Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Battle Ravens Looks Ideal for Kids & Newcomers

I rarely feature games in active Kickstarter campaigns (though I’ve looked at a few after release); but when I happened upon Daniel Mersey’s Battle Ravens: The Shieldwall Board Game I couldn’t resist both backing it and offering my perspective. Battle Ravens pits two players’ Viking-age armies against each other across the field of battle. Each side gets to place tokens (representing ravens) behind different sections of their line, then spends them to maneuver and fight with their warriors, hoping to break through the opponent’s line and send them running from the field. The battle game format works well for simulating warfare of this age; the rules provides plenty of historical context. The designer has released several recent and popular miniatures rules that work well for beginners. The mechanics seem basic yet offer players some careful choices to make. These elements can satisfy wargamers looking for a quick yet fulfilling tabletop diversion and tempt kids and newcomers to give the wargaming hobby a try.

Friday, November 23, 2018

Orc Ambush in Rohan

Almost three months ago I found an online deal through a game trade community for a host of Lord of the Rings miniatures. They were originally produced for a Play Along Toys line released shortly after the popular feature films. I was particularly keen on these for a number of reasons. I love large-scale 54mm miniatures – I’m a huge fan of Armies in Plastic’s historical lines – because they’re just the right size for introducing kids to miniature wargaming. This particular line came pre-painted, a huge bonus considering the time to get most miniatures onto the wargaming table usually includes a huge investment in painting. And, of course, I’m a fan of Lord of the Rings, and cavalry in particular: this lot included six warg riders and 17 Riders of Rohan, including Eomer. The package finally arrived and I set about basing the infantry on fender washers for stability, matching the weapons and other accessories, and crafting several rock formations similar to those seen in Rohan scenes during The Two Towers (giving the pine bark mulch technique a try). I have a copy of Daniel Mersey’s Dragon Rampant fantasy miniatures skirmish rules that seem perfect for this kind of engagement (I’ve enjoyed his other rules, The Men Who Would Be Kings for Victorian engagements and Lion Rampant for medieval fights, and am looking forward to his Battle Ravens board game currently in a Kickstarter campaign). With everything finally complete I thought I’d set everything up on the basement wargaming table and take a few photos in advance of having folks over to give the skirmish rules a try.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

We Are More than A Blurb

Humans love blurbs, especially in this age dominated by electronic devices constantly vying for our attention. To me a “blurb” can be any short bit that offers a brief summary of something: a news story, a company overview, a teaser for a book, a game description. It offers enough information to garner our interest and invites us to learn more...but usually we make a mental note of the blurb and move on to more pressing matters in lives with too much to do and not enough time. Often we overlook something quite worthwhile. In many cases – especially regarding other people – we should take the time to stop, look, and learn beyond the blurb.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Streamlined Combat for OpenD6 Solo Gamebooks

I’m developing a solitaire D6 Space gamebook, a programmed adventure in the spirit of the numerous solo “tutorial” scenarios I’ve written over the years and have enjoyed in other games. I’m having fun with it, incorporating science fiction tropes I admire, going off to explore entertaining tangents, offering a few seemingly outrageous options, and (hopefully) providing an engaging adventure with plenty of meaningful player choices. Along the way, however, I’ve discovered a particular drawback to using OpenD6 in this programmed solo gamebook format: the combat system isn’t really conducive to providing players with an adversary’s stats and letting them resolve the fight on their own...a staple of many gamebooks and solitaire adventures. It’s not as much a factor in the scenario I’m writing now – it’s not particularly combat-heavy, though it contains a few fights at pivotal moments – but it’s given me cause to think about and develop a better system for more combat-oriented solo gamebooks using OpenD6.