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FEATUREd THIS ISSUE

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Colonial Battlefleet, Strike Legion and Gruntz featured inside next page


jan/feb 2011

Gaming news

Gaming news

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News stories from all forms of strategy gaming

table top strategy

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21 Tablet gaming

11 27 Playing with paper Invasion Normandy 39 Epic invasion59

Sci-fi wargaming

Science fiction wargaming

Gruntz designer Robin Fitton discusses sc-fi gaming design

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64 46 Station strike Battle of Belmont

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75 Reclaim the depths

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Rebuilding the wasteland 88

Claiming a war-ravaged US with 51st State

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85 Citadel characters

81 88 Card wasteland Heeding the call next page


editor’s column

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James Dillon Editor-in-chief editor@thebattlespace.com www.thebattlespace.com

A recent visit to my local board game club changed my perception of gaming.

last player to go first.

Players choose when their workers wake up, what they purchase at the market, which sections of the fresco to paint and the types of paints to be mixed together.

‘Eurogames’ versus ‘American games’ has raged for years. Strategy, tactics and competition over resources, theming and luck are influencial driving forces of game design.

Tired workers can even be sent to the theatre to improve morale..

As the gaming industry becomes increasingly sophisticated and the demographics of a ‘typical’ player change, so too will these styles continue to evolve.

There are many excellent examples The board game in question was of non-confrontational board games Fresco, a 2010 release published available, but Fresco struck a chord for by Queen Games and designed by me. As we grow older, so to can our Wolfgang Panning, Marco Ruskowski tastes in gaming and I found Fresco and Marcel Süßelbeck. In the game an enjoyable alternative to the typical players act as artisans aiming to restore fixation on competitive warfare. a fresco in a Renaissance church. Discussion regarding the merits of

The aim of the game is to manage paints in advance of the next turn and maintain how your workers spend their time. There is an elegant This maturation will open up a wider balance that prevents one player from range of eclectic games for us to play steamrolling the others by allowing the and enjoy.

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CHESS WORLD ROCKED BY CHEATING SCANDAL

SCULPTOR ALIGNS WITH GAME SYSTEM

The French chess federation suspended three top players in March for violating sporting ethics at a chess olympiad in Siberia last year.

Model sculptor Pig Iron Productions is integratating its range of models with the Tomorrow’s War game system. “We are currently working closely with the guys at AA (Ambush Alley Games), working out how our ranges can be used for some of the various factions currently under development for Tomorrows War,” Pig Iron’s Simon Jackson told Battlespace. “The many gamers who have downloaded the PDF so far will have noticed some of our figures and vehicles gracing the pages. This involvement is set to grow over the coming months working towards the full release of the hardcopy.” The stand-alone version of Tomorrow’s War will be available from AAG/ Osprey Publishing in September, 2011, debuting at Fall Recruits. Also in the pipeline following on from the main release is a series of supplements - one of which is set to feature Pig Iron’s ‘Kolony’ range in more detail. “We are currently building the background storylines and settings and expanding on the various factions and their interaction within the Kolony setting,” Mr Jackson said. “It’s all early days at the moment so we don’t want to give the game away but needless to say, we are very excited on how things are going so far.”

Three members of France’s chess team, including a 20-year-old grandmaster, have been suspended after allegations of an elaborate cheating scheme. The scandal has rocked the chess world. According to BBC News and The Telegraph, Sébastien Feller, the grandmaster, his teammate Cyril Marzolo, 32, and Arnaud Hauchard, 39, team captain, are alleged to be involved in the scheme. The trio is reported to have used text messaging and computer software to help beat opponents at the Siberian chess tournament.

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OPEN FOR BUSINESS The Brandlin laser-cut terrain building store will re-open at Salute 2011, UK, in April. There will be three new building models released and available to buy at Salute: Tew-Fah Bridge, Hey-Dryn Wall and the Bennan Watchtower. Brandlin will also be re-releasing the laser cut shingles and slates kits that enable players to quickly add roofs to their own scratch-built models. Brandlin will be located at the Twilight stand, TB01.

MODELS UNDERWAY

A Brandlin laser-cut bell tower

UNLEASH THE BLOGS OF WAR

Grindhouse Games posted details of the upcoming Incursion Mission Book, including concept art for Bazooka APE, Panzeraffe and the Gracie vehicle.

A new blogging service for wargamers launched in March. 6sided.net has opened a blogging service catering to wargamers.

Grindhouse is producing 12 new models to accompany the new 64page missions book.

The service offers accounts and functions similar to blog hosts such as wordpress.com or blogger.com.

This includes six new zed sculpts in a single pack, an alternate Blitzhund sculpt, Drohne, Zip Kelly, Bazooka APE and Panzeraffe.

“Our aim is to make this site a destination for gamers,” 6sided.net states.

No release date set yet for the book and minis.

“You create a free account, choose a look for your site and start blogging.

“Will throw out updates as we go. Maybe two months, maybe three,” Jim Bailey posted on the Incursion blog.

“But don’t get worried if you are new to blogging or wordpress. On creating your account you can choose to use a either the full or a simpler interface.”

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HORNED RAT JOINS OLD WORLD CORRUPTION Fantasy Flight Games announced a new expansion will provide players with allexpansion for its Chaos in the Old World new ways of toppling the Old World. card game in March. The expansion includes a new playable The Horned Rat expansion will power, the ‘Horned Rat’, designed to introduce a fifth faction to the game. accommodate a fifth player in Chaos in the Old World. Armed with a legion of “While the four Ruinous Powers continue to compete against each other Skaven followers, the Horned Rat player uses numbers and subterfuge to his to become the principle Ruiner of the Old World, the legions of the verminous advantage, scoring points by spreading Skaven have found the opportune time Skaven across the Old World. to spread the corruption of their sinister “These vermin are considered myth by god,” Fantasy Flight states. the unwitting citizens of the Empire, but those who have seen the horrors of By adding a fifth player to the game, the Old World will quickly rebuke such introducing new events and including claims. The Skaven are all too real, and upgrades and power cards for the four they are coming,” Fantasy Flight states, ‘Ruinous Powers’, The Horned Rat

The Horned Rat expansion components. Photo credit: Fantasy Flight Games

MORE FLEETS PLANNED FOR NOBLE ARMADA Mongoose Publishing has announced plans for more fleets following on from the release of its space strategy game A Call to Arms: Noble Armada.

“We already have five fleets available for Noble Armada, and are planning to have another five ready by the end of the year.

“As any long-term fan of Mongoose will know, we don’t sit on our laurels here at the ‘HQ’, and the cogs are already turning for A Call to Arms: Noble Armada. We like to support our games heavily, so this is what you can look forward to over 2011,” Mongoose Publishing stated in March.

“We will be releasing these starting in June with the barbaric Kurgan fleet.”

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Additional material includes datacards for all new ships as well as the House Hawkwood heavy carrier Osprey, which can carry a load of 18 fighters on board. The first of their official tournaments takes place on 7 May. 6

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SHARING THE PASSION Good Games Brisbane owners, Corey and Casey Hill hope to bring gaming culture back to Brisbane, Australia. Opening their inner-city store in March, Mr Hill said that the gaming scene in Brisbane has “lost its way” and they hope to bring it back. “Gaming in Brisbane died. (We have) rekindled interest here and trying to revitalise,” he said. Among the store’s league tables will be Warmachines, Hordes, Blood Bowl, Shadowfist, Legacy, Commander for Magic: The Gathering and more.

RULES PRE-ORDER Great Escape Games is now accepting pre-orders for the Clash of Empires rules. The rules will be released at Salute, London, on April 16th. for those who reserve in advance. Clash of Empires is new tabletop wargaming rules for ancient battles. It has lists for early Imperial Romans, ancient Germans, British, Caledonians and Dacians.

CRUISER IN THE SKY

CASTLE BUILDING PUSHED TO MID-2011

Catalyst Game Labs posted concept art, 3D renders and a stat-card for the Lave Liberté-class light cruiser for their upcoming Leviathans miniature boardgame in March.

Stronghold 3 has been pushed back to later this summer, according to developer Firefly Studio’s website. “We’re sorry that game isn’t coming as quickly as some of you had hoped. However, the good news is that we’re using this time to add the polish that will make this the best Stronghold ever.

“The Lave is not a ship that’s going to last very long on its own…but as part of a fleet it’s brilliant for flinging out two torpedoes every turn,” the Leviathans website states. “You race it along the back side of the French zone of control, quick turn on a short wheel-base thanks to the two steering gear slots and she’s set up next turn to lob two more down range.”

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We want to make sure we make the game you want and deserve, and we’re sure... you won’t be disappointed with the finished product,” the website states. Set 10 years after the original, the ‘Wolf ’ has cheated death and during his painful recovery “become even more bitter and twisted”.

Liberté-class Light Cruiser stat card (above) and 3D render (left) 7

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GAME GURU INFLUENCES TOP SPEED DESIGN Game designer Néstor Romeral Andres was influenced by Wolfgang Kramer’s What Makes a Game Good? article when designing his latest game, Top Speed. Released in March,Top Speed is a “fast and furious” racing game for two or more players in nestorgames’ Format 3, which allows the components to be purchased separately. It uses a ‘pushyour-luck’ mechanic to move the cars. According to Mr Andreas, Mr Kramer’s analysis of game design provided guidance for his final game design.

“What Makes a Game Good is a tenminute read that every game designer should know and that summarises all the aspects a good game should have. For me, it’s like the Bible of board game design,” Mr Andreas states in his Board Game Geek developer blog. “I wanted to re-create Kramer’s ‘sawtooth curve of tension’, so I needed a simple mechanism that created rising tension with each turn and increased tension over the course of the whole race,” he states.

ORKS AND IMPERIALS EXPANSION COLLISION The latest expansion to THQ’s Dawn of War II real-time strategy digital game was released in March. Retribution introduces the Imperial Guard as a playable race as well as Ork Freebooters. Players can choose to build a massive army or lead their small squad of elite heroes into battle and experience a single player campaign customised to each faction. Dawn of War III was announced at Gamescom 2010, with a release date falling between the August 2012 to February 2013 window according to Gamespot.

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WINTER FALLS ON SWORD OF THE STARS

FREE AMERICAN CIVIL WAR BOARDGAME

Kerberos announced the upcoming expansion for Sword of the Stars II: The Lords of Winter at the Paradox Interactive Convention in March.

Wargame Shop have released a free American Civil War boardgame. The game is the sixth American Civil Board Game in its 3D series. It is also the second in the Jackson Valley Campaign of 1862. The game sees the Confederate General ‘Stonewall’ Jackson attacking the Union forces of General Banks at Front Royal. “This battle is a fictional expansion of the vanguard encounter that took place at Front Royal. It’s a ‘what if ’ battle that may have (occured) if both General Banks and Jackson had committed their forces here,” the Wargame Shop website states.

The expansion will introduce a new species, the Suul’ka, an ancient race that subtly manipulated the Liir, Zuul and other races within the first title. The six races from the original game and expansion packs will make a return in Sword of the Stars II, although their motivations will have changed.

MEDIEVAL SNEAK PEEK A sneak peak of Alf Seegert’s The Road to Canterbury board game was posted on Thomas L. McDonald’s blog State of Play in March. “In The Road to Canterbury, you play a medieval pardoner who sells certificates delivering sinners from the eternal penalties brought on by these Seven Deadly Sins,” the blog states. Mr Seegert is the designer of Trollhalla and Bridge Troll as well as an English professor at the University of Utah.

Image source: Thomas L. McDonald’s blog State of Play

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FIRESTORM ARMADA BETA RULES AVAILABLE Spartan Games have uploaded several PDFs with updated and beta rules for their Firestorm Armada sci-fi game. These are new rules as well as beta versions of the upcoming fleet books. These include model assigned rules, enhanced civilian rules, space marauder rules and more.

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DINNER WITH DAN ABNETT COMPETITION The Black Library is offering its customers the chance to win dinner with author Dan Abnett.

and increase your chance of winning,” The Black Library posted in March.

To enter, customers also have to email “Every time you spend £50/$75/€60 the answer to the following question: here on blacklibrary.com over the next “What is the name of the commissar month, you’ll be entered into a prize that leads Dan Abnett’s famous draw. If you place several orders for that Imperial Guard regiment, the Tanith amount, you’ll be entered multiple times First?”

Image source: Vul-Con Arena I

HEAVY ARMOUR SCUNT PREVIEW

VUL-CON HOLD’S WORLD’S LARGEST CHARIOT GAME

Olley’s Armys has released greenmodel shots of their heavy armour Scrunt models.

The Hippodrome for the ‘World's Con Praeco blog states. Largest Game of Circus Maximus’ made The image shows the 54mm scale its debut at Vul-Con Arena I at Gamer's chariots coming out of the gates. Inn in early April. Vul-Con Arena I was held at Phoenix The game measures 22' x 7' and is Convention Center, US, by the “literally so large that you have to see it Southwest’s Coliseum of Strategy to grasp its true magnitude” the VulGaming.

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“This heavy armoured scrunt has seperate arms, there will be a choice of six left and six right. So although there is only one body choice, there will be lots of arm/weapon combinations to choose for this mini,” Olley’s Armies 10

workbench page states. “It can also be used with GW weapon arms. We were originally going to call this scrunt a Titan Scrunt but after discussing it on the Frothers Forum, we've decided not to give it that name, we might go for Iron Guard or Imperial Guard, not sure yet.”

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Paper gaming: aesthetic choice or cheap alternative?

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Battlespace finds out if it makes the cut.

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The sight of a piece of paper waiting to be cut, folded and glued together into a gaming model can seem amusing for many gamers. How can flimsy onedimensional paper stand up to proper lead and plastic models? For those terrain traditionalists unimpressed by paper, WorldWorksGames (WWG) founder and creative director, Denny Unger wants to pull them “kicking and screaming” into his world. “If we can get them here, well, sky is the limit,” Mr Unger told Battlespace. WWG offers a variety of products focused on fantasy, sci-fi, modern, horror, pirate as well as gaming

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accessories and supplements. They will be expanding further with the launch of their tangible TerraClips terrain system and a new webstore launch.

terrain was still in its infancy at the time, even though card models have been around for a while. “I set about designing my first digital ‘print, build, play!’ piece of terrain in 2002 and much to my surprise, after a few short months it was a runaway hit. It was a castle, it was basic but at the time nothing had been done to this level of finish before. There really was no market there when we first started.”

Tired of pouring drinks for local alcoholics as a bartender, Mr Unger created WorldWorksGames in 2002 “out of desperation”. “I had just graduated (in) graphic design and digital media bootcamp naively thinking I would land a job immediately. The climate at the time basically forced me to stick with bartending instead,” Mr Unger said.

“I was getting tired and I knew that I had to do something dramatic if I was going to avoid a similar fate.”

The idea that the internet could be used to download and build tabletop

Mr Unger thought about his personal interests and how to commercialise them. “I always enjoyed role playing but the absence of good terrain options bothered me. At the time no one really seemed to care about terrain or at least they seemed content with a few scribbles, a milk box here and there to represent a temple. I had it in my stubborn head that RPGs could be far more engaging with additional visual aid. Far from reducing the reliance on one's imagination, I always felt it would simply augment the internal vision which makes RPG's so much fun.” According to Mr Unger, paper terrain has gone from static objects with relatively low levels of detail to highly modular and graphically sophisticated tools. Terrain can now function as the context of a game setting rather than being a passive object.

(Above and right): Paper sci-fi terrain from WorldWorksGames with Pig Iron Productions’ System Trooper models

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insight “Sophistication is in the eye of the beholder I suppose but WWG has introduced several standards and terminologies (both in terms of modularity and general engineering) over the years, which are now routinely used in the market which has grown around us,” Mr Unger explains. Mr Unger said it can be difficult to entice non-paper gamers into the fold.

“I think the biggest single advantage

is the sense of freedom and modularity this type of terrain gives the creator.

“The problem has always been one of assumption. Players assume cardstock models will be too weak, won't last, will look terrible, will take too long to build etc. Our customers have proven all of these

CONTENTS things to be patently false in our nine years in business. I have terrain from 2002 that looks as good as the day I made it, as do others. And as we say, ‘If it breaks, build a new one… for next to nothing’.” While cost might get people in the door, the biggest advantages of cardstock terrain are the ones people don't immediately consider, Mr Unger reveals. “Users can ‘kitbash’ or alter the original files, using various graphic programs to suite their needs, they can physically alter templates, replicate as many items as they want, mix and match various elements to create new terrain. They don't have to paint a single thing but can achieve a high level of finish with very basic tools,” he said. “Compared to traditional terrain building techniques, hobbyists can fill a table very quickly

with comparable or even superior results. I think the biggest single advantage is the sense of freedom and modularity this type of terrain gives the creator. You can experiment and make mistakes without spending enormous amounts of time and money. That translates into people attempting extremely ambitious layouts.” With the recent launch of modular TerrainlinX system, Mr Unger believes he is about to reach a “critical mass”. “Even though we've been at this for nearly a decade, I feel pretty strongly that we've only scratched the surface. The standards change so fast, the products are increasingly more visually sophisticated and the general population of gamers are only now starting to come around to the idea.”

WorldWorksGames is made up of a “tight group of freelancers with various talents from all corners of the world”. “We effectively help each other behind the scenes to develop products and ensure we're hitting the right marks for gamers in general. Profits are split fairly amongst those involved and everyone has a vested interest in doing the best job they can possibly do. We have always promoted a really healthy sense of community

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involvement with developments,” founder Denny Unger said. “Many times we'll go back in and revise things based on community feedback or expand product lines due to brilliant suggestions on the forums. We hate shutting people out of that process and although it has become more difficult in recent years, due to competition, we always listen and are as forthcoming as we can be in order to receive that valuable feedback.”

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Pictured: WorldWorksGames’ Wormhole paper-based game system

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(Above and below): Paper buildings from PaperTerrain

According to PaperTerrain’s Scott Washburn, the cost of resin buildings can vary significantly, but in general paper buildings will be from 1/5 to 1/10 the price of resin for a similar piece.

“While it is possible to do some truly remarkable things with paper, the effort to construct very elaborate models would be prohibitive. I aim my products at gamers, not modelers,” he said.

“In my own case, as I became more proficient the designs became more sophisticated. I started out with simple houses which were little more than boxes. Now I have items like the Vauban Fortress and railroad locomotives which are quite complex. There are other companies offering paper aircraft and armoured vehicles. Most of the process is now done on computers rather than with handdrawn artwork,” he said.

“I want my products to look as good as possible but still be able to be constructed quickly so that you can get them on your game table as soon as possible. So cost is going to be the major attraction of paper, although there is also a weight issue. A dozen resin buildings will weigh ten pounds while a dozen paper building weigh very little. A gamer that frequently transports his terrain might find paper an attractive option.

Mr Washburn’s initial offerings were “pretty self-serving”, making buildings for games he was playing such as Flames of War. “Many of my 15mm buildings are designed specifically for Flames of War and I made them so that standard bases will fit inside. Other than that, any game system that will work with any other kind of model buildings will work just as well with paper buildings,” he said. Since then he has branched out into other games and has been expanding his range as much as his time allows.

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“I’d be the first to admit that a nicely made and nicely painted resin or plastic building is going to look better than a paper building. 15

“I’ve never made any attempt to ‘convert’ people (to paper gaming). I just offer a quality product at a very attractive price and let people decide for themselves. Obviously, some people are never going to like paper, but enough people have been willing to give it a try to make my business a success. While most historical paper buildings aren’t modular, Mr Washburn is planning on pieces that will allow additional configurations, such as his Vauban for pieces that could be used for city walls and such. “I am also tinkering with some science fiction structures that may well be modular in nature,” he said.

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WorldWorksGames’ Malifaux terrain

Despite its humble origins, paper gaming has been greatly improved through technology, allowing increasingly sophisticated terrain sets to be purchased or downloaded and printed by PDF for construction. The new Malifaux terrains set by WWG, which includes the Oubliette of Peril, feature long abandoned halls lost in a jungle terain. Fat Dragon Games’ recent release, Realms of The Dwarf Lords: Mountains and Cliffs, offers a complete mountain terrain tool-kit. The kit allows players to create layouts, mountains, staggered cliffs, bridges and waterfalls. Pieces connect with common bobby pins and include the ‘Dragon Layers’ graphic options for rock styles, vegetation, and multiple grid options. They also provide sci-fi and mech battle-oriented paper systems. While paper terrain may be a close visual approximation to its non-paper counterparts, paper models seem far more restrictive in their capabilities.

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Fat Dragon Games mountains and cliffs range

How is it possible to compete with three dimensions? To answer the question Armor Grid Games and Miniatures provided Battlespace with their Armor

Cutting Armor Grid: Mech Attack models Grid: Mech Attack PDF to try out. The Mech Attack system keeps it simple with three 16

Armor Grid: Mech Attack paper models

types of troops that can be customised; mechs, vehicles and troops. Weapon loadouts can be customised by choosing between machine guns, plasma cannons, lasers, twin linked cannons, missile launchers and more. Lines cross the paper to show where the paper needs to be folded and glued, with bases for the model to be glued on. The rule book numbers 12 pages, simplifying the game. For gamers used to plastic and lead miniatures, paper models at first seem some like an unattractive alternative to their real hobby. But, as the model takes shape, the merits of the paper system become clear. Looking from the right angle, the quality of the artwork makes the model stand out. Mechs and vehicles can be reproduced as many times as necessary. If constructed with care using a thick paper, the paper can hold its own. At the end of the day, it comes down to cost and those willing to pay more for models with substance.

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For those looking for cheaper alternatives, paper options are becoming increasingly available.

another couple of designs as the months went on before starting to work on a larger set of zombie figures.

Paper-based gaming also allows illustrators and artists to lead game design. Dark Mook Paper Miniatures’ Adam Steel has directed his talents towards a zombie apocalypse.

“It had been a few years since I had been directly involved with gaming, but the paper figure format was something that seemed a perfect fit with my character design, and it started from there,” Mr Steel said.

Having designed characters, posters and illustrations for many years, Mr Steel was interested in trying new

areas of design. Coming across the One Monk website in 2008, Mr Steel downloaded its free figure sets just as the website began inviting members of the forum to submit designs. His first design was a three-stage female zombie fighter figure with ‘clean’, ‘bloody’ and ‘zombie’ versions, and he submitted

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With One Monk’s encouragement he started to produce more designs and began to develop a back story in mind, providing scenario ideas for gaming. “I think a lot of people get introduced to paper minis through word of mouth, either through the online forums or gaming groups they belong to. I think many people find paper models a great cheap alternative to traditional minis, and still offer the collectability with a lot less time taken to complete a model. Many people use cardstock buildings for terrain, so the history of paper modelling in gaming is quite a long one. In the end I think it is down to an individuals own preference, but if you are making your own paper minis you can create exactly what you want, or certainly be able to contact someone who can create it for you.

Rising from the dead: a zombie inmate paper design by Darkmook takes shape

Mr Steel believes there is a fairly even split between paper and model miniatures. “Paper models are a great way to build a complete army as a ‘place holder’ until 3D models are available/ 17

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CONTENTS completed, or a fast and easy way to provide a character you may not have for a specific scenario,” Mr Steel said. “However, there are more and more people collecting and gaming with them in their own right now, and I certainly see them as a great addition to a gamers collection. Many paper models can provide poses/characters that are unavailable as traditional 3D minis, either due to modelling constraints or production costs, and can offer a great option for army building. Also, paper minis can take up a lot less space, and you can have a complete force for a lot less money and time. I also like the fact that there is

still a craft element to paper modelling, with plenty of scope for modding and creating alternate versions of favourite models. Depending on the materials used, the paper model can be nearly as hardwearing as a traditional modeland if you do damage it, you can always print off a replacement.” Dark Mook’s Survival Horror Boardgame is well into development and is about to go into production. “I have taken a while with the playtesting, and I think that although the design process has been a lengthy one, the game has really benefitted from it being so rigorous.

Survival horror Dark Mook’s Survival Horror Boardgame is turn-based, with items and weapons being drawn from a random card deck in each new room, as well as zombies being spawned. There are four human characters and an encroaching swarm of zombies and ‘Bioweapons’, and will be playable with one-to-six players. Each character has a number of action points, which track both movement, actions and health.

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Combat, melee and ranged, is played out using six sided dice with modifiers from the weapon cards and special skills. “The games are currently lasting an hour to two hours, and have a real horror movie flavour, with my testers heroically sacrifing themselves for others on some occasions and stabbing each other in the back on others,” game designer Adam Steel said.

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“It has also helped having a great group of testers, from both gaming and non gaming backgrounds to put it through it’s paces. “I have tried to make the game follow the narrative conventions of a horror movie and build up a similar tension. The game starts with very little zombie activity, but as it progresses the zombie hoards mass, and the human players start to feel the panic of impending doom. Things really start to get interesting when the Bioweapon ‘Boss’ character gets deployed when the human player objectives are met. Mr Steel is looking to produce the game as a ‘print and play’ download with a multipart board and all the characters and cards/tokens needed for the included scenarios. He will also provide character cards and more boards and rules for the future. “I am kind of sticking with the horror-based stuff right now - I plan on expanding the zombie range, as well as tackling modern urban magicians and eldritch horrors (as in the Horror Within set). I am also looking at a foray into western horror, and maybe WWII era pulp horror. “I have a couple of fairy tale inspired steampunk minis out there, and would like to explore that genre a little more in the future.” For game designers just starting out in the industry, Mr Steel said that RPGNow is a great way to get product out and establish a core product line with minimal initial financial outlay. “They have been very supportive and have been very helpful with any queries I have had and I would certainly recommend them to anyone producing their own print and play products,” he said. B

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digital strategy

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digitalstrategy MOD WATCH Game changing TW mods

NORMANDY INVASION Battlefront.com’s latest game for Combat Mission

MASTER AND MAN Shogun II strategies

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Tablet press gaming play Digitising board games

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Board game d1g1tsat10n Digital board games entered a new phase of development in 2010 with the introduction of Apple’s iPad tablet. The days of console-based Monopoly have been replaced by a device that can be held in the palm of the hand and passed around the table or played online. While the iPad 2 has a number of new advancements compared to its groundbreaking predecessor, its screen size, app store and computing capabilities remain largely similar. With hundreds of app board games now available, the question is: are they are any good and will they one day replace the humble board game? Games developer Conlan Rios digitally adapts Reiner Knizia board games such as Samurai, Monumental, Robot Master and Charlemagne for the iPad. Mr Rios is a mobile developer and has worked on several different platforms before the iOS. He explained to Battlespace that the iPad can handle board game translations well. “The bigger screen size definitely gives you a lot of visual space to play

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with. Plus, the time that people use their iPads versus when they use their iPhones is usually better suited towards board games,” Mr Rios said. While most board games can potentially be converted for tablets, Mr Rios believes Reiner Knizia’s games are particularly well suited due to their fun nature, relatively simple-to-learn rules and the “immense complexity beneath the surface”. Conlan Rios’ latest Reiner Knizia game, Samurai, was first published in 1996. It’s 2010 digital incarnation has been well regarded, receiving a ‘What’s Hot for the Week’ from Entertainment Weekly and named a “must-try” game from Gizmodo. The two-to-four player game involves influencing tiles through the use of peasants, Buddha’s and helmets. Each player has the same set of 20 tiles at the beginning which they place on the board. Tokens are captured once all of the hexes surrounding them are filled with influence tiles, with the winner decided by the number of tokens controlled at the end.

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With the iPad2 launch still in recent memory, Battlespace looks at the development of tablet board games.

Reiner Knizia’s Samurai received a digital translation by Conlan Rios

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While Samurai’s end-game summary takes away any deliberation needed in deciding the winner, Mr Rios said that the tablet’s hidden computations places pressure on the tablet developer to provide a clear picture of what has transpired.

According to president Chris Ewington, Codito’s involvement with Reiner Knizia board games started with two events: the announcement of the iPad and discovering a forum posting that Reiner Knizia was looking for iOS developers to adapt his games.

“Tablet games have more responsibility on making their rules clear and easy to understand for the player. Traditional board games have more leeway since they’re usually introduced by friends or in person, and are learned much faster,” he said.

It’s just a question of realising those mechanics on the digital device and then trying to find ways to enhance the gameplay

”Adapting digital board games definitely stresses user interface design. You have to cram in the board game’s functionality while staying within the constraints of the device (screen size, “We contacted Dr. Knizia and were extremely happy to learn that our top user controls, etc).” three choices for his games (Medici, While Mr Rios won’t be looking at any Ra and Euphrates & Tigris) were all tablets beyond the iPad for his games, still available. Once we had those he thinks we’ll soon be seeing more rights secured, we decided to see what board game publishers turn to tablets other licenses we could acquire -- and in the near future. obviously our timing was very fortunate. “There’s so many compelling reasons “We started with a list of favourites for digital over traditional board and then looked through the Board games: instant game setup, computer players, perfect rule enforcement and easier/cheaper distribution methods. Plus as tablets get more powerful and have more functionality, we’ll be seeing new types of board games not possible before,” he said.

Game Geek rankings for other likely candidates. We wanted established games with a proven popularity, and, of course, we tried to keep in mind how the games would translate to a mobile device.” Mr Ewington said that board games translate “pretty well” to the tablet device. “The iPad, in particular, is big enough that several people can sit around a table and play a game on it, which of course is part of the essence of what makes playing board games fun,” he said. “There can be some issues with ‘private data’ (your hand of cards, for instance) but on the other hand the iPad allows us to enhance the games with sounds and animations as well as providing opportunities to speed up the game play and allow for solo play. “For us, the gameplay mechanics of the original board game are usually already very good. It’s just a question of realising those mechanics on the digital device, and then trying to find ways to enhance the gameplay by using the device’s capabilities.”

Build an empire that will live forever in Codito Development’s Ra

Gain the most influence from the three major castes: the Samurai, the Clergy, and the Peasant Click left to watch a Youtube trailer of how Samurai works.

Codito Development is another tablet developer which has adapted Reiner Knizia board games.

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Codito Development learnt important lessons from developing Medici

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Mr Ewington said tablet developers need to understand traditional gaming and digital gaming, but the bottom line remains the same: making the game fun and easy to play. The most obvious differences between traditional board games and tablet versions are price point and marketing. “A $9.99 price point for a tablet game is considered pretty outrageous and $4.99 is considered ‘steep’, so the margins are totally different from the traditional board game market. On the plus side, the iOS app market lets millions of people find your games instantly. Tablet games based on existing board games have a bit of a marketing advantage, in

that people already know the original although that means they also have very high expectations,” he said.

because of their small market share - but we’ll be watching closely. We are also looking at bringing our games to the Mac now that the Mac App Store has been launched.

While the iPad 2’s introduction won’t have much of an impact on their game development, they are hopeful it will mean more iPads will reach their target audience’s hands - either because the new device has what they’ve been waiting for, or because the ‘first generation’ iPad’s reduced price.

With the iPad 2 already out and Android tablets available or at least announced, Mr Ewington said it’s clear that tablet gaming will become more wide-spread in the next few years.

“We do our best to provide an iPhone version of our games, but there’s no denying Codito Development’s “crown jewel”, the fact that the iPad provides a much nicer Puerto Rico in pre-beta board gaming experience,” he said. platform with their other licensors. Codita has licensed the Knizia games for Android, and begun discussing that

“So far, we’re not convinced that any other tablets are worth considering

“For fans of board games, and people looking for something to play with a little more depth, it looks like there is a “board game renaissance” already occurring on these devices -- we look forward to being a part of that, both as developers and as gamers.”

jungle exploration Codito Development’s next game, Tikal, will have a dynamic board and provide plenty of options each turn, according to president Chris Ewington. “We think we've managed to deal with the challenge of a large board layout and added some nice ‘eye candy’ in terms of volcanos and tantalizing treasures and the whole ‘jungle exploration’ vibe. Our plan is to have GameCenter and OpenFeint integrated in the first version, and of course we've done everything we can to make it fast and easy to play the game. A beta testing image of Codito Development’s next game, Tikal

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Codito’s “crown jewel”, Puerto Rico, will be receiving special treatment as well with all 24

new building and plantation art, as well as an improved layout to allow five players to play on the same iPad. “We're looking at adding some cut scenes and voice-over to really enhance the theme and quality of the game, and of course we're pulling out all the stops on the feature list,” he said. Codito is also in talks with Puerto Rico owner Ravensburger about other future features such as the official expansion for the game (that includes different buildings and forests as well as quarries) and shorter scenarios that would provide new game play goals.

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Digital trenches Mantid Interactive’s Red Rover is a World War I grid-based battle game. Players place combat units onto the board where the battle plays out. The game includes a unique head-to-head mode letting each player interact with the game simultaneously. The next version is currently being tested, which will include online play via Apple's Game Center. It will be a free upgrade to the existing version. “Basically we have a mode where player

two will be played by an online opponent. We have also introduced leader boards and achievements for online players so that they can compare their performance,” developer Barry Geipel told Battlespace.

of Battle board, is an older demographic. The iPhone is not a good match for that demographic. Tablets may be a bit better, but adoption will not be at the same rate as that of a younger community.

“The number one complaint about Red Rover is that it is a two person game. At least online play will help the player find an opponent,” Mr Geipel said.

“My hope is that I can make games that will both appeal to the table top community and to the younger demographic.

My comments have yet to be verified. The Command Decision community specifically the one represented by the Test

“We do not have a release date as of yet, but it will be a free upgrade for all existing customers.” B

Check these games out: Neuroshima HEX

Strategery

Civilization Revolution

Neuroshima Hex is a fast-paced, tactical board game for up to four players designed for the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad. Four hostile factions fight each other over a world destroyed by nuclear war.

Strategery, Macworld’s 2009 App Gems Award winner for Best Strategy Game, has been completely overhauled for version 3.1. Features challenging offensive and defensive gaming, four difficulty settings and online play.

Sid Meier’s Civilization Revolution has been updated and optimized for the iPad’s larger 1024x768 pixel high resolution screen, with an enhanced user interface that improves world map, leader portraits and increased vision.

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CONTENTS SHOGUN II REALISM (S2R) In the spirit of both the Empire and Napoleon Realism mods, S2R is a modification that focuses on increasing the realism and historical authenticity of the game as a portrayal of the Sengoku Jidai period, while retaining many of the core elements of the excellent vanilla game. Longer lasting, realistic and epic battles are at the heart of the mod.

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Five game-changing mods and total conversions for Total War

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ROMA SURRECTUM II

Despite Rome: Total War’s age, a team decided to work on a complete overhaul of the mod Roma Surrectum. The games sets out to create a historical setting that is fun to play, significantly more difficult than the original mod and visually appealing. The mod’s defining feature are its legions, with 28 unique legions each with their own area of recruitment, appearance and standards. Other features include custom music, new environments, immersive building tree, independent kingdoms, faction intro movies and custom victory conditions for each faction.

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STAINLESS STEEL

A Medieval II: Total War and Kingdons exmpansion mod which spans from the British Isies to the heart of old Persia. The game’s time frame is 1080-1560 CE early era and 1220-1560 CE late era, including the birth and ascendance of the gunpowder age. Features include 31 factions, new city and castle models, various environment sub-mods, and increased stability. The latest version, 6.3, has better balanced resources, rebalanced missions, visual improvements, and an area of recuitment zone included.

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RORKES DRIFT This scenario is designed for the KhartumZulu mod for Napolean: Total War. A garrison of 150 British troops garrisoned in a small mission station must defend a night assault by 3000 to 4000 Zulu warriors. The Khartum-Zulu mod allow players to live two colonial wars of the British kingdom in the late 19th century.

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THIRD AGE Lord of the Ring’s Middle Earth is brought to life in this total conversion for the Medieval II Total War - Kingdoms expansion. It includes a historically accurate map including 120 settlements and important factions of the Third Age, including Gondor, Rohan, High and Silvan Elves, Dwarves, Eriador, Dale, Isengard, and Mordor.

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War returns to western France in the upcoming release of Combat Mission: Battle for Normandy

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Battlespace talks to battlefront.com’s Steve Grammont about Combat Mission: Battle for Normandy (CM:BN) CM:BN depicts the landscape and tactical land warfare experience in Western France during World War Two. Like earlier Combat Mission games, CM:BN puts players in control of teams, squads, individual vehicles and support assets organised according to historical tables of organisation and equipment.

BATTLESPACE: Can you explain what makes your turn-based (WeGo)/real time hybrid game system unique? Steve Grammont: Normally a game engine is either some form of turn based or it is real time. For most games this is perfectly acceptable since one form of play is clearly better for it than the other. This isn't the case with Combat Mission since there are definite realism and gameplay tradeoffs when using either method. And not just from the end user's standpoint, but rather what the simulation can portray.

simulation aspects enhanced and expanded by this approach, the real time players get a way to play that was previously unavailable. Better still, people can play either way depending on mood, size of battle, how much free time they have to play, etc. It's a winwin for everybody. B: How does your of ‘Command and Control’ (C2) system affect the flow of games?

SG: The biggest effect of C2 is how it creates less certainty as you play the game by directly affecting how enemy The original CM suffered some pretty units are spotted and made available significant simulation limitations, for engagement. It has the net effect in fact, because of it's turn-based of slowing down combat towards a construction. Therefore, we decided to more realistic pace and introducing make CMx2 inherently real time so that more player uncertainty than would we wouldn't be forced into a corner. otherwise exist. Players of the older CM games will remember the ‘Yellow The turn-based players have the

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Line Of Death’ syndrome where a bailed out tank crew spots an enemy AT Gun and nearly instantly half the map erupts with reactive fire on the hapless gun's position. This doesn't happen in the new Combat Mission because the information would not immediately (if ever) get from the bailed out tank crew to anybody else. It's an effect that is difficult to get people to appreciate until they play it first hand. The second most obvious effect is with the portrayal of artillery. Units that are capable of calling down artillery can do so if they have eyes on target (target reference points are an exception) and communications with the artillery asset they want to use. No C2 to that mortar platoon? Tough... you can't call it in. Of course C2 has an effect on morale. Units that are in command are much ‘happier’ and responsive than those which have lost their connections.

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“CM:BN

has just about every natural and manmade feature one would expect to see

This is in addition to the previous two points mentioned, which means that a unit out of C2 is more clueless about what is around it, unable to call in for support, and generally nervous about what will happen next. B: To what detail does the game recreate the terrain and atmosphere of western France? CM:BN has just about every natural and man-made feature one would expect to see in Western France. Lots of different types of greenery, water, bridges of all sorts, Norman architecture, temperate weather effects, and the like. 29

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“Combat

Mission’s core... audience is extremely concerned about historical correctness.

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B: How important was historical accuracy when developing the game?

balanced strategy?

Both. We have a lot of customers who are really, really Combat Mission's core... audience is extremely concerned into the details of the battles we portray. We also have a large chunk of our customer base that just wants to get in about historical correctness. That's true even for those there and duke it out. who don't really know what "correct" is. What they do know is that the game plays very differently than other games and that's what keeps them coming back for more B: What are some effective strategies players can use year after year. during battles? The older CM was quite realistic for its time in the sun, Go slowly. Take time to absorb what is going on before but it pales in comparison to where the CMx2 game committing your forces to something that they might not engine is in terms of its breadth and depth of realism. be able to get out of. The impatient players are usually B: Are your customers more inclined to history or pretty easy to crush. 30

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B: What are some real military handbooks you would recommend for players to use with the game? Battlefront offers a variety of reproductions of genuine WW2 ‘field manuals’ which explain how and why things should be done a particular way. B: Have you been surprised by your own tactical AI? Constantly. I played a game the other night and lost a significant portion of my force before taking the primary objectives. It was only after this I learned that the scenario author hadn't made any ‘AI plans’ for the defender. What this meant is the defender fought in place and moved around only when directly obligated to by my actions, yet it fought a very good battle. In my defense I was trying to test and only half playing. That's my excuse and I am sticking to it! B: How has the World War II simulation game market flucuated over the past decade? It's almost completely dead. Innovation certainly has never been a strong suit of wargaming, but it's only gotten worse as the financial and technical hurdles have increased and the demand for wargames has not grown at the same place. We were fortunate to have had the right product, business model, and market

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“Innovation

certainly has never been a strong suit of wargaming, but it’s only gotten worse timing all together. B: With a ten year legacy, what does CM:BN represent to its developers? A validation that continuing to push the wargaming envelope is both fun and rewarding. As great as CMBO was for its day, we had to compromise what we saw with our designer's eyes because of technical limitations. 31

CM:BN is far closer to matching in reality what we pictured in our heads way back when. B: What types of scenarios will be available from the start? The sort of mix one would expect from this setting. Lots of difficult territory, small villages, rolling fields, and fairly balanced forces fighting over it all. B

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The Total War series follows the code of the samurai in the recently released real-time strategy game Shogun II.

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The code of the samurai stresses frugality, loyalty, mastery of martial arts and honour to the death. According to 16th century Japanese daimyō, Kato Kiyomasa, the samurai should direct his attention exclusively to the virtues of loyalty and filial piety. Only when the samurai is ready to die can he truly begin to live, and so forth. In Shogun II, the latest installment of the long running Total War series, the player puts the bushido code to the test as you lead their clan through the golden age of samurai warfare in a fractured feudal Japan. While the game’s predecessor, Empire: Total War, spanned the globe, Shogun II has a more focused intent. Nation states from all corners of the globe have been replaced by a nearly identical cultures with subtle differences between each clan. Naval warfare has become a more brutal form of battering castles on water.

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One of the games’ greatest strengths is its attention to detail, with illustrations, sound effects, voices and menus tailored to the period, creating a rich Japanese tapestry aimed at a Western audience. Cherry blossom trees sway and shed their leaves on the campaign map while voice actors alert the player to the games’ progress. Everything is in place to draw the player into the game. The game progresses some aspects of the Total War series and revitalises abondoned fan favourite features, such as the pre-battle speeches, the game will remain largely familiar to players used to the series. Battles are at the core of Total War series, but good economic management on the campaign map will mean you will be able to recruit larger and stronger armies. What follows is a general guide to playing the game and learning the way of the samurai in Shogun II.

Getting started

monk in that region.

Players can select from a number of clans to start with on the campaign map, each with their own particular characteristics and special units. While the situations differ for each clan, in general players should develop their regions first and then expand in short and long bursts. In the first few turns, try to occupy two-to-four regions from neighbouring provinces and ensure they are eliminated to allow your core empire to build up.

Select the military tradition you want to concentrate on and then build the related buildings first - cavalry, spear, sword ninja and archery. Try to occupy at least a couple of trade nodes at this time and begin exploration of Japan using your fleets and agents so that you can add clans to your diplomacy contacts for potential trade partners. This will be easier for the clans on the north and west parts of Japan as they are the closest to the nodes.

All regions should have upgraded farms, roads and castles. Specialise each region to do a specific task, with at least two regions for economy, preferably the regions with ports and access to resources. When the time comes, try to have a province with a Nanban Trade Post to boost your naval trade. If you want to keep Buddhism alive and not swap to Christianity, remember to build a monastery and recruit a 33

When you have two decent stacks ready to go, begin your next burst of warfare and take the next four-to-seven regions and repeat the same cycle. The burst method will keep the expansion diplomatic penalty under control and repressing the newly captured regions will be easier if you know you only have to deal with a few new regions each time.

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CONTENTS Appeasing the population Always take into consideration that your Daimyo's honor can affect your population's happiness. To protect yourself early on, save money on troop costs and to develop small trading partners, liberate one or two clans on one of your front lines with a greater enemy. Be aware that these vassals might turn on you later in the game due to the ‘Realm Divide’ diplomacy penalty.

City management and finance: Going bankrupt will incur a huge penalty to wealth growth across all of your regions and will last for several turns, even when you are out of bankruptcy.

Economic management Going bankrupt will incur a huge penalty to wealth growth across all of your regions and will last for several turns, even when you are out of bankruptcy. Always keep your food surplus positive and never let your population starve through negative food supply. Doing so will cause most of your regions to rebel. Make sure that you don't build any castles or markets before making sure that you have enough food to offset this consumption. Farms provide different bonuses depending on their quality. Fertile farms will give you a significantly greater income compared to a barren farm, so upgrade the fertile farms first and the barren farms last. Land consolidation offers the least increase in wealth compared to the previous upgrades. Do this when you

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need food or when you have excess cash. The return on your investment will take too long before you make up for your capital. Rushing the agriculture technology reforms at the start will help you upgrade farms. Trade nodes should be rushed in the early part of the game, as once they are occupied they can’t be removed unless you are at war with the specific clan.

Maintaining happiness in newly conquered regions and regions that don't have nearby armies to repel rebels is a priority. Don’t loot unless you have a scorched earth policy. You will be tempted to increase your tax rate to the highest level but avoid this as the long-term downside exceeds any temporary benefits. If a region is particularly problematic then drop the taxes. Use armies or the Metsuke in the capital to repress rebellion, although both can be expensive options. Food surplus is a simple way to control your population. Each point of surplus food will increase happiness by one point in each single region that you control.

There are a total of eight trade resources in the game: crafts, silk, horses, incense, cotton, stone, iron and wood. Crafts, Horses, Stone, Iron and Wood can be obtained by controlling a region that has these resources and then developing the structures that produces them. Few regions have specialised resources. Aim to control these regions and you will be rewarded. 34

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Warfare The essence of combat is formation, movement and flanking. Shogun II’s battles are not the long acts of butchery the previous two games have been. Now they are fast acts of butchery, battle’s move quickly and you can lose men while looking elsewhere. Always move your units. Without movement, you are stuck and likely to be flanked. Without formation,

CONTENTS your troops will be unsupported and morale will be degraded. The Bushido specialisation is important for improving your armies. Philosophy regions and speciality building can improve mastery rates by up to 30 per cent, and controling two or three of these regions will make a significant difference in the game. Armour and weapons upgrades are equally important.

Death from above

Ride them down Cavalry are fragile and should primarily be used to attack bowmen units and pursue fleeing enemies.

you to focus on the infantry portion of the battle.

Yari cavalry are best for a devastating charge against all samurai foot units except Yari samurais. Micro Katana cavalry’s decent melee ability management is key, they should be means it can be considered a ‘fire and forget’ unit used to to annihilate archers constantly monitored and you should never let them stay in extended battle. from the flank or rear. This will allow

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The Bow Ashigaru fire arrows that are low damage and very low armor penetration. They are inaccurate and long reloading times. They should only target lightly armoured units to make them most effective. Improve the armour of your Ashigaru in order to help them survive longer. Archers that survive longer in the front line will allow you more time to outflank the enemy.

Bow Samurai units are high damage dealers and can be used againsta rmoured units. Are accurate faster reloading speeds. They can also hold the line against Ashigaru or spear units in combat, but won’t last long.

The Monks archers are even better than Samurai at ranged combat and accuracy but are very fragile. Placing a few of them in army to target elite units makes their costs worthwhile. This allows you to retreat your archers back to their position and get off many more volleys before the Place your archers in long lines and deploy obstacles to slow the enemy attack. enemy reaches them. 35

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digital strategy Way of the samurai

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Ashigaru will form the basis of your army at the start. They provide efficiency over other types of troops and are a lot more efficient than samurai, cheaper and replenish a lot faster. Armies should consist of 30 per cent samurai at the most. In the early game battles, use a line of Yari Ashigaru units in ‘Wall of Spear’ formation fronted by a line of Yumi Ashigaru in skirmish order. Yari Ashigaru actually fight better in Yari Wall. Use it to your advantage, as a charge into a Yari Wall is devastating. Keep your general close to the front lines to prevent the Ashigaru from breaking. Place the two Yari units on either flank to prevent the line being flanked. Make sure you bring plenty of archers to the battle. If your opponent wants to have a skirmish before the main fight, put your archers in front of your infantry, if your opponent moves in with the infantry immediately, positions your archers behind your infantry, or use skirmish mode for this to happen automatically. Ashigaru are cheap, but Samurai are the lethal killers with better stats and morale. Yari Samurai don't need spear wall to absorb cavalry charge and also have the rapid advance ability that boosts their speed and charge. They can hold their own against kata samurai as well. Boosted by a general they can cut through Ahigaru lines.

General management

The deeper a general specialises in becoming an infantry leader the better for your army. Put one point into ‘Strategist’ at first level, two points into Poet on second level, then three points into infantry leader on third level onwards. The three The Naginata Samurai are also a cost-effective option. You levels of specialisation in infantry leader provide can opt for balanced armies that will have an average price the "stand and fight" ability, +1 to melee damage and then +3 to all units. This deals but remain flexible. enormous damage. This improvement Monks cost more to train and maintain than Samurai will also see your Bow Ashigaru and with an armour rating of two are fragile to archers. improve their reloading time and However, they have some of the highest morale in the gain better defence. game and produce excellent damage. Keep them in A disloyal general can reserve or hidden waiting in ambush to make the most take off run off with your use of them.

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army and must be prevented. A general may look at his Daimyo’s abilities and believe he can usurp him. The fastest way to prevent this dishonor is to place up to three Metsuke in your army to ensure the general doesn't begin to wander. Each will add +1 to the general's loyalty, with more improvements possible in the Chi tree. The general can also be married to a wife, while improving the Daimyo’s skills will also put him in place. When honour is on the line, sometimes rumours of unrest cannot be tolerated. Strip him of his army and commission, recruit another general to take his place and than order him to do seppuku. B

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Sci-fi wargaming

Shipyard strike

table strategy

Epic invasion

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Universes collide in the world of Vortex from United Theory Games

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Game developer Robin Fitton discusses how the history of science fiction gaming has influenced his new rule book Gruntz.

Artist: Aly Fel

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By Robin Fitton, Gruntz

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In the summer of 2010 I sat at my kitchen table with the goal of writing a mecha-combat game which would allow me to make use of the stock pile of Battletech models I have in my collection.

night was getting harder and I wanted to design a game which would play more quickly than classic Battletech but was designed with metal miniatures in mind.

For years I have enjoyed playing Battletech with an extended group of friends in the southeast of England, although more recently I found the time needed to play out a large game was difficult to fit into my family lifestyle. Finding people that Close up on some inspiring wanted to game through the Mecha sculpts

So I sat down and as I wrote my design thoughts down they I started to think about the stockpile of figures in my collection ‘15mm sci-fi’. Several hours later I had a framework for a 15mm science-fiction (sci-fi) skirmish game and had parked my ideas for a 6mm

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scale mecha game. My idea of designing a mecha combat game was replaced with a 15mm sci-fi skirmish game which still maintained support for mecha combat. I had no commercial motivation, just a desire to create something that I could game with my son and use the large collection of figures. As part of the process I wrote some objectives down to give me a guide. On the following page are the priorities and principals for the design.

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table strategy Robin Fitton’s priorities and principles • 2D6 dice rolling for most game play mechanisms. • Tanks and vehicles that did not ‘pop’ at the first hint of damage and had enough detail so that vehicles were not a bolt on but core to the game. • A vehicle/troop builder to support multiple ranges of miniatures. • Modifications, perks and rules which added flavour and a sci-fi feel. • Flexible enough to support different technology levels. • A clear points system which could be ignored in favour of a scenario focused game. • Core mechanisms which could be adapted for different styles of turn sequence.

CONTENTS Following these principals was going to be a challenge but I was lucky to have the support of some experienced gaming friends which were very happy to provide advice and suggestions. The Gruntz Yahoo group also attracted some excellent feedback with many detailed proof reads and submissions helping guide the early releases.

as more discoveries and insight into warfare technology are discovered. There is supposed to be a great deal of rigor applied to the workings behind the science in hard sci-fi settings.

A solid 35 years of my life had passed where I was blissfully unaware of these different sub genres before I spent the time to look into the dictionary Hard or soft sci-fI? definition of hard and ‘soft’ sciThe term ‘hard’ sci-fi, first coined fi. In light of some of the fervour applied by fans of the hard stuff, I in 1957, is used to describe now feel somewhat ashamed that science fiction stories which are I had delved into all types of scialigned with our own current understanding of science. On this fi and only gave merit to those basis there is a potential for hard books I enjoyed reading which in sci-fi to ‘move with the times’ some cases were downright soft!

I had formed a basic distinction of my own, thinking that hard sci-fi is based on slightly more advanced but mostly current technology and ‘soft’ scifi included things like elves in space and more fantastic elements. Technically the terms are analogue, so there is a sliding scale between the hardest and softest options available to the reader. I must admit that if I knew that a writer was deliberately trying to be ultra-hard I might have to first check to see if they could also write a good story or if they were only interesting in exploring current limits of technology.

• Not reliant on lots of tables to determine results. • Ranges and movement easy to remember. • Simplicity without dumbing down to an abstract level where all assets on the table are similar. • Ranges and movement designed specifically to support 15mm gaming. • A game which supports pizza box-style gaming and larger battles. • Support for ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ sci-fi fans. • Stunning visuals. • An ability for players to build their own statistics.

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table strategy What I knew I wanted to do with Gruntz was primarily to offer a system which would work for any background, but after I released the trial version I found myself inundated with requests for fluff and background. My background influences include sci-fi novels which are not completely combat focused or overly space opera. Books like the Gap Trilogy by Stephen Donaldson, Peter Hamilton’s Commonwealth saga, the full spectrum of Ian Bank’s Culture novels like Use of Weapons and Consider Phloebus. Like most sci-fi fans I also enjoy the classic Aliens, District 9, Star Ship Trooper, Star Wars movies etc. Anything even tenuously linked with science fiction will always get air time at least once. I have tried to avoid the ‘gothic’ future portrayed by mainstream games like 40K. There are no elves in Gruntz but there is nothing to stop fans of 40K from adapting 15mm miniatures to portray their favourite factions.

CONTENTS today. They certainly covered a larger area with the focus being on floor gaming, where they made use of a full room to play out the battle.

The games have a history and wealth of story background which you simply can’t create in an evening.

I played several games with 54mm figures with the skirmish wargamers who are a mostly British group of players which game using 54mm miniature in historical or ‘wild west’ settings. Creating realism on the battlefield is a major driver for the skirmish wargames group and like HG Wells, they create some fantastic terrain and environments to game across on giant 16FT tables. They also super detail the layout, so a western tavern will have tables they can throw over and fight behind. Many of the games played by the group are story focused and they have characters in their wild west games which they have been developing as a campaign since the 1960s.

Gruntz is not designed for floor play or 54mm gaming (you could try though). I do however enjoy creating stunning game environments and a good scenario or story to inspire the game play. It is as much about the enjoying the story, terrain and figure painting as the rules themselves. To support this approach the game is not tied to a specific locked-in points value system and uses the points system as a guide to players building armies, rather than the being the only focus. You can basically ignore the points system if you just want to play a fun scenario which fits your own story.

Stunning visuals Looking back at the very early wargames like Little Wars by HG Wells (published in 1913), you can see they obviously enjoyed making the battlefield look stunning. Some of the photos of his games with toy soldiers (mostly 54mm) are as good or more realistic looking than some of the best tables

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Heliopause The background for Gruntz is based in a universe called ‘Heliopause. The idea is to provide an environment based on a recognisable starmap which then allows the various factions from manufacturers to co-exist without me adjusting their concepts. Factions include corporate armies working for imperial-style organisations expanding trade routes (like the East India Company of the days of the British Empire). I will be developing the story and background further and the initial release will have the framework and key factions which can be used on their own or augmented with background from the races provided by 15mm figure companies. 42

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table strategy 2D6 rolling When deciding on the core dice rolling mechanism I decided that rolling 2d6 provided me a clear profile of probability which guides the resulting number. Over the 30 years of my gaming hobby I have played board games like Settlers of Catan and many varied historical, fantasy and sci-fi wargames like Full Thrust, Battletech, Chain Reaction, Rapid Fire, Laserburn, Future War Commander, Kill Zone, Aeronef, “Skirmish Wargamers – Old West Rules”, Savage Worlds, DBM, DBR, DBA, Hordes of the Things, Martin Hacketts “Fantasy Wargaming”, Fantasy Warriors (Grenadier), Warmachine/Hordes and dozens more including the odd game 40K/Warhammer. I won’t list the roleplaying

CONTENTS games I have played, there would be no room left in the Probability is very difficult to control with bundles of single D6. This created a very chaotic feel to the games article for other content! which made the outcome of certain game situations Banking on my experience of playing varied gaming totally random. systems I found that this higher control of probability using 2D6 gave the games that used it a feeling that you I believe you do need a random element in a game to represent the chaos and possible failures during had some control or influence over the outcome of a the heat of combat but I also wanted to give players situation. a feeling that they can guide the outcome if they put I played several new games last year which relied on assets on the table and play them into positions which a single D6 roll with plus modifiers for success based give them an advantage due to terrain, troop quality on situation and troop quality. Unfortunately the and technology/weapon quality. A well played and designers had not built in enough of a modifier, so that organised force should give them a higher probability most of the game conditions were not big enough to of success, rather than just having the biggest stack of influence the outcome of the roll in a significant way. D6 in your hand. Two actions per activation I wanted clarity around actions per activation in Gruntz, rather than simply saying you can move and shoot or shoot and move. Gruntz units can do things like climb a building, open doors, activate scenario driven story items, go prone, climb into vehicles and drive off and embark or disembark a VTOL/APC. Each significant activity uses up one of the two actions you can take on activation of a unit. This allows players the flexibility to make a double move with a unit by using two actions or sacrificing the move to gain a positive modifier to shooting. This core rule can also be broken if a commander uses one of his actions to push move a unit, encouraging them to push that bit further and making an additional move when they activate. Neural net One aspect of the Gruntz rules is a link to the background setting technology called the ‘Nerual Net’ (NN). The concept of the NN is a galactic communication network, operated by AI called Mindwells. In battlefield terms the various human factions can make use of the NN for warfare purposes, degrading the processing and capability of enemy units by using specialist units. It provided me with another approach to handle electronic warfare without making it totally abstract.

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CONTENTS Tanks that don’t go pop

Gruntz Game starting

During various games of Flames of War I noticed an interesting trend for players to be escalating forces to include as many tanks on the table as possible. This escalation in gaming with players wanting to field more and more hardware is common across many games and no doubt follows the same pattern as the escalation of war in the real world!

ProĂžle Cards used during the game

Sample Card Gruntz Tokens for various conditions during the game

Dragamaa Plasma Cannon !"#$#%##&'(#)%#&*#++,+ Tracked

!"#$%&

40

Assault Tank

      !"#$%&'()'&*+'+)+"!+,'(-'&*+'.$$"$/(,

0

Ram Heavy Plasma Cannon

12

13

14 12 10

7

5

6

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The games looked fantastic and were fun to play but the tanks were popping like crazy with mass destruction across the board. I have the Battletech game system in my blood (despite its shortcomings) and it made me want to give a longer life to my 15mm sci-fi tanks and vehicles on the gaming board. I wanted players to know that their heavier vehicle assets would last longer and have a chance to deliver damage in accordance with their size, armament and points value.

they get a critical system strike on an opponents heavy tank. The ebb and flow of combat Looking at some of the skirmish sci-fi wargames on the market there are currently some interesting and fun activation sequences in games, which offer a reaction approach to playing. They are an abstracted and interesting way to demonstrate the flow of battle and give models an opportunity to react to the environment and events on board as the chaos of battle plays out.

Reaction style games are a simulation style of playing and are ideal for players that want to set things in motion and see the results played out and are also great for solo players which want to see the enemy respond in a random way. These systems do a great job of translating our abstract game of soldiers into something that appears more realistic. This method is not new to gaming with some of The vehicles in Gruntz have multiple damage the complex historical gaming simulations blocks able to soak up damage depending on where a single cavalry charge can result in the size of the vehicle. some significant chained events depending on circumstance, moral and troop type. They can still take critical damage during a game but you can invest some story and On the modern battlefield you have ebbs creativity into the game, giving your vehicle and flows of combat and a chaotic feel assets a life and longer term ability on the which is not easy to simulate accurately in battlefield. I enjoyed this style of game, a suburban wargames club. In the heat of where vehicles can last a little longer and combat you don’t wait for the opponent to decided to make it core to Gruntz. It may do their best before you shoot them! There not be totally realistic with most modern are also some very popular new games missiles able to disable a vehicle with one which continue to make good use of the solid strike but it is fun process. Almost all “you go, I go� approach. In these games test players of Gruntz at wargames shows players do their best with their entire and my local club have enjoyed filling up the army, before passing activation back to the damage box’s on the vehicles and praying other player. 44

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table strategy I like both styles of play, but for me personally I find my 39-year-old brain starts to degrade at around 10pm which makes monitoring the detail of a random or sequenced unit by unit alternative activation harder to follow. I like “You go, I go” when playing a game where you can chain a series of events, using different battlefield assets to the maximum effect before passing the turn back to the opponent.

CONTENTS method simply because handing activation back and forth can slow down a large game (unless you are both very focused).

and finding the correct balance is not easy, with the best systems for me being ones that have enough detail to play a game without heavy reference to tables.

Not too simple

This attempt at simplification is true with regard to the movement in Gruntz.All Gruntz troops (not vehicles) move four inches which is designed around the 15mm scale. If they take a double move action they can move eight inches. With this nice, easy-to-remember basic rule for all squad movement you can speed up play whilst providing ‘Perkz’ and technology to break the core rule and add flavour. Jump pack troops get a boost to movement, as do alien type troops given the ‘ultimate agility’ perk, so you can still add flavour to the forces despite the overriding core rule of four inches for squad movement. B

There are now also various simplified models for gaming where a very light touch has been applied to create a minimal amount rules that allow for a fun gaming experience without bogging the players After receiving feedback and advice from the Yahoo down in multiple charts and detail. In many ways test player group, I decided to make Gruntz flexible these systems are similar to the rules by HG Wells enough to support an alternating activation or the with his 1913 published “Little Wars” rules, the traditional “I go – You go” style of play. I have found important aspect of the game being the fun of playing that a solid set of core mechanics for shooting, assault, toy soldiers. Simple refined rules can still be elegant damage and movement are able to support the different enough to provide a fun game, although for Gruntz flavours of alternating turns, including reactive fire I wanted something a little more comprehensive and with overwatch and card based random activation. designed to provide enough detail for a rich game but It should be possible to play some interesting small still not so dumbed down that the sci-fi and fun was skirmishes with players reacting to the turn sequence, reduced to only using different qualities of troops. The however larger games favour the “I Go- You Go” proof of this is only really in the playing of the game

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The latest play test version of Gruntz is available on the Gruntz website and the first release is due in PDF from April 2011.

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CONTENTS

Steel Dreadnaught recently released the Man vs. Machine expansion for Colonial Battlefleet. Battlespace takes a look a Cyborg strike on a Colonial shipyard as well as talks to developer Harry Pratt about their game rules.

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ATTLE REPORT

Steel Dreadnaught discuss Colonial Battlefleet’s game rules

Cyborg ships ambush Colonial battlecruisers docked in space 46

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Colonials and Cyborgs

The shipyard should be deployed at least four, but not more than seven hexes of a short board edge and at least five hexes from either long board edge. This should give you room to maneuver ships away from the dock. The fuel hub can be no closer than three hexes to any part of the dockyard and at least four hexes from a board edge. The Ronin class fuel ship is docked to the fuel hub. The Thunderbolt patrol boat is on picket duty on the Cyborg side of Hanger 18 and can be no closer than five hexes to the shipyard and/ or the fuel hub. Nominate a hex and facing for the patrol boat and roll one D6. Start with one being the ships facing hex, count clockwise until the number is reached. This is the ships current heading (facing) and speed at the start

The Cyborg fleet has the initiative for the first turn and jumps on the opposite short board edge from the shipyard at least 30 hexes away. Use the micro-jump rules to scatter the ships. If any ships scatter off the board, they may reenter the next turn. If Raiders are a part of the force, they may jump on at least 24 hexes from the shipyard. The Cyborgs would like to destroy all Colonial

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of the game. The Colonial player docks all of the remaining ships to the shipyard in any manner he sees fit. Once the Colonial fleet is set up, roll on the reservist fleet chart to see which ships are manned and operational and how many fighter groups are available for the game. Assign the fighters to any/all ships which can carry them. Admiral Blue knows something is up, so one fighter group from each carrier can be flying CAP. They can be placed anywhere on the board as long as they are in range of a carrier. The Tiger gunships are fully operational and can be placed anywhere on the map. See the special rules for the assault gunships stats and placement.

ships, but would consider it a victory if they could obliterate or capture the two Panda class battlecarriers. The Colonials need to save as many resources and battlecarriers as possible while damaging the Cyborg fleet. To accomplish this, the two Pandas, regardless of damage, must jump out, followed by the rest of the fleet. See special rules on jumping.

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The pandas The prides of the yard are the Pandemonium and Pantheon, the ‘Pandas’ as they are affectionately called. They were built as large battlecarriers 20 years after the Great Cyborg War when the admiralty could do no wrong. The main feature on these behemoths was a third landing bay and hanger area built on top of the ship. No one thought that the engine wash from the rear and the bridge being in the fight path from the front would be a problem… they were. The reserve shipyard, Hanger 18, is the place the fleet send its mistakes, the ship designs that didn’t work out. To ensure a safe jump zone, Colonial ships are equipped with jump suppressors to prevent ships from spooling up their FTLs and jumping while they are too close to an installation. Therefore Colonial ships cannot spin-up or jump unless they are at least five hexes from the shipyard and fuel hub. Because Hanger 18’s main repair yard is off table on the Colonial short table side, ships may only jump from the Cyborg side of the station. The Cyborgs expect an easy victory over the reservist, so must withdraw-jump away, if they incur 50 per cent or more total hull damage points on ships of 450 or more points. This can be in any combination of damage or destroyed ships. Add up the total hull points of all ships over 450 points and divide by two. Once this number of hull damage points is reached on 450+ point ships, all Cyborg ships must start the jump process during the next movement and jump once they are fully spun-up.

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CONTENTS Special Rules

Special Rules The shipyard is a large structure which cannot be destroyed in this limited attack. Missiles that move into a hex with any part of the shipyard are removed play as they are shot down or explode against the station.

move forward. For example, a ship moving backwards at speed one, is going minus one, and would need to increase by two (-1, 0, +1) to go forward. Only fighters can fly through/ over/under the dock or fuel hub.

The fuel hub is an AV9 and will explode on a critical of 11-20. It ignores all other damage and critical hit results. Any ship attached to the hub is destroyed while ships within 2 hexes will take 5d10 damage. Roll for penetration as normal.

The shipyard is using two retired, yet refitted, assault boat gunships as tugs. These may start next to any ship at the shipyard. They may add one delta a turn to any one ship they are with so can help increase the velocity by up to three before breaking away.

Ships may back away from the station/hub at a maximum speed of two. A ship that is moving backwards has a minus velocity and must increase speed to a positive velocity to

Cyborgs jump onto the map and have the initiative for the first turn.

Type

Role

Marine Assault Ship

#/Sqdrn Gunship 1

Speed Def Dog fight 63

8

D6

Pen

Wgt Dmg

D10+1 20

3

Special Nuke, ECM, Boarding (4)

Selected sources The Battle for Hanger 18 features ships designed and/or sold by: Colonial Ships: Robert Tovar of Hanger 18 Typhon, Helan & Harpy: Behrle Hubbuch III Other Cyborgs: Jim Fox

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Commander Admiral Jeff “Blue Bear� Blue Two Pandemonium class battlecarriers 1. Pandemonium-Admiral Blue 2. Pandora Patrol boat 3. Thunderbolt Class Reserve Fleet ship classes 4. Scimitar x2 5. Shadowsword 6. Crusader 7. Warhound 8. Ronin Flag 9. Ronin fuel ship 10. Romulus 11. Assault gunships x2 12. Tiger gunships x5 Not all Colonial ships are manned as there are in the reserve shipyard. The player rolls 1d6 after setting up the ships and the result is read on the table to the right. The fighters are then assigned to any and all ships that can carry them.

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1d6 roll

Fighters

1

2

3

4

5

Shadowsword Warhound Scimitar

Warhound Crusader Romulus

Shadowsword Scimitar Ronin Flag

Warhound Scimitar Ronin Flag

Scimitar Crusader Romulus

Shadowsword Scimitar x 2

36

37

26

27

18

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36

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Commander Behrle Model ZI231 Two Three-Blade Type II class carriers 1. Despicable - Behrle Model ZI231 2. Dreadful One Basilica class flag ship 3. Basilica Cyborg player also selects one of the following accompanying fleets: Strike Fleet One 4. Devil’s Fork 5. Scarab x2 6. Harpy Strike Fleet Two 4. Lucifer 5. Typhon x2 6. Helan 7. Scarab Strike Fleet Three 4. Lucifer 5. Scarab x2 6. Harpy 7. Helan

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The fleet jumps onto the map, but takes the first turn to reform and launch fighters. By turn 2, the fighters mirco-jump and the first wave of missiles are unleashed. The smaller Cyborg ships swam over the thunderbolt destroying it in one turn, but not before she hits the Cyborg flagship.

The Cyborg fleet re-organises and launches fighters and missiles

The ships manned by the reservist move out from the docks as fighters are send to hold off the Cyborg attacks and seek and destroyed missiles. The Pandemonium is assisted from the docks by an assault gunship being used as a tug.

The Colonial fleet under sail in response to the Cyborg attack

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Cyborg fighters jump-in dangerously close to the station and attack the Pandemonium. The Ronin fuel ship and the unmanned Shadowsword are boarded by armored marines from Heavy Reaper gunships. The fuel ship’s marines fight off the attack with heavy losses, but Shadowsword is taken

unopposed and the guns are turned on the Pandemonium dealing out huge amounts of damage. The Cyborg Raider Helan jumps in behind the fleet and is joined by the RDF ship Typhon. Massive waves of missile streak toward the main Colonial fleet.

Pandemonium is jumped by fighters

Thunderbolt on picket duty

After fighting off the boarders, the Ronin, Pantheon and Crusader turn toward open space and the oncoming missiles. They use the Leopard Mk2s and Tiger gunships to cover them. The

main fleet fires its heavy guns taking out one of the Typhon class and heavily damaging the Lucifer. The fighter screen moves to protect the rear of the fleet.

Cyborg ships move in behind the Pantheon

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The fighters and Shadowsword continue to pound away at the Pandemonium. She has now lost more than 75 per cent

of her hull. It doesn’t look like she will clear the station before she is destroyed even with fighter support.

Leopard fighters rush toward the Pantheon to land

The initiative passes to the Colonials on turn five and Pantheon begins to spin-up its jump engines. A ten is rolled on a d10, which means she only needs a two more points to jump next turn. She must also recover her fighters before

she can leave, so fighters begin combat landings on her fight decks. The Crusader deals out damage to one of the Cyborg carriers, but not enough to cripple her. The Typhon moves in close to deliver a point-blank shot of missiles and torpedoes.

The Ronin is hit by missiles and explodes as her fuel cells are punctured by a critical hit. The Pandemonium succumbs to the mass fighter attacks.

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The Pantheon, down to seven hull boxes, rolls to jump away. On a result of one, she fails and is demolished by the Lucifer.

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Steel Dreadnaught’s Harry Pratt discusses Colonial Battlefleet’s game rules and future B: What areas of Colonial Battlfleet does the Man vs Machine supplement expand or improve on? For more than 30 years, the overwhelming majority of starship combat systems have been based on a similar model of starship combat. Ships were assumed to have shields of some kind, and use lasers of some kind as primary weapons. However, in recent years we’ve seen popular science fiction franchises emerge that use a different set of baseline assumptions. Ships have armor instead of deflector shields. The primary weapons used are kinetic-kill railguns or missile systems. Colonial Battlefleet was designed from the keel up to support both sets of assumptions with game mechanics tailored to capture the flavor of each. While many systems have been able to use a “countsas” approach to represent the new model of starship combat, the “counts as” approach really fails to capture the differences in flavor. We feel there should be a greater difference in game mechanics between a laser and a rail gun than simply what you call it. The Colonial Battlefleet rules enables both models of starship combat at a high level, but it was always the

intention to release follow on fleet books that dive into more detail for each differing set of technology assumptions. Colonial Battlefleet: Man vs. Machine (CB: MvM) is our first fleet book and it really dives deeply into the model of big, armored carrier-battleships in space. They have no shields, rely heavily on fighters, and use rail guns and missiles instead of lasers. Because fighter combat features so prominently in this model, it received a big expansion in CB: MvM with 9 new fighter profiles, special fighter abilities, and a new fighter role, the gunship. In addition, there have been miniatures released by Ravenstar Studios and Fox Miniatures that cater to this model of starship combat, but until now, there have never been “official” stats for these models. By partnering with these miniature companies, we were able to provide an official data card for every miniature from these lines in CB:MvM. The supplement also includes tailored scenarios and some other special rules to better capture the flavour of this style of starship combat.

B: Was the choice not to use range bands a deliberate one to speed up the game?

Pictured above: Future Colonial Battlefleet render sneak peeks

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Yes, game speed was a primary motivator in not using range bands. We found we could get the same effect and speed up the game just by making the range to the target the base number you need to hit the target. But it also had a nice effect on gameplay in that it eliminated clustering at the edges of range bands. Every hex closer or further away from the target you are makes a difference, so the artificial tactics range bands impose are gone.

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Steel Dreadnaught’s Harry Pratt discusses Colonial Battlefleet’s game rules and future B: Does Colonial Battlfleet represent part of an evolution in starship gaming or a revolution? Colonial Battlefleet is evolutionary in that does some things in similar ways to tried-and-true methods used by previous systems, but it also offers some revolutionary new concepts that haven't really been seen in starship gaming before, The two most revolutionary features are starship roles, and the 'unbreakable' starship construction system. The concept of starship roles originates from the idea of splitting out the function of a ship from its size. In previous systems you might design a ship that you called a "destroyer", and that ship would likely be smaller, faster, and less well armed and protected than a battleship, but in terms of gameplay, the two ships didn't really operate much differently from each other. The destroyer was smaller and emphasised speed over firepower and protection, while the battleship was larger and emphasized firepower and/or protection over speed. Previously, that was about the limit of the player's ability to differentiate ships of different types. The result was fleets that tended to be somewhat onedimensional. A player just used different sizes of ship for flavour, to fill out leftover points, or to try to gain some minimal tactical advantage that could be gained by having faster and slower parts of the fleet (which usually just invited defeat in detail). In Colonial Battlefleet, ships are assigned to roles that grant them special abilities that fundamentally change the way the ship operates in the game. For instance,

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a destroyer might have the scout role and gain better sensors or perhaps even a cloaking device, it could be a ‘screen’ ship, with special abilities that enable it to intercept fighters and missiles, and thereby protect nearby capital ships, or it could be assigned the role of ‘rapid deployment force’ that grants it better speed and maneuverability. Meanwhile a battleship might have the ‘battleline’ role, which grants it more firepower and better damage control, a ‘flagship’ that gives it a variety of abilities that help the entire fleet operate more effectively, or it might be a purpose-built ‘carrier’ that enables it to deploy and support large numbers of fighters. Each of the five hull sizes of ship in Colonial Battlefleet (destroyer, light cruiser, heavy cruiser, battlecruiser, and battleship) has access to a list of allowable roles. In this way, ships not only vary in size, but they also vary in mission, and they have customized abilities to help them fulfill that particular mission. To be an effective fighting force, a fleet will generally need at a minimum, a flagship, a presentable battleline, and some kind of screen for the capital ships. It can also feature specialized ships such as carriers or stealth destroyers that add tactical options the the fleet's toolkit. Ships of different roles will behave very differently in gameplay from each other, so the starship roles really add a lot more flavor and interest to the fleet selection process.

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Steel Dreadnaught’s Harry Pratt discusses Colonial Battlefleet’s game rules and future B: You have made several rule changes to Colonial Battlefleet in 2010 based on player feedback. What type of feedback have you received about the game?

Feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. We do pay close attention to what our customers want and enjoy, and one of the advantages of publishing primarily in PDF is that we can be responsive to their demands. A lot of the rules changes we made weren’t “fixes” so much as they were cool ideas that we didn’t think of during the initial design and playtest. Since we had the ability to update the game to incorporate the ideas, we went ahead and did it, and we have a better game as a result. Like artwork, game design isn’t ever “finished” as much as it is “abandoned”

so when a customer comes along with an idea that makes us think “wish we’d thought of that” we’ll often incorporate it into the game if they’d like us to. That said, sometimes fans will come along with new ideas that are great ideas, but really reflect individual preferences on play style. So even though we might like the idea, we won’t include it because it’s not something we feel the majority of people would enjoy. It’s always a tough line to walk, but our fans have been very happy thus far at the additional features we’ve been able to include at their request.

B: Why has Colonial Battlefleet been so successful on wargamevault.com? I’m a big believer that if you build a quality product that people want, and charge a reasonable price for it, people will beat a path to your door to buy it. We spend next to nothing on advertising. We try to generate as much web presence as possible through forum discussion on our own and other forums, but really our success is owed to word of mouth. Colonial Battlefleet started out as a hobby project of mine in 2006 and existed only as a set of rules for BSG convention play for years. After publishing Naval Thunder, and the runaway success we experienced with the historical gamers, we started to get a lot of requests for a re-write of Colonial Battlefleet as a full-

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featured starship combat system. So in one sense, Colonial Battlefleet benefitted from years of “open beta testing” at dozens of conventions in which people told us what they liked and didn’t like about the game. When it came time to rewrite the whole system, we drew on that experience, as well as hundreds of hours reading forum traffic on people’s likes and dislikes about starship gaming in general and starship gaming systems in particular, and wrote the game that it seemed the majority of people wanted to play. Since that time it’s just been a matter of getting the game in front of as many people as possible. If we can get people to try it once, the game generally sells itself.

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Steel Dreadnaught’s Harry Pratt discusses Colonial Battlefleet’s game rules and future B: Discuss your starship construction system In starship gaming everybody wants to build their own ships. Either to match ships from some science fiction source, or just because the player feels they can build a better mousetrap than their opponent. Many systems have offered rules to do just that, to the point where it’s an expected feature of starship combat rules these days.

to have a fun time. No matter what design approach you take in building your ships, you’re going to have a fighting chance and good matchup.

A lot of starship gaming veterans scoffed at the very idea it was possible to create an ‘unbreakable’ construction system, but and despite the game having been out for some time, nobody has been able to Unfortunately, these systems have always been plagued identify a fun-killing rules exploit, so we’ve been pretty by easily exploitable rules that allow players to create happy with the outcome. 'broken' designs that either force the other player to It’s also worth mentioning that the game comes purpose-build counters to those designs, or to use the packaged with a MS Excel tool that automates the same designs themselves. Whether it's ships that stand construction process by doing all the calculations off at extreme range and basically sit still and destroy for you, but that it’s really not necessary. Starship the enemy as they close, "soap bubble carriers" or construction can be done in minutes with nothing "swarm fleets" of tiny ships that drag down the enemy more than a pencil and a sheet of paper, no calculator through sheer numbers, previous design systems required. have always been fun killers. Gaming groups would either have to reach gentlemen's agreements not to use There are an almost infinite number of builds out there, and your build really has to reflect the way you particular designs or tactics, or risk losing interest in play the game. As a result, every player’s starship the game as some players opted for the most effective designs will tend to reflect their own personality and fleets, over the most fun ones. tactical style. If you’re playing against me you ought Recognising that as an unfilled hole in the starship to come prepared to eat a sustained stand-off missile gaming market, we set out to design the starship bombardment, while a heavy battleline closes in to construction rules in Colonial Battlefleet in such a finish you off with kinetics. But that’s just me. way that gentlemen’s agreements were never necessary

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Steel Dreadnaught’s Harry Pratt discusses Colonial Battlefleet’s game rules and future B: How do the rules prevent swarm fleets from emerging? Swarm fleets were a key issue we looked at from the very beginning. They’ve been problematic in other systems, so we wanted to make sure they weren’t a problem in Colonial Battlefleet. In the end, we adopted a multi-layered approach to dealing with them.

there are flexible rules that govern the composition of your fleets in terms of capital ships and escorts. In almost all cases, they will never even become an issue because of the mix of ships you’re going to be wanting to take anyway, but they are there just in case First and foremost, we set out to make sure that capital somebody tries to get ridiculous about it. ships were worth what you paid for them. Thus, in As mentioned, the starship roles really help define the starship design system, smaller ships aren’t really what it means to be a “battleship” or a “light cruiser” capable of mounting the biggest armor-cracking instead of just a big ship, or a little one. weapons you’d need to take out a well protected Fighters were a unique challenge because they have capital ship. Generally speaking, if you want to take traditionally been a source for unbalanced starship out a battleship, you’re going to want to use another designs, and everybody seems to have their own battleship, or a couple battlecruisers. A swarm of opinion on how powerful they ought to be in relation destroyers probably isn’t going to cut it. to the starships. We’re happy with how they turned Secondly, we went with the organizational structure approach. We wanted to reinforce “realistic” fleets, so

out in the core rules, and especially in the CB: MvM supplement.

B: What plans do you have for the next expansion? Big ones. We’re partnering with another company that is bringing out a new line of starship miniatures, and writing a fleet book specifically to support that line and setting. We actually had quite a few projects in the queue but when I saw the concept art for the new miniatures line, I fell in love with them, and wanted Colonial Battlefleet to be the rules that went with those miniatures. We’re not ready to say too much about the setting (which is fantastic) or the rules at this point. But I will share that we’re also taking this as an opportunity

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to include some things that we’ve received a lot of requests for from our fans, like spinal-mount weapon systems, new variations on the core mechanics, more fighter profiles and so on. In the meantime, we’ve included a couple teaser shots of the concept art for the new miniatures. After the new fleet book is out, we’ll come back to some of the other projects we’ve had in the queue to provide more in-depth support and special rules for some of the other common models of starship gaming as well as our campaign system.

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Strategic global warfare with Strike Legion: Planetary operations

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Released in 2010, epic sci-fi wargame Strike Legion has been a project 20 years in the making for Legionnaire Games’ Karl Johnson. The idea behind Strike Legion is to scale futuristic combat from ground-level man-to-man combat up to ‘4X’ galactic campaigns, with players having the ability to fight battles at multiple levels of combat. The outcome of a game at each level will affect the overall outcome of the campaign through rules linking the different game systems together into a coherent whole. “The Strike Legion tactical game series has been developed to be as close to an all-inclusive ground combat system as one’s imagination will allow,” Mr Johnson explaind to Battlespace. “There are a few other tactical game systems on the market that attempt to do this, but I’m of the opinion that using the same exact rules for skirmish, tactical, and grand tactical games doesn’t allow for a focus on the different aspects of combat that should be emphasized at higher or lower command echelons,” he said. “The other reason for developing the system is to provide the marketplace with games having more detailed units, more interesting decision points, and simple mechanics that involve more than

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throwing a larger or smaller number of dice to resolve game functions. This approach has been welcomed wholeheartedly by players who have played the Strike Legion tactical games.”

or artillery attacks, for example).

The secondary goal of Planetary Operations is to offer players a campaign system that includes force management and supply considerations between In March Strike Legion’s first followengagements. According to Mr Johnson, up, Planetary Operations was released. three different campaign games are Representing combat at a higher available: a linked scenario campaign command echelon, with battles fought game in which the next scenario played by regiments, brigades, and divisions is determined by the outcome of the over much larger areas of a planetary scenario just completed; a single-sector surface, the rules primary goal is to campaign game where players fight allow players to use the same forces they multiple engagements over the same already own in a different manner. To tract of real estate and need to worry portray this in a more accurate fashion, about force conservation and supply the game emphasis shifts from how to aspects of their operations; and a multibest utilise the individual vehicle or sector campaign game, where several squad of troopers in your command single-sector campaign games are played to how well the player manages his simultaneously, with the outcome of command resources. each sector’s fighting influencing the This is reflected in the game by the use of outcome of the battle for an entire world. command points to perform specific game functions, such as issuing special orders to individual units or ordering specific types of attacks from support elements (orbital starships offering local fire support, and specialized air 60

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Tactical considerations

War construction According to Legionnaire Games’ Karl Johnson, the concept behind Strike Legion’s construction rules is to allow for anything that has, has not, or may exist in military arsenals to be used in games.

Planetary Operations introduces a number of new rules to Strike Legion. Ships and submarines offer stand-off fire support to friendly ground forces, protection from enemy ships that are attempting to do the same against friendly forces, and the transport of large numbers of lower-tech troops and their equipment across large bodies of water.

Each of these, along with more ‘standard’ historical and sci-fibased units, can be created with the game’s construction rules as published.

“My favorite (and silliest) “This allows for forces with great concoction is a hover-moving technological disparities to fight bio-mechanoid land train, armed against one another without with nuclear-tipped missiles and players having to resort to disruptor weapons, that possesses additional house rules to represent, ‘Psionic’, ‘Jedi-like’ combat for example, a WWII Soviet force abilities,” Mr Johnson said. fighting against invading aliens in “While this does sound completely 1943, or Victorian-era Aeronefs to ludicrous, it does illustrate the fight against Star Wars-style grav depth of variety in units one tanks, or even movie-style Starship can create with the vehicle and Troopers bugs modified with troop construction rules that are genetically-based weapons to fight included with the tactical games. against Roman Legionaries.

“The inclusion of sea-based elements in the Strike Legion games was to reflect these possible capabilities of a more varied force, but also so that players can engage in all-sea battles if they so wish. Anything from simple triremes to the largest supercarriers can be put to sea in these types of games,” Mr Johnson said. The sea unit rules also form the basis for how Victorian sci-fi Aeronefs and Land Ironclads are handled and constructed in the games. “The introduction of ‘TacNukes’ make players a bit more paranoid about

Vehicles in the Strike Legion tactical game have the option of being built with electronic warfare (EW) suites of varying sizes. Each vehicle (as part of a platoon that activates simultaneously) can vary their assignment of EW points between offensive and defensive usage from one turn to the next. This has an in-game effect of never

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their army’s survival and clearing large sections of the line, they force players to take into account a realistic tactical possibility in modern and future combat. Players will generally keep their forces deployed spread out to the maximum distances allowed by their coherency rating, which varies from force to force and is based on their army’s command and control (C2) rating,” he siad. TacNukes can be very devastating to lower-tech forces; higher levels of equipment technology have a mitigating effect against TacNuke attacks, but they’re never something to be taken (or used) lightly in the game. Infantry combat relies on both number and the quality of the troops involved, with attacks succeeding or failing more often than not due to the troop’s training and competence in the field than on the weapons they carry.

being able to know exactly what your opponent’s offensive and defensive ratings are going to be for each unit from one turn to the next, and adds another level decision-making into the mix as you try to guess your opponent’s intentions while attempting to maintain your own ingame goals.

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Units in Planetary Operations are classified as belonging to one of three areas of technology: mechanical, organic (xenomorph-type troops) and hybrid. Mechanical tech is analogous to modernday military hardware and electronics, extrapolated forward (and backwards, in the case of archaic units) in time. Organic tech is used to represent forces that either evolved to their current state or were created through genetic manipulation to have natural defense and attack capabilities that can be used in combat. Hybrid tech is a combination of several aspects of both mechanical and organic technologies, offering a ‘best of both worlds’ option.

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Johnson said. Hybrid forces can pick and choose which style of command (organic or mechanical) they will employ on the battlefield. They may even use both methods of command in the same force; intelligent bio-mechanoid tanks that use organic command abilities to control herds of smaller, infantry-sized creatures can be fielded alongside a standard ‘mechanical’ infantry or vehicle platoon that answers to a formal chain of command as part of the same force.

A novel aspect of the game is in the handling of organic and hybrid forces. As these types of armies don’t always rely on a set command structure, they “Mechanical tech forces use command can be divided into different types of structures, systems, and weapons that elements - some having command are equivalent to modern, ‘real world’ abilities and some just following orders. militaries. Organic forces have a fluid The ‘command’ units can influence the command structure that can vary the ‘followers’ by imparting special abilities number and type of herd units a master to them that vary from turn to turn and unit commands during a turn, and can are based on physical proximity to the transmit specific command abilities to ‘command’ unit. The ‘follower’ units herd elements capable of receiving such can also be commanded by a different transmissions (assumed to be telepathic ‘command’ unit from one turn to the in nature, or achieved by the release of next, creating a fluid, herd-type army specific pheromones) that may increase that poses some serious challenges for their speed, lethality, durability, or several a player using ‘tech-based’ forces when other factors during a game turn,” Mr opposing them.

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As the Strike Legion game series isn’t tied to a particular background, players can use any models they prefer, from any manufacturer. “I’ve run games with GW (Games Workshop) Epic models fighting against forces from Ground Zero Games, Brigade Models’ figures against models from Plasmablast and Microworld Games, and Exodus Wars units against Dark Realm Miniatures forces,” Mr Johnson said. “While there are pre-made army lists for many manufacturer’s models that can be used in the games, the models used are only limited to what each player prefers to see in their tabletop games.” The game have been designed with smaller figure scales in mind, from 2mm up to 15mm in size. The tactical game works well with any of these scales; Planetary Operations works best with 6mm down to 2mm figure scales, and the forthcoming Strike Legion: Platoon Leader game (skirmish-level gaming) will be more appealing to 15mm gamers, although those prefering 10mm or 6mm figures will be able to play games with these rules with minor modifications.

Epic-scale models in the game, and the Dunebased lists have also been well received. The game systems allow each of these (and other) lists to have the same ‘feel’ as when played in games from their original background, and many of the lists have been written after consulting either the fiction regarding each force, or with the manufacturers themselves,” Mr Johnson said. “I don’t want to force my ideas onto another person’s creations or intellectual property, so I do my best to adhere to the original author’s intent for a particular force when placed into the Strike Legion gaming matrix.” Mr Johnson said that while grand-scale tabletop battles are not as popular as small-scale battles, his game provides a flexible platform for a wide range of interests.

“I think, if you gauge popularity by what is played at the local game stores, that the majority of tabletop gamers prefer skirmish games to tactical or grand tactical gaming. Most gamers I come into contact with do have multiple gaming interests and play several different game systems encompassing multiple representational echelons of combat on a semi“Many players like using army lists for their GW regular basis.” B

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1861. Confederate troops cross the Mississippi River to Belmont, Missouri. Union Brigidier General Ulysses S. Grant moves in to attack.

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An American Civil War Black Powder scenario and battle report from Cancon By Craig Belmont, Size Matters In mid 1861, the as yet untested Union Commander Ulysses S. Grant assumed control of Union forces in the district of Southeast Missouri. The American Civil War was only a few months old, and things had not been going well for the Union. Union generals had been consistently outfought and were cautious to the pint of timidity, including Grant’s commanding officer, Major John Fremont. However, when President Lincoln dismissed Fremont in early November, Grant went on the offensive. On 6 November Grant and a force

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Below is a reproduction of the original map of the battlefield. The important terrain features in games terms are as follows:

of around 3000 men sailed down the Mississippi to attack a newly established Confederate camp near the town of Belmont. Grant’s objective was nominally to protect the flank of other Union forces in the region, but he also wanted to give his recruits combat experience and shake the torpor affecting the Union army.

• a road runs across the battlefield from the landing point to the rebel camp; • a couple of large fields offer light cover; • the Confederate camp is protected by an abatis (rough log wall) which provides light cover and reduces movement across it by Union troops; and

This is a scenario for the Black Powder rules set, which was played as a participation game at CanCon 2011. It is relatively small for a Black Powder game, and thus can be played quickly on a relatively small table.

• the Mississippi River is impassable to all troops.

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Union

Commander-in-chief: Brigadier General Ulysses S. Grant (Leadership 9) 1st Brigade, commanded by Brigadier General J. McLernand (Ld. 7) - 27th, 30th and 31st Illinois Infantry Regiments - Illinois Cavalry Regiment 2nd Brigade, commanded by Colonel Dougherty (Ld. 7) - 22nd Illinois and 7th Iowa Infantry Regiments - 1st Illonois Artillery Battery

Confederate

Commander-in-chief: Brigadier-General G. Pillow (Leadership 7) 1st Brigade, commanded by Colonel Walker (Ld. 7) - 13th Arkansas Infantry Regiment - 1st Missouri Cavalry Regiment - Missouri Artillery Battery 2nd Brigade, commanded by Colonel Russell (Ld. 7) - 12th, 13th, 21st and 22nd Tennessee Infantry Regiments Reinforcement Brigade, commanded by Colonel Marks (Ld. 7)

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- 11th Louisiana, 2nd, 15th and 154th Tennessee Infantry Regiments 66

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The Union forces must set fire to the Confederate camp (achieved by ordering a unit to do so) and then retreat back off the board. Grant must survive.

The Confederates must protect their camp.

The Union troops start on south-west corner and move on in the first turn. All units must be issued an order to move onto the table, but are considered to be in march column and on the road. The Union artillery is limbered. They have the first move. The Confederate 1st Brigade is deployed in the cornfield adjacent to their camp. The artillery is unlimbered and may not limber during the game. The 2nd Brigade and the C-in-C are deployed in the camp. The Reinforcement Brigade starts the game off the table. The Confederate troops may not be issued any orders on Turn one. Starting from Turn sic, the Confederate player may roll a D6 for each regiment

Unit type

Armament

Union infantry Union cavalry Union artillery Confederate infantry Confederate cavalry Confederate artillery

Rifled muskets Smoothbore carbines Light smoothbore Smoothbore muskets Shotguns Light smoothbore

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HtH

Shoot

Range

Morale

Stamina

6 5 1 7 4 1

3 1/2 3/2/1 3 2 3/2/1

24” 18” 36” 18” 6” 36”

5+ 5+ 5+ 6+ 6+ 6+

3 3 2 3 2 2

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in the Reinforcement Brigade. For each six rolled, one regiment may be given orders to move onto the table (the units are assumed to be in march column). The following turn, the Confederate player may again roll a D6 for each regiment still off the table, but this time the target is five, and so on. The Brigade CO moves on with the first regiment. Cavalry from both sides may dismount or mount if successfully given an order to do so (note that the union Cavalry has a Shooting value of one if mounted and two if dismounted). The Union army ignores the rules for Broken Brigades – it will continue to fight whilst Grant is still alive.

Special Marauders, may skirmish, may dismount

Small, marauders, may skirmish, may dismount

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The game at CanCon 2010 (Canberra, Australia) started with Union forces advancing boldly along the road. However, the Confederates started just as boldly, with a series of good command roles allowing the majority of regiments to move and deploy in line to await the Yankees. Disaster struck when the Union artillery accidentally unlimbered out of range of the Confederate forces, keeping it out of action for a few crucial turns. The Union cavalry was bloodied early, resulting in it becoming shaken but not broken. Confederate forces boldly move forward from their camp

A firefight began in the open ground to the north of the camp, drawing in most

Union cavalry sweep around behind the Union army to burn the camp

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of the infantry regiments. A number of enfilading volleys were engineered, and the Confederate line started to crumble. Some determined charges from the remaining rebels won them some time. Then on turn seven, the Confederates successfully rolled for reinforcements, brining two fresh Regiments onto the field. The Union Cavalry made a desperate lastditch attempt to reach the camp. They made it, but did not have time to set the fires as more Confederates flooded onto the field. Grant and the remaining Union forces withdrew in disarray to the jeers and catcalls of the victorious Rebels.

The confederate general (right) congratulates his opposition on a successful battle 68

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Things were somewhat different in real life compared to the actual battle played at Cancon. After a fire-fight lasting several hours, the Union forces succeeded in driving the Confederates from their camp. However, discipline then broke down and the victorious Union soldiers began looting and carousing. Eventually re-gaining control, Grant ordered the camp set fire to and began the process of withdrawal back to their transports. However, Confederate reenforcements arrived and harried the Union army all the way back to the river. Grant was the last man aboard, riding his horse straight onto an already

Size Matters is a free email newsletter on the subject of 28mm historical wargaming in Australia. The subject matter is not limited to any particular period or rules set, the only criteria being that it is played with 28mm miniatures. So if you're into 28mm ancients, medieval, renaissance, Napoleonic, American Civil War, Colonial, World War I, World War II, Vietnam or any other

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moving steamer. Though hardly a resounding victory, President Lincoln was impressed with Grant, famously stating that, “He fights!”. In the next few months, Grant successfully captured Fort Henry and Fort Donelson, two significant Union victories. He managed to avoid disaster at the Battle of Shiloh, and went on to become the Unions’ most successful General and eventually the overall commander of Union forces. After the war he was appointed General of America’s armies and was elected President for two terms in 1869 and 1873. He died in 1885, aged 63. B

period, then Size Matters is for you. Size Matters contains industry news, previews, new releases, upcoming events, interviews, articles, scenarios and more. It is distributed at least twice a month in HTML format. Subscribe now by sending an email with 'subscribe' in the subject line to: sizemattersmagazine@iinet.net.au

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insight

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Genre, space and time converge in new rules for customisable gaming. Battlespace talks to Unified Theory Games about a new wave of ‘omni-gaming’.

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insight In the dark recesses of every gaming room sit dormant armies of dusty models waiting to one day reemerge. These armies may range from elaborately painted battalions to abandoned experiments in sculpture design. Guiltily playing at the back of the mind, they long to return to be taken out and fielded once more. It is in these plastic and lead-filled tombs that the upcoming customisable miniature skirmish game Vortex is inexorably drawn, searching for the unused and mismatched to rise and meet on the field of battle.

“We’ve seen mad scientists

go head-to-head against dinosaurs, corporate mercenaries tangle with aliens, cowboys throw-down against zombies Vortex is a game that can be used with any miniature in any setting. The Vortex: Core Rulebook, releasing in May 2011, will contain the rules for playing the game as well as a blueprint system for creating any miniature combatant a player can think of. A complete continuous campaign system independent of any genre is also provided. According to Scott Spear, a developer at Vortex publisher Unified Theory Games (UTG), anything is possible in

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CONTENTS the world of Vortex. “Since the players are free to dream up anything they like, we’re always amazed at what creative players will put on the battlefield. We’ve seen mad scientists go head-tohead against dinosaurs, corporate mercenaries tangle with aliens, cowboys throw-down against zombies, and almost every other miniature line out there facing off against one another at some point,” Mr Spear told Battlespace. The idea for Vortex first started when lead designer Jim Fallin saw infantry models kit-bashed onto the back of large velociraptors. “(That got him) thinking, ‘Wouldn’t a game designed for dinosaur skirmishes be great?’. He played around with some concepts for a few days but shelved it after deciding that the genre was just too narrow,” Mr Spear said.

In the time twisting world of Vortex, a low-tech warrior is going to have a tough time standing toe-to-toe with a high-tech warrior. The game compensates for this through the cost of the respective combatants.

During a following miniature skirmish game scenario, one of the group’s players complained about a poorly designed rule. This caused Mr Fallin to think “long and hard” about what he wanted to achieve. Bored during a family member’s university graduation ceremony, Mr Fallin finally pulled out a notepad and begin writing down the basic rules that would eventually evolve into Vortex.

A sword and shield-wielding ironage barbarian, depending on what abilities, liabilities, features and flaws it has been designed with, might cost 25 points. A futuristic soldier armed with a plasma rifle and high-impact armor and a variety of high-tech gadgets might cost 125 points. In a 500 point game, four of the high-

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tech warriors would find themselves fighting 20 of the barbarians. But it’s also possible that the barbarians have been created with abilities that allow them to gain some advantages against the high-tech warriors. Perhaps the barbarians are skilled in ambushing their opponents or focusing their slings and arrows in a concentrated volley. The barbarians might be led by a strategist that lets them make better use of the terrain. “It’s really all about how the player constructs their combatants,” Mr Spear said.

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insight “While everyone at UTG loves the thrill of finding a brand new game, we noticed that we tended to spend a lot of money on a new army and months painting it only to play the game a few times before shelving it when the ‘next big thing’ came around the corner,” Mr Spear explains. “We also noticed that we sometimes found gorgeous models that we really wanted to put on the table but, perhaps, found the system it was offered with to be lacking. And there was also the notion that there was really no way our historical miniature enthusiast could play at the table with those who tended to play more fantastic-themed games. We were able to address all of these issues,” he said. UTG has determined that the most

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“It’s our past, our future, alternate histories, alien worlds and every universe found within every book ever written

Players begin with a starting set of stats based upon the base-size of the combatant. They can add abilities, liabilities, weapon and armour features and flaws to recreate most any effect they like. The Core Rulebook contains about 275 of these characteristics.

important elements of a free-ranging game should be a solid, consistent base mechanic, the premise that players could play with the miniatures they already own and a game-world that allowed for the inclusion of every genre. The game needed to encourage players, regardless of what game they were currently in to, to come together as a group and play whatever genre in whatever play-style they liked while being easy enough for players new to miniature gaming to learn quickly.

Combatants in Vortex are constructed with bonuses and penalties. with additional bonuses and penalties from battlefield conditions and gaming events added. “However, a game would not be exciting without some element of

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“We added an ‘infinite’ level to the die roll which allows those memorable ‘cinematic’ gaming moments that everyone leaves the table talking about.”

The Vortex: Basic Battlefield Rules are the core mechanics of the game. Players can play Vortex using just the Basic Battlefield Rules and the free downloadable combatants offered on the Vortex website. But the “real elegance” of the game is found within the Core Rulebook. With it, players can design and create just about any sort of combatants they can conceive.

future, alternate histories, alien worlds and every universe found within every book ever written and every movie ever made. We didn’t want to restrict the players by imposing a single reality,” Mr Spear said.

To explain the intertwining of parallel universes, UTG has created the ‘Infinite Continua’.

“Vortex approaches this problem by breaking weapons and armor down to the effect they produce. Mechanically speaking, a well–fired crossbow bolt produces the same effect as an armor-

“Essentially, The Infinite Continua is every game world. It’s our past, our

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unpredictable chance. The d10 is simple and elegant and allows for a quick resolution so players can spend their time playing the game and not doing math. Everything from attacking, running, and even random scattering can be accomplished with just one d10,” Mr Spear said.

Creating rule mechanics that work across a range of periods and genres can be difficult, but UTG believe they have developed a system that works well.

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CONTENTS piercing bullet or magic ray. The only difference is how that effect is delivered. “There are a lot of variables in that delivery: range, accuracy, the amount of damage it produces, etc. but the goal is the same: to produce a casualty,” Mr Spear said.

Living in the moment While Vortex provides rules for games involving combatants from multiple dimensions, another game system has taken the opposite approach with rules that encourage ‘living in the moment’.

an American, British, German, or Russian squad leader whose purpose is to keep your men alive while taking on combat missions. Or maybe you want to be a tank commander in charge of a group of tanks. If you were playing Larger Than Two Hour Wargames make Life, our ‘Pulp’ immersion game, you ‘immersion’ games playable in could be an adventuring archaeologist two hours or less. According to in search of treasure and fame,” Two the games developer, these games immerse players into whatever time Hour Wargames states. period they choose to play. “We’ve done all the work to make each game realistically reflect “Let’s say you’re playing NUTS, whatever time period you choose to our World War Two immersion play. In immersion games you have game. In NUTS you could be the freedom to choose who you want to be and shape the direction and outcome of your game.”

Players are also given freedom in constructing their combatants’ weapons. “If the players produce a fairly historically accurate representation of a crossbow, that weapon is definitely going to pale when compared to an accurate representation of an automatic rifle. Of course, the crossbow is going to be cheaper to field and you’re likely to see more of those crossbows on the table than you will automatic rifles. But it’s also possible the player designing the crossbow might reason that the weapon is magical in nature or enhanced with alien technology,” Mr Spear said.

Their games span all genres and time - fantasy, ancient, colonial, horror, modern, sci-fi, western, pulp and World War II. Even soccer is covered. Their latest rules, Red Sand Blue Sky - Heroes of the Arena, pits gamers as gladiators fighting in the time of Ancient Rome. As a gladiator you fight your way through the Empire in hopes of reaching the Colosseum in Rome and perhaps freedom. Players can also become a lanista, the trainer or manager of gladiators for an owner of a ludus or gladiator school.

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“What’s important is that the costs of the weapons designed are balanced. We went to great lengths to insure that a platoon of, say, musketeers would be playable against an platoon of modern infantry.” In addition, the Core Rulebook offers a detailed campaign system that allows players to play a campaign game when their schedule allows for it. Players are not restricted to a tournament-style system of campaign play and can play as many campaign games as they like without the need for trying to gather their gaming group together all at one time. 73

“After the Core Rulebook is released, we will begin development of the Vortex: Global War-board. Essentially, the War-board will be an online tool that will allow an unlimited number of players from all over the world to upload their combatants stats for others to enjoy and to participate in a single, ongoing global campaign,” Mr Spear reveals.

“the crossbow is going to be cheaper to field and you’re likely to see more of those crossbows on the table than you will automatic rifles. “Once the War-board is up and running, our plan is to begin work on our first Vortex supplement, the Vortex: Recruitment Catalog which will feature hundreds of pre-generated combatants from as many genres as we can think of that will allow players to quickly purchase new combatants. “After that, there are some rumblings around the UTG labs about (a) compendium full of optional rules, new abilities, liabilities, features and flaws and perhaps some single genre scenarios and campaign ideas.” B

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card & board strategy

Board game dungeon crawling with Mantic Games

Survive the world of Neuroshima in this new Polish card game

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A cast of characters in Bruno Faidutti’s Citadel card game 74

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Battlespace talks to rules writer Jake Thornton about Mantic Game’s new board game, Dwarf King’s Hold: Dead Rising

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Reclaim the depths

In Mantic Games recently released Dwarf King’s Hold: Dead Rising, Dwarfs seek to reclaim their ancestral home from the living dead. In this two-player, scenario-based boardto game, Battlespace talks rulesB:writer Thornton Why didJake Mantic decide to launch a one player takes controlMantic of the Dwarfs, while new board game?game, Dwarf about Game’s board the other commands the Undead. There are six King’s Hold: Deadupon RisingThis is perhaps really a question for (Mantic scenarios to play through, each building Games’) Ronnie, but I’ll try to answer for the other, culminating in a final battle. him. Those of you who’ve watched Ronnie’s Battlespace talked to rules writer Jake videos on the Mantic Blog will realise how Thornton about went into making the game. enthusiastic and passionate Ronnie is. It sort of oozes out of him and infects all those nearby. It’s great to work with people who BATTLESPACE: What is the really care. backstory behind the Dwarf ’s return to the With Mantic and the King’s of War tabletop depths? rules, he’s been able to make a solid base on Jake Thornton: In Mantic’s game world, the which to build. Great models at low prices. Dwarfs are a robust and vibrant race, and Not something we see a lot of. When I so when parts of their kingdoms fall to the approached him with the idea of writing a depredations of orcs, elves or undead they board game it came from a number of places. are keen to recapture them. I know Ronnie from Games Workshop As the depths of these holds are full of where we both used to work, and he knew ancestral tombs there is an obvious attraction that I’d done some board game projects for the necromantic forces, but an equal for them. I thought that Mantic had an draw for the dwarfs to defend their family untapped resource in their plastic models, honour. In terms of specific backstory, I and I knew Ronnie’s enthusiasm of old. included some little snippets of stories, When I presented my ideas for Dwarf King’s but deliberately left much to the reader’s Hold it all fitted with his plan to make Mantic imagination.

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into a fully rounded game company, not just someone who makes inexpensive toy soldiers. At heart, Ronnie and I are both gamers and love cool toys. Being in a business position to be able to make a great boardgame with wonderfully detailed miniatures was not a hard decision to make. B: Does the game’s focus on fast gameplay and simple dice rolls help broaden its appeal beyond core gamers? That’s an interesting question. Dwarf King’s Hold is certainly a game you could teach to non-gamers in terms of rules, and the cool miniatures and brilliant art for the tiles will help draw people into the

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CONTENTS wide the game’s appeal will be. This is partly because I suspect a large number of people who would love it to bits will simply never see it because of the places it will be. If nobody shows it to them then they wouldn’t know to seek it out. Personally I think this is a real shame, though I can’t think of a way round it other than to ask you guys reading this to show it to people if you think they’d like it. The other issue here is that it’s almost impossible to get any real hard data on who plays what. As far as I know this kind of information simply doesn’t exist. You hear stories about this or that, and then you’ve got sales figures to look at, but apart from that want can you tell? It’s impossible to really find out who is playing the game, though I’d love this to be a bridge to introduce non-gamers into what I consider to be a marvellous hobby.

atmosphere of the game too. When I design a game I write a brief for myself that lists all sorts of technical details as well as broader concepts to aim for. One of the ideas I strove for here was exactly this breadth of appeal. It added somewhat to the difficulty of designing the game, but not the game itself. The hard part was keeping it very simple, while including a level of detailed tactical options (especially around positioning) that a casual gamer would not really need to worry about much, but which a hardcore gamer could think about and exploit to get that slight edge over his equally hardcore gaming buddies.

Dwarf King’s Hold was one of those designs where things jut fell into place neatly form the start. Of course there were a few blind alleys and some of the original concepts were changed or dropped, but when I compared my original version (that I presented to Ronnie at Mantic) to the final box it’s pretty close. Unusually so, in fact. For me, maintaining simplicity in design while building in tactical depth is largely a process of saying no. It’s always tempting to add another rule for this or that, and not putting them in is infinitely harder than adding them. Often the game is stronger for having them left out. Among other things, it makes the rules you do leave in more important. For example, in the final version of Dwarf King’s Hold: Dead Rising there

B: How difficult was it to design for simplicity while maintaining depth of strategy? That’s always the challenge. Many games describe themselves as being simple to learn, but taking a lifetime to master. This goal of getting maximum depth of gameplay into a tiny rule set is a classic conundrum for game design, and I’d like my games to meet that. I think most professional designers would.

In the real world, it’s hard to know how 77

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card & board strategy is only one rule for different weapons (two-handed weapons for Dwarf Shieldbreakers). Different models have different game values, but this is the only weapon. Originally there was a difference between skeleton warriors with spears and with other weapons. This was dropped as it was simply not strong enough and different enough of a rule to be worth it. As soon as I took it out the game ran more smoothly. In this example at least, less is more. B: What types of tactical evolution have you seen occur from playing the same scenario?

CONTENTS I really enjoy watching people’s tactics develop. Getting people to play the same scenario is particularly good to illustrate this. That’s why I encourage people to play scenario one repeatedly. Nobody yet has seen all the tactical wrinkles in the basic game play in one go of scenario one, and so a second attempt, a third swapping sides and so on, are all still replete with new ideas and plans. Scenario two is very different from scenario one, but doesn’t add new rules. Scenarios three and four include a couple of extra bits of the game, and by the end of

Jake Thornton: The importance of token management does vary somewhat from scenario to scenario, though it is always important as this is what drives your actions each turn.

scenario four you have seen all the elements. In terms of details, people usually think scenario one is unbalanced in favour of the skeletons when they first play it. That’s because the skeletons are easier to play. However, this is an illusion. The hardest Skeleton defence I have yet seen is still beatable by the Dwarfs, with thought, cunning and a little luck (every successful plan needs a little luck). This is true for all the scenarios, though who is supposedly the easier side varies between them. Dwarfs are the easier side to play in scenario two, but I’ve seen them lose plenty of times as well.

and skeletons have different tokens available, their strategies are different. The different types of tokens available to each player are fairly limited in Dwarf King’s Hold; intentionally so. Early versions of the design had more types, but these were gradually whittled down to make the game cleaner and simpler. What is important now is the mix of tokens and what’s already come out, and what you might want to hold back till a later turn.

Like any other resource management element in games, most people will probably only be worrying about a few tokens at once. The ends of the spectrum of usefulness, if you will. Knowing when the poorer ones are coming and planning what to do with them helps to mitigate them being a problem, and keeping an eye on the good ones lets For example, the Dwarfs have a limited number of you plan for your big push. ‘Follow On’ tokens. These allow a single model to act more than once in a turn. If you have several of As you can keep tokens from one turn to another them then that single model could act three, four or you can opt to save good ones for a major effort even more times. Obviously that’s potentially very in one turn, or spread them out so you’re slightly powerful, but it’s not a trick you can pull often, so better than your opponent all the time (assuming you need to plan carefully when to use it. he’s not doing the same thing to you). With poorer ones, you can keep them out of the way and use The Undead can’t use tokens to do this at all them when it’s not such a critical turn (though those (though they have a different trick that is equally turns never seem to arrive). As both the dwarfs powerful in a different way).

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Jake Thornton: An example of the kind of tactical ‘grit’ I’ve been talking about would be the way fight splitting works. Now admittedly, you could play the game and not ever worry about being clever with fight splitting. That’s part of the idea. You need to have the rule, but it need not be critical to your enjoyment. Ninety percent of Dwarf King’s Hold tactics are clear enough for even a casual player to get after a game or three (or perhaps a few more). The last 10 per cent is the space in which those who are interested can try to gain an edge by subtle positional changes and details such as fight splitting. Models can fight other models that are in their front arc (i.e. that they can see) and in an adjacent square (i.e. that they can reach). When models fight, the rules want it to be one-vs-one or one-versus-many. Many-

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CONTENTS

versus-many doesn’t work. So, if you have a bunch of models in a ruck (more than one model from both sides in a set of adjacent squares), all trying to fight each other, you need to decide who is fighting who. You need to split the fight.

action separately, which can be important as it may be better to split it differently for different models of the same side in the same ruck. Also, because there are rules to be followed, a clever player can manipulate the possible fight splitting in his favour by adding or removing models from a ruck, thus forcing his opponent to split the fight a certain way because he has to follow the rules for doing so.

You need to split a fight when one of the models in a ruck has a token spent on them to make them take a turn. Even though the active model is the only one that will make an attack, it is important to know how many models he is attacking and how many Even if a model does not fight well he can are busy fighting his friends (even if they’re contribute to another model’s survival by not rolling dice for it right this second). drawing off the enemy. Without going into too much detail, the A lot of the subtleties and real detailed important bit here is that there are some tactical ‘grit’ in Dwarf King’s Hold comes in simple restrictions on how you can split the exact positioning of individual models, a fight, but that there are often multiple and how fights can be split is a useful tool possible ways and the acting player can to maximise your effectiveness if you’re choose between them. Note that you get playing in that last 10 per cent. to split a fight the way you want for each 79

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card & board strategy B: Does Dwarf King’s Hold make any unique progression to board gaming? I assume by this you’re asking if I came up with any unique rules, the like of which had never been seen before. I don’t really think there is such a thing. There are, however, a couple of things that you might call a progression. The first is that the Dwarfs move faster than the undead. I’m certainly not aware of another game where the dwarfs move faster than anyone. This isn’t just done for effect (though it always makes people smile), and has a more serious side to it. It’s about expectations, preconceived ideas and breaking moulds. Sometimes it’s great to go with the stereotype and stick to what everyone expects. That’s true of much of the Mantic background, but not all. It’s these little wrinkles that make it intriguing. It’s also down to thinking things through again and not just taking what’s gone before as gospel. Dwarfs may be short and stocky and in general that would make them slow. However, in context, that need not always be true. Here we have a situation where they are solely compared to the speed of the undead. I have simply imagined that the dwarfs are both familiar and comfortable in the tunnels as that’s where they grew up.

CONTENTS their perfect environment. They can move swiftly (for a Dwarf), silently and confidently. On the other hand, the shambolic clatterings of the living dead are managed only by the necromancer’s magical control. You could imagine a number of different results, but I’ve taken the view that while the individual undead have a degree of autonomy and can move and fight on their own, they are somewhat clumsy and inept. When the necromancer pays his full attention to one or other of them then they get considerably better, but he can’t be everywhere at once. In fact, in scenario two he is decidedly distracted, with dire results. If individual undead are ungainly and slow to respond, then why shouldn’t these dwarfs be faster?

As I said, in context. Dwarfs being slow is one of those things that nobody ever questioned, until now. The second bit that may fit your idea of progression is to do with the combination of elements in Dwarf King’s Hold. It’s often suggested that there are no new game mechanics, only recycled ones, and I think this is largely true. There are also only a limited number of ways to represent things on the board using models and dice. What a good game does (in my view) is to bring together an interesting selection of elements in a new or surprising way. Dwarf King’s Hold manages to bring a fair amount of tactical ‘grit’ to a game system with very simple rules. As each set is released, you will find that the overall system grows to be much more than the sum of its parts as the number of possible combinations of the game elements in each set gets bigger with each release. I’m not going to pretend that I’ve invented a new rule that nobody has ever used before, but what I would say is that Dwarf King’s Hold as a game system is not like anything else I’ve seen. There is vastly more game play in it that most other board games, and this grows even more when you add other sets.

They are partly descended from stone too, so this is

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B: What plans do you have for the starter sets and customisable heroes? Currently we have two more start sets planned: Dwarf King’s Hold: Ancient Grudge and Dwarf King’s Hold: Green Tide. As you can see from the names, the series is called Dwarf King’s Hold, and each start set has its own name too. I was keen to have the hold itself as a character, if you like. That’s the setting for all of the battles, so I thought it was important to stress that in the title so that everyone understood it. All three of the games mentioned above are starter sets. That means that you can pick up whichever one you want as a way of learning the game. Each of the three includes the valiant (and rather put-upon) dwarfs, fighting against a different enemy; Dead Rising against the necromancer’s hordes, Ancient Grudge against elves, and Green Tide against orcs. Because these starter sets all use the same core rules (with a pile of variations for the different races and all new scenarios), you can mix and match the races. B Readers can follow Jake Thornton’s progress at www.quirkworthy.com

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card & board strategy

CONTENTS Battlespace looks at 51st State, the new card game based on the dark world of Neuroshima

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The future of the US looks bleak, according to the post-apocalyptic game world created by Portal Publishers. The world of Neuroshima sees a nuclear war burn the US into a barren wasteland fought over by shattered factions desperate to survive. While the subject matter has been heavily explored in the past, the Polish Publishers have succeeded in spreading their world from an RPG to a board game, to a computer app and now, in its latest incarnation, to a card game called 51st State. Games developer Ignacy Trzewiczek helped develop the rules for 51st State, but don’t expect him to win a tournament using the game any time soon.

The game’s cards can be put into play in three different ways. “You can invade a location to gain many resources once, or you can sign a contract with this location to gain one resource every turn, or you can attach the location to your State so you can use its skill. One card, three possibilities. Lots of decisions and choices that matter,” Mr Trzewiczek said. The choice of three card options forces players to deliberate how best to manage their resources and locations.

“I am not as good (a) player in 51st State as you could imagine. Players who win tournaments in Poland kick my ass with no problem,” Mr Trzewiczek told Battlespace.

Each player commands one of the four available factions and enters the fight for influence in order to dominate the competition. The goal of the game is to reach the height of power by accumulating the most victory points. The winner will proudly unfurl his banner as the leader of the new country.

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people to work in buildings to gain resources and new skills.

51st State is a card game in which players control one of the four powers (mutants, traders, New Yorkers and Appalachians) and try to build their very own new country. Players put new locations into the game, they hire leaders, and send 82

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card & board strategy “With this solution we encourage players to think creatively about every card in the game. Every single card is usefull - you just have to find way to play it. With 3 different choices it is much easier - you can always find great way to play a card,” Mr Trzewiczek said. “Generally, it is very important to use (the) strength of each faction and find as fast as possible cure for its weakness. For example - Appalachian lose cards with every turn. They need to find a way to minimalise it – (such as by) building heavy gear (so you can attach without discarding cards) or find a pub to bring you card.”

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There are 12 permanent contact cards in the game (each faction has its own three), as well as 14 one-time contact cards. Contact cards are used to perform conquest, negotiation, and incorporation actions. Locations cards can be put into play in three different ways. A player may choose to ‘conquer’ a location in order to obtain apoils - a one-time benefit represented by

the red part of a card. One might also choose ‘negotiation’, which yields a regular (yet smaller) benefit every turn - it is represented by the blue part of a card. The third way is ‘incorporation’, which allows a player to make permanent use of a location’s inherent resources and special abilities - these are represented by the grey part of a card (in the middle).

Mr Trzewiczek they have balanced the trade-oriented factions against more aggressive factions through extensive playtesting. “I play, I play, I play. Beta testing is a key to finding balance. You have to play as many games (as possible) - changing details of rules if needed - to get all factions balanced. No trick, just hard work,” he said. The game has been well received in Poland, with many tournaments taking place at Polish game conventions. They are now working on an expansion called New Era. “It will provide new rules that allow players to interact with each other in direct form,” Mr Trzewiczek said.

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“They are surrounded by Neuroshima role-playing game is published by Wydawnictwo Portal (Portal Publishing House). It inspired by such films and games as Mad Max, Fallout, The Matrix, Terminator and Deadlands: Hell on Earth. The game describes the US in mid-21st century, after a nuclear war started by

mutant creatures, some of whom were bred by Moloch

a cybernetic revolt, which molded the continent into a barren wasteland. It appears the reason for the war to break out was a sentient artificial intelligence commonly referred to as Moloch and made up of interconnected net of military computers: automated factories, military facilities, power plants and alike, that now cover the whole north of the U.S., from Oregon to the Great Lakes. On the south, there is another creation, called the Neojungle, that poses a threat to those who survived the war. it is a semi-intelligent carnivorous vegetation that grows very quickly, advancing north from Latin America. Right in the middle, there are humans. They are surrounded by mutant creatures, some of whom were bred by Moloch which are hostile towards humans, and some just being animals and humans misshapen by nuclear fallout. On top of that there are Moloch’s deadly machines lurking to complete the picture. But what is stressed in the book is that the worst enemy of humans is within them: hatred, indifference, greed. B

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Diplomacy and bluffery abound in Bruno Faidutti’s Citadels card game. What role will you pick to survive?

About Citadels In Citadels, players choose a role granting them a special ability, collect money and build new districts. Strategy in Citadel relies on role selection and not attracting attention. Not only must players choose a role which helps them better position thermselves, they must be careful not to pick the obvious role as others may pick up on this and attack them. Having too much of anything makes you a target in Citadels. Too much gold? You’re a target for the Thief. Too many points and buildings? You’re a target of the Warlord and the Assassin. Too many cards? You’re a target of the Magician. Players with lots of money must be careful to cover themselves, such as not picking the Architect, as the Thief will want to steal from you. Likewise having lots of yellow, red, green or blue district cards in play and picking the corresponding character will also be predictable to other players. Viable strategies for each character are on the following page.

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Assassin Players who choose early often take the Assassin and must then guess which of the remaining characters will be chosen by the other players.

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Thief

If you don’t know who to try to kill, kill the architect or merchant as they are usually the most helpful.

Similiar to the assassin, except instead of knocking a character off they can steal their gold. If you don’t know who to steal from, steal from a low-initiative character to lessen that player’s chance of spending that gold before their turn is up.

Bishop

Merchant

A good defensive character that can protect against the Warlord. You receive one gold for each religious (blue) district in your city.

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Magician The Magician is a subtle character to play. While he is not obviously powerful, profitable or able to protect your districts, he does brings unexpected advantages. He provides a fast way to increase building opportunity, can target specific players and is seldom a target.

Architect Great for district building. A rush strategy of going for lots of cheap districts by using the architect early and defending afterwards with the assassin, bishop and mercenary can sometimes work, but can prove difficult. This is compounded when lots of cards are in play.

Picking the merchant is a fairly one-dimensional strategy. Greed is good. Receiving one gold for each trade green district in your city is an excellent bonus with this character, but an obvious one for others to target.

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King Receiving the King marker can be a situational strategy. Players looking one turn ahead can decide what they can build in the current turn and then select a character in the following turn to complement the move. Crown marker movement is important as it changes the first player, keeping eevryone guessing.

Warlord This character strikes fear into rush builders. Opponents with lots of cheap buildings suddenly become viable targets. As gold is raised and more sophisticatd buildings produced further into the game, the Warlord becomes increasingly obsolete.

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INCOMING! products

CONTENTS Keep track of damage

rottenlead

FIRST EDITION

GruntZ 15mm

DiceDocks from Corsec Engineering are designed to help keep you organised and protect record keeping dice from accidentally being turned over or hit while rolling dice. Several sizes are available as well as two styles. Blue Ocean DiceDocks can be used to track speed or hit point of your vessels and allow for easy movement of several dice at one time as the models move around. Science Fiction Wargaming

by

Robin Fitton 1

Gruntz rule book Grunts is a dedicated 15mm fast play wargame designed for skirmish level play with between 10 to 40 figures per side using combined arms. You can use miniatures from any 15mm SCI-FI manufacturer. It is based around a generic platoon level battle, not restricted to a set genre or background setting. Vehicle and artillery rules are included for a combined arms gaming experience with statistics provided for all manufacturers of 15mm sci-fi and modern figures.

A Call to Arms House rules

Vortex is an omni-genre customizable miniatures game for two or more players as infinite as the players’ imaginations. Not only is it possible for a Roman centurion, an old west cowboy, a space pirate and a giant cybernetic alligator to meet on the battlefield, they could find themselves on the same team. Vortex is a fast-paced game that keeps players involved at all times. The rules are easy and quick to learn while still containing vast amounts of diversity to provide for continually interesting play, game after game.

Handbook: House Liao from Catalyst Game Labs compiles the history, politics, and cultures of the Inner Sphere’s smallest - and perhaps least understood -Great House. This sourcebook also includes game rules for use with Total Warfare, Tactical Operations and A Time of War: The BattleTech RPG, including new support vehicles, equipment, creatures and more. Handbook: House Liao continues the faction-based Handbook series that updates the political, economic, and historical details of the major realms in the BattleTech universe.

INCOMING! s previous page

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Heeding the call to arms Several times over the course of the year, Mongoose Publishing, UK, opens its doors to the public and profiles one of the games from its ever expanding collection. The first ‘open day’ of this year introduced gamers to the third and latest edition in their long running line of Call to Arms miniature games. Set in the distant future, in a dying universe where the stars themselves are fading, Noble Armada is an easy to learn space combat, tabletop miniatures game based on fleets drawn from the five main royal houses of the Fading Suns RPG: House Decados, House Hawkwood, House Hazat, House Li-Halan and House Al-Malik. With both beginner and advanced forms of playing, using standard six-sided dice and a measuring device marked with inches, players can partake in starship battles of epic proportions in the comfort of their own homes or gaming groups. With the new rules and

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options of this third edition, Noble Armada brings into account abilities such as capturing vessels and expanded boarding options which takes the game to a more detailed level of gameplay in comparison to its predecessors. During a Mongoose Publishing open day, gamers can come and get a first-hand experience of the game that is being profiled. Fully painted miniatures and equipment for gaming are supplied and a laid out stall containing all of the latest Mongoose releases is always available should the attending players wish to take home their own copies of the game(s) they have played and enjoyed. Starting with small, two ship skirmishes of four-toeight players and moving up to battles with the large Dreadnaught-class ships, players were shown a varied array of ways to play.

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Scenarios on the day included: * ‘King of the Jump Gate’: where every player has a different victory condition while fighting for control of the remnant technology of an ancient race. * ‘Invasion’: where a surprise attack is launched on a far-flung colony and the defending fleet is caught completely by surprise. * ‘Space Superiority’: where opposing fleets are fighting for strategically important areas of space. Everyone who participated in the battles seemed to enjoy it immensely and several people decided to take home their own starting fleets and core rulebooks, according to Mongoose Publishing. On 7 May Mongoose Halls will be opening their doors again for a Noble Armada tournament.

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Battlespace April/May 2011  

Battlespace strategy gaming magazine. News and views on tabletop, digital, board and card games.

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