Category Archives: gaming

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!

NOVAG’s Winter Game Day, 29 Jan 2017, Centreville VA


(Note: I have some reports that the inline pictures are not viewable on this post.  They are to me, that’s a little mystifying, but it might be a permissions issue– I’m using Google Photos instead of Flickr for this post.  Here is a link to every picture I took, which is public: https://goo.gl/photos/3GzUcNgKknah5hFQ9)

Today was NOVAG’s Quarterly Game Day (Winter 2017) held as usual at the Centreville Library. This is the big meeting room facility at the library and it can hold roughly 9 setups for miniatures games, roughly equivalent to a 5 x 8 table at a convention (somewhat smaller). This gameday was fairly well promoted on Facebook, Twitter and elsewhere and attendance was fantastic– every table had something on it and every game ran the length of the gameday (pretty much), from about 1 to 5.


Ron Prillman Routs some Russians. I think.

I’ve posted the PEL elsewhere, and every game but two (the Space Hulk and Russo-Polish game) was played.


Okay, maybe it was some Americans.


… and Dave Luff is astounded at the results!!

Jason Weiser runs his game with Mike Pierce in the background. Okay, yeah, it was Eastern Front. The green paint job fooled me.

This was Battlegroup World War II “The End of the Iron Dream”.. looks like everyone enjoyed themselves. I like the fire effect Jason was using with a flickering tea lamp under the smoke cloud.

Peter Schweighofer was there with his new rule system aimed at kids, Panzer Kids Deluxe. This looked like a blast from where I was sitting. Tons of kids at this game con, this is a great sign!

Brian Dewitt, kind of an iron man of running games at cons and gamedays, took a break from Chariot Racing and Ancient Galley Warfare, to make a game about Medieval Siege Warfare, the Siege of Skipton Castle.  I like Siege games, for some reason– and this looked like it was a hit with the younger set.

There was also a modern game of Force on Force going on in the corner, called The Battle of Yampil.  This was run by the Byrne brothers and seemed sparse in infantry and dense in armor vehicles.

Elsewhere, Roy Jones ran Sword and the Flame (Sand Dunes of Zwarfontein) NOVAG’s own Tim Tilson ran a War of the Austrian Succession game (15 June 1746. Piacenza), and Dennis Wang reran his cool variant of Air Force / Dauntless that used a tablet client to make moves. It’s a fun game, more on it here.

What was I doing?  Oh, I was busy.  I actually came to play in Dave Markley and John Koprowski’s Russo Polish War game, which is a favorite period for me.   They had cancelled but that was fine– as I came in I noticed Mark Fastoso, a GM I associate with running historical games, had set up a Napoleonic skirmish game using many Alternative Armies FLINTLOQUE game figures and DRAGON RAMPART (modified for Napoleonics) as the rules.  I asked if had space, he said “sure, wanna play?” and I said “I”m In!”.   This proved to be a good time– first time for me using both Flintloque miniatures (which are charming!) and the Dragon Rampart rules, which make total sense to me and are a blast.  Bear with, here on the many pictures of this game, this is where I was for most of the day and I only nicked off to snap a few of other games now and then.

See the rest of them here in this GOOGLE PHOTOS album!

I tried Facebooking live on here which I posted publicly to the Facebook Alternative Armies group in three parts: ONE TWO THREE (I made this public share specifically so it could be viewed by everyone).

and compiled it all here on a YT, but it’s kind of small:

In summary, a great time and it’s always fun catching up with people you don’t see that often, even locally. Kudos to the organizers, another fun event.

Game Camp 2016 Finale: Frostgrave Friday



A conclave of all the Frostgrave Wizards I have right now.  Click to enlarge

The final Friday dawned for Game Camp 2016 this morning. My plan was to run Frostgrave in the early hours, and have an ice cream party. It did not work out that way. Even though I had a decent setup, it took far longer than I had in mind. This was even after I stayed up late building Frostgrave bands for my Wizard figures using the online tool, and saving the sheets out as PDFs.

The Terrain was a bit thin in places, but it looked good.

Thanks to my Cigar Box Battlemat and some nice pieces I’ve either built or picked up here and there on Ebay or Flea markets, I had enough to (loosely) fill out my table. I supplemented with some cheap Styrofoam grey hills.. nothing to look at but they do look the part and are suitably matching with the city.

The centerpiece was a Great Hall piece that I picked up at Historicon 2016 from Stonehouse Miniatures.  They were very nice about sending a display model (already painted) when my order was delayed.


You’re attacking ME? Oh yes, it’s ON!!

Sadly, it took so long to get people set up with magic spells, etc. that it really cut into playing time. The kids liked it, but the lesson I learned was set up the bands the night before, but ALSO give them a set of spells to work with along with that.. don’t waste time with any character creation stuff, even if I think personally that’s the funnest bit of Frostgrave as a game. The kids won’t be playing Frostgrave next week; I might, and I’ve played it it a lot. What I consider fun isn’t the same as how they see it– so I’ll just move the game directly into the looting and fighting next time I run it. Verdict: this will be my Tuesday game next year.

As is also customary we did our end of camp ice cream party, and the kids briskly destroyed 2.5 cartons of Neapolitan ice cream with sprinkles and chocolate sauce. As is also custom, I polled the gamers about what they liked and didn’t like. Results were:

  • Star Wars Armada: Like it, could be great, would play it again– learning it the rules slowed it down
  • Battletech: Didn’t like, found it too complicated and too slow. Fair points, we’ll work on it.
  • Big Danged Boats: Universally enjoyed and enthusiastically voted for a return enagement.
  • Frostgrave: Everyone liked, probably second favorite, wished we had more time to play.

I need to put a bigger effort into teaching painting correctly.  I wish I was good enough as a painter to feel smart enough to teach methods.  I’m not ham-fisted at it but I’m not anything more than workmanlike either.  I know my limitations.  It would be great to add to the program.  I ran out Tuesday evening and bought a few boxes of plastics for the kids to paint up but I kept the painting table more contained this year. Mostly this was to avoid wastage– in the past I’ve bought (or have had donations for) lots of miniatures that got assembled poorly and covered with gobs of paint and glue, then I end up tossing this gooey mess of glue, broken bits and paint-stained tarps out on Friday. I think this can be solved with a couple of days dedicated to teaching, with a shorter game in the afternoon.

I’m not sure what we’ll run next year, but BDB certainly still has legs, and I suspect Armada and Frostgrave will return too. The other days? Eh, we’ll work on something. I like presenting one new game (at least) every camp, so we’ll see what opportunities present themselves.

Thanks again to the FANTASTIC people at St. Stephens and St. Agnes School (lower campus) who bent over backwards to help me, thanks to the parents of the campers, and a big thank you to HMGS for sponsoring our camp!

and from me, too!

Gaming Camp Day 4: BDB and the Great Gnomish Civil War!!


So THURSDAY was an entire day full of Big Dang Boat goodness.  We knew going into it that BDB wasn’t exactly going to play lightning fast, but the game is so silly and rife for story telling the kids got into the journey, not necessarily “winning” anything.  I tried out a new initiative method that made a turn far more easy to wrap one’s head around than before, and we fine-tuned that.  The Campers really seem to have enjoyed themselves during this game.

Thursday also had two of our regular players out, so it played faster than the day before.  I played the Gnomes of Batenburg (running the Siege Machine) as Reid (our guest from the previous day who couldn’t come two days in a row).   I played The Bone Brigade defensively according to the player’s wishes.


Stefan plays the Ragnar Brothers here and he did a great job… landing on an island, assaulting the base there, wiping it out and looting the tower. It turns out the tower held the ORB OF COMMAND in the basement, but he didnt’ know what to do with it.. yet.


The Cult of F’Vah (driving the Foot of the Dead God) pulled up and (being allies with the Ragnars) volunteered one of their steersman-mages to research the Orb for the Ragnars. It took a while but he got the gist of what it was, how to use it and what it would do next.


The Garden Gnome “Hippies” took on the Industrial Gnomes of Batenburg. They were confused as to what to do, and being lead by a young man, decided to attack instead of negotiate. That works. Unfortunately it depleted both crews quite a bit. He did have Gnogres to fall back upon, however, and after consulting the Red Bag of Courage, boarded the Siege Machine with his blood-mad crew, ready to conquer or die trying


Visiting the Red Bag of Courage, to test whether one has the nerve to board an enemy ship during an action.. Will he draw “Blood Tested!” and get a +1? Or “Quaking in Fear” for a big minus? Or just get a “Flee” result? Who knows? It truly is in the hands of Dame Fortuna.


I tried to instill into Michael, the young man running the Little People Collective/Garden Gnome soldiers that his actions would start a civil War in the nations of Gnome-hood, but he wasn’t impressed.


Lastly, the Rat-men of Ingoldsby had a chance to be unlikely heroes yesterday! They moved the PRIMUS into ramming range and rigged a spar torpedo forward. Then they steamed full speed at the door with a charge attock a pole. Worked like a charm, blowing the left door off the hinges. Out jumped the Wizard’s Slithin bodyguard, ready to kill. Here’s the thing, when you purchase 30 slingers from the gnomes, you have the quality of quantity going for you. It was like firing buckshot. Eventually the enraged ratmen’s mercenaries fought their way into the base do the tower, climbing over a mountain of Slithin and Human dead. They moved into the hall of the tower expecting to find the Orb of Command, and found.. nothing. It had been in Piper’s Fort all along. Now one of the most fearsome battle weapons was in the hands of Ulf Ragnar of the Ragnar brothers, being backed up by the F’vaavian Cultists. What could possibly happen next?

So we ended it there and packed up BDB, and I gave out some shining moment coins for particularly great play. We handed the victory to the small coalition of Taylor, Stephen and Cedric, who didn’t mess around and acted like true allies. The Stahlheim and Sea Elves (run by Taylor) ran interference vs. the tower, The Ragnar Brothers raided the island that kept the Orb and slaughtered everyone (like one does) and the Cultists of F’Vaah deciphered the Orb’s Power and taught Ulf Ragnar how to use it. A great day of silly nautical fun!

Hail to the victors.. until the next time!

GC2016 Slideshow: HERE

 

Game Camp 2016 Day 3: Shiverrrr me Timmmmbers!


Wednesday and Thursday are pretty much “show piece” days. Big splashy games that have tons of prep and a really distinctive look. And they are silly.. very silly.

In that fine old tradition, I presented.. BIG DANGED BOATS, the cup and balls trick!

Normally I try to deliver something big and new for every camp, but this is a game that was specifically requested several times last year. I can take a hint.

So this is a variant of the old Orb of Power scenario, with a power mad Humans, Chinese Traders, Elves, Humans, Dwarves, and all kinds of Gnomes fighting it out with a mad wizard’s army.

The idea, of course, is that there’s a powerful wizard who has come into a significant MAGIC ARTIFACT (like they do) called The Orb of Command.    It’s hidden on one of the many outposts dotting the landscape, but the safe money is on the Wizard’s Castle at Red Bluff.

Of course, that’s the mission.  In reality, everyone just attacks each other.  It’s Chaos.

The Little People Flotilla just want to stay out of it.

The Ragnar Brothers and The Foot of the Dead God (foreground) raid Piper’s Fort, and have a small victory.

We’re not quite done.  This is a game that goes slow with so many people so we’re only half way through it all  It’s the journey not the destination.  The kids loved it.

Rules wise, we tried the initiative system and discovered using Initiative numbers 1-10 is overpowering.  1-6 works.  I’m altering the rules accordingly.   Seasoned players (and yes, I have them!) think it moves the game along faster and eliminates a lot of vague notions of what to do next. I’m keeping that rule in the manuscript and will have Artscow make me some cards.

A great first day of Big Danged Boats.

For the complete album, see this tag on Flickr: BDB-GC16

For everything for GC 16, try this album: Game Camp 2016

Summer Gaming Camp, 2016 Day Two


Our second day started with people wanting to play GOOD COP, BAD COP, which is kind of deduction/bluffing game not too far removed from WEREWOLF but very different mechanics. The players are playing either rogue cops that are working for a criminal mastermind or good cops trying to deduce the bad guy. Instead of Werewolf’s eye-closing routine they use tokens and cards to indicate states of presumed innocence. It’s an interesting take on a similar theme.

The big event of the day was Battletech, Gar’s favorite game, and he ran that while I started prepping for Big Danged Boats, running Wednesday and Thursday. Garrett like Battletech and I suggested we add it to the programme this year and see if it works. We purchased a Catalyst Introductory set and got the figures painted. Terrain was somewhat abstracted, one of my old hex maps and some Heroscape terrain hexes to make hills. I thought it looked great.

Summary: Battletech is a game that Garrett likes a lot, but it’s a little too “Charty” for the kids in game camp. They thought it was a little complicated, though they were game to give it a go. They liked Armada more (so far). We broke for lunch and to play some dodgeball and Room 25. There also was a big interest in painting figures, so I did my best to facilitate and make everyone aware of their options.

So a day of Painting, Battletech, Dodgeball, Room 25 and Good Cop, Bad cop. Fun Times!

Summer Gaming Camp, 2016 Day One


Well, it’s that time of year again, when a mild mannered middle aged functionary takes a week off from his daily scheming to run a camp for kids at the St. Stephens and St. Agnes School, Alexandria, VA. I’ve been doing this for about a decade now, and I have to say I look forward to it almost as much as the kids, if not more. For starters, we had a real challenge being down on the lower campus, as we were in the very lower back of the school, making it difficult to load and unload boxes and such for our day’s work. The space itself, however, rocks. It’s a small gymnasium built for lower school Physical Instruction, so it’s not us reusing a teacher’s classroom, something I’ve always been sensitive about– I’m married to a teacher and I’m sure she wouldn’t care for a pack of hooligans messing with her stuff. :=)

So aside from the A/C problems (e.g. muggy and sticky) and the parking (non-existent) and the distance to hump gear (long) we were running Star Wars Armada for our first day. Now, I really do enjoy their X-Wing Miniatures game, and I really liked the big-ship version too. In fact, I probably liked it better– this is how I picture big spaceship battles.

We played a Heavy Imperial Fleet Patrol (4 Destroyers, fighter escort) bumping into reinforced Rebel Squadron with One MC80 Star Cruiser (Home one), One Mc30C Scout Frigate, one Assault Frigate Mk IIA, and two large fighter squadron escorts, mixed A Wing, B Wing, Y Wing and X Wing. I’m not sure how you (officially) run a multiplayer game in Armada, so I used the Turn Order flight stand tokens from X-wing, which I have plenty of.


Startup positions.. Empire


Startup positions.. Rebellion


And we’re off, Playing STAR WARS ARMADA (Fantasy Flight Games)


my tiny rebel fighter squadrons take on 3 Imperial Star destroyers. Sure, we got converted into Space Plasma, but sometimes it’s the journey, not the destination.


The Rebs did surprisingly well, considering


Home One (Admiral Akbar’s ship) and the Daisy (the Assault Frigate) flanked left and I caused a distraction by flying my fighter squadron up the center, into 3 Destroyers in line. Yeah, live fast, die young, leave atomized goo for a corpse.

The game moved slow in the beginning as we all sort of figured it out. I’m new to Armada, I’m CERTAIN I did a lot of things wrong and compromised on more. In my defense, I think the rules are rather shoddily written. I had a decent idea of how ships move, and shoot, and defend themselves, and what all the dice kinda sorta mean in what situations, but really, there were niggling little situations that cropped up all day that aren’t SPECIFICALLY called out in the rules, or were easy to exrapolate, so I house-ruled it right and left, as one does.


Stretch break selfies.. we played a dodge ball variant.. best idea ever.

In general, we really enjoyed this one– a first for this camp, though we have ran X-Wing Miniatures in the past. I’m glad FFG continues to support it, but man, like all FFG games, it’s a bit token heavy, the rules need some ‘splaining and there is just a mega ton of setup for what is a simple game, after all.

Astonishingly, the Rebellion, who always seems undergunned, put in a great show for itself.  I tagged along to help out, and shot down the middle with my fighters to take on Star Destroyers.  They got all distracted and turning every which way, which allowed the Home 1 and the Daisy to flank to the left and really punish them.  They lost their TIE fighters pretty early (like the Empire does) but there’s more where that came from, eh?  Our fighters were very aggresive, but so was the Empire.  By end of battle, the Rebellion large ships hadn’t taken that much damage but the fighters were almost all killed off.  Whereas two Imperial Star Destroyer had lost all shields in a single zone and was taking hull damage.   I gave it to the Rebels, at game end.. who knows what would have happened a few turns later, the Empire still had hitting power.

Fortunately, my son Garrett is assisting as counselor this year, and regaled the kids in the down time with a game of ROOM 25, which I really like for camp.. it’s fast, with lots of backstabbing (if you play it right) and a nice SF patina.

So, a good first day. Tomorrow, it’s Garrett’s turn. He will run Battletech, while I do some clean up on Big Danged boats and get it ready for Wednesday.

B-Tech is already set up, we will hit the ground running. I will also be bringing stuff for people to paint tomorrow.

A great day!

Christmas Chariot Racing!


It’s always fun to see what other people do with your designs.  Mr. Steve Price of the Berkeley Vale gaming club (UK) contacted me recently after downloading Fast Shuffle Combat Chariots with a few questions about the rules.  His club ran FSCC as one of their Christmas games and the after action reports indicate that fun was had!

Here you see a turn in process, initiative cards placed in the spina, chariots moving out and ramming each other!

Read the replay here.

Thanks for the interest, gentlemen, and I’m glad you had a good time with it.

FSCC can be found in the Digital Rules section, see the tab above.

The End of a (long) Era. The Game Parlor store (Chantilly VA) to close permanently


  1. image from the Game Parlor website, 2015. All Rights Reserved. Long term residents of the Northern Virginia/Suburban Maryland area who are involved in the gaming hobby will recognize the Game Parlor retail store, a game and hobby shop that has endured in the same location (Sully plaza, in the back hinterland of strip locations) since 1991  The shop was started by Rob Weigend, a local attorney, and his wife Cindy.  The store catered to virtually every classic gaming hobby during its existence, and had many tables set up for playing games– roleplaying games, the popular collectible card games, miniature gaming, and other pastimes.

The massive, MASSIVE collectible card sales display. You can find some of the earliest collectible card game here, going for full price..

Back in the 90s, if it was related to a popular gaming trend, something could be found for sale at the Game Parlor store.   More importantly, the Parlor has served as a hub spot for most gaming in Northern Va, more or less.  Magic the Gathering leagues would hold contests there, clubs would meet there regularly and all sorts of activity would schedule routine events– including Northern Virginia Gamers (NOVAG), which would hold their semi-annual game days at the store, which would (generally) make the store more money as gamers would stop and take a break to shop.  There was, for about a decade, a second location in the Potomac Mills area, but that closed as rents increased.

Looking back at the miniatures tables, from the “recent releases” rack.

The shop persisted through the 2000s, but signs of trouble started cropping up.  Inventory, which had been a huge attraction in 1991, almost never rotated by mid-2000s, and it was not uncommon to find something from that era stickered full price in 2007.  Indeed, a casual perusal of stock the night I took these pictures turned up an illustrated military diary from the year 2000 going for full price.  Of course, there’s the classic story of the Super Nintendo going for full price (its 1991 price that is) year after year after year until a mad collector ended up buying it, vindicating it taking up the shelf space for more than a decade.

A fantasy game, designed by Brian DeWitt, being run the night I visited.

Inventory started to become an issue in the mid-2000s or perhaps earlier.  The shelves have always been crammed with older, somewhat out of date stuff (or “Classics”, depending on whom you ask).  The explosion of popularity of both the newish boardgaming hobby and informational websites about gaming that started in the late 90s and and shot off like a rocket in the 2000s seemed to pass TGP by.  The store buyers would certainly know of Boardgamegeek.com “hotness” list, but  not order more than a few of any selected “hot title”, leading to frustrated would-be purchasers to special order, a process that took a long time and with little guarantees (unlike, say, just ordering it from Amazon, which would have it showing up at your doorstep in three days or so).  An oft-repeated comment about special ordering was something like “dang, I WANT to give The Game Parlor my money, I really do.. but they make it so hard!” was heard from the late 2000s onward.

Gradually, I stopped buying stuff new OR used at the Game parlor store.. the old stuff was mostly picked through years ago and was never put on sale, the new stuff never lasted long and once the preliminary fuss was over, would never show up again.  It was so much easier to purchase stuff online.   The store itself, which seemed incredibly modern and swank in the 1990s, became more well worn and gone to seed by the late 2000s.  When the carpet was almost destroyed after the Mongolian restaurant next door flooded into the Game Parlor store, the owner put out a contribution jar to help defray the cost of a new carpet.  From his customers..  I was willing to donate, sure.. but I remember thinking: “Isn’t this the price of doing business?”

One feature of the Game Parlor experience that remained attractive to everyone over the years was the encouragement of regular gaming in the store itself.. many many tables and 6 giant miniatures tables were open to everyone.  As the fortunes of the store declined, table fees were initiated, to no one’s particular surprise.. and to no strong objection.  At least we could support the store after a fashion.   Gamers were willing to put up with a storefront gone to seed and table fees to have a place to go week after week.  That would never change, right?

In response to seeing a rumor online of the store’s closing, I visited last Friday night.  The rumors are true. After 24 years of constant operation, the Game Parlor store will close forever on November 26, 2015.   The reasons appear to be “retirement” (see the signs).

I find myself possessing mixed feelings.  On the one hand, the store had not marched with the times all those years and it seemed a minor miracle that it had lasted until 2015.  On the other hand, the Parlor was a fixture in the life of all DC area gamers.  Everyone knew where it was.. it was our place.  When it closes its doors, an era of good times, an easy location to socialize, and a big outlet for generations of geeks will finally come to an end.  I would be lying if I said I wouldn’t miss it, and miss it a lot.

Could the store have been managed better?  Certainly.  The inventory issue was always a killer– more than one person has offered to assist the store in setting up an Ebay shop to unload all that embarrassing dated stuff on the shelves, but it was an ebay shop was never initiated.  The store could have been better informed about trends and purchased accordingly– it’s not helpful to find a stack of ten expansions for the big hot game and not find the original, for instance.  With all that said, The Game Parlor store filled a very important role in the history of gaming– not just for the surrounding community of geeks, but by creating a new tier of game store and a new approach for retail gaming.  Maybe a store like this doesn’t fit in the modern market, maybe it does.  I’m just glad I was around to see it happen.  Thanks, Mr. and Mrs. Weigend, for running an enterprise that was an important part of life as a gaming hobbyist in the DC area.  We’ll all mourn the loss of the “Parlor: in the years to come.

(apologies for the use of the definite article “the” in front of GAME PARLOR in previous draft.  I was falling back on traditional usage; we have long referred to the store in question as THE Game Parlor, even though this isn’t strictly correct usage, as one commentator generously informed me.  As for misspelling “Weigend”, that I do feel a bit abashed about.  I just never saw it in print much.

The Hong Kong Rules (Illuminati)


There was a time when I considered ILLUMINATI, by Steve Jackson Games, my favorite game ever.    There was something about that uncomplicated little card game about secret societies that really tickled me back then– not the least of it being the tongue in cheek humor with which it was presented.  That was so in 1998, but not so in 2014.  I don’t think the game has aged very well.  It takes forever to play with six players and is a little vague in spots, which leads to vigorous interpretation of the rules on occasion.   Back in 1998 I put a variant we used to play with called “THE HONG KONG RULES” on Tripod.  I am steadily trying to shut down these cringe-worthy old websites and pulling off any material that might be useful before I do.

Here, therefore, are the Hong Kong Rules.

A VARIANT FOR ILLUMINATI DELUXE

A New Zealander expatriate living in Hong Kong (whose name, alas, I have long since forgotten) once mentioned to me that he liked to play the suggested “Illuminati cards face down” variant mentioned in the Illuminati Deluxe game in the “Advanced Play” section, only he liked to add in a 5MB reward for guessing the hidden Illuminati correctly. I’ve called this style of play THE HONG KONG RULES ever since. The Hidden rules and reward stuff evolved from his suggestion; the betting procedure grew out of extensive play of THE HONG KONG RULES. I haven’t tried this with INDO. I suppose it might work, give it a try.

Enjoy!

THE HONG KONG RULES

A Rules variant optimized for 3 or more players.

1) All Illuminati (pink faced) cards are dealt face Down. All Group (white faced) cards are played as in the Basic game.  The basic victory conditions for controlling groups (see the rules summary) are halved for speed of play.  Free Actions are limited to two (2) per turn.

2) Courtesy rules are enforced: i.e., a player may not attack another player until that player controls 3 groups or 3 game turns have passed.

3) Players may guess the identity of another player’s Illuminati under the following conditions:

3A)- The guess counts as a Free Action.

3B)- The guess must be made after regular actions (i.e., attacks, etc.) are made.

3C)- The guess must be announced loudly, clearly, and dramatically (Suggested Format: standing and saying “YOU, sir, are the… BAVARIAN ILLUMINATI!!)

3D)- The player being “accused” thusly must respond truthfully, loudly, clearly, and dramatically.

3E)- Courtesy rules extend to guessing (not until after turn 3).

4) If a player guesses an Illuminati identify correctly, he is given a reward. 5MB for 3 or less players, 3MB for 4 or more players. OR 1 privileged attack for the next turn only.

5) Betting is possible in Hong Kong Rules. The following rules cover the concept of betting.

5A)- A Bet is defined as a contract between two players, wagering a sum of MB in their possession, that an event will take place. In game turns, a bet is a Free Action. All funds expended or wagered for a bet MUST come from the Illuminati’s treasury (the Megabucks on the pink card), not from groups the Illuminati controls.

5B)- The condition of the bet must be game-related; i.e., a bet that states: “I wager Larry the Gun-toting Psycho will lose his next attempt at Attacking to Control” is acceptable, a bet that states: “I bet Elmo picks his nose and eats it next turn…” is not.

5C)- Bets can be Instant or Deadlined

5C1)- Instant bets are announced, out loud, at any point during a player’s turn. The conditions of the bet must be accepted by the player the wager is being made with by stating, out loud, either “Accepted” or “Rejected”. If not the Free Action is wasted. The minimumwager for an Instant bet is one half of the Illuminati’s personal treasury.

5C2)- Deadlined bets are written down on a piece of scrap paper, which is folded over so that there is an outside that the other players can see, and an inside that only the two participants in the bet can see. Square post-it notes are excellent for this purpose. On the inside of the bet, the player initiating the wager writes down the Condition of the bet (defined as “what he is betting on”– often the secret identity of a hidden Illuminati in this variant, but not always) and the Amount of the wager. On the outside, the player initiating the wager writes Initiator (the player initiating the bets’ real name) –> (an arrow to) Recipient (the player the Initiator is betting with), and a Deadline. The Deadline is the number of turns the Initiator is betting the Recipient for the Condition to come to pass. The maximum number of turns for a Deadlined bet condition is three (3).

5B2.1)- If a Condition of a deadlined bet comes to pass (either positive or negative) before the agreed upon deadline is expired, the loser of the wager immediately places the agreed upon sum upon the Illuminati card of the other player. If he does not have the amount agreed upon, he can wait the number of turns in the Deadline to pay off his debt. If he loses the bet’s Condition and still does not have the money to pay up, he is a Welcher, and the winner of the event is The Aggrieved Party.

5C)- Welchers are individuals who cannot pay off their bets, for whatever reason. If a players welches, the player who won the bet must remove a group from the player’s power structure. The group must be taken from the farthest position out from the parent Illuminati. Exception: The Aggrieved Party may not remove the last card from a Welcher’s power structure. Instead, He may garnish the next turn’s income from the Welcher’s Illuminati. After the debt is paid, the Welcher loses his “Welcher status.”

Steve Jackson Games Illuminati Webpage (contains Variants, Errata, Design article, new groups and a bunch of other Illuminati related stuff)

Copyright 1998 Walter O’Hara

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 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/

BDB: Introducing the Tiny People Flotilla


In the islands of Middlesea, the “Big Folk” have charted the course for the lives of of the wee for thousands of years. In a world of Elves, Humans, Dwarves, Orcs and other larger framed entities, the smaller folk of Middlesea have tried to make their own way, largely ignored and under-appreciated by the Big Folk, who considered them by turns amusing or annoying. The current generation isn’t accepting their second place status any longer! The Gnomes of Kanthus, The Fauns of the Black Oak Wood, The Wee Folk, and (occassionally) the Gulley Dwarves have created a new Federation, the League of Tiny People. They have recently banded together to create their own Naval forces out of a sense of desperation. The Tiny People Flotilla was the result of this effort. The Flotilla is a motley collection of vessels which suit their smaller stature & unique natures.

The Kanthus Tug (R), Aquatic Mines (Bottom), the Fire Ship, the Sacred Grove, and Thing 1 and Thing 2.  Kanthus gnomes & gnogr in ships for contrast. Click to embiggen

The Gnomes of Kanthus are not like their close relatives in Battenburg. Unlike their urban cousins, they are taller and stouter, and generally better at Melee fighting. Kanthus Gnomes are less mechanically inclined than Battenburg Gnomes, and favor a mixture of steam technology, Stahlheim cannon, and their own biological weaponry. The Kanthus Tug tows a sacred grove into a warzone, with at least one Mushroom grove on it. Eating a sacred grove mushroom will cause the Gnome to turn into a Gnogr for ten turns before he either recovers or dies. The Kanthus gnomes also use pollen flingers which can cause groups of infantry to be overcome with sneezing (one stick range, incapacitates target for following turn). The Sacred Grove is a small island of turf that is planted on a large towed raft. As an offensive tactic, a Gnome will leap to the Sacred Grove and consume a mushroom, then turn into a Gnogr the next turn. Gnogrs fight with an extra dice in combat, and can take 2 hits instead of 1, which makes them almost as doughty as the Spartans, but with more staying power.

Two new additions to BDB arrive with the TPF: Fire Ships and Nautical Infernal Devices

Although lacking in the industrial facilities of Stahlheim, the Iron Forge Dwarves or even the Battenburg gnomes,  The Tiny People Flotilla is still a very clever group of mechanics and improvisers that makes the best they can from all of their contributions.      The Fauns are credited with first coming up with the idea of Fire Rafts.  This will be pushed in front of the Kanthus Tug until it is within drift range, then released, drifting down among clusters of larger ships, catching a wooden rival with FIRE and eventual explosion.   The Wee Ones (Leprachauns) invented the notion of hidden aquatic firepots.  These are infernal devices that can either be dropped from the back of a vessel, placed with hidden placement (using the Ipad method), or as a depth charge for submarines.

The Sacred Grove raft, demonstrating two pollen flingers and two trays of Sacred Mushrooms. A recently turned Gnogr is on the raft. 1 mushroom converts one Gnogr.

Fleet Tactics: the TPF will operate as an independent flotilla, much like the Dwarves and Undead do. So all ships will move and conduct operations on the same initiative round. The TPF will prefer standoff tactics, as they aren’t as good at melee fighting as the Big People. They will have one Medium gun each in the Kanthus tug and Thing 1 and 2 ships, thought the Gully Dwarf Longship (not pictured above) is more like a Ragnar brothers longship, without any cannon.

The TPF makes its debut at the Game Camp for kids, next week! I look forward to chronicling their exploits.

Bob Coggins, Game Author, Miniature Enthusiast, passes away


Bob Coggins (seated) with S. Craig Taylor (left) at the re-release of Napoleon's Battles.

Bob Coggins (seated) with S. Craig Taylor (left) at the re-release of Napoleon’s Battles.

Just noticed on The Miniatures Page:

This is just a brief note to make all the members aware that Robert Coggins, the co-creator, with Craig Taylor, of Napoleon’s Battles passed away this afternoon. He had been ill for several years and this past Wednesday he suffered a stroke as he was preparing to go to Historicon. The stroke precipitated a fall sometime on Thursday evening or early Friday morning and he was admitted to the hospital on Friday afternoon. He passed away at Union Memorial Hospital today, Monday July 21, 2014, in the late afternoon. He is survived by his brother, Richard. The funeral arrangements are not complete at this time. His brother will be making all the arrangements.

Bob Coggins has passed on.  He was a very influential personality in the early days of the American miniatures hobby, and contributed countless hours to the foundation of the Historical Miniatures Gaming Society, HISTORICON, Origins and Atlanticon conventions.   Bob was passionate about Napoleonic miniatures and was the co-author, along with Craig Taylor (also deceased), of Napoleon’s Battles, one of the most influential miniature rule sets of its era.

Bob was a prime mover in getting Miniature game representation at ORIGINS, and one of the cabal that decided to move historical miniatures to its own focused convention, HISTORICON.  Bob was one of the people that met in Wally Simon’s basement and founded HMGS.

I can’t claim we were best friends or more than just acquaintance s, really.  Still, I appreciated his efforts in the early days of the hobby and have enjoyed the fruits of his early efforts for many decades.   My prayers are going out to Bob’s family at this time of sorrow.