HeroQuest is Back

September 23, 2020

The classic dungeon-crawler is back with a new project from Hasbro.

HeroQuest

Games Workshop is not associated with this new version, so a few things have changed (Fimirs, for instance, are now called Abominations). And new sculpts for the minis and furniture (looks like plastic furniture, too). But otherwise it appears to be pretty much the same as the classic game from the 90’s.

It’s already hit it’s $1,000,000 funding goal, so they’re working on stretch goals now, including new classes and quests!

Even though I already own a copy of HeroQuest I think I will eventually back this project (it still has 44 days to go).

Cheers!

Pageful of Lead: Grimdark Edition

July 13, 2020

wh40k-rogue-trader

Another attempt at a one-page* wargame, loosely based on Warhammer 40K and inspired by Wiley Game’s Fistful of Lead: Bigger Battles.  First draft, completely untested.

Being a one-page set of rules, I’m assuming that players will be familiar with basic concepts of wargaming, such as how to lay out a good battlefield, properly measuring distances, establishing line-of-sight and the like.  Also, these rules assume that players are playing a casual game and not power-gaming to make the most broken units possible (though you can do that, so long as all players know what they’re getting into).

Pageful of Lead

*One page of paper assuming you print on both sides of the sheet.

Dungeon Tactics – A light one-page skirmish wargame

August 18, 2019

dd123

I’ve been on a wargaming kick of late.  I particularly like skirmish wargames, mainly because they’re easier and cheaper to get into and require less hobby work to prepare.  They play faster, too.

The wannabe game designer in me is still there, and has been chomping at the bit to design a skirmish game of my own.  After a few aborted attempts, I think I’ve come up with something decent.  And it’s inspired by the wannabe RPG designer in me, by way of one-page RPGs (ala Nicolas Dessaux’s Searchers of the Unknown).

The intent is to create an easy to play wargame requiring as little additional buy-in as possible.  Many gamers probably already have everything they need to start: dice, miniatures and some kind of 1-inch grid playing surface.  Tokens or glass beads are also handy.

Dungeon Tactics can be played using any miniatures in the 25-32mm range.  One could also use cardboard pawns (say from Pathfinder) or even the cardboard counters WotC put out for 4th edition DnD.

For the playing surface, both Wizards and Paizo sell affordable (well, affordable by wargming standards, at least) dungeon tiles which are still in print.  Or you could dig out your old HeroQuest board, or use tiles from another dungeon crawl game, or use your Space Hulk tiles, or a Chessex battlemat, or one of many different pre-printed maps.  Or go down to Staples and get an easel pad with a 1-inch grid on it and draw your own maps.

Next up I think is Advanced Dungeon Tactics, with rules for campaigns.  Plus, magic items, and maybe races and classes, as well.  The concept is readily expandable.  Cheers!

DUNGEON TACTICS

Megadungeon as Campaign World

June 30, 2019

necromundapic

For the uninitiated, Necromunda is a hive world in the Warhammer 40K universe.  The planet is an industrial wasteland, covered in massive orbit-scraping hive spires.  Beneath these spires is the underhive, vast subterranean complexes, one layer built upon another across 10 millennia, creating what is, for all intents, a mega-dungeon.  Perhaps the most mega of all mega-dungeons.

Apocrypha Necromundus

But it’s more than just a mega-dungeon.  There are entire communities, cities even, within the underhive.  And the populace of the underhive rarely, if ever, has an opportunity to travel above to the upper spire levels.  In other words, it’s a mega-dungeon that people live in, full time.

For some time I’ve been mulling the idea of a mega-dungeon campaign where the mega-dungeon is the entire world.  The PCs never leave the dungeon, though there are sanctuaries, “towns” if you will, within the dungeon where the PCs can find respite, replenish supplies and sell loot.

Necromunda isn’t my only inspiration for this idea.  Originally I had the idea after reading the Metro series by Dmitry Glukhovsky, where the survivors of WWIII live in the metro stations beneath a nuke-blasted Moscow.  The network of stations and subterranean levels below Moscow are themselves a type of mega-dungeon.

1000px-Moscow_metro_ring_railway_map_en_sb_future.svg

I’m thinking such a dungeon would have to be mapped at two scales.  The “big picture” map would be nodal, with points representing various adventure areas with lines, representing tunnels, connecting them (like the metro map above).  Some nodes would be towns, other long-abandoned areas, and others still monster infested.  Each node, or at least the important ones, would then be mapped at traditional 10’/square scale, though they could be limited to a single sheet of graph paper each (or I could use an online dungeon map generator to save time).

So, why does this vast complex exist?  My immediate thought is that it’s essentially a gigantic “vault” designed to preserve tens of thousands of people from some calamity on the surface of the planet.  People have been living below so long that history has morphed into myth and legend.  Conditions have deteriorated, and the population has declined over time, leaving vast empty sections (inhabited by monsters now, of course).  Some sections may have been sealed off for some reason (perhaps to contain a zombie plague outbreak), just waiting for the PCs to rediscover them.  Perhaps entire levels have been forgotten.

The PCs start in one of these sanctuaries, which has probably been their home for their entire lives.  They have a limited knowledge of the surrounding tunnels and nodes, so part of the campaign would involve mapping the dungeon’s nodal network, figuring out where different sanctuaries are, which factions control which areas, where special resources are located, and so on.  And another part of the campaign would be filling in the back story of what happened to the sanctuary, how things deteriorated so badly and, perhaps most importantly, how to leave (or, if it’s even safe to leave yet – “What happened to the all clear signal?”).

Cheers.

Starfinder Beginner Box

May 24, 2019

SFBBpic

So, this more in the way of an overview rather than a proper review.  I haven’t taken the time to thoroughly read the rules of the Starfinder Beginner Box (SFBB), and I’m not likely to.

So, the box still comes with a Heroes Handbook, Gamemaster’s Guide, dice, pawns and a flipmat.  As with the Pathfinder Beginner Box, the quality of the contents seems high.  The pawns are nice, though no longer novel as they were when the PFBB was released, and the flipmat has an excellent space dungeon/post-apocalyptic bunker map on one side, and 1-inch square grid on the other.

The major difference I noticed is that the SFBB includes 6 classes and, I think, 6 races.  Unfortunately, the classes only go to Level 4 (unlike the PFBB’s five levels), so it’s a little less useful for the “game in a box” thing (though, of course, it’s not meant to be).

I’m not terribly familiar with Starfinder’s mechanics…I didn’t play the game enough.  But from what I’ve seen flipping through the books it looks like the SFBB doesn’t stray too far from Starfinder core (unlike the changes made in the PFBB, some of which were adopted in Starfinder).  The organization and format are very similar to the books in the PFBB.

So, overall, the Starfinder Beginner Box doesn’t excite me like the PFBB did, but it’s still probably a good introduction to Starfinder.  The flipmat is excellent and I can see using it in other games.  The pawns likewise are nice quality and could be useful in other games.  But I know I’ll never play Starfinder again, beginner box or not.

Cheers.

BattleTech

April 1, 2019

 

btpic

Catalyst Games released a new starter box set last month for the venerable BattleTech board game.  I remember looking at BattleTech back in high school (a loooooong time ago), but we never really got into it.  I think we may have thought it was too complicated.

The components of the new box set are fairly high quality.  The plastic mech models, especially, are very nice.  They’re high quality unicast model’s using new designs.  They really look the part of robust mechs striding the battlefield.  The set also comes with a number of cardboard stand ins, a pair of nice paper maps, some dice, a really well designed cardboard reference sheet and, of course, the rules.

btpic3

All the mech miniatures from the core box and the beginner set box, primered in sand color

So we gave the new BT box set a try a few weeks ago.  At first glance it seemed way more complicated than I like, and I wasn’t sure this was going to be the game for me.  However, the core rules, despite appearances, are actually fairly easy to work with.

It probably helps that the rules have been gradually refined over the last 30-ish years, so that they are basically consistent and they make sense.  This is unlike a certain British game company that shall go unnamed (Games Workshop 😉 ) that basically rewrites their rules sets every few years.

btpic1

Awesome and Battlemaster assault mechs painted up in camouflage pattern

Right now I’m still playing at what is considered Level 2 rules, which don’t include things like artillery, infantry, tanks, aircraft, as well as some of the more complicated situational rules.  However, the nice thing about BattleTech is that it’s designed so that you can layer additional complexity as you’re ready for it.

Nor have I tried my hand at building a custom mech yet, which is a huge part of the game.  I’ll give that a try once I have a better grasp on the important concepts of the game.

btpic2

The rest of the gang, painted up.

A friend also started a Savage Worlds BattleTech campaign.  It uses SW rules for the RPG bits, and BattleTech for the combat bits.  The hybrid rules have been working pretty well and the game has been a blast to play.

Cheers!

Broken Links Repaired

March 17, 2019

All broken links in the downloads section have been repaired and should be working normally again.  I apologize for the inconvenience.  Apocalypse averted…for now.  Cheers!

cyberdino

Awwww….I was looking forward to the cyber-dino apocalypse.

 

Deadzone 2nd Edition

January 27, 2019

 

deadzonebox2

Edit:  Deadzone 2.0 PDF rules available here for free.

I recently had a chance to play Mantic Game’s sci-fi skirmish game Deadzone (2nd edition).  It combines elements of board games and wargames to create a streamlined and intuitive system.

The two major innovations, as I see them, are the cube system and the dice pool mechanic for resolving conflicts.

A Deadzone board is divided into three inch spaces called “cubes” (because technically they’re 3D).  Deadzone terrain is designed to comport with these three inch cubes, creating “stacks.”  Distance and weapon range is tracked by counting cubes (as one would count spaces or squares in a board game) instead of measuring inches with a tape measure.  A model moving into a cube may be placed anywhere inside it, even slightly over the cube’s border (the center of the model determines which cube it actually occupies).

deadzonepic1

Thanks to my buddy Randy for taking this picture.

The cube system resolves many of the problems I have with more traditional skirmish games like Necromunda and Kill Team.  It combines the certainty of grids or spaces with the fluidity of measuring inches on an open board, while also encouraging maneuvering for advantage.  It’s bloody genius, as far as I’m concerned.

Deadzone uses an opposed dice pool mechanic to resolve most conflicts.  A standard roll is three 8-sided dice; each dice rolling a certain target number is a “success.”  Your opponent does the same, and then total successes are compared (ties usually go to the defender).  Dice rolls of 8 “explode,” allowing you to roll another dice, and keep doing so as long as you keep rolling 8’s.  Modifiers add or subtract dice, rather than changing the target number.

For example, shooting an opposing model requires a test where you’re trying to roll equal to or higher than the model’s Shooting stat (which may be 3+, 4+, 5+, and so on).  Your opponent then makes the same test, but using their model’s Survive stat.  If the shooter is higher, or if the target model is completely in the open, then the attacker adds bonus dice to their roll (I learned the hard way that controlling the high ground is very important in Deadzone).  The number of successes generated are compared to determine the potential damage inflicted on the target.

deadzonepic2

In close combat, the defender may choose to use their Fighting stat, thus having a chance to wound their assailant, or they may just use Survive to simply avoid the attack.  But otherwise the dicing mechanic is the same.

What I like about using a dice pool mechanic is instead of 3 or 4 separate dice rolls to resolve an attack, as in most Games Workshop games, everything is reduced to a single opposed dice roll, speeding up the game.  Also, the mechanic is just dead simple to remember.

One final note, Deadzone also uses an alternating activation sequence.  One player activates a model, then the other player activates a model, back and forth until all models have been activated.  I prefer alternating activations because it avoids the situation where one side can blow the other off the table before they can even move (like 8th edition WH40K), and it avoids many of the messy situations created by Kill Team’s hybrid IGOUGO/alternating shooting system.

On the down side, if you’re used to a weightier, crunchier wargame, then Deadzone may be a little too simplistic for your tastes.  Also, while Mantic’s models are decent, they still aren’t as nice as GW models.  And Mantic doesn’t include instructions for assembling the models, which can be frustrating if you don’t have any experience putting miniatures together.

However, on the whole I’m very impressed with Deadzone and prefer it slightly over Kill Team.  And while the rules may be simple (or even simplistic, depending on your point of view), I feel there’s enough complexity there for some nice tactical decision making.  And it would be relatively easy to house rule it to add more complexity, if that is what you prefer.  Deadzone is also an excellent gateway for first time wargamers.  Oh, and did I mention Deadzone is significantly less expensive than similar GW products?

Cheers!

Free Deadzone 2.0 PDF available here for download.

Deadbolt’s Derelict Corridors

December 27, 2018

20181227_100029

So, I picked up the Derelict Corridors bundle for Necromunda from Deathray Designs.  It provides 3D walls for the 2D zone-mortalis style boards that Necromunda uses.  I really like how they look, but they’ll look even better once they’re painted.

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Picked up the cool door set as well.

 

The walls are MDF, so you have to punch them out and glue them together.  All together it took me about 4-ish hours to do (working off-and-on).  It’s monotonous work, but worth it I think.  And it goes a bit faster if you take an assembly-line approach to putting it together.

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Hooks on the walls slide into slots on the column pieces.

There are other wall sets available, some of which come assembled and painted, but a couple of things I like about this set is that the pieces lock together, and Deathray designs has produced a bevy of accessories for the line.  You can add gantries and ladders to take your games 3D, if you want, for a true underhive experience.

Can’t wait to get it a try.  Cheers!

Kill Team Campaign

November 28, 2018

So, I started up strategic map-based Kill Team campaign at my FLGS.  This is sort of a trial run, since I’ve never run a campaign like this before.  Just six players (though one had to drop out unfortunately).

Kill Team Campaign Map - Short Victorious Campaign

Start of the campaign.

I favored a map-based campaign because I thought it would bring out the scheming and plotting in the players, and so far it seems to have worked.  I also modified the casualty table from the standard Kill Team campaign rules so that models might be captured by the other player, adding another layer of political maneuvering.  Kill Team battles are fought between players for control of individual hexes.

Each hex controlled by a player is worth 1 VP at the end of campaign turn 12.  The starport hex in the center is worth 3 VP, and each player has a secret victory hex worth 2 VP if they control it by the end of turn 12.

Players collect Supplies for the hexes they control, which are used to purchase additional kill team members, ransom captured models, or to trade with other players.  And, as you can see, there are also a number of hexes which provide special abilities either during the campaign turn or in individual kill team battles.

Following are some pics of the campaign map as the game unfolds:

Short Victorious Campaign - Start of Turn 3

Start of Turn 3

Short Victorious Campaign - Start of Turn 5

Start of Turn 5

We’ve finished 4 turns so far.  As you can see, Elijah seems to be running away with the game so far, but there’s still 8 more turns to play out.

Cheers!

Edit:  Here’s the campaign document for those who are interested:  Kill Team Campaign


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