Category Archives: Gaming

Warcosm – space fleet battles

When we attended Carnage in November, NatureBoy and I played in a huge game based on the Star Fleet Battles, a tactical space ship combat system set in the Star Trek Universe. The rules were dense, even for a stream-lined homebrew, and once combat was engaged, it took twenty minutes to resolve a single round.

NatureBoy playing Star Fleet Battles at Carnage 2008

One aspect of the game that I found really intriguing involved movement. Rates of travel were constant, and you could accelerate or decelerate on you turn by half you current movement, and your rate of movement affected how quickly and tightly you could maneuver. If you weren’t careful, you could fly right off the edge of the map.

Skip forward to December. I am placing my pre-order for the Mouse Guard RPG at Indie Press Revolution, and I noticed a game in the sidebar called Warcosm – Victory in the Stars. Curious, I took a closer look. The description promised an easy-to-learn, stream-lined ruleset for battles with counters or minis. The price was reasonable, so I tossed it (book and pdf bundle) in my cart, too.

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Mouse Guard RPG

I first heard about the Mouse Guard RPG on a Fear the Boot interview with Luke Crane. I picked up a copy of Mouse Guard Fall 1152 soon after; my first graphic novel!

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I was hooked. The artwork is absolutely gorgeous. The story and characters are compelling. Knowing that there was going to be a role playing game in this setting made it the much more interesting.

I had played a bit of Luke’s Burning Wheel game. I liked it a lot, though it took some work to get into it. But I really liked the way the story was integrated into the characters and the mechanics oft he game.

Luke based the Mouse Guard RPG on Burning Wheel, but streamlined and integrated into the Mouse Guard story and setting. He’s done several interviews in which he describes the new game, and sputters about people who think Mouse Guard is “Burning Wheel Lite.” (Here’s one from the Sons of Kryos.)

NatureBoy and I played through a one-on-one session the other day, and had a good time working through some of the different mechanics. I opted to have his character go solo, rather than tossing him multiple characters or having me run NPCs. Getting into character is the point of these games, after all.

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NatureBoy chose to play as Quentin, a guard mouse we haven’t encountered in the graphic novels yet (the Winter collection is coming!), but is included as a pre-generated character in the game text.

Quentin is a Scientist and Cartographer, in addition to being a member of the Guard.

A sudden late afternoon thunderstorm threatened to catch a family of harvesters in the field. Quentin is asked to hurry to the family and bring them back safely to Lockhaven.

As Quentin hurried along the well-marked trail to the field, he paused to update a map with his location. As he did, rain drops began to fall on the leaves and ground. Soon, the storm had begun. He hurried to find the mice in the field.

Although he didn’t see the mice, he did find a small pile of grass seeds on the ground. Further along, another group of seeds appeared as though spilled from a basket. Quentin continued in the direction of the trail of grain, and eventually found the family. They had taken refuge in hole in the stump of an old oak, and the stump was in a small hollow that had filled with rain water.

Quentin looked about for possible options; maybe there would be material for a raft or stick to use to build a bridge. Then he noticed that the nearby shrubs had strong, flexible branched that arched above the stump. He signaled to the family to climb to the top of the stump.

Quentin then used his Nature (Mouse) skill to climb one of these slender but springy branched, and as he neared the end, it flexed and bent down to the stump.

Then there was an argument. Serra and Curt wanted Quentin to take little Ivy back first. Quentin wanted them all to go up the branch before he did. Quentin won the argument, but in a compromise Serra went first, then Quentin carrying little Ivy, followed by Curt. All mice made their Nature (Mouse) tests. They then took a brief rest in the shelter of the shrub, and when the rain slackened a bit, Quentin guided them all home to Lockhaven.

It’s a fun game, and we look forward to playing again.

Wiz-War progress

We’ve been casting lots of Wiz-War pieces over the past weeks. I finally got some masonite to use as a base for the game board segments, to which we would glue the floor and spacer tiles.

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I cut a square of masonite to size. Then we spread a generous layer of Tacky Glue and laid the tiles and spacers down.

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Tacky Glue is thicker than typical white (PVA) glues, and it sets up quickly. So we worked in sections.

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After all the pieces were set, we put another square of masonite and  some encyclopedias on top to help it dry flat.

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We’ve now glued-up two boards, and have enough pieces cast for half of the third. We need to get casting again, and start working on painting the boards and wall pieces. Then there are the cards, minis, and assorted accessories…

Growing gamers

The most recent newsletter from NatureBoy’s school included a description of the Chess and Game club, which began…

Hey… are there 3,875 Orcs behind that door? […] Yes, Chess Club is back, but now it’s more than just pawns and checkmates.

How could I resist?! I sent off an email to the teacher, offering to volunteer with the group. He was happy to have me, so today I packed a couple different games that I thought might interest the middle school gaming crowd:

When I arrived, the teacher welcomed me, and explained that he had forgotten his games at home, so I was glad that I took those games with me.

After a perfunctory introduction, I gave a brief description of the three games. The teach also offered chess boards “as always.” One student wanted really wanted to play Catan, so NatureBoy and I joined him to give that a whirl. Several kids played or watched the labyrinth game with the teacher. Infernal contraption had no takers.

The club meeting is short, about forty minutes, so the Catan game had gone a few rounds, but folks seemed to have a good time. I was invited to be a regular participant, so I think things went well.

The teacher said that one of the games he wants to bring in is Wings of War. I’ve played some variants of Wings of War miniatures with TedMan, but this is a card-only game and can support eight players, I think. Anyway, I had fun; NatureBoy had fun; the kids seemed like they were enjoying themselves.

I’m just waiting for the opportunity to get a Pen and Paper RPG in there. Maybe Mouse Guard? NB also said he though WizWar would be fun to bring.

Game On!

Making WizWar

When we attended the Carnage gaming conference in November, NatureBoy and I played a game called WizWar, and had a great time. The game itself is out of print, but rules and materials can be downloaded and used to make your own game set. Of course, having played on a beautiful three-dimensional game board, we didn’t want to play on a flat cardboard set.

For Solstice, NatureBoy and I got two silicone rubber molds ( #88 and #285 ) from Hirst Arts, and 25 pounds of a dental plaster casting stone called Merlin’s Magic from a supplier in Massachusetts.

Following the instructions on the Hirst Arts site (here and here), we’ve started creating the pieces necessary for the WizWar board.

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Here are the two molds, and some Merlin’s Magic getting mixed on top of the mixing board.

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Carnage game report – Day Three

Our gaming getaway concluded on Sunday, and I’m thinking it was a good thing. Our room was located in a high-traffic area of the hotel, so we were roused frequently by late night gamer carousing — especially Beloved Wife, who is a light sleeper. Needless to say, we all were pretty tired.

NatureBoy and I were scheduled to play just one game, Star Trek Fleet Action from 10 am to 2 PM. After breakfast, packing and checking out, we headed to the dealer room where we picked up two D&D 3.5 books at 50% off: the Fiend Folio and Monster Manual III complete our monster sourcebooks collection. BW and NB also each got an oversized die. One dealer had some fun t-shirts, but we resisted the call to spend.

Star Trek Fleet Action was a mixed bag. It was a huge tactical miniatures game, with at least ten players controlling several spaceships each. All the players except one hadn’t played the game from which this homebrew rules set had been derived. The GM has lost his voice from running many games already, and the noisy room made it next to impossible to hear. And even though the players unanimously opted to go with his simplified rules, we still each received a 10-page (or so) booklet of the rules and reference charts. (I should have known when I saw that the GM had provided calculators.)

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Carnage photos

We had a really nice time, both playing games and having a weekend escape. I have a few photos that didn’t make it into the earlier posts that I’d like to share.

One thing we did to make our lives a little easier was to bring quite a bit of food that we could prepare and eat in our room.

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Above, NatureBoy is making himself some mashed potatoes and some noodle; “a starch-filled redundancy",” he would say, quoting one of the few TV shows we watch.

Here’s the view out that window. It was breathtaking. We even got to see some loons.

View of Lake Morey

 

Here, NatureBoy is reaching for some uranium to power his nuclear power plant in Power Grid.

 Power Grid board game

The big hit of our gaming weekend was Wiz-War. Here are the photos I promised, though neither my water-logged camera nor my crappy photography skills do the game pieces justice.

This shot of the full board, shows the six colored maze segments.The segments can be shifted and rotated, and the maze exits wrap around “Pac-Man-style” (per NB).

Wia-War custom game set

 

Here, my green wizard has just placed a captured red treasure on his home space.

Close-up of Wiz-War 

 

But someone has absconded with one of my green treasures. That paper token is the “buck,” a creature obstacle summoned by an opponent wizard.

 Wiz-War close-up

 

The grey wizard and the purple wizard prepare to duel.

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Wiz-War was a really fun game. NB and I are looking into ways we can play at home. Thanks, again, to Game Master Earl Waters for bringing so much fun to the table.

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Earl emailed me Sunday night to direct me to some of the source materials he used in creating his game. That site has lots of good stuff, and links back to another Wiz-War fan’s single PDF Wiz-War package. And the Hirst Arts site has some instructions for using their molds and other materials to create Wiz-War game sets. NatureBoy has been reviewing this site and the pdf package frequently since we got back. He especially likes the idea of a custom gelatinous cube with a figure inside. 🙂