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.
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....
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.
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)