Friday, November 30, 2012

62. Kickstarter Goodness

I've been sucked in to the Kickstarter mystique, in a big way, to the detriment of my bank account.

The first was the OGRE Kickstarter from Steve Jackson Games.  This made all the Internet news rounds, because of it's unexpectedly large amount.  We always told Evil Stevie we wanted him to re-do OGRE, and he never believed us....

I know there is a LOT of angst out there over how this game has been delayed (now into next year, which is months beyond the originally promised date), and the components being used ("cardboard and not plastic, hmmph!") but I was so excited about it I bought into the game to help get it made.  I am confident in it's eventual arrival and expected awesomeness.  I know SJGames is not going to abscond with my money.  SJG has been very good about keeping us informed of the delays and reasons why.

This was the first Kickstarter that I backed.  And here is the first thing from that Kickstarter that I've received.  In fact, it is the first thing of any of the Kickstarters that I've received:
An "I Made Steve Jackson Work on Car Wars" t-shirt, as part of a promise extracted during the OGRE Kickstarter that SJ will do a Car Wars Kickstarter next year.  Score!
As much as I love OGRE (and I do have many fond memories of that game) I love Car Wars even more.  Car Wars and AD&D 1st Edition made up the genesis of my gaming life.  However, apparently not everyone agrees, and Trolls lurk under many bridges.  After I made this innocuous remark on this topic on TMP, someone "stifled" me.  I don't know who, but I consider them a dick.  Really, you're going to stifle me for liking something you don't?

So then I started looking around at other Kickstarters going on/starting soon.  I came across a space combat game originally called StarFire Command by Forgecraft Games.  It has since been renamed Quantum Expanse.  This was a much more reasonable buy-in amount for me.  The game was only slightly delayed beyond its originally promised date, but it is quite nice for an "independent studio" production.  What attracted me to it was some of the unique aspects of the rules, in particular the Factions and the stealth capability.  The game will be for sale on its own soon, so check it out.

I got a minimal amount of ships, just enough for a very small two player game (very small), but they are nice resin ships with not much flash.  My only dislike is that the ships are rather the same.  However, I think with good paint jobs they will be aesthetically pleasing.  And in "reality" they probably look a lot like what "real" spaceships would look like:  functional and utilitarian.  They are designed to be used with or without stands so they sit flat on the table (did not come with stands).  They are specifically designed to be used in conjunction with the rules, so it would be difficult to substitute other space combat games' ships in their places.  I am still waiting for some resin planetary scenery to arrive, and it should be here soon.

I have yet to play it, but I am well pleased so far.  The designer (Brad Stephens) has been very good about keeping the backers informed of his progress.

Here's what I got:
The contents of the box upon opening.
The ships, from largest to smallest.  One Stealth Counter (of a lot).  The d20 is there for scale.
The rulebook, a compact size full-color book.
The ship cards, detailing their abilities.
The Faction cards.  Each faction lends certain special abilities to its fleet.

Next was a game called Goalsystem Delves:  Dungeon Skirmish Role-Play by Four Color Studios, makers of the fun and simple "Chaos in...." series of games (Chaos in Carpathia, Chaos in Chronos, Chaos in Cairo) as well as "Blasters & Bulkheads" and "SuperSystem."

This was an even easier buy-in for me, as I just wanted the physical hard-bound book + PDF.  The book just arrived the other day (only a very short delay from the originally promised date) and the author (Scott Pyle) has been very proactive in keeping the backers informed of his progress in getting the book ready.

Here it is:
The book, with its cool cinematic cover.
The inside front cover, with its cool retro artwork.
A sample page on the inside.  The size of the book is small, but the font is very readable.
The back inside-cover.
The book is available (or will be soon) for $39.99 on the Four Color Studios website.  Scott was going for an "old-school feel" and, having read the PDF prior to the hardback arriving, I have to say I think he's done a great job.  I am quite satisfied.

And last on the backing list is the little itty bitty Kickstarter that just barely made it's money:  the Reaper Bones Kickstarter by Reaper Miniatures.  Yes, $3.4 million out of $30,000 goal.  It was a veritable Internet gamer feeding frenzy.  It coincided with GenCon, so there was enormous buzz going on about it all the time.  I personally got 4 other friends to back it too.

Alas, for this Kickstarter, I have nothing to show yet.  But I have full confidence in Reaper that they will deliver the goods (plus, if they don't, they only live about 30 minutes from my house, so I'll just go yell at them). 

And now for on-going Kickstarters in which I'm involved (and you should be too!).

If you like Western miniatures, you should definitely check out the Blackwater Gulch:  Rebels & Reinforcements Kickstarter by Springboard...powered by Game Salute.  I'm a sucker for novelty, and Western figures really benefit from novelty, IMO.  Plus you can use many Western figures even in certain modern or Pulp era games.

The novelty here, for me, are the not-"Firefly" figures, as well as not- John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, Indiana Jones, and Doc and McFly from "Back to the Future."

As of this writing, we're 5 days out and $421 shy of the "Tranquility" crew getting unlocked.  Come on, people, get me those figures!  We need a lot more of you if we're going to unlock Clint, Doc and McFly.  Help me feed my addiction!  You know you want them too!

These will be delivered, scheduled, in July 2013.

Another I'm thinking about is the Zombie Plague Miniatures Kickstarter by Brian Roe of Rsquaredcomics.  This is a much less ambitious project:  just 4 "survivor" miniatures for a particular zombie board game.  They are nice, generic, everyday characterizations.  My only hesitation is it would be $30 for 4  28mm miniatures.  That's a bit steep for me.  Still thinking....

There is also Indiegogo as an alternative to Kickstarter.  I don't spend as much time looking there, but recently there was the Frebooter's Fate Legends Miniatures Set by Werner Klocke.  I did not participate in it, but if anyone has the limited version of Calamit√® Balfour they don't want, please get in contact with me.  She was the only sculpt that really caught my eye, and maybe we can make a deal.

The thing I like most about Kickstarter is that I'm able to help "the little guy" gaming companies.  Most miniatures manufacturers are not Hasbro or Milton Bradley in terms of finances.  Even SJG and Reaper are small fish compared to "real" game companies.

So that's how I've been spending my time.  Happy Kickstarting!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

61. You Make the Call!

My friend, Tom, and I recently played our home-brewed Rorke's Drift rules with my 15mm Old Glory figures.

The game is designed to end after 24 turns.  The following two pictures are of how the game ended.  There are no more Zulus on the table (excepting 6 men with rifles, who were too far away to do anything).  The British lost 33 men of 62 starting.

I would like my readers' professional gaming opinions on whom they believe to be the winner:  the British or the Zulu.

Tom and I both agreed on who we think the winner to be.  Not that it matters, but I was playing the British side and Tom the Zulu side.  I am purposely leaving out any references to the rules we used, in order not to bias your opinions.

Just look at the troop dispositions in the photos (which will enlarge if you click on them), and tell me who you think should be declared the winner.

Please leave your comments below, and thanks for taking the time to look.


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

60. Post-Apocalyptic Times Two

This is Part Two of Two, of a Post-Apocalyptic game I played solo a while back.  The game was actually pretty boring, and I didn't really enjoy the rules; nevertheless, I'm writing it up here as a public service.  :-)

Turn 4.  The Scrags once again (for 4 turns in a row) win Initiative, with a 5 vs 3.

This is how the turn started.  The Scrag Heavy is standing victorious over the body of Amber.  Moonstone is on the left.
The Scrag Heavy runs (6" + 6") and melees with Moonstone.  Despite the fact that I have all the die rolls written down, I find it waaay too tiresome to relate them here.  Plus the fact that I also found the rules somewhat convoluted and difficult to comprehend, so I'm not entirely certain my methods were 100% correct.
Suffice it to say, Moonstone took 1 Wound.
Next, the Diamond's Leader shot at the Heavy, with 5 scores, resulting in 3 Hits, which after Armor Rolls caused 3 Wounds.
The Scrag Heavy was killed!
The Diamond Leader then used her 2nd Action Point (AP) to shoot at the Scrag Leader.  Once again, I ran into the same problem as in earlier turns, in that the measured distance was 18.5".  The charts in the rules were contradictory and conflicting, indicated two different distance scales; so depending on which chart I used meant she caused either 4 or 5 Scores.  However, in this case, because of the Scrag's concealment, there were zero Hits.  The Scrag Leader was pinned (for all the good that does).  Following that, the Scrag Leader attempted to shoot at the G.G. Leader (with the same distance problems), and -- even after using both APs -- caused zero Hits.  Golly, wasn't that an exciting turn!
Next, we move on to the only figure to actually accomplish anything competent this game, Pearl.  She shoots at Scrag #1, for 3 Scores, causing 2 Hits.
The Scrag's Armor Roll isn't good enough to offset them, and so He/She/It takes 2 WoundsScrag #1 is Killed!
With her 2nd AP, Pearl runs (6" + 8"), attempting to get behind the Scrags to eliminate their cover factor"You go, girl!"
 Finally, Scrag #3 moves all of 3" (which was luckily all He/She/It needed to move) to bring Moonstone into view.  Shooting at her resolves with 4 Scores, causing 2 Hits, resulting in 1 Wound.
One Wound is all she's got.  Moonstone is Killed!
Turn 4 ends.

Turn 5.   At long last, the Glitter Gang wins Initiative (6 vs 4).  Not that there are very many of them left to enjoy it....
Pearl continues to move into a position from which she can see the Scrag's rears.  Wait, that doesn't sound right....  Anyway, she moves 6".
This does, in fact, allow her to see Scrag #3 from behind.  The range is 17.5", and on 7d6 she gets 1 Score. 
However, a closer reading of the rules indicates that misses from the rear are re-rolled (I was actually a trifle unclear whether ALL the dice are re-rolled, or only the dice that missed; did I mention that the rules are difficult to understand?)  I decided to re-roll only the "missing" dice, and achieved 2 more Scores for a total of 3.  This gave her 1 Hit.  After the Armor Roll, the Hit created 3 Wounds on Scrag #3.
Scrag #3 is Killed!  It's very beneficial to shoot from behind.
The Scrag Leader then moves forward 1 Move (7").  This was to finally overcome the distance ambiguity, as well as hopefully end the game one way or the other--quickly.  For His/Her/It's 2nd AP, He/She/It shot at the Diamond's Leader, now 13.5" away.  This resulted in 5 Scores, however, the Diamond's Leaders Defense value + being concealed cancelled this out entirely, for zero Hits.  She crouched in response to a Morale check.
The Diamond Leader then stood up with her 1st AP, and used her 2nd AP to shoot at the oh-darn-I'm-now-in-the-open Scrag Leader.  However, she spectacularly failed to accomplish anything other than forcing the Scrag to crouch, too.

Turn 5 ends.

Turn 6.  The Diamonds once again win Initiative (5 vs 3).

The Diamond Leader tried shooting at the Scrag Leader again.  She not only accomplished zero Hits, but she also got herself Out of Ammo.  So she used her 2nd AP to reload.

Next, the Scrag Leader shot at the Diamond Leader.  The same problem he had last time occurred again:  4 Scores, but the Defense + concealment wiped them out to zero Hits.

This time, the Diamond Leader didn't have to crouch, and in fact gained a free AP "in reaction."  So she shot back for zero Hits and an Out of Ammo result.  Wow.  Good job.

The Scrag Leader didn't have to crouch, either, as part of its Morale check, and gained a free AP.  So naturally he/she/it shot at the Diamond Leader.  Do you see a pattern here?  I was really trying very hard to finish the game by killing one of the leaders.  Really I was.

Anyway, the Scrag Leader got 3 Scores AND and Out of Ammo result (all game long, no Out of Ammos, and now 3 in a row!).  BUT, the Defense + concealed AGAIN cancelled it to zero Hits, and she passed her Morale check, got a free AP and used it to reload.

The Scrag Leader now used his/her/it's ORIGINAL 2nd AP to reloadWow, what an incredibly exciting turn sequence.  I'm all a-flutter....
Finally, tired of all this nonsense, Pearl moves once (for 8").  She then shoots at the Scrag Leader, out in the open, from the rear, from 18.5" away.  She now suffers from the distance ambiguity, but even by using the worst of the two possible results, she finally--finally--FINALLY--causes 2 Wounds on the Scrag Leader!
The Scrag Leader is Dead!  Long Live the Scrag Leader!
This is a view of the battlefield at the end of the game.  There are 2 remaining Glitter Gang members and no Scrags.  I called this a G.G. victory, and gratefully ended the game.
It's actually been several weeks (heck, maybe months by now) since I played this game.  So I cannot give an accurate critique of the rules, other than to say I found them contradictory in many places and quite confusing as well.  HOWEVER, and this is a big however, English is NOT the author's first language, so please take that into consideration (let me caveat that by saying I do not know this for fact, I only infer it from the author's name and where he lives, based on his website).  I actually quite like the background that is included (ie, the different troop types and whatnot), and many of the general concepts are pretty cool.  And if you're less bothered by contradictions than I am (meaning, you can decide on how you want to play something and stick to it) then you'll probably like these rules.  Plus, there is apparently a new version now available, and they are all free, so really, what's to complain about?

Links to where find the rules are in Part One (see the link at the top of this blog entry to get there).

Whew.  Now that that's over, I'll be back soon with something a bit more fun (for me, anyhow).  Stay tuned for...Robin Hood!

Thanks for reading this far.  This is the end, so you can go now.