What have I been playing lately

In spite of a lack of activity here I actually have been playing a lot of games lately! It’s refreshing and reinvigorating. Games that have actually hit the table in the past two months are as follows:

StarWarsEdgeoftheEmpireYes I am finally playing a role playing game again. The group is 6 or 7 people. A pretty hefty turn out. We are meeting every other Sunday. Everyone has RPG experience. Everyone is old enough to be very familiar with Star Wars. It’s a blast! I absolutely love this system. I didn’t want to get into a complicated system. While this game has a learning curve it is all worth it. The dice mechanics alone are worth playing this game. I would replace skirmish gaming in the Star Wars for this game over the Star Wars Miniatures game. Easily.

I am currently playing a criminal explorer / scout of the Duros race. His mission in life is to find sellers of contraband, buyers of contraband and all the tricks he can find to avoid Imperial patrols. He trades in secrets.

Get this game. It’s a hell of a lot of fun.

chi_ha_type_97Yes, I am finally playing Bolt Action. It only took one demo game to get me onboard with it. I love this game. It’s not the most realistic game out there. Just a warning. However it is a fun game with a historical theme that will get you figures back onto the table. It’s not hard to figure out and easy to teach. The army lists are pretty complete however they are missing KMT and Communist Chinese which I understand to a certain extent but I actually have Chinese troops in large number for WWII because of my Greater Pacific War project!

I played in a tournament last weekend and it was fun. I came in last place which given that I designed my army in the 20 minutes before the tournament began shows I wasn’t the most prepared person. I did come close to winning 1 game and I made my enemies pay in a couple of others…

descent-journeys-in-the-dark-second-edition-ffg-dj01-600x600Finally I am playing a lot of Descent 2nd Edition. I was really hesitant to like this game. I picked it up in 2013 only because I was able to get it for cheap money at a flea market, hardly touched. I was such a fan of the 1st edition. However, upon having played this a bit I’ve had to admit the original had some grievous sins and this new edition really corrects them very nicely. I’ve been picking up the lieutenant packs and I got most of the expansions after the first few successful games. Since I had every expansion from first edition I have tons of monsters that others don’t have. This allows me to really have fun with this game. I will probably create my own adventures to use some of the old tiles. The game plays at a much smaller and more intimate scale now so the old maps and adventures are out of the question. It might work but I am curious as to how well. You would not have a lot to convert.

Some of the biggest changes are that threat is directly related to plot cards that come with the lieutenant decks. They are entirely optional and the threat system is highly simplified now. The stats and powers are all simplified. By the time of the last expansion to Descent 1st Edition a character was rocking so many skills and talents and other options it was very hard to keep track of. There are still plenty of options, but the characters are simpler and the mechanics are simpler. The old system had 4 types of bonus dice. This one does not.

I think this game would appeal to anyone who likes dungeon crawls, wants games to last about 90 minutes per session and the campaign is fun and easy to follow. Yeah, the built in campaign system is awesome and while I loved the grittiness of Road to Legend, this system is much more suited to this game. You end up playing an Intro, 3 Act one battles, and Intermission battle, 3 Act two battles and a finale. No complicate map movement and no splitting heads over which secret location to go to next.

man-with-packI’m no longer lugging books around if I can help it so I mainly just bring my laptop with me. I’ve got a crappy laptop bag that I am getting rid of and I’ve been looking for good looking backpack. While this Tumi is a bit pricey (click the photo to see it on Amazon – same with all the other photos above), it does have the style I am looking for. I may continue shopping. I need something that looks good and will be a good fit for my reasonably slim laptop, plus tablet and other nicknacks. I’ve been parking is a distant parking lot and walking so this makes more sense than a laptop bag. What do you, dear readers, suggest?

Nashcon!

I’m off to Nashcon. Loving how it has been going this year! I will be running 1 game, the one you’ve seen developed here for the Old West. I will also be running the Saga Tournament. I am hoping for 8 players but may only see 4. One is officially signed up with others stating their intention to show up. I’m working like a mad man to create terrain for it!

More news and hopefully more regular updates in the 2nd half of 2014. This year has kept me busy and not doing a lot of gaming. Let’s change that!

Get the skinny on Nashcon here: http://hmgs-midsouth.org/conventions/nashcon/

Rules 1840-1890

6 Regiments Ready for The Devil to Pay.

6 Regiments Ready for The Devil to Pay.

The Devil to Pay

These are the ACW rules I’ve been working on with Nathaniel St. John and his group in Atlanta. I knew Nathaniel as a kid back in Massachusetts. He and another kid all met at the same small convention. I went there for the role playing games. Every one of us fell in love with historical war gaming. To this day we still play these games, often with each other.

Nathaniel came up with this colonial game years ago. I got to play it and really loved it. After sitting on his rules for about 3 years I called him up and said I was going to dig up my ACW figures and try them out. I had already written Bonnie Blue Flag. I just simply took some ideas from there and put them into the colonial game. It sort of worked. I made a few adjustments and started to add things that were on my very advanced rules ideas list. It worked better. I made a couple more adjustments and without testing them brought the game to Historicon. It was a disaster. Nat was there and we looked over the whole system and he came up with 20 things that needed to be addressed. Then I got a real job and didn’t have much time. We talked about some ideas here and there but neither of us had a lot of time. He spoke with and old friend, Peter Rice and together they stitched together a new game system that again mixed the old and the new.

We had another gaming weekend where we ran the game several times and added in our latest ideas. I worked on what I knew, artillery. Another friend, Ed P. came down and he helped with the general flow of the game. He has been writing games since the 1970s and he’s good at it. This time the game seemed right. Nat polished the rules after the weekend of playtests and brought it to Siege of Augusta. We did the battle of Brawner’s Farm at 2nd Manassas. It went extremely smoothly with players who had never seen the system in action.

Nat changed the basing to 40mm x 40mm square which changed a lot of things for the better. One is that at that base size any figures will work. 10mm, 15mm (see mine on the right), 28mm (what Nat uses) and even 54mm (we saw another game with figures of that size on 40x40mm bases!)

With his 28mm figures he had flags he was able to attach rings to to show how many commands the regiment had and red rings to figures on the bases to indicate hits (one ring: no effect, two rings: no longer combat effective with a third hit eliminating the stand.) I had used 40x15mm bases for my figures. I ended up just gluing them to the bigger bases as is. I needed two stands of figures to get the right mass effect and I have to say it looks a lot better than what I had previously! The large, square bases, allow for the regiment to go from line into column more easily. It looks better because you have the right numbers of troops massed together. It further regulates the game better than rectangular bases. The rings are held on using flat-head rivits. You can get 500 for $5. They work great!

The Devil to Pay is still not published but that is only because we have a lot more play testing to do of various scenarios and various types of battles (such as artillery duels and lots of cavalry.) I’m highly confident this will become a great product that people will enjoy playing.

Fast Play Old West Rules

In the meantime I am also play testing my fast play Old West rules where everyone takes their turn at the same time. How does that work? Well, with just a nod to a few situations where players might interupt each other, it works really well. I’ve run half a dozen games with more to come. The basic game is based upon The Rules with No Name by Foundry. That got simplified and then I added in simultaneous play. In order to get that to work everyone operates on the same card. Each card indicates either Movement or Combat. There are two sets of actions, further subdivided so that whatever action you take, it has to happen in the right sequence and you have to announce if you are using an action that would interrupt someone. In which case the interrupted player is then given options for their reaction.I am really happy with how it is working out. There are still some kinks in the system but it’s pretty easy to update at this point as there are good, reusable mechanics to fix the problems. It follows my latest concept of keeping core rules to cover things that happen in every game, and additional rules only in the scenarios that use them. The attempt to have one set of rules that covers every situation leads to large sets of rules that are hard to remember or comprehend and which are harder to keep consistent.

fr1_6_2014105558

Western Gunfight Teaser photos

I’ve been working hard on my games for Siege of Augusta. So far I have 7 buildings assembled and several dozen miniatures ready. While I doubt the buildings will be fully painted in time, the game will be ready to play and I am certain people will have fun. I have to say, it’s almost a shame to paint these buildings. They look amazing! I have a very wide variety of figures and I plan on running pickup games to help fill some of the time slots if they need games. Work left to do includes filling in the bases and painting them, organizing the lot of them so that they can be taken to Siege and easy to set up once I get there, and the construction of a few more buildings.

Here are the photos. Enjoy!

fr1_6_2014105431 fr1_6_2014105017 fr1_6_2014104937 fr1_6_2014104717 fr1_6_2014104809 fr1_6_2014104238

Fast Play Old West Rules

New Rules: Fast Play Old West

Includes link to the quick reference sheet, handy for printing out!

These rules are very highly modified at this point from The Rules with No Name. They are designed so that many people can play. Now, many people can play any Old West game, but when you have a dozen players with a card driven system it can take forever for your turn to come up. That isn’t fun to me. I’ve been stuck in that situation many times. I believe multi-player games should be simultaneous to the degree possible. Everyone should be doing or reacting to something. It should be as orderly as possible. It should have some friction and chaos in it though.

When playing Old West games I started with Desperado. From the mid-1990’s until about 2005 I played that game to death. We had a lot of fun scenarios we invented culminating with The Great Train Robbery using a train my friend Rohn put together. It was magnificent. 1/48th scale, the figures could move on, over and within the cars. The only thing that suffered was the card driven system when we had too many players. Later I played Legends of the Old West by Games Workshop. That is one of the finest games for Old West that there is. It’s a remarkable game and well researched. It’s designed for one on one play where groups play campaigns and break up into individual fights between their warbands. If you can get a lot of people to play that way its a great system. It isn’t easily adapted to convention play without a complete rewrite. Honestly I like it as it is for what it is.

The Rules with No Name is a fairly complex game that tries to cover everything under one set of rules. The printed and bound version sold by Foundry is a cornerpiece of my rules collection because it is a beautiful book and I enjoy showing it to people interested in the Old West. At first it is what they think they want in a game – rules for every situation. After years of playing games I’ve moved much more towards rules that support a basic premise and then scenario specific rules to cover specific situations. I love the idea that you don’t need to know a thousand rules and play with only ten of them but instead to know 20 rules and play with them all.

I don’t have a name for this variant of the rules. I am tentatively calling them “Convention TRWNN” with the ultimate goal being that the basic game play information is on one sheet of card stock and the scenario information is on another. The write up of the rules will be online here. I see this being useful for any genre with modest changes. Something I’d like to do is put some Science fiction figures I have back on the table. There are other rules I like, such as Tomorrow’s War. However for something a bit more gritty and personal I need something else and this fits that bill.

Posse

Building by Sarissa Precision, figures by Black Scorpion, Old Glory, et. al. and painting by Combat Painter.

Ranchers vs Rustlers

I’ve been modifying The Rules with No Name [also see this free version] so that the game can be played quickly with a lot of players. Basically I made as much of the game simultaneous as possible with additional rules on handling some events out of sequence, such as calling people out onto the street for a challenge. I still need a few more play tests of the rules. I’m waiting for some custom Litko token sets to come in to help manage the game. I also recently got a large number of buildings from 4Ground and Sarissa Precision. I will be reviewing those and displaying pictures of them. If you have looked at them and though they look like they might be hard to put together, let me assure you they are a piece of cake and they look amazing!

More details to come. In the meanwhile enjoy these game photos.

Gaming the Old West

The project I started in getting figures out of boxes, painted and put on the table this year has gone well. For Old West, most of my non-Plains War figures are now painted. Terrain is getting made and the rules are almost ready for prime time! The Old West is a period that everyone gets. You don’t have to explain how to act in the scenario. The roles are so stereotyped now that people just get it. I love it myself. I haven’t played a big Old West game in a long time. I did a few play tests of the rules I plan on using in the last couple of weekends and I am really happy with them. The figures are being churned out by Combat Painter and they are all looking excellent. He is my favorite painter. I like him because he is very detail oriented. He has his own style so you may or may not like what he does but I think he is pretty good. Below is a figure he painted for me and I love it. At gaming distance all of his figures have the right amount of pop.

Marshal with Shotty

Town Marshal with 12g double barrel shotgun. Street Sweeper!

15mm ACW: The Devil To Pay

This weekend we are continuing work on the ACW regimental combat rules ‘The Devil to Pay’. These rules have been used for a variety of 18th and 19th century periods. The development of ACW rules using them is interesting because it is the very start of the modern era of combat (rifles, advanced artillery, advanced communications, rail, etc.) and because the authors have significant military experience in real life and working knowledge of the period. In fact I would say my knowledge of 19th century artillery is a hindrance because I want to model everything! However at the level we are doing it, we are dealing with sections of artillery and so I must constrain myself. Work on the game was going well up through last year. Then I made some changes and the game I ran at Historicon was a disaster. Luckily, Nat and the other Peter got to work on ironing it out again. I am really excited about the direction it is going in. I think this has the possibility of being a really excellent set of rules that will appeal to a wide number of gamers. The rules are not complicated, produce good results and have just enough suspense in them to make for very entertaining games.

Watch for after action reports and also watch the twitter account for photos of the games as the playtest continues.

IMG_2154

SteamOS is Building Momentum

 

I use Linux at work and am a big fan of it. It is terrible when it comes to hardware compatibility, however. In the old days the adoption of video tape came only when there was demand. In that case the demand was driven by pornography. What will push users to Linux will be the cost savings of the operating system and great games which will drive in the hardware support. However, the chick and egg situation of which comes first the game or the hardware support is being settled by Valve which wants to be free of the costs associated with Windows. They are creating SteamOS and are working with hardware vendors to finally get decent driver support. This is fantastic. I love my Windows 8.1 PC I built myself but I will gladly switch to Linux if it can support the games I love.

We are still ages away from a Utopian gaming environment on Linux but this is where it is going to start.

Check out the article

valve

Attack of the Movie Heroes

I’ve actually gotten some painting finished. Tomorrow I’ll put on some final touches but these are tabletop ready!

They will be used in a variant for Attack of the Mutants, only this time the threat is on the inside! Movie heroes are appearing in the Science Building after Percy downloaded 80’s and 90’s film to the wrong hard drive! Will the Professor’s and TAs or MSTU save the day by teleporting these lost heroes to another plane of existance where they can do some good or will the Science Building be destroyed for good this time?

web-heroes-1web-heroes-2

 

Finished figures. Alas the photo is underlit. I’ll take a better lit version later.

movieheroes-600px