Thursday, 20 July 2017

Several Little Rays Of Negativity

Today has been one of those days. Full of stuff not quite going right rather than things going wrong. Enough to cause me to frown but not enough to get me really naffed off. Whilst I have got stuff done it's all been day to day stuff.  Today is not the best but tomorrow is looking like hard work with the high point being mixing concrete.

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Maths And Gaming

I have a friend called Clive. Like me, he is a gamer but I hate playing games with him. He is not a sore loser nor difficult to play with, he just takes a long time. This is because he works out the numbers. Years ago we were in a PBM game about American Football. Although I did quite well in it, Clive won the competition. How you may ask? He used a spreadsheet. We played a number of games that allowed the players to keep their money hidden. You knew how much people were being handed out but the actual total was allowed to be a secret. Clive put a stop to this and for good reason. If you wanted to keep track of the numbers all you had to do was write it down. This would take time so why waste the effort and just keep the money public.

Sat in the car today I was re-reading about the Sigmoid Curve by the guy who runs Two Fat Lardies. His gripe (and I understand it having tried to play A World Aflame) is that game designers like weapons to be used so the models should be on the board (especially if you make the models too). I don't remember the specifics for A World Aflame but safe to say that a pistol had about an eights of the range of a sniper rifle. The big beast that is Flames Of War has on table artillery that seem to have a problem hitting the other side of the board. I think I have talked in the past about playing the Conspiracy X RPG with a sniper sat at one end of a ten foot table who would have not only been able to hit a target at the other end of the table but stood a good chance of being able to hit targets across the car park, the large A road, both pavements and on the far side of the living room wall of the house opposite.

At the beginning, I mentioned maths I believe. Scale is an odd thing when it comes to gaming and miniatures. It's fine for model kits. If you want to have the pretty 28mm figures then you have to accept that some things just are not going to work. People are fixed into the ideas of ranges and worse still range bands. Further away is obviously harder to hit? Try using a sniper rifle in hand to hand combat and then see if you wouldn't prefer a shotgun, SMG or pistol.

Pistols are given to officers because the are expected to command the men not shoot their weapons. The only time they should be thinking about shooting is when the opposition is in bayonet range. Keeping with the scale of 28mm, you are going to have a hard time hitting something more than 2"-3" away (assuming that 30mm is the typical height of a 28mm miniature, 60mm is 12" in the real world and hitting a moving target who is doing their best to put you off is a bit of an ask with a semi-automatic pistol). 15mm ranges are better illustrated with the rifle. Depending on the rifle and the man shooting it, effective fire is around the 3'-4' foot range and good or lucky shot might double that on a day with a slow moving target with little or no wind. Two miles plus is an ask for a sniper but modern rifles in the right conditions have managed that.

If you have a rifle and you can see a target on tabletop you stand a good chance of being able to hit it. SMGs in a line of sight (assuming that the battle is not in the desert should be able to  hit what they can see) and in the modern world would be better off with a rifle. Pistols have a place in close quarter combat but are pretty much irrelevant as a weapon in a wargame.

I was going to say something about dice now as well but it is getting late so I will leave it to another day.

Tuesday, 18 July 2017


I had an idea for a card game today. This is nothing that special, I have plenty of ideas and this one seemed a little dull. When I played it over in my head it sounded a little like Chez Geek but a bit more like Real Life. This has become the name I was thinking of calling it. Although Salmon Day didn't seem like a bad idea for a title either.

After a day of things going annoyingly, but not critically, wrong it seemed that it would be "fun" to make a card game out of it. if a game about wine-making can be fun then why not this. So I gave it a bit more thought and then a bit more.

The basic premise is that the players are a group of friends. Friends being friends they want to get one up on each other, When you get a bit older and beating them at a game seems less important what do you compete at? Well it's life.

The idea is to get more of the good stuff and get less of the bad than everyone else, the good job, the hot partner, the nice house and so on. This is all well and good but that is not what marks out most of our lives. It's not the job or the girl that has the biggest effect on our lives but losing them, at least in the short term. It's not always about the loss but sometimes it's the money and the prestige.

Then I thought about age. Not that I am getting in a bit, but different things seem to have different levels of importance at different time. Owning a sports car when you are in your sixties or you have kids is not as much fun as owning one in your twenties or when you are having a mid-life crisis.

All this this is just an idea, something that I am putting down so I can come back to it later. If you have any ideas, let me know.

Monday, 17 July 2017

Conan Exiles / What Does A Tabletop RPG World Look Like

I know that I have talked about this game in the past. It's an online, semi RPG that is currently in beta. As it is a beta, I guess that I cannot complain but that didn't stop me last time.

Whilst it is still a beta and it still needs a lot of work doing on it the game is much improved. The map has improved, the range of weapons and gear has increased and it all feels just a little better put together.

What I like about it the most is that is a nice background that I could take something from to make into a tabletop game. As a game it only touches on the world of Conan. It feels more like a cross between Conan and The Scorpion King

At the heart of a lot of my games is a computer game. Whilst not always the case, I like to use games because it does a lot of the work creating the world for you. Players can go away and look at a picture. As a referee there needs to be a lot of description done just to describe the world around them. Even in a modern game you are probably not playing a game on your doorstep. Often it is another country.

Most games can get away with nothing more than a map and the GM's fine words. This is a fine way of doing something. sometimes however, I like to be able to give the players something more. Think of it in terms of what an orc looks like. When gamers think of orcs they either think of Lord Of The Rings or Games Workshop. This is a trap that is difficult to get out of. No one really knows what they look like and there is no historic reference to look for (being a creation of Tolkein). So people crave an idea of what they look like.

Being a deeply visual person, I like to see a picture of things. Finding an RPG world with just a verbal description is a lot less satisfying. So using a computer game as well as TV and film to give you the visuals is great.

Maybe somebody out there would like to share a few ideas about what computer games, films or TV shows inspire them?

Sunday, 16 July 2017

The Joy Of Six

I have been tired today but it's the good type of tired. Better than the bad type I have had all week. Since Tuesday I have been feeling unwell but I seem to be on the mend now.

Today I went to a small show, The Joy Of Six in Sheffield. Oddly it is dedicated to 6mm wargaming. It's only been going a few years but is now probably the biggest show in Sheffield with the demise of Triples.

Being honest with myself, 6mm is not my thing, I do a bit of it every now and again. I have some stuff for WW 2 and a French Napoleonic army that is never likely to get finished but it keeps me occupied sometimes. Most of my friends are into it which is why I do any of it at all.

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Viticulture - The Boardgame

Today I played I was pretty sure that I wasn't going to like it when it was suggested. It sounded like  pretty dull subject matter for a game to me. Games like this are ten a penny and have been done a number of times. So I thought. When it comes down to it I was pleasantly surprised.

The designers have put some thought into the wine-growing/making process. Not only do they understand the mechanics but a lot of the game colour seems to come from understanding the world in which wine-making sits.

In the game the two biggest aspects are worker placement and turn order. If you want to go first you get nothing and if you go last you get an extra seasonal worker. Between these two are the growing season and the winter season.

What I found playing the game was that players will go and grab everything they can as early as they can. There is merit to being first as often you get more for your turn. The number of meeple placement spots is limited to three. In a five player game this is a problem especially as if it is something you want you can place multiple meeples. You have a super meeple which allows you to place anywhere you like to get around this but even this does not always help you.

Going last can mean you get an extra meeple. Like most games where you can increase the number of workers, this is a good thing. In the first turn, most player used all of their meeples in the summer land grab. This gave me some range to spend money to get an extra meeple which became my main strategy. I think I was the last one to start growing grapes and making wine yet by the time I had done so I was able to outproduce everyone else. This doesn't make it broken, just as long as everyone knows it.

Friday, 14 July 2017


Scythe is a boardgame roughly based on the battles for European domination in the Victorian era with giant stompy robots. I think it is currently Rank 8 on Boardgame Geek which is pretty good going for a new game. So I figured it must have something about it. I looked for it for ages but couldn't find it, then it popped up at my local bookshop so it seemed a bit of a no brainer.
It has decent quality components with some pretty nice, is stylised artwork. Some wooden counters and about thirty plastic minis.There is enough there that you know it's going to be an involved game to play. All in all it was probably worth the sixty five pounds I paid for it.

As a game it is all about resource management. It starts of slowly but as soon as you start to build up your empire the game speeds up. There is enough going on to make the game difficult to see who is in the lead which seems to work to keep all the players keen as you seem to have the feeling you are still in with a chance of winning.

It is complex but not complicated. There are many mechanisms vying for your interest and all need some level of attention. If you favour one you may well not do so good but you do get bonuses for  doing this at the end of the game. To win you have to craft a suitable strategy but this is doable but is is all about the clash of strategies.

The mechanics are intriguing enough to make it novel. Having played it I am sure that there are a dozen ways to play and still stand a chance of winning. Each nationality has it's own flavour and special rules. None of these are game breakers and the sense is that you have to play to that nation's strengths in order to come out on top. All in all I think this game has good replayability. From what I have seen I could happily play this game a couple of dozen times and still find it interesting enough to play it a few more times.

Having played it twice it plays well as a five and a three player game although as a five player game it takes a long time and is a lot more dog eat dog. The board gets very busy in the five player game so there is a bit more planning to do. Turns are rapid enough that you stay interested, especially in the three player game. All in all I am glad I got it.