Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Blood Bowl Is Coming Back!!



Well, given GW's recent re-released boxed set it was kind of inevitable that everyone's favourite Warhammer football game would make a return to this and Bull's blog. Whilst I have absolutely no intention of purchasing the new stuff, Bull just couldn't help himself as the opportunity to acquire new Ork models presented itself so readily.

The last time we played Blood Bowl we got a good half dozen games in before things drifted on. Mr Awdry has already expressed an interest in adding his Lizardmen to the league, and 'Zombicide' Chris is also up for giving it a go (yet to decide on a team). I may even manage to get another regular player or two involved, so hopefully we'll get even more games in this time.


With everyone starting with a clean slate, this is the ideal time to make a good impression and get a solid opening game under the belt. I will be fielding my Dark Elves 'Darkblades' team from last time - I really enjoy the team mix, though need to try a Witch Elf or Assassin this time round.

It's unlikely that we'll see much action till the new year. I'd like to say that it gives me plenty of time to prep my team with new paint, etc. but in reality I doubt there will be much prep done.

Have to say I'm looking forward to it!



Friday, 25 November 2016

Project Out Of Time – Shooting

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After my previous post about the proposed rules for melee combat in Project Out Of Time I had a lot to think about – I've even gone back and made some initial tweaks to the playtesting document. Today, I thought I'd have a quick look at shooting.

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In this particular genre, shooting actions may well be the most dominant of combat actions – after all, why get up close to take someone out when you can blow them away from distance with a super exotic weapon?! As a consequence, ranged combat is in real danger of being game-changing. Having said that, I like the idea that any form of combat can be devastating should you get caught out. By its nature it is risk-free compared to melee (unless your weapons blows up in your face when you roll badly), so the natural preference unless you can stack a melee combat in favour of an overwhelming success.

Taking these thoughts into account, ranged combat in Project Out Of Time works in a similar way to melee. It makes sense from a players perspective to only have to learn one distinct process – familiarity puts people at ease and allows them to concentrate on the tactics rather than the mechanics involved.

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A ranged combat action starts with an opposed dice roll, with characters rolling as many dice as their skill level dictates and choosing the highest (taking various modifiers into account for things like being in cover). Players then compare their scores on the ranged table below.



A result of 'O' is a miss whilst the arrows >> push the defender back. Results in the bottom left of the table all deal with actual damage inflicted – Light, Medium and Heavy, as dictated by the weapon being used.

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Each ranged attack action costs a single Energy token (or more if a heavy weapon) and the active player is able to take as many ranged attack actions in a turn as the Rate of Fire of their chosen weapon. However, if the attacker has an attack roll result of 1 (so therefore a single 1 for Recruits, a double-1 for Grunts and a triple-1 for Veterans) then their weapon has jammed (or equivalent sci-fi orientated catastrophe) and cannot be used again this activation.

Some more exotic weapons will have additional special rules, yet to be defined properly. These will cover deviations to the normal procedure for things like heavy weapons, blasts, flame units, even energy-based lightening jumps from one enemy character to another adjacent enemy.

If you look at the table as it stands, things are below par for the shooter – only a 28 in 100 chance of inflicting actual damage. However, more skilled characters will have a better chance of hitting that sweet spot in the bottom left of the table and the pressure gets put on the defender to dodge the shot! Not to forget too that there will be operatives who have specialisms such as Sniper and Gunner (Heavy). These will also deviate slightly from the normal process for shooting and will gain all kinds of advantages.

Again, a lot of testing to do so we'll see how it all shakes down.

More soon!



Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Project Out Of Time – Melee

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Having talked about Factions and Managing Energy in Project Out Of Time, it's time to look at some combat!

For me, Melee combat rules for a game are pretty much the linchpin – even more so when it comes to writing my own rules. If I don't get excited at the prospect of a good old face to face scrap then (in the absence of something else stunning) I'm likely to lose interest quite quickly. As a consequence, compiling mechanics for melee combat has been the sticking point for all of my attempts at rule writing. In the five or so years I've been attempting to create something solid I've looked at pretty much every example I can get my hands on (for free at least).

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As I've mentioned in the past, I have an aversion to reinventing the wheel, but for combat rules I also have an aversion to simply copying someone else. Yet, it's hard not to subconsciously default to something that feels comfortable or familiar.

I've been searching for a solution that was simple, allowed both players to be involved and reflected the individual ability/physicality of the game characters taking part in the fight. I also like the idea that melee combat is not risk-free and that there could be consequences for rolling badly.

Up until now my ideas have been logical (to me at least) but clunky and not overly fun. I've looked at everything from rolling target numbers, adding stats to dice rolls, rolling dice with different number of sides. I got quite caught up with a rock/paper/scissors approach, where each melee attack choice had a natural counter. Problem was that three options wasn't enough choice and five or six became unwieldy and messy.

My quest for the holy grail of fighting rules has stressed my brain for the longest time, the answer sitting just out of reach and elusive in the corners of my mind. However, I do feel that perhaps with this project I have taken a positive step in the right direction. See what you think...

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The current version of melee combat rules for Project Out Of Time fundamentally consist of an opposed dice roll. Both players roll a dice and compare scores. I constructed a nice table to illustrate the outcomes but it comes down to the difference in the dice rolls determining the severity of the result. Opposing rolls that are pretty close have minimal impact (a bit of pushing and shoving), but if one player rolls high and the other low, the outcome can be devastating.

The table below shows the outcome of the fight from the attacker's perspective. Any + damage is inflicted onto the defender, but – damage is taken by the attacker. The forward arrows >> represent the defender being pushed back and subsequently backward arrows << is the attacker being pushed back. X, of course is a neutral 'no result' outcome as the combatants fight to a stalemate.

There are a few asterisks in there (*) and these could represent additional effects inflicted by certain weapons or abilities. I like the idea that the middle ground can be influenced by gear or skills, and a combatant can change the outcome of a fight in their favour in some way, like action tokens in X-Wing or the character damage chart in Wrath of Kings.

Melee outcomes based upon a D10 opposed roll

You will also see from the table that the results are split 50:50 between attacker and defender which seems the right way if all variables are equal and it's a level playing field. It doesn't take into account individual ability, however, so more skilled characters would roll multiple dice and choose the highest result.

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To help illustrate this better: two combatants of the same skill level will roll a single dice each, whereas a Grunt fighting against a Recruit will roll two dice to his opponent's one (regardless of whether he's attacking or defending) and chooses the highest result. A Veteran would roll three dice in a similar situation, two dice when fighting a Grunt, or just one if fighting another Veteran. Again, this would work the same whether they are considered the attacker or defender. This puts the advantage squarely in the corner of the combatant with the better skill.

The alternative approach to the skill level issue is to have the different levels always roll the same number of dice, regardless of their opponent. Recruits always roll one dice, Grunts always two and Veterans three. This would mean that a Veteran vs Veteran fight would have both combatants rolling three dice each. The implication here is that fights between Veterans would have less extreme outcomes as it's more unlikely a player would roll triple 1 or 2. I like the idea of this in principle as better trained soldiers are less likely to make big mistakes. The only downside that I can see is that these fights might be a little dull as each character effectively neutralises the other, rolling so many dice.

Having support from friendlies (or being outnumbered) also needs to be added into the mix, but it is yet to be determined what form this will take – simply adding more and more dice to the mix will only work to a point – much more play tests needed first. There must be a way for the lower level characters to take down a Veteran by outnumbering. It may be as straightforward as adding +1 to dice rolls for every friendly character in support - with a maximum of 5 friendly characters on the board at any one time this is unlikely to get out of hand, yet could be very decisive.

These melee rules are still very theoretical at present. Minimal play testing has been done so far (due to lack of spare time) but I'm loving the creative thinking and problem solving aspects, albeit just on paper.


More soon!!



Thursday, 10 November 2016

Project Out Of Time – Energy

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I like the idea of resource management in my skirmish games – be it Soulstones, Momentum, Fury, whatever. I also like the idea of having a pool of action tokens that you can dish out to your crew, allowing them to do a differing number of actions each turn when their individual skill sets are most required.

So, how do I approach this aspect of a game without obviously lifting the process from somewhere else? As much as I'm wise enough to know the pitfalls of trying to reinvent the wheel just for the sake of it, I have been looking for a different angle.

Having given an overview of Project Out Of Time, and had a quick look at some ideas for the factions, I thought I'd outline my thoughts for Energy tokens. This is my take on resource management...

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My entire idea for Project Out Of Time revolves around the concept of the Nandrocite Energy. It's the lightbulb moment that occurred whilst sitting in my bath all those months ago and boils down to the fact that a character's  action token pool is also their wound count. With this system any character can take as many actions as you like each turn but you're using up wounds to do it and you could leave yourself very vulnerable in the process.

In-game this translates to each character starting the game with a number of Energy tokens. This is their Energy reserves that allows the character to remain in the time period they have jumped to – if they run out of Energy the character is removed from the game, snapped back through time to the present.

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When a character is activated they may take a single Walk action for free. That seems like a fair trade. Any additional actions will cost 1 or more of their Energy tokens. They may spend as many Energy tokens as they wish to, as long as at least 1 Energy token remains. Because the Energy is used before an action is executed, using the last token will cause the character to be removed from the game immediately without performing that final action (so you can't sacrifice yourself to achieve a game winning objective).

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Raw Energy deposits will be randomly dotted around the battlefield and can be claimed by individual characters. They can be used to either top up their own personal Energy reserves, pass on the raw deposit to a teammate so they can top up, or the raw deposit can be stored to claim Victory Points at the end of the game (cashed in with their employers). Any character choosing to top up Energy rolls a dice to determine how much Energy has been claimed from the raw deposit. If a raw Energy deposit has been rolled, and the amount of Energy determined, it cannot be subsequently passed on to a teammate.

Characters may never have more Energy in their reserves than they started the game with, unless they have equipment that allows them to do this in some way. Any excess Energy is lost.

If a character can get into base contact with a prone enemy character, they may attempt to harvest energy from the enemy character's reserves, if they have the appropriate equipment. In addition, when a character is removed from play they leave behind an Energy token that can be claimed by others.

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The idea with this whole concept is that, by every action costing Energy, characters need to pick up a refill to achieve anything in-game and not 'die from exhaustion' – sitting at the back of the board and shooting is not an option as you'll just waste away. One twist I've considered is at the end of every turn all characters lose a single Energy token – the cost of staying in this time period for another turn. This would force characters out into the gaming arena to claim raw deposits quickly in order to stay alive which would inevitably lead to more conflict (or the employment of very sneaky tactics to avoid conflict). Would this be too harsh or maybe restrict players strategic options? It should keep things fast paced for sure.

At this point in time the actual amount of Energy that characters start a game with is undetermined – playtesting should help with that particular challenge. However, it's unlikely that a character would have enough starting Energy to survive a game without a refill – players have to be proactive from the start (that's the thinking at least)!

Next time it's all about Melee!

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