Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Blood, Sweat & Horses - the demo

Hi all

this weekend I took my chariot based game to a board game convention being held in my local area.  It was a small one attended by less than 50 people and perfect for me to demo "equorum sudorem sanguinis" or Blood, Sweat & Horses.




With a minute flick of his wrist, Lucius Hamiltoni adjusted the reins gathered around his left arm.  His team of matched black horses responded instantly, whinnying softly as they drew to a halt in the hot sand of the arena.  Lucius licked at his dry lips, glancing left and right to take in his opponents in todays race, his free hand wiping nervous sweat down the stiff, red dyed leather armour that denoted his team colours.  On the far side stood Nigellus Manselii, born in the far province of Britannia, he had fought the chariot warriors of Cantia, Durolitum and even the legendary Iceni tribe, or so rumours said. His huge black moustaches contrasted starkly with the pristine white of his team banner as he stood proudly awaiting the start.  

Next to him was the highly animated Jensini Buttonia, his huge arms raised in tribute to Mars and Epona – the god of war and goddess of horses.  His powerful grey stallions stamped their plate-like hooves, snorting their disdain for the other horses in the arena, muscular flanks striped with green paint that denoted the team for which they raced. 

Lucius, his nerves already stretched taut with anticipation for the contest, almost jumped as the last of the racers edged their sleek machine alongside.  Drawn by slender Arabian mares, deceptively muscular despite their smaller stature, they were the perfect match for the enigmatic charioteer that drove them.  Alani Prostus stood not more than 5 pes tall, but her powerful presence seemed to dominate the field of contest.  The only female to have raced the Hippodrome, she had clawed, bitten and ground her chariot wheels across her enemies in order to gain a grudging respect among her male counterparts.  Swathed in a billowing azure cloak, flapping in the gentle breeze that stirred the sands of the arena, she proudly displayed the blue team colours ignoring the disdainful glares of the other teams.

The wall of noise from the enormous crowd died down to a muted roar as the diminutive figure of the Master of Ceremonies strode to the podium. Bernius Ecclestonium raised his hands to silence the crowd further, until an eerie near silence filled the arena.  With a piercing voice that reached the far corners of the Hippodrome, the Lord of the Arena spoke the words they all had been waiting to hear.

“Citizens of Rome, are you ready to be ENTERTAINED!!”

So I managed to snag some of the board-gamers for a couple of hours to try out the game and give me more feedback on how it plays.

my playtesters from left to right - Jess, Stephen and Hannah


We've played it with 6 and it's great fun and works really well. We need to play with fewer players just to see how the dynamic changes so we went with 4 (inc me).  This was also the first chance I would have to see the new cards on the board being used in anger......well fun anyway!

White (me) crashes through the spiked pit trap smashing my wheels and slowing my chariot down.

Jess plans her next turn and how to bugger my game up!
The game flowed really well, in my opinion and seemed to go back and forth with Hannah taking an early lead before a few bad cornering rolls slowed her right down. This allowed me to overtake her and slip into pole position. 


Jess, took umbrage at that and dropped a trip wire and an obstacle right in front of me which took me down the speed track and slowing me up.


Below you can see my player board, at this point I have had an activation card blanked due to the damage dealt by Jess's obstacle.



Eventually the damage took it's toll and I slowed to a crawl allowing Jess to streak pass me and win the game!

Curses, I can't even win a game I designed!


In a fit of sulks I challenged Jess and Hannah to a game of Great Western Trail....which Jess beat me at.....

a slightly meaty game
All in all the game has gone down really well and the game seems to be hitting the right notes with the board games community, I need to get more wargamers playing it in order to gauge their opinion.

hope you enjoy
dGG





Wednesday, 16 May 2018

More Talisman goodies

Hi all

This time it really will be a flying visit as I prepare to demonstrate "Blood, Sweat & Horses" at a local charity gaming event this weekend.  I'll prepare a post next week regarding how it goes down.

In the mean time, I have managed to paint a few Talisman minis, getting 7 done over the last week or so with 7 or 8 more to come.

First of all we have, from left to right - The Troll (r), The Dwarf (f), The Monk (r), The Ghoul (f) and The Druid (r).






Finally we have The Warrior and The Sorceress




my apologies for the brevity of the post and I hope to give you a little more next week

hope you enjoy
dGG

Thursday, 10 May 2018

Talisman Toads and other heroes!!

Hi all

apologies for the late post and sadly it's quite a brief one, just a brief update on some of the projects I've been working on at the moment.

Recently, my board games group held a local BG convention down here in sunny Kent - Uncon 3.0.  It was a super success, in part thanks to the amazing energy of the organisers and volunteer game hosts, who ensured that no-one needed to lift a rule book and stop the fun to consult dusty tomes...  I staged my "Race to the Winchester" zombie apocalypse game as well as a real time dungeon crawl, both games went down a storm and I'm looking forward to putting on something spectacular for next year.  

Anyhoo, while at Uncon I managed to snag a copy of Talisman (3rd ed, but with the 4th ed upgrade) for £20! proper bargain and a massive hit in my nostalgias...  It's absolutely immaculate and comes with some amazing miniatures which I can't wait to get completed, so far I've managed to get these bad boys done...


I'm really pleased with how they came out, I was able to make them a few different colours and gave them a coat of gloss varnish to give them that slippery "toad-like" look.


At Uncon, I also managed to get a game of Flash Point - Fire Rescue by Kevin Lanzig and published by Indie Boards and Cards.  This is a collaborative board game (using miniatures) pitting 1-6 firefighters against "the fire".  The fire is controlled by the game and the team must work together to rescue civilians trapped in the building.  I really, REALLY love this game. I cannot recommend it enough! It plays brilliantly solo, but even better with friends - putting out fires, risking explosions and even saving the family pets.  I loved this game so much, that I went out and ordered it straight away...




I think you'll agree that the board and the components look amazing, really colourful and extremely well made.  Of course, I went a bit mad and painted the minis...



and then risked the wrath of missus Gobbo by ordering the expansions, three of which arrived within days (I still have one on order and there is another that I haven't gone for yet).






Finally, last time I showed you the game that I've been developing and this week the cards that I designed have arrived.  I found a great little website called Makingplayingcards.com who have done a fabulous job with my ideas.


and this is what they look like on the board!


I totally LOVE the way they look.

hope you enjoy
dGG

Wednesday, 2 May 2018

EQUORUM SUDORUM SANGUINIS

Hi all

Image result for chariot racing

Ok, I have been teasing you a little bit by hinting around a new game that I've been developing, but it's about time I let you guys in on it.

So, for a little while now I've been part of a board gaming group, which has really engaged my interest in modern board games.  Like war-games, MBGs involve a ton of strategic thinking, planning and well crafted execution in order to win the games, plus they're loads of fun to play - definitely my cup of tea! I've also been using it as an opportunity to bridge the gap between the two genres in an effort to gather more recruits to the Nerd Herd.  Anyway, while I am really, really, REALLY enjoying the games there is or rather was a little itch in my soul that needed scratching.

Now people who know me, know that the two things I love about wargames are Dragons (oh hell yeah, I love me some dragons!!!) and the other thing is Chariots...

I love chariots, I wanted them in every army I've ever owned, even the Dwarf ones!  I can imagine the creak of leather and wood, the scream of the horses and the rolling thunder of wheels.  I wanted to game with them, I wanted to experience the roar of the crowd, the wild abandonment of the teams, the smells that fill the Hippodrome! I wanted something that immersed me into those ancient games of Rome.

Image result for chariot racing

Looking around in the BG world, there is a dearth of these types of games. Sure there are a couple and some even look a bit good, not great, not eye catching but decent and Oh I was so tempted just to pick something off the shelf, already made and good to go.....but..... Naw, they just didn't grab me, they just didn't make me reach for my ever pressed wallet and part with the cash.  I didn't want to compromise on one of my favourite parts of wargaming, it's why I usually steer clear of games involving Dragons.  So what was I going to do? give up? NEVER!  I did what I usually do, make it myself....

and "Blood Sweat & Horses" was born.

Obviously, it's never as simple as that, tbh the current version of the game barely resembles the original that I knocked up, but the core of the idea is there and I'm rather proud of what we have acheived so far.  You'll notice I say we, because I include the core of playtesters that have been kindly helping me to develop the game, without their help I would have a mildly amusing but simple game - with their help it has turned into a bloody epic game that is fast becoming something that I'm very happy with. 

Anyway, what have we got so far? so far we have a very visual game (it is mine after all ;-P) that looks like a miniatures game but plays like a board game.  Coming from a wargamer background I added too much dice based action that relied on good rolling rather than firm strategy, with the help of my board gaming chums - chiefly Darius and Jess, with help from Jayde, Paul and Stefan we have largely eliminated the luck factor and instead introduced rules that reward good, sound strategy.  Still a way to go but boy are we getting there, with every session we play!

Here's where I started - miniatures (obviously! I am a wargamer after all...). The game doesn't need miniatures and you can quite easily use standees for the pieces, in fact during early play testing we used WW2 motorcycle couriers with playdoh helmets...


The chariots are from Irregular miniatures, when I emailed them to see if I could get some chariots from them that were slightly off books, the chap - Ian, was amazing in his help, putting together an order that used Roman gladiators and fantasy chariots to come up with pieces that really worked and were sooooo cheap -  I bought 6! I also bought some fantasy versions for future variants.

perfect!
After sourcing the minis, I set about designing a track.  Now I had to decide whether I wanted to do a classic oval or the Dark Future type disappearing track.  I must say I do love the classics! Out came the blue foam and I starting drawing. 



Once I had the track all marked out, I used a pencil and carved the lines on as well as Roman numerals to denote the lane numbers as well as modifiers for cornering as a visual aid.  Then I mixed up some textured paint and started painting


This was the basic board. At this point the base mechanics of the game was starting to ferment in my brain.  I started with an engine based around activation cards, where players chose from a limited deck of actions and placed them in an order of 4 activation slots.  This way they would have to predict their next 4 moves in advance and simultaneously reveal them and play out a turn.  the idea behind this was for the players to think strategically and to represent the difficulty in controlling a team of horses pulling a small wooden platform!


This was the second play test, with a board rather than the WW2 minis and Dark Future track.  The playing cards correspond to a type of action.


It was enjoyed by all ( I hope) and some really good suggestions started to pile in, particularly on how we can keep everybody engaged in the race at all times.  So time to add a new layer of complexity then....


The Priority Tracker, is a way of players changing the order that turns are played and added another strategic layer to the game.


Event cards that could be purchased throughout the game by performing "exciting actions" such as cornering on the inner lanes or throwing javelins! These cards can modify the performance of your chariot or allow you to affect other players...


some cool dice from Warlord add a lovely touch to the theme


The Priority tracker sits in the middle, along with the event cards as a focal point for the players.


However players were finding their chariots in pieces, with them out of the game it became a bit boring for them and they would drift away....not having that! So we introduced the "Pit Stop" rules.


a little more decoration...








A bit of tidying around the player boards, that they use to keep track of speed, damage and "Favours"






This is more or less the finished board, I might add things later on but in all honesty I don't want to think people will enjoy the visuals more than the game itself.  Anyway I added some traps and obstacles for the players to interact with or inflict on each other


this was the fourth play test and probably the most constructive with loads of adjustments and rule changes. Yes it slowed the game down but wow! they are going to add a terrific depth to the challenges.  My favourite quote of the night - "I felt engaged in the game, the whole time even when it wasn't my go!"






So there we have it, a game in development.  Plans for it include, professionally made up cards (on order), more play testing and then.... Well I hope then, maybe to put it out as a "print and play" to see if anyone is interested in the game.  If they do great, if not then at least we're having fun!

Spero te Fruar
(hope you enjoy)
dGG