Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Adaptable One-Hour Wargames

I’m always looking around for new games and rules, particularly ones that can put to use game materials I already have – in this case, miniatures – and ones I can adapt to introduce the adventure gaming hobby to newcomers and kids. My brother gave me a copy of Neil Thomas’ One-HourWargames for my birthday; I finally managed to read it and give it a try at the wargaming table. Thomas offers a very basic game system to which he explains and adapts numerous historical periods. He also presents 30 period-neutral scenarios useful for any wargamer seeking easy set-up with meaningful objectives. As simplistic as the system seemed, it proved just the right pace for a one-hour game with my young gamer son, adapted to one of his preferred non-historical genres, Star Wars.

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Twilight 2000...or 1945

As I write this a spiffy new version of Game Designer’s Workshop’s Twilight 2000 dominates the latest roleplaying game buzz at Kickstarter. Who would have thought a game founded on situations from the late 20th century cold war would find a new audience in the 2020s? Free League Publishing, which did an amazing job on games like Tales from the Loop and the latest Aliens roleplaying game, has a slate of quality components in the game, many unlocked as stretch goals; so I’m on the fence whether to back a game I might not play but one that looks interesting to explore with lots of fun components. (The Kickstarter campaign ends Thursday, Sept. 3, 2020.) I’ve discussed my occasional interest on post-apocalyptic games before. I’ve often wanted to dabble in Twilight 2000 after seeing the ad campaign and subsequent articles/scenarios in GDW’s late, lamented Challenge Magazine. I’m not really excited about the game’s modern setting, but the survivalist theme with a hex-crawl campaign style appeals to me. Then I start thinking...what if I found a way to use the new Twilight 2000’s resources – character backgrounds, encounters, maps, adventure ideas, locations – but ported to a game system I like with a premise centered on an alternate-history end to World War II (a period that engages me more deeply)? Something like Twilight 1945.

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

A Gaming Artifact from Trilemma

Artwork and production values in roleplaying game books vary greatly. They’re often constrained by the publisher’s limited budget, sometimes consuming even more financial resources than the actual content itself. Even then high production value and amazing artwork can’t make up for poor design and writing. Certainly Internet Age phenomena like Kickstarter and Patreon have enabled more creative people to release their gaming materials without the infrastructure of traditional print publishers...though quality on numerous fronts isn’t always consistent. But every once in a while a real gem emerges, something that satisfies on so many levels – substantive, graphic, qualitative – a treasure that stands out among the shelves of roleplaying game books. Michael Prescott’s Trilemma Adventures Companion Volume I is one of these amazing gaming artifacts.

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Entertainment Can Inspire Learning

And there’s a million things I haven’t done
But just you wait, just you wait....”

Hamilton (Alexander Hamilton)

The July Fourth weekend – amid the pandemic wreaking havoc across the United States – we sat down in our impromptu yet cool basement home theater to watch the film version of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton: An American Musical. Though I’m not a fan of the rap and hip-hop musical styles, the songs, staging, and compelling story provided an immersive, emotional experience. Yet in reading about it online later I became aware of some criticism that it contained historical inaccuracies. Well of course. It’s a musical, not a documentary. This kind of media is meant to entertain, even when based on real people and events. But in some people it can inspire an urge to lean more and pursue their own self-education. It reminded me how games work the same way. They’re not accurate simulations of situations, but they can impart an interest in the subject and issues delving deeper than the action we play out on the game table. Board, card, wargames, and roleplaying games can inspire further learning on related subjects.