Sunday, February 23, 2014

A modular board inspired by videogame level design

Since I played Borderlands, I have been thinking about how great it would be to play skirmish games in some of its maps, like New Haven and Old Haven. Inspired by those, I have built this board using simple boxes as a first study. I tried to replicate some elements from the game maps, like varying building heights, lack of alignment between them and lack of symmetry between map areas.

This was built in a reduced scale to play measuring centimeters as inches. The board is 36cm x 48cm thus representing an area of 3' x 4'. Here is a picture with some miniatures.

This is also yet another experiment with modular, flat-folding structures. Each board section has the building locations marked, with two slits cut to fit the building bottom flaps. This way, I can reuse the same buildings in different setups. At the same time, I avoid the problem of accidentally pushing the buildings around while playing, which is very frequent when I play at this reduced scale.

Monday, February 17, 2014

First Impressions: Brigadier General

Today I ran my first test game of Brigadier General by Bat Cave Miniatures. This is a solo game for brigade level battles during World War II. Each unit is mounted on a 40mm square base and represents a company. The rules also mention the use of 1" and 50mm square bases, for other miniature scales. Units include infantry, armor of different types, artillery, aircraft, anti-tank and anti-air guns, and a few others. They are defined by a combat stat, move allowance and attack range. Some of them have a special rule. For instance, infantry may support other infantry units, or artillery cannot move and fire in the same turn.

The basic game involves combat between 12-unit forces. The book includes several suggested force setups and also presents a points system to generate others. For this test, I selected one force from Germany heavy with tanks and one force from Soviet Union with more varied units. While in the future I might make some bases with Junior General figures, for this test I just printed some counters with unit abbreviations and an insignia. Here is a shot of the third turn of the game, right before I removed my HQ (I was playing with the Soviet Union) that was destroyed by artillery fire.

The general turn structure follows the "I go, you go" pattern with separate move, fire and close combat phases. The game uses a fatigue mechanic that may cause units to have to roll for activation. It also has a simple "supply line" system to allow units to recover. Combat resolution is based on opposed rolls between units.

The solo aspect of the game is represented mainly by the "enemy A.I. matrix," which is a table indicating the deployment and general behavior of each unit type, depending on its current situation and fatigue. While this is certainly not the most detailed solo system around, it seems to give enough information to guide the battle. I still have to play more games to see if there are situations where I end up having to "play both sides" despite the solo system. The book also includes a campaign system to play linked games, including random events that may affect the players' force. This is another interesting element for solo play.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

A party of pack wolves

I decided to play a quick campaign using the After the Horsemen system. It is focused on the adventures of a group of three Pack Wolves.

Steve and Brent were bullies, plain and simple. Still, bullies that fight off raiders and wild beasts can be useful in a small settlement. That's why the people of Redstone, in the middle of the wasteland, tolerated them. Steve arrived with his mother at his early teens; she was taken an year later by a nasty infection. By the time he was twenty, a few road warriors came to the settlement, offering protection in exchange for shelter and food. Brent was among them, and acted like an older brother to Steve. A drinking, drug-using, fight-picking older brother, that is. 

Julius was the only survivor of a party of scavengers ambushed by raiders. He arrived at Redstone badly hurt, asking for shelter. In exchange, he offered a bag of salvaged items. After he recovered, Julius started talking about revenge against the raiders that nearly killed him. He also liked to tell people about the amazing ruins he had visited, filled with relics such as those he had brought. The settlement elders didn't like any of this: they feared that people might get hurt or killed pursuing these adventures. Steve and Brent, on the other hand, were very interested.

One night, "Big" Barton, son of one of the elders, was talking loudly to his friends about how scavengers were like carrion feeders, while settlers like the "good people" of Redstone would bring about a new civilization. This turned into an argument with Julius. Steve, who was never fond of Barton, turned it into a fight. Brent made it escalate into a wild brawl, with several people hurt. A week later, the three were expelled from Redstone with only a few of their possessions and some food and medicine.

Steve - Rep 5 Star / Pack Wolf / 26 years old
Attributes: Hard as nails, Brawler.
Skills: Fit 5 / Pep 4 / Sav 3
Items: Machine pistol, machete, 2 luxury items (decorated silver-coated tankard in the shape of a skull, lighter), 3 units of medicine, 6 units of food.

Brent - Rep 4 / Pack Wolf / around 35 years old
Attributes: Party animal.
Skills: Fit 4 / Pep 3 / Sav 2
Items: SMG, machete, 2 luxury items (party favors), 1 unit of food.

Julius - Rep 4 / Pack Wolf / says he's 32, but looks like 42
Attributes: Logical.
Skills: Fit 2 / Pep 3 / Sav 4
Items: Shotgun, pistol, 3 units of food.

The campaign objective is to guarantee their survival. Maybe they will find a new settlement to live in; maybe they will create a new group of scavengers. Forgive the lack of pictures, I used improvised terrain (outlines sketched on scratch paper) to keep the game moving.