Monthly Archives: August 2017

Simple Fog of War in Boom! Zap!


My plan was to debut the playtest game of Boom! Zap! (my pulp SF reworking of the old Rules with No Name engine) at camp this year, but there was such a clamor to run Frostgrave for another day and Big Danged Boats for another day that it kicked Friday’s game right off the schedule. Too bad, I had invested a ton of time and $$ purchasing and building hallway terrain from Gamecraft, and it looks fantastic (although I really need to work on a paint scheme for reuse). With that said it is very durable and I can use it for next year’s camp so it’s nothing wasted.

I love this stuff– it’s the Science Fiction Spaceship Corridor line from Game Craft, who makes a lot of laser cut wood gaming accessories. It’s durable, goes together with wood glue, and pretty much idiot proof. After you assemble it, it fits together nicely:

The idea behind this stuff is to use it for corridor and setting for a couple of games, one being BOOM! ZAP! (pulp SF) and the other SPY RUN (retro 50s, 60s and 70s spy game) both are 28mm skirmish level and both interact with the terrain (hallways) in a very specific way. One element I’ve been wanting to try is limited perspective based on terrain. Bear with me, this may sound complicated at first, but I think it will pay off in entertainment value.

I’m trying to prevent the God’s eye view benefit from playing factions interacting with each other in enclosed terrain (an outpost). YET! we are in a universe where things like recon probes, motion detectors and the like exist. So groups moving around should have some limited intel about other groups moving around. So prior to contact I create blip tokens similar to those used in the game SPACE HULK.

Each blip reads as a group of people or moving mass (like robots) in the complex or terrain. They enter the complex through three possible entrances (two airlocks, one underground shuttle). Initially, before they are revealed by moving into proximity with each other, all groups move as blips. As they move through the complex, they can, if they have the right equipment, send a probe droid ahead to recon for them for a certain amount of distance. The probe can (under an operator’s direction) move around corners and report back what it sees. It could be empty and likely will be:

empty hallway
Empty Hallway

Or maybe not!

In either case, the Referee takes a picture with his cell phone. He then displays it to the faction reconning the hallway.

Whoops, it is truly empty? What are THOSE?

Eventually as groups move closer together the blips resolve into groups and the hidden system isn’t needed. I just think this might be a fun addition to a skirmish game set in a world with a high tech level. background.

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New OGRE Video Game Trailer for Steam Release


Oh yes, it will be mine.

OGRE Miniatures, Wave 2 spotted


As you may or may NOT know, I’ve been an enthusiastic backer of the OGRE miniatures project by Steve Jackson Games in the last year. The Kickstarter project funded almost immediately and when they made Backerkit offers, I increased the number of miniatures and bought two more basic sets above and beyond the two sets I started with (one all red, the other all blue, the backerkits green).

A bit of background. OGRE Miniatures have been around for a while in different forms. If I’m remembering things rightly, the defunct MARTIAN METALS may have made some original OGRE Miniatures. I remember seeing a few blisters here and there in shops, and adds for more, but these may have vanished from mortal ken now– even the lost miniatures wiki doesn’t have pictures of them. Well, if you’re an old guy like me you know Martian Metals went defunct long ago and that was a sadness– I liked their attitude, their sculpting was at least, ahem, enthusiastic, and they were very tied in with microgame publishers like Metagaming, which was unique. Sigh. All gone now!

OGRE miniatures didn’t come around for a second chance until the actual OGRE Miniatures game and accompanying (metal) miniatures in 1992. This was the old OGRE scenario without the hex map, and along with the rules, SJG themselves licensed out the production of many packs of OGRE miniatures, both Paneuropean and Combine, over the next ten years. You can still find these here and there on the Internet. They started at 19.95 new but now are going for a princely sum. SJG muddied the waters a little by releasing DELUXE OGRE and DELUXE GEV, sometime in the late 90s, which were essentially magnum sized versions of the old microgames, done with the same metal miniatures from OGRE Miniatures. I own the DELUXE OGRE set myself, but actually (ahem) never painted it. Now I wish I had!

Demand is a fickle mistress and all good miniatures lines have their day in the sun, then they kind of fade away. So it was for OGRE miniatures. SJG ceased production of the line back in the oughts, and that, we thought, was that. Until the Kickstarter for giant-ass OGRE showed up, that is. Suddenly, Steve Jackson Games was flooded with cash as hundreds of people pledged to pay 100 dollars for what was once a 2.95 microgame! Tier after tier after tier was reached and just what the heck extra could you give these people? Who KNEW there this many OGRE fans left alive? So Steve started looking back at this ancient chestnut (designed in 1977) and started coming up with ideas about how to ride that OGRE wave again. OGRE miniatures was obvious (along with a modernization of the ancient PC game, see last week’s post), but who wants to have a warehouse full of metal? SJG had tried that in the past. It didn’t work out. Instead, why not try plastics? Thus the OGRE Miniatures Set 1 kickstarter (mentioned above) was born, funded and over-funded. Interest with modern customers seems as intense now as it was back in the 90s. There is one problem, though. Set One is comprised of only all the units from the original OGRE game– Infantry, GEVs, Missile Tanks, Howitzers, Heavy Tanks and an OGRE MK III. There were several new units introduced in GEV, and further expansions in SHOCKWAVE. So there’s plenty of demand to fuel this train yet.

Today, the Kickstarter update posted a series of tantalizing pictures that indicate that work on SET 2 is already commenced and the first rough prototypes have been produced (in many colors, don’t pay attention to that quite yet).


Wide shot. As you can see, there’s a GEV PC, what looks to be an OGRE III, a light tank, a SuperHeavy tank, a light GEV and a mobile howitzer pictured here.

I’m not sure what will be included in Wave 2 yet, but it looks like it will emulate the units in GEV, on a guess. That works for me. GEV increases the tactical choices in OGRE exponentially, and gives us new terrain to play in.


GEV PC empty…


GEV PC with INF stands in it.

Light GEV. A bargain, you could get two for the price of one and it moves like a GEV.


Fencer variant OGRE; one main gun turret option.


Fencer, Second variant main gun turret.


Superheavy Tank. If memory serves this is a SHOCKWAVE unit, so perhaps there will be a mix of unit releases going forward?


Mobile Howitzer. I remember them looking a little different…


Light tank, introduced in the GEV game. This looks pretty close to the original sculpt.

So that is what has been released in today’s press release.  Keep in mind this is an early look and not remotely production model quality– production figures won’t be released in pastel and neon colored plastics, either.  There are some odd compromises here and there– I don’t care for the infantry figures quite yet, the light GEV has very little detail, and the Mobile Howitzer just looks, i don’t know, odd.  With that said, I’m encouraged because they’re putting out a FENCER for sure, and maybe even another variant OGRE other than the III and V.  Who knows?

Game Camp 2017 Day 5: A nautical finale


From: Thursday
Well, the day started with doling out some serious loot we got sent to us by Osprey Publishing.

Each kid got a oopy of either Frostgrave, Dragon Rampant or Horizon Wars. Osprey’s a pretty standup company, I really appreciate their assistance with prizes and the assistance of HMGS’ outreach program to help pay for expenses in putting on this camp. Truly, I was just expecting something simple, like a paper product of some sort, this was unexpectedly generous. The kids were suitably impressed. Keep in mind that most of these kids have never gamed with miniatures before, and today I heard one say “I know where I’m going.. Ebay!” “Why?” “to get some cheap Frostgrave miniatures“. My work here is done.

New Pulp SF rules

Schedule: well, Friday was scheduled to play out like this.. I was going to playtest BOOM! ZAP! (my first stab at Pulp SF rules) in the morning with five campers. One had to leave earlier in the week and I was going to run Viking Looters in the afternoon. I was a victim of my own success, as it were.  Everyone present wanted to continue playing BDB, and by that, I mean all day, right through lunch.  Big Danged Boats has become something of a standby in recent years; I’ve run it for six years easily (although not every year) and the campers like the spectacle.  The down side, of course, is you have a hard time adding new things to the lineup, which is important to me to keep things fresh.  Still, I do say on the first day, if you want to carry something over to the next day, just tell me and we’ll adjust the schedule.  Well, they told me loud and clear.  Believe me, “we love this creation of yours so much we want to cancel other things to play it” isn’t something that I’m complaining about!

 
For once, we saw the Stahlheimers depicted as something unique, not as standard humans.


The casualties on the Isle of the Dead were most impressive.

I’m happy to say that every session teaches you something.  I was blessed with some innovative campers who really took to the simple “bucket o’ sixes” philosophy of BDB, and had some suggestions to add in that I improvised on the spot.  For instance, the Bone Brigade (two galleys, one with a giant catapult, manned by mostly skeletons and a Wizard figure).  Why can’t that guy be a necromancer who can bring back casualties?  Well, why not then.  Also, could they have a plague cannon, like the undead faction in Uncharted Seas?  Well, sure, but it would be a “Plague Package” they put on the catapult, the necromancer has to be present to prepare it, and it fires an ensorcled skellie that is there to spread disease (slowly).  Not bad additions to the Undead factions– they fit.  I also improvised a fix to the damage repair rules and introduced new Ship Sheets, which are an improvement on the old ones.

Less complex and more streamlined than before.  Speed on the left, check of damage and roll for further bad things on the last box on the line.

So in this game concluding Epic, the Ratlings of Ingoldsby held back, not committing themselves to much, trying to get gold by treasure hunting and trading.  They did bribe the local militia to fight the Gnomes, but not much came of that.  The Gnomes of Batenburg played an aggressive game, Ramming Stahlheim’s Gauntlet Ironclad, deploying Gnome Marines, fighting shore parties, etc.  The Bone Brigade was also and took chances, using his fatigue chips, not holding back.  The Deadnought (the larger galley with catapult) got sunk late on Friday, stranding one of his landing parties on an island.  Oh well, plenty where they came from!

Our other big player was the Empire of Stahlheim, who ran the Gauntlet ironclad, a steam powered ship (which, btw, we changed– Steam isn’t as complicated now, and you break down a lot more). Stahlheim has probably the best ship on the board, in terms of defense, and it saved Stalheim’s hide many times. He lost most of his deck crew to crew fire.

It was a great camp this year– I definitely proved the value of War Rocket and Frostgrave games (Frostgrave being played for an extended day on Wednesday) and reaffirmed that Big Danged Boats continues to be a camp favorite.

I wish we had had more campers this year, this was the smallest I’ve run ever.. maybe I need to be involved in promoting it better? I have some ideas about that. I’ll talk to the good folks at St. Stephens when it comes time to plan for next year.

So until next year, thanks, parents, and thanks campers, for hanging out with us for a week in August. I’ll see you next year.

Click HERE for all pictures for Friday’s game.

 

Game Camp 2017 Day 4: Big Danged Boats


From: Wednesday

And Thursday brought us a return of a camp favorite, BIG DANGED BOATS.  This is a 15mm Fantasy Naval game of my own devising, and it has some weird elements, such as a foot of a dead God, and Steam Powered Cheese, and The Followers of Joe.  We had some delay setting up (remember, the kids wanted Frostgrave to go long so we had to postpone BDB for a day?  Well, it takes a while to set up, being kind of a labor intensive game to run.  Not to worry, though– they played Room 25 (by themselves! Twice!) while Garrett and I speedily set up BDB for a shorter scenario.   We got in a good amount of play but were no where NEAR resolution by 3PM.  All the campers but one were asking for an extension of BDB.  Okay, I get it.  One thing ten years of running this camp has taught me, is to be flexible.  So we are continuing over into Friday, cancelling the Playtest of BOOM! Zap! and running Viking Looters a few times in the afternoon.  Oh yes, and ice cream, and door prizes!  Osprey and HMGS both helped out in their own ways.  So we have some very good boodle to hand out tomorrow.

So, BDB.  I set up a pretty small scale scenario.  The Ratlings in the Steam Powered Armor Plated cheese, the Primus, versus human elitists from Stahlheim who are seeking the secret of Boom Powder, versus the Bone Brigade in two ships (black Galley and Deadnought) and the Gnomes of Batenburg, in the gigantic Gnomish Siege Machine.  Add to that the Seng passing through willing to see Boom Powder to anyone with gold to buy it.  I ran the Seng and the shore batteries.


The Bone Brigade (Black Galley front, Deadnought read. Undead Crew, Galley propulsion)

One thing I notice about modern youth is a general hesitancy to create a plan of attack in a game, be it Frostgrave, War Rocket or BDB. It’s as if they dont’ want to get stuck in it with someone they can’t beat or something. Fortunately, I had a youngster who set his Gnomish cap on taking out Stahlheim and charged in trying to ram his ship into submission with the Siege Machine’s Big Bopper Ramming extension. Stahlheim was in the middle of a complex negotiation for the outpost’s mortar (which the Stahlheim captain sneered at, citing poor workmanship. They looked up and suddenly saw the looming bulk of the Siege Machine bearing down on them. Fortunately, the ram sheared off and the Gauntlet retaliated by blasting them with two forward facing Medium cannon.


Gnomish marines attack later in the game.

Right when I thought there would be some proper bloodlust they desisted and made a deal.  Meanwhile, the Bone Brigade traded with the Seng, who were more than happy to take their gold from them.  The Bonies turned on the Gnomes in the long distance, shelling them with the Plague Package.


Firing a plague package at the Gnomes.

During the game the Rats of Ingoldsby Island didn’t do much. The Primus promptly broke down and they spent many turns wrenching on it. Then they sailed over to a bored guard captain and got him to shell Batenburg for a gold Piece. I do insist the players try to roleplay their parts.. that’s part of the fun. Garrett did a great job playing the lisping, amoral Rat King.

Stahlheim sailed around the guard rock and brought the Batenburgers back into view, letting a fusillade of cannon shot strike the Siege Tower. So much for peace!


The Gauntlet– probably the best defended ship on the Middle Sea

Right about then we broke for the day as we had lost some time setting up. As promised, we will run BDB in the morning tomorrow, axe BOOM Zap! and do Viking Looters and ice cream in the evening.

A good session!  The kids liked BDB.. a lot.  It is something of a spectacle.  We tried some innovations.  There are new ships: The Followers of Joe (not on the table),the Cat’s Claw (brought but not selected, much to Garrett’s displeasure), the Whaling Syndicate (A group going out to hunt the Tentacle Kraken beasts).   Nobody wanted the new guys– and of course the old standbys did get selected.  I designed a trading system so that players could do something else besides kill each other, but that’s really only going to work if we have about 8 players, so didn’t want to confuse the kids and worse, slow down the game.  I did renovate a few key mechanics.  First, steam power– instead of running that complicated throttle mechanism– which seemed great but just confused people, I now make steam powered ships roll for breakdown each turn at differing threshold numbers.  Then they roll on the Wrenching Table to build back distance and speed.  It’s simple but it works.  I redid the ship sheets to something smaller and less complex.  The damage track is streamlined to H, H/C, H/G and H/R (Hull, Hull plus Crew, Hull plus Gun, and Hull roll for it–which has some critical results).  It definitely plays faster.   The players also suggested a plague load for the undead ship’s catapult.. so they can fire plague on the target boats.  Great idea!  So we added it on the spot.

A very productive session!

More BDB pictures for Thursday HERE

On to Friday!

Game Camp 2017 Day 3: Frostgrave, extended, & Cosmic Encounters


Previous: Day Two-Frostgrave

Day Three dawned with a continuation of FROSTGRAVE by request of the campers.  The older kids love it; they like the super tactical feel, the way spells can totally mess up a plan, and the “spatial” feeling a three dimensional tactical game can be with miniatures.  You can’t get that same feeling on a flat screen.

Naturally, any game I can leave set up and not have to worry about setup times is a game I’m going to like, too.good

Right off the bat, both sides came on aggressively. The Good side got ensnared in the right corner with fending off the evil Sigilist and Elementalist (aka Johnny Flamehands). Our side was facing him with a good Soothsayer and a good Illusionist. The Illusionist somewhat dominated the right middle of the table. specatularly failing to cast a Poison Dart repeatedly so much that he was down 4 points. He redeemed himself when he was the second crew to visit the temple of Fundamental Evil in the dead center. Johnny Flamehands, the Elementalist, tried earlier in the game, and encountered a being so vile, so disgusting.. well, I’ll let the evidence speak for itself.

Don’t say I didn’t warn you! Anyway, there was indeed a Type III demon who was so messed up looking he caused everyone he came in close contact with had to check their Will at a big minus or run in fear. The Illusionist had a Transpose spell– he had tried it before with his Wizard and failed badly, so he tried it again with his apprentice and this time he rolled very high. By carefully placing himself to eyeball the contents within, he could see both the Type III demon blob and the Zombie that was standing behind it being controlled by the Elementalist.
Bam, ZIP! Guess what happens?

One EXTREMELY ANGRY, PEOPLE HATIN’ CRAZY DEMON who likes darkness transposed into the sunlight with a very confused zombie being blinked back into the temple! RUH ROH! Bad news for that Elementalist and his crew who happened to be standing right next to him, mouths gaping in shock and unspeakable horror!

We laughed for about 15 minutes.

That kind of changed the classification of the game from “Maximum Haul” to “Grab what we have and GIT!” Team Evil started leaving the left side of the board rapidly. Team Good had more distance and more leisure. We ended up calling the game and rolling up the treasure.. quickly, as the buses were coming. Team Evil won the day, but by less than ten points, surprisingly.

We also played the hands down, don’t argue with me BEST GAME IN THE UNIVERSE, Cosmic Encounter— you can tell I’m a bit biased. I sat in on this six hand game with Red Menace, Green Machine, Blue Meanies, Yellow Peril and Orange Crush. We create nicknames for our aliens by color (as you can see) so we had to settle on White Blight for me, since the cards came from an expansion set. I engineered a four way win (hey, I’m not ashamed) and it was a great time indeed.

and a little documentary evidence about how canny these little dealmakers were getting by end of game.

Day 3 was great!  A most satisfactory continuation of Frostgrave and an epic game of Cosmic!

All Frostgrave Photographs

All Cosmic Photographs

Tomorrow: Big Danged Boats, my own 15mm fantasy naval game.

 

 

Game Camp 17 Day Two: Frostgrave!


I chose FROSTGRAVE as my second game of the week for gaming camp. Frostgrave (by Osprey Publishing) is a game of Wizardly Looting of an ancient sorcerous city just beginning to emerge from a century of being frozen. Players play Wizards and their apprentices leading a small team of hired thugs and treasure takers into the city in search of gold, magic items and items of lore. The rules are pretty simple and easy to teach, the game is fast and ultra tactical. Naturally Frostgrave appeals to both youngsters and oldsters.

There was also a hue and a clamor to play Room 25 again, it’s a big hit.

We had a new camper join us today and he fit right in.  Frostgrave is a big hit as well, so much so that the kids requested we hold Frostgrave over for a second day.  I’m always flexible, that’s not a problem with me.

So tomorrow will probably be MORE Frostgrave, Cosmic Encounters and maybe half a day of Big Danged Boats!

For a slide show of today’s activities, click here.

Onward to Day Three: More Frostgrave and Cosmic Encounters!

Game Camp 17 Day One War Rocket and Room 25


So Monday dawned and it was our first day of Battle Camp. I have a smaller camp than usual; that’s just fine. Easier to manage. We were set up for WAR ROCKET by Hydra Miniatures when they came in. War Rocket is a very retro look at simple space combat. The trick to War Rocket is being in the right place at the end of a turn, since War Rocket has a turn sequence of Move, then shoot. The combat system is kind of anemic but the basic mechanics are easy to pick up, which is why I tried War Rocket for the first time at camp. Verdict was quite enthusiastic, War Rocket is fun and a keeper!

We also played Room 25, a board game based on those weird Canadian “Cube” movies.

This was supposed to be just a light lunch time game (I played, too!) and we ended up playing it until 1:30 and finishing up War Rocket. The game ended in a tie when the giant Zenethian mother ship (the big green saucer) was taken out with a lucky shot! Talk about pulling ahead at the last second.

My impressions– this is a great crowd, very smart kids who like games and were VERY quick to pick up on everything. In other words, my favorite kind of campers. Not bad for a group who had zero miniatures background!

More War rocket pictures

Where to find WAR ROCKET
A great first day.

Tomorrow: Frostgrave

On to Day Two!