Sunday, February 22, 2009

Free Trader = session report

Tonight I finally got round to playing a game of Free Trader using the professional quality cards I recently bought from ArtsCow.

My trader started his travel on the central world of Corolis. Everything seems a little too expensive and without much chance of making a killing so I opted to jump to nearby Nu-Earth without purchasing any cargo.

At Nu Earth agriculturals were going cheap so I invested in a couple of them. I opted to jump back to Corolis as it looked like a prices were going to make me a profit. I jumped and checked the prices... Khaaaaaaaaaan! They had just shut the agricultural warehouses.

With only 1 Vectorium in the tanks I jumped to Kailing and was immediately attacked by a small Pirate, he shot, missed and I shot back getting a kill and earning a vectorium. Here I sold the cargos but only managed to get myself back to 5 Vectorium.

Once again the best bet seems to be Agriculturals to Corolis, I bought 2 and made the jump ... straight under the guns of a huge Pirate ship. Money being so short I decided to fight it out. Ka-blam! Kapow! Fzzzz! Zapoong! After trading a few shots and not getting anywhere I lost my nerve and emergency jumped to Tanist. Fortunately the jump went safely, but sadly another Pirate was waiting at the jump point. We started trading fire and in the middle of it the bank came looking for funds I couldn't supply.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Game design and Artscow

Rather than repeat what I've already posted over at board game geek I thought I'd just drop a note here with a link letter you guys know that I've posted a thread that details my first rough-out of a boardgame design based around the idea of the computer game Stronghold. the BGG thread.

On another front I've just received my first delivery from ArtsCow. This Online company offers print on demand service. Nothing that unusual in that, however one of the services they offer is custom card decks. That's 54 cards printed to your own specification, put your own images on the front and design a your own back. 54 individual cards!!!!

The cards can have the normal suits printed on them or not, as you choose. Now add to this that they frequently run specials. I just printed up a copy of my game Free Trader for £5.88 ! The cards arrived today and I am really impressed with the quality, they are just like standard playing cards and they look splendid.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Brewing again

In the last couple of weeks I've had a very limited number of opportunities to get any gaming done. Firstly the weather ( ice/snow ) stopped me getting out, and I've been busy recording. I was invited to record a story for the Drabblecast a few weeks ago and that has lead to be being asked to also do recordings for Escape Pod and Starship Sofa.

I've been blown away by how much time this recording work takes. Im my Librivox recordings and those for my own podcasts I usually just rip through the recordings, fixing the gaffs as I go. I haven't been able to do that for these other podcasts. They are dramatic readings! So I record, then decide the tense is wrong, and re record then find the levels are different and then have to record again and so on. It's taken so much time.

Then there's the other reason I haven't been playing too much. I installed "Stronghold" on my computer and have been buried in that game for hours on end. It's been about 5 years since I had any games like this on my computer and I'd forgotten what a time-sink they are. I've lost a number of evenings without ecen realising it.

Is this computer time wasted? No, not in this case. I've been running my game-designer brain over and over the game brewing up ideas on how to turn this into a board game. I'm almost at the first stage of putting a prototype together. There's a lot in it. Collecting resources, tech tree, building things, building troops, using troops. All of these on a single board seems a little unreasonable so I'm thinking that each player will have two boards. One for the home territory being stronghold and surrounds, and another for management of the stronghold, the resource gathering and allocation etc. There will also be a board between the players representing the distance between strongholds. I think this is going to be a big PnP game.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Biological Invasion

A few days ago I had to spend a lot of time and effort in de-moulding my bedroom. I noticed mould around the window, then under the window then along the skirting...behind the bedside cabinet, then under the bead. So all of the furniture had to be moved, the bleach like mould spray put to use and much wiping sweating and even a little swearing.

Next to the bed I have a number of card and plastic folders that contain a lot of Print and Play games. I opened one up to find a splotch of the blummin mould. I also noticed that the paper and cards in the folder felt a little damp.

So today I've had to open all of the folders and spread out the contents to dry. I'm currently sitting surrounded by printed games! It would be great if they weren't all in danger of being eaten my the dreaded mould.

The plan, is that once dry I'll put them all in baggies.

Here's a little story. A few years ago I used to live on the road in a camper van, moving from lay-by to lay-by. We noticed that many of these locations kept having stripped abandoned caravans left in them. These caravans had the number plates removed, the sinks, cushions, gas and electrical items removed leaving them as hulks. Obviously someone was buying cheap caravans stripping everything of value out of them and then abandoning them around the county.

As I walked the dog I would pear into these things to see what had been taken and what had been left. Let's face it, there wasn't a lot of entertainment on the road.
Then one day I saw "stuff" in the back of one of the caravans. I opened the door ( lock was removed along with all of the other fittings ) and would you believe that inside I found a couple of rubbish bags filled with what looked like garden waste.

When I moved one of the bags there was a treasure underneath. There was a ream of photocopier paper and joy of joy, an A3 baggie stuffed full of baggies just bigger than A4. At least a hundred of them! Those two items mysteriously found themselves in the locker of my camper van.

Tonight I'll be using those big baggies to store my Print and Play games, safely away from the creeping mould of game-death.

Friday, February 06, 2009


I just realised that I've never mentioned the Nandeck software on this blog. Considering I use it all of the time that's quite an oversight. What is Nandeck you ask?

Simply put it is a FREE piece of software that allows you to quickly build decks of cards.

There are all kinds of reasons to build a deck of cards, here's one , a real one that I used it for only the other day. I was making up a copy of a game called Pond Hockey. The game is kind of in its embrionic Print and Play status. The board is done the rules are done... but some cards are missing. The game only needs 20 cards in two sets of ten numbered 1 - 10.

So finding the cards missing I brought up Nandeck wrote the script to make the cards and KaBoom! The cards are done in a nice PDF ready for printing.

Here's another reason, suppose your army cards in Manoeuvre get torn or worn out, or heavens forbid you lose a card! Well you could whip out Nandeck and make up a replacement set of cards.

Here's another use, one I'm engaged in right now. I'm designing a card game I've built the deck in Nandeck and I can quickly change the script and change all of the cards in an instant. For instance, suppose your deck of cards had the games name at the top of each card, that would be a single line of Nandeck script, so if you decided to rename the game, you would edit just one line and all of the cards would be updated!

Nandeck allows you to put images on the cards, text and numbers in any arrangement you want, it's very versitile. As a bonus the designer of the software is always answering questions that people post and the Help section of the web site is superb.

So enough of my gushing, go download it today!

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Hour of Glory - Session Report

In case you haven't heard Hour of Glory is a "sneak -em up", you take the part of agent trying to sneak into a WWII bunker or the part of the German Commander trying to protect the secrets therein. It's fantastic, and available as Print and Play or as a full prodution game. There are also a number of expansions for it and free PDF magazines. Onto the session...

The British agent attempted to Breach the entrance, failed!

The Commander (rolled a 5) sprinted down the corridor.

The agent attempted to Breach the door again, failed!

The Commander ( rolled another 5 ) sprinted down the corridor.

The agent breached the door and moved into the corridor, moving up the the door of room 8.

The Commander, slowed down to get his breath back but was already closing in.

The agent entered the room, leaving the door open and spyed around finding some good intelligence.

The Commander turned the corner and spotted the open door...

The agent tried to dash for the other door, sneakily.

The commander came into the room, the agent tried to dive for cover but was spotted, then takes a poorly aimed shot at the Commander.

Pulling his pistol the Commander take a shot back, but misses.

The agent fires again, but gets rather miffed at hitting the German who simply shrugs it off.

The Commander fires and once again misses.

The agent rushes forwards, taking another shot and at last killing the Commander.

Stepping over the body the agent leaves the room he came in by and heads west.

The newly promoted replacement Commander leaves his new office and follows the path of the previous incumbant.

The agent turns north at the next junction heading for the first door.

The Commander stops to chat with the fat Sentry who's blocking his way.

The agent closes on the door.

The Commander suggests to the sentry that he really should cut back the sausages!

The agent breaches the door to the south western room.

The Commander leaves the sentry shaking his head and moves towards the crossroads junction.

The agent spys out the room finding a map. Excellent now he knows where the other intelligence is to match the piece he already has.

The Commander turns west but another large sentry is in the way.

The agent breachs the northern door in the room and exits, the Commander is busy dresssing down the sentry so doesn't see him sneak into the westernmost corridor heading north.

The Commander reaches the intersection and turns north parrallel to the agent.

The agent has turned east, then sneaks through the intersection and heads north.

The Commander heading north, thinks he sees something ahead in the gloom ( agent evades ).

The agent hold his breath reaches the junction at the very north of the complex, and steps out of sight

The Commander is not sure what he saw, he rushes forwards.

The agent reaches the door to the room containing the intelligence he wants.

The Commander rounds the corner spots the agent and raise the alarm, the door next to the agent is thrown open revealing the guards. One strikes out at him but only cuts his clothing.

The agent knocks the guard to the floor but the other two guards are ready to take his place, he runs east hoping to lose them in the corridors.

The Commander heads back the way he came, leaving the guards to follow the agent, he's hoping to cut off the agents retreat.

The Guards are obviously worried about how dangerous this man is as they follow very slowly.

The agent runs west, then south into the juntction but is heard by the sentries who catch him in a crossfire knocking him to the floor his brains splattered up the walls.

The clock only had 21 minutes left.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Another YouTube video - Hour of Glory

This time a look at a boardgame I put together last year and what materials I used while putting the game together.