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.

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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

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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?

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

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Saga: Normans v Vikings – first game

Today I met with a friend and historical gaming affictionado to play a game of Saga, Dark Ages Skirmishes. It was our first game and I have to say, for a first game it went really well! The rules made sense and the game went exceedingly well. In retrospect the errors we made were minor and we didn’t spend a lot of time doing rules lookup. I would say this is a good sign for the ease of play and the quality of the writing in the rules.

We played with 4 point armies. I didn’t have any mounted or crossbows. He didn’t have any berserkers.  It was a straight up fight with no special rules in play. We did the first scenario which is intended to put the Warlords into an epic battle to the death. I tried to reduce him with arrows and win a cheap victory. He managed to get his Hearthguard and his Warlord within range of mne! We had an epic battle and he had epic die rolling. His Warlord shrugged off a 13 die attack from my warlord. That was not pretty! We didn’t do melee exactly right but I think the results were fair. What was obvious was there were a lot of other options we had in initial setup, choices in activation order and so forth that would have made for a much different game. The game is simple, mechanically, but there is a lot to learn and to exploit in terms of tactics. I am really glad I spent the money on this game. I think I’ll end up playing a lot of it!

My next game will hopefully feature some new figures. I ordered a bunch from Architects of War to fill out my Normans and I need to re-think how I will do my Vikings. I also plan on looking at the other armies. Next game I get in I plan on taking better notes and writing up a proper after action report!

Dark Ages Wargaming with Saga

 

DSC04780I’ve started playing Dark Ages gaming again after a long hiatus. What brought me back in are the rules published by Gripping Beast called Saga: Dark Age Skirmishers.

The rules are a hoot to read. The writing style is presents clear rules but with a great sense of humor. It makes it fun to get through them. The game is pretty simple, mechanically, but the mechanic of the Battle Boards is where it takes on a deep strategic flavor that I think most veteran gamers will really appreciate. The basics flow of the game is I Go, You Go with individual unit activation. A unit activates, does all of its actions then the next unit is activated. All of your units go, then your opponent does the same. The combat is also quite simple, with figuring out attack dice, trying to meet or beat the armor value, then defense dice to try and avoid wounds. If you’ve played any of the Warhammer games, it will seem very similar but not exactly the same.

DSC04772Where the game moves into it’s own greatness is with the battle boards. Each army has it’s own battle board. You roll Saga dice at the start of your turn and these dice help you figure out which of your battle board options you can choose. It’s based upon icons on the dice, with a 3, 2, 1 distribution.  The more powerful options require the icon that only comes up 1 in 6 times. Some options can activate on multiple dice but others REQUIRE multiple dice.

These Saga dice also determine what you can activate. This is where it gets rather interesting. The strongest troops (hearthguard or knights) can use any Saga die. The Warriors aren’t as flexible and levies are much more difficult to activate. AS it should be!

DSC04778Another innovation I like is the armies are really easy to pick out. All armies have three tiers of troops (Hearthguard, Warriors, Levies). Each faction has a few basic rules that allow you to equip your troops differently than the other factions. The benefit here is that army generation is really quite simple and there isn’t a lot of gaming the point system.

Overall, the game looks to be easy to explain, reasonably fast play and has lots of period flavor delivered through a clever mechanism. There is more to it than I’ve written here. I am certain that many gamers, the first thing they will think about is “how can I adapt this system to X” with X being one or more of the following:

  • Zombies
  • Other Ancient periods
  • Star Wars
  • WWI
  • WWII
  • Modern Afghanistan
  • Pod Racing
  • Giant Monster Games
  • Aliens

Ha, you think I joke. Read the rules. You will love them and you will want to find as many uses for the concept as you can. It’s that good!

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Polar Expedition an alternative idea for ASGARD

So I was looking over old marketplace items on The Miniatures Page and came across one for a set of polar adventure figures. They also had some Call of Cthulhu inspired figures.
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The original idea was that some previous expedition ventured into this arctic region, encountered many troubles and the lone survivor came back with wild tales of what they found. World Governments, in a rare moment of solidarity, declared the area off limits. Of course wild stores and forbidden knowledge is the surest thing to drive science adventure teams to see just what exactly is going on!
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The objective of the game is to document the activity, collect samples and survive long enough to return to your ship. There is no second place so teams will be very competitive and perhaps aggressive in their drive to secure the treasure of scientific knowledge of the place!
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So I was thinking, ASGARD is GM free but its not set up to handle competing teams… or is it? What ASGARD does is it sets up various encounter points where when you get into range of one you test for an encounter. If you get one then you apply it. Once you’ve seen some variation of an encounter you mark it off the sheet and ignore it if it comes up again. So, with multiple teams this is still possible. What might change is what happens when an encounter goes out of contact. I think in that case we might instead put a marker down with it’s number on it and wait for someone else to approach it.
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I think otherwise, there isn’t anything preventing a game like this from working with ASGARD. I’m excited to give this idea a try.

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Nashcon 2013

I had a total blast at Nashcon this year! 2013 was the largest turnout for this convention in a long time. Almost 400 people were there. There were plenty of great dealers and tournaments and local activities to keep anyone happy for several days. I spent a lot on the dealer floor. About $50 more than I planned. However, for hobby expenditure I also planned out my next $300 or $400 I’ll spend over the rest of the year. There were a lot of great idea floating around. I also go ideas for my Iwo Jima game. I have a much better plan for how it will be run. I picked up “Look Sarge, No Charts WWII” and that will be the basis of the tactical game. The strategic game is already figured out for the most part. I still have some figures to paint but even there I am pretty certain I am ready to get development going. Terrain still needs to be built and that has been my theme for this year in terms of project expenditures. I also met up with some old friends and I can now say I have a tradition going with Attack of the Mutants. Three conventions in a row with two players having been involved in all three games! That is what establishes a tradition! So next year I have to up the ante and actually build that 3D board I promised!

Some of the photos show my pre-convention trip up to Fort Donelson with friends. It’s a great trip. Bring bug spray. I was picking ticks off of my legs later that evening in the bar. Yeah, I know, I’m so classy!

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Silhouette Cameo Paper Cutter for Paper Terrain and Models

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Hey there! Long time no post because work and stuff! Yeah, loving the job. Saving lots of money because I am working all the time and don’t have time to get sucked into Kickstarters and Games and all that. Anyway, I am still interested in my goals for this year which include terrain building. I’ve started on some projects and I will write more about them later. The real news is that I’ve discovered that paper models, by hand, are incredibly difficult! And time consuming. And one mistake and it’s over. So I decided to get the right tool for the job so that I don’t waste a ton of time.

Introducing! The Silhouette Cameo paper cutter. For under $250US you get a 12″ wide computer controlled cutter, software for creating the cut files or loading cut files and a few extras. Mine came with two cutting mats, tools and pens (I didn’t realize you could use the thing like a draft plotter as well!) As you can see in the photo above it is pretty compact. However it does a hell of a job.

WP_20130414_011As you can see here I cut out the logo for the Adeptes Astartes. It wasn’t very hard at all to make the logo, starting with a black and white version of it. Auto tracing does most of the work. I then went back and recreated the eyes and nose. What you are looking at is what’s left after I’ve peeled the 12″ x 12″ sheet off of the sticky cutting mat. The sheet could be used easily as a frame for air brushing the logo onto a wall or an army carrying box or the side of your personal ride. The bits left behind could be added to anything. Be creative!

I had it cut out letters as well but some of the fine curves and inner cuts managed to mess it up so perhaps another time with another font.  You can play with the software as it is free. Go there and download it. It’s dead simple to figure out. To get your own Cameo just follow this link.

 

Colonial Africa Game

Today I was invited to this excellent game. A full write-up will follow with many more photos and a full AAR. It was the miniatures and the great terrain that made it so much fun, along with the excellent companions to play with.

A Method for “Gaming” Predictions for the D6 Generation

D6_badge_transparent_472_CroppedI have been listening to the D6 Generation for a few months now and enjoy the podcast. I highly recommend all gamers to listen to it. It’s long so great for listening to in parts during your commute or between classes or during your performance review. At the end of last year apparently they did gaming industry predictions. This year they did the same and scored the previous years results. They have a loose set of rules they use. It’s amusing. As a data scientist in my real life job I’d like to suggest an alternative system to them that will make it more of a game and more strategic.

Rule 1: Each prediction must have a quantitative final measure. This can be true or false or a verifiable number. “FFG will bring out a new line of miniatures in 2013.” That is good, it is either true or false. “FFG will bring out another full-of-fail Silverline game.” No, that doesn’t work because its not testable. The “full-of-fail” part of it is subjective. “FFG will do really well in 2013.” No, that is also subjective. “FFG sales will double in 2013” That follows the rules but unless FFG releases the numbers it is unverifiable. “Games Workshop’s stock price (GAW: LONDON) will be greater than 740GBP by the time of the next end of year show.” That one is good – It can be researched (and is adjustable in the case of stock splits.) It is resolved in time for the follow on show.

Rule 2: Each question has a value of 1 point, +1 points for each hosts that doubts it will come true, for the predictor. If the prediction fails to come true then the predictor looses that many points. Hosts may agree with the prediction and may win or lose 1 point if it comes to pass or fails to. Neutral votes are an automatic deduction of 1 point.

Example 1: Prediction “Paizo will introduce a D7 die in 2013!” Hosts, 2 and 3 say nay. Value of the prediction is 3. If it comes to pass the predictor will get 3 points. If it fails, they will lose 3 points.

Example 2: Prediction “Games Workshop will introduce a Tau Titan in 2013” Host 2 is all for it, Host 3 doubts it. Prediction is worth 2 points to the Predictor. It is worth 1 point to Host 2.

Example 3: Prediction “Dark Future will make a comeback in 2013 due to a Kickstarter project!” Host 2 is neutral. Host 3 is vehemently against such a possibility. The Predictor risks 2 points and Host 2 will automatically lose a point.

Rule 3: All information is public. If a host has inside information they must reveal source and all relevant data. This is an honor system rule.

This form of the game puts a consequence on every action. In order to score well you have to make outlandish predictions but they also have to come true. You can disagree with a prediction but that indicates it is risky and thus there should be payoff. You can agree with a prediction but you share some of its inherent risk.

It is unlikely that anyone will cast a neutral vote but the option is there to limit the gains another player/host might make. Having a penalty for risk avoidance means that the hosts have to make a priority of understanding the market and making informed decisions over just “winging it.”

I think these rules can make the little game of chance interesting. It would be really interesting to see them go back over the December 2012 predictions and rework them into the framework – rejecting soft predictions or modifying them and seeing how it plays out.