I encounter the Google Street View mapping Guy.


Departing for work this morning, I saw something whizz by my car going up the hill at speed.  White cars are common, but that complicated mast arrangement.. it could mean only one thing.. a Google Street View Mapping car.  I jumped in the car thinking I’d lost the car in the morning traffic, but lo and behold! right around the corner:

Click to embiggen.  It’s Joe the Google Map guy!

It’s not every day of the week one encounters a Street View mapping vehicle, so I stopped and said hello..
Joe (I think his name was Joe) says he drove all the way from California to my neighborhood in this vehicle. Not my first choice for cross country cruising comfort!

Oh sure. Everybody LOOOOVES the car. Cant’ get enough of it. Nobody wants a picture of the driver!! What am I, chopped liver?

The driver joked that everyone wants to know about the vehicle doing the photography, and nobody cares who the driver is. I assured him that had I even a reasonable amount of time, I’d be spellbound listening to his tales of mapping America. Actually, I really was pretty interested.

Wave for all your fans, Street View man! Don’t take a picture of that overturned trash can in my driveway!

I wish I had had the time to have him run through the process with me, I think Street View is one impressive project, myself.

Citadel of Blood (SPI, ARES magazine) now in digital rules library


The original ARES #5 cover

I guess I’m on a roll! Making DEATHMAZE for epub format recently had me re-reading Citadel of Blood, the Deathmaze-style tile-laying dungeon crawl game that was published in ARES Magazine, issue 5, in 1980. This magazine can be found in the Internet Archive as a PDF download, and an EPUB download. However, the epub download is of very poor quality, so I remade it from scratch.

I’m fairly pleased with the results. I added a few graphics here and there and that bumped up the file size a little. I think it’s far better than the epub that was on the Archive, and easier to read than the original PDF on the archive, as it’s based on an old scan.

However, if you are interested in a high quality READABLE PDF (graphics intact!) of Citadel of Blood, I strongly suggest you check out the great Todd Sanders’ re-imaging of Citadel of Blood he completed in 2012. The graphic update is splendid, the tiles and counters excellent, and you just need to invest in some glue and cutting time. FILES ARE HERE (in the FILES section).

You will find the EPUB in the DIGITAL RULES section of this website, under “Commercial games, out of print”.

NOTE! This is JUST an Epub file, for use when playing the physical game and you want to read the rules on a tablet. It does not have any counter images, map tiles, or anything other than the rules themselves. If you want to play the actual game instead of reading it, you’ll need the physical components for the game. I don’t think there’s a better set around for this game than what Todd Sanders has created (including the originals published by SPI). Check out the links above.

Trying out the 3D Virtual Tabletop app


By happenstance I stumbled upon the 3D Virtual Tabletop app via a sidebar ad on RPG.NET– having just gone through a successful Kickstarter campaign, the designer was getting the word out, apparently. I’ve been playing around with mapping tools lately, notably Roll20.net to support role playing games. 3D Virtual Tabletop (3DVT) has some somewhat similar functions from what I can tell. I have not managed to run a game with it yet (see below), so I have only a basic first look understanding of how it works right now.

3D Virtual Tabletop Pricing Screen

First and foremost, 3DVT is a mapping tool for playing tabletop games with. The design clearly was aimed at small scale roleplaying skirmishes, moving character icons over a graphical map layer. It’s pretty simple at the core of it.

3DVT Player and monster icons on top of a dungeon room background layer that I imported

The client, out of the box (as it were) comes with several sample maps from various genres. The ones included in the game were apparently from Legendary Games, a maker of 2D terrain pieces in cardboard, designed for playing fantasy roleplaying games with a flat playing field and grid overlay to snap the figures to.

It was easy to find a few grids on the internetz and add them to the floor layer as objects. I probably could have done the same with new tokens (players) as well, as there are plenty of images out there to use.

Another example of terrain I imported

… and another, a “bridge” tile.

View is isometric by default, but the app can adapt to run a game from straight up looking down:

Much potential for more boardgamey things here….

Account management is handled by Google Sign in or by regular login.

If you DON’T have a subscription, don’t bother. There is no “trial period”.

Maps need to synchronized between players, which is handled by the server piece. To pay for that, you have to SUBSCRIBE, which costs about 9.99 a year, which I think is a very reasonable price, considering the capability you’ll be paying for.

Note that I couldn’t start an actual game, as I haven’t subscribed yet. A “trial period” would have been a nice feature, so I can see what I’m paying 9.99 for, cheap as it is.

The actual “Start a new game with other people” screen, which I couldn’t really take advantage of, as I haven’t subscribed. So I’m not sure what exactly happens next, but there’s some links to example games at the bottom of the page, and they’ll give you a good idea.

So this is as much as I know– I’ve loaded the 3DVT app on both IoS and Android. I’ve imported map tiles and moved figure icons around on it in a very impressive manner. I have not started a game or run a game as a host as that isnt’ a feature I can take advantage of right now. So, shrug.. I can see the potential for this thing, but I wonder how much better it is than Roll20? That application, though mostly browser based, handles everything including the mapping, and even does hidden reveals. 3DVT appears to be an app for just recreating the immediate action in a specific contained place and time. Great for running skirmishes or small tabletop miniature games. I could see this being used for boardgaming as well. Again, the jury is still out as to whether it will kill off RollD20 or not– although it does have one great quality: it runs on an IPad.

I’m cautiously optomistic.. and what the heck, it’s only 10 bucks a year.

3DVT is available from the Google Store, Itunes App Store and Amazon.

LINKS:

 

Wargame Bloggers Quarterly–a Neat New Magazine


misternizz:

I don’t often reblog a post, but Wargame Blogger’s Quarterly is such a neat idea, I’m really taken with it. A big tip of the chapeau to Thomo for finding this and I’ll definitely be investigating it in the future (and who knows, maybe something from here will be on there, but I doubt it!).

Originally posted on Thomo's Hole:

Wargamers_Quarterly

It’s big, bold and pretty!

There is a new quarterly wargames magazine available in the Internet called Wargame Bloggers Quarterly. This is, as the title suggests, a quarterly magazine designed to highlight the best looking of games and and reviews.

I have had a quick look through issue one and I am impressed. No fancy tricks, just good solid text and images.

This first issue has chapters on:

  • Bloody Cremona from Simon Miller
  • Trouble Brewing in “Serenity City” by Dave Docherty
  • Whitechapel 1888 by Michael Awdry
  • Lledo “Days Gone Bye” Horse Drawn Carriages from Robert Audin
  • Inside the Mind of Loki – Vallejo Model Colour and Triads from Andrew “Loki” Saunders
  • Iron Mitten Plays “Spot the Royalist”
  • and lastly, a copy of the Official Charter of the Magazine

Well worth having a look – I know what my lunchtime reading is today … and tomorrow!

View original

VOID MOON by Michael Connelly reviewed


Void MoonVoid Moon by Michael Connelly

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Void Moon is a unique novel in that shared universe written by Michael Connelly that contains an aging Harry Bosch, Los Angeles homicide detective, Mickey Haller, defense attorney, and Terry McCaleb, former FBI agent. This novel features Cassidy “Cassie” Black, a professional burglar and ex-con who is laboring under the burden of her tragic past. What makes Void Moon unique in the Bosch-verse is the main character is not on right side of the law. Cassie is an expert in stealthy entry operations and the hopefully painless removal of cash and worldly goods from unsuspecting ‘marks’.. mostly in the city of Las Vegas, Nevada. Most of Cassie’s criminal career is in the past, however, and only obliquely referred to in mental dialogue and flashbacks from various characters. We see Cassie at the start of the novel in an attempt to at living the straight life– she’s selling Porsches to Hollywood elite and meeting with her parole agent regularly. A series of events pushes Cassie to give the old life one more try– which results in an escalating tide of bad fortune, chaos, and lots and lots of violence. I won’t give too much of this away, mild spoilers at best here. Let’s just say the heist she is hired to execute did not go as anticipated, and interested parties put Jack Karsch on the case. Karsch is the other great POV character in Void Moon and in many respects he is the polar opposite of Cassie– cold, calculating and psychopathic when he needs to be. I enjoyed Connelly’s interpretation of Karsch. The reader gets the impression that he’s a rather shady private investigator working for organized crime, but the point really gets hammered home when he casually dispenses with a critical witness that links Cassie to the crime he is investigating.. and buries him in the desert. Apparently he’s done this a lot over the years. The plot was constructed well.. a little slow in the beginning as we soak in the major players and what they mean to each other as well as what the events around a tragedy in Cassie’s past means to the story as a whole. That’s the only criticism I have of VOID MOON. Much of how the story develops revolves around the events of how she lost the love of her life (and fellow master burglar), Max Freeling, in a tragic event 7 years in the past, before she was sent to prison as an accomplice. Yet we see very little of it for all its importance.

Like every Connelly novel, apparently, Cassie inhabits the Bosch-Haller-McCaleb world of Los Angeles somewhere, and she is referenced in other works as the literary equivalent of a walk-on- because Connelly is cute that way. I don’t think we’ll see a lot more of Cassie Black, which is kind of a shame. She’s a very engaging character and one of the more interesting females Connelly has written. He doesn’t give her a lot of room to maneuver at the end of the novel so it would interesting how she would re-engage in the Bosch-universe.

Overall, not the best Connelly novel, but far from the worst and better than a lot of other crime thrillers. I liked VOID MOON and would recommend it to Bosch fans or fans of Crime dramas that feature criminals. The technical descriptions of the burglar’s trade was very well written.

Michael Connelly’s website

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PS: I just caught the first episode of the BOSCH streaming video series on Amazon over the weekend.  It’s based on CITY OF BONES (first Bosch book I ever read) and very much worth a viewing.  Titus Welliver is an excellent Bosch.  Recommended.

Deathmaze (SPI) has been added to Digital Rules


Deathmaze Cover (Click for BGG Listing)

I have added an old favorite of mine from the old SPI days, DEATHMAZE, to the Digital Rules page.  This was a very old tile laying, build a dungeon as you go design presented as a FOLIO style game by SPI (there were four in the Fantasy and SF series, see the Microgames page (above) for more history on that).

Note that this is a conversion of the original games rules text, which can be found online as a somewhat sketchy PDF.  I should know, I believe I created the original a very long time ago when I built a Cyberboard gamebox to play Deathmaze via PBeM.  See the link to BGG (above, click the picture) to download that file if you have an interest in playing via cyberboard.

Note, as well, that I added a “Chapter 11″ in SPI Case format, which includes all the information and tables published in the MOVES 51 advanced rules for Deathmaze variant.  I know there’s an old ARES article on Deathmaze out there somewhere, and if it includes new material and I can get it OCR’d somehow, I may add that material to this epub in the future.  (late edit: I tracked that down.  It was a review, not a variant).  For now, it’s fairly complete as is.

Note that the “Section 12″ Deathmaze Charts 1 and 2 are a Snapshot of an old excel file I created way back in the 90s to replicate the game charts.  I think it’s reasonably clear but you may need to zoom in.

Original counter scan included.. just for reference. Counters in Epubs are a bit of a waste of time.

To actually play the game using this epub file, you’ll need to print out some Dungeon Tiles  on a color printer somewhere, or have the original set handy.  No need to reinvent the wheel here.  There are some nice sets available on the Boardgamegeek page for Deathmaze.  Click the picture above to visit that page.  You might also need to print out counters for the monsters (or use 10mm or 6mm miniatures from various vendors) to represent the monsters and party of adventurers.  There are new counters on Boardgamegeek, click the cover graphic above.

If you don’t feel like printing anything, you can try playing it with Cyberboard.  I made that module years ago and I can tell you it uses the original SPI images, somewhat modified.  So take it with a grain of salt.

I favor these, since you can print them sized to have a tiny miniature dungeon party to explore in them:

FILES: as always, find the EPUB file in the DIGITAL RULES page, under Commercial Game, Out of Print.

Enjoy.

August 2014 Puzzle: The Garden Path


Being on SOME mailing lists pays off. Workman publishing sent me this one today:

Can you find ONE CONTINUOUS PATH from the BEE to the FLOWER, passing through every light green box and NO brown boxes? You may go through each box only once, and diagonal moves are not allowed.

There’s a solution, of course. But don’t click HERE until you’ve tried it at least once.

Review: Johannes Cabal the Detective


The Detective (Johannes Cabal, #2)The Detective by Jonathan L. Howard

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve grown to really enjoy the Cabal series. The humor is droll, some of the social commentary is rather arch, but the overall narrative is of splendid adventure. The central figure, Johannes Cabal, is a necromancer in a world where necromancy is hardly an honorable profession. Indeed, Cabal’s inner monologue and side observations indicate he has had to remain one step ahead of a Noose/Guillotine/Firing Squad throughout his career, though no specifics are revealed by the series’ author, Jonathan Howard. Mr. Howard is a writer of considerable talent, with an innate ability to set a scene and construct gems of dialogue.

If you have read the first novel, you will note that #2, The Detective, takes place a decent amount of time after the events of the first novel, where Cabal was forced to collect 100 souls (by none other than the devil himself) in return for his soul. Perhaps a year or more later, in fact. Cabal is on the continent… somewhere. We’ll circle back to the setting. His attempt to burgle a rare text on necromancy lands him on the wrong side of a sadistic Balkan count’s graces.

The Cabal novels appear to be taking place in an alternative Edwardian to early 20th century era, before the Great War robbed life of any niceties. There are recognizable countries like England and Italy, and Balkan style fictional states with names made up out of whole cloth (Merkavia) to borrowed from other works (Graustark). No maps exist of the Cabalverse that I know of.

Cabal departs the fictional Balkan state (Merkavia) by hiding aboard a Zeppelin traveling North. The Zeppelin is packed with relief supplies for a Northern neighbor going through a drought. Or is it? A murder happens, and the story shifts to “Locked Room Mystery” mode. I won’t reveal any spoilers about the plot henceforth, but it does roll trippingly along from there and resolves itself in grand style– with gunshots, crashing airships, duels and a demonic entity from the past.

Johannes Cabal the Detective is a splendid read and it sets up Number 3 nicely. Highly recommended as a few nights’ diversion.

Johannes Cabal on DeviantArt.

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Game Camp 2014, Last Day: X-Wing, The Resistance, Cosmic, & Zombies


Today was our last day of Gaming Camp at St. Stephens & St. Agnes school, Alexandria, VA.

They call it “Fantasy Battle Camp” Well, okay, I can live with that. I guess “Wargame” doesn’t read well for a family activity.

So our last day was literally jam-packed as we attempted to cram anything we haven’t done yet in the remaining hours. I set up a Super Gigantic X-Wing Smack-down on two tables:

Far table: X-Wing (Skywalker) and Y-Wing versus TIE Bomber and TIE Fighter. Near table: TIE advanced (Vader) and TIE Defender versus A-Wing, B-Wing, Y -WIng and X-WIng.

X-Wing Miniatures was pretty popular with everyone who played it. The Basic game can be taught in a few minutes and the rules are dirt simple.

Once the kids got the nuances of planning where they wanted to be the next turn (and really, the turn after), the game was very speedy and I didn’t have to monitor it beyond a rule dispute or two.

Gleeful Rebel Pilots gloa.t after victory

We ended up getting in a demo game of THE RESISTANCE during lunch, which is an old favorite of mine.  This is a game that has a similar vibe to WEREWOLF but doesn’t require that “Open your eyes, close your eyes” thing so much.  We played with two spies and 3 resistance fighters.  The Resistance won.

After lunch we played a game that has become traditional as the Friday afternoon closer. We had to 86 the notion of an ice-cream party as originally planned, since I was less one helper (Garrett was sick). So we played the game associated with Friday at camp, Zombietown USA.  This simple zombie apocalypse game was designed by our 2008 camp, and revised by the 2012.   You can pick up a copy here.  You need a handful of SWAT miniatures, a lot of Zombies, and a handful of dice and some sticks.

More Zombies generated (Orange Tokens)

and… THE END!!! Zombies 18, SWAT 0!

The end of Zombietown had most of the SWAT forces overwhelmed and overrun by Zombies. The SWAT team couldn’t make any headway.. they insisted on running from one point to another, and that kept generating zombies faster than they could kill them.

And that was Game Camp! A great week, great kids– all of them very intelligent and quick to pick things up. Everyone liked BIG DANGED BOATS very much, and some were excited about the idea of the game possibly being published.

We played: Big Danged Boats, The Magi, Cosmic Encounter, Room 25, The Resistance, X-Wing Miniatures, and Zombietown.

I really enjoy running this camp every year, and have been doing it steadily since 2006. I will be back next year.

Game Camp 2014 Day Four: The End, CE, Room 25 and X-Wing!


The END! of BDB that is.

BDB

The Grand Finale of Big Danged Boats. Cedric (running O.R.C.), smashed through the front door but met up with a gigantic horde of Slithin and Mercenaries. He put up a valiant fight but in the end was overwhelmed by slashing Slithin blades. So Gordon won, more or less, but it was a great and epic game!! CLICK the PICTURE above to see a slideshow of the last hours of BDB 2014

Thursday was a fun day but very busy. BDB got voted in for a morning event to finish off the last remnants of the Day 3 battle. The morning session was basically to finish off some critical boarding actions and the final attempt at taking the Orbs. Needless to say, it did not go well for the Allies. Being young fellers with their bloodlust up, they concentrated on attacking each other while Gordon looked on in puzzlement. Cedric’s O.R.C. troopers finally got IN the tower but were overwhelmed by the Tower Guard. So Gordon “won” if it really matters. The session threw off my original schedule quite a bit, as BDB is a bear to put away– even with many little helpers. We managed, though, and it went faster with a lot of hands helping. I got things to a point where I could get the rest of it done quickly and Garrett set up and played Room 25 which was pretty much a group activity though not everyone played (It’s only for 6 players.. they need to make an expansion!).

CLICK ME!

We got BDB put and while I was grabbing a sandwich a spontaneous game of COSMIC ENCOUNTER started. I have no idea if the kids really KNOW how to play CE by the rules or not, but Gar knows it, and it seemed to be going well.

While that was going on more kids drifted away and started Painting with Mr. Chris Johnson, for which I was grateful for the visit.

We were very fortunate, as always, to have some donations from WARGAMES FACTORY to paint with. The kids loved them and EVERYTHING GOT USED! Don’t believe me? Check it out here:

Thanks, Dixie!

Our last event was running a game of X-Wing Miniatures. This was severely curtailed but played fast and furious like X-Wing does.

Perhaps unbalanced?

I tried to balance this one but I hadn’t played in a long while, and I suspect the Empire is truly doomed. No matter, we’ll run TWO simultaneous games tomorrow, but I suspect this might force me to cut out an Ice Cream party in the afternoon. Too much to get through!

Game Camp 2014, Day Three: BDB Quest for the ORB Pt. 2


On Wednesday, we played out the rest of the Orb of Power scenario for Big Danged Boats. It was a very frenetic game, with lots of odd stuff happening that tested BDB’s boundries. Big Danged Boats is a design that’s hard not to tinker with, and I’ve been working on ways to speed it up a little. I like the combination of shooting, boarding, fighting and magic that I’ve developed so far. It’s a good mix, but I designed to build a narrative, a story, and it’s not the most speedy game ever. On the other hand, it’s a lot of laughs. What other universe has Squid Gods, Dead god’s feet, and Armored Cheeses?

HIGHLIGHTS FROM TODAY

The Iron Dwarf player (Spence) came to grief early today. The Plunger took many hits from the tower and eventually was uncrewed. The Damage track also went to critical, and a severe engine failure was the result, requiring two turns of Wrenching to fix.

The guys wanted to run it through to the finish. The idea of allying together against a third party seemed to be an anathema to some and other players took to it. One side of the board was Chaos with ships shooting at each other and backstabbing galore. The other side was like an exercise in barter economy– Reed (playing Battenburg, who had bought a ton of reinforcements) traded off Slingers for Gold, Gnomes for Gold, and generally acted like a capitalist. The Wood Elves, the Karstark Gnomes, and the Little People Brigade all acted in close concert with each other, made deals, made room for each other to pass and navigate around each other. So it all looked like they were on board with the “Fighting Gordon the Enchanter” thing.

The Red Menacer charged to the assistance of the Plunger, and managed to get two Dwarf Marines on board to Wrench on the broken crank propeller. Unfortunately, the Seng were sailing through in an incorporeal state and a traffic jam might have ensued if he were “solid”.

The Seng sailed THROUGH the Dwarf ships in incorporeal state. On the other side, the Augmentation price for the spell ran out and Patrick wasn’t willing to pay any more gold to keep it alive. So the Wizard was going to go up in a nimbus of blue flame, but Patrick booted him out of the ship at the last second. “Nice job, Wiz, SEE YA!” BOOM!

The O.R.C. immolates themselves in revolutionary martyr fashion!

The Orcish Revolutionary Council (O.R.C.) performed in revolutionary martyr spirit. They sailed right at the front door of the Tower, as if to ram. One of the Martyrs tried to ram the front door but got caught up in melee, and pulled the “Stupid” result from the Red Badge of Courage, and so ran around the tower base instead of self-immolating.. The next martyr managed to impale the aquatic mine with his pump charge, and a disastrous explosion took place.

About mid game the tone of the game changed and the knives started to come out. The Little People Brigade boarded the Von Ripper of the Iron Dwarves. Amazingly they didnt’ choose to eat the Holy Mushrooms and transform into Gnogres. And they won! Those are some tough Gnomes!!

The Alliances that were in place at the start of the game started to fall apart. The Karstark Gnomes turned on the Iron Dwarves. The Bone Brigade, which had been shot to pieces in its ill conceived attack of the previous day, scrapped with the Foot of the Dead God and the Primus, starting the day off with a nasty event card on the Cult and exploding their one and only artillery piece, which angered them to no end. Primus fought with the Bone Brigade at a distance, and he retaliated with every missile weapon he has at his disposal, wiping out most of the BB. The Bone Brigade player (Cameron) didn’t understand the impact of talking smack one turn during an ambush, and then begging for an alliance the next. The Seng managed to board and capture the Plunger, and operate it (clumsily) to spar torpedo the Blue Magoo from the Little People Brigade, doing severe damage.

The Seng could only operate the Plunger slowly and clumsily, being man-sized and trying to operate a Dwarf-sized submarine.

The other successful boarding of the day, The Von Ripper, under new Gnome management.

The cult of F’Vah pulled out their big trump card, Summoning the Squid God, and it was hideously effective.

Goodbye, Black Galley! And suddenly, it was no more!

The Bone Brigade was a shambles– shot to pieces by the Rats and Cultists, and missing one ship to the Squid God, but they bounced back playing the Faction card: Surprise, They’re already dead! which brought back 5 skeletons to life, so at least the Deadnought fought its way clear of the mess.

And the Rat Men managed to at land a small lodgment at the bottom of the tower..

And then the allies on the far end, the Rat Men and the Cultists, fell out when the Cultists turned on them like a prison punk in the showers.

The Cultists hit the Rats with the Squid God, and destroyed the Primus…

By the end of the day, the game was left still not resolved, so the fellows requested at least another session in the morning.

Here’s the Slide Show of today’s FUN!

Game Camp 2014, Day Two: BDB Quest for the ORB Pt. 1


Tuesday was a day taken up with running the MAD QUEST FOR THE ORB OF POWER scenario again. This was the scenario I ran at HISTORICON two weeks ago, with minor changes– we introduced the Little People Flotilla in this game, as well as Aquatic Mines.

The objective of the game was the same– Gordon the Enchanter has holed up in his Wizard Tower, with a lot of hired swords and big guns surrounding his little island. He has spent a lot of gold and a lot of time hijacking the Orb of Power, a magical artifact of such great power that it will upset the balance of power in the Middle Sea for generations.

Gordon’s Tower

THIS IS PART ONE OF TWO Basically the kids navigated around the tower, encountered outposts of mercenaries on the outer ring fo Gordon’s defenses– just mercenaries and gun batteries. This proved to be tough work for the Brothers of Saint Brendan, who dropped off a landing party of four coracles full eagerly rowing Brothers, trying to perform a conversion or two.

Woops! Don’t row in front of a battery of quick firing guns!

The Bone Brigade attacked straight out at full speed and made the base of the tower quickly, but got shot to pieces by missile fire. They did get a major landing party ashore under fire, which is commendable. They were immediately engaged by Tower Guards, and the issue is still in doubt.

The Wood Elves and the Little People’s Flotilla were slow to come into conflict, just fighting with one battery which was quickly subdued.

Sylan Terror (Wood Elves) and Things 1 and 2 (LP Flotilla)

The Seng covered a lot of distance and when it became the back of the tower was mined with aquatic mines, effectively used a Spell of Gaseous Form to go over the mines with no harm coming the their ship, the Grey Empress Tzu.

As the game is a bit of a bear to set up, with lots of figures and pieces, we didn’t get started until late, and could only play for 2 and a half hours. I budgeted some extra time to play BDB, and it paid off, we will be running this scenario tomorrow first thing. It’s really heating up to be a fun battle.

Here’s a SLIDESHOW of the BDB Game, enjoy!

Game Camp for Kids, Day 1: The Magi!


Hey, hey the gang’s all here!

It’s that time of year again, when I run a Gaming Camp for kids at St. Stevens and St. Agnes’ School in Alexandria, VA. This camp will be a week long and it will focus on tabletop gaming. Mostly miniatures based with either a fantasy or science fiction theme. I like to keep the rules pretty simple and easy to teach. The trick between success and failure with these things is to keep the children constantly occupied. About 3 years ago I started mixing boardgames with the miniatures games so there isn’t any waiting around and thumb twiddling. Last year, I introduced THE MAGI, a game of Wizardly combat using hand gestures for spells. The game is an old postal game from the 80s that I dusted off and turned into a miniatures game (which, by the by, the creator was wholeheartedly in favor of and gave permission to do).

The game started at 10ish and proceeded to almost 3PM, with one break for lunch.

Wizards fighting it out in the Arena. In the foreground, a Summoned Ice Elemental plods towards a target. In the background, a Summoned Battle Ogre attacks the purple wizard, or the rock lava wizard, I can’t recall which . The giant crystals provide illumination, and could be destroyed, plunging the cavern in darkness.

The whole intention of the Magi is to defeat as many opposing wizards as possible. There’s no way anyone has enough time to kill every other wizard, but that’s okay in a free-for-all situation. The Magi has a unique magic system that is played totally with hand gestures. I have simulated the wizards ruminating over what to cast next by creating a largish deck of cards with 6 hand gestures on them– Clap, Flick, Wave, Digit pointing, Palm Proffered, and Snap. With these 6 gestures, you can build dozens of spells– Summoning Creatures, Tossing Missiles, etc. The trick is to play them in an order to have them go off in time to do something useful for you.  For example, if you want to cast a DISPEL MAGIC (a very useful spell), you perform the somatic (hand) gestures for C-D-S-P (Clap, Digit Pointing, Snap, Palm).    The rules stipulate you have to stand up and perform the gestures, in sequence, then show the cards.  If another wiz has an interrupt spell, he can stop the spell as soon as he recognizes it.

 

 

I toned down Elementals from last year’s camp Now they cause less damage, and I wrote a codicil in the rules that when two elementals that are opposite of each other (Fire and Water, etc), they are attracted to each other and will make an effort to move toward each other to cancel each other out. It balanced the big damage the Elementals were doing in previous games.

The game was not quite the bloodbath that it usually is. We had two Wizards who preferred to hang around the edges of the conflict, avoiding conflict and trying to get that PERFECT spell card set.  That’s a mistake in the Magi.  It’s much better to fire off a series of tactical spells (like Missile, or Elementals) than that Finger of Death spell that requires 9 cards.

It was a great game, and we had a lot of laughs.  Here’s a slideshow!

https://www.flickr.com/photos/54189591@N00/tags/magigc14/

LEGO (TM) BrickFair 2014, Chantilly, VA .. AAR



Well, I have to say I have encountered a group that is nerdier than I am. If you think that miniatures conventions attract a lot of geeks with disposable incomes, LEGO Brick Fairs are another thing altogether. I know LEGO is a big, burgeoning hobby, I just had no idea how complex it all until I went to my very first “Brick Fair” at the Dulles Convention Center in Chantilly. WOW. The crowds were astonishing. The line snaked AROUND THE BUILDING and out into the parking lot. The builds were great (many of them anyway) and the vendors were out of sight price-wise. I love the new historical and SF/Fantasy line vendors that have cropped up, but the prices are more than I can afford. I’d love to do a historical wargame with LEGO for fun some time, but I’m not sure I want to pay 100 plus dollars for a dozen troops. Not much of a game.

CLICK ME TO SEE A SLIDE SHOW OF ALL THE COOL HISTORICAL LEGO STUFF I SAW AT BRICKFAIR 2014

Still, it’s astonishing to spend time at one of these things. The level of detail that goes into a LEGO diorama of would put the average miniature painter to shame.

Here’s a little youtube of the days events:

 

Ram Speed, now available as an Epub


One of my favorite old Metagaming Microhistory games by far is RAM SPEED. Ram Speed was a dirt-simple galley warfare board game designed to play with galley counters on a hex grid.  With not much work or brain power expended, the game mechanics of Ram Speed converted easily to miniatures game play.

I’ve run games of Ram Speed with multiple NAVWAR 1:1200 galleys in play and it worked just fine.  Of course, it would be optimal on a hexmap, if you have one, but converting hexes to inches always worked for me.

Conversion notes:

I scanned and OCR’d the best of my copies of the original, but this is a game that is over 30 years old now so I had to work at fixing the many typos that cropped up from OCRing old, faded and wrinkled paper rules.  If you find something I missed, be kind and let me know.  The original text wasn’t exactly one of Metagaming’s best efforts, having been typset on an IBM Selectra typewriter.   I also created a new cover for the EPUB version.  The one that is on the historical pocket cardboard box that was the final product has messed up color separation and has always been challenging to read.  My version is in the spirit of the original and is perhaps a tad more easy to read.  Finally, I added a consolidated combat chart from a fan entry on BGG.  I’m also providing links to a re-creating of the game charts from BGG as well, they are much clearer and attractive than the originals.

Downloading the Epub

You can find the Ram Speed Epub (only) on the Digital Rules page. download link is fixed.

BoardgameGeek User Submitted Content (highly recommended):

(you will need a BGG account to view these)

  1. Play Summary  1 (Word)
  2. Play Summary 2 (Word) – Combat Tables
  3. Cutout Semi-3D minis, White   and Black Minis, too.  Instructions for both
  4.  Printable Ship Record Sheets (better than the original by far)