Category Archives: board gaming

God created Arrakis to train the faithful

I don’t know about training the faithful but it’s been training my poker face.

A few more games of Dune under the belt and I’ve been enjoying how you can use the cards to create layers of intrigue and out and out base cunning. We only managed to round up five players this time, but the game did feel totally different to just three players as it seemed to flow better with each faction feeling more balanced.

What I really enjoy about the game is the meta part that can be pulled out of the game in progress. At one point I was playing as the Bene Gesserit and was going into battle against a force of Fremen, my one traitor card (traitors can win a battle outright for you if you’re lucky enough to have the leader that the other person plays) was Chani and the Fremen player used Chani in his battle plan. In the first Dune book, Chani works with Reverend Mother Ramallo when Jessica takes the water of life so if you squint really hard and think at an angle, you can almost imagine how this would work.

No?

Well I can and it’s my game so I can meta all I want, so there.

An another note, I cast another Cthulhu but this one has a special birthday, Halloween night.

Spat from the blackest night of the year, it was poured and moulded without any blemishes or imperfections as Cthulhu himself was probably overseeing the process. Much chanting and wailing later it was polished the next day, which was All Saint’s day so maybe some of the evil was drained away. It’s safely on its way to its new owner in Germany and hopefully no primordial evil will follow it.

One last gaming entry, I picked up a load of Black Scorpion Cowboys/cowgirls a few weeks ago and wanted a game to go with them so after some searching around I bought “A Fistful of Lead” to run with them. Last night was the first game I had a chance to play and its a very slick game, well worth picking up and only $6.

Three of us had a two fights, the first was a straight up three way gunfight in which I not only shot Mary Poppins…

poppins
But I also killed Jessie from Toy Story…

jessie
I’m a bad man.

I had my comeuppance in the second game when the two other players rounded up a posse and hunted down my gang. Five of my gang holed up in a hideout and attempted fend off the other two gangs but, one by one, we got picked off. One guy made a brave dash for a shed full of TNT and came out hurling it around. He managed to blow up Jessie (killing her again) and one other posse member, but was gunned down in a hail of flying lead. My leader lasted a bit longer a flesh wound, but watched helplessly as his gang fell around him. He managed a brave stand to the end and even managed to fight off a round of hand to hand combat (which I should add is even more brutal that Necromundas).

preachers-end

Sadly, in the end he took another bullet and crawled back into the hideout only be taken out by a rather mean cowgirl looking for revenge.

preachers-end

The red tokens on the table are blood markers to show who is dead and the amount of blood (plus the rather scantily clad cowgirls) all added up to a b-movie scenario that would have done Russ Meyer proud.

I bought 1000 lollysticks recently for the princely sum of less than a tenner, so will be aiming to make some western scenery soon which will be a nice change from the woodwork on Dune but I still have to finish Odin and there was a rumbling about Freya being next.

I haven’t been this busy in years…

Science time

Science is made up of so many things that appear obvious after they are explained.
Pardot Kynes.

Another Dune quote but its apt for so many things that happened this weekend.

Friday

Firstly on Friday, I gave a brief talk at Dorkbot Anglia about how I used our Celestron telescope and a cheap, off the shelf webcam to take pictures/video. The talk went really well (for me anyway, I hope everyone else found it interesting) including a live demo of Lynkeos which went off without a hitch and I really enjoyed the evening with a chance to meet some new people and listen to some amazing talks. For anyone who is interested then the slides are available in the Freebies section of the website. It’s wonderful to see that there is stuff like that going on in the area and I’m looking forward to going to another one. I’m also considering running a Star Party one night now the nights are starting sooner. A group of us loafed off to the pub after the talks had finished to engage in generic pub natter and much entertainment was had.

Saturday

After that excitement Saturday arrived and I finally got a chance to do a playtest of Dune. This was scary, I’ve have worked out that the whole thing has cost me over £200 to build, so this was crunch time. If something was missing or (horror of horrors) the game was rubbish I needed to know if it worth the two months build time and the cost?

dune-1-multicell

I bribed Karl AKA @multicelldsgn and Paul AKA @paulhutson with the promise of cooked meat in bread to come and try it out. I considered drugging the food to swing the odds in my favour but thought better of it… this time.

We had a brief skim of the rules and setup with randomly chosen factions. (Some of the following photos are blatantly stolen from their twitter feeds as wasn’t thinking and I didn’t take many myself 🙁 so thanks to them for snapping away).

dune-map

The first game was a very quick struggle between the Harkonnen (Paul), Fremen (Karl) and Guild (myself). Actually, quick isn’t the word, it was over in two turns. The Harkonnen started in one city and has the other in spitting distance, combined with the ‘thoper bonus, they managed to dash to the nearby sietch without any kind of opposition and took control. We mulled over these events and started a second game.

dune-2-multicell

This time it was between the Bene Gesserit (Paul), The Emperor (Karl) and the Harkonnen (myself) and lasted longer as we had started to see through to the dark place where this game dwells. Betrayal, poison, sneak attacks, being eaten by worms, whole armies wiped out by storms or in battle… this is a game which rubs it’s hands together and cackles loudly in great delight as you are being stabbed in the back. Out comes a projectile weapon but it’s canceled by a shield, a “are you planning to poison me?” truetrance moment, here come the traitor cards and that spice you just collected? You’ll need it to get back those troops which the worm swallowed. At one point the tanks seemed to be ready to overflow with dead troops and all five of the Emperors leaders sat in the tanks after the last one was poisoned. The game could have lasted slightly longer if I had remembered to play my traitor card on the last fight but in the end the Bene Gersserit pulled off a slick finish to take the game.

dune-1-paul

So is it worth the build time and the cost? YES! Oh yes so many times over. I’ve never played a game like this before. It was very easy to pick up the rules, we hit our stride early into the game and it never grew dull. If I have one gripe with the game is that it really does need six players. Each faction seems well balanced in its abilities but without all of the factions it seems slightly out of kilter.

Hopefully a six way game is on the cards soon but I’ve got no idea when, I’m not the Kwisatz Haderach 🙁

Sunday

Speaking of superbeings, on Sunday I was hard at work on Odin as a companion for Thor.

odin-wip

He’s coming on well but I think it’s back to work for a rest.

Now it’s complete because it’s ended here

Arrakis teaches the attitude of the knife — chopping off what’s incomplete and saying: “Now it’s complete because it’s ended here.”

I’ve just about come to the end of my Dune odyssey, I’ve got a few final bits to tidy up but the main build is over. Time to chop off what is incomplete. I received the final bits of the box from Funky Lemon and started to pull the whole thing together.

board-box

I also tested out my idea of pouring coldcast resin into the engraved areas.

 

 

 

samples

Unfortunately the font and some of the symbols are too small for it to work as well as I would have hoped. It worked really well in the big areas but some of the text became hard to read. At least I tried.

open-boxThe box was stained then glued together and the bits go inside it nicely.

 

 

slightly-open-boxThe lid/board slides on perfectly.

 

 

complete-duneThe whole thing closes.

 

 

handAnd to give a sense of scale, thar’s me mitt on top.

 

 

It’s a big old thing and has come out really well. I’m going to add some wooden dividers inside to split up the box into sections and line it with some material to add some padding. I need to add some markers to some of the troops to show which are the elite and I’m thinking of sculpting a sand storm marker and a worm marker.

Next up is a playtest which, (according to theory) should be this Saturday with some unsuspecting victims. I’ll try and post some photos from that and also of the components that I’ve used to make this.

Arrakis, the planet known as Dune, is forever his place

I’ve had a few requests for the files of my Dune map. In the link below you’ll find the files for the base and the map in eps, ai, pdf and png format.

If you download them and use them then please let me know as I’d be interested to see how they get used. I’ve also had a request about producing a board so if anyone wants me to make one for them, please let me know.

UPDATE – I’M GETTING A BIT F**KED OFF WITH FINDING THAT PEOPLE ARE GRABBING THESE AND PASSING THEM OFF AS THEIR OWN WORK. PLEASE AT LEAST CREDIT/LINK ME FOR ALL THE TIME I PUT INTO CREATING AND SHARING THESE AI FILES AND ILYA-77 FOR THE ORIGINAL.

https://bit.ly/1a4MOiz

What you’ll get is the map:

Dune boardgame map

 

 

 

 

and the base:

Dune boardgame Map

The Spice Must Flow

There’s nothing like a good quote from a Sci-fi book to spice up your blog entry but how about a photo as well?

final-board-pre-brass

I first read Dune by Frank Herbert many years ago while I was still in high school and still read it now and then, I’ve seen the film umpteen times, played various computer games, own trading cards blah blah blah… yeah I like the stories and there’s something awesome about guys riding giant worms and fighting over spice which is made from the poop of baby worms and water. Oh and the politics and characters are pretty good as well, its not all about worms and spice.

Old Spice

Several months ago I got to see, hear, touch and smell an original copy of the 1979 boardgame based on Dune (I would have licked it if I had the chance). It was a thing of beauty… even though it was fairly beaten up and well played. It’s filled with 70’s artwork which sets a different mood to everything that came ‘post Lynch’ that most people know and I really wanted to play it… badly. Unfortunately it wasn’t possible, but I did some digging and managed to turn up a reprint which was released short after the film came out and was almost the same except it had a figure on the front based on Feyd-Rautha/Sting from the film. While my finger hovered over the ‘buy’ button I couldn’t find it in me to click it… something was nagging at me. While reading up on the game earlier I had uncovered a lot of info about the game and the three main bits that I turned up was that the company which made it (Avalon Hill) had gone out of business years before, another company had bought the rights to the rules but couldn’t get the theme so they released it as Rex: Final Days of an Empire and that the rules and there is a wealth of details about Dune available on board game geek. While the possibility to buy an updated version in the form of Rex seemed tempting, I was left cold by the theme and the more I thought about it, the more I realised that I could work on making my own copy based on the resources available to me. What I would hope to end up with was a unique piece that reflected some of the love

I decided to wait while we went on holiday for two weeks and that would allow me a cooling off period which didn’t work as all I could think about was how I would make it. I know printers in the Ipswich area so I knew I could easily get them to run off anything I sent them but that seemed too easy, where was my involvement? I needed to make something and just having it all printed by someone else seemed too simple for me.

The Sleeper Must Awaken

The first thing was to find out exactly what I needed in terms of board, cards, counters and rules. Scouring the Dune section of BGG I found a couple of places which had the full set of resources and settled on the set by Ilya 77 which quite a few people seem to have used and there’s it’s a wonderful design which has a art deco/20’s feel to it which fits with the abandonment of technology that the books have. One chap has even collected all of the cards into three artscow galleries for ease of printing so theres a big time saver thanks to the hard work of kevintlee for pulling these together.

cardsI ordered the cards (sorry, a touch blurry. I will take some better photos when the whole thing is finished) and they came in a couple of weeks which isn’t bad going as they came all the way from Hong Kong.

While that was all in transit I picked up some wooden discs and some mosaic tiles to use as counters in the game as the troops/spice.

dune-tokens

The discs got coated in sanding sealer, rubbed down, coated again, sanded, coated, sanded… on and on until they became smooth and then I glued the front and back of the leader discs to each one.

spice tokens

I bought seven colours of the mosaic tiles and they match the colours of the six houses well, and another pack being used for the Spice tokens. All of the troop tokens are clear but the spice tokens have gold and brown flecks in them which really helps to make them look like compressed packets of Spice Melange.

For the map I could have gone the easy route of printing it on a large printout via a local printer but wanted the board to be unique. I’d been toying with the idea of a wooden one as several people on BGG had posted photos of homemade wooden boards and I’d already made contact with Kieron at Funky Lemon Design over finding out his pricing for laser cutting on something else previously. That didn’t go through but and I got back in touch to work out how the board could be done. After a quick chat, I found a copy of the board file as a coraldraw file (which I had to convert to .ai) and I then set about turning it into a version I could pass on for engraving. Some of the details didn’t survive the conversion (no text, some of the shapes) and I made a few changes to the design such as the same font over the whole thing and moving some bits around. One of thoughts that came up at one point (not sure where) was to have the map raised above the base to give it a slightly extruded feel so I supplied the final artwork as two files. One base, one map.
DuneMap-baseDuneMap-map

and what came back?

BVk_MsSCcAAmLfp

Which is actually two bits and ready for staining like this:

board-stained

and the map goes from this:

map-prestain

to this:

map-stained

The middle bit (the polar cap) is just sanding sealer over the bare wood, the sand, mountains and sietch spaces are all different coloured wood stains and finally it will look like this when it is glued together:

board-assembled

But it isn’t glued together, not yet, as I have one more thing to do to it. I’m going to mix up some easyflo and some brass powder and fill the engravings in the wood. I was going insane just staining the base so I’m not looking forward to the metal stage as that will be quite a bit to do. I also don’t have the final bits just yet as Funky Lemon are putting together a carefully put together box which will act as storage and a base for the map, this will need gluing and staining to match the base. The one last thing will be to play test to make sure I have every last bit, at which point I find out I’m missing some massive piece but at least I’ll have a funky map. I can theoretically have more of the map/board pieces made up now that one has been done so I’ll be fine if it ever gets damaged, I’ll also post some better pictures of the final setup when the whole thing is finished.

A bit of old Roleplay

No not that kind you smutty minded troglodytes. I’m on about the multisided dice type while talking about robes, staffs and magic spells… Well ok, it could pass for the smut laden filth you lot started thinking about at the start.

This post is an attempt to chronicle a bit of my fractured memory from the 90’s before it slips away for good due to drink and old age, and stems from a random conversation on twitter, so before I lose too many readers (too late, one left and now theres only you reading it) I shall do that wibbly wobbly thing they do on TV programmes to show we are going to a flashback. Ready? You have to join in with this bit. Wibble… wibble… wibble….

Its the 90’s, probably around ’93 or ’94. A bunch of teenage lads sit in a spare bedroom in a northern house just outside Rochdale. Pot noodles for lunch, masses of lead miniatures line the bookcase and the dice have more sides/angles than they should. I was the GM to our little RPG group more often than not with Warhammer fantasy Role-play being the main one but we also tucked into Rifts, Necromunda (is that RPG? It has RPG elements), Shadowrun, Star Wars (the second most played), Runequest (i don’t think we actually played that as the rulebook was highly complex), Call of Cthulhu, Toon and Battletech.

Most of these anecdotes are probably only funny to people who are involved but I like to think they could be understood by anyone who has held a D10. The core group was four of us, Martin (Orc war boss), Tony (Dark Elves/Dark Angels), Francis (Wood elves/Eldar) and myself (Empire/Imperial Guard), other people joined in now and then but it was just us few. At this point I should go all hipster and point out that we played the 3rd edition Warhammer (big old hardback which I still have), started on Rogue Trader (no, not the TV series about dodgy plumbers, it was the first version of what is now Warhammer 40k) then moved onto the 2nd edition when it became 40k (circa 93) and our version of Warhammer RP was the first edition, along with the various addons that went with them all. The group could never keep on plot and, while I liked to think I could keep the story moving, it often ended up with them going far off tangent and ruining my careful preparation but what didn’t help was I tried to stick to the story a bit too closely rather than be flexible and play by ear when they went off course.

Lets start with the characters, like the transgender druid. We played WFRP at the time of playing Warhammer fantasy battles so we often had minis for all of our characters and NPC’s but often when starting the games we didn’t always have minis to represent them straight away. Now credit where its due, someone tried to be unusual and rolled up a female druid. We played one days worth of a campaign game in which one of the other characters (the Wizard i think) decided to… erm… get jiggy with this loverly and I seem to remember it may have been in some barn as we ended the days session with the group traveling. So skip forward to the next session and someone managed to get some new figures and our druid now has a mini… complete with beard. Unable to find a female druid figure in Games Workshops back catalogue he ended up with a figure from the Talisman collection (top row, 2nd from left). This caused a few sniggers about the romantic tryst the night before (actually it could have been rape knowing these guys) but we retconned the previous session to say it was always a bloke. The young couple never spoke of it again but the rest of us did. Many times. Including about 5 minutes ago on twitter…

Then we had the poodle killing dwarf. At the time we often bulked out the parties with two characters. Martin had the aforementioned wizard whos most powerful spell for a while was ‘protection from rain’ (complete with mini umbrella) and a dwarf trollslayer with no patience. While playing part of the ‘Enemy within’ campaign the group spent most of their time wandering round a city looking for clues which our little slayer got bored of doing so promptly started strangling dogs. No reason for it, just a bit of harmless dog killing to pass the time.

I went through a phase of trying to do individual bits for each player so I took the assassin to one side and tried to corrupt him to chaos but it didn’t work (an incorruptible assassin who doesn’t want power! Whaaaaa?) and the dwarf was temporarily loaned out to a special forces group which I based on the men from U.N.C.L.E. to do a warehouse raid. He ended up not using the custom repeating crossbow pistol I gave him and slaughtered most of the NPC’s with an axe.

They got low on money at one point while in the Empire so made the group actually roleplay out street performing to raise cash so they did the ‘shoop shoop song’. I gave them a few coppers based on how bad they did and it was bad.

One guy who dropped in for a game rolled up a Halfling thief (a bit of racial stereotyping there) and then promptly had an arrow through his head in the first fight he got into.

There was the time the party stumbled onto a camp of orcs with two of them ‘getting jiggy with it’ (what WAS I thinking at that point?)

The out and out corruption of the character leveling, when changing classes the players would combine upgrades meaning some players ended up with a WS of around 90 and one guy got so strong he could punch through an orc.

I got roasted for saying ‘nitch’ instead of ‘niche’ in one game.

My Blood Bowl team called something like Azule Bolg which translated into fat and rich, which worked well as they moved like slugs on the pitch but despite losing every game, managed to be the richest team.

While playing a Star Wars session I had the group running through an asteroid trying to destroy an Imperial research base and they came around a corner to find a room full of stormtroopers. Hats off to the player (can’t remember which) who announced he was going to shoot the door to lock it down, I wanted the players to be forced to go a different way so waved at the door in the room we played in and said it was a door like that and they had just blown the handle off the door… they then spent the rest of the day year lifetime laughing at me for putting a wooden door in a research base. I was attempting to say it was a manual door but you don’t really see a lot of those doors in the Star Wars Universe so either way I was onto a loser.

I’m not even going to get into the farce that was most of the games of Warhammer. I lost most, if not all of them…

Here ended the geekery.

Just a little footnote here, as I was writing this up I remembered that we played the Fighting Fantasy RPG a couple of times and I think it came before WFRP. There was the Riddling Reaver, a small RPG book the same size as the FF books as well as two really chunky rulebooks for expanded RP. Sadly nothing sticks out from those games but I may need to see if I still have the books to jog my memory.