Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Portable War at Sea - card concept

Here is a sample of the card mechanism I described in my game design post of yesterday. The cards are very rough, but one can easily get the idea from what I've posted below. Comments are welcome.

Torpedo Run
Select a friendly submarine or destroyer to make an attack on one enemy surface ship up to two spaces away.  The target may attempt to evade: Roll d6
DD-CL: 4,5,6
CA-BB: 5,6
CV: 6

    Fire: Roll d6, 1-5=1 hit, 6 = 2 hits
A friendly submarine or surface ship may move up to two spaces; if a destroyer, it may move up to three spaces instead.
Air Strike
Select an enemy surface ship that is up to 10 spaces from a friendly carrier. Roll a d6:
1: no effect
2-3: 1 hit
4-5: 2 hits
6: destroyed
Target may not evade. After the attack is resolved, roll a d6. On a 5 or 6 return this card to the owner’s hand.
Move a friendly capital ship one space and draw a card or move a friendly capital ship two spaces.
Plunging Fire
Use only when attacking with a BB: After designating a target and determining hits, if the target is hit, you may add the effects of this card to that attack.
Effect: Target suffers 2 more hits
A damaged friendly ship may move up to four spaces.
Main Guns: 9”- 11”
Roll an attack against an enemy ship that is up to 3 spaces from a friendly CA. The target may attempt to evade: Roll d6
DD: 4,5,6
CL-CA-BB: 5,6
CV: 6

    Fire: Roll d6,
Range 1: 1-5=1 hit, 6 = 2 hits
Range 2: 1= miss, 2-6 = 1 hit
Range 3: 1-3 = miss, 4-6 = 1 hit
A friendly CL or CA may move up to two spaces.
Main Guns: 12”- 14”
Roll an attack against an enemy ship that is up to 5 spaces from a friendly CA. The target may attempt to evade: Roll d6
DD:3, 4,5,6
CL-CA: 5-6
BB-CV: 6
    Fire: Roll d6,
Range 1: 1-5=1 hit, 6 = 2 hits
Range 2: 1= miss, 2-6 = 1 hit
Range 3: 1-3 = miss, 4-6 = 1 hit
Range 4: 1-3 = miss, 4-6 = 2 hits
Range 5: 1-3 = miss, 4-6 = 3 hits
A friendly BB or CV  may move one space.
Fire Control
Use only when attacking with main guns: After designating a target, play this card to receive a +1 to the Fire die roll.

Up to two Fire Control modifiers may be played on a single attack.

Select a friendly ship and move it up to two spaces..
Smoke Screen
May be played when a friendly destroyer is targeted by an enemy main gun or torpedo run attack; negate the attack.

After the attack is negated, roll a d6. On a 6, return this card to the owner’s hand.
A friendly DD may move up to four spaces.
Combat Air Patrol
May be played when a friendly surface ship is attacked by an enemy air strike within 6 spaces of a friendly CV. Negate the attack and discard the enemy air strike card.

After the attack is negated, roll a d6. On a 6, return this card to the owner’s hand.
A friendly CV may move up to two spaces.
Random Course Change
May be played when a friendly surface ship is attacked. Apply a -1 modifier to the enemy’s attack roll.

When this card is played, the enemy player may move the targeted ship one space in any direction.
A friendly submarine may move up to two spaces and is hidden.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Portable War at Sea - concept and a personal update

As a fan of Bob Cordrey's Portable Wargame, I've pondered the ways in which the principles of the concept could be applied to naval wargaming. From what I understand, he is working on a naval version of his own, but I am thinking along different approach avenues for my own project.

If any of you ever played Avalon Hill's Naval War, then you will remember the decks of cards that were used to represent not only the ships, but also the combat mechanism of damage and defense. This is how I am looking at my portable war at sea. 

Speaking of which, I did not get into the Wizkids War at Sea game, as I was unemployed/underemployed at the time it was available. Now, the basic game and boosters are far too costly for my tastes, especially as it would take multiples of each to do what I want to achieve with my game.

So, I am going to probably go with Axis and Allies naval miniatures, via http://www.historicalboardgaming.com/ as a cheaper alternative. 

My thought is to have a square or hex table, using individual ship models, and a combat system that uses cards. I'd include subs, destroyers, light cruisers, heavy cruisers, battleships, and carriers, but I am also considering adding cargo ships for scenario purposes. Aircraft would not be represented on the table, instead they would make an appearance through card play.

The idea is for each player to have his/her force of ships, and then play out of a hard of cards drawn from a single deck. The hand size would probably fall within 5 to 8 cards; playtesting would narrow this down. Each class of ship would have certain abilities/advantages, as well as balancing factors. For example, a destroyer would easily be destroyed, in comparison to other ship types, it it would have access to SMOKE SCREEN and TORPEDO RUN cards which would be prohibited to the other ship types (except Subs could use TORPEDO RUN). They would also have "attack" cards which represent their main gun batteries.

Having a carrier would allow aircraft cards to be used, which could be along the lines of COMBAT AIR PATROL as a defensive, anti-bomber card, or DIVE BOMBER FLIGHT. These cards could be used at an extended range.

I am also thinking that the cards have two exclusive uses, combat (whether offensive or defensive) and movement. As I first thought about this, I almost went with the Memoir '44 mechanic, but that did not make complete sense as naval ships are constantly on the move, when in combat.

Ships would still have Strength Points, which would be lost to damaging attacks and/or recovered via defensive cards such as DAMAGE CONTROL or EMERGENCY REPAIRS.

Anyhow, this is one game that I've had percolating for a while. Another game that has been swimming around in my gray matter is a fleet action sci-fi game; think Starfire, but far simpler and for squadrons of ships instead of individual ships. 

As I come up with ideas, I write them down, either on paper or as emails to myself. I've got dozens of these, and I need to start making use of them.

As to the personal update, I am still in the background check process for the new job, and am getting the different parts of the physical taken care of, so that there's no delay after the background check is completed. However, I have been feeling rather poorly, still, and I think it is a combination of lingering sinus issues and diabetes. I've had to go through three different medications, over the past eight weeks, as the first two had really lousy side effects. My dizziness and light headedness can be due to sinus issues, but I do not know for certain. 

I can tell you that I am sick and tired of being told "get used to getting older." My father's health is not great, although he did have a few positives last week, but also one very big negative that will require further tests. Having headaches every day for the past 36 years is barely tolerable, but I can hack it, this feeling poorly all the time, though, it sucks. 

Still, I am excited for what this summer brings to the table.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Portability of Wargaming

I am a huge fan of the Portable Wargame concept, some rules for which can be purchased from Bob Cordrey, via Lulu and Amazon. His blog is a good source of information for what he and others are doing to further the concept and fully develop it into something more. I happen to read his blog almost daily, and I frequently trail back to view his older posts.

There are numerous takes on this type of game, which did not originate with Bob, as I understand it, but he is perhaps the most vocal advocate, currently.

A few other notable chaps are pushing the concept into new and interesting directions, using technology to advance the standard, so to speak.
A discussion about this photo here.

I would not be surprised to see someone doing "official" resin or laser cut plywood tiles and terrain, to support those of us who see the utility of this type of game. Yes, it is rather stylistic and lacks the glamour and glitz of other game systems, but its simplicity is an attraction all to itself. Also, it is, well, portable.

Link to the above site here

Of course, the Perry's have already developed a similar game, which is also very portable, by design.

I own two copies of this game, but I really, really, want to buy at least two more. However, between a planned move and other projects, the expense cannot be budgeted for this year.

The flexibility of the game means that one could play any genre, be it science fiction, fantasy, historical, or whatever lies between. Also, the game itself could be of any size or scale, from 3mm to 54mm figures and the size of the board/table could be a chessboard (or even smaller) to a very large multi-table board. Your only limit is your imagination...and space...and budget. But, these are minor when compared to the benefits of having a game ready to hand wherever you live and wherever you go.

There's a lot of action or potential action in the above photo. Is the terrain super-realistic? Why does that matter? Do it really matter at all?

Heck, as the image below shows us, we don't even need miniature figures at all.

One of my current not-quite-backburner projects is to create a 10x10 square board, and assemble two WWII-ish armies. I am looking at Russian and German miniatures, but painted as Mordian and Cadian troops from Warhammer 40k. I've just ordered a small selection of Pendraken 10mm figures, including an AT gun, a tank, and some infantry, to get a sense of the size of square I will need for my board. Now, I can use my Kallistra hexes, but they are not as readily portable and I dare not risk them as baggage on a flight across the country.

Another bonus, I figure solo rules for this type of game will work just fine.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

The Soloist Gamer

So, it is a 98.9% certainty that I will soon be living 118 miles from the nearest game/hobby store, in a town that has zero or close to zero wargamers among its population base. Thus, I will join the ranks of the soloists

I have begun looking for board and miniature games suitable for playing solo. I already have most of the Two Hour Wargames rules and I have a couple of games from Victory Point Games, but I am still searching for a greater variety of interesting games to play...by myself.

I did receive, via a BoardgameGeek purchase, this:
Which is a game I should have bought decades ago, but kept telling myself I'd come back and get it later...and then the store owners died and the shop closed down., before internet sales became a thing.

I'm going to have to pack that away, for when after I move in to my new home, but I did not want to fall back into the old trap of putting it off until later.

If any of you readers have suggestions for good solo games, whether boardgames or miniature games, then please reply to this post. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I am looking at converting several games over to fit the soloist experience, but that will be a long-term effort and will not serve the immediate needs of playing a game.


Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Getting it Right

Whenever I walk into a game/hobby store, I am always looking for certain things. Not just products, but also the manner in which they assist me, offer assistance, or outright ignore my presence until the moment I step up to the register with cash in hand.

Back in 2001, I switched from Games Workshop Trade Sales to Games Workshop Retail, due to my then-wife wanting to move back to California. Games Workshop was kind enough to give me a chance to earn a position as a retail store manager, so that I could maintain my employment with the company I loved.

It all worked out, I spent a couple of months as a retail store employee, learning the ropes, and mastering what I needed to in order to become a store manager. Everyone was happy, as was I, even though I went from having a 5 day a week work week, to six and seven days a week, with nary a holiday in sight.

What I learned as a GW Retail employee as stayed with me, literally, ever since. I submit exhibit 1 into evidence.

This is the "10 Commandments of Retail" card I was issued when I first walked into my new experience as a retail employee of Games Workshop. Exhibit 2 is more revealing.
The flash makes the last one difficult to see, but it reads "Show Courtesy."

At the time, as I do not know if this still the case (the local GW shop closed after about 6 months due to weird store hours meaning no customers. It was very strange), employees could expect to be randomly quizzed on these 10 Commandments of Retail at any time, from anyone.

Upon close inspection, none of these are sinister or evil, instead they each indicate an expectation on the part of an employee, in fact this could be an employee of any retail outlet in any part of the world.

Unfortunately, far too many "workers" in retail stores are either gamers first or "counter jockeys" who stand, but usually sit, behind the register counter, and passive await someone who insists on spending money in their store.

Many stores I have entered failed, badly, at fulfilling #8, to the detriment of my future enjoyment of food and the destruction of my sinuses. Others cannot even get #1 right, ignoring me the entire time I am in the store.

Usually, if a store manages to get over half of these right, I will spend cash on their products, as a way to reward them for their professionalism. If they do not get any right, I do not spend my money and I never return to it.

I did well as a retail manager, but my store was in a very high costing area, and I had to commute 3 hours a day, one way, to work. It was stressful and affecting my health. A year later, when I was promoted to regional manager, meaning I had to visit three stores, spread out over 200 miles of driving a month, for no additional pay, including no funds for my extra travel, then I gave my notice. I just could not afford to do the job they required of me and I did not wait until I went bankrupt to inform them of such.

As things turned out, within two years I would have quit anyways, due to how they transitioned from Glen Burnie, Maryland, to their new U.S. Headquarters, wherever that is. Don't get me wrong, I loved working for Games Workshop, in spite of the stress, but I felt my friends and co-workers were treated rather poorly by the UK management at the time, which has since changed greatly for the better.

In these years since, my training and experience as a Retail employee and manager has stayed with me I have high and not unreasonable expectations from game and hobby stores that I visit. If you want for me to spend any money in your store, I'd better be greeted when I enter, your staff had best not smell like a locker room, when I ask questions about products you carry, then you need to know the answers or be able to get the answers quickly, and you should not talk down any products, even those you do not carry.

I cannot tell you how many times I've walked into a store and heard store employees trashing products, even ones featured on their shelves. If a product is not any good, do not carry it in the store. If you do not carry an item, don't slag off on it. Promote what you do carry and be positive with your customers.

Getting it right in retail has its own financial rewards.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Chug Chug Chugging Along

Lots has gone on in the relatively short time since my last post. Some of it good/great and the rest being terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad. The latter may require some explanation, but I cannot bring myself to do it at this time.

However, the good/great is that I am going through the required background check for the job I accepted. Once I pass this check, I should be getting word which dwelling I will call home for the next number of years. I do need to take a class on Native American history and culture, in the state where I will be moving to, but I may just read a few books on the subject and take the test, if allowed.

Otherwise, I will need to take yet another college class, in the midst of the M.A. program that I am already involved in.

On the gaming side of things, here's a big hint

Need a bigger hint?

Yes. Yes, sadly yes, but happily yes, in oh so many ways. I'd pretty much sworn off  Games Workshop products and games since the great Inquisitorial purging of my friends and former co-workers at the US Headquarters in Glen Burnie. It was (and I still believe it to be) a crappy thing to do. However, in the past few years, the company has turned a new leaf, or rediscovered what they were when I first fell in love with the worlds of Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000 and all of the little and not-so-little side games they released in the later 80s and early to mid 90s.

So, in the years since 2004, I've missed out on Dreadfleet and the 4th edition of Space Hulk, as well as the fall of the Old World and the rise of the Age of Sigmar. Now, though, I have gone back to my passion of my late teens and early twenties to early thirties, starting an army of the Daemonic forces of Khorne. Way way way back, I had a Chaos Warrior army of Khorne, never fielding any units of deamons. I'm making the change. Actually, I have always liked the concept of Chaos Undivided, with forces of all of the Chaos gods being mixed within a single army. The current models are, for the most part, spectacularly good, now that the resin (bleep) stuff is gone or mostly gone.

Unfortunately, Games Workshop's in-house and online ordering system is... not what it should be. Gone are the days of "Games Workshop Mail Order!" and now it is "customer service hours are 9am to 5pm Central Standard Time." Man, I yearn for the days when I could talk to a fellow gamer, who only just happened to be a GW mail order trolls, about building my army and what kinds of units are best suited to my play style.  My last few conversations with "customer service" were more about waiting on hold and being hurried off the phone. I was on hold for 25 minutes, on one call, last week. As I started out my short (just under 5 years) career at Games Workshop, working for Bob Bassin in Mail Order, my memories of what an excellent service it was are not even partially met by my current experiences. I do not blame the trolls, but rather the US management.

Additionally, a number of items are out of stock, even ones currently, as in a few hours ago, were featured on their main page. I ordered an time two weeks ago, which I was told will not be in stock until July, at the earliest! WTF! Why is it on the main GW page? I cancelled that order as will likely have an entirely different home address by the time the item arrives at the GW warehouse. I'll just buy it then. I bet they have it in the UK warehouse.

Of course, Age of Sigmar is not my only weakness. As I mentioned, or I think I did, I am again back to playing Necromunda, where I have faired well, with a single loss (friggin dice failed me at a crucial point).

The above picture is my desk, at work, while I am on a break. I was in the process of base coating my Orlocks, who I failed to photograph. But...I can tease you with this shot of their bases.

I've spent way way way too much on GW products in the last month. Yet, retail therapy is a very real and, I might say, "necessary" way to cope with the terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad news that we received in the past two weeks.

A few of us have been getting together, at Hobbytown USA, with the intent to bring new players into the game. Below is a photo from two weeks ago, where we were using Brent's copy of the game, and showing it off in small, demo scenarios.

 We were going to play again, tomorrow evening, but the game night has been cancelled for this week. Hopefully, we will be back at it again next Friday.