Saturday, February 10, 2018

Game Du Jour

I haven't been doing much with board games lately because I have been distracted by this


I've been playing Cat Quest on my PlayStation 4. The developers describe it as a mix of "Legend of Zelda, Final Fantasy and Skyrim" but with cats. It's a bit silly (especially with all the a-meow-zing cat puns) but provides an excellent, light RPG experience with an old school feel. It is SO nice not having to manage inventory!

I completed the main quest yesterday and am trying to finish off the remaining dungeons. Perhaps that means I'll be getting back into board gaming. Or maybe I'll start back up at level 1!

Monday, February 5, 2018

2D6 Skirmish Rules

Below are the rules I used in Sunday's skirmish.

Design Philosophy
These rules are intended for RPG-like skirmishes where a small party of heroes (2 - 4 characters) takes on the bad guys. Most often, these baddies will be bands of weak minions, but the heroes can stumble onto harder monstrosities or the big boss. In order to survive these challenges, the rules definitively favor the heroes.


Turn Sequence

  1. Roll Initiative
  2. Winner takes actions
    • Roll to activate characters
    • Move activated characters
    • Activated characters may engage in combat
    • If applicable, enemy rolls morale
  3. Loser takes actions
    • Roll to activate characters
    • Move activated characters
    • Activated characters may engage in combat
    • If applicable, enemy rolls morale

Initiative

  • Roll initiative each turn to see if the heroes act first
  • The heroes will have initiative on a roll of 3+
    • The roll may be modified if the heroes have situational advantages or disadvantages (such as an ambush).

Activation
  • The heroes automatically activate each turn
  • Enemy minions activate on a roll of 3+ (this number can be tweaked as applicable). Roll individually for each minion.

Movement
  • Roll D3 for movement points (number of squares allowed to move)

Combat
  • Hero Attacks - heroes must roll 7+ on 2D6 to hit enemy. If successful, roll damage.
  • Enemy Attacks - the enemy does not roll; instead, heroes must roll 7+ on 2D6 to avoid getting hit. If they fail, roll damage.
  • Damage - 1 wound on roll of 1-3 on D6; 2 wounds on roll of 4-6.
    • Note that minions typically are knocked out with 2 wounds while heroes can take more (I haven't decided exactly how many yet).

All rolls mentioned above can receive + or - modifiers depending on circumstances.

As you can see, these are just bare bones rules at this point in time. I will be fleshing them out over time. I especially want to add character skills and advancement rules.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Defend the Ship!

A Kate and Kip Adventure

Lately I have been thinking about skirmish rules, specifically sci fi (but my ideas can be applied to other genres). Today, I decided to experiment with a 2D6 system.

I decided to run a short adventure for my sci fi heroes, Kate and Kip. I used my mission randomizer and rolled a 411 - Attack or defend a space ship from the law.

The Mission
Kate and Kip, secret agents for the Galactic Federation, are on a mission in the Fringe. On the planet Omicron Prime, they run afoul of a corrupt police force.

A squad of police officers (black) have been ordered to arrest Kate (red) and Kip (blue) and confiscate their ship (bottom).

The leading officer exits the terminal. Kate and Kip are waiting for them on the tarmac.

The officer orders our heroes to surrender. They refuse so he opens fire. Kate and Kip reply.

Kip takes out the lead officer but two more exit the building.

In a fusillade of laser fire, Kate and Kip take wounds but they hit the officers.

Two more officers go down. Another comes to the door and fires out.

He rushes out, seeking cover behind a hover cart.

Kate runs up to the cart, reaches over, and shoots down the officer.

The last officer flees! Kate and Kip jump on their ship and blast into orbit.

Thoughts
One issue I've had with a 2D6 system is frequent misses. With a dice pool mechanism, it is more likely that at least one of the dice will "hit." It's actually more satisfying to have a hit negated by a defense roll rather than have a clean miss. Early in this scenario, Kate and Kip had a few misses, causing me to worry that the scenario would drag. Fortunately, they found their aim and the game sped to a satisfying conclusion.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Six Game Challenge - Dragon Rampant

My 2018 challenge is to play 6 games that I never played before. First up is Dragon Rampant.

In a previous post, I discussed some of my concerns about the rules and my approach to handling them. Let's see how things went.

First, I had to stat up two armies. The first was a Narnian army. From top to bottom, the blocks represent Centaurs (Light Riders), Big Cats (Lesser Warbeasts), Fauns (Light Foot), Dwarven Archers (Light Missiles with the Sharpshooter option), Talking Beasts (Light Foot), and Talking Mice (Bellicose Foot).

The Narnians' opponent was the Telmarine invaders. Their army consisted of Knights (Heavy Riders), 3 units of spearmen (Heavy Foot), and 2 units of archers (Heavy Missiles)

The two armies line up, ready for a do-or-die fight (I played the first scenario - Gory Bloodbath on the Plains of Doom). The objective is to destroy more of the enemy.

Early on, the dwarven archers (green) manage to batter the knights. The knights would rally.

The armies maneuver into position, with the Narnians creating a defensive line in the woods.

The Narnians tried a two-pronged attack on the Telmarine spears near the forest. Both Narnian units were repelled with heavy losses.

At this point, the Narnians grew disheartened and retreated from the field  (even though the game was far from over, I had enough and called it quits).

Evaluation
I only took a few photos of the game, but I managed to get a dozen or so turns in. Unfortunately, most turns only involved 1 or 2 (and some involved no) units activating,

What I Liked
What attracted me to DR and made me want to try it was that unit creation is very versatile. There are generic unit categories, and it is fairly easy to fit fantastical units into those categories. For example, my army included a pack of big cats, centaurs, fauns, and berserker mice!

What Surprised Me
I spotlighted a few concerns in my post discussing my preparations. In particular, I worried about tracking casualties, the buckets of dice, and the table size. Well, I used a roster, I was able to scrounge the dice from One Deck Dungeon, and my calculations to scale down the table seemed to work well.

I was also concerned about using my blocks; would I be able to distinguish the different troops? Well, using color coding worked fine. It did not take me long to remember which unit was which.

What Bothered Me
In the course of playing the game, some other concerns arose:

  • Activation - I rolled so poorly that in most turns, only a couple (at most) units could move. I found this very frustrating.
  • Low Casualty Rates - Most combats seemed to cause only 1 or 2 casualties. Given that foot units could take 12 casualties, it seemed like it would take a lot of fighting to destroy a unit. Because I like short games, I prefer more decisive combat results.
  • Too Many Stats - each unit has 10 different statistics (e.g activation values for different situations, armor value, combat to hit numbers, range, and strength points). Because there are so many, I found myself constantly having to check the roster. And I did not even take into account special rules! I understand that the varying stats provide nuance among the different unit categories, but they were just too much for me to juggle.
  • Weak Cavalry - I expected the Telmarine knights to run roughshod over the enemy. Then I realized that they were at a distinct disadvantage (6 strength points to 12 which means they roll half the number of dice in combat). I suppose this is more realistic (cavalry shouldn't be able to steamroll steady foot armed with spears) but I'm looking for a more fantasy feel.
Overall Assessment
I know that this was just one game (not even!) and I would get more comfortable with the rules with more experience. However, I just could not get into the flow of the game. I just feel that these aren't the rules for me, and that I should look elsewhere (actually, I am thinking of trying this same scenario using HOTT)

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Thoughts on Sci Fi Skirmishes

For a change I have a free morning. Soon I'll pull a game out, but for now I want to jot down some thoughts that have been in the back of my mind.

Over the past few weeks I've been considering options for some quick & easy sci fi skirmish gaming. I already have a set of home-brew rules that have provided many enjoyable games (featured in the adventures of Kate and Kip). However, I have become a bit bored of these rules because there is very limited scope for character advancement. They use a die pool mechanism, and adding even a single die to the pool significantly increases a character's power. I'd like something a little more gradual, as is common in role-playing games.

As I poked around the internet, reading reviews of various sci fi skirmish games and investigating free rules, I realized that skirmish wargame rules don't really offer the type of advancement I want. What I really need is a light RPG. This got me thinking back to a previous experiment that I called Kevin's Krawl. KK used a 2D6 task resolution system akin to Traveler. I successfully used KK variants for my solo Space Templars campaign and a short-lived lacepunk campaign played with my wife and brother.

The main issue with KK is that I never developed character advancement rules. I then began thinking of ways to tack some on. My preference is for a class-based system with levels (like D&D) because this makes character creation so much easier. In a roundabout way, this led me to X-plorers.


X-plorers is an old school style science fiction RPG using a simple D20 system. You can get a copy for free from RPG Now. I picked it up years ago when I was searching for a solo sci fi RPG and saw a review on Grognardia. It intrigued me and the price was right. I ended up not using it, primarily because there is no class that would allow me to play not-Jedi knights. Nevertheless, I like the character advancement system, with its 10 levels in each class. So now I am pondering how to convert X-plorers character classes and advancement to a 2D6 system.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Distracted

It's been over two weeks since my last post. I had planned to try out Dragon Rampant in those two weeks, but other things keep intruding.

Repairs
Things have been breaking around the house, requiring some time to fix them.

  • I finally got around to fixing the fence that was damaged during Hurricane Irma
  • My car needed some work so I had to take it into the shop
  • Ours sliding glass door wasn't sliding properly. We could barely open it. This was a dire emergency because the cats insist on using the patio. I had to arrange for a repair man to come out. Good news - crisis averted and the cats can now sun themselves at their leisure
LARP
My medieval/fantasy live action role playing group has decided to do a feast in early March. I am currently doing some recipe research and experimentation.

My main source has been this book, the official Game of Thrones cookbook:

Some of the recipes are more medieval-ish rather than historically accurate. But that's OK, because my group does fantasy rather than living history.

Anyway, tried out the Tyroshi Honeyfingers yesterday and they were excellent! Can't wait to serve them at the feast! By the way, some recipes can be found at the Inn at the Crossroads.

I spent last Saturday at Triune Shores, the West Palm Beach group. Some good fighting, but of course that meant no gaming.

Sci Fi Skirmish
A couple of weeks ago I did have a spare moment for a game, but I was hit with a bout of GADD (gamer's attention deficit disorder). I had an urge to play a sci fi skirmish game but I did not want to use my rules. My latest iteration uses a die pool mechanism. The combat mechanisms work fine, but I would like it to be more RPG-like and allow for character advancement. I feel that most die pool games have very limited advancement opportunities. So I began to investigate sci fi skirmish / light RPG rules.

I started with Rogue Stars by Osprey.


I purchased it when it first came out but was disappointed. My latest perusal did nothing to dispel that disappointment. I don't like that it used d20 and I find character creation to be too fiddly and detailed.

I didn't have much luck with my search, and then other distractions put my investigation on hold.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Preparing for Dragon Rampant

The first game in my 2018 Six Game Challenge will be Dragon Rampant.


I purchased this a while back and have read through it. While there are many aspects that I like, overall it seemed like too much of a hassle to convert to my preferred gaming style. What factors are problematic for me?

Individually-Based Figures
The rules seem geared for 25/28mm figures, each individually based. I prefer micro-figures so individual basing is not possible. One can get around this by using a lot of markers or keeping a roster and checking off casualties.

Buckets of Dice
A foot unit will roll 12 D6s when it attacks. I don't even know if I have 12 D6s! I toyed with the idea of reducing the number of dice, but think it might break the game.

Table Size
The rules don't specify a required table size, but the author does recommend a 4 ft x 6 ft table. My table is not that big! In fact, I would like to use my portable wargame kit, which features a diminutive 8 inch x 10 inch board.

SCALING DOWN DR
The first two objections are not really a problem for my initial experiment. I can scrounge up enough dice and use a roster. My biggest problem is with the table size - I need to scale down. But how?

I actually started with the units themselves. DR recommends mounting infantry figures on 20-25mm bases. Let's use 25mm, which is approximately 1 inch. If we have our figures in 2 ranks, an infantry unit will have a frontage of 6 inches. My bases are 1 inch wide. So that is a 1/6 ratio.
Correction - my bases are 20mm wide, which would be 1/6 for 20mm bases. I initially did the math wrong because my assumption about base size was incorrect

At a 1/6 ratio, what is our table size? A 4 x 6' table would scale down to 8 x 12". That's pretty close to my 8x10" board.

Next we have to scale down movement and missile ranges. Missiles are easy; they have a range of 6, 12, or 18", which scale down to 1, 2, or 3 inches.

Movement becomes more difficult, however, because they are not in 6" increments. Some troop types move 8 or 10", which leaves me dealing with fractional inches. What if I measure in centimeters instead? Well, at 1/6, 8" becomes 3.4 cm and 10" becomes 4.2 cm. Seems a bit fiddly.

I did some more number crunching and eventually tried out a 1/5 ratio. Here are the conversions:

6" becomes 3cm
8" becomes 4cm (actually 4.1 but close enough. The rest are similarly rounded)
10" becomes 5cm
12" becomes 6cm
18" becomes 9cm

At 1/5, my board equates to 40 x 50", which is slightly smaller than recommended but still reasonable.

So it looks like 1/5 will work.