Ziggeraut Prime!

I am thrilled to share Ziggeraut Prime, a SciFi tabletop wargame fork of Brigandine. From their site:

ZP serves as the last human run prison and any crime commited “wins” you an all expenses paid trip. It is considered the height of human morality.

As you might imagine, an inexcapable and hostile planet filled to the brim with violent criminals naturally fosters a lot of violence. Not only does this make for great TV ratings for the law-abiding populace but it’s also a really fantastic Tabletop Game for you.

There is a lot more to the lore, including the history of how A.I. screwed humanity, gang drama, and some dark eldrich horror magic. All of this, and the bat-shit-crazy cast of characters we created, makes for a pretty great story. Which we give to you in a fancy Webcomic.

Ziggeraut Prime has influences of Running Man and Necromunda and it looks and feels amazing. The rulebook is written largely in-character and they totally nailed the theme. I can’t wait to play it!

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Blackwater Gulch: Expansion Kickstarter!

The recently highlighted free-as-in-beer Wild West skirmish game, Blackwater Gulch, has  just begun a Kickstarter for their new expansion, Rebels & Reinforcements. As with a lot of miniature figure-based Kickstarters, this one is heavy on the bulk presale and on stretch goals.

We at TTB have been talking a lot about Kickstarters. Make no mistake, we’re still for free-as-in-speech wargames, but we love to see indie companies use Kickstarter to find their audience and become known. It’s a big step for the industry, which for years has been steered by just a couple of monolithic publishers.

So, keep pledging to indie wargames projects! Good luck, Blackwater Gulch!

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Lulu’s a Win for Small-run Indie Publishing

I ordered a small run of Brigandine rulebooks for the alpha test, and I’m really pleased with how they came out. I used Lulu.com as my printshop and distributor. Good prices, great quality, and their website has excellent tools that make it easy to format, price, and order books. I highly recommend them for anyone who is looking to print their rules.

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Brigandine 1.1

I recently got some time to update Brigandine to v1.1 – skirmish rules with a bite! I adjusted some points values, fixed some major formatting issues, and made a number of rules tweaks.

Check it out: Brigandine Fantasy Skirmish Rules 1.1

The biggest rules change? Airborne units are now less OP. It’s hard to simulate all the possible situations in a rule-light system, but I’m satisfied with the solution, for now at least.

Posted in Brigandine, Fantasy, Open Source Gaming, Wargames | 2 Comments

[Brigandine] Design Teardown – Why a Skirmish Game?

I’d like to talk about Brigandine, a wargame I finished writing not long ago:

Why another skirmish game?

I don’t think we lack for 28mm skirmish games. In fact, within most genres, we have a variety to choose from. However, I think that we can possibly have enough wargames available. Especially not enough open source rulesets. If you’re into wargaming, you should be able to pick and choose what game you’re playing on a particular afternoon. It’s a healthier ecosystem, like investing a deck of cards and being able to play hundreds of games. It leads to new mechanics, because the conceptual barrier to creating a new funky game is lower in a world where not everyone is bound to Commercial WarGame 2.1. It adds variety, and the more games are out in play, the more inexpensive miniatures and rules and other complementary goods are. That’s my main reason for creating Brigandine – it’s my own entry into the coming post-monolithic-publisher world of wargames.

Design goals

With my student years behind me, I wanted a game I could play in a short evening, that I could easily explain to unseasoned gamers. I wanted to make sure anyone could play with a shoebox full of any miniatures. I wanted it to be fast, and I wanted to tweak a few variables that similar games seem to ignore.

For instance – minimize dice rolling per decision made. All attacks in brigandine hinge on a single die roll, with no additives or math to them. Sometimes a player rolls more than one die, and the target of each roll is different, but – one roll.

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Mobile Frame Zero – Rapid Attack

Mobile Frame Zero is a worthy project, and an awesome looking game. Though it isn’t open source, it deserves mention here for being crowdfunded on a well run Kickstarter campaign which is, as previously conceded, is a respectable model for a for-profit game. Add to this that the game’s miniatures are player-built Lego robots, and you’ve got a flexible model that leads to happy players.

Give the Mechanized Artillery what they want! What they seem to currently want is a really cool flickr group for open posts of lego mecha from people all over.

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[Brigandine] Alpha Playtest

There’s no greater joy, or tactic, in game design than watching your friends play your game. I say watching but it’s past seeing, watching, and monitoring altogether – it’s a hypersurvey, where you look for every hole and prod every sentence. It’s an intense process, and it’s the only way to proceed at certain points. As my game design hero Andy Looney says:

The ultimate test of a game’s worth occurs as soon as the game ends: if the players genuinely and unhesitatingly want to play more, you’ve got a winner.

Anyway, I’ll be posting some notes on design for Brigandine: Open source fantasy skirmish wargame, in the next few months. After playtesting by myself, then with one friend, then with many, I think I’m ready to share with all of you this game I made. Pics of the aforementioned playtest below.

Posted in Brigandine, Fantasy, Open Source Gaming, Wargames | 2 Comments

BWS(2012) – Solo Wargaming Mechanic

I’ve been busy for a while with work, wrapping up a large project for work. Now I’m packing to move back to the US from Thailand. Chaos to say the least and I’ve had little time to devote to redesigning BWS. But, it’s always there in the back of my head and I incorporate things I think of every day.

In my initial goals statement, I found it important for the game to be played many ways – competitive, cooperative and solitaire. I’m going to focus mostly on the last element for a bit – solitaire wargaming.

There are some interesting ideas for solo wargames. Two Hour Wargames has a neat system that works pretty well, giving the enemy a reaction to most actions you take. If you fire at an enemy, he’ll fire back. If you run out in the middle of an open area, he’ll likely send you running back for cover.

My idea for solitaire play is informed by the marvelous story game Apocalypse World by Vincent Baker. To give you a rundown of this role playing game, players make a move and then roll some dice. If the result is 6 or less, then the GM puts some difficulty in their way or they take harm. If the result is 7-9, then they sort of get what they wanted, but usually at some price. If the result is 10+ that is a full success.

There are different moves defined in Apocalypse World, from moves that inflict harm to others to moves that set you up for later moves. The results all follow that same <6, 7-9, 10+ methodology but the effects are defined different. For example, one move says: When you do something under fire, roll+cool (this means roll 2d6 and add your “cool” stat)
On a 10+, you do it.
On a 7-9, you flinch or hesitate.

You don’t have to define <6 because the GM has a set of moves they can use for that to make things more difficult for the player. One move says: When you try to seize something by force
On 10+, choose 3 from below:
On 7-9, choose 2 from below:
– you take definite hold of it
– you suffer little harm
– you inflict terrible harm
– you impress, dismay, or frighten your enemy

The first move is interesting as it gives you something more than just a pass or fail for your action. The second move is amazing because it forces you to choose between options, all of which you want. You squirm in your seat when you make your choices because they all matter. I want BWS to feel like that.

The solo mechanic I am considering works like this:

+ You pick an action for a unit. If it has a Mod that enhances that action, you add that to your die roll.
+ You roll d6 and compare to these results:
– 1-2 – Pick 1 Bad Effect
– 3-4 – Pick 1 Bad Effect and 1 Good Effect
– 5+ – Pick 1 Good Effect
– 7+ – Pick 2 Good Effects
+ Select your effects from the table using that which most relates to the action you attempted.

Example:
Fire Team Bravo is just out of range of an enemy unit. The player decides on a movement/maneuver action for the unit. The unit has a Mod called “Fleet Feet” which gives an advantage in moving, so he can use this to add one to the die roll.

The player rolls d6, adds his point for the Mod, and looks up his result on the results chart. Let’s say in this case he rolls a 2 on the die and adding one gets a result of 3. Now he must pick 1 Good Effect and 1 Bad Effect. He chooses “You alert the enemy to your location” as his Bad Effect and “Advance to an adjacent Zone” as his Good Effect. Maybe the troops were crashing through the brush noisily to get to the new Zone.

Sample Good Effects for moving/maneuvering:
Advance to an adjacent Zone
Gain a temporary advantage (add 1 to any die roll for this unit for 1 round – track this with a token)
Rout an enemy unit in the Zone (move back to another zone)

Sample Bad Effects:
You alert the enemy to your location
An enemy unit advances in response
Bogged down, you may not move next turn
It takes more time that you planned

There would be many more Effects defined for all actions, but the idea is simple: Roll and pick what happened from a list. This mechanic allows solo play to mimic the back and forth of a multi-player wargame by allowing your failed rolls to count as enemy turns.

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Brink of Battle

Brink of Battle is an indie commercial rules set that has the right idea:

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The Regiment RPG

The Regiment is a really intriguing WWII tactical narrative RPG that hits a lot of interesting new ground. The coolest part I’ve read so far: The characters get bonus experience via the players writing letters home talking about their experiences as the characters perceive and describe them. Really brilliant, go check it out!

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