long table edges and deploys up to a 12" depth from that table's edge. The Attacker deploys in a similar way on the opposite site. The Attacker goes first.




Play until one player has had half or more army points of units removed from play. From then on, at the beginning of each turn roll a dice. On a 1-2 the game ends immediately, on a 3+ the game continues.


Both Attacker and Defender add up the point value of enemy units routed or wiped out before the game ended; damaged units still in play are not counted. The player with the higher score wins 1 Glory.

At the end of the game you control an objective if there is at least one of your units and no enemy unit within 3" of it. Battered units cannot control or contest objectives.

Each objective controlled earns the player 1 Glory.

Wednesday, 1 May 2019

Pentomino Dungeon / One Page Dungeon Contest

Last year my daughter participated in a math competition at school, the Kangaroo Contest, and brought home a colorful Pentomino game and a book with math problems for children.

When I asked Lina (10), Hendrik (8) and Joaquín (6) to draw a dungeon for the One Page Dungeon Contest this year, they made a dungeon out of 12 Pentomino shapes instead, which I turned into a map.

Hendrik had the idea that adventurers entering the dungeon should have to solve math problems, but are distracted all the time. (Maybe he came up with this, because he has a little brother who is full of energy and always wants his attention to play with him.)

Joaquín made several drawings of the big monster in room 4 and described it vividly.

The riddles are from the book Lina got at the Kangaroo Contest. I changed them a bit to avoid copyright issues and to adapt them to the stories, the children came up with.

For a year, Joaquín has been carrying little pieces of paper with German words in his school bag to learn the letters ä, ö and ü. Those are the items in room 5.

Now my introduction to our entry is already as long as the entry itself ...

pentomino dungeon

1 In the first room there is a wizard. He is wearing a colourful crown, blue gloves and only has one tooth. He says: 

"This is what we are going to do. If you make it out of my dungeon, I will grant you a wish. Each room has a riddle written on the floor. You need the solution to unlock the doors. The riddles are not too difficult, but don’t be fooled. There are things in the rooms to distract you from thinking. I will stay here and also start sending things after you. The first problem is easy. I am 80 years old. My brother is 20 years younger than me. My sister, the witch, is 20 years older than me. How old are we all together? Good luck."

random monsters, summoned by the wizard in room 1:

  1. a funny man with an axe and a shield
  2. a very sharp triangle ruler
  3. a man made of fire
  4. a man who looks at you so sweet, it is hypnotizing
  5. a ball with arms and legs that explodes when it gets too loud
2 Five Goblins, three with knives, two with spears.

There is a riddle written on the floor: The goblin king has 5 sons, every son has two sisters. How many children does the goblin king have?

3 A man who says blablabla.

The riddle is: How many numbers, bigger than 10 and smaller than 60, can be built, combining two different digits, using 0, 1, 2, 5 and 7?

4 A naked giant with green skin, wearing a baseball cap, a bow in one hand, an arrow in the other hand. The monster has spiky feet and leaves violet marks on the floor when moving. It can spit poison. Flames come out of his eyes and little creatures crawl out of his hair. It makes a noise like hhhhh …

The riddle is: Which is the biggest?

2+0+1+3 or 2×0×1×3 or 2×0+1×3 or 20+13 or 20×13? 

5 A goose, four hats, nine glasses, sixteen cooks. How many books?