Alexander Graham Bell was a noted authority on Kites


Here’s an interesting fact of the day.  Alexander Graham Bell, the man credited with the discovery of the modern telephone device, was absolutely gaga about heavy lifting Tetrahedral style kites.   Indeed, he spent the last part of his life feverishly working on kite design and launches at in his laboratory in Baddeck, Nova Scotia.  Bell began building kites in 1899. He was led to experiment with them because of his interest in the flying machine problem.  Orville and Wilbur Wright’s accomplishment at Kitty Hawk was still several years off, and the idea of lifting a manned heavier than air contraption was most decidedly not only on their minds.  Bell’s belief (shared by a large cadre of men) was that a successful kite will also make a successful flying machine. A kite that will support a man and an engine in a ten mile breeze will probably also support the man and engine when driven by a motor at the rate of ten miles an hour. This proposition had not been actually proved at the time, and it was a driving preoccupation with Bell.

A cross section of Bell's efforts during his lifetime, compared to the Wright Brothers and other early kite designers.

A cross section of Bell’s efforts during his lifetime, compared to the Wright Brothers and other early kite designers.

Bell’s earliest involvement with kite-building and heavy lifting designs arose from a preoccupation with the Box Kits of Lawrence Hargrave:

Early Hargrave Kite. there was a series of these.

Hargrave was an inventor and early aeronautical engineer from Australia, who had been designing box style kites since 1892. The problem with his designs was that they worked very well in smaller sizes but rapidly lost efficiency the bigger you made them.  Bell connected greater lifting area to greater wing size, and his designs sought to arrive at the efficiency point where lifting was not compromised by the weight of a larger sized wing.  To accomplish this, Bell designed some of the most beautiful aerial contraptions ever– tetrahedral kite designs.

Tetrahedrons are a sided polygon, connected in a pyramid shaped framework which is an inherently strong structure. A tetrahedral kite is formed when two sides of the four sided figure are joined, then a number of these are joined together into a large tetrahedral kite.

As you can see, the kite designs were in a number of shapes and sizes, and gradually larger with more lifting ability.

Bell was able to prove that you can create a large kite, of any size desired, without any increase in the weight to sail area. Extra bracing in larger kite structures is not really required as the tetrahedral cell braces itself. In theory the more cells you add to a structure the stronger it becomes.   Bell’s tetrahedral cells were made separately and are were 10 inches on a side. They were made from spruce rods, and covered with bright red silk. Each cell weighed about an ounce, and were joined with metal fittings. The towns people of the nearby small town Baddeck, in Nova Scotia, Canada, enlisted to make tetrahedrons, providing employment for many people.

The Cygnet, not on its barge. You can spot the pilot and the mount for an engine in this picture.

The apogee of Bell’s work with lifting kites was probably the Cygnet (above).  This was a gigantic unholy monster of a kite, with 3,393 cells assembled by Bell’s loyal Nova Scotian citizenry.   It was so large and unwieldy that it was difficult to launch from land.  So Bell and his associates built a small steam ship to launch her from and performed launches from a local lake.

The Cygnet I was launched on 6 December 1907, a certain Thomas Selfridge,* already getting a name in early aeronautical circles, piloted the kite as it was towed into the air behind a motorboat, eventually reaching a height of 168 ft. before crashing. This was the first recorded heavier-than-air flight in Canada.  The kite definitely could hold a person in the air, but further experiments with the design demonstrated many limitations.; the most obvious being the great difficulty in steering such a large rigid structure in the air.    Further experiments with a powered version of the Cygnet, the AEA Cygnet and the Cygnet III, were judged unsatisfactory — the kite could lift a man, but steered around in the air with only great difficulty.

Bell continued with the notion of powered heavier than air aircraft even in the wake of the Wright Brothers until 1909, with the launch of his last experiment, the heavier than air craft Silver Dart, which was more of an early airplane than an actual kite.

Conclusions:  Lifting kits were hardly a failure from the perspective of design, but they ultimately couldn’t provide the military functional requirement to have a steerable aircraft that could carry significant loads up into the air and land again.   Bell was a pioneer in the effort, contributing as much or more to the study of aeronautics as he did to audio technology.. yet he is hardly a footnote in the science of flight today, when compared to his other great contribution, the telephone.

* Lt. Selfridge had also become the first person killed in a powered heavier-than-air flight in a crash of the Wright Flyer at Fort Myer, Virginia, on September 17, 1908.

White Line Fever is now version 2.7


Based upon some suggestions at the recent Historicon convention and some additions by Shane Metzger, I’ve released an update to the White Line Fever rules. I’ve worked on the wording, redid the Damage chart, added a half-scenario, revised the Damage Chart to v. 3.0, and added a quickref for the GM to bounce back and forth from Shooting to damage on a tablet without constantly flicking back and forth between pages.

HISTORICON 2015: Sand Fleas in Fredericksburg!


It’s time for one of my favorite things to write, a convention narrative.  From Wednesday 15 July to Sunday 19 July, I attended HISTORICON 2015, at the Fredericksburg Convention Center.  I was on staff for the convention (working the events board), I stayed at the Homewood Suites, and I ran one game Saturday night.

Traffic?  Well, there wasn’t, much. 

I had half a day on Wednesday but had the car packed the night before, so I hit the road directly after changing and arrived in Fredericksburg from the DC area in about an hour.  Traffic was dense but steady– if I had been any later, I would have taken the Western route– out 66 to 29 South through Warrenton, then 17 directly to the Center.  As it turned out, I was willing to gamble since I left at 1300, and it paid off in time.

The usual first day hubbub was in evidence, people hanging up tags and stuffing flyers into program books and setting up the registration system.  Controlled Chaos really.  After a while it becomes second nature.  The CD did try to set up convention registration in the long hall next to the side ballrooms.  Jury’s out on that idea.  I think it might have worked best by the hallway near the windows on the far side of the hall, as the hall is wider there, but I understand you will want reg to be in the central part of your convention so you can control events better.   I thought the hall was  a little bit of a squeeze as a result.  Gamers ain’t svelte, as a rule.

The Typical Challenges and a new biting phenomenon

There was the typical challenges associated with the facility.   It does get loud on Saturday and Friday and Thursday peak hours.   The carpeting helps a lot.  So does the vertical drapes that break up the space around the main room.  We arrived expecting that. The HVAC handled Wednesday and Thursday’s environmental conditions fine; however by Friday midday the heat index was well over 100 degrees F– hot enough to make you instantly feel like an un-wrung sponge and gasping for breath once you walked outside. Not healthy environmental conditions!. Inside the hall the HVAC did its best but it was, well, “muggy” in the Exhibitor’s Hall to be certain.  One new nuisance appeared to be a biting fly that was annoying the hell out of people during games.  I’m not sure what form of insect life it was but I had small welts on my legs.  Very annoying, I think it was a sand-flea. On the plus side, that was my favorite hotel experience I’ve had at Fredericksburg. I was parked close enough to walk to the hall every day. The complimentary food didn’t suck and it was in abundance. I wish the other hotels would follow their example.

Bug Disclaimer statement: I experienced several instances of a small, annoying flying and biting insect specifically on Friday. Other people did, too. Many people did not experience any bites and are surprised I brought this up. I am not sure what the insect was; I’m not an entomologist, nor do I play one on television.

Thursday: Events, Food and a Chariot Race.

Thursday was a brisk start..  I was at the events desk for the entire show, so spent much of the time handing out tickets and resolving table problems.

Sugah don’t melt in my mowf.

Here we are improvising tickets.

Historicon 2015 had many great games but most of the ones I saw were sell-outs. Why? Because there clearly were not enough of them being run. There are plenty of attendees that wanted to get into 2 or more games a day, but it wasn’t going to happen. Pickings were slim. So if you want more historical games (or any games for that matter) people are going to have to step up (either in Fredericksburg or Lancaster, by the way). I can afford to lecture since I did run one, he said smugly.

I gulped down a free manager’s special (dinner) and hurried over to the main hall to play in a chariot race.  This was a fun game (totally full up), done in 54mm scale and using Brian Dewitt’s chariot racing rules. I’ve played in games using those rules before and I enjoy them– much easier than Circus Maximus.

CLICK ME TO SEE THE PHOTOGRAPHIC SLIDE SHOW!

I like Chariot games– and I’ve been in a few over the years. Experience teaches me to to let the blowhards who like to crash into each other get out in front while they attack each other, and carefully inhabit a slot in the middle of the pack waiting for the aggressive ones to die. That didn’t happen quickly enough so by the end of the second lap I was taking risks to pull out in front or I would fall too far behind. That worked,kind of, but I had been pretty battered by attacks and when I tried to go into that final curve, my chariot flipped on me. Withing half a lap of the finish line. That’s the way the cookie crumbles!

Here’s a little thing I put together using some stills and a little footage left from a Periscope session. I used “Jockey full of bourbon” by Tom Waits as the music (the first time) but Vimeo had copyright problems so there’s some godawful royalty free electronica on there now.

I hung out with some friends later and played some board games, notably Letters from Whitechapel (the new version from FFG). Whitechapel is a fun little guessing game with attractive components. The players are constables trying to catch Jack the Ripper in Victorian London. Jack uses hidden movement, from sector to sector, as the constables call out the sector numbers to see if he’s there. We came close a couple of times but Jack solidly kicked all of our asses.

Games were pretty good at HISTORICON 2015, but nothing that I considered a huge standout. There was some very pretty terrain setups here or there, but I saw a lot of GMs cutting corners, too.

Seriously? An out of the box game of Space Hulk?

There were also GMs who spent a year or more making a setup, as you can see here:

I enjoyed the games I got into, for the most part. If there was any standout theme, I’d say “Air combat games”.. seemed like there were a ton of them being played. Mostly Check your Six.

Here’s a slideshow of other sights seen around Historicon 2015:

CLICK ME to see more

The next day I worked the Events desk as normal, and then got into a game of BLOCKADE RUNNERS run by Gary Coyle. Gary is an excellent gamesmaster and I have played in his Roman Seas games before and had a great time with them. Blockade Runners was a Charleston Harbor scenario during the last full year of the Civil War. As the Union, you’re trying to stop blockade runners from entering the harbor. As a Confederate, you’re there to engage the Union fleet and prevent their conditions from happening. I had two Passaic ironclads, the other two Union players had Passaic ironclads and the New Ironsides. We were up against a number of Pametto State style casement ironclads armed with a mix of guns and spar torpedoes. There was an inshore squadron of David style and Spar torpedo armed small boats that really didn’t see action. We pulled off a very narrow Union victory by sinking two Blockade Runners. We were unable to do much lasting damage to the casemates, though Palmetto state was pretty battered by the end of the game. On the plus side not much damage was done to the Union side either. Much as I like Gary’s games I wasn’t enchanted with the rules, Steam and Sail Navies. Combat resolution was slow, very chart heavy and I never really “grokked it”. Perhaps a good system for a game in someone’s basement but not for a big convention game.

(Naturally, click on the picture above for a small slide show on Blockade Runners)

Afterward I went out for dinner, to a local place I hadn’t tried yet, Tito’s Diner. One must try new things. It wasn’t a raging success. Any diner should be able to master a basic Reuben, and mine had plastic in it.

Saturday was another brisk day, as people queued up to get tickets. Except for MY game, which was being held at 10PM.. was I insane? Should I have scheduled it at 9PM?

I shouldn’t have worried…

I did some shopping both in the dealer hall and the flea market. I also popped out for a few supplies for the evening’s festivities.

Wait.. to LEGALLY clarify.. I kept these back at the room for after-game toasting.. that’s right..

RIDE THAT FURY ROAD!! S-450, GM Walt O’Hara

I’ve been working on a Road Warrior style game off and on since Cold Wars. It came together rather easily, using Eric’s Road Warrior rules as a base and doing a lot of tinkering. This game was a dry run for the Game Camp I’ll be running in August, and I have to say it was a great success. People had a great time, the rules were simple enough and though some of the stats need tweaking, the basic ideas are easy enough to grasp and run with. I loved the way the game built its own narrative.. the hippies with the cloud of pot smoke behind their VW Van, the Fighting Griswolds, Herbie the Hate Bug, the not-so homicidal Postman and his SLOW postal truck, the Bikers, the explosions.. simple fun! That’s a win.

To see a slideshow, click on the picture below

Explosions! Machine Guns! Oil Slicks! Pot Smoke! Dubious Sushi! This game had it all!

I ended up getting to bed at 3AM, despite my best efforts to get some sleep at this convention.

Sunday was spent in some desultory shopping before hitting the road North. Traffic back home was worse than traffic there. It’s all in the timing.

So, in conclusion– a good convention!

Highlights were:

  • Getting some of my gaming camp families to drop by in advance and take a tour.  Paul Delaney was kind enough to extend free passes to any family that wanted to attend in advance of the camp and many people responded they were coming.. only one did that I know of, but that’s okay.
  • I really enjoyed playing Chariots and running the Ride that Fury Road game. Most of all, I enjoyed seeing my friends again.
  • Shopping — I got some Saxons from Footsore Miniatures (one of the standout vendors, kind of a new guy on the block).  Also some Fairy Swordfish in 1:600 scale (for my Raid on Taranto game) from PicoArmor as well as the Hind Commander game, which intrigues the heck out of me.  Nothing jumped out in the Flea Market but I did get more (painted) Saxons and laser artillery bits for my Future Tank game.
  • I noticed there were representatives from the Dayton Convention Center and York Convention Center touring the convention to get an idea of the scope of the thing. Comments from the Dayton guy: “It’s soo.. sooo HUGE! I had no idea!”
  • The Guidebook app continues to be useful and the recent metadata they publish is really starting to be helpful in a meaningful way. Here’s a snap of some of the stats being collected (in the free version):

    There was also a big hook to Twitter and Facebook at this convention and the hashtag #Historicon2015 was used liberally. It really helped spread the word, I think.

So that was my Historicon, I’d give it a decent B+. Thanks to all the staff and leadership for working tirelessly as unpaid volunteers to put on a great show, and thanks for reading.

Last Changes/Updates to the HISTORICON 2015 guidebook app


Various Guidebook Formats

Various Guidebook Formats

HISTORICON 2015 convention goers.. I’m making the last changes to the GUIDEBOOK app for HISTORICON 2015. So here are a few notes for you.

Dudley Garidel got the final vendor count and maps to me, they are now included. I’ve added one more event since PEL.  There’s one BIG map image to show how the tables fit together, then I broke the big map into 3 smaller ones, front, middle and back.

I enabled three new features for HISTORICON 2015. Twitter feed, Notepad and TMP News feed. What the heck, why not, they are free!

1) A News feed uses a RSS feed to transmit news items to the Guidebook. Since HMGS doesn’t keep up a RSS feed, I used the miniatures page, which is as close as we come. It’s not very relevant to a specific show, but what the heck, it might provide interesting reading.

2) Notepad is just that– a place for the user to keep notes.. like ” I need to vist PicoArmor and buy Hind D helicopters”.. etc. etc.

3) Twitter feed. Again, there ISN’T a Twitter account for Historicon (that I could find), so I’ll do some tweeting about it during the show using my account (@TheLastBrunch) and the hashtag HISTORICON2015. I encourage EVERYONE who uses twitter to use #historicon2015 during the show!!

If you need a reminder about how to get the GUIDEBOOK app and the specific HISTORICON 2015 guide, visit the landing page.

HERE is the guide on the web

Road Warrior/White Line Fever: The Biker Gangs show up


I’ve promised to post some pictures of the Motorcycle Gang I’ve built up via selected purchases over the last 6 months.  Unless inspiration hits me, this will probably the last vehicle pictures posted before HISTORICON.

This is a mix of Stan Johanesen Biker Gang (Stan’s website is referred to many times in Road Warrior posts) and Ramshackle Games 20mm Biker Gangs, which is a recent discovery.  The Ramshackle biker gangs are definitely smaller than the Stan Johansen figures (as you can see easily in the photograph above– the Ramshackle items have tan bases).   So the Ramshackle Games stuff are more like the Mini-bikes of Minor Troublemaking than the Harleys of Death.    I don’t care; they look pretty good, just can’t really scale to the StanJo stuff.  They have one great benefit: affordability.  I ordered a giant biker gang in resin, in assorted poses, for a very affordable price.  I’m not complaining.

Here are a lot of Ramshackle Games 20mm bikes, and a couple of Aberrant games Warlands motorcycles (round brown bases, plus the quad in the bottom right).  The rest are StanJo Biker Gang figures.

Last but not least, the Aberrant Games’ Warland GyroCopter (left) plus some Ramshackle 20mm bikes and StanJo figures in foreground.

I like the look of these figures and I’m not overly concerned about the scaling if they are at least reasonably close.  They won’t really all be bunched up together in the course of a game, anyway.

Which cover for Road Warrior/White Line Fever


I was playing around with a typographic app on my ipad last night, and was surprised at how good the images being created were.  So I made some new covers.  I am not sure which I like more.

OR…..

I like the starkness of number one, but also the red desert element of number 2.

ALSO RANS

and

lastly,

LMK Which you prefer

White Line Fever used in an actual game


One of the new covers. I like this one..

The Brooklyn Wargaming club recently ran a game of Road Warrior/White Line Fever and it appears as if they had a ripsnorting success.  Apparently they used a a version of the Road Warrior Rules (v. 2.65) in Digital Rules (above).  This blog received minimal notice but that’s okay, it’s the internet.

Shane Metzger, who created the car/vehicle sheets for RW/WLF, ran the game ran this game for the Brooklyn Wargaming club.  I was very impressed with the little touches he added to the game.  For instance, Dust trails for when you are offroad.  And little heaps of track junk.   And explosions.

BATTLE PICTURES

CAR CONVERSIONS

Here are some more pictures of his game and his great car conversions.

I’ll be adding some material Shane came up with to the main rulebook in the next release!

The Weekend: Gaming on the Mellow Side


I’ve been meaning to catch Otto Schmidt’s THE WEEKEND for a long time now. It’s been tough, as June is a busy month usually with high school age kids.  Now that one is in college and the other is in his last year, I thought I’d spread my wings a little and manage a day trip.  Background: the Weekend is held late June, and appears to be a 3 day affair, so it is about as much of a commitment as any small convention in terms of time.  As I recall, this was started by Otto Schmidt as an alternative for HISTORICON when the latter was slated to go to a much more expensive venue in Baltimore, MD (this did not transpire, for many reasons).  Otto wanted the Weekend to be a gathering of old friends who wanted to blab, gossip, game and hang out.  It is held at the Continental Inn off of Route 30 pretty much right across the street from the Lancaster Host, site of Fall-IN! and Cold Wars.

The Inn is an old building, family owned and operated.  It has seen some hard usage but is not what I would call “a dump” by any means.  The hotel has a major meeting space downstairs and other, smaller rooms here and there in the upper and lower lobby floors.  Frankly, I would have killed for a space like this back in the TriadCon days.  If we’d only known.   It’s not perfect– the handicapped facilities are about as non-existent as they are at the Host if not worse (no elevators in critical areas; no handicapped bathroom stalls) but you can always drive around back to the lower level to unload things, which is a plus.

There is a MST3K (Military Science Theater 3000) set up for this con but I wasn’t there for that.  No vendors that I could see, and a desultory bring-n-buy style flea market.  That was about the normal convention “stuff” present.


An exquisite Age of Reason battle in 15mm, created by Bill Grey, the Author of Age of Eagles. Click the picture to see more.

I got there a little after noon (due to traffic and helping get my son ready for camp).  Literally, I spent much of my time there BSing and catching up with friends, so I’d say Otto’s goals for this convention are certainly being met.  It was great seeing many people I haven’t seen in a month of Sundays, including Dennis Largess, Rich Low, Andy Turlington, Bill Grey, Bob Leibl, Cleo Hanlon, and Pete Frechtling.  And Otto of course, but I talk to him on the phone frequently.

Mr. Tracy Johnson ran AFTER THE HOLOCAUST, the old rare SPI game on a giant splodey map with army men. It had a great look to it. For other pictures, click on the picture above

When I got there there was an ACW game going on in the corner, and two being set up, an AFTER THE HOLOCAUST (SPI) game being rendered in miniature form by Tracy Johnson, a two player game set in 1714 being run by Bill Gray,  and an I Leonardo game run by Pete Frechtling.

I definitely wanted to play the I Leonardo game, by temperament and experience.  I’ve played in Pete Frechtling’s skewed version of the Italian Wars (with Leonardo Da Vinci tanks, helicopters, gliders and etc.).  So with your kind forbearance, I will sketch things out as best I can, providing something of an “After the Battle” report of sorts.

The basic set up was the Imperials holding a bastion with supplies on one side of a canal that opened up into a river.  There was only one established bridge over the river (made of stone) and it was being defended by a force of two commands of Imperials, with two Leonardo style tanks each (not the conical tanks, the flat ones).  The Imperials also had a ship loaded with mixed troops and cannon to defend the water entrance with.   On the far side of the canal were the Allies– British (red striped tank), Swiss (green striped tank) and French (blue striped tank).  Each Ally had one “castle” style Leonardo tank, painted as I have noted, plus a wild mixture of artillery, infantry and a little cavalry.  I took the French (blue striped) command on the far right of the line.  I had the tank as mentioned, a grenadier, Leonardo himself, some engineers, some cavalry units, some foot knights, and a bridging unit (important!).   The Swiss to my left were in the center.  They had more artillery than I and some ruins to hide in.  They kept a hot fire going against the forces that would venture clear enough to be shot at in the center of the line opposite us.  At the far left was the British and the Allies’ two ships.  The ships also (important!) had a bridging unit.   The idea being they would sail into the canal, beach, and construct the bridge from their ship to the opposing side.

I didn’t spend a lot of time tracking the naval conflict, but it was protracted and savage.

The English engaged such targets of opportunity as were available across the canal.  With the canal there to impede movement the battle became kind of a long ranged slugging match over the canal as both sides attempted to bombard each other.  The big guns on the Imperial side were their two flat rectangular tanks, and a flame thrower style vehicle that was somewhat hindered by being in the midst of a pack of infantry.

We were in a stalemate for the first few turns.. The French being the closest to the existing bridge (played by your humble correspondent) we were going to have to swarm over it somehow and take the bridge.. Unfortunately the Imperials had placed one of their two precious tanks to cover that very narrow defile, and they were aggressively defending with everything at their disposal, including a land rocket that misfired and went fizzing off in a random direction (panicking my troops but causing no damage).   My plan was to make a big demonstration and hoo-hah at the center bridge and focus the defenders there, while building my bridge train on the far right of the battlefield.

 
Now that’s a satisfying reaction! More smoke clouds please.

The Swiss did their best to support me, and were game to swarm over the center bridge as well, but we had to move the vehicles out of the way to accomplish this.  They had the advantage of some ruins to disperse into and set up artillery and other fun Leonardo style weapons (including a machine gun) to plaster the Imperial bridge defenders with.  I had a single artillery piece on my front which did some service fighting the opposing tank unit.  About midway through the game I steamed over the bridge and tried for a ram on the opposing tank.  Yes, I know this sounds decidedly risky but sometimes  you have to push things to win things.  The ram did not accomplish much, nor did the follow on fire into his sides at point blank range.  It wasn’t a bad idea, really, I just rolled pretty badly throughout the game.  I followed it up with a fusilade of infantry attacks which DID cause problems… the French grenadier tossed a grenade into the mix and it actually exploded more or less correctly, starting a fire and killing several of the crew.

Here we come, you knaves! Take that, and that, and that…

Meanwhile the bridge building gang on the right had succeeded at their task and the first independent bridgehead over the canal had happened.  The opposing player realized this and moved half-armored knights into the gap to engage with me.   On the left, the Imperials attempted to move all their infantry down the road, lost their general to gunfire, and moved their secret weapons out to engage the Allied Ships, which had bested the Imperial and were heading up the channel.  The flaming water borne holocaust the Imperial player was loudly fantasizing over (repeatedly) did not transpire, and thus the left flank was able to create a bridgehead over the canal as well.

Victory is nigh!!!

Although we were slated to play until 10PM, I was being frantically called from the home front, over a matter of shoes for my son’s camp.  Timing came together wonderfully, as Peter declared the game a victory for the Allies at the end of the turn where the second bridgehead had taken place.  This makes sense.  Although the center bridge was very much in dispute, I could still push men over the the entangled two tanks and even though the defenders had a larger group of infantry there, it was so narrow between the buildings he would never have the chance to use them effectively.  I actually welcomed such a push of the pike.    The much referenced “secret weapon” (flamethrower) amounted to almost nothing and the two Imperial tanks were heavily damaged.  The French tank (mine) had suffered damage but was still firing and reloading.  I was expecting casualties on the right flank as our crossing attempts had triggered some ambuscades from hidden troops.  Still, I could see the tide of battle was changing rapidly in our favor, and who was I to contest the GM’s view of things, anyway?  My thoughts on the I, Leonardo game system was that it seems remarkably bloodless.  Most of the Imperial arsenal was taking a heavy pound throughout the game and we really didn’t kill much of anything– we disabled a lot, and killed some crews.. but that’s about it.  I would like to redo the charts to this one some day.. just pondering.  I like the system itself just fine, but it’s really for a history geek audience who pretty much know the subject already.

For an amusing SLIDESHOW of the I LEONARDO BATTLE, click here.

As mentioned, I had to depart earlier than planned to solve a problem at home but I was glad I had an opportunity (at long last) to visit THE WEEKEND.

Major Guidebook Update for HISTORICON 2015


Hey HMGS Convention Attendees, we have a MAJOR Guidebook Update for you.

Hey Historicon! There’s an app for that!

First of all, I tried floating events early without room numbers.  That was a bad idea, as updating them (later) WITH the numbers nuked most of what I had done before, causing me to reenter data for tournaments and seminars!  Woo hoo! I love entering data twice.

So I’m making a business decision– we don’t post events (that is, regular games) until the events guy irons out what the table numbers are and where they are at.. it’s too painful to bounce back if the earlier input crashes on you.  If that means we post Guidebook a little closer to the event, so be it.

So, what do we have?

  • TOURNAMENTS (again)
  • SEMINARS (again)
  • HOBBY UNIVERSITY (first time)
  • GAMES (again)
  • Maps!

What am I missing?  The map of the Exhibitor Hall and Exhibitor List.

And then we will be done, unless we get new games between now and the convention itself.

How to get it

Go to the Guidebook Landing Page which is HERE and follow directions.

To Preview the Guide

Go to the Preview Page which is here

Historicals versus Non-Historical Count

New feature: I thought I’d do an actual count by period.  The reality of Non-Historical versus Historical by counting the actual numbers, not by hand waving*:


Source: Events Spreadsheet extracted on 6/18/2015, Historicon 2015

So the reality is 20% non-historical games at Historicon.  And I’m grouping in anything that could remotely be considered fantasy and SF together.  There are the numbers.

Events by Rules mentioned in PEL


You may have to click to see original size. There were a lot of rule sets.

This was all over the map.. there were a lot of rule sets being used.  Where it was possible I combined version and flavors and variants into the parent.

In any event, there’s the true facts, and a big, big, big guidebook update.  See you at HISTORICON 2015.

* Note on the period count above– it excludes all tournaments, which probably should be entered under fantasy in some respects.  Did I say that out loud?  I’m trying not to snark…

Saxon Warband just about done


I took a break from feverish working on HISTORICON projects to base up some SAGA figures for my SAXON Saga army.  I currently have painted:

1 warlord stand
5-7 HG armored mail and shield
9 Warriors mix of sword and spear, some armor
12 peasants using Spears
9 Archers

Here are some pictures

Warlord Stand: Gripping Beast plus unknown standard bearer (flea market figure)

HEARTH GUARD (HG) are elite fighters, deployed in small numbers. I believe I’ll field either 8 or 4 of these. This is a mix of Gripping Beast’s SAXON warband pack and some extras from flea market.

WARRIORS are trained, partly armored men who have been in battles before. Most of these are Gripping Beast
LEVY are peasants whose training consists of knowing which end of the spear is “pointy like”

ARCHERS are something I added on, mostly from Wargames Factory Saxons packs.

I might be able to finish it up with what I have on hand but who knows, any excuse to attend flea market.  My intention is to field a SIX POINT army, so he advised:

  • 3 more archers
  • 1 more hearth guard
    7 more warriors.

Some Road Warrior/White Line Fever Edits, ver. 2.65 out now, plus Veh. Sheets


rwrulescover

Sorry to keep doing this to anyone who is interested, but I got some feedback to from a guy who ran these rules recently and he had some handy suggestions.  Out of this came the recent Trifold handout (which I revised the main text in the Epub to match in v. 2.5) and also the new Vehicle Sheets which are attached*.

Version 2.65 revision expands the vehicle statistics (what do these MEAN?) and shows an example of a filled in Vehicle Sheet.   I don’t forsee any other major changes before Historicon.  I might have some changes in the wake of a large multi-player game at a convention, but nothing to worry about until then.

Thanks to Shane Metzger for both his feedback and contributing vehicle sheets to this design.   Contributions like his only make a game better.

* The Vehicle Sheet sample linked to this post is in the PowerPoint 2013 format.

Road Warrior/WLF Quickref Trifold Released, also slight integral change in EPUB


QuickRef 1.0, all folded into a nice trifold brochure format. Print ’em out, hand em out to your players.

I was getting some questions about the rules in the EPUB listed in the Digital Rules section, and that’s entirely fair, trying to blend two vastly different literary styles into a single coherent document can be tough on clarity and coherence. Forgive me my foibles; I will rewrite it at some point in the future.

In the meantime, I have a solution.  Attached is a QUICKREF file that is a PDF, meant to be printed and handed out.  This will clarify turn order, how to fire weapons, ramming, damage, and cumulative damage (if you like that “hit point” model of damage).  You will still need the EPUB for the Weapons and Damage Tables, but this should help for a non-tablet using audience.

Concurrently, I have appended the cumulative damage rule in the Appendix, and reworded ramming to make it more clear, in the base epub (now version 5).  Download from the usual  places in Digital Rules.

Kickstarter Incoming: Sultan’s Library


Disclaimer: This is a Kickstarter Incoming post.  That means the game does not exist in final form yet.  Therefore, any comments on design or components will only reflect what I have seen at the time this is written.

Company: Photon Games
Funding Status:
Unknown
Current Status: “artwork about 50% finished” — from publisher
Launch Date: 02 June 2015
 Publication Date if Funded: January 2016

Today’s Kickstarter Incoming is SULTAN’S LIBRARY, a (mostly) card game design by Ryno Laurens. Players assume the role of an Envoy of the Sultan, sent out by their bibliophile employer to gather certain rare books and return them to his Library. Each envoy (see below) has a special action that is printed on their card. These special actions can be used during Action Rounds during the player’s turn.


Sultan’s library Envoys (From the PNP, may not be final images)

Each turn, a player has two actions for exploring the world and looking for books. Players need to pick up any books they find and bring them back to the Sultan’s Library for scoring. Once any Envoy has deposited 3 books, the remaining players finish out the round.

A turn (which  I think is the same thing as a round, I’m not sure) starts with players drawing 2 cards.  They then take two actions from this list:

  1. Explore the Area: ​You can pay the Explore cost of the Location you are in to look for a Book in that area. Flip over the top card of the Location Deck. If it is a Book, put it in your Location. If its a Location Card, you Travel to that Location. Discard your old Location Card.
  2. Pick Up a Book:​ When you are in the same Location as a Book, you can pick it up. When you pick up a Book, your Character is Holding that Book until you can Deposit it. You can only Hold 2 Books at once.
  3. Deposit a Book:​When you are in the Sultan’s Library, you can Deposit a Book that you are Holding.
  4. Play an Action Card:​You can play any Action Card that you have in your hand.
  5. Perform your Special Action:​You can perform your Envoy’s Special Action as noted on their Character Card.
  6. Travel to a Location:​You can move to any face­up Location by paying 2 more Explore points than is shown on that card. Discard your old Location Card.  Note: Location Cards have special powers that may limit player’s actions (see below).
  7. Scrounge: ​You may spend 2 Actions to draw 1 Card from the Action Deck.


A Location Card (from PNP materials, may not be final)

The turn/round ends when the player scores by placing books in the library.  The player also discards his hand down to 5 cards at this time.

Sample book cards from the PNP materials (may not be final)

I am not clear after reading the rules how the game progresses around the table, or how cards are played against other players, although the text on the card suggests what to do, but not really how.. play it like an interrupt?  Can the target player defend?

Journey Cards (may not be final)

I’m sure that will be clarified somewhere– again, I’m drawing conclusions from a vague description, some youtube videos and the PNP rule book, so I’m not clear on the inter-player dynamics of Sultan’s Library

Conclusions

I like the Arabian Knights style theme; it seems to fit the mechanics reasonably well.  The artwork (what is accomplished so far) is pretty well executed.  I think they are going for “Whimsical” here, and for the most part they achieve it.  The mechanics seem reasonable enough, but I’ve never played it, so I’m not entirely sure– there are elements of interaction that seem missing from the rulebook.  I liked the way the location cards added to the game narrative.    There’s potential here, I sense it.

Horns, by Joe Hill (a short review)


HornsHorns by Joe Hill

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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Horns is my first Joe Hill book completed (I tried NOS4R2 as an audio book a while back but ran out of time and gave up at checking it out again, so it doesn’t count). Horns is the story of one Ignatius “Ig” Parrish, lovelorn victim of a horrible crime where the love of his life is cruelly and casually raped and strangled to death, and he is blamed for it. Although his actions aren’t specifically stated as a cause of his ensuing problems, when Ig drunkenly smashes the religious figures set out for his girlfriend’s memory after a candlelight prayer vigil, he wakes up the next day with horns. As in the devil kind. Small at first, then larger and and larger as the course of time passes in the book. Ig notices something strange right off the mark. When people encounter the horns, they have a hard time seeing them– as if there is a strong influence on them to forget about them and look elsewhere. Also, when people encounter the Horns, they feel compelled to tell Ig things. Nasty things.. their inner monologue suddenly becomes external. Ig starts to encounter a phenomenon.. people are telling him their dark desires so they can get Ig to “give permission” to do bad things. Initially repulsed, Ig sees the practical side of his newfound power of compulsion, and uses it to help solve his girlfriend’s murder. I won’t give up any more of the plot here, as I’m already treading on spoiler territory.

Suffice to say the murderer is no great surprise, in fact, the book telegraphs it pretty early. The rest of the story unfolds around what Ig can possibly do with that information to extract some measure of justice from the situation. It’s an interesting and sometimes quite funny narrative. I liked the very subtle ending and the notion that Ig may have “fixed things” after all, but there is a lot of that imagery-vs-reality language going on in Ig’s portion of the story. Viewpoints shift between main characters from time to time and the narrative bounces between flashbacks, points of view and sometimes allegorical imagery. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Horns is a fun (not profound) read, and Mr. Hill definitely inherited the storyteller’s gift from his father.

I did catch the movie based on the book on NETFLIX; I can’t recommend it. The story is greatly changed, the killer actually LESS telegraphed and entirely unexplained or hinted at, which made his revelation jarring. Still, if you haven’t read the book you might be amused!

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Happy Anniversary to 3PoS


Today is the sixth year of this blog, which commenced on this day in 2009, after porting all content (somewhat inexpertly) from its previous existence as “Another Point of Singularity” on Blogger.com.   As I mention in “About 3PoS” above, this is the successor to the blogger.com blog, and the xanga.com blog long before that.  So in a sense this effort has been ongoing since 2004.

6 Years on I have to say I made the correct decision to migrate to WordPress.com.  I am entirely happy with the control, the security, and the efforts WP.com goes to to keep out annoying spam comments.

During the six years, readership has grown at a nice curve– nothing explosive or exponential, but readership is up, followers are up and subscriptions are up.   Way above where they were in 2009. That works for me.  As I’ve said before, I’m not selling anything, I’m not trying to make a political or social “point”, I’m not part of a cult, society, or any other societal cluster that requires validation from internet traffic.   Sure, I could be more controversial, I guess, or more prolific, but that’s starting to be more work than it’s worth.

I’m content if someone reads a post once in a while, but I really just write these things for the sheer fun of the process.

Trends: Gaming has always been a huge focus for this blog and continues to be.  Reviewing things has gone up– not just games but books as well.

My most popular posts continue to be an ill-mannered screed against Games Workshop I posted four years ago, and a nostalgia piece about the ads for the Submarines in the back of comic books of long ago.  So go figure.

I have no plans to quit any time soon, for better or worse.  You have been warned.