Monday, 23 May 2016

Ghosts, Superheroes and Mad Inventors

Board Games for the weekend

I'm going to have to finally accept that my Birthday week is over, and that I should get back to actually concentrating on real life for a little while at least.  However, just to prolong things a little further I'm going to do a short collection of reviews for the three games I played this weekend.  I managed to join a couple of reasonably local friends on Sunday afternoon and we rattled through 3 different games.

Steampunk Rally

So this was the first time our little group had played this game.  I picked it up from Sanctuary Gaming Centre a while back, but just hadn't really had chance to play it.  The way the game works isn't overly hard, but it isn't overly easy either.  We certainly found that we learnt it quicker by playing it, than by trying to explain it to each other.

Its played in multiple stages, but to be honest it feels like two parts that repeat.  Part 1 is drafting "component" cards, and either fixing them to your vehicle, or selling them for dice or cogs for use in Part 2.  Part 2 is then "venting" dice from your card, rolling dice and adding them to your card (allowing you to move, or gain shields etc) and then finally taking damage.  I personally think that Part 2 is the most complex section of the game, knowing that dice that are already on your vehicle are basically just taking up space now and don't mean anything at all, venting isn't about removing dice, but just lowering the value on them til they hit 0, damage is done after everything so you can deliberately damage your vehicle before you roll dice in the hope you can get enough shields to ignore it all.

Having said all that, it was a lot of fun.  I lost, by a mile, but seeing one tiny vehicle getting by with just one type of dice and a lot of careful shielding, while the other person up front (who won) having tons of parts, and at the end letting the entire back end of the invention get blow to pieces so that he could cross the finish line before anyone else could get to him.  Was good fun, and certainly something we worked out quickly enough that we could have a lot of fun as the game progressed.


This game is really good.  We've played this before, so it was really just a chance to indulge in a game people wanted to mess around with.  It is also quite a pretty game, with all the components, especially the ghost screen, being really well made.

Firstly this is a co-op game.  With three players (the minimum) you get one ghost and two mediums.  The ghost is going to try and give the players clues in order to identify a murder, location and weapon (each) and then finally information to point at the actual murder from the suspects (in a three player game the mediums have to play two characters, thus you end up with 4 suspects).  However, to do this the ghost can only use Dream/Vision cards.  These are a lot like the cards from Dixit, so its all very particular combinations and the artwork is slightly surreal.  Through the cards, the Mediums have to guess which Person, then location, and then weapon they are being given.  If you can  get all three right in seven turns (and all the other characters do as well), then the ghost gets another set of cards and can choose three to try and direct the players to the correct combination (the ghost picks which combination they like).

With more players the game gets more involved, but we have only played this with three so far.  I do like this game a lot, there is definitely a few interesting moments where the ghost (having to stay quiet) will get a little bit freaked out by what the players think they are trying to say with the Vision cards, and it definitely helps to know the way that someone else thinks.  It can be a little slow for the players while the Ghost tries to work out which Vision cards they want to use each time, and I think that is the only real downside of the game.

Overall though, Mysterium is a cracking little game, and its quite sedate, doesn't involve confrontation, and its quite funny to go through the process of chatting as characters about what the ghost has given each player.


Specifically the Marvel version of the Legendary franchise.  We've played this one a few times, only once have we really struggled with it when we tried to take on Apocalypse.  This weekend we ended up going through three separate runs of the game and thankfully we finished each one, normally with a massive flare of face smashing as one or more of our decks fit together to produce some sort of obscure killing machine.

There are a lot of components in this game, so I'm going to be quite brief on its workings.  You build a Hero deck, which is basically the "powers" of five different heroes, some of which are fighting based, so which are recruitment based (allowing you to buy other powers), and added in there are special combination abilities that make cards better if you play other cards with certain symbols on them, or other cards with certain costs etc.  There is a Villians deck, which is the bad guys you have to fight, and then there is a Mastermind who you have to kill to win the game.

Again, this is another game I like, though I do sometimes wish you played as a set hero each and could buy in your own cards, rather than mix and match.  Having said that, this is why we have Sentinels of the Multiverse (another game we should play more).  It is good when you get the powers from multiple heroes working together into some sort of massive unstoppable machine, its just reminding yourself that you are basically playing each "scene" of the adventure, rather than playing one of the heroes.  The cards are very nice, the whole set up takes a while but it does work really well, and the play board keeps everything organised really well.


So it's back to the millstone now, which is work and then getting models painted up and ready to play with.  My Alchemists are pretty close to being done now, just a little bit more NMM work and then the "little" bits like flasks, vials and stitching.  I'll be then moving on to doing work with the commission work, with a sneaky bit of work done on the Bushido models.  Hopefully those can then be completed really soon as well.

I'll also be onto the Nostalgia post (either later today or tomorrow), looking at Earthdawn.  Plus there will be a Kickstarter post done as well in the next couple of days considering I've not done one for two weekends now.

Friday, 20 May 2016

Long time no see

It's been one of those weeks

Not necessarily in a bad way, just one of those weeks.

So I've not posted for a while and that is because this week say me hit 35 years on this blue rock.  As such the weekend gone, and this weekend coming have been/are filled with lots of things to do, lots of people to see, and generally not time at all to write blog posts.  I have no issues with any of this, in fact I very much look forward to this weekend.

Of course there is a tinge of annoyance, as my car decided to mostly self destruct just before my birthday.  £400 worth of repairs is not a good birthday present.. especially when its me that has to pay.

However, this is a hobby blog, and while I resembled the grumpy remark on Monday I can at least claim I got some hobby done this week.  As you can see from the first picture I've been painting up guild ball models.  It's taking me a lot of time, I'm not as 100% into the painting mindset as I would like.  If anyone doesn't know, there are people who are mostly gamers and don't like painting, there are some painting enthusiasts who aren't big gamers, there are the rare few people who are just both at all times, and then there are people like me.  The ones who shift back and forth between the two points, and will have moments of just wanting to play the games, and others where painting is a blast and gets done really quickly.  I'm in a gaming mood right now, so the painting is on slow motion.  Still, the Alchemists are getting close to done, and then I will be looking at build a goal and painting up some commission work.

The Saturday gone was Vengeance, which sadly I didn't have a ticket for.  Something about only getting into Guild Ball after it was sold out, and not having finished painting models anyway.  Either way, with a few people I do know being there, and it being a 128 person tournament (the biggest GB tournament ever), I decided to go have a look.  At just over an hour away as well, its not a bad little drive when you have nothing to do.  I got there just as Game 3 was starting and I have to say it looked like one hell of a huge event.  How on earth the GBinformer guys kept themselves from having an anxiety attack while running the tournament I don't know.  It was really good to see everyone, and considering it was birthday weekend part 1 I decided to spend a bit of money.

Dark Age

So the first thing I picked up was the Dragyri Fire Caste starter set for Dark Age.  These are one of the Alien races for the Post Apocalyptic system.  As with many games these days it is a 32mm system, but these guys are huge.  There are only three models in the box set, but rather than being on 30mm bases, these three barely fit onto their 40mm bases.  Actually as it happened I got three 50mm bases and have had to email Cool Mini or Not to get some replacements (which they responded to very quickly and the new bases are on the way soon).

So first out of the box was the Volcanic Helot (the one without the shield).  She is a full metal model, which was fine, apart from the skirt, which came in two separate parts, which weren't quite shaped correctly and would not stay on the model.  I ended up creating two drill points to put a "shelf" of pins into place to tie everything down to at the back.  I'm going to have to fill them in later.  There was also a lot of use of pliers to push everything into the right shape.  Having said all that though, its a lovely, big, model.  A normal 32mm model next to her barely gets to waist height.

The Volcanic Phalanx (the other lady of the show) is an absolutely lovely Resin model.  The spear is a little bendy, but beyond that it was pretty simple to put together.  Don't quite know why the pose on the head doesn't quite seem to match the one in the picture, but other that that it really is very pretty.  the Resin looks good, feels slightly brittle perhaps, and there may be a couple of patches which aren't quite perfect, but its still really good.

The leader of the Pack is the Spirit Lord.  I love this model, but in equal measures it drove me insane as well.  The vast majority of the model goes together really well, but the "cloak" was in two pieces and again they didn't actually sit on the model at all correctly.  the small piece that goes over his shoulder wouldn't sit straight, and in trying to hot water bend it into place I ended up snapping it instead.  This means it now fits, but I'm going to have to paint it well to hide the problem.

Even with all that though, these models are lovely.  I'm going to want to spend a lot of time on them, because they are so big and because they have a lot of NMM work to do to make them look right.  If I'm in the right mood its the sort of challenge I'm going to enjoy.  Having done steel and gold NMM on my Alchemists, its going to be fun to work out Chrome and Bronze too.

I think Dark Age is on my list of really nice models that I might game with from time to time, but not often (I'll probably have to go down to Thetford for this one).


I also picked up some Bushido, I really didn't like my bank account on this day.

All I got was the Ito Clan starter set, but I have to say I think I will pick up more of these and I certainly want to start getting this played locally, because its a nice game with quite a few unique quirks to make it interesting, while at the same time having enough of a similarity to Guild Ball and Malifaux that I think I know a few people that would like it.  Just wish there were more places to get tokens from.

Anyway, models (cus this is a hobby blog).  So lets start with Itsunagi Ito, who is the "leader" in the set.  I put that in quote marks because I haven't noticed any specifics about leaders in your war band.  In this case Itsunagi just costs more than anyone else.  Model wise he was really simple, though I had to do a bit of filing and cutting to get everything to fit.  The Daisho on his belt came as a separate piece that tucked in under some cloth wraps at his back.  The seating area for this had some major flash in it so I had to work on that to get it all in, but it wasn't too hard.  His right arm was fixed with a mold around his upper muscle, his left was a flat surface glue where there is a bit of cord around his arm.  This wasn't great because lining up the arm and getting the right orientation was beyond me.

The lovely lady with the hair fan is Sakura.  Nothing really to say with her, the right arm is a separate piece, and can easily be put on close to or away from the body.  I went with close to the body for the added contact surface. The hair fan is also another piece, but it caused no issues at all.  The model is really good, nice and simple in design and I quite like it.

Obviously there is a guy with a Snake head at the back.  Thats the big thing about Ito Clan, they are all "blessed" by the Snake Kami and some of them get gifts.  Akimoto is one such model that has gained snake features, and for him its his face that has changed first.  his Wakizashi on his belt was a simple small fit, and his left arm was separate.  I had a bit of gapping issues so I'm working on filling those in, but the model itself is still pretty good.

Possibly the most awkward models where the two Bushi.  The Male Bushi as a right arm piece that includes the blade being draw out of the scabbard, so there is a bit of effort in twisting the piece around so that it sits right on the scabbard on in the right hand sleeve.  The annoyance is on the scabbard itself, because the length of it is a separate piece as well (in both cases), without any indents to really get the things to sit straight or flat.  I'm eternally fearful of them just being knocked off.  They are so thin as well that there isn't really a good way to pin them, so its just hope (and I may magnetically transport these guys) that is going to keep it all together.  The female Bushi (who can also be used as a character) also has a separate pony tail.  I won't even being to comment on that.

I'm looking at painting these up using L5R Scorpion Clan colours (as both as the sneaky shady type clans in each respective game world), so there will lots of Red and Black going on.  Looking forward to actually gaming with these guys soon.

Games, Glorious Games

So my plan is to try and get some games in, certainly of Bushido and Guild Ball (Guild Ball models need to be finished first I admit, and that won't happen this weekend), and then Dark Age once the right bases arrive.  I've put my Bushido models into their bases already, and I'm going to base them up and then paint them on the bases, which is something I would normally not do.  That way I can play Bushido with the unpainted models and just do them when I have a bit of free time.  The same will apply to the Dark Age models.

So, Mr Hay, Mr Parker and Mr Straw... and anyone else interested.  Anyone fancy a game or two?

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Finding a new game

Or how to convince yourself not to buy more stuff

I'm an obsessive/compulsive gamer.  I think most people who have been gaming for a while are, by default, always looking at and considering what the next thing to buy is.  I would say that for the vast majority of people it will be the next thing coming from GW that will give them an edge, or will at least help them keep up with the power creep.  People tend to settle into their big system, be it 40K, or Malifaux, and a lot of the money they spend on that game.  The decisions that people have are based on if they want to expand what they have now, or buy in to a whole new faction.  I certainly used to be like that.  This year as going to be my year to buy into a new faction in Malifaux, just keeping my Neverborn ticking over with new models and then adding in the Gremlin faction.

Things can easily change it would appear.  Its not that I went off Malifaux, I just wanted something else to play.  Downside is now, I want a lot of things to play.  So, the question is, based on what I want to do, why have I not bothered, and what is it that will make me buy into a new game.  I'm going to look at what goes through my own head when I want something new, and at the end also touch on what I think this means in terms of new games wanting to Kickstarter successfully.  Partly that is on the back of Mythos having a hard time getting across the line at the moment.

Considerations when getting into a game

1 - The models: Lets face it, the first thing that will get you interested in a game are the models.  I can not even vaguely imagine that people get into a game by ignoring everything but the rulebook, and then looking at the models for the game.  Models are the impact point, and so they have to look good to drag people in and over to the books.  So the first thing is they have to have an aesthetic that I like, not necessarily all models, but there have to be enough to make it "look" good.  In addition they have to be in a material I trust.  Now, cost wise I may go for a material I don't like, but certainly I will be more interested in a model range if it comes in good Resin or Hard Plastic, and less interest if they use Soft Plastic, or Restic.  Metal falls in the middle for me, because I hate how hard it is to protect the paint on Metal models.  Thing is it is the easiest way to make reasonably priced models with good detail levels, so I can suffer the metal problems.

2 - Fluff: Otherwise known as background or setting.  A game needs to have some sort of story behind it which captures the attention.  It doesn't really matter what the genre (Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Horror) is, so long as the stories that have been written for the game get my attention enough.  People tend to gravitate towards what they like in terms of genre anyway, but I need something to get me to want to buy into the game.  For me, this does eliminate historical games, because there is no fluff or story, and that is kind of key to me.  If there is a rich story to start with, then each of my social games fits into a huge chain of events, and I can imagine just how the games narrative will work because of it.

3 - Range: This one is an interesting thing to look at.  I don't mean I want a game with hundreds of different models in it (The issue that 40k has in my opinion), but I want a game where there are enough different "Factions" to make each game different enough that it is interesting.  I also want a game where there are components outside of the models themselves that assist in the game.  Finally, within each faction, I want enough "balanced" choices that I get to mix and match and find different ways to play within my own group of models.  Its a big balancing act, which a lot of companies are now doing really well (and which 40k doesn't).

4 - Price: Don't think I need to explain this, but price comes in as a major factor.  Smaller games with lower model counts are definitely more appealing when you don't have a vast income.  The same applies for things like the books, and being able to download them for free is a big bonus (Steamforged topping the charts here because its not just the rules you can download, but also the fluff, something a lot of companies cut out of their free versions).  Price won't completely stop me getting into a game, but knowing I might have to put a £300 dent in my account to just about have a playable force certainly will make me think twice about it.

5 - Community: This is the killer for me, and kills off a lot of games I want to play.  The issue is that smaller games have smaller communities generally.  I live in Worksop, a town at the very north of the Midlands, and local gamers are few and far between.  Now, this is a Uk perspective, but by local I mean someone who can get to my house or I can get to theirs after a day at work and still fit in a full sized game without missing out on a decent dinner and perhaps some time to relax at home first.  Its that incidental ability to just call someone up and see if they are free for a game when I'm bored.  Smaller games, therefore, tend to be less likely to have the local community.  The solution to that is local clubs... which, sadly in my opinion, tend to be dominated by the headline games.  If I were to show up to a local club I could be 100% certain that most people would be playing 40k or Star Wars: X-Wing.  Any other game would likely be Historical War Gaming.  Anything else would be a shock to me.  I'm not talking gaming stores with wargaming space.  Certainly the Outpost, in Sheffield, and Sanctuary, in Mansfield, are good examples of shops which promote other games and therefore they are seen played in store.  Local community clubs though are dominated by the headliners.  It means that to find a "drop of a hat" game is very very difficult.

What does this all mean

I've been looking at Bushido and/or Dark Age as games I want to get involved in, but its neither game is something I can just show up to a local club and play.  The nearest areas that might play it are enough of a distance away that I'd be looking at weekends or not getting home post work til extremely late.  Plus, the games aren't obviously played locally anyway.  Everything else is a win for Bushido (cost, range, models, fluff) and Dark Age only seems to fall a little bit on price.  It is infuriating that community can be enough to hold me back (though my wallet does like the current indecision).  So, knowing there is a local community can make a massive difference in choosing the actually play a game.

It can be broken, because I picked up Guild Ball when everyone around the local area was abandoning it (except one or two people in my closer social group).  I am going to pick up a starter of Bushido at some point because I love the Ito Clan models and want to paint them in L5R Scorpion Clan colours (as they are both the sneaky lying clans).  In a similar way I love the look of the Fire Dragyri so I will get them as well in the Starter box, but going beyond that is going to be a slower process.  The lack of potential game play limits the funds I am willing to put into it.


Why do I think this matters for Kickstarter?  Well I can probably run that down really easily to be honest

1. Range: More options get people more interested.  From the very basic "funded" point of the game there should be enough options that people who arrange to play the game with each other aren't going to have the same models.  Personally I would say that 3 definable factions are important, and within each faction there need to be "different" characters (so not just a leader and then generic troopers).  It might make the kickstarter have to have a higher initial fund point, but so be it.  Options are interesting.

2: Goals being independent: Factions that are only part unlocked as you go along, if people don't feel that the full faction is going to make it they won't keep funding.  So if you are going to unlock a faction do it as one big lump.  It'll drive people up to the goal, because everyone gets to have everything at that point.  Incomplete forces are not great for peoples motivations.  Now this can also mean you could include stand alone models as unlock targets, so a mercenary character that can join multiple factions is fine, a set of two infected models that people can use in new scenarios rather than just using counters.  So long as the unlocks aren't dependent on things that look unreachable higher up the chain.

3: Gadgets: So, rather than having models in a new faction unlock in stages, but in one go, how to you bridge the gap between stretch goals.. well we could always unlock gadgets (and I don't mind if I have to pay for them separately as well).  Custom faction dice, plastic markers for statuses, measuring widgets, a resin pack of objective markers.  Strangely I think this actually keeps the money going up.  People look at the next faction as the big goal, but knowing other options are unlocking that can be purchased afterwards is also a pretty good incentive.

4: Free stuff: I'm afraid to say this is a shocking indictment on people in general, but we like knowing that as the funding goes up we are going to get more stuff on top of what we already are paying for.  Free stuff is sadly just one of those things that gets people going, and can get people staying in at the higher pledge levels.  CMON pretty much get their games funded via this method.  We initially pay through the nose, knowing that as more and more people go in for the Kickstarter we are getting more value for the money we have put into it.  Obviously these have to be managed well by the company running the Kickstarter, because you simply can't give away stuff without the fiances behind it, but I do think this is a way to keep the funding coming in.

5: Community: Hello, its this old devil again.  So community is a killer for people wanting to play a game that is in retail, I think for a kickstarter it can be life and death.  I don't just mean advertising online etc, I think there is a big call for getting your product out and about and building the community.  Systems such as Malifaux Henchmen, Guild Ball Pundits and Privateer Press' Press Gangers are definitely something you need to put into effect fast, even during a Kickstarter.  Also the presence over the web is a naggingly important aspect.  As an ICT specialist, and (tongue in cheek because its not really part of my job) a business analyst, I know how vital it is to make sure that anything you produce is going to met the expectations of your audience.  Add to that a very low level claim to being in social media advertising, I think it is important to work out how to best promote online.  A lot of good games feed into the social media community as much as possible, and from that build up some good publicity.  Gaslands is doing ever so well on this front, though it has other things (like price) going for it as well.  Its actually a very treacherous set of waters, building a community and a supporting media presence, but getting it right will always reap massive rewards.

I'm not an expert

There are a huge amount of caveats on all of the above.  I'm making an observation from the outside as an Analyst rather than as someone with experience.  I, clearly, have no experience of setting up a miniatures game or a kickstarter.  Business Analysis from outside of a company is pretty much a guessing game, but I do think that there are some basic ideas in the above which do make a difference.

And this was an odd place to get to when I started out with the basic fact that I'm trying to work out if I want to spend money on more shiny models.

A Bit of Nostalgia #4

This ain't Kansas anymore

My first post today obviously had to be a nostalgia one.  Yes, because I forgot to yesterday.

It's also the first Nostalgia post I'm doing about an RPG rather than a War Game.  Its fair to say I've played a hell of a lot of different roleplay systems, a lot more than war game systems.  So, I'd like to claim I'm in a pretty good place to talk about old roleplay games, I've certainly got a lot of opinions about them anyway.  I'm going to start with the big daddy of dead system (at least in original format).  I'm pretty sure there will be gamers screaming at me that "such and such" a system is better, but I'm sorry.. you're wrong.. in my opinion.  Roleplay systems have a lot to them, so lets break this down into three sections - background, mechanics and general amusement factor.

Before that though, there is something that is immensely important to point out.  Roleplay systems live and die by the person running the game.  A glorious system can be shot dead by the person running them.  Inversely a system that is just poor can be rescued by an amazing GM.  I don't believe dreadful systems can ever be saved, but the point is that even on the highest recommendations, what I put here is based on how I feel about the game and the sessions I've been fortunate enough to play in (or GM).

That said, Deadlands is probably one of the most thematic and well designed games I have ever played.  The background of the game is very detailed.  I know, these days, we all get very impressed by the fluff in war games, but a lot of role play games rely on the depth of the fluff.  Its quite complex, so lets start at the end.  Yup, the end of Deadlands is probably the most pivotal in terms of fluff, because you never get to see this ending, it doesn't actually happen.

The forces of Evil, called the Reckoners (but also known as the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse) need fear to survive.  Through manipulation of American Indian tribes, and the anger caused by the invasion and decimation of the land by european invaders, the Reckoners manage to get a rift opened up to their dimension/world.  Through this rift the Reckoners send terrors and monsters, in the hope that they can saturate the world with enough fear that they can survive here.  They fail.. humanity bands together, using the new found abilities that opening the portal bought to the world.  The monsters are destroyed and instead of being afraid people become courageous.  It's times like this, when it helps to be a powerful and malevolent being.

The first manipulation they make is to send their most dangerous servant back in time.  Graves, an undead assassin and general bad ass, gets sent back to start killing off humanities heroes.  The sudden loss of all the good guys cuts humanities hopes drastically.  They then lace the world with Ghost Rock.  A rare commodity, Ghost Rock gives off far more energy than Coal, creating a Gold-Rush effect far more malevolent than anything else in the original time line.  Burning it causes great clouds which scream (hence the name).  Thing is, it also releases more and more evil spirits on the world, drastically speeding up the process of generating fear.  Humanity, itself, starts to help bring the Reckoning closer.  This time, the Reckoners will win, unless something can be done about it.

Deadlands was set in the Wild West of this world.  At this point in time Ghost Rock has been found in America, shortly after the coastline of California breaks apart and sinks into the sea (the effect of the Reckoners putting a load of Ghost Rock into the area).  A grand rush of technology occurs because of the new energy source, but it also escalates wars (specifically the American Civil War).  With so much death, the Reckoners have played their first big card.  During the Battle of Gettysburg the dead rise, and fight both sides.  There is no end to the war, and America is still divided at the start of the game.

There is a lot to Deadlands, way more than I have included here, but what I will say is that Pinnacle (who made Deadlands) were very clever, because the original book didn't have the whole story in it.  Deadlands ultimately came out with three games in the setting, each at a different time point in the game.  The background was rich enough that you could play without the whole story, but obviously also allowed games to stretch through the different time zones, bringing more and more information to light.  It certainly gave people a lot of scope though, with some much going on in each game (I'll likely cover one of these another time).

The system is where things got really good.  Now its important to note that I'm only going to touch on some of the key points with Deadlands, because the system was also very very different to anything else I ever played.  I won't cover combat, or dice rolling, because they were actually hidden under a layer of "style" that nothing else really managed in my opinion.

It all start with character creation.  You can get an idea of the style of the game based on how they do character generation.  Mechwarrior was also heavy on the mathematics.  DnD for all its failings told you right away that Dice rolling was going to happen a lot.  World of Darkness was all about the dots.  Deadlands.. was about Poker.  Well more decks of cards, but it immediately got that Wild West thing going even at character creation.  You drew nine card from a Deck, getting rid of two that you didn't want to determine your stats.  You weren't allowed to get rid of twos or jokers.  The suit of the card determined the number of dice for the stat, and the value of the card would determine the type of dice for the stat.  For instance the 10 of Hearts might be 4D10 (if I've got that right I really am sad).  It was there though, right from the beginning, this game was so heavily in theme it was unreal.  Initiative was done with Cards.  Roll initiative, that determines how many actions you got, then from a communal deck of cards draw that many.  The order you go in would be based on the number of the card, using suit for tiebreaking.  Magic (in one of its forms) was card driven, with Hucksters having to try to draw a Poker hand to determine how powerful the spell was.  I mean, you could only get more Wild West if you added in Poker Chip.

Yup, they were there too.  Poker Chips allowed you to do cool things.  Mostly it was ignoring or reducing woulds, but you could also use them to get rerolls (of various levels, add 1 dice, reroll 1 dice, reroll all dice).  The whole game just dripped with style and genre.  Hucksters, cowboys, Texas Rangers, Show Girls, all were valid characters (there weren't any classes, but if you wanted faith magic, or to be a Mad Scientist you had to buy certain abilities at character creation).  There were also really good simplifications in the game to make it run well, including using paperclips to mark up injuries, location based attacks could yield more damage, you only counted the worst wound towards modifiers.  Everything had this little visual aid to just make the game come alive, and yet also make it simple.

You can probably, by now, guess that this is firmly placed at the top of my games list.  Deadlands is, however, something that can suffer from bad GMing.  All the character and style of the game applies a very stark contrast when included in a badly run game.  I've been lucky, I've never encountered it myself in any great severity, but I could see if happening with ease.  I can not, however, ever see Deadlands not being amusing.  There were just little things that always caught the attention, my friends Huckster had a bad habit of pulling Black Jokers when he tried to cast spells and getting his face blown up because of it.  We had a Southern American preacher in one group, who carried a shotgun and used it to keep his flock quite during sermons (the repair bill for the roof was atrocious).  The fact that you could be killed, and then you drew cards for the character to see if you came back to life as a Harrowed (possessed bodies, still with the original character inside, but when you slept the GM could get your character to do "other" things).  A lot of the RPGs I will include in the Nostalgia section will have bags of style (I love games that drag me in to the setting), but Deadlands had that and added in a layer which made sure the Wild West (or Weird West as the setting called it) was definitely full of entertainment as well.

Deadlands initially went dead at around the time of the D20 invasion.  They released everything as pdfs at this time and I managed to get most of them.  They did do a D20 version, but it just didn't work out in my opinion.  Pinnacle then became something new (I have a feeling its Great White Games as part of the Pinnacle Entertainments Group) and released Savage Worlds.  It took a while, but in time they released Deadlands:Reloaded, which has most, but not all of the flavour of Deadlands.  If you can get the Classic game I would do, I still think it is the best version of the game.  I never got the books for Deadlands, just the PDFs... I do, however, have an almost complete set of the Deadlands:Hell on Earth spin off.. and while it had its own interesting feel to it, and wasn't quite the same game, I've got this feeling that one day that complete collection is going to be difficult to get hold of ever again, and quite highly sought after.

Sunday, 8 May 2016

Kickstarter #4

Where have all the good ones gone?

I have to admit I've struggled this weekend on Kickstarter.  Nothing has truely taken me, though I do have at least a couple to point people at (because I wouldn't be a good blogger if I only look at things that excite me).  So, this weeks Kickstarter trawl is a lot about stuff that looks good, even if I don't know if I would go for them.

Virus -

The first game I ever played that had "real time" actions was Xcom.  I've also seen the Escape games played, with the Incan Temple type version.  They always look like a lot of fun, but Xcom is the only one I have seen that has some sort of control to the madness, the App for Xcom is pretty amazing.

So Virus has another real time aspect to it.  There also seems to be an App as well, but my understanding is that it just controls the clock though rather than making specific actions occur.  Now there is a lot going on with Virus, a mad dash to specific locations, trying to find specific tiles as you move, performing actions in rooms, and fighting monsters, so it does sound like this is going to be a bit of a mad rush during the timed phases.  I can see that working for a lot of people, but I do also like to have a bit of time while other people are playing to work out what I'm going to do next.

Certainly, I will say that I really like the idea of this.  There is a sort of Resident Evil kid of feel about the thematics of the game.  I virus has been released that has mutated the people and the animal in a weird science lab, get in, unlock the security door that is stopping you getting out, and find the cure on the way.

If people are interested have a look here.

Stay out of my Dungeon! - 2HandsomeGames

So I'm going to say right now, this game falls into a category I quite like, which is the semi-cooperative type.  Betrayer mechanics in Shadows over Camelot and Battlestar Galactica are really good, and I've always kind of liked the idea of trying to work out who is actually helping and who is hindering.

In addition this game also has quite a heavy feeling of Dungeon Keeper, which definitely helps it out a lot.  I always loved the idea of being the evil overlord and controlling minions to take out the good guys.  Thats why I own a copy of Dungeon Lords.

So, in this one you are working together to build up the dungeon defences.  There will be a lot of worker placement and resource management in this game, and again that can be a lot of fun.

I think the only downside here is that there are no game play videos and all the images are placeholders examples.  I think that might not be a help.  However, it is well worth a read of the campaign itself.  There is a lot in there on what they want to do.

Check it out here.

Awful Fantasy: The Card Game - Awful Fantasy

Now, this is more my sort of thing, and based on the prices I might well put some money on to this game.

You play as a failing author, rushing against time to be the first person to complete their awful fantasy.  You get cards for the plot, the good guys and the bad guys and you have to try and cobble them together into your next novel.  I could quite happily see my relatively regular players also putting in corny descriptions of the novel they have written, explaining why it is the next best thing in Fantasy literature, either even the incomplete novels being scored if you can convince people that even in its unfinished state the book you have is better than that finished one.

Quick card games are always good.  They can be dragged out at any, reasonably open, social circle because they can be played so quickly.  I have my eye on a few card games of this sort, so I might well add Awful Fantasy to my watch list.

Have a look here.

Right, its late, and I should be asleep.

To those people I know who will be at Vengeance next weekend I wish you all well.  There may well not be a Kickstarter post next weekend as it will be my birthday shortly after, and while I sadly can't say I will be at Vengeance for my birthday (unfortunately), but I will be out with my parents so I may not have the time.  Will have to see.

Thursday, 5 May 2016

A bit of nostalgia #3

Operation Nostalgia - Junkyard scramble

Almost forgot to do something this week.  Thankfully I have just enough time before the weekend, and therefore the Kickstarter trawl, gets in the way.

I've realised something fairly important, quite a lot of my Nostalgia games are Games Workshop's.  Now this is partly because they did do some reasonable games, all of which they sacrificed to the fire of WH40k at some point in the not too distant past.  Necromunda is todays fair, and it is a prime example of GW shooting themselves in the kneecaps.  Because this game did something I never really saw the other specialist games doing.

So, lets go with the background and work our way onwards into the actual game.

In the grim dark of the future there is only war... well unless you happen to live on a quiet agri world, or as a noble in some luxury apartments on a hive world.  Actually for the vast majority of people war is pretty low on the daily expectations list, but it is still Grim!  Necromunda was, certainly the lower levels of the Hive city Necromunda, were very Grim.  The base levels of Hives are vast, easily a few times larger than any real life city on Earth, and some of the really big Hives can stretch across counties (or really small states for the America readers).  Down in these depths gangs fight for domination of the slugs and scrapyards that are left behind.  The weight of the rest of the hive above has pretty much caused most of the Underhive to collapse, so people have got out of the area.. except you, and your gang.  Over time the gangs gathered together, to form Family type affairs, and entire cultures of their own.  You pick from one of the families, pay for your gangers, juves and leaders and then head out to make a name for yourself.

GW basically went all skirmish game on us here.  They twisted and tweaked the standard 40k rule set (keeping things like WS and BS... they always had some BS) and including rules to allow models to become more experienced, or gain better weapons, and even to have injuries.  It was like Bloodbowl.. just cooler... and I don't mean that to spite Bloodbowl (which will feature at some point in a Nostalgia post), but Necromunda was a lot of fun.  I remember playing an old play by post gang war game, where you could invade territory and push merchandise, and Necromunda sort of did that in a kid friendly way.  Each gang had territory to make money with, winning games might allow you to steal territory, or unearth new territory.  Even better than that, some of the territory you gain might not give you much cash, but you might get free juves to replace your dead, or secret tunnels that allow you to deploy your gangers behind enemy lines.

There were quite a few gangs available to start with.  The base gang came with Orlocks and Goliath.  They were very standard starters for GW, the Orlock being the jack of all trades family, and the Goliath where hitty "U's Hummies needs a stompin" Ork wannabies.  Ok so the background was that they were basically a patriarch gang born from living in the most oppressive and more brutal areas of the Underhive, but for the most part, they were just moderately smarter Orks.  You could, instead, go for Cawdor (moderately fanatical god emperor bothers who were fast and good in combat, just not Goliath good), Delaque (Assassins of the "looks like, but no where near as good as" Hitman variety), Van Saar (because who doesn't like a big gun), and Escher (Where all the men have turned into withered husks and the woman are fast melee fighters, who just can't be hit).  There was, as you can tell, a reasonable variety and "some" play style options.  On top of that you could add Ratskin scouts (sort of Tribal American, and could sneak about), Pit Fighters (with added buzz saw limbs) or Outlaws (who could, for the most part, actually shoot things).

Now, as with all GW "experience based" games, there were problems.  The guys out front got all the best stuff, making them harder to beat, meaning they got even more good stuff.  I don't think GW ever really managed to find a way to balance that problem.  It is something I have seen with more or less all campaign style games (I'm hoping Guild Ball has solved that).  It also struggled with the fact that, while the models were good, the inherent issue with systems that allow you to upgrade your models is that metal models don't "upgrade" very easily, so you either needed a lot of models to represent each type of weapon, or you had to be very clever at having convertible models (and some of them were small so magnetic weapon swaps might not have looks so good).

Plus, and this one is definitely a GW special, there was power creep.  The expansion for Necromunda bought in five more "gang" options.  In most cases you would expect that this meant five new gangs which panel beat every other old family, but no.  It was just one of them.  I mean how to do you over balance a new faction when you have four other reasonably balance new gangs coming out at the same time?  Anyway, the four good factions were;

The Enforcers - Judge Dredd probably would still teach them a thing or two, but basically they were Judges.  They didn't gain much from territory and advancing them was quite limited, but they had the best body armour and it was cheap to replace weapons and get good ammo for them.  To really balance them you could field a maximum of five models, ever.  You could have more in your gang, but they went out as a five man squad to each mission.

The Ratskins - As with the scouts there was a big Wild West type style to them, they worked well because while they were quite week they more or less ignored deployment rules (because they could get tunnels and vents really easily).  They also survived more often than not because they could reroll injury checks.  They basically couldn't have heavy weaponary though, so they didn't get a massive amount of "everything is dead dave" moments.

The Scavvies - Zombies!!! No?  So you guys are technically alive still.. I mean shit man thats harsh.  Basically these guys were cheap, your gang sheet was probably double sided and you still didn't end up running out of cash.  And they hit harder than the Goliah did in close combat.  Oh and you get free "fodder" troops every game, that didn't cost anything to put onto the field and it didn't really matter if they died.  However, they would probably shoot themselves more often than not, so giving them guns was a waste of cash, and no Heavies either, which is probably just as well.

The Cult of Redemption - Sisters of Battle have nothing on these guys when it comes to complete gushing crazy for the emperor, nothing.  They are, in essence, the elite of the Cawdor family, but frankly they would burn their own family if they decided they weren't devoted enough.  Burning being the operative word.  They got cheap one shot flame rounds for funzies and flame throwers all over the place.  In Necromunda they made one hell of lot of burning corpses very quickly (armour wasn't exactly common place).  Their Heavy was a guy with a huge two handed chainsaw as well, because why not.  The leader also got to convert any enemies that were captured during games (which made recruitment easier).  Of course to counter this they did have weaknesses, if I recall correctly they couldn't have certain territories (including the one that allowed you to recruit new guys so you had to convert people or buy full priced), flamers were very short ranged too and they lost all the Cawdor close combatiness, so if you could get past the fire they pretty much turned to ash themselves.  With a lot of close combat guys in Necromunda that was actually not uncommon.

Those were the balanced ones.. even The Cult of Redemption didn't earn the hatred of the next guys.

The Spyre Hunters - Screw these guys.  Seriously they could go died in a fire, started by the cult and faned my every other gang in the game.  Except they didn't, with their high and mighty armour they probably would just walk through it and then gut everyone stood watching.. for a giggle.  Ok, so the issue here is quite simple, they had 40k level armour and weaponary in a game where the weapons could barely get through imperial guard armour.  If you couldn't pin down a Spyre before it got a shot off them you were in trouble.  Just to make it even better, there were basically the Young Nobility coming down from the upper spire for a bit of sport..  You didn't get territory (if I recall) so hiring people was difficult (you basically just got the money from the missions), but it didn't matter, your guys basically didn't die.  They traded with the alien races (including the Tau apparently so I have to give them some credit), so everything they did was pretty harsh.  The balance off... you may be could stretch to having three of them in a gang at a time... basically they were expensive, but when you can deploy three ultimate killing machines on a field where people are firing pee-shooters at you, I think you can cope.  Van Saar were pretty much the only gang that would give them a run for their money, because they had easy access to lascannons and plasma weapons.  So...

Even with the Spyre "cheat mode" Hunters on the board, this was still a good game.  GW put into the box some lovely cardboard terrain,  it was skirmish sized (though I wish it had been an alternate activate system), it had really good rules to make it feel cinematic (like falling off of buildings when you got shot), and there was just enough to make sure it wasn't 40k on fat burners.

So far the first two games taught me something about how War Gaming could be.  Necromunda never taught me anything about war gaming.. it was just bloody good fun.  Probably one of the best games they ever made.  In fact I mentioned recently that Man O'War was probably only beaten by one GW game ever and that game was Necromunda.  When I said that I decided to actually write out my top 10 game list (only games I've played are on the list shockingly enough) and after much thought I realised that Necromunda sits on the top of the pile.  It is rapidly being caught by Malifaux and Guild Ball.. at a rate of knots that it probably won't survive, but there it is, Necromunda is my favourite game (so far).  So of course GW canned it!

Specialist Games are coming back, and I would expect Necromunda to be one of the games that returns.  I hope they do it justice, fix all the problems, make it alternate activations, and re-release the models in cheap plastic with enough in the boxes to allow you to customise the weaponary.  I think that is all it needs really.  Do it right, and Guild Ball might not make the #1 slot that Necromunda currently holds on to, by its fingertips, while being gunned down by a Heavy stubbed and stalked by one of those f'ing Spyre hunters.