Today was the annual gathering at the Kensington Town Hall of Dragonmeet. A showcase for some of the finest board games and role playing games around as well as a chance to try out new things. The usual stalls and a bring-n-buy sales was where I hung out most of the time but a few things did catch my eye on my wanderings around the large hall. I wish I did have more time to sit down and try the games and there were a few tables buzzing with activity around Munchkin, Super Dungeon Explore and an old favourite of mine: Talisman.
Firstly, there’s a new table top battle game from Mongoose publishing based on Star Trek. I think it was more based on the classic era of the Original series so there are the usual mix of Klingons, Romulans and Federation starships sold in neat white boxes! They happened to give away rulesets in the form of pocket rule books which was a fantastic giveaway. I have a copy and will be studying the rules in the days to come.
I find looking at the retro games stalls incredibly satisfying and I managed to pick up a old copy of Slaughter Margin, a scenario played with the 80′s Games Workshop Judge Dredd Role Playing Game (more about this in a different post!). Bit of a nostalgia fest in these piles of old games and scuffed worn boxes. Some of the editions were going for £200 upwards for some rarities! I’m a fond collector of old games having been a games buff since the mid 80′s onwards or what I refer to as the ‘Golden age’ of role playing games.
Another cool stall I have to mention is the friendly people at: www.Q-workshop.com. These guys had some great looking dice and counters inspired by steam punk designs, Cthulhu and Gothic art. Really great looking dice that we’ll be looking to stock in the near future hopefully.
That’s pretty much it. Regrettably I didn’t find a moment to jump in on a game, however, I really liked soaking up the casual atmosphere of Dragonmeet.
There’s a good possibility that a Spinning Dice Games stall will be at Dragonmeet 2012. Fingers crossed!
In my household, Doctor Who is pretty much the best programmes on TV right now. My daughter loves the show. She’ only five and the Daleks are like the coolest bad guys ever in her opinion. It just so happened that we have a weekly publication here in the UK called ‘Doctor Who Adventures magazine‘ and they gave away these small 28mm scale figures of Daleks , Cyberman and Sontarian warriors freely in past issues. They are made out of plastic and pretty brittle making them worthless adversaries for the Doctor but great for a potential tabletop strategy game! All you need are the miniatures and a fistful of 6 sided dice! There are no templates involved. As I said even a 5 yr old can understand the rules.
It makes a perfect little game using my dice set from Warhammer 40k. Obviously the rules have to be simplified alot but enough to keep little ones amused for 30minutes. Here’s how I devised a simplistic set of rules…
Firstly there is very little in the way of moving or cover just to strip down the rules to its barest. The game is about making shots and eliminating the other side. Simple as that really.
One round consists of one player choosing a squad of three models and designating which opposing squad he or she is targeting. Daleks essentially are all powerful and can shoot twice in one round. A shot represents one die which rolls 3 or above to hit. Sontarian and Cybermen units only shoot their guns once. If a model is hit, it takes a damage roll and this I use a normal Warhammer 40k dice with the hit and arrow symbols on them. If you haven’t got those I suggest odds and even numbers on a normal 6 sided die.
To make the game a little more interesting, a different coloured Dalek in the pack represents a leader who gets three lives.
What was recently done was that Doctor Who Magazine recently put out a pack of 12 scale Weeping Angels. Those familiar with the series know these a a particularly nasty aliens made of stone who move and get you if you blink or look away. This proved a little more tricky to devise rules that could be understood by a five year old. The best I could think of was that the Weeping Angels can move to attack your opposing squads. To do this a Weeping Angels squad of three must roll 5 or more. If susccessful you can move the Angels in front of a chosen opponent’s squad. That squad are now unable to fire indefinitely as they have to take a ‘Bilnk test’ in each new round. Again this is using the 40k Hit’n'miss target dice. If failed, you are allowed to remove a model from your opponent’s squad. The Angels can only be destroyed by another squad in the usual way.
I hope that explains these simple rules for kids to play this game.
Drop me a comment if you have any questions.
Disclaimer: Please note that this game is not a product of the BBC or endorsed by the BBC or Doctor Who Licensing.
Dust Tactics the game is quite a strange beast as you’d expect these kind of miniature wargames to be proper skirmish game without the need of a board. It comes to no surprise then that Fantasy Flight and Dust Studios have indeed created a new spin off called Dust Warfare which is coming soon. However, this review is concentrating solely on the board game version.
The year is 1947 but it’s very much a parallel universe as massive combat mechs stomp around the green fields of Europe as the Allies and Axis forces do battle. It’s a power struggle literally as both sides seek an elusive alien material called VX. All this is the brain child of Paolao Parente and he’s created a setting that’s a heck of alot of fun!
The game is played by miniatures and dice which dictate the hits-n-misses. Players go head to head as either the Allied or Axis forces. It’s very much a fast shooter game and relatively quick to play with each skirmish taking under an hour to complete.
Some of the parts in the box (yes, there is a lot more!!)…
What goes into the squad is determined by the player and there is a limit of points value of the total units in each side. The most exciting part of the game is the ability to control giant Mech units that stomp around. Units essentially move on 90mm x 90mm squares on a grid of a 9 squared board.
Here’s the full list of contents:-
• Never-before-released miniatures exclusive to this Core Set
• An updated and comprehensive rulebook
• The “Victory Bridge” scenario book
• Six Combat Dice
• Two double-sided terrain posters (each the size of six terrain tiles)
• 10 unit cards
• Nine double-sided hazard squares
• Two ammo-crates
• Two anti-tank traps
• 1 Blackhawk Walker
• 1 Rhino Hero
• 5 Hell Boys Soldiers
• 5 Death Dealers Soldiers
• 3 The Hammers Soldiers
• 1 Hans Walker
• 1 Lara Hero
• 5 Sturmpioniere Soldiers
• 3 Heavy Laser Grenadiers Soldiers
• 3 Heavy Flak Grenadiers Soldiers
• 1 Plastic Loaded Token
• 1 Quick Start Rules Card
The miniatures is one of the best things about this game. They are incredibly detailed for plastic board game components. You certainly get the feeling of quality from these.
Here’s a couple of pictures from the set…
The Allied forces…
The Axis forces included in the set…
The rules are designed to keep the action flowing as much as possible. There are various rules about movement and firepower of weapons that are described on the individual unit cards. Line of Sight and Cover rules apply in Dust Tactics. They are handled differently according to where a unit is shooting from on which side of buildings for instance. Cover saves work on a soft and hard cover basis and the dice is rolled to indicate whether shots successfully hit targets. If the squad consists of a number of hit troops it’s up to the player to remove which troop/s are taken out of the game. The victory goes to the squad that captured the target objective and victory points are calculated at the end the game.
As you can imagine there’s quite a lot to cover in the rulebook but in terms of quality and gameplay it’s an excellent introduction into the Dust Tactics Universe. Coupled with the fact that a new table top rule set is on its way, it’s an ideal place to build up a decent set of miniatures. Expansions and Scenarios are available and released through Fantasy Flight Games.
A Game of Thrones was an acclaimed Fantasy saga before it was made into a popular TV series aired earlier this year. Written by American author, George RR Martin which begun in 1991, it already achieved awards and is a best seller. The first season aired in April 2011, and were much anticipated by fans of fantasy books.
The first episodes are based on the first novel in Martin’s A Song Of Fire and Ice series, A Game Of Thrones. The series and books have since spun into several games, including a trading card game, a board game and a role playing game. More about those later!
The plot of the television series stays close that of the novels and essentially breaks into three main storylines. The first storyline revolves around the struggles for the Iron Throne following the death of King Robert, ruler of the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros. Five families fight to claim the throne, whilst two wish to declare independence. Robb Stark, son of Eddard Stark, takes the throne in the north, and Balon Greyjoy reclaims the throne of the Iron Islands, his family’s ancestral home.
The second storyline takes place along the far northern border of Westeros. A 700 foot high and 300 mile long wall was constructed to keep out a race of mythical creatures simply called The Others. The wall’s maintenance and protection are done by the Nights Watch, a brotherhood of soldiers. At the start of the story no-one has seen The Others for more than 8,000 years, and the Nights Watch has become little more than a penal colony. The plot revolves around Jon Snow, a son of Eddard Stark, as rises through the rank and file of the guard post. Here he learns what really lurks on the other side of the wall!
The final story takes place on the continent of Essos, which lies across a narrow sea to the east of the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros. The story follows the rise of Daenerys Targaryen, another claimant to the Iron Throne and the last member of the house of Taragaryen, from pauper to her marriage to a barbarian warlord. Whilst on her journey, she carries around some pretty unique eggs from creatures long lost to myth and legend. This is a plotline that will become clearer by the end of the first book.
Throw in some egomaniacal members of the Lannister Family and you end up with a twisted plot of intrigue, murder and politics. It’s a land where there is no place for honourable people. Those who have seen the TV series or read the books know of the controversies that the story springs. I won’t spoil them here but Martin’s isn’t precious about his characters that’s for sure.
The main difference between Martin’s saga and other fantasy novels that he utilises early medieval history, rather than a central mythology to drive his stories. Martin said he was taking a more adult approach to the fantasy genre. Martin also uses more adult themes, with sex, prostitution, incest and rape all discussed and several illegitimate children being themes in his stories.
The Games of A Game of Thrones
George RR Martin talks regularly about his love for miniatures and Dark Sword Miniatures have been producing some exquisite figures based on characters from the saga. Unfortunately, Spinning Dice Games doesn’t stock them as yet but figures can be purchased directly from Dark Sword Miniatures. Check them out as they are really fantastic bits of art.
Fantasy Flight Games make a number of games both board games and living card games. All beautifully illustrated and reflect the battles and political power struggle across Westros.
The Battle of Westeros: Core Set is a 2 player game which allows players to battle one another through strategic manoeuvres positioning each houses units across a map. The game can be played out in decks of cards which allow special tactical choices to be made by each player. Your armies may react differently to commands according to which particular card can be drawn. Keeping your troops topped up with morale is another element that a player must keep in check. Custom 8 Sided dice will determine the hits and misses inflicted on each armies. It’s quite a comprehensive set of rules and this is most definitely for serious gamers to get to grips with. The game is packed with miniatures (which could be painted), maps, tokens and dice and is excellent at capturing those dramatic moments on the battlefield as described in the books. The boxset comes with plenty of scenarios which can be played and are nicely set out in a booklet included.
A Game of Thrones : The Living Card Game is an excellent strategic card game. Don’t let the lack of miniatures put you off as this is an equally demanding game that doesn’t require pushing model armies across a map but still fun. Although the goal is similar to that of wrestling control of the Iron Throne and makes use of the intrigue and political wrangles to distract your opponent. Your decks ultimately consists of different types of cards varying from House, Alliance or Characters from the novels in a Draw and Plot deck. Cards can be played to change the course of the game such as Events, Attachments and locations. The aim at the end is to gather 15 power points at end. Here’s a helpful video giving an overview of the rules:
You might think Role playing games are a huge part of the video game market. Final Fantasy, Mass Effect, World of Warcraft and Elder Scrolls, just to name a few. As exciting as these games are, you don’t really have full control your character, and what happens to it. In a limited way you can choose how to respond in some games according to what the programmer has coded into the game. You constantly hear about artificial intelligence in these games yet the best intelligence is the human mind.
This is one of the reasons that table top role playing games (RPGs) are still a large staple of today’s entertainment industry. Most of the games are based to some degree on Dungeons and Dragons, which is essentially the patriarch of the role playing world. Dungeons and Dragons (or D&D), is a game that you get to choose your character, its skills, and how you can build your own personality. Designed by Gary Gygax and Dave Ameson back the Seventies, the D&D brand has certainly endured over the decades. Now published by Wizards of the Coast and in its Fourth Edition, D&D was streamlined into an accessible game for us curious folk. Hardcore fans may baulk at the suggestion of condensing rules but if it means more people exploring D&D and other role playing games, who am I to argue with that!
The game is run by a Dungeon Master (DM or Games Master in other cases), who lays out the story of what happens in the game. The Dungeon Master will tell you what happens, and then players can choose whatever they want to do. A player must describe his or her response to any given situation. For instance, if the Dungeon Master tells you that you see a dragon, and you want to try to teach it to play fetch, however ill-advised that may be, you can do that. (Or at least try). While you will probably end up with your character burnt to a crisp, at least you had the option to try your crazy idea; good luck getting a video game to let you do that! So with role playing offline so to speak, the player gets almost full control of his or her actions.
In most table top games, the success or failure of actions is determined by a roll of the dice. There are a set of rules defined, usually in a set of guide books, that determine what numbers equal failure, and what numbers equal success. For example in D&D, using the basis of a 20 sided die, when you try to throw a stick at the dragon, if you roll a one, you will drop the stick on your foot; if you roll the maximum 20, you will successfully entice the dragon to chase after it. This is a simplified version of events but it illustrates the significance of rolling your dice well. Failure to do so could be the difference between life and death for your character!
The success of a good game is essentially down to the Dungeon Master. This person must create a great story (or choose one of the hundreds of pre-made ones sold) which is played through the game session. The DM must also think about the story tone and when to add drama to the way the story is told. The DM usually plays the non-player characters that inhabit his or her world to draw the players in. They can add character voices, music and visual handouts to spice up the adventuring experience. It is truly a social gathering where the DM will ‘host ‘ the perfect story telling party. The most important thing is that DMs should not necessarily let the evening get bogged down by rules but allow it to flow organically through the players. Role playing games can be tremendous fun when done right and no, you don’t have to dress up like your character either!
There are tons of table-top RPGs being designed including ones around popular series like: Battlestar Galactica, Buffy, Star Wars. Warhammer RPGs and Doctor Who. In addition there are RPG worlds for vampires, werewolves, and even downright evil zombies. If you enjoy RPGs, chances are, there’s a role playing game out there for you. To play, you need like minded people and there’s plenty of clubs around cities that offer RPG, Board gaming and Card Gaming sessions. Here’s a resource to find out where in the UK: http://botw.org.uk/Games/Role_Playing/Clubs/.